Mississippi is one of three states where elections are expected to be bellwethers of how the country is leaning in the midst of today’s extraordinarily turbulent political atmosphere.
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and Donald Trump Jr. have all rallied in Mississippi in support of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, running against Attorney General Jim Hood for the governor’s office. Polls indicate a very close race, with both Reeves and Hood within striking distance of a win. Hood polled ahead of Reeves for months, but Reeves has taken the lead. All leads are within the polls’ margin of error, however, meaning neither candidate has a comfortable margin.
Mississippi has voted solidly Republican for the last three presidential elections. It’s among the states where Republicans control the governor’s office in addition to both chambers of the state legislature. Hood is the only statewide Democrat in office, and is known for reaching across the aisle to get things done.
The state’s unique process for electing statewide candidates could be a deciding factor this year. Not only does a candidate need to win the popular vote, he or she must also win a majority of the 122 state house districts to win outright. If neither candidate meets both criteria, the decision goes to the Mississippi House of Representatives.
A lawsuit is challenging the process, claiming the 1890 law is a holdover from the Jim Crow era and prevents African Americans from ever being the deciding factor in statewide elections even though Mississippi has the highest percentage of African Americans of any state at 38 percent. Filed in June, the case has yet to be decided.
In Kentucky, the race to watch is also for the governor’s office. Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin is not popular. His opponent is also the state’s Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.
Trump endorsed Bevin, rallying for him as well. The latest polls show him with a 5-point lead; however previous polls have shown the candidates to be tied or put Beshear in the lead.
Eyes are also on Virginia today, where Democrats are within striking distance of taking either of the state’s legislative chambers, both of which are currently in Republican hands by razor-thin majorities. All 140 seats are on the ballot.
Democrats have poured a record-breaking $32 million into state races in Virginia this year, more than doubling their 2007 record of $17.7 million and besting Republicans by about $12 million.
Locally, polls are open until 7 p.m. in Mississippi and Virginia, and until 6 p.m. in Kentucky.
Follow the Vicksburg Daily News on Facebook tonight after the polls close for updates as we get them on all the races important to you.