Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) primary challenger, Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, is leading the incumbent by 8 points in a new internal poll of the competitive runoff.
McDaniel’s also got a more solid base of support, with 43 percent of his supporters saying they’ll “definitely” vote for him in the runoff, while 38 percent say the same of Cochran. Ten percent of respondents said they were undecided.
The results align with two other surveys of the runoff conducted over the past week, both of which gave McDaniel a lead. Indeed, runoffs historically favor the challenger, as turnout declines and the candidate with the more enthusiastic following is typically victorious.
McDaniel is getting help from national conservative groups and figures to make sure that happens. The Club for Growth went on air for him on Thursday, attacking Cochran for his votes in office and because he’s trying to “have Democrats hijack the Republican runoff,” a reference to his campaign’s strategy to get Democrats to turn out for him in the runoff.
Josh Duggar, the executive director of the Family Research Council’s political arm and one of the stars of the popular TLC reality show “19 Kids and Counting,” will be at a campaign rally Saturday morning in Pearl, Miss., while former Texas Rep. Ron Paul headlines a 2nd Amendment rally for McDaniel in Hattiesburg, Miss., in the afternoon.
But Cochran is getting some star power of his own — and his is more home-grown.
In a new ad from his campaign, former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) touts Cochran’s work securing funding for job-producing entities in the state, like Ingalls Shipbuilding shipyard and the Stennis Space Center.
“Without Thad Cochran, we could lose some of these important facilities,” Lott says, declaring the race is about “jobs in Southern Mississippi.”
Cochran’s campaign is banking on a belief that voters will be swayed to support him in the runoff if they’re aware of how much his power and experience means for the state.
But that message was overshadowed on Thursday as an off-the-cuff comment he made during a speech at a hospital on Tuesday gained notice.
Cochran told the crowd about visiting his grandmother in the area as a young boy and joked that he would spend time in the country “doing all sorts of indecent things with animals.”
The crowd laughed, but national media picked up the comment and it drew jokes on Twitter.