Both of Mississippi’s Senate seats are up for grabs in next week’s midterms — but only one of those races is being billed as the possible deciding factor for which party ends up controlling the chamber.

In a crowded race, two Republicans and two Democrats are battling each other in a special election to fill retired Republican Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat for the remaining two years of his term.

At first blush, it would seem a virtual lock for Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Republican appointed to the seat in April and enjoying a healthy lead in the polls. But here’s the rub: Under Mississippi law, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 6, the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will duke it out in a Nov. 27 runoff election. Not even Hyde-Smith’s campaign thinks they can get to 50 percent.

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