Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Winning Formula?

Somewhere, former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley must be smiling. 

Legend has it that John F. Kennedy didn't know he had the nailbiter 1960 presidential race until he took a call from Daley on election night, and "Da Mare" addressed him as "Mr. President."  At that point, JFK knew he would carry the state of Illinois (by only 8,000 votes), and defeat Richard Nixon.  By various accounts, Mr. Daley and the Democratic machine, in the best Chicago tradition, stuffed ballot boxes and rigged to vote, ensuring Kennedy's triumph. 

Six decades later, the GOP establishment in Mississippi (apparently) took a page from the Daley playbook to drag incumbent Senator Thad Cochran across the finish line, and defeat Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel.  Unofficial returns show that Mr. Cochran--seeking his seventh term in the Senate--edged out McDaniel by just over 6,400 votes, out of more than 370,000 cast across the Magnolia State. 

According to the Washington Post, Cochran defied almost every convention of political wisdom with his narrow victory.  First, he managed to increase the size of the electorate in a run-off election, when there is normally a drop-off in voter participation; secondly, he brought more Mississippians to the polls by actively courting African-American voters, warning that Mr. McDaniel opposed food stamps and other social programs.  And finally, Cochran touted his seniority and the pork it brings home to Mississippi. 

But Cochran's victory was actually a study in sleaze and voter fraud.  McDaniel supporters noted that the number of run-off voters in Hinds County (which includes metro Jackson) far exceeds the number of registered Republicans in that county.  Cochran carried the county by 11,000 votes.  The incumbent also piled up wide margins in the Mississippi Delta, where African-Americans are a majority in many counties.  In one Delta locality (Jefferson County), turnout for the run-off increased by 92% (emphasis ours), and many of those voters were black.  By comparison, Mr. McDaniel increased his total in Hinds by only 1,000 votes and ran far behind Cochran in the Delta.  In the end, it was just enough Cochran to squeak by.

And how did Senator Cochran persuade large numbers of African-Americans to cross party lines and vote for him? By playing the race card.  John Fund of National Review posted this flyer, reportedly distributed by the Cochran campaign in black precincts: 

There were also robo-calls, with similar themes.  With Thad facing the end of his political career, the Mississippi GOP machine (with plenty of help from their buddies in Washington) pulled out all the stops, convincing enough Democrats--particularly black Democrats---to pull the lever for Cochran.
While party big-wigs congratulate each other on Senator Cochran's stunning "victory," they are ignoring a rather obvious question: how is this a winning formula?  McDaniel has refused to concede and may mount a write-in campaign in November.  Meanwhile, all of Thad's new-found liberal friends will return home in the fall and vote for his Democratic challenger, former Congressman Travis Childers.  Meanwhile, the odious tactics of the Cochran campaign may well keep thousands of conservative voters at home in November, and create a long-term rift in the Mississippi GOP. 
There is also the spectre of legal challenges and even criminal investigations.  In an interview with Brietbart, the chairman of Mississippi's Democratic Party almost begged McDaniel to contest the results, hoping that internecine warfare within the GOP will give Childers a chance in November. 
And don't be surprised if the feds get involved.  Republicans have been complaining about voter fraud for years; attorney general Eric Holder may not pass up the opportunity to bludgeon the GOP with one of their favorite issues.  Nothing like a full-blown investigation that could tar a number of key Republican officials and keep the scandal percolating through election day--and beyond. 
By most accounts, Mr. McDaniel's legal challenge may be on shaky ground.  After all, how can you enforce a Mississippi law that bans voters from voting in a primary if they have no intention of supporting the same candidate in the general election?  But McDaniel has every reason to feel aggrieved; Thad Cochran and his cronies did whatever it took to give him one last hurrah in the Senate, with little regard for the price to be paid by their "party."             


Martin said...

I live in IL and tho we are a blue state and MS is red, I see the same dynamic at play. The GOP establishment would like to be the majority, but given the choice between risking the wrath of the media and "respectable opinion" by standing up for their base, and settling for a genteel second place, they always opt to abandon their base and play the Dems game. Of course they can't play that as well or effectively as real Dems, so they settle for second place in a two-horse race.

They are really quite happy with that as long as they get a cut, say 1/3, of the goodies that the Dems in control are pasisng around.

That's the short version of what happened to the IL GOP between the mid-1990s and today. IL had GOP governors from 1976 to 2002, now they feel like if they come close it's a moral victory and therefore a great success.

At the national level, people thought Tom DeLay was an ideologue, but in 1995, in the wake of the Gingrich landslide, he was the guy who took the national party in the direction of "the K-Street Strategy" rather than the "Contract With America."

The results are all around you. The US Chamnber of Commerce will drive the GOP into minority status for a generation in order to get a few more immigrants for their memeber firms to exploit. The GOP leaders are quite happy with that bargain, the only problem as they see it is how to fool their own base.

Old NFO said...

It does appear McDaniel 'might' have a valid challenge if he can prove those cross-over dems also voted in the Jun Dem primary... That's a no-no even in MS...

Former Skivvy Niner said...

I live in Northern Mississippi and I voted for Thad. My reasons for doing so were three fold.

I will always vote for a Veteran over someone who has never served in the military. Cochran was in the Navy. I could find no information that McDaniel ever served.

Cochran's voting record has shown he supported Veterans and Military Retirees.

If McDaniel would have won, there is a very good chance that the Democrat candidate would win in the fall. Many of the Republicans who support Thad would either not vote or would vote for Travis Childers, the Blue Dog Democrat.

SwampWoman said...

Former Skivvy Niner, you are assuming that the Republicans that supported McDaniel are going to meekly show up and vote for Cochran. I think not.