Democrats pointed to the defeat of the so-called “personhood” pro-life amendment in Mississippi as an example of Southern voters rejecting Republican issues. Initiative 26, which would have defined life as beginning at conception, lost by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent, despite leading in the polls just a few weeks earlier.
“This is one of the most conservatives states in the nation, and the vote wasn’t even close. It was a thorough repudiation of Republican policies,” Ms. Roussell said.
Mississippi Republican Party Executive Director Tim Saler countered that the personhood initiative had bipartisan support. The measure was endorsed by many Democratic candidates, including gubernatorial hopeful Johnny DuPree, who lost to Republican Phil Bryant.
“Most of the Democratic candidates said they would support [the personhood amendment]. They needed to say they were for it to make people think they were more conservative than they were,” said Mr. Saler. “It’s a little bit of revisionist history for Democrats to say they were against personhood.”
He said the election’s legacy may be the end of the distinction drawn by Mississippi voters between Southern Democrats and national Democrats, one that successful Democratic candidates in states such as Kentucky and Arkansas have tried to highlight in recent votes.
“There was some sense among voters that, ‘Our Democrats are different.’ The phrase you’d hear was ‘Mississippi Democrats,’” said Mr. Saler. “I think what happened is that voters finally decided that, well, there isn’t a difference.”