Around the U.S. in 50 Days: Mississippi

This will be a quick entry as there is not much drama in Mississippi. In fact, redistricting efforts were rather smooth, all things considered. Although the new plan landed expectedly in court, that panel of judges essentially rubber stamped the plan with minimal changes that do not seriously affect the final district boundaries. As a result, they will remain basically the same for the next decade which should not alter the balance of power.

For President, it is a foregone conclusion that all 6 of their electoral votes will NOT go to Obama. His approval and popularity ratings are very low in the deep south outside of some urban areas.

For Senate, Roger Wicker, the Republican incumbent, who first won a special election in 2008 to take over the seat of Trent Lott, now seeks a full term. His conservative credentials in a conservative state are solid and he should win reelection easily. Thus far, Albert N. Gore, Jr. (no relation to Manbearpig) is the only declared sacrificial lamb (I mean, candidate) for the Democrats.

In 2010, when analyzing the midterm elections, I mentioned that Mississippi’s 4th District results would be indicative of what kind of night it would be for the Democratic Party. Specifically, I stated that if Gene Taylor, the incumbent Democrat, went down to defeat, there would be a Republican wave up the Mississippi Valley, then east through the Rust Belt and that is exactly what happened. The reason was that Taylor was sufficiently conservative enough for a Democrat since he broke ranks with his party on many hot button issues. If he lost, I reasoned, it would be a repudiation of the Democratic brand and people were voting party, not person. That same dynamic will be in effect this year, but only in reverse and only if certain circumstances ensue.

Allan Nunnellee represents the 1st District in the northeast part of the state after defeating another incumbent Democrat- Travis Childers- in 2010. Incidentally, Childers has been mentioned as a potential challenger to Wicker although most polls indicate this would not be as close a match up as most Democrats would prefer. It may just not be politically feasible for Childers to run against Wicker. Two other Republicans have announced their intentions to run against Nunnellee in a primary. In the western 2nd District, incumbent Democrat Bernie Thompson should win reelection in the state’s only black majority district.

Likewise, the 3rd should be an easy win by Republican Gene Harper who will most likely oppose Heather McTeer in the general election. The only surprise could be the coastal southeast corner- the state’s 4th District. In 2010, Republican Steve Pallazzo managed to knock off Gene Taylor. Although Ron Vincent will challenge Pallazzo in the primary, only Mike Herrington has announced a run for the Democrats. In 2010, Taylor was the perfectly suited Democrat for the area. He represented a district with a PVI of +20 Republican. Considered a Blue Dog Democrat, his views, stances, and votes often deviated from the Democratic orthodoxy. In short, in 2010, I believed that if either Taylor or Childers (or both) were voted out of office, it was a rejection of Democrats in general, not individuals who happened to be Democrats. Perhaps there are other districts out there that may be more predictive this year, but if Taylor should get in this race and challenge Pallazzo in a rematch, then a much closer look is in order and we will have to revisit this district as a possible bell weather for the 2012 elections. Should Taylor run and win, then I believe it will be a long night for the GOP. Instead, it would represent a repudiation of the House in general, and the Republicans would suffer by guilt by association. Given the lack of a viable candidate at this time, however, Pallazzo should win reelection.

Running totals thus far:
Obama 99 votes to 137 for GOP nominee;
Net gain 2 Governors;
Net gain 3 Senate seats;
Net loss 7 House seats.

Next: Alabama