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Coronavirus Pandemic Causing Deep Health, Economic, and Electoral Concerns in Mississippi

Trump Holds 11-point Lead; Voters Embrace Mail-in-Balloting for November

April 20, 2020

Mississippians are deeply concerned about the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on their health and safety as well as the economy and their communities. The spring quarterly Millsaps College/Chism Strategies State of the State Survey finds nearly 90% of Mississippi voters are very or somewhat concerned with the pandemic and the possibility of themselves or someone in their family becoming ill. The survey finds Mississippians have seen their lives significantly disrupted by the pandemic, with 83% reporting being somewhat or significantly disrupted while nearly three-quarters are practicing 100% compliance with social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions.

Overall, Mississippi voters tend to believe the federal, state, and local governmental response to the coronavirus outbreak has been handled in a way that protects the health and safety of citizens. The survey finds voters approve of the federal government's response 62% to 34%, approve of the state government's response 64% to 33%, and the response of their local governments 66% to 31%.

Health and economic security remain high priorities for voters, as 73% believe the coronavirus outbreak will lead to an economic recession. Mississippians are also fretting about being able to afford medical coverage for themselves and their families during the outbreak, with nearly 70% saying they are considerably or slightly more concerned with affording medical coverage.

"The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis and our fellow Mississippians are feeling the impact on their families, communities, the workplace, schools, and places of worship. We felt it was extremely valuable to dedicate most of this quarter's survey to examining how Mississippians are responding to the pandemic," said Dr. Nathan R. Shrader, chair of the Millsaps College Department of Government and Politics and director of the American Studies program. "On the whole, we have found our fellow citizens are deeply troubled, and we are hopeful Mississippi's policymakers will benefit from understanding the pandemic's effect on the Magnolia State and her people."

The newest quarterly State of the State Survey also examines voter preferences heading into the 2020 presidential election. Overall, 49% of Mississippi voters intend to back President Donald J. Trump, 38% back former Vice President Joe Biden, 7% favor someone else and 7% are unsure at this time. Over 70% of voters are concerned about disruptions in the upcoming November elections due to the outbreak and the electorate strongly favors transitioning to a vote-by-mail system for November. 54% support moving to vote-by-mail while just 30% are opposed.

Other Key Findings:

  • 47% believe the state is heading in the right direction, 30% say it is moving in the wrong direction, and 23% are unsure.
  • Making healthcare more accessible is the top priority for voters at this time, with 27% saying this is what they would like to see Mississippi's elected leaders working on in Jackson. 19% say their top priority is more funding for public schools, 16% back fixing our state's roads and bridges, 16% favor protecting traditional family values, 4% support increasing funding for universities and colleges, and 3% back reducing the size of state government.
  • The Mississippi Legislature—currently on hiatus from Session due to the coronavirus outbreak—is underwater with the voters. 39% disapprove of legislators' performance, 26% approve and another 35% are unsure.
  • A plurality of voters (45%) say the Mississippi state government has responded appropriately to the pandemic, 42% say the state has not gone far enough to respond, and 8% believe state government has gone too far.

"We are now in our third year of partnership with the Millsaps College Department of Government and Politics on this State of the State Survey and are gratified that elected officials, journalists, and other people who care about the future of our state rely on this research to help shape public policy discussions," said Brad Chism of Chism Strategies. "This survey confirms the massive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the citizens of our state."

The survey was conducted from April 8 to 9, 2020, with a sample size of 508, with 53% of interviews conducted via cell phone and 48% via landline. The survey has a Margin of Error of +/-4.35%. Results were weighted to reflect voter turnout for the 2020 Mississippi elections.

Read the full report here.