Veteran Republican Sen. Thad Cochran capitalized on Mississippi's unusual election laws to defeat tea party challenger Chris McDaniel and win renomination with the help of Democratic voters.
Cochran and his allies, led by former Mississippi governor and national Republican chairman Haley Barbour, managed the rare feat of sharply increasing voter turnout over totals three weeks earlier in the initial primary voting. The presence of a third candidate in that June 3 balloting kept either of the two leading candidates from reaching the 50 percent needed to win.
Most political observers had expected McDaniel, who led narrowly in June 3 voting, to defeat Cochran in Tuesday's runoff. Outside hard-right conservative groups, from the Club for Growth to the tea party, invested heavily in McDaniel in hopes he would repeat the success of economics professor Dave Brat in knocking off House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.