As Mississippi's 2011 filing deadline came and went in March, I wrote about Democrats' recent struggles in the state. The party failed to get a single candidate on the ballot for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, or auditor.
Last Tuesday's gubernatorial primaries showed what were, ostensibly, signs of encouragement for Democrats: more people voted in the Democratic primary than did in the GOP primary. But the AP takes a closer look at the numbers today, and finds that the unofficial tally of over 394,000 votes cast in the Democratic primary last week was well short of the over 446,000 votes were cast in the 2007 Democratic primary for governor. Turnout for the GOP gubernatorial primary, meanwhile was up this year to over 281,000 from 197,000 in 2007. Overall, that's an 11.7 percent drop for the Democrats and a 42.5 percent uptick for the Republicans.
As the AP notes, Democrats still dominate in most county-level offices. Thus, down-ballot action likely contributed to the high Democratic turnout. But statewide, the figures - and lack of candidates - should come as troubling news for the party.
One upside for Mississippi Democrats: the August gubernatorial runoff campaign between Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree and attorney Bill Luckett will give the party a chance to showcase two relatively new faces to voters statewide during a period of relative quiet on the Republican side.