/Mississippi voters overwhelmingly want candidates to debate, poll finds

Mississippi voters overwhelmingly want candidates to debate, poll finds

A poll by NBC News/Marist released Tuesday morning revealed that 60% of Mississippians would not favorably view a candidate refusing to debate, while 11% would prefer the non-debating candidate. 22 percent stated that it would not make any difference. Hyde-Smith (an interim U.S senator running on Nov. 6), and Wicker (an incumbent running for reelection) have refused to debate their opponents. Governor Hyde-Smith appointed Republican Hyde Smith. Phil Bryant will serve as interim U.S. Senator after Thad Cochran, a long-standing U.S. senator, resigned in March. He has been challenged by Republican Chris McDaniel (a Ellisville state senator and a Tea Party favorite), and Mike Espy (an ex-U.S. House member). Tobey Bartee (a Gautier Democrat) is also running in the special elections. Espy stated Friday that he would debate Hyde Smith at any time, even “tonight”, if she accepted the invitation. Espy portrayed himself to be the veteran candidate having served three terms in Congress as well as a stint as Agriculture Secretary in the Clinton administration. He also noted that Hyde Smith had been in federal office since April. She was previously the commissioner for agriculture and commerce at the state level. Hyde-Smith stated last week that she believes that a bus tour across the state will be more beneficial than debating with her opponents. According to the NBC poll, 34% of likely voters prefer to hear about candidates’ positions on issues via a debate and 26% prefer media interviews. These two options outperformed all other options the pollster gave respondents to learn more about the candidates such as rallies, town hall meetings or advertisements. Wicker, a Republican, is running for a second term of six years. He has also refused to debate his opponent, state Rep. David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis). Wicker, who was in the same place as Hyde Smith in 2008, did debate. He was appointed by the then-Gov to be the interim U.S. Senator. Haley Barbour was appointed interim U.S. senator by then-Gov. Wicker and the former Governor Ronnie Musgrove and Wicker debated at an event held at Mississippi College School of Law, Jackson. In 1998, Lott and Wayne Dowdy debated as they ran to succeed Sen. John Stennis. If no candidate wins a majority vote in the special election the top two vote-getters will move on to the runoff on Nov. 27, which provides additional debate opportunities. In advance of the Nov. 6, special election, the incumbents and favored candidates in fourth U.S. House elections have also rejected debate opportunities. The margin of error in the NBC-Marist Poll of 511 Mississippians, Oct. 13-17, was 6.1 percent.