Millsaps poll highlights voter’s priorities

According to a newly released State of the State Survey from Millsaps College and Chism Strategies, the legislature is seeing their highest approval rating in a year. Although they still aren’t extremely popular with the voters, the Mississippi Legislature saw a 10-point improvement in its approval rating since July.

Mississippians are calling on political leaders to compromise in order to get things done and have responded favorably to the outcome of the recent special session of the Mississippi Legislature that produced a new state lottery law with funds mainly targeted towards road and bridge repair.

However, despite the new funding source for infrastructure work, Mississippi voters continue to rate fixing the state’s roads and bridges as the most important policy priority for lawmakers followed closely by better education.

“The message from the voters is rather clear: they like what they saw during the special session where leaders from across the spectrum came together, compromised, and figured out a way to find a new source of revenue for infrastructure,” said Dr. Nathan Shrader, assistant professor of political science and director of American Studies at Millsaps College. “The question is whether the state’s political leaders can continue to demonstrate their ability to work on problems in a way that the voters perceive to be constructive and beneficial to the entire state.”

The survey also noted that only 50% of Mississippi voters are enthusiastic about voting in the upcoming November midterm elections while 43% are either somewhat enthusiastic or not enthusiastic at all.Voter Enthusiasm, Trust in Government, Civility in Politics

  • Voters are split on which level of government they find the most capable and trustworthy of solving problems. 28% of Mississippians find state government the most capable and trustworthy, 28% believe the same of local government, and 19% think this way of the federal government.
  • 62% of voters say that the level of civility in national politics is getting worse, compared to 39% who say that the level of civility in Mississippi politics is worsening.

Elected officials received approval ratings across the board.

  • 50% of voters approve of Governor Phil Bryant, while 34% disapprove.
  • 37% approve of Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, while 32% disapprove.
  • Attorney General Jim Hood has a 50% approval rating, while 27% disapprove of him.
  • State Auditor Shad White remains largely unknown, as 58% are unsure of him. 27% approve of White, while 15% disapprove.
  • State Representative Jay Hughes—a declared candidate for lieutenant governor in 2019—has an approval rating of 26%. 16% disapprove of Hughes, while 58% are unsure.
  • President Donald J. Trump’s approval rating in Mississippi is 51%, with 43% disapproving of him.
  • 32% approve of the Mississippi Legislature, while 34% disapprove. This represents a 10% increase in approval since the July 2018 State of the State Survey.

As for policy priorities, 27% of Mississippians still said that fixing the state’s roads and bridges should be the legislature’s top priority. The poll notes that this is the fifth consecutive quarter in which this has ranked as the top policy priority for Mississippi voters. In addition, more funding for public schools (20%) and making healthcare more affordable and accessible (18%) were the second and third highest ranking policy priorities.

“We are pleased to continue this survey series with Millsaps,” said Brad Chism, president of Chism Strategies. “The College is making a positive impact on public policy discussions in Mississippi. Elected leaders have a much clearer picture of what the voters actually want.”