There are Democratic primary runoffs in Mississippi on Tuesday for the following offices:
- Transportation Commissioner for the Central District
- State Senate District #34 and #38
- State House District #27, #30, #36, #42, and #70
Here is a detailed listing of all Democratic primary runoffs held in Mississippi since 2003:
Some quick thoughts:
- I noted in my discussion of the Republican runoffs here that neither party has a runoff for a statewide office this year, which hasn’t happened in the previous three election cycles. Interestingly, Democratic runoffs in Mississippi have tended to see less of a decline in total votes cast as compared to GOP runoffs. The number of votes cast in Democratic runoffs has averaged 82% of the amount of votes cast in the primary. Without a statewide election, I expect turnout will be down somewhat, perhaps averaging 70% of what was cast in the primaries.
- Candidates who finish second in Democratic primaries have had a tough time winning in the runoff. Since 2003, the candidate who finished second in a Democratic primary has won his or her runoff just 9 times out of 36 elections, or 25%.
I wanted to determine if there was any pattern to when a second-place finisher in a Democratic primary won his or her runoff election during this period, so I created a chart plotting the primary vote percentage of both the first- and second-place candidates from the 36 runoff elections since 2003. That chart is included below:
The blue dots represent those elections where the first-place finisher in the primary went on to win the runoff. The red dots mark those races where the second-place finisher in the primary won the runoff.
From this, a few very clear patterns are evident:
- One can see from the cluster of red dots in the upper right-hand corner of the chart that when a candidate finished second but had very strong support (greater than 40%), he or she won the runoff in 3 out of 4 instances. However, none of the 2015 Democratic primaries fit this pattern.
- From the cluster of red dots in the lower left-hand corner, another pattern seems apparent. When the primary winner was held to less than 35% of the vote, the second-place finisher won the runoff in 3 out of 5 instances. This seems logical, as it describes a case where a candidate who, despite winning the primary, doesn’t enjoy especially strong support, and thus is unable to obtain the 50% needed to win the runoff. If this pattern holds, it will benefit Angela Baker Brooks in SD #38 and Lester Williams in HD #30.
- In all other instances, the candidate who finished first in the primary wound up winning the runoff in 24 out of 27 instances, a staggering 89% of the time.