Many conservatives believe the Mississippi Today website is biased against them. The might have a valid complaint after its story about a poll on Gov. Tate Reeves.
The poll, commissioned by Mississippi Today and Siena College, a private Franciscan college in New York state, said 57% of 821 registered voters would vote for someone other than Reeves if the governor’s election scheduled for November was held today. Another 33% of respondents said they would vote for Reeves.
To a point, this question — Reeves vs. Someone Else — can be taken as a measure of the governor’s popularity. But since Mississippi is a reliably Republican state, it is difficult to believe that only one-third of the population is willing to consider a second term for Reeves.
What gives? Suddenly more voters are getting on board the “expand Medicaid” train? Are they upset with education pay raises or the state’s artificially low unemployment rate?
Only two things come to mind when wondering whether Reeves has done anything during his first three years in office to upset his base. Both occurred during his first year as governor — a lifetime ago in politics.
The most noteworthy decision was to listen to state health officials about the risks of the covid-19 pandemic. Through a series of emergency orders, Reeves kept a number of health restrictions in place for much of 2020. But he has been far more hands-off since then.
The other item was his lack of opposition to changing the Mississippi flag. Reeves did not lead on this issue, but he did not stand in the way, as he could have. The state made the change, voters approved it in a referendum, and the world has not ended.
So, back to the poll results. If more than half of the respondents want someone else besides Reeves, who might that be?
The governor got better news from another question in the poll. This one asked respondents who they would vote for if the election was between Reeves and Brandon Presley, the Northern District Public Service Commissioner who is running for the top job as a Democrat.
Reeves holds a 43% to 39% lead over Presley, who apparently has some work to do, especially in the southern two-thirds of the state, before he becomes the Someone Else that poll respondents had in mind.
The poll says another potential challenger, Bill Waller Jr., also trails Reeves in a potential Republican primary. Waller tried that route four years ago and reportedly is considering running as an independent this time.
This is not an endorsement of Reeves. His muleheadedness on expanding Medicaid has hurt Mississippi. But anyone interested in politics is fooling themselves if they fail to acknowledge that one thing the governor is very good at doing is winning statewide elections.
He’s won two for state treasurer, two for lieutenant governor and one for governor, with one more to go next November. Presley, though voters may not know much about him, will present a legitimate Democratic alternative. No doubt Reeves already knows this and is planning his campaign accordingly.
— Jack Ryan, McComb Enterprise-Journal