Sen. Thad Cochran beat back challenger Chris McDaniel’s challenge Tuesday.
McDaniel, a former talk radio host himself, beat Cochran in the original Republican primary, but Cochran won the runoff mostly with Democratic votes in the open primary state.
The Cochran comeback was an upset, as many political observers expected talk radio to propel another Tea Party insurgent to victory as happened in Virginia where economics professor Dave Brat beat House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
From one election to the next, the question went from whether talk radio is a kingmaker to whether talk radio matters.
Two talkers Laura Ingraham and Michael Smerconish give their perspectives.
“McDaniel focused on standard tea party issues of balanced budget, Obamacare repeal, ballooning debt…and he won among Republican voters,” Ingraham said in an email. “Had he followed the Brat template—and focused on how Mississippi’s working class has been harmed by the Establishment’s failure to secure the borders, harmed by its addiction to cheap foreign labor, harmed by crony capitalists who game the system for their own benefit—he might have blunted the effect of the Democrat turnout for Cochran.”
On her radio show on Wednesday, Ingraham said there couldn’t always be a victory like Brat’s. “There’s no magic pill you can take,” she said.
CNN and centrist talk radio host Michael Smerconish said he thinks the role of talk radio had less of an impact in the Cochran-McDaniel race because there already was intense media and voter interest ahead of Tuesday’s runoff.
“Where talk thrives as a political force is in that low-interest election where the establishment is caught unaware by the groundswell talk has created in its demographic,” Smerconish said.
To learn more about where talk radio has succeeded and where it hasn’t, read The Right Frequency.