US Senate rating map from UVA Center for Politics

While most of the public’s attention has rightly been on the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 is still an election year and the calendar continues to creep along towards November.

For Republicans, if retaining the White House is number 1 on their list, maintaining a majority in the U.S. Senate would be 1-A.  Mississippi plays a major role in that effort.

Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is once again being challenged by Democrat Mike Espy in the November General Election.

Election prognosticator Larry Sabato listed the Magnolia State race as “Safe Republican” in his weekly Crystal Ball email publication from the University of Virginia Center of Politics.

Although Espy outraised Hyde-Smith marginally in the first finance report of 2020, Hyde-Smith still held about a $500K cash on hand advantage.  The reports for the period ending March 31 should be out within days.

Espy has a daunting task between now and November given that the priority for most Mississippians is on keeping their families healthy and their jobs in place as a result of this pandemic.  Most are not focused on rallying support for a longshot Democrat candidate in Mississippi making another run for the same seat he lost just two years ago.

But Espy is trying the best he can to balance his messaging during this time between public service announcements to support social distancing and staying in touch with supporters.

Monday, he posted on Twitter for everyone to “stay tuned for future virtual events” as they move their campaign online.

Hyde-Smith beat Espy in 2018 by a 54% to 46% margin becoming the first woman to hold a U.S. Senate seat from the Magnolia State.  The Senator drew an endorsement from President Donald Trump and is likely to do so once again this election cycle.

As evidenced by his involvement in the 2019 statewide elections, Trump remains immensely popular here, meaning Hyde-Smith is a prohibitive favorite, absent circumstances unforeseen, to retain the Mississippi U.S. Senate seat this fall.

Sabato also lists Mississippi as “Safe Republican” for Trump.  See the map below for his most recent national predictions in the Presidential race.