Mississippi’s 2016 presidential vote unlikely to produce any surprises

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Observers who are looking for Mississippi to provide any major surprises in our state’s 2016 presidential balloting are likely to be disappointed. From 1980 to the present, Mississippi has voted Republican in presidential politics.

Since 1996, Mississippi has voted Republican in presidential politics by an average of 55.6 percent and Democrat by an average 42.2 percent — with the rest of the vote scattered among third party or independent candidates.

Trump’s near implosion in the national polls acknowledged, none of the nation’s recognized pollsters or analysts are projecting Mississippi as anything but a “safe” state for Republican Donald Trump.

Email newsletter signup

This year, the polls show Trump with a narrowing lead over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Mississippi. Nate Silver currently gives Trump a 95.2 percent chance of taking Mississippi’s six electoral votes – while the analyst likewise gives Clinton an 87.6 percent chance of winning the presidency nationally.

Trump’s campaign has certainly invested heavily in Mississippi in terms of candidate and candidate surrogate visits. After Trump’s son spoke at the Neshoba County Fair in July, Trump’s numbers in Mississippi soared to a lead of 27 points in the Ipsos polling done the last two weeks of August.

Currently, the same Ipsos polls show Trump’s lead at six points in Mississippi. By and large, Mississippi’s Republican elected officials have remained loyal to Trump despite the emergence of issues that cause significant political problems in heavily religious states like Mississippi.

Mississippi has 1.89 million registered voters. In 2012, about 1.2 million of those people voted. In 2008, 1.7 million people voted.

In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney won about 710,746 votes. In 2008, the GOP’s John McCain won 725,000. President Barack Obama’s total fell to 562,949, down 30,000 votes from 2008 to 2012. Figures are rounded.

Obama won 43.7 percent of the 2012 vote in Mississippi. While that’s not close to victory, it’s the second-best performance of any Democrat in the last eight election cycles. Only better was the 44.1 percent of Mississippi ballots that Bill Clinton garnered in his 1996 re-election win.

In 2012, Mississippi ranked 31st in voter turnout with 59.50 percent turnout — above the national average of 57.5 percent.

Mississippi represents 1.115 percent of the electoral vote total. In the 2012 election, Mississippi with 1.2 million of the total 126.14 million votes cast, accounted for 0.951 percent of the nation’s popular vote.

Voters who reject voting for either Clinton or Trump can gravitate toward the Libertarian ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld, the Green Party ticket of Dr. Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka, the Constitution Party ticket of Darrell Castle and Scott Bradley, the Reform Party ticket of Rocky de la Fuente and Michael Steinberg, or the Prohibition Party ticket of Jim Hedges and Bill Bayes.

Is there a fair expectation that some female Republican voters in Mississippi may abandon Trump based on the events of the last two weeks? Clearly, the narrowing polls suggest that. But 36 years of voting patterns suggest that at the end of this remarkable election cycle, the GOP nominee with get the majority of Mississippi’s popular vote and all of the state’s six electoral votes.

What should be noted is that the majority of Mississippi voters are female. With the state’s racial split still roughly 60-40 white, the implications are obvious. White female voters are the sleeping giant in Mississippi politics.

How those voters feel at a very visceral level about Trump will have a great deal to do with whether Mississippi continues a presidential voting trend favoring Republicans for a tenth time.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at sidsalter@sidsalter.com.