Strong Leads in the Deep South

Amid a spate of very troubling polls come two that show incumbents in Dixie holding strong. In Alabama, Sen. Jeff Sessions leads state Sen. Vivian Figures, who is not actively campaigning, 62-29. Sessions’ favorable/unfavorable ratings sit at 72/19 while the lesser known Figures actually has a remarkable 33/42 rating, with 24% undecided.

In neighboring Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran leads Erik Fleming 58-35. As in Alabama, the incumbent enjoys high favorable/unfavorable ratings, 65-24, and the challenger is in negative territory, at 37-42. Earlier in the cycle, Democrats hoped Sen. Cochran would call it quits. When he announced that he would seek reelection, it became nearly impossible for Democrats to field a candidate against the entrenched incumbent.

Unfortunately, though, not all news is good even from these two states. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove holds a statistically insignificant lead of a single point over appointed Sen. Roger Wicker, 47-46. The actual numbers in the poll are less significant than the fact that this confirms the results of two other recent polls that showed that Musgrove has closed a double-digit gap to make this effectively a dead heat. Wicker will be aided by a strong performance by Sen. McCain in the state, as well as the presence of Sen. Cochran on the ballot with him. Unfortunately, though, the national environment is bad, and some Mississippians may be disinclined from voting for three Republicans rather than two and a Democrat to send a message of dissatisfaction with the national Party. Sadly, this race has found its way into the top tier. Fortunately, though, Wicker’s campaign is much better financed, at least for the time being. Whether that holds in light of the new competitiveness of this race remains to be seen.

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