Can Nunnelee capitalize on his advantages?

JACKSON — Real Clear Politics rates the Mississippi 1st District U.S. House race between Democratic incumbent Travis Childers of Booneville and Republican challenger Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo as a Republican lean. The Cook Political Report rates the race as a tossup.

On paper, this looks like it should be a pickup for the Republicans in November. Republican John McCain defeated Democrat Barack Obama by a 62-37 margin in the 1st District in 2008 at the same time Childers was winning his first full term to the U.S. House with nearly 55 percent of the vote.

Since, that November 2008 election, Obama’s already meager support in the district has probably declined even more. That will make it more difficult for the Democratic incumbent congressman.

It appears all the political stars are in line for a Nunnelee victory in November. But Childers is the incumbent and a first-rate campaigner in an area of the state that has a long history of voting for the candidate and not the party.

If Childers loses, he will still be a force in a lackluster state Democratic Party and could even be considered a viable candidate for statewide office. If Nunnelee loses, he is still chair of the powerful state Senate Appropriations Committee, but would no longer be viewed as a likely candidate for higher office.

In other words, both candidates have a lot invested in the race For Childers, it is his job and for Nunnelee it is his political future.