Most states also decided ballot propositions on many subjects, and several considered changes in their electoral systems.
Alaska voters were asked to consider a new primary system that would feature four candidates advancing into the general election. Though almost half the votes are still not counted, it appears the measure will be defeated. At this point, more than 56% have voted No.
Florida has a 60% rule for adopting ballot measures. Therefore, even though 57% of voters approved changing their primary system to a top-two jungle primary, the measure failed to reach the required passage percentage and thus dies.
For years, Mississippi has had a law that required statewide candidates to carry a majority of state House districts in addition to winning the aggregate popular vote. In an overwhelming result, with a 78% majority, the voters scrapped the system and future elections will be decided only from the statewide popular vote count.
Massachusetts voters were asked to approve a measure to adopt Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting system where each candidate is ranked at the voting booth. If no one receives 50% of the vote, the last place candidate is dropped and the ballots that show the last place candidate as the first choice are found and their second choice is added to the count. The Bay State voters rejected the change with almost 55% of the vote.
Two states made changes in their redistricting process. Missouri changed the parameters of a previously adopted procedure that gave power to a state demographer. The measure, passing with 51%, removes the state demographer from the process. Virginia voters, with just under a 66% margin, adopted a new legislator/citizen commission process that will remove map drawing responsibilities solely from the legislative process. The legislature and Governor, however, must approve the commission-drawn maps or the state Supreme Court will assume such responsibility at the end of the process.
The last published poll of this rerun Senate race came in late August, so it has been two full months since we have seen fresh data. The Civiqs organization, polling for the Daily Kos Elections website (10/23-26; 507 MS likely voters; online), finds Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) leading former US Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D), 52-44%. Ms. Hyde-Smith was appointed following the resignation and subsequent death of veteran Sen. Thad Cochran (R). She then prevailed in a 2018 special election with a 54-46% victory margin over Mr. Espy. The two are now engaged in a re-match for the full six-year term.
In a race that has drawn scant attention in 2020, a new Garin Hart Yang Research poll (7/30-8/9; 600 MS likely voters) finds Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s (R) lead over former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D) dwindling when compared to earlier polls. The GHY survey finds Sen. Hyde-Smith topping Mr. Espy, 47-42%. An Impact Management Group poll in early May posted the Senator to a 28-point advantage.
Gov. Tate Reeves (R) has signed legislation to place a referendum on the November ballot that will, if passed, change the state’s Jim Crow era voting system that makes gubernatorial candidates win a majority of state House of Representatives’ districts irrespective of their finish in the popular vote.
The referendum would eliminate the state House requirement and instead install a general election runoff like the state of Georgia uses. There, if no general election candidate receives an absolute majority of votes, a run-off between the top two finishers occurs in the post-election period.
Public Policy Polling (5/27-28; 871 MS registered voters; 50% via a text survey) sees Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith’s (R) lead over former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D) diminishing from the huge 28-point advantage the early May Impact Management Group study produced. The PPP result finds the Senator’s margin to be 49-41%.
Public Policy Polling is known for asking a large number of push questions in their surveys to see how far the ballot test moves. In this poll, they only asked one, and it concerned Medicaid expansion. Relying on text messaging to obtain survey research is a tactic not often used. A 50% share of text respondents participating in this poll raises reliability questions.
A rare Mississippi US Senate poll was released from the Impact Management Group (5/4-7; 606 MS likely voters) and the data finds first-term incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) claiming a large double-digit lead over her previous special election opponent, former US Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D) who is returning for a re-match this year.
The ballot test gives the Republican Senator a 58-31% major advantage. This is a significant improvement over Sen. Hyde-Smith’s 54-46% win in 2018 to fill the balance of the late Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) final term in office.
Mississippi is a state that should be a lock for President Trump this November, but an early poll returns numbers that may indicate a bit of weakness on the Republican side. The survey, from Chism Strategies (4/8-9; 508 MS likely voters), finds President Trump securely in the lead with a 49-38% point spread, but that is significantly below his 2016 victory margin of 58-40%. Republican candidates typically under-poll in the South as compared to their actual vote margins, so this could partially account for the Trump margin being lower than four years ago.
Several Governor’s made decisions to either move their state’s primary or run-off election, or admitted considering changing the voting system. All of the moves are in relation to adopting COVID-19 precautions.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) moved his state’s May 5th primary to June 2nd, which will now be a very significant primary day as many states are moving to what was an already crowded election day.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) transferred the state’s runoff election from March 31st to June 23rd. There is only one federal runoff in Mississippi, in the 2nd Congressional District, and the outcome will have no effect upon the general election as Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Bolton/Mississippi Delta) is the prohibitive favorite to defeat whichever Republican becomes the party nominee.
The North Carolina Board of Elections has moved the state’s lone congressional runoff, in the open Republican 11th District (Rep. Mark Meadows-R), from May 12th to June 23rd. The winner of the secondary GOP election will win in November.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a letter over the weekend that indicated he is moving the state’s May 26th runoff that features many federal and state secondary elections to July 14th.
The Mississippi primary did not attract much attention because most of the races were uncontested. In the Senate contest, we will now officially see a re-match between Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D). The two fought to a 54-46% Hyde-Smith decision in the 2018 special election.
In the current primary, Sen. Hyde-Smith was unopposed for re-nomination and Mr. Espy easily won the Democratic contest. The only significant incumbent challenge to a House incumbent yielded five-term Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Biloxi) easily outpacing three Republican opponents with 67% of the vote to claim re-nomination to a sixth term. He will have clear sailing in the general election.
Former Vice President Joe Biden placed a strong first in Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri last night, and ran just over six points ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in Idaho, but looks to have fallen short in North Dakota, and possibly Washington.
Still, the delegate totals accumulated from last night and on Super Tuesday suggest that Mr. Biden is building an insurmountable lead and should effectively wrap up the presidential nomination next week when voters in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio go to the polls. The former VP has strong polling leads in each of those places.
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