A new poll gauging Mississippi Republicans’ preferences going into the 2012 election ended up revealing something more startling: 46 percent of GOP voters in the state think interracial marriage should be illegal.
Results were announced Thursday by Public Policy Polling, a polling firm based in North Carolina. The company asked 400 Republican primary voters about their preferences for candidates for state and national offices, as well as their views on interracial marriage.
A whopping 46 percent of likely GOP primary voters said they think interracial marriage should be illegal, while only 40 percent said they think it should be allowed. Another 14 percent said they were unsure.
It was only 45 years ago that Mississippi legalized interracial marriage, and this poll indicates it continues to be a controversial subject.
The poll also found that Mississippi Republicans back Haley Barbour, their outgoing governor, to run for president on the GOP ticket in 2012. Barbour had 37 percent of respondents’ support, followed by Mike Huckabee with 19 percent and Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin tied for third place with 10 percent each.
The PPP poll also revealed that Palin has more support among voters who believe interracial marriage should be illegal than among those who are OK with it. Mitt Romney’s numbers reveal just the opposite. He has a higher favorability among Mississippi Republicans who want interracial marriage to remain legal.
The poll was conducted by telephone between March 24 and 27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent.
PPP describes itself as a nonpartisan polling firm, but it has been described in other media as a Democratic-leaning company.
The firm also conducted a separate poll of non-Republican voters, asking them the same question about interracial marriage. Those results are expected to be released in the coming weeks, along with those from another PPP poll asking Mississippi voters whether they think the right side — the North or South — won the Civil War.