Republican landslide projected ahead of Mississippi elections

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 02, 2015 11:54 AM

By Letitia Stein

(Reuters) - Mississippi's Republican governor, Phil Bryant, appears poised for a landslide re-election victory this week along with other incumbents from his party, according to an opinion poll, reflecting the strength of conservatives in the Deep South state.

Bryant, who is seeking a second term, faces a little-known challenger in truck driver Robert Gray, the surprise victor of a Democratic primary in which he did not spend money or seriously campaign. Gray's name was first on the ballot, and his victory was viewed by many analysts as indicative of the sorry state of the Mississippi Democratic Party.

Ahead of Tuesday's general election, Bryant has the support of 66 percent of likely voters surveyed by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research late last month, compared with 28 percent for Gray.

The state's incumbent lieutenant governor and secretary of state, both Republicans, also led by wide margins, leading pollsters to predict that all were headed for "landslide wins."

"There is really no suspense," said Marvin King, associate professor of political science at the University of Mississippi.

On election day, King predicted, the main unknown is how quickly media outlets will declare the victors after polls close. "Will they call it at 7 or 7:01?" he said.

Yet the attorney general's race, featuring one of the last Democrats still holding statewide office in a Southern state, could be an exception. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood faces a tough challenge as he seeks a fourth term in office.

Despite a tightening race, Hood is still favored to win and had the support of 50 percent of likely voters in a Mason-Dixon poll late last month, compared with 44 percent for Republican Mike Hurst, a former federal prosecutor.

However, Hood's lead had slipped by 5 percentage points since an April poll by the same group, and he could be in trouble if turnout is weak among the state's heavily Democratic black voters, Mason-Dixon pollsters predicted.

Mississippi Democrats are also expected to be competitive in a number of legislative races, which have been a party focus.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)