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Mississippi Voters Strongly Favor Background Checks on Firearm Purchases and Are Very Concerned About Opioid Crisis

Plurality Favors Moderate Immigration Approach

Nine in ten Mississippi voters are united in their support for background checks for all firearm purchases in the state. Huge majorities also agree that the opioid addiction crisis is a serious national problem. Overall, 90% of Mississippi voters tell the Millsaps College/Chism Strategies State of the State Survey that they support required background checks, while 92% think that opioid addiction is a serious problem in the nation; 86% believe it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed in the state itself.

The ninth Millsaps/Chism State of the State Survey examines issues of relevance in state politics. The survey also finds that voters are significantly divided when it comes to their perceptions of the state’s direction. There was an eight-point reduction in the share of voters who report that the state is heading in the right direction from the summer 2019 survey to the fall 2019 survey, and the lowest share of voters who say that the state is heading in the right direction over the course of nine quarters of polling.

“Mississippi voters are split on the question of the state’s direction just a few weeks before the elections that will determine who holds all of the statewide offices and every single seat in the legislature,” said Dr. Nathan R. Shrader, chair of the Department of Government and Politics and director of American Studies at Millsaps College. “The fall 2019 State of the State Survey also finds that voters are only mildly enthusiastic about the crucial November elections, with just over half saying they are enthusiastic. We also examined questions related to immigration and the recent ICE raids in the state, attitudes towards retailers shifting their stances on firearms being brought into their stores, and voting reforms.”

The issue of immigration has roiled the Magnolia State since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted raids of several Mississippi chicken plants in August, arresting nearly 700 workers. Nearly half of Mississippi voters report that they favor allowing individuals who are in the United States without legal authorization to remain if they are employed, pay their taxes, and do not have a criminal record. Just over 39% say that those who are here without legal authorization should be arrested and deported without exceptions. Despite the differences on this question, nearly 70% of Mississippi voters agree that the businesses that were hiring those without legal authorization to be in the United States should also face prosecution, compared to just 16% who oppose such actions.

Other key findings from the fall 2019 State of the State Survey are as follows:

  • Just 33% of voters believe the state as a whole is heading in the right direction, but that number improves to nearly 40% when voters are asked to consider their own area of Mississippi.
  • Voters were asked to “grade” Governor Phil Bryant on his eight years in office: 22% say he deserves an A, 22% give him a B, 21% provide him with a C, 14% give him a D, and 17% award him an F.
  • Mississippi voters are split on whether their consumer behavior will change as a result of retailers asking customers to refrain from openly carrying firearms inside their establishments or if they decide to stop selling certain kinds of military-style ammunition and ammunition for handguns.
  • President Trump’s tariff policies are supported by 46% of Mississippi voters and opposed by 41%.
  • About 92% agree that opioid addiction is a problem in the country as a whole, while 86% say this is a problem here in Mississippi.
  • Mississippi voters are skeptical of ranked choice voting and eliminating primary runoff elections all together.

“We are pleased to help produce the ninth quarterly in-depth study of Mississippi voter sentiment for all to review,” said Brad Chism, President of Chism Strategies. “There is useful information here for voters of all political persuasions. We applaud the Millsaps Department of Government and Politics for their commitment to enhancing the public policy debate in Mississippi.”

The State of the State Survey involves a partnership between the Millsaps College Department of Government and Politics and Chism Strategies. The survey was conducted from 9/11-9/14 with a sample size of 606, with 50% of interviews conducted via cell phone and 50% via landline. The survey has a Margin of Error of +/-3.98%. Results were weighted to reflect the likely voter turnout for the 2019 Mississippi elections.

Read the full report here.