As the run-off primary between incumbent Senator Thad Cochran and State Senator Chris McDaniel nears, I thought it would be interesting to see some more details from the results a few weeks ago and compare it to the 2012 primaries.

On the left is a standard map. We can see that Cochran has very strong support (green) in the Delta region, while McDaniel has an area of very strong support (purple) centered on his State Senate district.

On the right is a cartogram, where the area of each county is proportional to the number of voters in the 2014 Republican Primary. The highly populated area surrounding Jackson shows up as three bulging counties in the center of the map - Hinds, Rankin, and Madison. On this map, it's clear that Cochran's support in Hinds and Madison counties is more important than all of the Delta combined.

Below the fold, two more pieces of the puzzle - turnout and 2012 primary results.

This map shows the Republican primary turnout this year compared to the turnout in the 2012 primaries. I also compared with the number of Romney voters in the 2012 general election (not shown), with pretty much the same general geographic distinctions showing up.

Turnout was high overall this year, but it was not consistently high throughout the state. McDaniel benefited from some intense enthusiasm in his region of high support around his State Senate district, and Cochran likewise had high turnout in the Delta. There was also consistently high turnout between the two, in the southwest part of the state and around Jackson.

But as you move to the north and east in the state, turnout was lower than 2012.

So what happened in 2012? What are we comparing to, here? Here's the results maps for the main contenders in the 2012 Presidential Primary:

You can see that the same area where we have missing voters this year is Santorum territory. Roughly speaking, it looks like Romney and Cochran share regions of popularity. Gingrich and McDaniel also appear to share a region of popularity, but that might be chalked up to coincidence based on McDaniel's home region.

Conjecture, bloviating, and hypotheisizing

On average, it looks like McDaniel inspired stronger turnout in his strongest area compared to Cochran's strongest performing region, the Delta. Assuming this means there's an enthusiasm gap, this gap would probably benefit McDaniel in a runoff, if turnout is lower as it often is in a runoff. (Not to mention McDaniel supporters will have gotten a boost from election night.)

McDaniel also has room for growth in low-turnout Santorum territory. Santorum endorsed McDaniel on just the Thursday before the primary, and campaigned with him a few days later in Diamondhead, on the Gulf Coast. If McDaniel has been using this endorsement in his recent campaigning, it has potential to boost him.

Cochran, on the other hand, doesn't have any clear geography-based advantages jumping out at me.

What do you see in the maps?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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