(The Center Square) — Democrats are confident about their ability to pull off an upset in the Mississippi gubernatorial race, but polls show little movement in the race.
In the latest index of polls listed by Real Clear Politics, incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves leads his Democratic challenger, Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, by a spread of between 8 and 11 percentage points.
The latest, a Mason Dixon poll of 625 registered voters from Oct. 2, put Reeves up 51% to 43%, with only 6% undecided and a margin of error of 4%. Similar numbers were found the month before in a poll of 650 registered Mississippi voters by Siena College, with 52% for Reeves and 41% for Presley.
That mirrors the 2019 race, when Reeves took a win over then-state Attorney General Jim Hood by a difference of 51.9% to 46.8%, a margin of more than 5 points.
The difference for Presley has been an advertising blitz fueled by large out-of-state donations from the Democratic Governors Association, unions such as the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers, a pair of teacher groups, and the Sierra Club. Presley has raked in nearly $11.3 million in contributions while Reeves received nearly $6.3 million, an almost 2-to-1 disparity.
As a result, the Cook Political Report has changed the race from likely Republican to leans Republican.
Presley has campaigned on the expansion of Medicaid to the able-bodied working-age population, anti-corruption measures and cutting the grocery tax while reducing the sometimes exorbitant license plate fees.
Reeves has touted his record on the state’s economy, the largest teacher pay hike in state history, and the state’s largest tax cut that included a phased elimination of the state’s corporate franchise tax and the phased elimination of the two lowest brackets of the state’s income tax.
The state, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation’s annual business climate report, bumped the state up seven spots to 20th overall and could move up even higher as the income tax cuts take effect.
For Presley to win, he’ll need maximum turnout from the Democrat-heavy Delta counties and plenty of Republican voters crossing over to his column, something Hood was unable to do despite winning multiple terms as attorney general in the heavily GOP state.
The Mason-Dixon poll gives Reeves the advantage in every key part of the state with voters, with the three-county coastal region (+25 for Reeves), the Pine Belt and southwestern Mississippi (+10 Reeves) and even Presley’s home region of Northeast Mississippi that elected him to multiple terms in the Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s utilities.
The Mason-Dixon poll has Reeves with a +17 advantage in the region. Presley leads only the central part of the state that includes Jackson (+10) and the heavily Democratic Delta (+19).
That isn’t the only race on the ballot. Republicans aim to fend off challenges from poorly-funded Democrats with little or no name recognition.
Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann will take on Hattiesburg’s D. Ryan Grover for the lieutenant governorship.
Attorney General Lynn Fitch will take on Democrat Greta Martin, while Secretary of State Michael Watson will take on attorney Ty Pinkins.
The state auditor’s race will pit Auditor Shad White against Anguilla Mayor Larry Bradford. Treasurer David McRae will battle Bolton alderwoman Addie Lee Green.