MS-01 Watch

The most important election taking place today is not in West Virginia. It's in Mississippi, for the first congressional district, a seat held since the Republican revolution of 1994 by Republican Roger Wicker. Wicker's moving up to take Trent Lott's seat, and there's a good possibility that Democrat Travis Childers will win today's run-off election. Republicans have tried to nationalize the race to some degree in order to paint Childers, who does well in the district's rural areas, as a closet liberal. Also: the ballot is non-partisan, so party affiliations are not listed. The only way to make sure Republicans know that candidate Greg Davis is a Republican is to make sure they know that Childers is the Democrat. It's also why Dick Cheney was in Mississippi on Monday campaigning for Davis. The district is one of the more geographically diverse in the state. It's home to a college town (Oxford), rural and exurban communities, and the southern suburbs of Memphis (De Soto Co. and environs.)

A Dem pick-up here will be a portent of doom for Republicans in the fall. George W. Bush won this district by 25 points (66,000 votes) in 2004. Because Davis and Childers tangled via advertisements over whether Childers had been endorsed by Obama amid Rev. Wright's revenge tour, the press will be tempted to spin a Childers victory as a sign that Obama is not a drag on the ticket. Local factors and the national environment are going to be dispositive here, not Barack Obama. So don't believe the hype.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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