Early Takes on Trump: Mississippi By Athena King
Trump’s first 100 days in office were as anomalous as his candidacy and election. Trump ended this period with the lowest approval ratings of any president in the modern era. Still, Trump’s supporters remain highly supportive. Earlier this month 96 percent of those who voted for Trump continue to support him.
In Mississippi, support for the Trump administration comes in the form of silence. There are no post-inauguration polls determining the level of support in the Magnolia State. There have been few state or local news stories that admonish or censure the president for controversial actions of his. Had these occurred under any other president, the response would have likely been different by members of both parties.
There has been some opposition. The day after the inauguration, hundreds took to the streets of Jackson to protest the incoming administration. Since, vocal opponents have been reduced to a handful of editorials in local newspapers or staging town hall events in attempts to question or confront Congressional proxies.
Yet the silence of Mississippi Republicans and conservatives is deafening. Why? Perhaps the answer can be found in the level of support Trump received in Mississippi in 2016. Trump won the popular vote by 18 percent and won over 60 of the 88 counties in Mississippi.
This is not a surprise considering: (a) Mississippi, like most states in the Deep South, is a bastion of conservatism and has been dominated by the Republican Party since 1980; and (b) the state is mostly represented by Republicans in Congress, the state legislature and other state offices.
Trump won by securing counties in every part of the state by large margins of victory, many over 70 percent, except for westernmost counties. The vote was close in only four of the state’s 88 counties (Panola, Pike, Walthall, and Warren). Of the 1.2 million votes cast in Mississippi, Trump received over 700,000.
Mississippi Republicans appear mostly to be basking in the afterglow of their party’s success – even with recent controversies surrounding the administration. The dearth of news regarding Trump’s administration and its impact on the state/local level suggests that Mississippians are dealing with the status quo by accepting it. Historically, the state has consistently favored the Republican Party since 1980. As such, the majority tend to support GOP officeholders with few exceptions.
The term “null hypothesis” is used to describe the absence of a relationship between two phenomena, particularly if there is no a priori data regarding the relationship. It is reasonable to consider and accept a null hypothesis regarding approval of the Trump administration in the state of Mississippi. Thus far, there appears to be no significant change in political attitudes statewide since Trump's election.
Athena King is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Jackson State University.