At polling places last week, almost 300,000 Mississippi voters made the choice to cast their ballots in the Republican primary.
Compare that to 20 years ago when only 64,000 voted Republican to start eventual two-term Gov. Kirk Fordice toward a general election upset of incumbent Ray Mabus.
Local races still led most voters to select the Democratic Party ballot. Nearly 400,000 ballots were cast in the primary that is sending Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree and Clarksdale attorney and developer Bill Luckett into a runoff.
The trend is undeniable. More Mississippians identify Republicans with the conservatism they cherish. And unlike many other states, third-party and independents have not gained a toehold.