Predictions for the US House primary runoff in Mississippi

Washington — On Tuesday, two Republicans will vie to challenge 16-term Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson in Mississippi's 2nd Congressional District. Ron Eller and Andrew Scott Smith were the top vote-getters in the March 12 primary, but neither won enough to avoid the runoff.  

Eller, a war veteran and medical assistant, won the primary with 47% of the vote over Smith, a commercial real estate professional and pumpkin farmer. Eller ran for the seat in 2022, finishing second in the primary but losing the runoff to Republican Brian Flowers, who lost to Thompson 60% to 40%.  

Eller promotes “The E-3 Plan” for education, economics, and energy, while Smith promotes “The 10 Rs,” which begins with “Restore Economic Dominance” and ends with “Rip Apart the Deep State.” On border security, Eller wants to “build the wall now” and remove sanctuary cities' federal funds, while Smith wants “physical barriers, advanced technology, and increased personnel.” Smith also wants marijuana legalization and voting rights for ex-convicts.  

Democratic primary candidate Thompson was unchallenged. This seat has been his since 1993, when he was elected in a special election to succeed Democrat Mike Espy, who became secretary of agriculture under President Bill Clinton.  

The huge district borders Arkansas and Louisiana on the Mississippi River and covers 40% of the state. It covers most of Jackson, the state capital. Current boundaries were adopted in 2022. District voters choose Joe Biden over Donald Trump in 2020, 63% to 36%.  

First runoff day Republican primary runoff in Mississippi's 2nd Congressional District is Tuesday. ET polls close at 8 p.m. Mississippi's 2nd Congressional District Republican primary runoff will be covered by the Associated Press. Ron Eller and Andrew Scott Smith progressed from the March 12 primary.  

WHO VOTES? Voters in the March 12 Republican primary and District 2 registered voters who did not participate in either party's primary can vote in Tuesday's Republican runoff. Anyone who voted in the March 12 Democratic primary for this seat cannot vote in the Republican runoff.  

DECISION NOTES Eller was 3.5 percentage points short of winning the nomination on primary night. The district's most populated counties, Hinds (most of Jackson) and Warren, were his best. Both counties gave him majorities. He took most Delta counties, while Smith led the north and northeast. Smith would need to cut Eller's lead in Jackson and neighboring counties and increase his vote majority in midsize counties like Panola and Grenada to beat him in the runoff.  

March 12's primary had 36,000 votes. Runoffs had lower turnout than primaries. Due to a few untabulated ballots, low turnout could delay race-calling in a close race. make projections and declares a winner when there is no way the lagging competitors can catch up. The AP will cover candidate concessions and win pronouncements even if a race has not been called. The AP will explain why it has not declared a winner.  

How do turnout and advance vote compare? In 2023, 9% of registered voters participated in the Democratic governorship primary and 18% in the Republican primary. Almost 2,067,000 people registered for those primaries. Only 19 Republican primary runoff ballots had been cast by March 26. Pre-Election Day voting was 8% of gubernatorial primaries in 2023.  

VOTE-COUNTING TIME: HOW LONG? Seven minutes after polls closed on March 12, the AP released primary results at 8:07 p.m. ET. With 97% of ballots counted, election night finished at 12:35 a.m. ET.  

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