Despite Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R-Miss.) apparent victory on Tuesday evening, state Sen. Chris McDaniel is still not conceding the race and is instead examining options to challenge the vote count.
As of Wednesday, Cochran led McDaniel by 6,693 votes, and the Associated Press had called the race for the incumbent. His comeback, after losing the popular vote in the first round of primary voting, stunned political observers because it defied polling and historic trends, which typically favor the challenger in a runoff.
The 36-year incumbent orchestrated the win by revamping his message to emphasize his contributions to the state and reaching out to African-American Democratic voters. Democrats were allowed to vote in the GOP runoff as long as they had not voted in the Democratic primary the first time around, and early voting data indicates a significant increase in turnout and mostly black precincts was part of the reason Cochran pulled out a win.
The Hill reported Tuesday night McDaniel was looking into legal options for contesting the results, particularly on Hinds County, which has a significant black population and turned out in droves for Cochran Tuesday night.
Cochran’s push for black Democratic votes has, however, drawn criticism from conservatives, with McDaniel saying Tuesday’s results contradicted the clear demand from Mississippians for new leadership.
“The results also tell another story," McDaniel said Wednesday. "They tell the story of some members of our party who are willing to engage in tactics unbecoming of the party of Ronald Reagan. It's no wonder so many conservatives don't feel welcome in the Republican Party.”