Maybe Mississippi is more complicated than conventional wisdom suggests.
From the outside, the state looks like the most conservative place in the nation’s most conservative region. In some ways that’s true enough, but Mississippi has always, for better and worse, done things its own way. And maybe, like the rest of the South, the state isn’t the monolith that conventional wisdom says it is.
At least, that’s what a recent NBC News/Survey Monkey online survey suggests. The network gave the University of Mississippi an early look at the survey and shared the results with a class of eight students who used the data as the foundation for this series of reports.
The project, conducted in March of 2018, polled a sample of 1,486 adults living in Mississippi concerning a range of issues of interest to the state. The survey was part of a larger project that polled a national sample of more than 15,000 adults and more than 4,100 adults living in 11 Southern states.
Among the highlights in Mississippi:
Respondents were almost evenly split on the condition of the state’s economy, but a third said it should be the legislature’s top priority, followed by education, health care, and infrastructure.
About six in 10 respondents do not think the state is doing a good job of maintaining roads and bridges, but about the same number said they would be willing to pay higher taxes to improve infrastructure and public schools.
Mississippians trust the state more than the federal government, and clear majorities approve of the legislature, the governor, and the state’s two senators.
About six in 10 respondents think race relations in the state are either staying the same or improving, but more than a third think they are getting worse. About two-thirds oppose removing Confederate monuments.
But almost the same number of respondents said most undocumented immigrants working in the United States should get the chance to apply for legal status.
So, maybe Mississippi isn’t as simple as it looks from the outside. Just like the South, and the rest of the country, isn’t either. Maybe William Faulkner had it right:
“To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.”