Strength of the Tea Party to be put to test as Sen. Thad Cochran faces runoff against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in race too close to call. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Down to the wire in Mississippi on election eve with Republican Senator Thad Cochran facing a runoff Tuesday against Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel. Darryl West of the Brookings Institution. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DARRYL WEST OF THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION, SAYING: "The stakes are very high. The tea party has not done that well this year but everyone is looking toward that Mississippi Senate race as a possible place where the Tea Party can knock off a Senate incumbent and if they do that, that will demonstrate that the Tea Party still has legs, people have written it off and said it is in decline, but if they win they will be in a strong position to effect what happens in Congress." While McDaniel won the first round of voting, it was not enough for an outright win. The runoff election will be the first test of Tea Party strength after the unexpected defeat of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by a Tea Party Challenger. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DARRYL WEST OF THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION, SAYING: "The landscape changed a lot when Eric Cantor lost. People were bemoaning the power of the Tea Party, they had a run of well publicized losses in elections this year. But when they won that Virginia primary it showed that they still are a force, especially in Republican primaries and they are still very influential in American politics. " Polls show the Mississippi race in a dead heat. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DARRYL WEST OF THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION, SAYING: "If I am Senator Cochran, I would certainly be very nervous about the primary." If he loses, Cochran will be the first incumbent U.S. senator unseated in a primary this year.