Anyone who believes that the 2014 elections are predictable should look to the Mississippi Republican primary in which incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran defeated Tea Party candidate state Sen. Chris McDaniel because of a surge of votes in the GOP primary from black Democratic voters who provided Cochran's margin of victory. For political junkies, this is heaven. For the Tea Party, this is political hell. For Senate Democrats, who were pulling for McDaniel because the Democrats would have had a chance to defeat McDaniel in the general election, Cochran's victory is bad news.
Within Mississippi, the next thing to watch is whether McDaniel concedes the election and endorses Cochran, which would make Cochran the prohibitive favorite in the general election against the highly respected Democratic candidate, former Rep. Travis Childers, or whether McDaniel refuses to endorse Cochran and Tea Party voters stay home in the general election, which might give Childers an outside chance.
Nationally, Tea Party voters should not believe Republican leaders, who are trying to marginalize and put down the Tea Party, are their friends. They are not. And could the surge of black voters in a Republican primary suggest that black voter turnout nationally could be larger than expected, which would boost Democrats in November? Time will tell.
In the Senate, an intriguing question will be whether Cochran — who campaigned on a platform of working on a bipartisan basis with Democrats when possible, and who was renominated because of black Democratic votes in the primary — plays a higher profile role working with Senate Democrats. This could have very big implications for the work of the Senate, in a political year that will be full of surprises!
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was then chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. degree in international financial law from the London School of Economics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.