Mississippi Poll: McDaniel Moves Into Lead Against Cochran in Runoff

Friday, 20 Jun 2014 06:18 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The latest poll in the contentious Mississippi campaign for U.S. Senate between incumbent Republican Thad Cochran and tea party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel pushes the challenger into the lead 50-44 as the race sprints for a runoff Tuesday.

"Our most recent survey confirms McDaniel now holds a lead outside the margin of error" of 2.85 percentage points, Democratic pollster Chism Strategies reported Friday.

Both candidates were cranking into high gear to lock up votes ahead of the crucial vote, with McDaniel hoping to pick up some Cochran supporters and the incumbent going after moderate Republicans who sat out the June 3 primary vote — in which neither candidate broke 50 percent, forcing the runoff — and Democrats who don't want to see the tea party conservative take the seat, Fox News reported.

"The GOP establishment is 'all in' with TV ads by Gov. [Phil] Bryant, former Sen. [Trent] Lott, and campaign appearances by Sen. John McCain," the Chism analysis noted, but warned: "A 42-year incumbent GOP senator stumping for Democratic and union votes will certainly anger more conservative Republicans. Cochran’s assemblage of plutocrats has not gone unnoticed by the populists among McDaniel’s base."

The celebrity politicking also was a picking up steam, with game show host Chuck Woolery – of "The Dating Game" and "Love Connection" fame – starring on a bus tour organized by the Tea Party Express in support of McDaniel.

"Chuck Woolery is a Hollywood legend who has been a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility and the U.S. Constitution. He shares a vision for America that complements the objectives of Tea Party Express and Sen. Chris McDaniel's campaign; we need a smaller, less intrusive federal government," Tea Party Express chief strategist Sal Russo told CNN.

"This was a perfect opportunity for him to get involved in a political campaign for the first time. We believe he will help bring a Mississippi and national spotlight to this race to motivate Mississippi voters to get out to the polls and national conservatives to get engaged in the political process."

Earlier in the week, pro-football legend and Mississippi native son Brett Favre starred in U.S. Chamber of Commerce television ad supporting Cochran.

"I have learned through football strong leadership can be the difference between winning and losing. And when it comes to our state's future, trust me, Mississippi can win and win big with Thad Cochran in Washington," the former Green Bay Packers quarterback says in the ad. "Thad Cochran always delivers just like he did for Katrina."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, a 2012 GOP presidential candidate who may run again in 2016, campaigned with McDaniel on Thursday, the Jackson Clarion Ledger reported.

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee from Arizona, is stumping for Cochran on the weekend, CNN reported.

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