Mississippi citizens hit the polls today to vote in the special election for the senate seat after Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who took over in April after Thad Cochran retired, and Democrat Mike Espy tied on Election Day.

President Donald Trump went to Mississippi on Monday night in one final attempt to keep the seat red after controversies swamped Hyde-Smith for the past few weeks.

However, recent polls showed Hyde-Smith with a 10 point lead.

Trump Rallies

Rally in Tupelo

From The Washington Post:

“She votes for us and she votes for ‘Make America Great Again,’” Trump said at a rally in Tupelo, where he was accompanied by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Trump called Hyde-Smith “a truly incredible leader and tireless champion” for Mississippi.

“She stood up to the Democrat smear machine,” Trump said, praising her for voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who also attended the rally, told voters that if they want more Supreme Court justices like Brett Kavanaugh, they should cast ballots for Hyde-Smith.

Graham said: “If you like Kavanaugh, there’s more coming.”

Hyde-Smith told the crowd in Tupelo: “I worked very, very hard for you. I have stood up for you and you know I will continue to stand up for the conservative values of Mississippi.”

Rally in Biloxi


Trump and Hyde-Smith then jetted off to Biloxi for a much larger rally.

From Clarion Ledger:

The race between Hyde-Smith and Espy has narrowed in recent weeks, after Hyde-Smith was captured on video making comments praising a supporter and saying she would attend a “public hanging.”

Trump did not weigh in on the controversy at the rallies, instead touting Hyde-Smith’s conservative record, and casting Espy as too liberal for a state that voted for him overwhelmingly in 2016. He said Espy supports the “Democrat agenda of socialism and open borders.”

But Trump did tell reporters he felt Hyde-Smith had apologized. “I heard that loud and clear,” he told reporters. “There was something that was said, and it was a little flip.”

Hyde-Smith had refused to explain the comments for several days after the video of her talking about attending a “public hanging” was released. But at a debate with Espy last week, she said: “For anyone who was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize.”

“Her heart is good,” Trump added of the senator. “That’s not what she was meaning when she said that,” alluding to the many people around the country who had seen the comments as being racially-tinged in a state with a long history of lynchings.

Polls and Controversies

Hyde-Smith and Espy tied on Election Day, which means they will have a special election this upcoming Tuesday. Hyde-Smith took over the seat in April when Thad Cochran retired.

From The Washington Examiner:

A public poll conducted last week by RRH Elections, which FiveThirtyEight considers to be a conservative blog, shows Hyde-Smith with 54 percent to Espy’s 44 percent, double the lead she had in a private Republican poll reported by the New York Times on Tuesday.

Only 1% of those polled remain undecided. 84% of the respondents said they are almost certain to vote while 53% of them are female.

Right after the election, a video emerged of Hyde-Smith telling a cattle rancher that she’d attend a “public hanging” with him if he invited her.

Not the right thing to say, especially in a state that has a horrific past of lynchings and running against a black man.

The Democrats took off with it and Hyde-Smith apologized. From The Daily Caller:

“At a campaign event, I had the opportunity to visit with a supporter who has a big piece of my heart. His mother and dad both died of cancer when he was in high school,” Hyde-Smith explained. “So to express my deep regard and my sincere commitment to this young man, I used a phrase. I told him that I would fight a circle saw for him. Well, obviously, I would not stick my arm in a circle saw. Nor did any of my comments ever mean that I would enjoy any type of capital punishment sitting there witnessing it.”

“For anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize — there was no ill-will, no intent whatsoever in my statements,” Hyde-Smith said. “In nearly twenty years of service of being your state senator, your commissioner of agriculture, and your U.S. senator, I have worked with all Mississippians — it didn’t matter their skin type, their age, or their income. That’s my record. There has never been anything, not one thing, in my background to ever indicate I had ill-will toward anyone.”

“I also recognize that this comment was twisted and it was turned into a weapon to be used against me, a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent,” Hyde-Smith continued. “That’s the type of politics Mississippians are sick and tired of.”

Then CNN revealed that back in 2007, then-state Sen. Hyde-Smith “promoted a measure that praised a Confederate soldier’s effort to ‘defend his homeland’ and pushed a revisionist view of the Civil War.”

Another video showed Hyde-Smith loving the idea of making it harder for students to vote.

A photo from 2014 showed Hyde-Smith wearing Confederate artifacts and stated, “Mississippi history at its best!”

While these controversies haven’t pushed away the voters, companies have come forward and demanded she return any money they have given to her. This includes Major League Baseball, Walmart, Pfizer, and AT&T.

UPDATE 10:20 p.m. Eastern.

Hyde-Smith is the projected winner. As of this time, with 73% of the precincts reporting, she’s up by 12 pts.