Reeves has slight lead over Hood and Trump ‘could be the deciding factor,’ Mason-Dixon poll says

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Alex Brandon / Associated Press

President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One with Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., at Tupelo Regional Airport, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, in Tupelo, Miss.

Mason-Dixon pollsters say President Donald Trump could be the deciding factor in a gubernatorial election where Republican Tate Reeves has “a slight” 46-43 lead.

With the poll having a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, the contest between Reeves, the state’s lieutenant governor, and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood remains within the margin of error, but with an ace in the hole for Reeves, according to the Mason-Dixon analysis.

“In this close race, President Donald Trump could be the deciding factor,” said a narrative that accompanied the poll results that were released to the Mississippi media on Tuesday afternoon. “Trump remains popular in Mississippi and efforts by congressional Democrats to impeach him are opposed by a significant majority of state voters.”

Trump is set to visit Tupelo in Northeast Mississippi on Nov. 1 to campaign for Reeves before the Nov. 5 general election.

The same poll shows 54 percent of respondents approve of Trump’s job performance while 42 percent oppose and 4 percent are not sure. By a 56-34 percent margin, Mississippians, according to the poll, oppose impeaching and removing Trump from office while 10 percent are not sure.

The poll was conducted this past Thursday through Saturday over land lines and cell phones of 625 Mississippians who said they were likely to vote. The poll respondents were broken down by region, gender and race, based on past election data. The racial breakdown was 65 percent white, 32 percent black and 3 percent other.

Reeves had a sizable lead among white Mississippians while Hood had a substantial lead among African Americans.

According to the poll, 2 percent of the respondents favored one of the two third party candidates and 9 percent were undecided.

While the pollsters said they believe a Trump visit will be a boost for Reeves, state Rep. Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, and a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, said a Trump visit also will drive African Americans to the polls, which will be good for Hood.

“Please bring him. We need Donald Trump to come,” Johnson said during an episode of Mississippi Today’s “The other side” podcast. “If you think something is going to fire up the black community, if Donald Trump comes to the state and says I am for Tate Reeves, OK well  ‘I was going to stay home, but I now know what I am going to do.’”

Johnson, a Hood supporter, added, “The idea he is going to fire up the Tate Reeves’ base – that will fire up our community….What you see every day that offends you, what you see every day that scares you, is that what you want because that is what you are going to get.”

The Trump-Reeves rally will be held on Hood’s home turf. Hood is from neighboring Chickasaw County and has traditionally done well in the surrounding northeast Mississippi counties in his previous four successful elections to the office of attorney general.

Mason-Dixon is a national polling organization.