Aug. 13, 2018 — A new Triumph Campaigns survey for the Y’all Politics blog (July 30-31; 2,100 likely Mississippi registered voters, 25 from each of the state’s four congressional districts) tested the two Mississippi US Senate campaigns. The results reveal interesting data for appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), who has been on the job since her April 9 induction ceremony after being appointed to succeed veteran Sen. Thad Cochran (R). The state’s senior senator, who amassed 40 years of service in the Senate, stepped down for health reasons.
According to the Triumph results, Sen. Hyde-Smith would lead former US Agriculture secretary and congressman Mike Espy (D), state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), and Independent Tobey Bartee, 41-27-15-1 percent in the statewide ballot test.
The new senator fares best in south and east congressional districts, numbers 3 and 4. The two Republicans do particularly well in the Biloxi-Gulfport anchored 4th District where the senator records 42 percent support and McDaniel has 24 percent, while Espy drops to 17 percent. Statewide, the preliminary data suggests that Hyde-Smith and Espy would move into a secondary run-off election.
In this special election, where the winner will fill the balance of the current term, all candidates will appear on the concurrent general election ballot. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to a run-off election a few days after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 27.
It was always believed that McDaniel’s candidacy — he almost defeated Sen. Cochran in the 2014 Republican primary and run-off — would at least force Hyde-Smith into a post-election run-off, and this data certainly supports such an analysis.
Triumph also examined run-off scenarios. Against Espy, Sen. Hyde-Smith would lead 48-34 percent in their head-to-head secondary match-up. If McDaniel slipped past the senator to qualify for the run-off with Espy, the Democrat would lead that pairing, 41-26 percent. Considering that the two Republicans will split the GOP vote while Espy should solidify the Democratic vote, it is difficult to conceive of a run-off scenario that doesn’t include him.
Looking at Sen. Roger Wicker’s (R) race against state House Minority Leader David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis), the incumbent would lead his major party challenger, 53-32 percent, which is a fully expected margin. Sen. Wicker is rated as safe for re-election.