by Web on October 3, 2018
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. Observing the progress made during the special session, voters have rewarded the legislative branch of state government with its highest approval rating in five quarters of polling by Millsaps College and Chism Strategies. 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.
The fifth in a series of quarterly surveys, the Millsaps College/Chism Strategies State of the State Survey finds that 64% of voters want their political leaders to compromise and get things done at the expense of sticking to their beliefs, even if little gets done. Voter enthusiasm for political compromise can be seen in the high levels of support for the recently enacted lottery bill that will direct most of the funds raised to repairing roads and bridges, a measure supported by nearly 70% of the Mississippi electorate. Considering the importance of infrastructure to the electorate, 27% of voters say that fixing roads and bridges should be the top priority for the state’s elected leaders. When asked how they would prefer supplementing the eventual infrastructure revenue raised by the lottery, 25% of voters favor repealing recently enacted corporate tax breaks, 14% back building toll roads, 14% favor raising state income tax rates for higher wage earners, 12% back raising the state gas tax, and another 7% favor bringing back a vehicle registration fee.
“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. Although they still aren’t extremely popular with the voters, the Mississippi Legislature saw a 10-point improvement in its approval rating since July. That is a significant improvement, likely driven by voters who were glad to see them break through the gridlock at the Capitol.”
Other key findings from the Millsaps College-Chism Strategies State of the State Survey:
“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.”
The survey was conducted September 15–16. The sample size of 640 with 65% of interviews conducted via landline and 35% via cell phone. The survey has a Margin of Error of +/-3.86%. Results were weighted to reflect likely 2018 general election turnout for age, race, gender, and partisanship.