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New Poll: Presley lags behind Reeves in...

New Poll: Presley lags behind Reeves in governor’s race with just one month remaining

By: Russ Latino - October 5, 2023

Governor Tate Reeves and candidate Brandon Presley spoke at the Neshoba County Fair on Thursday.

Incumbent Republican Governor Tate Reeves has an 8-point lead over his Democratic challenger, Brandon Presley, heading down the final stretch.

A new Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon Poll has incumbent Republican Governor Tate Reeves leading Democratic challenger Brandon Presley by 8 points, 51-43.

Reeves maintains commanding double-digit leads in four of the six regions of the state surveyed. This includes a 25-point advantage on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and a 17-point advantage in North Mississippi.

Presley holds a 19-point advantage in the Delta and a 10-point advantage in the Jackson Metro.

Reeves leads Presley by 8 points in new Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon Polling

Candidates Have Gotten Stronger with Their Bases

Both candidates have shored up their bases since Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon’s polling of the race in March. Reeves has increased his percentage of support among men, people 50 or older, white voters, and self-identified Republicans over the last six months.

Presley has increased his support among women, younger voters, minority voters, and self-identified Democrats in the same time period.

For Presley, the challenge is that there are historically more people in the groups that form Reeves’ base and Reeves’ lead among those groups is more pronounced.

Reeves’ support among Republicans is notable since Presley’s strategy hinges on attracting Republican voters to cross over. Reeves appears to have largely locked down Republican voters. At this point, the 3 percent of Republican defectors to Presley matches the 3 percent of Democrat defectors to Reeves.

It is also of note that Reeves has experienced a 10-point swing upward among self-identified independents since Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon’s March polling. He now shows a 5-point lead with the group.

On the Issues

Thirty-three (33) percent of the people who responded to Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon’s October poll ranked “jobs and the economy” as the number one issue in the race.

When asked which candidate they trusted to best handle the economy, Reeves holds a 19-point advantage.

Twenty-two (22) percent of polled voters identified “access to health care” as their number one issue. It should be noted that this category includes respondents who specifically mentioned abortion rights as their top issue.

Presley maintains a 6-point advantage on “access to health care.”

Presley’s campaign has been disciplined in its attacks on Reeves, focusing almost exclusively on Medicaid expansion and accusations of public corruption. His advantage on “access to health care” and “public corruption” suggests the message has penetrated to some degree.

However, this penetration is not reflected in overall polling of the race. In fact, Reeves increased his lead from our March polling and passed over the 50 percent threshold, even after Presley spent millions in very targeted advertising over the last couple of months.

Presley’s inability to gain ground is likely explained by the wide disparities that exist between people’s political affiliation and their identification of top issues. The issues Presley does best on are not motivating to Republican voters.

For example, in our polling, 47 percent of self-identified Republicans said “jobs and the economy” was the top issue. Only 20 percent of Democrats agreed. “Protecting family values” ranked second among the issues for Republicans and last for Democrats.

Reeves holds large margins of trust on both issues. He also holds double-digit advantages on education and addressing crime.

On the flip side, 43 percent of Democrats said “access to health care” was the top issue. Only 4 percent of Republicans agreed. The issue actually ranked last in importance for GOP voters. Even if they agree with Presley, it is not likely to be a primary driver in their voting.

About the Polling 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.

Magnolia Tribune/Mason-Dixon conducted the poll between September 27th and October 2nd, among likely voters, with a sample size of 625 and a margin of error +/- 4.

In October of 2019, Mason-Dixon polling had Governor Reeves beating Attorney General Jim Hood 46-43 in the race for governor. Reeves would ultimately go on to win by 5-points in the general election.

By comparison, current polling shows Reeves over 50 percent and with a more commanding 8-point spread. With just a month before the election, and with voting bases already committed, time and opportunity for Presley to close the gap is running out.

Magnolia Tribune-Mason Dixon Governor's Poll (October 2023) by Russ Latino on Scribd

About the Author(s)
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Russ Latino

Russ is a proud Mississippian and the founder of Magnolia Tribune Institute. His research and writing have been published across the country in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, USA Today, The Hill, and The Washington Examiner, among other prominent publications. Russ has served as a national spokesman with outlets like Politico and Bloomberg. He has frequently been called on by both the media and decisionmakers to provide public policy analysis and testimony. In founding Magnolia Tribune Institute, he seeks to build on more than a decade of organizational leadership and communications experience to ensure Mississippians have access to news they can trust and opinion that makes them think deeply. Prior to beginning his non-profit career, Russ practiced business and constitutional law for a decade. Email Russ:
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