Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Sid Salter: It's Deja Vu All Over Again for Mississippi Senate Race

The 2020 Mississippi U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democratic challenger and former Clinton administration U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy of Madison should seem like what it is to Mississippi voters – a case of political déjà vu.

State voters saw this race in 2018, when Hyde-Smith defeated Espy by almost 66,000 votes, 53.6 percent to 46.4 percent. In that race, Espy outraised and outspent the incumbent. Espy spent $6.97 million to Hyde-Smith’s $5.16 million. There was another $10.3 million in outside money spent in that race.

Hyde-Smith’s 2018 campaign was bolstered by a massive campaign rally in DeSoto County in which Republican President Donald Trump strongly endorsed Hyde-Smith and then cut TV commercials backing her. In the 2016 presidential election in Mississippi, Trump claimed 57.86 percent of the vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 40.06 percent.

Voters will recall that in their 2018 special election runoff, outside spending attack ads from both camps painted Hyde-Smith as an insensitive racist and Espy as a crooked public official for hire. Throughout a prior 18-year career in Mississippi politics, Hyde-Smith had never faced allegations of that nature. Espy was cleared of all criminal charges against him more than 20 years ago and has enjoyed a successful law practice since that time.

So far, in the 2020 redux of the Hyde-Smith/Espy U.S. Senate matchup, the money falls the incumbent’s way. OpenSecrets.org shows the Hyde-Smith campaign currently at $2.08 million raised and $1.20 million cash on hand.


Espy shows $1.35 million raised and $680,429 cash on hand. Likewise, the reporting site documents just over $36,900 in outside spending, $30,000 of which was spent opposing Hyde-Smith from the “Americans for Freedom” 527 group.



Hyde-Smith now has over two years of U.S. Senate seniority and seats on the Appropriations, Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resources, and Rules committees. While the circumstances have changed in that President Trump faces a tough reelection bid, she still has Trump’s strong support.

Two things remain clear at this juncture – first, it is challenging to construct a rational political model regardless of the outcome of the overall presidential election in which Trump doesn’t carry Mississippi as he did in 2016. Second, it’s likewise difficult to construct a rational political that shows Mississippi supporting Trump in the presidential election but not supporting Hyde-Smith in the U.S. Senate race.

But what if there is a gargantuan turnout among the state’s Black voters? Maybe those voters are inspired to elect the state’s first Black U.S. senator since Reconstruction?

In 2008, during Barack Obama’s first race for president against Republican John McCain, Mississippi produced the highest voter turnout numbers in the state’s history.

Records chronicle that 1.289 million Mississippians voted in the 2008 November general election out of 1.895 million registered voters or 68 percent. Four years later, in 2012, 1.285 million.

Mississippians voted in Obama’s presidential reelection bid against Republican Mitt Romney.

Obama got 43 percent of the Mississippi vote in 2008 and 43.8 percent in 2012 – but still lost Mississippi by just less than 150,000 votes. The suggestion that Mike Espy is going to generate a predominantly Black Democratic voter turnout among Mississippians that rivals or bests Barack Obama in 2008 or 2012 is, at best, unlikely.

Many of the same national experts predicting a Hillary Clinton win in 2016 are predicting a Joe Biden win in 2020. And yet, those same prognosticators are forecasting blue skies and fair winds for Hyde-Smith’s reelection bid.


Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at sidsalter@sidsalter.com.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cindy is the weakest senator in the country, but she will win easily. It’s unfortunate the GOP can’t find a more intelligent person to represent our state and their party.

Anonymous said...

The November elections will be a great indicator of the dismal failure of the tow party political monopoly we now tolerate. The candidates the parties have selected, Biden vs Trump and Hyde-Smith vs Espy leave the voters with little more than a pick of the lesser of evils rather than representatives of the people's interest. Maybe it's all by design. Deprive the common people of real representation while the one percent run the show. Better luck next time.

Anonymous said...

@8:32 - that can pretty much be said of all our elected officials from top to bottom. We are not sending our best and brightest to the state capital capitol or DC, that's for sure. And I completely understand why the best and brightest don't want to serve, but that sure leaves us with a bunch of morons running the show. I mean, if Trump and Biden are the 'best' that we can put forward for the highest office in the land, I'd hate to see the worst!! And that's pretty much the way every local, state & national election goes.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi is know for picking losers and nothing is going change this election. They will pick Cindy and Trump, Republicans will lose control of the Senate and Trump is going to lose in landslide. If it wasn't for Bennie the state will be totally forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Cindy as Senator and tater tot as Governor. I hate to see who is on the bench for the future. Yikes

Anonymous said...

I can't decide who is more delusional. The QAnon cultists or the Democrats who believe Donald Trump is going to lose in a landslide. Donald Trump is the choice of the 1% who rule this star system. That is all that matters. That is why so many fanous election predictors so confidently state he will win reelection.

Anonymous said...

I agree 8:32! Why can’t our senators make some waves. AOC and her gang come in and take over the Democratic Party and that’s on the news nearly day. Smith and Wicker might as well be in a basement like sleepy Joe!

Anonymous said...

For those who complain about the quality of elected officials, I offer up a suggestion - Term Limits. And please don't give me the lame excuse that we already have term limits in the form of elections. Each time an incumbent is re-elected two things happen: (1) it becomes more and more difficult to unseat them; (2) good, qualified people are not going to spend the time, effort and money to run against someone that has been in office for 20+ years; there are just too many uneducated voters that will always for for the incumbent.

Anonymous said...

Cindy had it made living in Brookhaven and serving as AG Commissioner. She's probably miserable in DC amongst 534 do-nothing other Reprentatives/Senators and over 10,000 lobbyists.

Anonymous said...

Please Sid, just once, please tell us something other than the obvious.

Anonymous said...

Without any hesitation or reservation whatsoever, I’m voting for Trump and Espy. Are either perfect, no. But their opponents are deeply flawed, unqualified even. And not it has nothing to do with CHS’s gaffe the last time around. I wonder how many other would vote for Trump and Espy. I’m guessing not too many, and CHS will win by roughly the same margin she did last time. Is what it is.

Anonymous said...

Can I jump in and remind all that we have Phil Bryant to thank for Cindy Smith? But, hell, Wicker was also gifted the position via appointment. Two dullards. It must boil down to 'who the hell wants this job anyway' other than a democrat who wants to become a millionaire.

Econ 101 said...

Sid needs you more than you need Sid.

Start charging him to post his stuff on JJ.

Anonymous said...

3:22 PM I am voting the opposite Biden and Cindy. Biden will win nationwide by a comfortable margin and Cindy will win in a landslide in Mississippi. Espy would be able to do more for the state in a Biden administration and Democratic Senate but it wont be happening.

Anonymous said...

If Biden wins and the Democrats take the Senate, America will become s one party country. Democrats will stack the deck so they will be in control in perpetuity. DC and PR will become states giving the Democrats 4 additional Senators. The 60 vote rule in the Senate will be voided and the Democrats will pack the Supreme Court.

Anonymous said...

The theory that college educated whites vote for Democrats doesn't work in Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

8:32 For me Thad erased a career of things I supported with his one selfish decision to run that last time. This assured that politicians and not the voters would select the next senator. It was extremely arrogant. No matter how long he had held the seat it belonged to the people. He should have announced two years earlier that he would not seek that final term. There was no possibility of him serving six years. That would have attracted the strongest field possible and the winner would be chosen by the people. Now we have someone with the strength of incumbency and the weakness of a political appointee. What a boneheaded move.

Anonymous said...

8:18, Thad didn't know what planet he was on during his last election. All that "politikin" was conducted under the guidance of Haley Barbour.

Anonymous said...

9:26 your great comment is just like this year's Dem Donkey Biden and we'd have Harris.

Green Acres said...

@8:16 - You're suffering from magical thinking syndrome. I'm amazed that college educated people would vote for Trump, and we know that the vast majority of Trump's supporters have high school educations at best. I'm white, graduate school educated, and would vote for a brick before I'd vote for Trump.

Anonymous said...

@7:46 - whatever you say, Todd.

Anonymous said...

Cindy Hyde-Smith is the weakest member of the Senate and an embarrassment to MS.

Anonymous said...

Everything about Mississippi is an embarrassment 9:56. And it's been that way for the 50+ years that I've been able to pay any attention to the situation. Stennis and Eastland weren't mentally capable of physically or financially taking care of themselves in their last terms and party 'handlers' carried them around like Mortimer Snerds mumbling simple phrases about how busy they were whenever a microphone was put in front of them.

Mississippi is a racist trash pit now just as it has been for 150 years. Mississippi voters will refuse 9:1 Medicaid support to state hospitals just to spite the blacks who would benefit from it and the poor whites who suffer with them are too dumb to recognize the situation and vote Democrat. With that kind of stupidity who can blame the rest of the country for laughing at us?

Kingfish said...

Truth is, we no longer have the right to vote for Senator in Mississippi. The new game is for the incumbent to suddenly resign with a wink, wink, nod, nod to the Governor. The Governor appoints someone. The money cartel then gets behind the new incumbent. Election assured.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point, KF.

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