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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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Comment Preferences

  •  northeast MS is interesting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Empower Ink, MichaelNY

    It looks like it was ~50/50 in the primary but turnout was relatively low. At the same time, Santorum swamped this region in 2012.  Seems to me Santorum should campaign with McDaniel in the Tupelo area to try to drive up turnout that could benefit McDaniel

  •  I would be more interested in a map (8+ / 0-)

    showing how Travis Childers can beat Chris McDaniel in the fall.  But this is very informative -- thanks.

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 08:28:49 AM PDT

    •  How Childers can win (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      amyzex, camlbacker, NinetyWt, MichaelNY

      Childers's base is in the northeast part of the state, including Tupelo, where he served as a Congressman.  Right where there was the least turnout in the Republican primary.

      His other potential base is the Delta, Jackson and Cotton Belt, which were not in his district, but where the most African American voters are.  

      The formula for a Democrat to win in Mississippi is to get as high an AA vote turnout as possible while winning at least 30% of the white vote--in Childers's case, getting enough of a boost from Tupelo/Northeast and white voters in Jackson to offset the huge Republican advantage from Mcdaniel's base on the map down to the gulf coast.

      "The law, in its majestic equality, allows the poor as well as the rich to donate unlimited funds to the politicians of their choice." ---attributed to Anatole France

      by AdmiralNaismith on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:45:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Does anyone really give a damn WHO comes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davis90

    out of Mississippi?  If so, WHY?

  •  Walker TX Ranger needs a laughtrack.. (0+ / 0-)

    It is so typical of the right wing mentality. All issues are clearly divided into binary good v. evil. There are no gray, murky areas that require deep analytical thinking.
    "God ain't going to help you now."

  •  Is it me? or does (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosette

    the cartogram look strangely engorged?

  •  Cochran's Dead (4+ / 0-)

    Seeing Cochran admit last week that he was the only politico who hadn't heard Cantor was upset in his primary and no longer House Majority Leader told me that Cochran is incapable of running a campaign.

    I don't think Mississippi harbors a Southern California PR team like the one that elected and protected Reagan for so long. Without the candidate having the minimum Republican amount of his marbles left, the jig is up.

    Indeed, I'd expect McDaniel to be decisively ahead faced with that weak sitting duck. But he's not, so he looks really weak too.

    Bizarrely, Mississippi should be the top focus of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Yet it seems it's not. Once again, Democrats aren't trying to win.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 08:47:39 AM PDT

    •  The top? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY

      Why should it be the top and not, say, the 8th from the top?

      21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
      politicohen.com
      Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
      UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

      by jncca on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 09:34:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We need a separate effort (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DocGonzo, indres, NinetyWt

        We need an independent outfit, call it Democratic Longshots, that would pick one or two races just beyond the range of interest of the establishment players.

        I think Gonzo's point is that unexpectedly grabbing a seat in Deep Dixie would have an enormous psychological effect. While re-electing a sitting Senator from, say, New Hampshire, would be good but ho-hum.

        Here's hoping that Nunn in Georgia can pull off the Dixie miracle, but I'm afraid the deck is stacked against us there. And I expect that she's lucky if she's even 8th from the top on any D.C. outfit's list.

      •  7 Better? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NinetyWt

        Because Democrats can win this seat. It looks like the only Republican seat that they can flip. It's the only chance Democrats will have to get a Mississippi Senate seat in the foreseeble decades, which could be kept if they didn't blow it.

        Which seats would be a higher priority if you were running the DSCC?

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:08:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hm (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DocGonzo, MichaelNY, Hamtree

          Incumbents in close races:
          Louisiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alaska

          Pickups in States that are more likely to vote D:
          Kentucky, Georgia

          Long-shot defense:
          Montana

          Long-shot offense:
          Mississippi

          So I'd put it 8th.  7th is defensible.  6th might be.  Anything above 6th is not.

          Note that this excludes Iowa and Colorado, both of which will be close but likely wins for us.

          21, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
          politicohen.com
          Idiosyncratic, pro-establishment. Liberal, not progressive. For the poor, the children, the planet, and the rule of law.
          UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city.

          by jncca on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:59:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Kentucky and Georgia (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          camlbacker, DocGonzo

          As well as places like MT NC and LA where we're trying to hold the iffy seats we already have.  But MS is a key part of the path to victory.

          There's a belt of Southern seats in play, including WV, KY, NC, GA, MS, LA and AR (AL, TN and SC would make a solid block of land, but those three aren't being seriously contested by Democrats and I've seen no grounds for thinking they'd be worth it).  A smart national Senate effort would be blitzing the region with a populist economic message that includes medicaid expansion but does not emphasize President Obama, who is very unpopular here.

          Really, outside of Alaska and Montana, the Appalachia/South region is where the game is being played this year.  It's not favorable territory, but it can be won.  And having MS on the table is part of a sound strategy.

          "The law, in its majestic equality, allows the poor as well as the rich to donate unlimited funds to the politicians of their choice." ---attributed to Anatole France

          by AdmiralNaismith on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:59:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not a key part (0+ / 0-)

            I'd love to see Childers win, but it's gravy. The chances of MS being the difference between Democratic or Republican majorities in the Senate is infinitesimally low.

            Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

            by MichaelNY on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:07:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Who says it's about that? (0+ / 0-)

              We're not trying to hold the Senate at 50 or 51. We're trying to get as many Democrats as possible.  

              MS is the difference between having 53 and 54 Democrats.  Be kinda nice if THAT benchmark was the narrative.  Are we supposed to just give the GOP all the seats they now hold for free, plus SD WV and MT for nothing, just so the battle can be about holding the Senate at all?  A formerly safe-red state just got put on the table! Let's stir it up!

              When Kennedy died, did the Republicans just say, "Oh, Massachusetts is a blue state, don't bother"?

              "The law, in its majestic equality, allows the poor as well as the rich to donate unlimited funds to the politicians of their choice." ---attributed to Anatole France

              by AdmiralNaismith on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 09:50:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I didn't say there shouldn't be a strong effort (0+ / 0-)

                to defeat McDaniel in the likely event he wins the runoff. I said it is not a "key part of the path to victory," and I certainly stand by that. The race would start at Lean-R at least, probably Likely-R.

                Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                by MichaelNY on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 10:34:53 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  Why McDaniel's not ahead (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cosette, NinetyWt, DocGonzo

      Mississippi is a politically weak state with a low population, and so they've learned to elect 'em young and keep them in, Strom Thurmond style, taking them to the taxidermist and having an aide vote on their behalf if necessary, so that they can get a seniority advantage.  They gave us long-termers like John Stennis and Jamie Whitten who spent decades and decades in there.

      Cochran is, I think, currently the most senior Republican in the US Senate, serving since the Carter Administration. He's the head Republican on the agriculture committee and could have Appropriations if he wanted it, and would chair his choice of those committees if Republicans took control of the chamber.  For that reason, a lot of voters who hate him would consider picking him for another term.  Because of the power.

      "The law, in its majestic equality, allows the poor as well as the rich to donate unlimited funds to the politicians of their choice." ---attributed to Anatole France

      by AdmiralNaismith on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:52:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Predictons of Mid term election outcomes (5+ / 0-)

    cannot be determined by presidential numbers or other mid term elections. Those whovted  fote Obam in 3 2008 did not cmoeout and vote in 2010, thus we now have a right wingcongress obstructing everything Obam wanted to do.

    Far Left leaning Democrats have a very bad habit of not voting when they do not get every thing the want. Democrats could take back the House and increase our numbers in the Senate. It only requires Democrats getting out to vote!

    •  Prove it (0+ / 0-)
      Far Left leaning Democrats have a very bad habit of not voting when they do not get every thing the want.
      There's a lot of idle talk from cranks on sites like this one about not voting or voting for third parties because of fanatical purity, but that just doesn't happen often in real life.

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:10:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  crossing my fingers (0+ / 0-)

    for a McDaniel win.

  •  The Delta is a solid blue district, to keep in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AdmiralNaismith, NinetyWt

    mind for the general election. It's also interesting to see that Republicans favored Cochran there. The population density adjusted map shows the 3 main population centers:
    1] Jackson and west to the Delta
    2] Biloxi - pale green
    3] the suburbs south of Memphis is the only one of the three leaning teaparty wingnut.

    I would not ignore what happened a few months ago in Louisiana CD-05. There was a special election to fill the seat after Rodney Alexander resigned. Some people may know the district as Duck Dynasty land. In reality, it's very much like the Delta and it could be blue as well. Someday.

    In the special election runoff, a Duck Dynasty endorsed teaparty wingnut ran against Vance McAllister who wasn't clearly opposed to Obamacare. And he won.

    The corporate media glorifies the worst and make it seem like that's all there is because they completely block out the majority. The area is desperately poor. Cuts in SNAP, unemployment benefits, the stagnant minimum wage, don't help. Nasty people talking trash don't represent a majority there.

  •  The Delta (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY

    is almost entirely African American, which is to say  Democratic.  When you see "enthusiasm" for Cochran there, what you are seeing is a handful of planters on their porches sipping mint julips.  There are not enough Republican voters in the Delta to make any sort of difference.

    "We are not princes of the earth, we are the descendants of worms, and any nobility must be earned." P.Z. Myers

    by TheGryphon on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 07:36:20 PM PDT

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