By several objective measures, Mississippi is one of our worst states. It has the nation’s highest poverty rate, its second-highest teen pregnancy rate, and its highest teen birth rate. An Education Week report ranks its schools 48 out of 50. Only Louisiana locks up a higher percentage of its people. Its infant mortality rate—9.67 deaths per 1,000 live births, the highest in the nation—is close to Botswana’s. Its life expectancy is the lowest in America and lower than those of Guatemala or Pakistan. Few states invest less in public education or public health. If it were an independent country, we’d consider it part of the Third World.
Not coincidentally, Mississippi is also one of our most conservative states, though in a recent Gallup poll, it slipped from first place to fourth. As iVillage reported last year in a piece on the country’s worst states for women—Mississippi came in first, or rather last—it’s one of only four states that has never sent a woman to Congress.