There are few reliable public polls in Mississippi. Strategists in the state say the race has been close, with Cochran enjoying a slight advantage, although they sensed that McDaniel had been gaining steam before the nursing home episode.
Conservative groups — still searching for their first victory in knocking off an entrenched incumbent this year — are doubling down to prop up McDaniel in the run-up to the June 3 primary.
“This is it,” said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the Rothenberg Political Report. “For all the early hype about the [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell primary challenge, the Cochran race has always been the best opportunity for the libertarian-slash-tea party folks.”
Citizens United and ForAmerica will soon begin advertising in Mississippi, joining an array of conservative organizations backing McDaniel. Together, Tea Party-aligned groups have spent nearly $2.4 million compared to $1.8 million invested by pro-Cochran groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, according to Federal Election Commission data compiled by the Sunlight Foundation.