By Derrick DePledge
For political insiders who have been closely following the Democratic Party of Hawaii's lawsuit challenging the state's open primary, the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Mississippi on Tuesday should prove fascinating.
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a runoff after trailing McDaniel in the primary earlier this month.
Media accounts credit Cochran for growing the electorate by appealing to independents and Democrats -- including African-American voters -- to vote in the Republican runoff.
Mississippi, like Hawaii, essentially has an open primary, although there is a state law that discourages voters from voting in a party primary if they do not expect to support the party's nominee in the general election.
Political analysts have long been skeptical about the impact of crossover, or strategic voting, in elections. But it can happen. In the Democrats' lawsuit in Hawaii, the party has not presented any evidence that crossover voting has influenced the party's message, but also argues that the party's rights should not rely "on the fluctuating and irrelevant behavior of others."
From the Jackson Clarion-Ledger:
Cochran had trailed McDaniel in the June 3 primary by less than 1,500 votes, but forced a runoff when neither received more than 50 percent. Cochran had since sought to "expand the electorate," including pulling in independent and Democratic voters.
McDaniel in his speech to supporters in Hattiesburg blamed the loss on "liberal Democrats" voting in the GOP primary runoff and said, "now our job is to make sure the sanctity of this vote is upheld, make sure the Republican primary was won by Republican voters."
Mississippi technically has an open primary system, and no party registration. It also has a statute – considered unenforceable -- that says people should not vote in a party primary unless they plan to support the party's nominee in a general election. This has been the subject of litigation and calls for closed primaries in the past. But Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and others said that only those who voted Democratic on June 3 were prohibited from voting Tuesday.