HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi voters are at a disadvantage because they do not vote on Super Tuesday, according to Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.
"Were we on Super Tuesday here, I think all 13 Republicans and all three Democrats would have been standing here and working prior to this year," Hosemann said. "One of them is going to be president of the United States. Mississippians have earned the right to give them our ideas and our thoughts on the way our country ought to be run, and we don't get that opportunity."
Voters in 12 states, including southern Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, head to the polls Tuesday to vote in 2016 presidential primaries. In 2015, Hosemann tried to move Mississippi's primary date to create a Southern Super Tuesday or SEC primary, but said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves never put the bill on the Senate's calendar.
"I said then that I believe that Mississippi would be overlooked by the candidates," Hosemann said. "If they're running for president of the United States, it's no different than running for supervisor of sheriff. They listen to people that talk to them, and we lost that opportunity."
Graphic source: CNN
However, Allan McBride, associate professor of Political Science at The University of Southern Mississippi, said he thinks Mississippi lawmakers likely set the primary later to bring the state more attention.
"For whatever reason, Mississippi wanted to set itself apart and say 'well, we're going to make our decision at a different time,'" McBride said. "You might get a bit more attention if you're not lumped in with 10 or 15 other states, and then some candidates might come and visit. I mean, in the general election, we don't see anybody because we vote one way."
McBride does agree that Tuesday's results will have a big impact on the presidential race, but also said if the votes are close, Mississippi may be able to have a big impact by voting a week later.
"If there were a split decision today and Trump is tied more or less with Cruz or Rubio or Hilary is tied more or less with Sanders, then that next week when we have to vote, we could be the focus of a lot of attention," McBride said. "If there is a landslide for somebody today, then yeah, that's going to weaken our position. What happens today is probably going to go a long way to making the final decision."
Hosemann said just having presidential candidates traveling through Mississippi could be beneficial for the state, even if they do not win their party's nomination.
"Even the ones that lose become effective statesmen or they become part of an administration, for example, those kinds of things, and influence policy in the country as we go forward," Hosemann said. "So even though they may not win the primary, they're certainly someone that we could influence to be positive about Mississippi in Washington or any other state. I think the loss of our ability to communicate Mississippi values to every presidential candidate is a significant loss."
Mississippi's primary election is Tuesday, March 8.