BY: B. Keith Plunkett | UCF Staff
The latest ‘State of the States’ reports by Gallup are out this week and the findings show what most already knew about Mississippi: we identify ourselves as the most conservative state in the nation, retaking that distinction from neighboring Alabama.
However, as in years past in the Gallup rankings, the Magnolia State is a not solidly Republican. This provides a unique opportunity for a conservative revival in our state that has the potential to spread across the South into neighboring states.
Attempts to maintain the GOP brand as synonymous with conservatism–and therefore no need to drill down into serious policy issues–are falling on deaf ears. Recent elections in 2014 uncovered a growing divide. Conservatives in Mississippi are beginning to question whether the policies promoted by Republican elected officials fits the bill, and are finding them wanting.
While Mississippi tops the list for number of self-identified conservatives, it doesn’t even break into the top ten for self-identified Republicans (We’re at number 12 behind Alaska).
It is this void that the United Conservatives Fund will fill, bringing a much needed conservative conscience back first to Mississippi politics, and then beyond.
Gallup reports that:
Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana are the most right-leaning states in the union, with between 46% and 49% of residents in each identifying as politically conservative.
Mississippi was the most conservative state in 2008 and remains the most conservative in 2014, with 49% of residents identifying as conservative in both years. Three states — Louisiana, Oklahoma and Montana — were not in the top 10 list in 2008 but are in 2014, while South Dakota, Wyoming and Texas dropped out of the top 10 list over the past seven years.
It is interesting to note in the data that while the states of South Dakota, Wyoming and Texas dropped in rank as conservative states, they maintained nearly identical percentages of people who identify as Republicans as in 2013. This shows how the GOP has moved left on the political spectrum, and away from right-leaning voters.
In other words, if GOP policies were truly conservative, then the number of self-identified Republicans would better correlate with those who are self-identified conservatives. The data shows that shift is not happening. Conservatives simply don’t trust the current Republican Party apparatus.
Further enforcing the lack of trust, the Gallup numbers on Economic Confidence show that Mississippians rank the states economy fourth from the bottom.
It is also telling that Mississippi moved back up to take the title of “most conservative” for the year of 2014, while adding less than a percentage point to its total from 2013.
Conservatives here in Mississippi aren’t so easily swayed by party affiliation and political promises. Even in an election year of monumental proportions as was the case in 2014, Mississippians are solidly and consistently conservative. The take-away is simple, Mississippi conservatives want to hear a conservative message, and see conservative policies enacted by Republicans.
The opportunity for growth to spread outside Mississippi is also evidenced in the Gallup numbers:
Six of the top 10 most conservative states are located in the South (Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina). Three others are in the Mountain West (Utah, Wyoming and Idaho), and one is Oklahoma — straddling the Midwest/southern border.
Keith Plunkett is the Policy and Communications Director for the United Conservatives Fund. He has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, government agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett