The Note: Mississippi runoff tests Democrats’ momentum


The TAKE with Rick Klein

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Overtime is over in Georgia and Florida now after Democrats ran out of options — and are short of votes — in both southern states.

That leaves Mississippi looming as a challenge and an opportunity for a party that wants to show it can compete everywhere, and win, even where it’s not supposed to.

There are a few reasons to think that the Mississippi Senate runoff, scheduled for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, would offer the right mix of circumstances for a Democratic upset. Democrat Mike Espy only advanced to this round of voting because the two major Republicans split votes two weeks ago.

But Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., has made a series of public statements that raise the stakes on matters of race and voting rights. The issues are all too familiar for Democrats after campaigns that fell short in Georgia and Florida.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., campaigned for Espy over the weekend, calling out “racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia.” Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., will campaign in the state on Monday and President Donald Trump will stump for Hyde-Smith next week, on the eve of the runoff.

The race is sufficiently nationalized at this point. Democrats who want to sustain momentum from Election Day will face an early — if not entirely fair — test.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

After visiting literal scorched earth in California this weekend, Trump cooled his usual slash-and-burn politics.

California Gov. Jerry Brown said Sunday the president had the state’s residents’ backs.

After first threatening to pull federal funding to the state, the president since promised to send emergency aid.

Brown praised the decision.

“In the face of tragedy, people tend to rise above some of their lesser propensities,” Brown said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “So I think we’re on a good path.”

The president received strong rebukes for his initial comments about land mismanagement, given the Republican Party’s silence on climate change and the fact that the federal government actually owns and controls a significant majority of California’s forests.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump looks at a map as he visits with first responders and local officials at an operations center responding to the wildfires, Nov. 17, 2018, in Chico, Calif.Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump looks at a map as he visits with first responders and local officials at an operations center responding to the wildfires, Nov. 17, 2018, in Chico, Calif.

The TIP with John Verhovek

The area once referred to by President Ronald Reagan as the place where “good Republicans go to die” and the home Richard Nixon’s presidential library will have no Republican members of Congress come January 2019.

Before 2016, Orange County, California, hadn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since the Great Depression. And in 2018, Democrats flipped four OC-based congressional districts on their way to reclaiming the House majority.

Democrats hold 45 of California’s 53 seats in the U.S. House, and those members now compose nearly 20 percent of the entire Democratic caucus.

The result is a testament to Democrats’ efforts in the area during June’s jungle primary, where they spent millions to ensure that despite all candidates running on one ballot regardless of party, they were not locked out of the general election. It is also undeniably a sign of the shifting political ground in many parts of the country.

“America used to be a country of regional parties within each party, while both parties are on the path of losing this important representation, the path of the GOP is nearly complete to a nationalized ideological right-wing party,” ABC News Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd said last week.


ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. Monday morning’s episode features ABC News political director Rick Klein, who tells us what Rick Scott’s victory in the Florida Senate race means for the Republican party. ABC News senior foreign correspondent Ian Pannell explains why President Trump hasn’t listened to the audio evidence of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder. And, we talk to the director of the new A&E documentary series “The Clinton Affair — she says that saga can tell us a lot about the current political moment.


  • The national Thanksgiving turkey presentation will be held at the White House at 11 a.m.
  • The president and first lady Melania Trump participate in the White House Christmas Tree delivery at 1 p.m.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., will travel to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to rally University of Southern Mississippi students in support of Senate candidate Mike Espy at 3:30 p.m.
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    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights political analysis of the day ahead. Please check back Monday for the latest.

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