Poll: Democrat Mike Espy Leads By 12 Points in Mississippi’s U.S. Senate Race

Mike Espy Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Mississippi's special election. Photo by Ashton Pittman (originally appeared in the Jackson Free Press).

On the eve of the midterms, a new poll finds Democrat Mike Espy leading by 12 points in Mississippi’s U.S. Senate special election.

According to Change Research polls, Espy leads in a four candidate field with 40 percent of the vote. Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel and the incumbent, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, come in second and third respectively, with 28 and 27 percent of the vote.

Observers expect the race to go to a runoff, likely pitting Espy against either McDaniel or Hyde-Smith. But this is the first time a poll has found McDaniel in second place; prior polls found Hyde-Smith well ahead of McDaniel for second.

That’s significant; according to prior polls of the race, Hyde-Smith would tie or lead Espy in a runoff, but Espy would lead McDaniel—known for controversial remarks about race and gender—in a runoff by double digits.

Read the Jackson Free Press Interview with Mike Espy

By the nature of special elections in the state, there were no party primaries and none of the candidates will have a party designation by their name.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) was shouted down as she tried to speak by supporters of her Republican opponent, State Sen. Chris McDaniel, at the Neshoba County Fair on Aug. 2, 2018. Photos by Ashton Pittman.

The runoff, scheduled for Nov. 27, could make Mississippi the center of the nation’s attention—especially if control of the Senate is deadlocked after the Nov. 6 midterms.

Read the Jackson Free Press Interview with Chris McDaniel

On Monday, Myrlie Evers-Williams—a civil rights icon who was the wife of slain civil rights martyr Medgar Evers—endorsed Espy. “We are at a crossroads, Mississippi,” she said. “Will we use our sacred right to vote and move forward, or let our souls be dragged back to the past?”

In Mississippi’s other U.S. Senate race, Change Research finds incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker leading with 48 percent of the vote, compared to 40 for Democratic challenger David Baria.

Read the Jackson Free Press Interview with David Baria

Both races are on the ballot in tomorrow’s elections in Mississippi on Nov. 6, along with U.S. House seats in all four congressional districts. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Written by Ashton Pittman

Ashton is the founder of Deep South Voice. He is also the State Reporter for the Jackson Free Press, where he covers Mississippi politics and campaigns. A Mississippi native who studied journalism and politics at the University of Southern Mississippi, his work has appeared in The Guardian, the New York Times, on, and a number of other outlets. He has made appearances on MSNBC, NPR Radio, and several other broadcast and radio shows. You can follow him on Twitter @ashtonpittman.