Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves addresses business leaders at the Mississippi Economic Council's annual "Hobnob Mississippi" in Jackson, Miss., Oct. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File - Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
The incumbent Mississippi Governor opens with a 7-point lead, but early numbers suggest the race could be tighter than anticipated coming into 2023.
In a new Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon Poll, incumbent Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) opens his re-election bid with a 7-point advantage over his Democratic challenger Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley among likely voters (46%-39%).
The full report on the poll is embedded at the bottom of this article.
In the head-to-head matchup, Reeves leads in all but one geographical area – the Delta. There, Presley starts the race with a 15-point advantage. However, the Delta also showed the highest number of undecided voters (19%).
Reeves performs best in North Mississippi and along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, with 15-point leads in each geographical region. The Governor maintains a 10-point advantage across the Pinebelt and Southwest Mississippi, a 9-point advantage in East Mississippi, and a narrow 2-point advantage in the Jackson Metro.
Commissioner Presley performs decidedly better among black voters (+58) and starts with an advantage with voters under fifty (+10) and a slight advantage with female voters (+3). Conversely, Governor Reeves performs best among white voters (+42), voters over fifty (+19), and male voters (+19).
Presley’s name identification remains low, with 37 percent of respondents indicating they did not know him. Even among those who recognized his name, a plurality had not developed an opinion of him, as 39 percent said they were neutral on him as a candidate.
Reeves, who has run and won 5 statewide elections, is a known commodity. Just 5 percent of respondents say they do not recognize him. But that recognition is a double-edged sword. While a plurality of respondents viewed Reeves favorably (39%), large segments of respondents either held an unfavorable view (34%) or a neutral view (22%) of the sitting Governor.
This early in the race, a considerable portion of voters are undecided (15%). The highest rates of undecided voters occur among independents (21%), black Mississippians (20%), and women (17%). All three groups presently break, in varying degrees, toward Presley.
The obvious caveat to all of these data points is that it is very early in the cycle. Little money has been spent defining candidates and most people are not fully engaged. Governor Reeves opens with a lead, a more established base, and a big resource advantage, but the early numbers suggests that this race will not be a cakewalk.
By comparison, Reeves won the Governor’s seat in 2019 over well-established Democratic candidate and former Attorney General Jim Hood, besting Hood in the General Election by just over 5 points (51.9%-46.8%).
The Pollster and Methodology
Magnolia Tribune commissioned Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy to conduct this poll. Mason-Dixon has a superb reputation across the country, having partnered with over 350 media organizations to deliver accurate polling information to their audiences. Mason-Dixon has been specifically polling within Mississippi since 1987. It maintains an A-rating at 538’s Pollster Ratings, with 446 polls analyzed.
The Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon poll was conducted between March 6-10 with a sample size of 625 and a margin of error +/- 4. Unlike other polls that have been conducted among registered voters, the Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon poll was conducted among likely voters. This distinction is significant as elections are ultimately decided not by who is registered, but who shows up to vote.
The complete methodology is contained in the full report shown below.