The final polls in the Mississippi special Senate election show that Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith has been able to maintain a lead despite a series of controversies, but the suddenly tight race is expected to come down to which side can better turn out their voters.
The Republican incumbent was once expected to cruise to victory over Democrat Mike Espy in one of the reddest states in the nation, but the race has become unexpectedly tight amid a series of racially charged controversies from Hyde-Smith. She was seen on video joking about attending a public lynching, and a picture later surfaced showing her proudly wearing a Confederate hat. Hyde-Smith has also praised Confederate leaders and once proposed naming a stretch of highway after Confederate leader Jefferson Davis, despite her district having no connection to him.
The controversies have given hope to Democrats that they could steal the race as they had in Alabama after Republican Roy Moore was caught up in controversies of his own regarding having dated young teenage girls while he was in his 30s. The final Mississippi Senate polls show there may be hope, but still a long way to go.
The conservative site RRH Elections commissioned a final poll showing that Cindy Hyde-Smith was still up by 10 points, with 54 percent supporting the Republican and 44 percent backing Espy.
There could still be opportunity for Espy if Democrats can generate strong turnout among their base, the poll found.
“Hyde-Smith benefits from very strong support among white voters, Republicans, and those who approve of the president, while Espy collects near-unanimous support among black voters, Democrats, and those who disapprove of the president,” RRH Elections notes. “With neither candidate demonstrating significant crossover support, the race will come down to the lean of the state and turnout.”
— The Hill (@thehill) November 26, 2018
There are still signs that a win would be difficult for Democrats. As CNN noted, voters in the state’s “jungle primary” election that allowed multiple candidates from each party still favored Republicans. Though Hyde-Smith alone was not able to top the 50 percent mark that would have given her a win on Election Day, Republicans combined for 58 percent of the vote while Espy and fellow Democrat Tobey Bartee garnered 42 percent.
Though the polling was conducted over the final days, it was not clear if it could capture any late momentum Espy may have found. As CNN reported, Cindy Hyde-Smith has retreated from the public eye, ending her near-daily campaign events and instead staying quiet amid the controversies.