Senator 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.