Defying yesterday’s ballot results, Chris McDaniel did not concede the US Senate primary runoff in Mississippi to Thad Cochran last night. Instead, he reproached his opponent for successfully reaching out to nonconservative and nonwhite voters — and rejected the spirit of compromise and bipartisanship implied by Cochran’s victory.
As you know, folks, there were literally dozens of irregularities reported all across this state. And you know why. You read the stories. You’re familiar with the problems that we have. Now it’s our job to make sure that the sanctity of the vote is upheld. Before this race ends, we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters.
In fact, the runoff saw unusually high turnout, and that wasn’t solely due to Democrats. True, many black voters in Mississippi were probably disturbed by McDaniel’s past overtures to neoconfederates, and Cochran’s outreach efforts obviously worked. But plenty of white Mississippians showed up yesterday to vote for Cochran, too, and not all of them were Democrats, much less African Americans. Some were Republican voters who had sat out the first ballot, or independents who valued Cochran’s role in bringing federal activity to the state. Quite simply, Cochran got out the vote better than McDaniel, who has been rejected by a somewhat-more representative sample of Mississippi’s population than three weeks ago.
It’s worth nothing that many Democrats resisted Cochran’s outreach efforts. The state Democratic Party chairman tried very hard to keep his party at home yesterday in hopes that a McDaniel victory would make it possible to flip the seat in November. But Michael Tomasky says that this triangulation was wrongheaded, and that liberals should be glad Cochran won, because the risk of another extremist in the Senate was just too high.
Boring as it may seem, be glad that Cochran eked out his win. Be happy that sane won. Here’s a little political truism for you: Sane is better than insane. We don’t need more Ted Cruzes in the Senate. We don’t need more candidates endorsed by Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. We just. Don’t. Need. Them. We don’t need one more extremist GOP candidate who is going to make those cowardly Republicans in the Senate conclude that they have to live in fear of losing to some certifiable, fact-bending jelly-head of the extreme right. We really don’t.
Maybe yesterday’s results are more than a demonstration of America’s changing demographics. Perhaps yesterday was a referendum on the new, more disruptive and reactionary conservatism that McDaniels represents — and that America increasingly rejects. And if the non-tea party voter is increasingly motivated to the voting booth by their revulsion at the tea party’s destructive behavior, it is no wonder the losers are so sore today.
For despite a lack of options under Mississippi law, McDaniel does not seem inclined to exit gracefully, and his tea party supporters are trying hard to delegitimize yesterday’s results. Some of them are muttering about third party options or declaring the GOP “done.” I don’t think this is just sour grapes: with the help of a right wing echo chamber, the dirtiest race in America is morphing into a kind of electoral Benghazi scandal. If sanity has won, it doesn’t guarantee the lunatics won’t tear down the asylum in protest.