November 12, 2019
Last Tuesday, Republican Tate Reeves secured his spot as the next Governor of Mississippi. Reeves received 52% of the vote while his opponent Jim Hood received 46%. The race was surprisingly close for a deep red state that President Trump carried in 2016 with 58% of the vote. Reeves, a two-term Lieutenant Governor endured a difficult primary, requiring a runoff against former State Supreme Court Chief Justice William Waller on August 27th. Additionally, Hood gained popularity across the state serving as Attorney General for sixteen years, surviving as the only statewide elected Democrat in Mississippi. Prior to this race, neither candidate had ever lost a statewide election.
Mississippi Governor Advertising Wars
Spending for the two candidates was almost dead even. Total spending in support for each candidate was $3.2 million for Reeves and $3.1 million for Hood. This brought total spending in this race to $6.3 million.
In the final three weeks of the election, Hood spent $1.1 million, and Reeves spent $1.3 million. This period accounts for 38% of total spending in the election. According to Real Clear Politics, polls at the end of October reported Reeves ahead by 3 points. Reeves held onto this lead, outspending Hood in the final weeks, $753,000 to $518,000.
Reeves tied himself closely to the Trump Administration throughout the election, with President Trump holding a rally on November 1st in Tupelo in support of Reeves. Vice President Pence also rallied for Reeves in Biloxi the night before the election. This potentially gave Reeves the final boost required for victory. Hood, nicknamed “the last Democrat in Dixie”, positioned himself for being a pro-gun, pro-life conservative Democrat. His television ads depict him with his truck and hunting dog, shooting at bottle targets. At the rally in Tupelo, Reeves and Trump attempted to combat Hood’s conservative stances by labeling him as a liberal Democrat who supported Clinton in 2016. Ultimately Reeves prevailed with 52% percent of the vote, which is to be expected in a state where a Republican has occupied the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion for 24 of the last 28 years.