Republicans hit the road, Democrats stay in Jackson in final push before Election Day


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Eric J. Shelton, Mississippi Today

Poll workers wait for voters at Casey Elementary during the runoff elections Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

Pleading their cases one last time before Mississippians head to the polls, U.S. Senate candidates are traveling the state Monday hoping to shore up victory on Election Day.

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is meeting with voters in Hattiesburg, Meridian, Jackson and Monticello on Monday, traveling with Gov. Phil Bryant and outgoing Congressman Gregg Harper. Republican challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel will meet voters in Meridian, Flowood, Hattiesburg, Biloxi and Pascagoula.

“We’re calling, knocking, messaging and dragging every Republican out to the polls to elect Chris McDaniel, rain or shine,” said Tanner Watson, McDaniel’s communications director.

Melissa Scallan, a spokeswoman for Hyde-Smith, said in addition to appearances with Bryant and Harper, the campaign will be knocking on doors and calling people to remind them to vote.

Because Election Day forecasts call for the possibility of rain in some parts of the state, Scallan added: “We want people to vote, but we also want them to be aware of the weather and choose a time when the weather is not bad.”

The Democratic challengers for both Senate seats, however, are staying in Jackson the day before the election. Mike Espy, who’s running against Hyde-Smith and McDaniel in the special election, is greeting voters for lunch at Bully’s restaurant in Jackson and speaking at Anderson United Methodist Church in Jackson Monday evening.

David Baria, the Democrat running against Sen. Roger Wicker, will also meet voters at Bully’s restaurant in Jackson and later spend time in the Fondren neighborhood.

The last-minute ground game strategies come after candidates spent weeks selling their agendas, focusing on counties with the most votes up for grabs. A look at the ten counties with the most voters in the 2016 presidential election, the most recent statewide general election, shows the benefits of candidates spending time where they are in the final hours before the election.

Espy and Baria are spending their time in Hinds County, which features more votes than any county in the state and routinely votes Democratic in statewide elections.

Hyde-Smith is spending time in Forrest County and Lauderdale County, Republican strongholds where close to 60,000 people reside who voted in the 2016 election. McDaniel is hitting Harrison and Jackson counties, where 113,000 2016 voters live.

2016 presidential election votes by county:

Hinds: 94,681

DeSoto: 65,695

Harrison: 63,313

Rankin: 62,768

Madison: 49,802

Jackson: 49,567

Lee: 32,913

Lauderdale: 29,506

Jones: 28,352

Forrest: 28,064