Political Scientist Stays Busy With Election Analysis
Glenn Antizzo’s job analyzing Mississippi political races isn’t over.
Staying busy in a WLBT-TV 3 studio in Jackson as election day results filtered in, the Mississippi College professor aired his views on the state’s two U.S. Senate contests.
But with U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican, now facing Democrat Mike Espy in a November 27 run-off, Antizzo will continue to stay focused on major political developments.
Appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant, Sen. Hyde-Smith will be tough to beat in three weeks, Antizzo predicts.
In this part of the Deep South these days, Democrats win statewide offices “only when the GOP candidate is deeply flawed,” says Antizzo, a political science professor. “In the runoff, Espy will face an uphill climb because Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is a credible Republican candidate.”
Election results November 6 show Hyde-Smith received 367,036 votes or 41.5 percent to 358,752 or 40.6 percent for Espy. A former Mississippi congressman and attorney, Espy is a former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Republican Chris McDaniel picked up 145,239 votes or 16.4 percent to finish third. Tobey Bartee received 12,670 votes or 1.4 percent to finish 4th.
A former Mississippi agriculture commissioner and ex-state senator, Hyde-Smith received the endorsement of President Donald Trump prior to the special U.S. Senate election.
Trump’s strong approval of Sen. Hyde-Smith was featured in a blitz of statewide campaign commercials. Her campaign also earned a solid endorsement from Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.
“Given the president’s popularity and that of her other major supporter, Governor Bryant, they were able to assure the public that she was a reliable candidate they could vote for,” the Mississippi College educator said. “All things being equal, Hyde-Smith should win the run-off.”
Starting 9 p.m. Tuesday evening, Antizzo and Jackson State University political science professor D’Andra Orey fielded campaign questions from WLBT-TV news anchor Maggie Wade.
Post-election conversations will now shift to college classrooms. Antizzo expects his MC political science students will dive into the elections with class discussions on the Clinton campus Thursday.
One unknown of the post-Thanksgiving runoff is whether Chris McDaniel’s supporters will vote for Hyde-Smith as the state senator from Ellisville urged them to do. Some McDaniel voters could skip the election on November 27.
Antizzo believes the vast majority of McDaniel backers will support Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in the runoff to put her on a path to victory. Gov. Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith, a Brookhaven Republican, to fill the Senate seat formerly held by U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
The other U.S. Senate race on Mississippi ballots wasn’t nearly as suspenseful. Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker received 515,131 votes or 58.8 percent to defeat Democrat David Baria. A Mississippi House member from the Gulf Coast, Baria picked up 342,905 votes or 39.2 percent. Libertarian Danny Bedwell got 12,065 votes or 1.4 percent to get third-place, while Reform candidate Shawn O’Hara picked up 5,520 votes or .6 percent.
“There were no surprises in the Wicker race,” Antizzo said. A Tupelo Republican, Wicker will serve another six-year term in Washington. His winning percentage is “typical for statewide races under ordinary circumstances in Mississippi.”
Wicker says his election win could open the door for him to become chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee.
While Tuesday proved to be a long day for Antizzo, the native New Yorker relishes America’s political scene year-round.
The nation’s midterm elections will bring major changes in Washington come January.
As many election observers anticipated, the Democrats regained control of the U.S. House. The Republicans retained their majority in the U.S. Senate. No doubt, students in Professor Antizzo’s classes will have much to discuss on the Clinton campus.