Sen. Thad Cochran's narrow victory over Chris McDaniel in the Mississippi Senate runoff deprives Democrats of their argument that Republicans are beholden to the tea-party wing of their party. But it offers them some optimism that African-American voters will show up in healthy numbers for the midterm elections, given that they made the difference in a Republican runoff in a deeply conservative state.
There was clear evidence that Cochran's attempt to boost Democratic African-American turnout paid off in a big way. In Jackson's Hinds County, where two-thirds of the population is black, Cochran won 73 percent of the vote, 7 points higher than his performance in the primary. Turnout was up significantly in heavily African-American counties in the Mississippi Delta, like Quitman, Sharkey, Humphrey, and Coahoma, where Cochran increased his primary-election margins over McDaniel. Over 347,000 voters cast ballots in the runoff, a higher total than in the primary — marking the first time in 30 years that has happened in any Senate race.
"Looking at county data, Cochran's #MSSEN win is almost entirely attributable to a large turnout increase among black voters b/t 6/3 and 6/24," tweeted Cook Political Report analyst David Wasserman.