Voters clamoring for closed primaries in the wake of Mississippi’s 2014 GOP Senate second primary election should note that closed primaries come with consequences in a state with a long history of seeing voters make their voice heard in Democrat-dominated local elections and turning around and voting Republican in federal elections. While not as prevalent in the state as it once was that practice is still followed in many areas of the state.
Initially, Democrats advocated open primaries in the state as a means to cripple the rise of the state’s new Republican Party in the 1960s. More recently, Democrats have resisted open primaries in Mississippi. Historically, it was seen as a mechanism that would erode black voter gains in local elections.
The Cochran-McDaniel second primary is simply the next step in the evolution of Mississippi’s long struggle with determining what type of primaries the majority of state voters want – open, closed, or the present mixed or limited crossover system.