Campaign strategists for Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith hoped President Donald Trump’s early October rally in north Mississippi would do one thing: Convince conservative voters to support her and not her anti-establishment challenger Chris McDaniel.
A new poll released Tuesday morning shows the president’s visit may have done just that.
In an NBC News/Marist poll released Tuesday morning, 38 percent of likely voters said they’d vote for Hyde-Smith — a 14 point gain from a September poll in which just 24 percent of voters said they’d vote for her.
McDaniel, meanwhile, lost ground in that same period, according to the polls. Just 15 percent of likely Mississippi voters in this week’s poll said they’d vote for McDaniel — a mark that’s down four points from the September poll.
Democrat Mike Espy made slight gain since September. Espy earned 29 percent of likely voters in the October poll, which is up from the 25 percent he earned in the September poll.
Lesser known Democrat Tobey Bartee polled at 2 percent in this week’s poll.
The four candidates are running in a special election to fill Senate seat left vacant by Sen. Thad Cochran, who retired in April for health reasons. Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith, the state’s commissioner of agriculture, to fill the post until the Nov. 6 special election in which she is being challenged by Espy, McDaniel and Bartee.
If no single candidate earns 50 percent on Nov. 6, the top two vote-getters will face each other in a runoff on Nov. 27.
The NBC News/Marist poll also ran a question for the likeliest runoff scenarios. If Hyde-Smith and Espy squared off in a runoff, 50 percent said they’d vote for Hyde-Smith, while 36 percent said they’d vote for Espy. Thirteen percent said they were undecided.
If Espy and McDaniel met in a runoff, 43 percent said they would vote for Espy, 36 percent would vote for McDaniel and 19 percent remained undecided.
The poll also surveyed voters about the regularly scheduled U.S. Senate election for the seat currently held by Republican Sen. Roger Wicker.
Of likely voters, 57 percent said they’d vote for Wicker, while 31 percent said they’d vote for Democratic challenger David Baria. Three percent of likely voters said they’d cast votes for either Libertarian candidate Danny Bedwell or Reform candidate Shawn O’Hara, while 9 percent remained undecided.
The NBC News/Marist poll of 511 likely Mississippi voters was conducted between October 13 and 17 and has a margin of error of 6.1 percent. The poll was weighted based on 2016 American Community Survey 5-year estimates for age, gender, income, race and region.