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Crossover voters could make a difference
by By Ken Strachan Columnist
Jan 30, 2014 | 126 views | 0 0 comments | 88 88 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For years here in Mississippi when this state was in one-party control, the Democratic primary was the only game in town. Many conservatives at heart voted in the Democratic primary, however in the last decade, the Republican primary has become home for the more conservative voters.

When the U.S. Senate primary comes in June, we may see a reverse order from the past here in the Magnolia State.

It is very possible that we could see a large number of Democratic leaning voters casting ballots in the June 3 Republican primary, and that could become a major factor in the outcome of the election.

Here in Mississippi, we do not register under party labels, and any citizen can vote in the first primary of their choice, but in the run-off election the voter has to stick with the same party primary they voted in three weeks earlier.

If the Democrats don't field a strong candidate for the U.S. Senate seat or if they only field one strong candidate with no major opposition in the Democratic primary, then that will then open the door for a lot of Democratic leaning voters to participate in choosing between Incumbent Senator Thad Cochran and state senator Chris McDaniel in the U.S. Senate GOP primary.

The four congressional seats will also be on the ballot June 3, with three of them most likely featuring incumbent Republican congressmen in their primary and the state's only Democratic Congressman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson in his primary.

At this juncture there is no Democrat on the horizon that appears to be going to make a challenge to the veteran congressman. Given the fact that he will most likely run virtually unopposed, there won't be a hotly contested Democratic primary in the second district.

The Democrats could very well field strong candidates in all three current GOP-held congressional seats and for the U.S. Senate seat, but without the races being strongly contested, moderates and traditional Democratic voters will find their opportunity to cast their ballots in the GOP showdown between McDaniel and Cochran. Therefore the June primary will be a different dynamic for sure from past federal elections.

History shows how crossover voters have affected primaries, and that was with GOP voters crossing over into the Democratic primary. For example it always happens in county elections where there are a sizable number of Democrats in the courthouses across Mississippi and voters would choose their preference for supervisor and sheriff. In the history of elections in the Magnolia State, Republican leaning voters would vote in the Democratic primary because that was where all the local action took place. That still holds true in some counties to this day.

With the county elections not taking place until 2015 there won't be a slate of county races to draw conservative leaning voters into the Democratic primary. Then compound that with virtually uncontested congressional Democratic primaries in the four districts, and the stage is then set to watch for the crossover voters. The interesting factor that comes into play is: Who will be the beneficiary of such an influx of voters into the June GOP primary?

At this juncture with most of the hard right and Tea Party behind McDaniel with his campaign of less government spending, Cochran would most likely benefit big time from the crossover voters on primary day. The veteran senator is not only more known to them, but he also has appeal for voters across the political spectrum that has served him so well in general elections for decades.

There is still time, and anything can happen between now and the March 1 qualifying deadline, but when the deadline passes at five o'clock that day, and the Democrats don't have a contested primary or if they field a strong candidate with no serious opposition it may very well have a big consequence for the McDaniel / Cochran race.

Crossover voters may give Cochran an early Christmas present that all the endorsements and grassroots campaigning could not have provided.

Ken Strachan is a former mayor of North Carrollton and serves as Carroll County coroner.

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