Shaping Conservative Policy: The Conservative State of the State Report

A Road Map For Shaping Conservative Policy in Mississippi

The 2013 Conservative State of the State Report continues to show the valuable insight of Mississippi PEP readers and contributors to shape conservative policy. Since the report was published over 5 years ago, MississippiPEP.com has continued to use the data to provide deeper analysis when issues resurface in the media.

Mississippi PEP is planning to conduct a second State of the State Survey in the coming months. A second Mississippi PEP Conservative State of the State Survey Report is being discussed for 2019, and will mark the six-year anniversary of the inaugural report.

The original findings in the 2013 report have been shared with several partners over the years which has allowed for more diverse interpretation and led to more meaningful conversations. Public discussions have revealed shared conservative values that bring people closer together and strengthen existing associations.

Timely information published on MississippiPEP.com helps conservatives better understand the importance of these issues in light of current events. In turn, the public conversation fostered by contributors continues to shape policy positions of elected officials, candidates and grassroots activists in Mississippi today. Graphics and charts from the 2013 report, where applicable, add context to articles at MississippiPEP.com and provide context to social media debates.

Making Sense of the Complex Mississippi Grassroots

The Mississippi PEP 2013 Conservative State of the State Report was first released on January 28, 2013 as a data-centered response from grassroots conservatives to Gov. Phil Bryant’s annual State of the State Address. The report helped initiate a sharper focused agenda for conservatives to get behind at the state Capitol that hadn’t materialized following the rise of the TEA Party and 9-12 movements that began in 2009.

The 2013 Mississippi PEP Conservative State of the State Survey was one of the very first, if not the first, attempts to gain detailed insight into the potential for united policy action from the burgeoning TEA Party, 9-12, and various Liberty groups growing across Mississippi in Fall of 2012.

The survey responses revealed details of public opinion behind each policy issue that hadn’t been available before. The conclusions have foretold the focus of many of Mississippi’s recent and current public policy challenges. This information has assisted in determining language in some legislation, helping lawmakers get a better feel for the fault lines of public opinion. The determinations brought to light in the report altered the shape of many bills that are now state law. This approach, injecting into the public conversation the common goals and true intentions of grassroots conservatives across Mississippi, absent a corporate or party push to influence the outcome, has yielded results.

Likewise, those who chose political strategies contrary to the reports findings have been confounded by the public response, showing the Mississippi PEP Conservative State of the State Report to be an important tool for promoting good government.

The findings continue to predict public policy debate each year as lawmakers construct legislation that’s core ideas percolate from the grassroots. With respect to numerous issues, what others may see as new proposals before lawmakers are conservative policy priorities Mississippi PEP readers and contributors began discussing and shaping 5 years ago with the release of the 2013 Conservative State of the State Report.

Prediction and Influence

Mississippi PEP Founder Keith Plunkett explains why he believes the inaugural report results were, in many cases, a predictor of policy discussions to come.

“At the time the grassroots conservative movement in Mississippi was a mass of people and local groups that no one had taken the time to understand,” Plunkett said. “There were a few individuals trying to keep up with the different meetings across the state, driving momentum enough to keep locals involved. But only a handful of people knew where all these groups were and who the major players were. No one had a feel for what the people within the ranks of the movement thought about the aims of public policy.”

“I was in a position to look more closely and to confirm that there was a shared principled purpose that connected these activists,” he says. “We picked our sample carefully of those who were actively involved politically, and who we believed would be actively involved for many years.”

This determination wasn’t made by individuals picking and choosing, but by a series of questions in the survey that revealed who of the respondents best fit the profile.

Unlike scientific polls that collect and sample group sentiment in a series of several snapshots from week to week or month to month, the Mississippi PEP State of The State started with a foundational survey.

The 2013 PEP State of the State Survey included 10 broad-based issue categories selected based on the consistent attention these drew from Mississippi’s state government officials. The biggest challenge was to provide respondents information about the policy categories and what actions had occurred in the prior 2 to 3 years to shape each issue.

“This was helped from my perspective because I had been researching and writing about these issues for just over a year as the publisher of the website,” said Plunkett.

The unknown factor was how well the 200-plus politically active volunteers understood the details of the issues at the state government level and the intent of legislative actions taken in previous years. Plunkett became increasingly concerned with the amount of time and effort it would take for the respondents to complete the survey as the volume of information grew.

I expected to get around 100 fully completed survey responses back,”Plunkett said. “I got 205.”

The average time it took to complete the survey from start to finish was estimated to be 45 minutes, based on follow-up discussions with a cross-section of respondents.



From the Inaugural State of the State Report (First Published on January 28, 2013):

A Message from Mississippi PEP’s Managing Editor

I want to thank everyone who participated in this project. I must admit, I was surprised at the response. For a survey of this size, in our first attempt, I had hoped to make it to 100 survey participants. We received 205 completed surveys!

The survey spanned just two weeks from December 26, 2012 thru January 8, 2013. During that time we received many messages from participants determined to complete it, and surprised at it’s level of detail. Many said they were forced to stop and learn more about aspects of issues they had never before considered.

Let’s be clear; what you are holding is not the results of scientific polling. In no way did we attempt to gather or equalize the number of opinions based on race, gender, or any other of the myriad of demographic ways that pollsters break down groups.

This is a survey, meaning each of the 205 individuals had to complete it for it to count. Each persons who completed it agreed to sit down and take 30 minutes to an hour to honestly answer what they thought about issues Mississippi faces in 2013.

We used our growing email list, direct messaging, social media, and direct text to be sure we had the participation of conservatives. Then we used several ways to make sure the results we received were from conservative Mississippians, including requiring county and zip code match up, and cross checking that with other personal qualifying answers. In the end, only 10 responses were rejected because this data didn’t match up.

As you will see in the first section beginning on page 5, our participants come from every region of Mississippi. While this is not a partisan survey, most of our participants identify as Republicans. That said, we received responses–some surprising–from Democrats, Libertarians, and people unaffiliated with a political party.

We weren’t attempting a “push poll”. A participant who thought a particular issue was “not important” was allowed to move on to spend time on the issues they thought were. Likewise, those who thought an issue was “very important” were asked to answer more detailed questions before moving ahead.

This is the result of a strictly online effort. No one was called and questioned by phone. Participants weren’t cajoled, or bribed with discounts or freebees. They participated of their own volition. No one was required to give their name, phone number or email address. We believe the result is a report that represents the honest opinion of conservative Mississippians.

 

B. Keith Plunkett

Managing Editor, Mississippi PEP


Implementing Conservative Policy in Mississippi: 2013 Conservative State of the State Report-Rankings

One brief look at the main list and it becomes apparent that “pocketbook” issues are the main cause of concern for our survey participants.

Main List

  1. Entitlement Reform

    The 2013 report listed ‘Entitlement Reform’ as the top conservative policy issue for MS conservatives, rating work requirements and time limitations on welfare benefits as the most important criteria. In 2017, these two criteria were the foundation of reform that became state law.

    1. 2013 SOS Report Sources:
      1. Link 1
      2. Link 2 
  2. Education
    1. 2013 SOS Report Source:
      1. Link 1
      2. Link 2 
      3. Link 3
      4. Link 4
      5. Link 5
      6. Link 6
      7. Link 7
      8. Link 8
      9. Link 9
      10. Link 10
      11. Link 11
      12. Link 12
      13. Link 13
      14. Link 14
      15. Link 15
  3. Taxes and Fees
    1. 2013 SOS Report Source:
      1. Link 1
      2. Link 2
  4. Economic Development
    1. 2013 SOS Report Source:
      1. Link 1
      2. Link 2
  5. Health Care
    1. 2013 SOS Report Source:
      1. Link 1
      2. Link 2
      3. Link 3
  6. State Retirement
    1. 2013 SOS Report Source:
      1. Link 1
      2. Link 2
      3. Link 3
  7. Energy
    1. 2013 SOS Report Source:
      1. Link 1
      2. Link 2
      3. Link 3
  8. Immigration Reform
    1. 2013 SOS Report Source:
      1. Link 1
      2. Link 2
      3. Link 3
  9. Abortion Regulation
    1. 2013 SOS Report Source:
      1. Link 1
  10. State Bonds and Infrastructure Needs
    1. 2013 SOS Report Source:
      1. Link 1
      2. Link 2

Entitlement Reform and Education are closely related to unemployment. Lower Taxes and Fees make employment easier to maintain and jobs easier to find. Economic Development keeps the job market fresh with new opportunities. And Health Care provides the safety and security of benefits from a job. The current level of uncertainty in Health Care is also relevant because a great many small business employers don’t know what level of taxation they will face as a result of ObamaCare.

A closer look at the secondary list shows concern for the level of spending and financing of state government programs.

Secondary List

  1. State Retirement
  2. Entitlement Reform
  3. Energy
  4. Education
  5. Taxes and Fees
  6. Economic Development
  7. Health Care
  8. Immigration Reform
  9. State Bonds and Infrastructure Needs
  10. Abortion Regulation

State Retirement and Entitlement Reform are at the top of a list of spending concerns for obvious reasons. Energy planning offers the the state an opportunity to begin seeing an influx of revenue. Education is always about spending when you consider the percentage of the budget that is dedicated to it. And, potential increases in Taxes and Fees are always a concern for a government in need of money. A closer look a the detail answers for each separate issue shows the same level of concern for government intervention that destroys job creation in the face of the need for more government revenue. It is the classic government vs. free market battle.

READ FULL REPORT