Friday, August 31, 2018

Mississippi U.S. Senate A- Race of the Day

67 Days Until Election Day

Mississippi U.S. Senate A

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Safe Republican

Like it's neighbor in the alphabet, Mississippi will also hold two Senate elections this year. Today, the focus is on the regularly scheduled one, for a full, six year term, that will definitely be decided on  November 6th.

Republican Roger Wicker has experience with special Senate elections though. After being appointed to fill a vacancy, the new Senator who previously served in the House, won a moderately competitive special election the next year. His 2012 reelection was comfortable, but considering the weakness of his opponent, (though he shared a name with Al Gore), was a bit closer than it should have been with the incumbent receiving 57 percent. That could have been a result of a strong African-American turnout for Democrats in a Presidential election year with Barack Obama seeking reelection.

All things considered, Mississippi is a very Republican state and continues to move further in that direction. After the GOP's debacle in a special Alabama election though, some wondered if the party could also play in Mississippi. At the time, there was the possibility that Wicker could face a challenge on his right in the Republican primary by State Senator Chris McDaniel. In 2014, McDaniel came in first in the primary over longtime incumbent Senator Thad Cochran, only to lose in a run-off, in what became a significant upset, after Cochran's campaign reached out to Democrats and African-Americans. McDaniel, who was very polarizing on the campaign trail, did not take this loss well, and never really conceded. He was preparing to launch a race this cycle against Wicker, but Cochran resigned from the Senate for health reasons, and McDaniel decided his odds might be better running for the other seat, where the incumbent was not as entrenched and the election rules were somewhat different.

While Republican businessman Richard Boyanton managed to take 17 percent in the June primary, Wicker was re-nominated easily. The Democrats faced a more competitive primary, that would an extra three weeks until it could be decided by a runoff.

Initially, venture capitalist Howard Sherman, who happens to be the husband of actress Sela Ward, narrowly edged State House Minority Leader David Baria, 32-31. Receiving 23 percent of the primary vote was State Representative Omeria Scott, an African-American. Afterwards, Scott endorsed Sherman for the runoff over her own House party leader. Baria would fight back though and the party insider managed to win the lion's share of Scott's primary voters regardless. He focused on the fact that Sherman had been registered as a Republican while living in California and that he was the more authentic standard bearer for the party and state. Indeed, a year earlier, Sherman donated the maximum to Senator Wicker, the man he now hoped to replace. The candidate said he only donated to the incumbent to help him fend off McDaniel. Ironically of course, any hope that Sherman had of being elected to the Senate, probably relied on McDaniel defeating Wicker in the primary. The Democrats' runoff went to Baria by 19 points. Sherman refused to endorse Baria after the runoff and does not seem to have done so since.

While there are voters on the left who will most certainly vote against Wicker in Mississippi, and some on the right who do not have much enthusiasm for the establishment politician, this race is not likely to be competitive. Baria happens to have a liberal voting record that can be exploited in a way that a neophyte candidate might be able to avoid. The overall number of Democrats in Mississippi continues to shrink and the financial advantage enjoyed by Wicker is beyond overwhelming. The state's other Senate race will generate more headlines.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 
11 D (7 Safe, 2 Likely, 1 Leans, 1 Tossup), 
  3 R (1 Safe, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
34 D (23 holdovers, 7 Safe, 2 Likely, 1 Leans, 1 Tossup)
45 R (42 holdovers, 1 Safe, 2 Tossup)


At 8:12 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Super Safe GOP Hold!


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