A new report from Public Policy Polling, which analyzed Mississippi Republicans' positions on major issues going into the 2012 election, had some surprising and disturbing findings [www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/04/07/poll_mississippi_interracial_marriage/index.html].
When Republican primary voters were asked whether they thought interracial marriage should be legal or illegal, 46% of the respondents said that they thought it should be illegal, compared to 40% who said it should be legal.
The remaining 14% said that they were unsure.
Since interracial marriage has been legal in Mississippi for less than fifty years, this poll result is even more depressing.
After all, the respondents weren't simply passing a moral judgment on interracial marriage, they were saying that they thought it should be banned outright.
Since Mississippi was declared the most conservative state in the nation by a Gallup poll earlier this year [www.gallup.com/poll/146348/mississippi-rates-conservative-state.aspx], and this survey was targeted only at Republcian voters, perhaps this should be less surprising.
But it certainly puts the debate about gay marriage into a different context, when interracial marriage is still a controversial subject in some pockets of the country.
The breakdown of how the poll respondents said they were likely to vote was quite fascinating. While Mississippi Republicans overwhelmingly favor Haley Barbour, their governor, to run for president, Sarah Palin had more support among voters who believed that interracial marriage should be illegal.
Romney, on the other hand, was highly favored by voters who wanted interracial marriage to remain legal.
According to Justin Elliott of Salon, Public Policy Polling will be releasing more results [www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/04/07/poll_mississippi_interracial_marriage/index.html], where they asked non-Republican voters the same question about interracial marriage.
They also apparently asked respondents whether the right side won the Civil War - a question that has the potential, if possible, to be even more disturbing.