HATTIESBURG, Mississippi — A new poll from WPA Research shows conservative Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel has shot up to an eight-point lead, outside the margin of error, over Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) a little over a week from the runoff election.
The poll of 500 likely GOP primary runoff voters has McDaniel leading Cochran 49 percent to 41 percent, with 10 percent undecided. McDaniel beat Cochran in the primary about two weeks ago, getting 1,300 more votes.
The poll was conducted June 9 to June 10 and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.
Now, heading into the runoff, WPA Opinion Research’s Ryan Steusloff wrote in a memo to interested parties about the new Mississippi polling days, “It is clear Chris McDaniel is well positioned to win on June 24th.”
“Whether one looks at polling, history or the message of both campaigns, it is clear that Thad Cochran is running from behind and growing increasingly desperate,” Steusloff wrote.
Steusloff cites a recent report from Aaron Blake of the Washington Post that argues runoffs favor challengers over incumbents. “Runoffs from this year have been especially unkind to incumbents, with Texas Rep. Ralph Hall and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst easily defeated by their primary opponents,” Steusloff wrote. “The few instances of an incumbent defeating a challenger in a runoff have often come in situations where national groups rallied heavily behind the incumbent and the runoffs were over much longer periods of time than the three weeks between the primary and runoff elections in Mississippi.”
In an interview on Saturday at a campaign rally at Gander Mountain with Ron Paul here in Hattiesburg, McDaniel told Breitbart News his plan to win is to keep doing what he’s been doing.
“We are going to keep going out and meeting Mississippians and talking about the issues that matter to Mississippians,” McDaniel said. “We have hit multiple cities in just the last few days, and we’ll keep going out, answering questions and talking to the people. That’s what they want to hear. They don’t want a senator who avoids them. They don’t want a senator that avoids the press or avoids town halls. They want someone that they can [access]. That’s who we are, and that’s one of the reasons we have the momentum that we have right now – because we have been around the people and we are talking about the issues that really matter.”
McDaniel’s interview with Breitbart News came just after he and Paul, a former congressman and 2012 GOP presidential candidate, spoke on stage. After McDaniel finished his speech, he kneeled on the edge of the platform in the Gander Mountain parking lot for at least an half an hour to take pictures with, sign autographs for, and chat about political concerns with almost every single one of the 300 voters present at the rally.
A reporter for the New York Times had just interviewed McDaniel before Breitbart News. She asked the conservative state senator about attacks from Cochran’s team to the effect that he’d support fiscal conservatism that may mean less federal money for Mississippi. That theme has been a large focus in this race: Should Republicans bring home the bacon or be fiscal conservatives all around when they go to Washington?
McDaniel’s stance is that big government “does not” help people, he told Breitbart News.
“With big government, there’s a cost,” he said. “Almost always the cost, it seems, is higher taxes and more intervention in our lives–and less liberty. When you raise taxes, when you intervene–that naturally creates recessionary periods where entrepreneurs can’t succeed, where people don’t have any upward mobility. That’s part of the positive agenda that we have for Mississippi. If we can create an environment where our people do have upward mobility, we can escape and be prosperous again in this state. We can do that by making sure that the federal government isn’t intervening so much, that it isn’t taxing us so much, that it’s giving us our freedom back. That’s the plan.”
Specifically, agenda-wise, McDaniel said he is supporting the Conservative Reform Agenda from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). “We’re a big believer in that Conservative Reform Agenda that Mike Lee’s pushing and Sen. Cruz and Rand Paul, and we have our own agenda that’s very similar,” McDaniel said. “But conservatives can talk about positive things for this country. We can talk about things like repealing Obamacare and term limits and tax reform and the end of cronyism as we know it. There are a lot of good ideas conservatives offer and take that message to the people the way we have been. It’s resonated, and momentum is created, and we win elections that way.”
McDaniel also said he thinks the Chamber of Commerce is supporting Cochran–the group just announced another big ad buy heading into the runoff–because Cochran will vote for amnesty if he gets back into the Senate. In 2013, Cochran voted to advance the Gang of 8’s immigration bill to move forward, allowing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to take it to the floor for a final vote, before ultimately voting against the passage of the bill.
“Sen. Cochran has a very unfortunate record on issues of illegal immigration,” McDaniel said. “He’s voted twice against the border fence; he’s voted to support amnesty. We know that’s the very reason the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is supporting him at this point. They’re counting on Sen. Cochran to support their plan for amnesty, and that’s the reason he won’t sign the pledge, and that’s the reason he won’t take a position on it because I think he intends to vote for amnesty. I am not, under any circumstances ever, going to vote for amnesty.”
McDaniel told Breitbart News, too, that he thinks former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s quarter-million-dollar donation to Cochran’s Super PAC, Mississippi Conservatives, is meant to purchase influence over Cochran on something.
“Bloomberg, like every insider and every lobbyist, seeks influence over Sen. Cochran,” McDaniel said. “And now there must be some degree of influence because $250,000 is a lot of money for an individual to give–and it’s amazing he would give it to a PAC named ‘Mississippi Conservatives PAC’ for goodness’ sake. There’s nothing conservative about Michael Bloomberg. He’s anti-Second Amendment. He’s anti-Mississippi values. And I can only assume there’s been some arrangement where he’s going to have some sort of influence over Sen. Cochran’s voting record.”