The defeat of the “personhood amendment” Tuesday was driven by several factors, including a strong grass-roots opposition campaign, and doubts raised by prominent conservatives, religious leaders and doctors, politicos said.
Proponents were likely falsely bolstered by polling data that wasn’t accurate because many residents weren’t giving pollsters their true opinions, some noted.
The ballot initiative, which would have amended the state constitution to say life beings at “fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof” gained only about 42 percent of the statewide vote. Some Christian denominations had turned it into a religious issue, but it lost support after doctors, faith leaders and others raised concerns about its repercussions. Some worried its language went too far.
The measure captured a majority of votes in only about 18 of 82 counties. The vote in Benton County was nearly split, with the measure having only eight more votes in favor than against. In South Mississippi, it gained a majority in Pearl River, Stone and George counties. A majority of voters in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties opposed it.
There was a wide swing from polling done just ahead of the vote and the final result, said Marty Wiseman, executive director of the John C. Stennis Institute for Government at Mississippi State University.
It’s a situation akin in some ways to what happens in small Mississippi towns during a referendum to allow liquor sales. Many will say they plan to vote against it, but in the voting booth cast their ballots in favor, Wiseman said.
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