Supporters hold signs during the Trump rally at BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Miss., Friday, November 1, 2019. Credit: Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

Mississippi Republican voters are still standing firmly with former President Donald Trump, according to a new Mississippi Today/Siena College poll.

When poll respondents were asked which candidate they would vote for if a presidential primary were held today, Trump garnered support from 57% of Mississippi Republicans, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had support from 34%. Just 8% of the Republicans surveyed were undecided.

However, among Mississippi independents, who often vote in Republican primaries, DeSantis carried a plurality of support with 44% over Trump’s 34%. An additional 18% of independents surveyed were undecided, and 5% chose “someone else.”

Editor’s note: Poll methodology and crosstabs can be found at the bottom of this story. Click here to read more about our partnership with Siena College Research Institute.

Graphic: Bethany Atkinson

Even as Trump’s support erodes in several red states, his numbers among Mississippi Republicans remain strong.

Trump enjoys a 78% favorability rating among Mississippi Republicans, according to the poll, with 17% of Republicans finding him unfavorable. Just 4% responded they didn’t know enough to say, and 1% refused to answer the question.

DeSantis has a 61% favorability rating among Mississippi Republicans, with 10% of Republicans finding him unfavorable. A sizable 28% of Mississippi Republicans responded they didn’t know enough to say, and 1% refused.

When factoring in independents and Democrats, though, Trump’s total approval rating dips drastically to 42%, with 53% of voters finding the former president unfavorable. DeSantis’ approval rating also dips when factoring in independents and Democrats: 37% of the state finds DeSantis favorable, 27% find him unfavorable, and 33% say they don’t know enough about him to decide.

Graphic: Bethany Atkinson
Graphic: Bethany Atkinson

Democratic President Joe Biden, expectedly, does not enjoy high marks among Mississippi voters. 

Biden has a 39% approval rating in the state, while 57% of respondents find him unfavorable, according to the poll. A drastic partisan split is factored into the average: 81% of Democrats find Biden favorable, while 16% find him unfavorable; 9% of Republicans find Biden favorable, while 89% of Republicans find him unfavorable; and just 29% of independents find Biden favorable, while 65% find him unfavorable.

Separately, when poll respondents were asked which candidate they think was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election, 52% of the state said Biden was the legitimate winner over Trump. Two-thirds (66%) of Mississippi Republicans think Trump won the 2020 election, while just 20% of Republican respondents think Biden did.

A 52% majority of Mississippi’s white respondents — including survey participants of all parties, not just Republicans — said they thought Trump was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election.

Respondents to the poll were also asked: “Thinking about the state of our democracy, are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of our country?” Exactly 50% of all respondents said they were pessimistic about the future, including 65% of Republicans, 60% of independents, and 29% of Democrats.

Just 44% of all respondents said they were optimistic about the future, including 30% of Republicans, 32% of independents, and 65% of Democrats.

The Mississippi Today/Siena College Research Institute poll of 821 registered voters was conducted Jan. 8-12 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points. Siena has an A rating in FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of pollsters.

Click here for complete methodology and crosstabs relevant to this story.

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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.