Hyde-Smith projected to win Mississippi runoff

CNN projects that Mississippi voters have elected Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith to the the US Senate, defeating Democrat Mike Espy.

Posted: Nov 28, 2018 7:51 PM
Updated: Nov 28, 2018 8:25 PM

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has defeated Democrat Mike Espy in the Mississippi special Senate runoff election. The win capped off a tumultuous final few weeks of the campaign for Hyde-Smith who had a string of controversies, many of them touching on issues of race.

Yet, Hyde-Smith's win and the (relatively small) size of it makes a lot of sense when put in the context of this election cycle. Here are five takeaways for the Mississippi race and why it went down the way it did.

1. The result looked like what you expect in a blue wave climate

Mississippi is a really red state. President Donald Trump won it by 18 points in 2016. Therefore in a political environment in which Democrats are winning the national vote by high single digits, we wouldn't expect a Democrat to win a Senate seat in Mississippi. Rather, we'd expect them to come closer than Hillary Clinton did in 2016. That's exactly what happened.

When I used the results of other Senate races this year and controlled for incumbency and past presidential vote, a Hyde-Smith win of about 7 percentage points was predicted. That's right around the margin she ended up winning by.

2. Hyde-Smith's comments probably hurt her

Back in the primary when all the Democrats and Republicans ran against each other, the Republicans combined for 58% of the vote to the Democrats 42% of the vote. In our hyper-polarized political climate, you'd expect Hyde-Smith to capture pretty much all of the other Republican votes. Remember her Republican opponent in round one was the even more conservative Chris McDaniel, whose voters would not be inclined to vote for Espy.

Instead, Espy gained about 5 points in the runoff relative to his primary vote share of 41%. His performance in the state looks to be better than any Democratic Senate candidate in 30 years.

3. Trump helped Republicans in 2018 Senate races

It's not entirely clear whether Trump's last minute visit to Mississippi made any difference. What did help Hyde-Smith though is that Trump is well liked in the state.

An RRH Elections live interview poll that called landlines and cell-phones taken before the runoff had Trump's approval rating at 56% among runoff voters. (A Marist College poll last month had his approval rating at 56% among all voters.) Hyde-Smith, who tied herself very closely to the president, was winning pretty much all of those approvers. Tonight's results bear out that polling.

Put into the larger Senate picture, Republicans did well in solid red states. They were able to pick up a net gain of two seats in 2018 in part because there were five Democratic incumbents running in states Trump won by 19 points or more in 2016. Republicans won three of those five seats. They also held onto the two Republican seats that were thought to be at least vaguely competitive (Mississippi and Tennessee) in states that were about as red.

4. Democrats future hopes are among college educated voters in non-rural areas

The big story of election 2018 was how Democrats were able to win over traditionally Republican-leaning college educated voters. The exit polls reveal they won them by a 20 point margin in the 2018 House vote.

Mississippi was exactly the wrong place to see that in action. The state ranks 49th in the country for adults with a college degree.

Additionally, Democrats did very well in cleaning up in urban and suburban areas. For instance, there's not a single Republican representative in a congressional district that is completely urban.

Mississippi, though, ranks in the top 5 for population living in a rural area.

5. Doug Jones' Alabama victory happened in a unique circumstance

A lot of Democrats had hoped that deep red state Mississippi would turn out like deep red state Alabama after Hyde-Smith got herself into hot water.

Jones' opponent, Roy Moore, was disliked coming into the election. He considerably underperformed in his prior statewide race for state supreme court. Hyde-Smith won 61% of the vote in her prior statewide race for Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. The accusations of sexual misconduct against Moore were the final straw, while Hyde-Smith had room to spare.

Perhaps as importantly, Trump's approval rating nationally was about 6 points lower during the Alabama election than it is now.

That's why we'll have to keep an eye on it heading into 2020. If his approval rating is where it is now, Republicans will suffer, though they won't lose in deep red areas. If it drops, a Trump defeat won't just bring him down, it could bring Republicans down even in the Deep South.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 51079

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12019693
Lake5588248
Elkhart353959
Allen2939134
St. Joseph210669
Hamilton1691101
Cass16449
Hendricks1454100
Johnson1340118
Porter82638
Tippecanoe7709
Vanderburgh7276
Clark69544
Madison67464
LaPorte61628
Howard59858
Bartholomew59745
Kosciusko5754
Marshall5449
Noble51328
LaGrange4849
Boone48244
Jackson4783
Delaware47152
Hancock46736
Shelby45425
Floyd40644
Morgan34231
Monroe34028
Grant31826
Dubois3046
Henry30018
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27410
Dearborn25823
Decatur25632
Lawrence25225
Vigo2528
Warrick25029
Harrison21722
Greene19432
Miami1932
Jennings17912
Putnam1738
DeKalb1694
Scott1649
Wayne1546
Daviess15017
Perry14710
Orange13723
Steuben1362
Jasper1352
Ripley1307
Franklin1278
Gibson1202
Wabash1162
Carroll1142
Fayette1067
Whitley1066
Starke1043
Newton10010
Huntington942
Jefferson862
Wells821
Randolph794
Fulton731
Knox710
Jay700
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Rush613
Posey570
Spencer541
Owen521
Benton510
Sullivan501
Adams491
Brown431
Blackford402
Fountain352
Crawford330
Switzerland320
Tipton321
Parke270
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 64214

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin11724445
Cuyahoga8979393
Hamilton6781207
Lucas2952305
Marion274539
Montgomery244035
Summit2327209
Pickaway222241
Mahoning1928239
Butler182147
Columbiana137860
Stark1214114
Lorain112069
Trumbull104578
Warren97725
Clark80010
Delaware69815
Fairfield66717
Tuscarawas60410
Lake58923
Medina58232
Belmont56922
Licking56812
Miami50631
Portage49259
Wood48851
Clermont4737
Ashtabula44744
Geauga42543
Wayne37253
Richland3715
Allen35641
Greene3439
Mercer29910
Erie27122
Holmes2595
Darke25626
Huron2402
Madison2169
Ottawa17324
Sandusky16015
Washington14620
Ross1443
Coshocton1423
Athens1391
Crawford1385
Putnam13715
Hardin12312
Morrow1201
Auglaize1094
Jefferson1092
Muskingum1001
Union931
Preble901
Monroe8917
Hancock861
Lawrence830
Guernsey823
Clinton811
Hocking809
Williams762
Shelby744
Logan711
Ashland672
Carroll673
Fulton670
Scioto670
Wyandot635
Brown611
Fayette550
Defiance533
Knox531
Champaign511
Highland501
Van Wert471
Perry441
Seneca412
Henry330
Paulding300
Jackson280
Pike280
Adams261
Vinton232
Gallia201
Noble140
Harrison131
Meigs130
Morgan110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Angola
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 63°
Huntington
Few Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 65°
Decatur
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 63°
Van Wert
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 63°
Dry start to the work week
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events