/Musgrove-Wicker 2008 contest provide bad omens for Espy in 2020 Senate race

Musgrove-Wicker 2008 contest provide bad omens for Espy in 2020 Senate race

Musgrove lost by over 123,000 votes, or 10 percentage points to Republican Roger Wicker. Of course, the Senate election was a special election to replace Trent Lott who unexpectedly resigned. The 2018 Mike Espy versus Cindy Hyde Smith contest was also a special election to replace long-term senator Thad Cochran, who had unexpectedly resigned. However, the Espy–Hyde–Smith rematch in November may be more compatible with the Musgrove–Wicker 2008 special elections. The Senate contest in 2008, like this November, will take place during a presidential election. As in most other states, Mississippi has a significantly higher turnout for presidential election contests than it did in previous years. For example, Obama won almost 555,000 votes in 2008, which was the highest number of votes for a Democrat running to be president. Obama received almost 563,000 votes in 2012, surpassing that number. However, Obama lost both those elections by large margins to John McCain and Mitt Romney. Obama managed to capture 43.8 percent in 2012, his best performance. These outcomes show in concrete numbers the obstacles Espy or Joe Biden will face in November in Mississippi if they do as expected and win the Democratic nomination for President. Can Espy get the 125,000 votes Musgrove couldn’t and still win in Mississippi? This will be a difficult task. Recent polling and historical data suggest that he is not able to. Espy, who announced late in 2019, that he would challenge Hyde Smith for the full six year Senate term, acknowledged that he would have to win African American voter turnout at a rate similar or better than Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Even if he succeeds, it is unlikely he will be successful due to what happened with Musgrove. Espy said that he needed to persuade a greater number of white Mississippians to vote for him, given their history of voting Republican by overwhelming margins. Espy is a historical figure in Mississippi, having been elected the first African American to the U.S. House of Representatives from Mississippi in modern times. He believes he can repeat history. He believes that he can accomplish what Democrats such as Ronnie Musgrove and Barack Obama could not, like Jim Hood during the 2019 governor’s race. Last week’s Democratic primary saw 280,000 Mississippians vote – a far cry from the record turnout of 2008, when Obama and Hillary Clinton were on it, but still a decent turnout. It was higher than 2016 and 2012. The vote on Tuesday did not dispel some suspicions that something was happening in Madison County. This includes the wealthy Jackson suburbs Ridgeland and Madison. Madison County has been a Republican stronghold for decades. In 2019, however, the county voted in Democrat Hood. This was the first time Madison County had voted Democratic since 1987. Are Madison County’s elections becoming purple? If that’s the case, it is very significant. However, Democrats still need to win Madison County if they are to prevail in November’s general election. Positive news for Democrats: Espy notes that the turnout in the Democratic primaries in Madison County and DeSoto County (a suburb of Memphis) increased by more than 30% compared to 2016. True, but those counties had a lower turnout than the 2008 record Democratic turnout when Obama and Musgrove were on it. Look at what happened to Obama and Musgrove in the November general elections. According to an Espy news release: “According to exit polls the Democratic primary was 28% white and 72% non-white. This represents a 4 percent increase of white Democratic primary voters compared to 2016. This is a clear indication that Joe Biden and Mike are able bring together a wider coalition than previous Democratic candidates. Mike will need to see an increase in his share of the white vote in November if he is to succeed in November.” Exit polls from past presidential general elections, not primaries, have shown that about 10% of white Mississippians voted Democratic. They will win the state if Espy, Espy, or Biden can get around 28 percent of the white vote in November. Espy would be history. History tells us this is going to be a tough row to hoe.