Polls show divergent outcomes in Miss. Senate runoff

 

Two new surveys of the Mississippi Senate primary runoff paint wildly differing pictures of the state of the battle between Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and challenger Chris McDaniel just over a week out from the runoff.

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One, from Democratic pollster Chism Strategies, shows the race to be a statistical tie, with Cochran taking 48 percent support to McDaniel’s 47 percent support among likely GOP runoff voters, and 5 percent are undecided. 

That spread is within the poll’s 3.3 percentage point margin of error.

That’s in contrast to Chism’s first survey of the runoff field, just after the primary election, which found McDaniel up by three points. Two other runoff surveys out last week, one from Tea Party-centric pollster Strategic National and another from McDaniel’s campaign, showed the challenger up 6 and 8 points over Cochran, respectively.

Another new survey out Monday, conducted by the Polling Company for pro-McDaniel Citizens United, shows McDaniel taking 52 percent support to Cochran’s 40 percent support among likely GOP runoff voters, with 4 percent undecided.

That survey has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

Both companies polled during the initial primary race, and Chism has had a slightly better track record than the Polling Company, though both showed a margin-of-error race when they surveyed the field in May. 

But Chism’s poll was conducted via automated survey among 821 likely runoff voters over just last Friday evening, and included only those who had voted in the primary. The Polling Company survey was conducted among 501 likely voters via live calls over two days, June 12-13. Single-day polls are typically less reliable and more prone to unexpected swings.

The Chism poll also heavily samples female and older voters in the raw data, making the weighted samples somewhat of a stretch of the initial results. 

And those numbers could shift in the final week, as outside groups continue to air new ads in the race.

The Chamber of Commerce launched a 30-second spot, backed by a $500,000 buy, lauding Cochran for “bringing honor and dignity to our state” and declaring Cochran will “keep Mississippi proud.” 

The idea of Cochran as a respectable option in contrast to McDaniel, whom Cochran’s spokesman Jordan Russell has called “embarassing,” has been a major theme pushed by Cochran’s campaign in light of some of the scandals linked to McDaniel’s campaign and his off-color comments during his time as a talk radio host.

Meanwhile the pro-McDaniel Madison Project is airing a new radio ad touting McDaniel as a “citizen legislator” and hailing the fight against “career politicians.”

Mississippi voters are facing a wall-to-wall barrage of ads from both sides, with McDaniel’s and Cochran’s campaigns, as well as the pro-McDaniel Club for Growth, all on air.

—This piece was updated at 5:45 p.m.