And this was the best candidate the right-wing, Beltway-based groups could come up with? Had they searched for a more responsible and competent candidate, a Mississippi version of Nebraska’s Ben Sasse or a Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Cochran might be on his last legs. By rallying behind the buffoonish McDaniel and dumping millions into the race, they’ve actually done Cochran a favor. (Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund chipped in more than a million each, with other groups ponying up millions more.) If McDaniel wins, there will be little reason to cheer, and if Cochran does, it will simply have been a missed opportunity to trade up in quality.
Conservatives may be understandably frustrated that right-wing groups are spending millions to replace a mediocre incumbent with a problematic challenger in a deep-red state. This is a very expensive fight in a small sandbox that will not influence control of Senate. Had that money been used to pummel Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky, Michelle Nunn in Georgia or vulnerable Democratic incumbents such as Mark Pryor (Ark.), right-wing groups could later claim credit if the Senate flipped to the GOP. (Why not go after Democrats for ugly personal smears of Monica Wehby or use money to make Rep. Bruce Braley’s trial lawyer image stick?) Instead, a GOP majority would be achieved despite their antics.