In 1995, there was no doubt Republican Governor Kirk Fordice was going to win by a landslide. The big question is how many Republicans he would sweep into office with him. Then-Republican Chairman Billy Powell predicted good-sized Republican gains. Indeed, there was even talk of the GOP taking over the State Senate. The Republicans already had the Lt. Governor's post and there was talk of the GOP winning the Secretary of State's, Treasurer's and MDAC Commissioner's posts. Democrats were depressed and were bracing for the worst.
Election Day turned out to be a lot different. Kirk Fordice was re-elected with 55.9% of the voted. He was the ONLY Republican to win a statewide post. Republican incumbent Lt. Governor Eddie Briggs went down to defeat to Ronnie Musgrove. Republican candidates for Secretary of State, Treasurer and MDAC Commissioner got no better than 39% (You read right.) of the vote. As for those big GOP legislative gains, Republicans actually lost seats in the State Senate but gained some in the House. Billy Powell hurt GOP hopes by calling Democratic conservatives "liberals", a charge that badly backfired.
So now it's 2007 and we are getting the same rhetoric again. I do believe incumbent Republican Gov. Haley Barbour will be re-elected. But unless he diverts some of his money to Republicans running for the State Legislature, he won't have any coattail effects. A lot of Republicans (and Democrats as well) think a governor has coattail effects. He doesn't. Fordice had none. Musgrove sure didn't have any.
Let's look at the math. Barbour will get 54%-58% of the vote. Usually, a candidate has to win with at least 60% to have coattails. As of today, I can't see Barbour getting 60% of the vote. If Eaves gets below 40%, that means his support among white voters is very weak. I think he'll get at least 20% of the white vote. If he can't get that, he ought to drop out of running for statewide office in the future or come up with a new campaign theme if he does run.
But Mississippians are very independent in their voting. Party labels don't excite the average voters. Unless you are a party activist, party labels don't turn you on in statewide or Legislative races. With the exception of the Treasurer's race (where politikook Shawn O'Hara is running his umpteenth race), the Democrats have a strong ticket. On the social issues, not one of them can be painted with the liberal paintbrush.
It is very conceivable on Election Day the GOP could win only two statewide offices, Governor Barbour and State Treasurer Tate Reeves. Jamie Franks should get the same base vote as Eaves (44%, as I wrote in a previous blog) plus more. Franks is bleeding Dewey Bryant with the cigarette tax-grocery tax swap. (And don't believe Dewey's polls showing him more than twenty points ahead of Franks. That means Franks is getting about 9%-12% of the white vote. I believe my cat Bueller is a Martian if Franks is that bad with white voters.). Attorney General Jim Hood will win with about 62% of the vote (I plan to vote for Hopkins because I think Hood is a lapdog for trial lawyers.). MDAC Commissioner candidate Rickey Cole has an excellent chance of winning (Les Riley of the Constitution Party will get a couple of thousand of votes.) against Dr. Moo (Lester Spell). State Auditor candidate Mike Sumrall is a very strong candidate and may win if he can convince the majority of voters the state needs an auditor and not a politician for the post. I do not think Rob Smith will defeat Delbert (Eggbert?) Hosemann for Secretary of State. Hosemann will win with 55%-59% of the vote (I plan to vote for Hosemann. I cannot stand Rob Smith and his aloof arrogance.). And I believe Gary Anderson will run a good race for Insurance Commissioner but will lose to Mike Chaney (Unfortunately, Anderson will lose because race is still an issue with the dumber parts of the voting electorate. Those turkeys will never vote for a black. I'm voting for Chaney because Anderson is too closely tied to Dicky Scruggs, a notorious trial lawyer who has given Anderson big bucks. Yeah, I know Chaney has gotten insurance money. But I just can't stand trial lawyers.).
But none of the Democrats other than O'Hara are poor candidates. I don't see how Barbour can help them. As for the Legislative races, the GOP will lose control of the State Senate. I talked to a Republican State Senator who is a political animal and a Republican when Republicans caucused in a phone booth. He thinks the GOP will lose four to six seats in the upper body. As for the State House, he thinks the GOP will gain five or so seats. Again, just like 1995.
I could be wrong. Maybe the GOP will sweep everything in sight and they not only keep control of the State Senate but take control of the State House. And maybe my cat Bueller will become a CPA and help me during tax season.