Right before the votes started rolling in last night, elements of Team McDaniel started complaining of “illegal Dem votes to steal the election.” As it became obvious that turnout in heavily African-American areas was up sharply from June 3, with Thad Cochran the overwhelming beneficiary, the cry of “theft” grew louder, to the point that McDaniel himself refused to concede after all the experts had declared the incumbent the winner.
Cochran’s win wasn’t all about “crossover” voting; he seems to have beefed up both turnout and his percentage of the vote in Gulf Coast counties where he campaigned personally, reminding voters of the defense contracts he had brought to the area.
It also appears from McDaniel’s enhanced votes in the pineywoods sections of the state that there may have been a backlash to Cochran’s appeals to African-Americans.
In any event, the kvetching from the Right last night sounded an awful lot like southern seggies during the civil rights era complaning about “The Bloc Vote” (though there really never was a Bloc Vote in Mississippi at that time because black people simply weren’t allowed to vote). The unfocused talk of a legal challenge to the outcome either is or isn’t based on documented examples of (a) voting by people who already participated in the Democratic Primary on June 3, which contradicts a lot of anecdotal evidence about people being challenged and excluded on those grounds, or (b) some sort of illegal inducement to vote. If it isn’t, then McDaniel supporters are really going to embarrass themselves and Republicans everywhere if they contest an election on the basis of some ridiculous and patently unconstitutional “intent to support the party in November” law, or some general principle that “crossover” voting is inherently illegitimate.
For all the talk last night of “liberal Democrats” being allowed to determine a Republican primary, there’s actually no way to know the partisan or ideological identity of voters in a state with no party registration (as David Nir pointedly asked this morning, why hasn’t Chris McDaniel sponsored a bill to change that in his years in the state legislature?). So what these birds are really complaining about is black participation in a “white primary.” This is certainly not an argument consistent with broadening the appeal of the GOP or the conservative movement.
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