Twas’ A Month Before Qualifying: Year 2

By: Mike Biggs

Twas’ a month before qualifying, all across the Magnolia State, Candidates have been fretting, whether to jump into the race. Tate Reeves was flip-flopping and drinking the TEA while Hosemann was yet again plotting, this time to be the LG. Thad held on and his days appear sunny, thanks to Scooby and Bishop and Barbour’s “walk around money”. But don’t count out McDaniel whose knives seem to be sharper for he may just go after Bryant or Wicker or even Gregg Harper.

State Democrats are still figuring out how to get out of their hole but fret not fellow Dems cause’ all roads still lead to Rickey Cole. The party of Winter and Ronnie and Ray are hoping Brandon Presley will soon show them the way. Be not dismayed for there is still plenty of lower chamber action thanks to Jeramey and Snowden and yes, Lataisha Jackson. House Republicans are bolstered by an air tight majority and yet are still poised to pick off a few of the remaining House RWD’s.

State Democrats are active and out convincing too, Project 1776 is still working as it goes into year number two. House Dems have set their sights back on the speaker’s gavel; They’ll have rough terrain to defend if they can manage not to unravel. Twas’ a month before qualifying and no pols seem to be slumbered though one thing is certain, Kenny Wayne’s day’s as chair of the Black Caucus are numbered. If you think this session is going to be a bore all’s you’d have to do is look at the pandering around common core.

Now Blackmon and Bryan and Busby and Bain. On Watson and Doty and don’t forget Fillengane. To Hood and Pickering and Chaney with glee. To Sojourner and Aldridge and the lump of coal under your tree. So, Bob Evans and Cecil and Sen. Hill you can’t hide and let’s not forget Randall and Jason and Nickey “party-switchin’ to glide. With the session and election season soon to be in full bloom, the capitol is sure to be the place to see the biggest elephants in the room. Don’t forget the donkey’s for they will be in the mix; and at the receptions and at the podium and on the floor shaking their fists.

So to all of you who love a good political hob-knob, let’s focus all of our energies on pay raises for teachers, state employee’s and Better Schools, Better Jobs. The PULSE wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! and the defeat of the Heritage campaign and it’s vestiges of yester-year!

Sam R. Hall: Senate Race Too Close to Call

Sam R. Hall:Senate race too close to call: Clarion Ledger

Here’s how I see it: Incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran has the slightest lead over GOP primary challenger Chris McDaniel, but the state senator from Ellisville has momentum that could send Mississippi’s senior senator into retirement.

Two independent polls released Friday show similar findings:

• The race is tight, with neither candidate having a discernible lead.

• Cochran is under 50 percent, and that’s bad news for an incumbent.

• McDaniel has upward momentum, even though the nursing home photo scandal has slowed it somewhat.

Harper Polling conducted the first survey released. Harper is a Republican firm that has done polling on behalf of the National Republican Senatorial Committee earlier in the election. Its survey showed Cochran leading 45 to 40 percent, with 15 percent of likely GOP primary voters undecided. The margin of error, however, is 4 points, which means Cochran’s lead could be as small as 1 percentage point (or as large as 9 percentage points). The major problem with this poll is that it skews a bit older. Some have criticized it for not including enough respondents from the Hattiesburg market — McDaniel’s home territory — but that doesn’t seem to be as big of an issue. Either way, the poll probably favors Cochran slightly, which makes me think the margin is tighter than the results show.

Chism Strategies, a Democratic polling firm, conducted the second survey. Brad Chism bases his operation out of Mississippi, but he has done extensive work across the country. While he says he is currently not working for any candidate, he did serve in 2008 and 2010 as a consultant to former U.S. Rep. Travis Childers — the likely Democratic opponent of the GOP primary winner. Chism’s poll has McDaniel ahead 46.4 to 44.3 percent with a margin of error of 3.4 percent. This is a statistical dead heat; however, the poll is heavily weighted toward voters age 66 or older, which is a clear advantage toward Cochran.

The rub with these polls — with any poll — is that despite surveying only likely voters, it is impossible to predict what will drive higher turnout among irregular and first-time voters or what will cause large chunks of likely voters to stay home. In my opinion, the nursing home scandal could be key.

In discussing the impact of the scandal surrounding a 28-year-old blogger and McDaniel supporter sneaking into a nursing home and taking photographs of Cochran’s bedridden wife, my opinion has been this: It seems that the scandal has ignited McDaniel’s base, which could really drive turnout in his favor.

That may sound counter-intuitive, but follow me for a second.

McDaniel’s base seems genuinely angry because it sincerely believes the Cochran camp sandbagged McDaniel by waiting three weeks to tell authorities. It also thinks Cochran using the scandal in TV ads against McDaniel — who has not been implicated — is as distasteful as someone sneaking and taking photos of Rose Cochran.

On the other hand, Cochran’s base does not seem as excited about the race. Those who support Cochran think he’s done a good job and believe he should keep doing it, and they’ve never had to worry about whether or not “Thad” would win. He always wins. So while both polls show that the scandal has hurt McDaniel’s momentum, it’s done little to move undecideds to Cochran.

Ironically, neither candidate has a statewide network designed to push voters to the polls. You wouldn’t expect it from McDaniel, only a state senator. However, that Cochran doesn’t have one shows his vulnerability. He will rely on the networks of others, in particular Gov. Phil Bryant and U.S. Reps. Alan Nunnelee, Gregg Harper and — to an extent — Steven Palazzo. (The latter has a credible primary threat in Gene Taylor, so his focus must remain on his race.) Bryant and Harper have two of the best networks in the state, and that should bode well for Cochran — even though a number of key Bryant supporters are working for McDaniel.

As for McDaniel, he has cobbled together a network of tea party activists and younger elected officials across the state. While he has excitement and momentum, McDaniel lacks a unified get-out-the-vote apparatus and doesn’t have the benefit of “borrowing” one from supporters. His hard-core supporters will brave rain, sleet, snow and apocalyptic destruction to vote for McDaniel, but will they bring enough friends with them to put him over the top?