Democrats thought they had a good case.
Mississippi's unemployment rate is higher than the national average. It's median income is significantly below the national average. It has one of the worst poverty rates in the nation. It ranks at or near the bottom in virtually every public education measure.
Still, voters went all in for Republicans, who held the executive branch and the Legislature the past four years. Their winning message was, the state isn't where it should be but it's heading in the right direction.
As Chairman Joe Nosef quickly noted Tuesday, it was a good night for Republicans.
"We expanded our majorities in both the House and the Senate, and picked up Republicans in local offices all across our state," he said in an emailed message. "Finally, we defeated the Democrat Party's last chance at a victory by tricking voters - Initiative 42. All of this is a sound testament to the excellent stewardship of tax dollars and public trust by our governor and all our other GOP officials."
When the dust settled, the GOP was within striking distance of a super majority in the House, which could shut Democrats out of the legislative process. In fact, that's exactly what House Speaker Phil Gunn, who was re-elected without opposition, promised Democratic-leaning districts. The GOP already had a super majority in the Senate and it likely will increase its advantage by one.
On the Coast, the only change will be in the Senate, where Republican Tony Smith left for an unsucessful bid for the Public Service Commission. He will be replaced in Senate District 47 by Joseph "Mike" Seymour, who easily defeated Democrat Jimmy L. "Bo" Alawine.
All the other incumbents won, most of them without any competition. There are only four Democrats, three in the House and one in the Senate, among them.
Surviving the red tide
Democrats, though, say they aren't discouraged even though they acknowledge times are tough for progressive ideas in a deep red state.
"What's the value in winning where you're supposed to win?" said David McDowell when asked if he ever thought of moving to a more hospitable political climate for him. "In Mississippi, there's a lot of potential to make a difference. Sometimes, you don't agree with your family. That's no reason to bounce."
McDowell, a Slidell native and 2011 Ole Miss graduate who lives in Oxford, said the biggest disappointment was the turnout, which was about 30 percent of the voting age population.
Younger voters, he said, "have not quite bought into" the importance of local races. He said the party has to do a better job of selling elections.
"When we bemoan the low turnout, we say no one wants to vote," he said. "That's sends the wrong message. That's no way to sell shoes, telling customers no one wants shoes. We should be saying, 'Democracy is cool.'"
Eyes on 2016
Ouida Meruvia is communications director for the party and a student who plans to graduate in the spring from the Ole Miss School of Law. Tuesday, though, she was a campaign worker, helping David Baria to a heart-thumpingly thin margin of victory in House District 122 on the Coast.
She said she's already thinking of the next race of ways to row against the Republican tide.
"We have to get ahead of the Republicans message," she said. "Young people are tired of the status quo and Republicans are using all their money and resources to keep things the way they are. Young Democrats don't agree with that. We have to get started now for the next election and keep pushing to fight back on that message."
She said four or five young Democrats who lost in this election lost by narrow margins that could be reversed easily.
And there were some Democratic victories.
Democrats held on to one statewide office when Attorney General Jim Hood beat back a challenge from former federal prosecutor Mike Hurst. And it gained a seat on the PSC, when former lawmaker Cecil Brown won in the Central District. Along with Brandon Presley, who won by a large margin in the north, Democrats will control the commission during next year's hearings on Mississippi Power Co.'s Kemper plant.
Still. the Republican hold on Mississippi has the attention of national groups such as the Republican State Leadership Coalition, which says its mission is to elect down-ballot state-level officeholders.
Mississippi, along with Kentucky and Virginia, were counted among its big wins in a conference call Wednesday morning.
"In the House under the leadership of Speaker Gunn, the House being a significant target for the Democrats, Republican defeated not only the Democratic leader (Bobby Moak) who had been in the Legislature since 1984 by double digits and returning all but one incumbent it increased its majority ... from 67 to 73," said RSLC President Matt Walter.
Victories in those states and others, the RSLC says, lay the groundwork for 2016, when U.S. House members, a third of the Senate and the president will be elected.
"No nominee wins the White House without the help and support of voters in the states," Justin Richards, RSLC political director, said in a post-election analysis. "As it stands right now, Republicans control a super majority of legislative chamber majorities and a majority of statewide offices from governor to lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Republicans hold the governor and full legislature in 24 states -- compared to Democrats' seven -- and hold majorities in 23 chambers in states President Obama carried twice."