Cindy Hyde-Smith’s public hanging comments, plus photos of her sporting confederate gear, have served to focus scrutiny on what should be a slam dunk race in a deep red southern state. Tuesday’s special election in Mississippi is the final race of the 2018 midterms and it’s gotten tighter going down to the wire, with Trump making two campaign appearances Monday in Tupelo, birthplace of Elvis, and Gulfport, to see if “the embrace” will carry Hyde-Smith over the top. Images of the Alabama upset loom in Republican minds, both bases are energized, and voter turnout will determine who carries the day. Politico:

Henry Barbour, the Republican National Committee committeeman and a longtime Mississippi operative, said base voters in both parties are energized, but gave a slight edge to Espy’s supporters. He said he expects Hyde-Smith to win on Tuesday, though he added that Republicans should be concerned about the potential for weak turnout.

“I think Espy supporters are probably a little more energized than Hyde-Smith,” Barbour said. “But I do think conservative voters realize this race is going to decide if we have a conservative or liberal representing us in Washington and that is very motivating to conservative voters.

“We don’t want to have an Alabama,” he added, referring to Republican Roy Moore’s 2017 loss to Democrat Doug Jones in a special Senate election in the deep-red state.

For Espy, turnout is everything. He has to close the gap in a state where Trump received 58 percent in 2016 and that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the senate since 1982. Talking Points Memo:

About a third of Mississippi voters were African-American in the four-way race on Election Day, and Espy won support from about 80 percent of them, compared to about 20 percent of white voters, according to VoteCast, a wide-ranging survey of the electorate conducted by The Associated Press.

If Espy’s campaign can boost African-American turnout to 40 percent and he can win 9 out of 10 of their votes, he would only need less than a quarter of white votes to secure a victory.

Espy hasn’t hammered Hyde-Smith on Trump at every turn. His campaign has focused more on issues such as social justice, health care and raising wages.

“My approach is Mississippi first,” Espy said at last week’s debate. “That means that Mississippi over party, Mississippi over person — I don’t care how powerful that person might be.”

Meanwhile, notable Mississippians are coming out against Hyde-Smith.

Looks like the winds of change are starting to blow in Mississippi.

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