One rarely has a "do over" but both the Chris McDaniel and the Thad Cochran campaign get to pause briefly, reflect and reload for battle.
My plan is to do a bit more of an exhaustive analysis in the coming days, but here are some random thoughts about last night and what's coming up.
Chris McDaniel, to his credit, turned out a ton of new voters and/or voters that had heretofore not been engaged in the process or were more likely not regular voters. I'll freely admit that sometimes I let history be too much of a guide. At the beginning of the night, I figured that 120K votes would win it. The corollary I used with the Tate Reeves/Billy Hewes race in 2011, which voted about 275K. I don't think anyone predicted over 300K votes in an off year federal race. McDaniel rolled in Jones, Desoto and even Jackson counties. McDaniel won every precinct in Desoto. It’s unprecedented in a primary. Cochran underperformed in Madison and Rankin and should have done a lot better. Desoto, Jackson, Madison and Rankin are the clear battlegrounds for turnout in a runoff, and Cochran must expand the map.
Let Thad be Thad
I get that Cochran is in his early 70s and that he's not as naturally good on the stump as Phil Bryant or Stacy Pickering. He’s the ‘quiet persuader’. Let him quiety persuade. Voters will forgive him for being “not as smooth”, but the overly handled bit isn’t playing. He needs to be let go a bit. He needs to speak directly to voters. He doesn't need to "approve this message". He needs to deliver it. From his own mouth. And it needs to be positive. He needs to look into the camera and enunciate that he wants to be Senator for another six years and why with “fire in the belly”. He hasn't really done that yet. People are pissed at DC. McDaniel is capitalizing on that. Cochran has to acknowledge it himself by looking into the camera and saying "I get it." The God's honest truth is if the goal is to get to 51 Republican Senators, a vote for him is the most direct vote against Obama and the DC agenda that a Mississippian can make. Period. He needs to say that immediately and often. A debate is a fool’s errand. He’s got nothing to gain. It’s hard for a guy with a long record to debate a younger, slicker guy with a very scant record and win.
Don't phone it in
Phil Bryant (literally
) phoned in his radio ad for Thad. You could hear it. That's not to imply Bryant didn't work hard. He did. But Phil Bryant, Tate Reeves, Delbert Hosemann, Stacey Pickering, Gregg Harper, Alan Nunnelee and Steven Palazzo are all super telegenic and need to be on camera with paid media behind it stating their case to the masses. They're all outstanding on the stump. Cochran needs to quietly persuade all of them to go on the record with positive stories of their own perspective of why Cochran needs to be re-elected. It needs to be heartfelt and meaningful little YouTube vignettes that can be cut into 30 second commercials. If someone can’t/won’t go to a rally, having an endorsement from a campaigner doesn’t mean near as much unless they can see it. The endorsements
are all "on the hook". There's no backing down. But use them in a meaningful way.
Cochran can certainly be forgiven for not having run a seriously competitive race in 20 years, but the lack of social media is really hurting him and Chris McDaniel's folks and the national groups have absolutely dominated him there. The good news is that it's pretty fixable if it’s focused on. But it has to start today. Too much TV. Not enough internet. Stop worrying so much about the 6:00/10:00 news and start worrying about someone’s facebook feed or twitter feed. Cochran's folks need to get serious about social media and that does not mean staffers doing more tweets. There is a paid twitter and facebook effort behind McDaniel and it has paid dividends to galvanize their voters below the surface.
Hide your crazy
Chris McDaniel at this point would be considered the favorite in a runoff, but. His voters seem more motivated. BUT (and there’s a huge BUT), he’s got some crazy folks doing some crazy stuff out there on his behalf. Several folks got arrested because they thought breaking into a nursing home and snapping iPhone pics of a dementia patient was a swift idea. There remain unanswered questions about what McDaniel and Melanie Sojourner knew and when they knew it. And, as I’m writing this, there’s now another story of a top Tea Party official wondering around alone in the Hinds County Courthouse on 2:00 a.m. on Election Night
. That’s two break-ins in the name of Chris McDaniel. Not good.
Again, we will do more exhaustive vote tally breakdowns. Stay tuned. It's going to be another interesting 3 weeks in Mississippi Politics.
Posted June 4, 2014 - 5:21 pm