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Poll: Trump, Clinton running even in normally deep red Mississippi

Results of a new Mason-Dixon poll expose Trump’s general election vulnerabilities

mississippi mugJACKSON, Mississippi (CFP) — A new poll shows that if Republicans pick Donald Trump as their nominee, Mississippi could be in play in the general election for the first time in 36 years–a stark illustration of the uphill battle he may face across the country come November.

Candidate Donald Trump

Candidate Donald Trump

The Mason-Dixon poll of Mississippi voters showed Trump leading the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, by just 3 points, 46 percent to 43 percent, with 11 percent undecided. That is within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, which means that, statistically speaking, Trump and Clinton are in a tie.

By contrast, Trump’s rivals for the GOP nomination, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Governor John Kasich, both beat Clinton by double-digit margins.

The last time Mississippi was in play in a general election was in 1980, when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter by less than 2 points. The last Democrat to carry Mississippi was Carter in 1976.

How rare is it for a Democratic nominee to carry Mississippi? In the last 60 years, it has happened exactly twice, in 1956 and 1976. And in the last four elections, the Republican candidate has won by an average of 15 points.

The poll results are likely to add fuel to arguments by Cruz and Kasich that Trump would be a general election disaster for the GOP. Cruz leads Clinton in a general election match-up 51 percent to 40 percent; Kasich does even better, 52 percent to 37 percent.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Clinton holds an astounding 90-point lead among African-American voters, who make up a third of the Mississippi electorate. A mere 3 percent of black voters said they support Trump.

Clinton also has an 8-point lead among women and is taking a 15 percent share of Republican women.

And while Trump pulls only 8 percent of Democrats, the poll showed Clinton winning 11 percent of Republicans. Self-identified independents broke for Trump 49 percent to 37 percent.

The poll also showed that while both Clinton and Trump have high negatives among voters in the Magnolia State, Trump was viewed slightly more unfavorably. The difference between his favorable and unfavorable ratings was 11 points; hers was 8.

The poll of 625 registered Mississippi voters was conducted March 28-30. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage votes, which means there is a 95 percent probability that the actual result if all voters were surveyed would fall within a range 4 points above and below the reported figure.

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