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MS-Sen: Democrat Espy leading Mississippi special election, new poll shows

Democrat Mike Espy leads in a new poll in the Mississippi Senate special election. (Image source: MSNBC video screenshot)

Democratic candidate Mike Espy has a narrow lead in the Mississippi Senate special election, barely edging out Republican candidate and incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a new NBC News poll shows.

Hyde-Smith has carried a lead in the race for some time now, and as an incumbent with the endorsement of President Donald Trump in a red state, has been considered the favorite.

"This poll, just like others, shows the momentum Mike Espy has in Mississippi," said Espy's campaign manager, Oleta Fitzgerald, according to the Clarion Ledger. "This poll confirms that Mississippi voters are tired of the same old left versus right political rhetoric."

What else does the poll reveal?

The poll results may be an indication of something Democrats have been hoping for: That the two Republicans in the "jungle primary" style election may be taking votes from each other, allowing Espy to climb into contention.

The special election, which will fill the seat vacated last year by former Sen. Thad Cochran's resignation, will feature the candidates on the ballot without party labels. A candidate must earn 50 percent or more of the vote to win; otherwise, the top two vote-getters will advance to a run-off.

With a run-off seeming inevitable based on polling, that leaves a high-stakes fight between Hyde-Smith and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, the other Republican in the race, for the other run-off spot.

The NBC News poll showed Espy polling at 25 percent, Hyde-Smith at 24 percent, and McDaniel not far behind at 19 percent. Longshot candidate Tobey Bartee earned 4 percent in the poll, with a large number (27 percent) of voters responding that they are undecided.

McDaniel hopeful, while Trump tries to boost Hyde-Smith

McDaniel's campaign spokesman said the NBC News poll and others, show promise for McDaniel's chances in the special election.

"Whether you're referencing (a poll done for a McDaniel-supporting PAC) that has us leading by 8 points or NBC's poll that has us within 5, the numbers demonstrate what we are seeing on the ground in Mississippi ... Powered by hard-working volunteers across Mississippi, our momentum is surging, and Hyde-Smith's campaign is fading," spokesman Tanner Watson told the Clarion Ledger in a statement.

Trump, highlighting the importance of holding the Mississippi Senate seat, campaigned in the state for Hyde-Smith on Tuesday. Trump won Mississippi by 20 points in 2016.

The Mississippi Senate special election will be held Nov. 6.

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