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September 12, 2008

Lotts Of Fun In Mississippi

It may be buried at the bottom of the ballot, as Josh wrote on Tuesday, but the race for the final four years of retired Senator Trent Lott's term is going to be closer than Republicans would like to admit. Ruby-red Mississippi, it turns out, is going to see a great race, according to a new poll.

The poll, conducted by Research 2000 for DailyKos, surveyed 600 likely voters 9/8-10 for a margin of error of +/- 4%. Interim Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican, and former Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove were tested. The sample was made up of 40% Democrats, 45% Republicans and 15% independents and others.

General Election Matchup
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Wicker......48 / 7 / 86 / 46 / 52 / 44
Musgrove....43 / 84 / 6 / 45 / 40 / 46

McCain......52 / 12 / 89 / 50 / 55 / 49
Obama.......39 / 79 / 4 / 39 / 37 / 41

The race for Senate is neck and neck, with both parties' bases firmly entrenched where they should be. Like Obama, Musgrove will take the vast majority of African American voters while losing white voters by a three to one margin. That's how a Democrat wins in Mississippi, and Musgrove has won statewide before (Though he did lose his 2003 re-election race, the last time he appeared on a ballot).

This is Wicker's first statewide race, and both he and Democrats are racing to define the former congressman. Wicker has proven an effective fundraiser, but Democrats have been running their own ads. It helps, too, that buying television time in Mississippi is very inexpensive, giving both parties ample opportunity to get their messages out.

Though both Wicker and Musgrove will be well-known by the time voters get their ballots, coattails could play a positive role for both candidates: Wicker will benefit from John McCain's big winning margins, while Musgrove will benefit from increased African American turnout.

But it seems odd that McCain is doing better in North Carolina than he is in Mississippi (See our earlier post, below) according to Research 2000. That's probably not going to be the case come Election Day; President Bush won North Carolina by 12 points and Mississippi by 19 in 2004.