Hotline Oncall breaks news tonight of a new poll matching Republican nominee Alan Nunnelee against incumbent Democrat Travis Childers in a head-to-head look at the November showdown in Mississippi’s first district.

From the article . . .

Just two weeks after his 51% primary victory, state Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R) now leads Rep. Travis Childers (D-MS) by eight points, according to a poll conducted for his campaign.

The Tarrance Group (R) poll conducted for Nunnelee, obtained by Hotline OnCall, surveyed 303 likely voters between June 8-9 for a margin of error of +/- 5.6%. Nunnelee and Childers were tested.

GENERAL ELECTION MATCHUP

Nunnelee 50% (+8 from Mar. survey)
Childers 42 (-9)

The poll also shows Nunnelee emerged relatively unscathed from the primary, as he sports a 44/8% favorable/unfavorable rating. Childers, meanwhile, is also viewed favorably — 49% positive — but has higher negatives (30%). Moreover, Pres. Obama’s approval ratings are at just 36%. Obama took 38% of the vote here in 2008.

The fav/unfav numbers for both are the ones to watch. In the March poll, Childers name ID in the district was in the 90s. Basically, everyone has an opinion about him at this point. Nunnelee’s name ID was 30-40 points lower. Now, Nunnelee has spent $500K and gone through a challenging primary. Assuming the poll methodologies are the same, it would appear that the more voters are finding out about Nunnelee, the more they like him vis a vis Childers. Plus, as Nunnelee’s fav numbers have gone up, his unfav numbers don’t seem to have budged. That’s very good news for Nunnelee.

The Tarrance Group is a reputable outfit that counts Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour among its clients. Even if the poll is skewed above its margin of error (+/-5.6%), this poll is still great news for Nunnelee. Starting dead even or with even a slight lead against a well funded incumbent in a strongly Republican district should attract necessary financial and political support. In other words, the race looks potentially winnable and Nunnelee has shown that he’s completely viable. Knocking off an incumbent is difficult, but Nunnelee has come through the primary with unified support and has had no missteps.

Based on this feedback plus whatever their internal polls are saying, I think that it’s very possible that Childers and the DCCC will take off the gloves and bring the fight to Nunnelee sooner rather than later. How hard and how fast they come will tell you how seriously they take Nunnelee.

As disclosed on numerous occasions, the author has made a reportable financial contribution in this campaign cycle in this race.