Primary Season Will Be Here Soon
While voters have just gone to the polls two weeks ago, another election season is upon us whether you like it or not. This is the simply the system that is in place in Mississippi. By holding statewide, legislative, and county elections the year before the presidential election you are guaranteed a quick turnaround time with primaries right around the corner.
In the “off-year” Congressional elections (2006, 2010, 2014, etc.), primaries are held some time in the spring. I believe it was June 1 in 2010. But the 2012 primaries are set for March, coinciding with the presidential primaries. Some states hold separate elections for Congressional and presidential primaries, Mississippi does not.
Judging by the way the Republican presidential primary has gone so far, I don’t think it’d be a far fetched to imagine it still being in the air by the time Mississippians head to the polls. Polling of Republican primary voters only, Newt Gingrich leads with 28 percent in the state compared to 25 percent for Herman Cain, 14 percent for Rick Perry, and 12 percent for Mitt Romney. Speaking of Romney, the state has never warmed to the perceived frontrunner, and I think that underscores his problems in the South. Perry was the obvious choice to carry the anti-Romney mantle but his campaign never took off. Gingrich is in very strong position to win the state’s primary, should he still be in the race in March.
Of course, Obama’s 36 percent approval rating here virtually guarantees the GOP nominee will carry the state’s electoral votes. In hypothetical matchups, he loses by 12-18 points to any Republican and is generally in the low 80s with the black vote, compared to upper 90s in 2008.
Immediately following the 2010 election, there was talk about a challenger to Roger Wicker’s right. Unless they are running the most secretive campaign in history, that person doesn’t exist, at least not in any serious form. Among primary voters, he leads 56-26 over “someone more conservative” and has a 75 percent approval rating. Across the board, the Republican maintains a nice 56-23 approval rating. I wouldn’t be shocked if Democrats pass on this race. Every big name Dem (Moore, Musgrove, Childers, Taylor) gets trounced in hypothetical matchups.
The Congressional primaries could be a little more interesting, but again the time table has to be a concern. First, we still don’t know what the Congressional maps will look like. With the GOP taking control of the House, Gregg Harper should get his wish and keep Northeast Jackson. But these are small details. The maps don’t greatly affect anything.
Harper, in fact, is the only House member who isn’t facing a primary in some form or fashion. Bennie Thompson, the lone Democrat in the delegation, is facing a challenge from former Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer (and others). Thompson has faced primaries before, but never from his left. Will be interesting to watch and to see if McTeer can drum up the female vote, but Thompson is still king of the Delta.
Alan Nunnelee is very likely to face a primary rematch from Henry Ross. We have been looking at this for some time now. But probably the most serious challenge will be in MS-04 where Steven Palazzo has faced bad press for staff turnover (which began almost immediately) to a more recent story involving staffers who threw a two-night party in Annapolis and tried to impersonate the Congressman after getting a call from local police. One candidate from the Coast has already emerged, but this will get very interesting if any sitting Republican officials decide to make a run here.
But those challengers have little time to get in, followed by a very short timeframe to run. And of course they still have to remind voters, who are certain to have some amount of fatigue, that their is an election going on.