A new Civiqs poll of Mississippi for Daily Kos finds a 52-25 lead for Measure 2, which would repeal a provision of the state's Jim Crow-era constitution that deliberately penalizes Black voters and the Democrats they support in elections for statewide office.
Under the state’s current law, candidates for statewide offices such as governor or attorney general need to win not only a majority of the vote but also a majority of the state House's 122 districts. If no candidate surpasses both thresholds, the members of the House choose the winner, and there's nothing to stop them from picking the person who lost the popular vote. Measure 2 would no longer require candidates for statewide office to carry a majority of the state House districts, but there's a catch: The new law would mandate a general election runoff for any contests in which no candidate earns a majority of the vote.
This would be a better outcome for Team Blue than the status quo, where the Republican gerrymander makes it extremely difficult for any Democrat to win a majority of the House seats unless they’re already carrying the popular vote decisively (last year, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Hood would likely have had to win by 15 points just to have a shot at carrying 62 House districts). It’s still bad, though, because a runoff could lead to a disproportionate drop in Democratic turnout.
Indeed, Georgia has had a very similar runoff law on the books for years, and it's consistently hurt Democratic candidates. In 2008, most notably, Democrat Jim Martin trailed in the first round of Georgia's 2008 Senate race by just 3 points yet lost his runoff by 15. In 2018, Democrat John Barrow went from a 0.4% deficit in the November contest for secretary of state to a 3.8% defeat the next month—not nearly as dramatic as what happened to Martin a decade before, but still a move in the wrong direction.
In fact, no Georgia Democrat has ever won a statewide runoff since Republicans revived the practice in 2005, knowing that Black voters—who disproportionately favor Democrats—tend to turn out at lower rates whenever there's a second round of voting. There's little reason to think such runoffs would operate differently in Mississippi, so even if Measure 2 passes, it may offer little in the way of progress.
Civiqs also polled Measure 3 and found a 61-31 majority in favor of “adopt[ing] a new official Mississippi state flag designed by the Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag.” Earlier this year, GOP Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill that retired the 126-year-old state flag, which prominently displayed the Confederate battle emblem, in the face of a boycott by the NCAA and SEC. The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag was tasked with designing a new flag, and it settled on one with a magnolia in the center and the words “In God We Trust” below.
If Measure 3 passes, the “In God We Trust Flag” would become the new official state flag. If it fails, then a 2021 special election would take place where voters would be presented with a new flag proposal.
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