Second Primary election slated April 1: House seats up for grabs

In the 1st District, returns show 96,171 Democrats voted in the primary while 43,931 voted in the GOP primary. In the 3rd District, 81,031 Democrats voted in the primary while 66,693 Republicans voted. But how many of those voters will return on April 1?

Republicans don’t believe that a large Democratic primary turnout necessarily translates into victory in November in Mississippi – pointing to the fact that a Democrat hasn’t won a presidential race in 32 years in Mississippi since Jimmy Carter did it in 1976.

State Republican Party executive director Brad White is looking for a more muted turnout in the second primary.

“Obviously, only the 1st and 3rd congressional districts will have runoffs,” said White. “They voted around 153,000 people in the first primary. I would say a safe bet would be to expect about 40 percent of those voters to return on April 1, so I’m looking for about 60,000 Republicans to return to the polls in the second primary.”

If White’s predictions hold true, the eventual winner in the 1st District GOP runoff between Southaven Mayor Greg Davis and former Tennessee Valley Authority chairman and former Tupelo mayor Glenn McCullough could be decided by less than 18,000 total votes – that after a first primary that drew just under 44,000 voters.

On the Democratic side in the 1st District, the second primary contest is between Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers and longtime state Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville. In a Democratic primary race that along with three other contenders drew 96,171 voters, the second primary is expected to be a much smaller affair – down perhaps by as much as two-thirds, according to Dr. Mary Coleman, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of Political Science at Jackson State University.

“The Democratic and Republican first primary turnout in Mississippi was impressive on Tuesday, but I expect that the turnout won’t be as good in the April 1 runoff and that the numbers could very well drop exponentially,” said Coleman. “I think the turnout in the second primary in the 1st District could well be less than 40 percent of the first primary numbers.”

Clarion Ledger
3/16/8