JACKSON, Miss. (BP) — One day before citizens in Mississippi go to the polls, a new survey indicates a dead heat in a ballot initiative that would make the state the first to amend its constitution to define all human life as beginning at conception.
The poll of 796 likely voters, conducted Friday through Sunday, has Initiative Measure 26 leading, 45-44 percent, with 11 percent undecided. The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling, a polling organization that conducts polls mostly for liberal organizations and has a good track record of polling on the state level.
The question used nearly identical language to the proposed amendment, asking voters if they planned to vote for an amendment that “would define the term ‘person’ to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof.”
“Right now it looks like it could go either way,” Public Policy Polling said in an analysis.
The proposed amendment is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The Yes on 26 website says “one simple vote” on Tuesday will “end abortion in Mississippi.”
Colorado voters rejected a similar amendment in 2008, 73-27 percent, and in 2010, 70-30 percent. But Mississippi’s conservative nature and Christian makeup gives personhood supporters a far greater opportunity for a win.
Men (48-42 percent), Republicans (65-28) and whites (54-37) support it, while women (42-46), African Americans (26-59) and Democrats (23-61) oppose it. The 11 percent who are undecided could determine the measure’s fact. Of undecideds, 58 percent are women, 54 percent Democrat and 42 percent black.
“Those still on the fence disproportionately belong to voter groups that oppose the amendment,” Public Policy Polling said. “That suggests when those folks make up their minds the proposal could be narrowly defeated.”
Voter turnout for each side is critical.
Supporting the amendment are Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel and the American Family Association. The Mississippi Baptist Convention passed a resolution backing it, and the convention’s executive director recorded a video urging people to vote for it. Yet National Right to Life and Americans United for Life — two major pro-life organizations — have remained neutral. (To read statements from both sides, visit http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=36488.)
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).