Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith leads Democrat Mike Espy in a new poll released just one week from Election Day.

Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith has a 52% to 44% lead against Democratic challenger Mike Espy in a Civiqs poll released Tuesday morning — one of the few public polls released in advance of Tuesday’s general election.

The same poll has President Donald Trump winning 55% to 41% against former Vice President Joe Biden. The pollster, which has a B/C rating from the respected FiveThirtyEight, which rates national pollsters, sampled 507 Mississippians online using a national survey sample.

A poll in late September by the Tyson Group showed Hyde-Smith with just a 1 point lead against Espy, while an internal poll released earlier to Mississippi Today by the Espy campaign showed him down 5 points. A few other polls showed Hyde-Smith, running for her first full six-year term, with larger leads. She is viewed nationally as a solid favorite in the race.

In the 2018 special election to replace long-time Sen. Thad Cochran, who stepped down for health reasons, Espy garnered just under 47% of the vote as Hyde-Smith became the first woman elected to represent Mississippi in Congress.

Of the people who have voted early in Mississippi, Espy and Biden both hold commanding leads, according to the poll released Tuesday. Espy leads 55-44 among early votes, while Biden leads 55-45. Mississippi does not have no excuse early voting, but according to data provided by the office of Secretary of State Michael Watson, a record number 146,000 Mississippians already have voted, using excuses allowed in state law to vote absentee. Turnout is expected to be well over one million voters.

The breakdown of the poll’s respondents is 62% white and 36% African American. Espy, trying to become Mississippi’s first elected Black senator, has said he needs the African American voter turnout to be more than 35% for him to have a chance to win. But, based on the poll results, Hyde-Smith is garnering 12% of the African American vote, though many question whether she will do that well with Black voters.

Espy has also said he needs 22% of the white vote — primarily college educated women. According to the poll, he is garnering 51% of the female vote to 46% for Hyde-Smith, but overall only 19% of white voters.

The poll also finds:

  • Support for adopting the flag proposed this summer by a legislatively created commission at 61% to 31%.
  • Support at 54% to 25% for removing a Jim Crow provision from the state Constitution requiring a candidate for statewide office to garner a majority of the vote and to win the most votes in a majority of the House districts to prevent the election from being thrown to the House to deicide.

The citizen-sponsored initiative to legalize medical marijuana was not polled, perhaps because of the complexity of the way the proposal is presented on the ballot. Voters can choose to adopt the citizen-sponsored initiative, a legislative alternative or neither.

Governor Tate Reeves is viewed as favorable by 34% of the respondents and negatively by 49%. The state’s senior U.S. senator, Roger Wicker, who is not on the ballot this year, is viewed favorably by 36% and unfavorably by 39%.

The Civiqs poll, commissioned by the left-leaning Daily Kos political blog, has a margin of error of 5.3%. Civiqs also released poll results from the swing states of Georgia and Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Biden was leading in both of those states by slim margins.


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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.