President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were both holding events in Mississippi on Monday, lending their star power to try to give a last minute boost to Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who finds herself in an unexpectedly difficult runoff for U.S. Senate, mainly because of her own unforced verbal errors related to race and voter suppression.
Until after the general election earlier this month, the Mississippi race had not been on the radar for most political experts – much in the way that a U.S. Senate special election in Alabama had been ignored – but that changed in recent weeks when a video emerged showing Hyde-Smith making a favorable comment about attending a public hanging.
That was followed video of Hyde-Smith talking to supporters about keeping “liberal folks” who live around colleges in the state from voting.
Both President Trump and Vice President Pence will make stops in Mississippi today, with the President holding a pair of campaign rallies for Hyde-Smith in Tupelo and Biloxi.
But among political analysts in Washington, D.C., there is little expectation that ex-Rep. Mike Espy (D-MS) is somehow going to spin an upset on Tuesday.
“I expect her to win, no matter how inept she looks,” said elections expert Stu Rothenberg, who was frank about why Espy – an African American who served in Congress and as Agriculture Secretary in the Clinton Administration – would be unlikely to win a statewide election.
“Party and race,” Rothenberg tweeted.
“Republicans are still favored, but the margin may be surprisingly close,” said Jennifer Duffy, a Senate expert with the Cook Political Report.
And in their stops on Monday, the President and Vice President will try to make sure that’s the outcome at the polls on Tuesday.
The race is important to the GOP for many reason, most of all the Republican majority in the Senate. A Hyde-Smith loss to Espy would reduce GOP gains in the Senate to just a single seat in the 2018 election cycle.