GOP Establishment Candidate Narrowly Beats Primary Challenger With Help of Democrats
With the surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia this year, many wondered if the political winds had shifted away from the GOP establishment and back to Tea Party upstarts. With the majority of the political media forced to take a break from swooning over Hillary Clinton’s inevitability, people began to pay attention to the mid-term elections happening in America right now.
In Mississippi on Tuesday, incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran defeated his challenger Chris McDaniel by a narrow margin. However, this was not a case of Republican voters rejecting the more extreme in favor of the establishment, but in the establishment successfully changing the electorate, specifically encouraging black voters (many Democrats) to support him over McDaniel.
According to PBS Newshour, Cochran saw his vote totals from previous elections jump significantly in areas with higher black populations, such In Hinds County where Cochran gained 6,999 votes. The GOP establishment were reportedly “breathing a jubilant sigh of relief” over this victory. However, Mediaite.com reporter Evan McMurray said he’s gotten word that certain tea party groups are considering voting for Cochran’s Democratic challenger in the general election.
While it would be genuinely surprising for ultra-conservatives to vote Democrat just out of spite, the spate of GOP incumbents winning their primaries may not translate into general election victories. A new poll from Gallup shows that “key midterm election indicators” are at mostly record-lows, so the electorate may vote for the challengers simply because they are not the incumbents.
Yet, the approval rating for President Barack Obama is near where it was in 2010, which saw a huge influx of Republican victories. So the real question is how such partisan feelings will combine with the overall dissatisfaction with incumbents. Candidates of either political party who effectively brand (or re-brand in some cases) themselves as mavericks may find success in November.
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