But the recent Republican U.S. Senate race won by Thad Cochran may be a sign that Republican dominance in general elections will finally translate into GOP primaries that are larger statewide than Democratic races.
That wasn’t true even in 2011, when Attorney General Jim Hood was the only Democrat to win a statewide office. That year, Democrats drew 412,530 voters in their gubernatorial primary, while Republicans drew 289,788 voters. Democrats also drew more voters in their party runoff, as Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree became the first black gubernatorial nominee in Democratic party history.
It would still take a 60,000 vote swing from Democrats to Republicans for the GOP to draw even in 2015. But the trend has been headed in the Republicans’ direction. In 1987, the 19,000 Republicans who voted in the primary where Tupelo’s Jack Reed was nominated cast only 2.3 percent of all ballots for governor that day. The other 97.7 percent were in the Democratic primary.