Cochran Got What He Wanted: Now It’s Payback Time

After Thad Cochran won his run-off against Tea Party favorite, Chris McDaniel, an immediate debate was in full swing about how Cochran went about winning.

Robert Romano has an excellent post showing how Cochran was able to pull off what seemed like an improbable victory. Bottom line? It was black Democrats that put Cochran over the top:

Doing some quick back of the envelope math, of the 30 Mississippi counties won by Barack Obama in 2012, Thad Cochran won 25 of them by 21,731 votes in the primary. On June 3, Cochran had won 26 of those same counties by 11,163 votes.

Meanwhile, in Republican counties won by Romney in 2012, McDaniel was the clear favorite. On June 3, he won those counties by 12,549 votes. And on June 24, he won them by 15,038.

So, to win, Cochran boosted his lead by 10,568 in Democrat counties, compared to McDaniel who increased his lead by 2,489 votes in Republican counties.

Turnout tells the tale entirely.

In Democrat counties, turnout disproportionately increased by 21,439 additional voters to 81,464, a 35.7 percent increase. That compares with a 41,401 additional voters in Republican counties to 294,859, just a 16.3 percent increase from June 3.

That clearly made all the difference in the outcome of the race, which Cochran won by just 6,693 votes.

In the first round of voting on June 3, Cochran was behind by 1,386. The extra 11,000 votes in Obama counties got Cochran across the finish line.

So is this a bad thing? The concern trolling started almost immediately:

Look at all these wingdings on here saying African Americans voting Republican is a bad thing. #mssen

— Drew (@FigDrewton) June 25, 2014

In almost any other case, Drew would be right and one would celebrate black voters crossing over to vote for a Republican.

Except this was not a general election. 

This was a primary and Cochran along with his operatives basically employed the same kind of tactics Democrats use against Republicans all the time. There was the accusation McDaniel is a racist. They hit him on his support for shrinking the size of government. They railed at McDaniel for his criticism of the Department of Education. They went after him on his support for cutting back on food stamps.

These were Republicans doing this to another Republican. 

On the one hand, one has to admire Cochran’s team for going all out and doing whatever is they could to win. This is politics and it is sometimes very ugly. That said, it does raise the question of whether or not this was “outreach” or just a cynical strategy designed for political expediency.

In my view, it is clearly the the latter. This was not “outreach.” There is nothing here that Cochran will be able to use against a Democrat in a general election. The other problem manifests itself in ways where people say, “Hey, we helped you. Now it’s time for you to help us.” And it didn’t take long. The NAACP is calling on the Senator to now step up:

Black voters played a huge role in helping Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) fend off tea party challenger Chris McDaniel in a runoff election Tuesday, and now the state NAACP is asking the six-term senator to return the favor.

In an interview with HuffPost Live, Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, said that Cochran could thank black voters by supporting efforts to re-establish protections in the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Courtstruck down last year.

“Our advocacy towards his office is to support amending the Voting Rights Act, free of any conditions such as voter ID,” Johnson said. “I think this is an opportunity for him to show some reciprocity for African-Americans providing a strong level of support for him.”

Didn’t anybody doubt this would happen (aside from those who were celebrating the Senators outreach efforts)? I can’t say I blame the NAACP. But team Cochran decided to go down this slippery slope and now they are going to reap the “rewards” for what they did. When Cochran goes and ignores all of this, he’ll be on the receiving end of the same treatment come general election time.

The odds that Cochran loses are slim to almost none. But that won’t stop Democrats for tearing into him by looking for support from African-Americans and then quickly turning his back on them.

This is the end result. And the reason is, Cochran did not engage in “outreach” for votes.

He pandered for votes. 

He may have won, but he did the GOP no favors in the long term.