Gov. Tate Reeves, after almost one full year as the state’s chief executive, currently has a 34% approval rating and a 49% disapproval rating, according to a poll released Tuesday.

As the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened in Mississippi, Reeves’ popularity has tumbled, according to the Millsaps College/Chism Strategies poll. In June, the same pollster found that 50% of Mississippi voters approved of the job performance of Reeves, while 28% disapproved.

The poor marks for Reeves are almost certainly affected by his perceived handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the poll released Tuesday, 37% of voters believe his management of the pandemic has been excellent/good, 26% say it has just been fair, and 35% say it has been poor/totally unacceptable.

Reeves, the sole elected official who can issue statewide safety orders like mask mandates and crowd size limits, has taken a piecemeal response in recent weeks. He’s received criticism from all quarters, including from those wanting stringent public health regulations and those who believe government should be hands-off.

Meanwhile, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in state has grown by nearly eight times since June, and every measurable virus statistic has considerably worsened. 

Reeves’ low approval rating stands in contrast to the high approvals of his predecessor, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant. In Bryant’s final quarter as governor in late 2019, he enjoyed one of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the nation: 55% of voters approved of his performance, and 25% disapproved.

Other findings from the poll released on Tuesday:

  • Mississippi voters are evenly divided on the state’s direction, with 35% saying the state is moving in the right direction, 39% in the wrong direction and 26% unsure. 
  • Just 27% approve of the Mississippi Legislature’s performance, compared to 44% who disapprove and 29% who say they don’t have enough information to rate their work.
  • Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann currently has a 39% approval rating, with nearly a quarter saying they disapprove. 37% did not have enough information to evaluate his performance.
  • Voters are divided on the performance of Attorney General Lynn Fitch, with 33% approving, 34% disapproving and 32% lacking sufficient information about her work.
  • 42% believe the measures taken by Mississippi’s state government have not gone far enough to stop the spread of COVID-19. 36% feel the measures have been appropriate, while just 16% say the state has gone too far already.
  • Just over 42% favor eliminating the state’s income tax as proposed by Governor Reeves, a proposition opposed by 36% of voters. Another 22% remain unsure.

Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.