Less than half of Mississippians support keeping the state flag with its prominent Confederate emblem, according to a new poll. But as MPB's Ezra Wall reports, a Democratic strategist says a statewide vote now would probably not result in a new flag.
Brad Chism of Chism Strategies says his new poll shows less than half of people support keeping the current Mississippi flag, which prominently features a Confederate emblem. But the sample wanting to change the flag is even smaller. He compares the new data to 2001 when voters cast ballots to keep the flag.
"The poll was a non-binding referendum in 2001 and it failed with a 64 percent 'no' margin. And now we're looking at the no's going from 64 [percent] to 49 [percent]. There's still not a majority of people who want to retire the state flag, but it is important to note that for the first time, there is not a majority affirming continuing to fly this flag," says Chism.
Chism says those pushing for a change in the state flag would not likely succeed in a statewide vote.
"While this is encouraging news for those who want a new state flag, by no means is it a validation that it's time to put this on the ballot. As a matter of fact, it would be unwise for advocates of a new state flag to move forward with a ballot measure at this time," says Chism.
Detractors say the flag's Confederate symbolism is racist. Supporters of the current design say the emblem is part of the state's history, and should not be removed.
Republicans like Senator Roger Wicker and Speaker Phillip Gun support changing the flag. Governor Phil Bryant says he supports the vote of the people.