Millsaps College/Chism Strategies State of the State Survey: Voters Shift on COVID-19 Vaccine

Many Mississippians have reconsidered their plans regarding whether they intend to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, as 63% of voters say they will definitely or probably get vaccinated while another 13% report already being vaccinated. Of the remaining voters surveyed in the latest Millsaps College/Chism Strategies State of the State survey, 20% report they probably or definitely will not get vaccinated and 5% are unsure at this time. This represents a monumental shift from the January 5, 2021 State of the State Survey, which found nearly 50% saying they may refuse to receive the vaccine or were unsure about it.

The latest quarterly survey also finds that 70% of Mississippi voters favor raising the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009, with a plurality supporting an increase to $15.00 per hour. A quarter of voters do not favor increasing the minimum wage.

The Biden administration’s nearly $2 trillion economic recovery package, known as the American Rescue Plan, is supported by 51% of Magnolia State voters compared to 29% who are opposed. CNN national polling from early March found that 61% of voters nationally supported the plan and 37% were opposed.

“The findings of this survey are certainly welcome news for our state, as we have seen a massive turnaround in just two months in the way Mississippians perceive of the coronavirus vaccination program,” said Dr. Nathan Shrader, chair of the Department of Government and Politics at Millsaps College. “Voters are learning more about the necessity of the vaccines, how participation in vaccination will help the nation return to normal more quickly and receiving encouragement from medical and public health experts along with a noticeably different tone from federal officials. These things have truly helped move the needle for us.”

Other Key Findings:

  • A majority of Mississippians (51%) believe the state is heading in the right direction, compared those who think the state is moving in the wrong direction (37%). This is the largest spread (+14) posted in 14 quarters of the State of the State Survey.
  • 37% of voters approve of the performance of the state legislature, while 38% disapprove. This is also a stronger-than-normal showing for the state legislative body.
  • 42% approve and 37% disapprove of their own elected members of the Mississippi Legislature.
  • A majority of voters (55%) believe Governor Tate Reeves ended the statewide mask-wearing policy and other pandemic restrictions too soon. Nearly 30% say the decision was made at the right time, while 13% feel it should have happened sooner.
  • Nearly 85% of voters support a plan to raise pay by $1,000 for Mississippi teachers.
  • Nearly 50% think the state’s gas tax ought to be increased, although they are split on whether this should be done by the legislature or by a statewide referendum. 35% say the gas tax should remain as is and 10% would like to see it reduced.
  • Over 55% of Mississippians say the state has an obligation to help Jackson and its residents with the nearly four-week long water crisis triggered by the February ice and snowstorms. 30% do not believe such an obligation exists. A plurality (33%) thinks a combination of federal, state and local taxpayers are responsible for funding the capital city’s needed repairs and upgrades.
  • 46% support a legislative proposal to abolish the state income tax, expand and increase the sales tax and reduce the grocery tax. 27% oppose the idea while 26% are unsure.
  • 51% do not believe the state legislature or state courts should change the medical marijuana law enacted by voters last November. 19% think the legislature should be able to add taxes, fees and regulations, while 21% would like the law to be completely undone.
  • Nearly 52% oppose employers requiring employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment while 34% are in favor of such a policy.
  • Nearly 70% of Mississippi Republicans believe former President Donald J. Trump should seek the Republican Party nomination again in 2024 compared to just 19% who do not.
  • A plurality of Mississippi Democrats (32%) describe their ideology as moderate. 27% say they are progressive, 10% identify as liberal and 9% identify as conservative.

“We salute Millsaps College for its commitment to providing elected officials and community leaders a quarterly measure of public opinion. It is our hope that policy makers will make wise use of this polling data to strengthen Mississippi,” said Brad Chism, president of Chism Strategies.

The survey was conducted from March 8-9, 2021 with a sample size of 602, with 10% of interviews conducted via cell phone and 90% via landline. The survey has a Margin of Error of +/3.99%. Results were weighted to reflect voter turnout for the 2020 Mississippi elections.

Millsaps College and Chism Strategies have conducted the quarterly State of the State Survey for 14 quarters since 2017 in an effort to provide an unbiased, academic view of current political issues in Mississippi through the response of its citizens.

Read the full report here.

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