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Poll Shows Close MS Race

While national Republicans fret about their chances of retaining ex-Rep. Richard Baker's seat in an upcoming Louisiana special election, the party could also have trouble in northwest Mississippi, where a special election will be held soon to replace Republican Roger Wicker. Wicker was elevated to the Senate in December after incumbent Trent Lott decided to resign early.

A new poll, conducted for Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers, a Democrat, shows the race between him and Southaven Mayor Greg Davis neck and neck. The survey, conducted 4/3-7 among 500 likely voters for a margin of error of about +/- 4.5%, was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research, a Democratic firm based in Alabama. Childers and Davis were tested.

Special Election Matchup
Childers 41
Davis 40

The seat, situated along the state's northern border, is not unaccustomed to electing a Democratic member of Congress. Former Rep. Jamie Whitten, a Democrat, still holds the record for longest continuous service in the House, as he represented the district from 1941 until his retirement in 1995. After Whitten's exit, Wicker won the district and has held it easily, and President Bush carried the seat by 25 points in 2004, higher than his 19-point margin in 2000.

Childers and Davis will each have a tough time avoiding a runoff in the April 22 special election. That's because candidates who lost a runoff for a full term last week, will still appear on the special election ballot. Republican Glenn McCullough, the former mayor of Tupelo, and Democrat Steve Holland, a state representative, are each trying to get their own names off ballot after finishing second in last week's runoff, though that appears unlikely to happen.

The poll has to be taken with a grain of salt, given that it was conducted for the Democratic candidate, but it's another indication that few areas in the country are truly safe for Republicans this year. If the party has to defend what should be solidly red Mississippi, there are few places they will not have to take seriously.