Speed Reads

2014 Watch

Will the Tea Party fall to Democrats in Mississippi's GOP primary?

The Mississippi GOP primary ends Tuesday in a runoff, finally bringing to a close a nasty race marred by multiple arrests, brutal campaign ads, and the specter of voter intimidation at the polls. And if incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran (R) is to win a seventh term, he may have Democrats to thank for it.

After finishing second in the first round of voting, team Cochran reached out to Democrats — and, notably, to black pastors — asking them to help fend off challenger and Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel. McDaniel's supporters countered by enlisting poll watchers to monitor polling places in Democratic areas.

Cochran trailed McDaniel by a scant 1,300 votes in the initial voting, so it's not unthinkable that an influx of Democratic crossovers could tilt the election in his favor. He'll need the help: Most runoff polls have shown McDaniel with a solid lead.

The GOP will be glad to move on from the bruising primary fight. The campaigns and outside groups have spent a combined $17 million on the race, money that could have gone toward attacking Democratic nominee Travis Childers.