New Poll Shows McCullough Leading in Mississippi Runoff
With two weeks to go in Mississippi’s 1st district Republican primary runoff, a new poll released this week by Glenn McCullough’s campaign showed the former Tupelo mayor with a 7-point lead over Southaven Mayor Greg Davis.
The On Message Inc. survey of 400 likely voters showed McCullough with 45 percent and Davis with 38 percent. It had a 4.9-point margin of error. The poll was conducted on the two days following the primary election on March 11 in which McCullough earned 39 percent and Davis took 37 percent.
A runoff between the two top votegetters is required in the Magnolia State when no candidate garners more than 50 percent of the vote.
In the March 11 primary, ophthalmologist Randy Russell picked up 24 percent. But as early as March 12 — as the On Message poll was being conducted — it became clear that Russell would throw his support behind McCullough’s campaign in the runoff. Russell officially endorsed McCullough on Friday.
The On Message polling memo appeared to confirm the come-from-behind nature of McCullough’s primary campaign.
In late February, a Public Opinion Strategies poll conducted for Davis’ campaign gave Davis an 18-point lead. The On Message memo noted that McCullough’s own campaign had the former Tupelo mayor down by 23 points in a Feb. 12 poll.
But McCullough came on strong by rallying his Tupelo base — which also was now-Sen. Roger Wicker’s (R) base during his seven House terms — and in the rural areas of Northern Mississippi. In the primary he beat Davis in 18 of 24 counties in the district. He also outraised Davis over the last 10 days of the campaign, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
The On Message polling memo said that “the only path to victory that remains for Greg Davis is to pursue a high-risk strategy of negative messaging. … With his vote share decreasing, we fully expect Davis to remain negative throughout the runoff election.”
Davis’ camp has said that the campaign is working ensuring a strong get-out-the-vote effort for the special election.
According to county results posted in the Clarion Ledger newspaper, Davis had a strong showing in DeSoto County, the district’s largest GOP stronghold and his home county. More than half of Davis’ 16,161 votes came from DeSoto, while McCullough was only able to pick up 1,856 in the county and Russell took 1,656 there. And by all accounts, the DeSoto turnout was lower than expected. If Davis can energize his DeSoto base, and pick up the voters in the county that went to Russell, he will put himself in a very good position in the runoff despite Russell’s support of McCullough.