The state of Mississippi rebelled against conventional wisdom by helping once politically dead Sen. Thad Cochran secure the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate. Given that there was a higher turnout in the runoff than the primary (that almost never happens), the results show that Mississippians will vote with their pocket books like voters in the other 49 states.
What is surprising is that the Cochran campaign was able to expand the electorate to include GOP aligned voters who didn’t vote in the primary – and Democrats. In this case, Team Cochran, with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour calling the shots, took a page from Barack Obama’s playbook. The president’s team understood way back in 2007, when they were running against Hillary Clinton, that they could only win if they expanded the voter base. Ditto for Team Cochran in 2014.
But most of the kudos should go out to Barbour, who may be the smartest man in the state when it comes understanding Mississippi’s voters. He instinctively knows the chances these voters will keep someone in office, if they can deliver the goods. The Cochran campaign made the case, and Haley and the ground crew just made sure voters showed up on Election Day.
Given that they had the cash to prosecute and implement their strategy, this was a case of a textbook playbook and textbook execution turning into winning results.