Musgrove and Barbour Meet

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Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and the man who will replace him in January attended a legislative budget committee meeting Monday.

Musgrove, Governor-elect Haley Barbour and members of the committee heard updates about employment and other factors that will affect Mississippi's revenue.

State economist Phil Pepper said he expects slow recovery over the next several months.

Legislators were supposed to have set an estimate Monday for how much money the state will have to spend next fiscal year. But Rep. Billy McCoy, the presumptive next speaker of the House, was absent.

Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck, who presides over the budget committee, said the committee will meet again Wednesday to set a budget estimate. She said she wanted all committee members to be present and vote.

Musgrove and Barbour, meanwhile, met privately for about half an hour in the governor's office to talk about the transition from one administration to the other. Both said the meeting went well.

Taking a look back at the governor's race, Barbour wrestled the office from the incumbent with support among a fourth of voters who cast ballots for Musgrove in 1999 and a solid majority among those believing the state economy was poor.

An exit poll of Mississippi voters on Nov. 4 showed Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, scored well among older voters (65-plus), men and whites.

Musgrove found his strongest support among blacks, women and young voters (18-29). The poll was conducted for The Associated Press and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

The survey interviewed 1859 voters in 35 randomly selected precincts around the state. Results for the full sample are subject to sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points; that margin is larger for subgroups, such as blacks.

Among voters in the exit poll, more than a third were black and, as expected, 94 percent said they voted for Musgrove. Musgrove also bested Barbour among women voters, 51 percent to 48 percent.

However, the turnout of blacks and women wasn't enough to overwhelm the strong white (77 percent) and male (58 percent) for Barbour.

Twenty-five percent of voters who said they had supported Musgrove in 1999 said they voted for Barbour last Tuesday. Of those who said they voted for someone else in 1999, 68 percent said they voted for Barbour. Barbour also retained 91 percent of the vote that went to GOP governor candidate Mike Parker four years ago.

Other findings:

A clear majority of voters (64 percent) said the state economy was poor or not so good, and most of them (57 percent) voted for Barbour.

The third of voters saying the economy was good or excellent cast a majority (53 percent) for Musgrove.

Two-thirds of voters in the exit poll agreed that U.S. trade with other countries takes jobs from Mississippi; however, a majority of them (51 percent) voted for Barbour.

Barbour also got strong support (57 percent) from the one-fifth of voters who said trade with other counties creates jobs in Mississippi.

Sixty-one percent of voters said they thought if Barbour was elected, his experience in Washington would help Mississippi. Of that number, 82 percent said they voted for Barbour.

Among the one-third saying Barbour's experience in Washington would hurt Mississippi, 95 percent voted for Musgrove.

Among voters who considered themselves Democrats, 86 percent voted for Musgrove and 13 percent for Barbour.

Fifty-four percent of those who said they considered themselves independent voted for Barbour as did 91 percent who said they were Republicans.

The exit polls were the first conducted for The Associated Press and television networks using new systems and procedures since Voter News Service was disbanded following blown projections in 2000 and computer failures in 2002.

The data, collected by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for the consortium known as the National Election Pool, weren't released until Monday so that the pollsters could validate the results from this first live run of their new systems.

An Edison/Mitofsky exit poll in last month's California gubernatorial recall election did not use these new systems.