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RRH MS-Sen Poll: Cochran Leads McDaniel 42-41, Runoff Looks Likely

by: shamlet

Fri May 30, 2014 at 15:00:00 PM EDT

Ahead of next week's Mississippi Senate Primary, Incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran looks to be in a very close race with State Sen. Chris McDaniel, leading his challenger by a razor-thin 42-41 margin. Indeed, the possibility of a June 24 runoff forced by a third spoiler candidate, Thomas Carey, looks increasingly likely. However, twelve percent of voters are still undecided at this late date. The survey of 374 adults, with a margin of error of +/- 5%, was conducted on May 28 and 29, 2014. Calls were made by PMI inc., Marianna, Fla., with all survey design and data analysis by Red Racing Horses.  RRH has no connection to any candidate or independent group active in this race; funding for this poll was provided from the generous donations of RRH readers and a presenting sponsorship from our partner blog,

Flip over for the full poll and crosstabs...

shamlet :: RRH MS-Sen Poll: Cochran Leads McDaniel 42-41, Runoff Looks Likely
Calls were placed to 374 adults who voted in the 2011 Republican primary. As many offices were up for election in 2011, we felt that this electorate was a rough approximation of the electorate likely to turn out this year, in which fewer races are up for grabs but the most prominent race on the ballot (the Senate contest) is more high profile.  Respondents who did not state an inclination to vote in the primary or did not give a topline preference were not included in the survey. If a respondent stated a topline choice but did not complete the survey, data was derived for the other questions to the greatest extent possible from the voter file. Where that was not possible, responses were marked as "other." In keeping with RRH's philosophical mission to use as much concrete data instead of our own assumptions wherever possible, the only weighting of the data was for age, gender, and geography increasing the proportion of young and male voters in the sample to bring the sample more in line with projections for the Mississippi primary electorate, and decreasing the number of CD-4 voters, who were oversampled in the initial population.

Sen. Thad Cochran42%
State Sen. Chris McDaniel41%
Thomas Carey6%

Candidate Performance
Sen. Thad Cochran 42%
State Sen. Chris McDaniel 41%
Thomas Carey 6%
Undecided 12%

Tea Party27%
Conservative but not Tea Party57%
Neither Conservative nor Tea Party16%

The poll was weighted in three dimensions, age, gender, and geography:



CD-4 was upweighted slightly relative to its population due to the competitive congressional primary between Rep. Steven Pallazzo and ex-Rep. Gene Taylor, while CD-2 was downweighted due to the dramatically lower proportion of Republicans in the district. CD-1 was also downweighted because the voters in that district have been more likely to pull Democratic ballots due to continued Democratic identification among white voters that does not exist in the rest of the state.

Racial Data (derived from voter file)

As one would expect for a Republican primary electorate in Mississippi, the electorate is overwhelmingly white.

Toplines by age and gender:

CandidateMale (47%)Female (53%)

There is a very pronounced gender gap; male voters go strongly for McDaniel while female voters go strongly for Cochran.

CandidateUnder 45 (14%)45-64(42%)65+ (44%)

Young voters are McDaniel's strongest constituency;  conversely, seniors are strongest for Cochran.

Ideological Self-IDTea Party (27%)Conservative non-TP(57%)Not Conservative (16%)Other (7%)

As one would expect, Tea Party voters break overwhelmingly for McDaniel, while non-Tea Party voters break strongly for Cochran.

Due to the small percentage of nonwhite voters, racial crosstabs are not particularly informative.

We also asked how these voters would vote in November if a candidate they didn't vote for won the primary.

Support R in Nov?OverallCochran Voters (42%)McDaniel Voters (41%)
Definitely support R57%56%65%
Could support either18%21%18%
Support D7%9%5%
Won't vote3%2%4%

The data show that a significant percentage, about one in four, would at least consider voting for the Democratic nominee if their chosen candidate lost the primary. Cochran voters are only slightly more likely than McDaniel voters to consider crossing party lines in November.

GeographyCD-1 (20%)CD-2 (15%)CD-3 (30%)CD-4 (35%)

Geography CD-1 (20%) CD-2 (15%) CD-3 (30%) CD-4 (35%)
Carey 5% 6% 6% 7%
Cochran 38% 40% 48% 38%
McDaniel 45% 50% 36% 40%
Undecided 13% 3% 10% 15%

Cochran's strongest area is the 3rd district, dominated by the upper-middle class suburban Rankin County.


RRH finds the race between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel close; indeed, we see the race close enough that the presence of unheralded third candidate Thomas Carey may throw the contest to a runoff on June 24. As expected, McDaniel's support comes from younger, male, and Tea Party voters, while Cochran does best among older, female, and non-Tea Party primary voters. Unlike all previous polls of the race, RRH finds the race so close, and spoiler Thomas Carey drawing enough votes, that we see that the possibility of a June 24 runoff is very real.

About Red Racing Horses & Contact Info:

Red Racing Horses ( is a collaborative, Republican-oriented blog focusing on horserace politics. We offer daily news updates on the American political landscape and stimulating discussion of upcoming elections. RRH is run by a team of eight volunteer hobbyists, and our website and polling are funded by generous donations from our readers. We have previously conducted polls of congressional elections in Louisiana and South Carolina, and Florida. RRH is not affiliated with any campaign or partisan organization. To contact Red Racing Horses about this poll, e-mail us at

1. There is a Republican primary on June 3rd for the US Senate seat in Mississippi. Are you likely to vote in it?
Press 1 if you are likely to vote in the Republican primary.
Press 2 if you are not likely to vote in the Republican primary.
2. Are you most likely to vote in the Republican Primary for Thomas Carey, Thad Cochran, or Chris McDaniel?
Press 1 if you are most likely to vote for Thomas Carey
Press 2 if you are most likely to vote for Thad Cochran
Press 3 if you are most likely to vote for Chris McDaniel
Press 4 if you are totally undecided
3. Do you consider yourself a Tea Party member or supporter?
Press 1 if you consider yourself a Tea Party member or supporter.
Press 2 if you consider yourself a conservative, but NOT a member or supporter of the Tea Party.
Press 3 if you do NOT consider yourself a conservative, a Tea Party member, or a Tea Party supporter.
4. For statistical purposes, please let us know your gender:
Press 1 if you are male
Press 2 if you are female
5. For statistical purposes, please let us know your age:
Press 1 if you are 18-44
Press 2 if you are 45-65
Press 3 if you are 65 plus.
6. If a candidate you DON'T vote for wins the Republican primary, how likely are you to support the Republican nominee in November?
Press 1 if you will support the Republican nominee regardless.
Press 2 if you could support either the Republican nominee or Democratic nominee if someone you don't vote for wins the Republican primary.
Press 3 if you will probably vote for the Democratic nominee if someone you don't vote for candidate wins the Republican primary.
Press 4 if you will probably not vote in November if someone you don't vote for wins the Republican primary

Appendix: Survey language:

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Who guessed the possibility of a runoff?
Cochran won't win a runoff, unless something happens.

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

That was me!
Called it!

Mainstream Dem.  

[ Parent ]
I wonder if we'd get a discount if we poll the runoff
(If the undecided don't heavily break for a candidate)

43 Male Republican, Maryland Heights, MO Pattonville School District, Maryland Heights Fire District (MO-2). Previously lived in both Memphis and Nashville.

[ Parent ]
We could call the same sample
That might actually be a way to save money, as we might get different hits of the same set of numbers.

R - MD-7

[ Parent ]
Damn I'm worried
I thought this race be over w whole incident

Chris McDaniel
If he wins, and if no more garbage comes out about him, I expect the GOP establishment to support him.

He can definitely win in November.  

Conservative first, Republican second!  

[ Parent ]
He's already got a lot of garbage
I'm not so much worried about this race, I think he'd win most likely, but I'd be worried that he'd poison the well for others.

Akin did a lot more damage than just losing Missouri.  He lost us Indiana and probably cost us a point or two nationally by changing the topic and making a non-issue real.  He made the "War on Women" real when it had been a joke.


[ Parent ]
I think this is misunderstanding who Akin was
Akin game to the GOP from the anti-abortion movement. He was a pro-life activist long before he entered politics. Opposition to abortion was the core of who Akin is and there is no way he would ever temper his rhetoric about it for political benefit. As a result he fell into a trap of his own making. McDaniel to me seems like a conservative opportunist politician 1st. Even his old talk radio rants that got him in some trouble seemed more like an act of him playing a role for talk radio than an actual belief. My hope is if he wins the primary, the GOP can unite around him and McDaniel sticks to the script. I have a feeling he is totally capable of that. After all people said the same thing about the electablity of Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey and Rand Paul.

[ Parent ]
But he did
This is one of the major faults I have with Akin and this is why I say he's a coward. When the rape question came up, he didn't say what he honestly thought - which is that every life is precious no matter how it was conceived. A baby can't choose how that happens so they should not pay the price for the horrible way that it came into being, so there should not be a rape exemption. Clearly, this is what he believes, but he knew it would not go over well. So instead he tried to weasel out of it by saying raped women don't get pregnant, so it's not an issue. And then he wallowed in his unchristian sin of pride and refused to step down despite the fact that he blew it, and not just for MO. I have no respect for that man and hope that one day he gets right with Jesus.

47 Male R, FL-13
Kasich 2016!

[ Parent ]
Ok let's cool off
On the religious stuff.  Whether or not he's a good Christian is not for this forum.  

34, R, CO-1 (Degette)

[ Parent ]
I do get too worked up on that one.

47 Male R, FL-13
Kasich 2016!

[ Parent ]
Actually minus the religious stuff
I found the comment to be fairly insightful.

[ Parent ]
Nobody in their right mind doubted that Cruz could win the general.  Rand was always the overwhelming favorite, and make no mistake, while Toomey won the primary in 2004 he'd have been in a VERY tough race, he still was considered to be a strong candidate who held down a swing district in congress.

McDaniels is like none of them.

I agree he's an opportunist.  But that doesn't also mean he's not an undisciplined hothead who doesn't know or care how things sound outside of the Deep South.

I hope I'm wrong if he wins. I really do. We'll see.  


[ Parent ]
Toomey, Cruz, Rand
Maybe not so much Rand, but Toomey and Cruz come off as very disciplined in terms of messaging in campaigns.


[ Parent ]
Very Surprising
But 12% are undecided, there are enough for either Cochran or McDaniel to avoid a runoff.  There is going to be one heck of a fight to get a solid majority of those voters.

19 | Moderate Republican


Never heard of
This partner blog. Is this something new or something I missed?

34/M/D/NY-01 DKE:Socks The Cat

He's a contributor
to this site, as well. Once was the head of the Monticello Society, if I'm not mistaken.  

German citizen - Conservative by heart, non native english speaker

[ Parent ]
Guilty as charged
I'm writing the elections part of THE US politics blog to follow in Norway at - and we're paying a regular sum to get or name on the surveys and exclusive rights to co-publish the results in Norwegian. Win-win!

Libertarian Conservative, Norway.

[ Parent ]
That actually
Sounds pretty cool. I'll check it out.  

34/M/D/NY-01 DKE:Socks The Cat

[ Parent ]
Really Interesting
I don't have a strong preference either way, I just want to hold the seat and not have it be competitive.  

47 Male R, FL-13
Kasich 2016!

I'd think
You would support Cochran then.

The only chance this race has of being competitive is if it's McDaniel Childers and McDaniel pulls an akin.  

34/M/D/NY-01 DKE:Socks The Cat

[ Parent ]
I mean
I mean, in terms of how I would expect them to vote, I really wouldn't feel strongly. I think Cochran probably has been there too long. If a stronger challenger had emerged, I think he'd lose for sure. Actually, I'm starting to see that some of the attacks against McDaniel are unfair. I'm not worried that he'll 'pull an Akin', more worried that something else in the past will be dug up. I think he's probably smart enough to really keep his mouth shut if he's the nominee and not say anything foolish.
Akin was a vile, unchristian, cowardly human being, I don't expect any candidate as bad as him will come along anytime soon.

47 Male R, FL-13
Kasich 2016!

[ Parent ]
In terms of voting Cochran only had a 60% rating from the Club for Growth
The only Republican Senators with worst scores was Murkowski and Collins. My hunch is if McDaniel gets elected he would have a much higher CfG score!

[ Parent ]
We aren't the CfG party
We are the Republican party.

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

[ Parent ]
Sorry I missed read the original quote
I thought he was writing about not seeing a difference in how Cochran and McDaniel would vote not how he would feel personally about their voting.

[ Parent ]
Really, my main concern would be who they voted for as Majority Leader because that's what I worry about. I'm probably between the two of them on the scale - I wouldn't agree with every vote in both cases, but the numbers of times they'd be on the other side to me would be about the same, I expect, just on different issues.

47 Male R, FL-13
Kasich 2016!

[ Parent ]
With all the weighting assumptions
I would have refrained from using the word "leads".

Awesome job shamlet!!
I am genuinely afraid of the results.

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

Statistically tied is what this is.
Possible good news for Cochran, if the raw percentage breakdown of age turns out to be closer than the weights. (Young voters less reliable than seniors even in an R primary.)

43 Male Republican, Maryland Heights, MO Pattonville School District, Maryland Heights Fire District (MO-2). Previously lived in both Memphis and Nashville.

[ Parent ]
Great job RRH team.
You really are schooling some of the so called mainstream polling firms out there...

Conservative first, Republican second!  

^^^Yes I agree
Great job RRH!  I can't wait for this primary results from the Democratic and Republican races.

19 | Moderate Republican


[ Parent ]
Some comments
Two points regarding the surve - I know female voters outnumber male voters in the US, but is this really the case in a Mississippi primary? Males strongly outnumber females among GOP votes in presidential elections so I would think this to be the case in a primary too.

Second, if this goes to a run-off, I'd assume the participation rate to be lower and even more tilted towards older voters, giving Cochran a slight edge.

Libertarian Conservative, Norway.

MS doesn't have liberal SWFs
I toyed with that as well, but yes, I do think this electorate has a small female majority.

R - MD-7

[ Parent ]
I don't suppose
we have any exit polls or actual numbers to go by here?

Libertarian Conservative, Norway.

[ Parent ]
only 2012
Presidential primary

General election

Walker 2016!

[ Parent ]
What I get
from this is that the pimary electorate (50-50) is more male than the general electorate.

Libertarian Conservative, Norway.

[ Parent ]
the electorate was younger in 2012 than this survey assumes. Though again I suspect the electorate in general may be a little older for non-presidential years.

Libertarian Conservative, Norway.

[ Parent ]
Number 2
Counterbalanced by more of the hardcore partisan voters.

26, Male, R, NY-10

Scott Walker for President!

[ Parent ]
Question #2
I'm curious in regards to Question #2 - was the order of the candidates randomized with each call, or was it Carey (1), Cochran (2), McDaniel (3) each time?  If it was the latter, I'm wondering if Carey's numbers might be slightly inflated given that he was the first person listed.  

I can see him garnering between 1-4% of the vote; 6% seems a little high.  Unless Cochran-McDaniel is pretty much an exact dead heat, I'm thinking a runoff is unlikely.  My gut is saying Cochran narrowly squeaks by.

I think the 3rd party with no chance of winning rule applies
Half of Carey's supporters in the polls may vanish on election day even with MS being a runoff state.

43 Male Republican, Maryland Heights, MO Pattonville School District, Maryland Heights Fire District (MO-2). Previously lived in both Memphis and Nashville.

[ Parent ]
Carey will be first on the ballot.
- Thomas L. Carey
- Thad Cochran
- Chris McDaniel

[ Parent ]

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