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Overcoming False Charges of Racism

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Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith speaks during an election night party in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S., November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

In the last Senate contest of this election cycle, Democrats tried—but failed—to destroy an incumbent Republican with unfair charges of racism.

In the runoff campaign of the Mississippi special election, they focused almost exclusively on one foolish, insensitive comment by Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who expressed her admiration for a local leader by saying “if he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.” Dems saw a menacing invocation of Mississippi’s brutal history of lynching, and an attack on the black Democratic nominee, Mike Espy, while national media claimed Senator Hyde-Smith’s campaign was collapsing.

When ballots were counted, however, she won easily—increasing her percentage of the final tally by 12 points over her showing in the non-partisan primary.

While pundits may obsess on silly, off-hand and—yes—regrettable remarks, voters are less willing to enforce political correctness by punishing candidates for making them.

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