by Alan Lange

David Drucker at The Washington Examiner wrote an interesting article on the state of the Senate special election race in Mississippi. There were some new tidbits about the campaign that were heretofore not public.  A good bit of the article continues to deal with the narrative of how Cindy Hyde-Smith is being greeted in DC. There are still a lot of “unnamed sources” that are commenting on her reception in the White House and in DC in general. That will likely diminish over the coming weeks.

Drucker makes the point that Trump’s endorsement of Hyde-Smith is a major inflection point in this campaign.  Although there has been some off the record “grousing” from some unidentified White House staffers who may be more loyal to the Bannon wing, it remains pretty hard to believe that Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant would have pulled the trigger on appointing Hyde-Smith if he didn’t think he could get Trump to endorse his pick.

Drucker also broke publicly that Jordan Russell has been hired to run her campaign for the day to day with Josh Gregory still providing strategic guidance along with some team members that are still being assembled. Russell was involved on the communications side of the Cochran campaign in 2014.

Drucker also mentioned the results of the poll that Mike Espy commissioned from longtime Democrat pollster Brad Chism. This poll is largely an appeal to money – to show that there’s a path so that Espy can attract campaign funds and outside support. While interesting, there are certainly some things missing (such as name IDs and net favorable of all of the candidates tested) before you could start making any real hard assumptions about the real state of the race. Chism’s primary takeaway seems to be that black voters will choose Espy in a large degree and that Espy’s challenge will be how he can do with white voters. That’s not exactly a groundbreaking or unexpected conclusion, but early in the contest that’s not a bad jumping off point for Espy. The entry of Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton likely complicates that math at least in the primary for Espy, and that was not tested in the poll.

Chism also had Hyde-Smith doing better with white voters than Chris McDaniel. There are still a lot of undecideds. Absent anyone else jumping in (which Drucker teases with Andy Taggart later in the piece), one would figure that “hill country” democrats from NE Mississippi would likely move away from Espy and towards Shelton. But Chism’s poll still lists a high number of white undecided voters.

The Weekly Standard hopped in with analysis not too different from ours.

Here’s the release with all of the data that Chism provided.

Chism Strategies poll for Mike Espy 032818 #mssen by yallpolitics on Scribd

The announced field will likely be set by the end of next week as prospective candidates will have to go through getting enough signatures to get on the special election ballot. There’s not likely going to be a “stalker” candidate that shows up at the last minute without some sort of notice, but in this race anything is possible.

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