Like most political junkies, I am ready for November 4 to come and go. However, I certainly have some thoughts on several races worth sharing.

Presidential Race
The race between Barack Obama and John McCain is tightening. Like many Americans, I have been doing my appropriate tax planning and practicing my genuflection technique to bow at the altar of “The One” (heil Obama). However, I do know one thing for sure . . . the electorate has tacked to the hard right in the last two weeks of the last two elections. As stated before, Gore and Kerry both got caught “measuring the drapes” and were taking victory laps before the race and George W. Bush outworked them and beat them both. America is still a center-right country, and “Joe the Plumber” and “Spreading the wealth” have both caught real traction nationally. “Bubba” is waking up and Bubba don’t like socialists very much.

At the end of the day, I think Obama will edge it out nationally in the popular vote (but will not break 50% – as no Democrat has done since Carter in ’76). All of the dominos have to fall McCain’s way, and I just don’t know that it will happen like that. The electoral margin may not be particularly close, but I think the popular vote margin could get really close. It is still possible for McCain to win, but he will need some help from some gaffe from Obama/Biden or some outside force that has not yet show itself. Obviously, McCain has to hold Virginia, Florida and Ohio and has to pick off a smaller state like New Hampshire or Colorado (unless he pulls a miracle and wins Pennsylvania). Obama will lose Mississippi by anywhere from 6-10 points.

Senate Races
There’s no intrigue in Senator Thad Cochran’s re-elect. He will win with numbers in the mid-60s against Erik Fleming just like Trent Lott did in his last vote.

Senator Roger Wicker seems to be getting a little daylight between himself and Ronnie Musgrove. The nutroots are already giving up hope with polls from Rasmussen showing that Wicker has opened up a sizeable lead. A week ago, the nutroots were talking about a filibuster proof majority, but that talk has eased somewhat in the last few days with Wicker’s poll numbers and the national presidential polls tightening.

Under the category of “a bad day at the office”, how’d you like to be the knucklehead that produced this ad that attacks Wicker but shows Musgrove face the entire time. It’s an instant YallPolitics classic and a perfect example of the stupid amount of money and influence that outsiders are trying to have in this race.

Then they recognized their error and fixed it.

The word is that the DSCC is spending $1.3 million more during the last week (that’s $2/second) in a last minute desperate attempt for the seat. After already dropping about $6 million, they have functionally taken over the Musgrove Senate campaign effort. However, absent some unforeseen or immeasurable tide of pro-Obama sentiment, Wicker should win this race by 4 or 5 points, but it could still get uncomfortably close.

House Races
Reps. Bennie Thompson and Gene Taylor should both cruise to victory with well earned victory margins.

In MS-03, Republican candidate and Third Congressional District resident Gregg Harper looks like he will put up a big win over Democratic candidate and Second Congressional District resident Joel Gill. If Gregg Harper can get into the mid-60s, he will likely scare away all comers and have the seat for as long as he wants it. MS-03 is a ruby red district, and Harper has a great political GOTV machine and takes no vote for granted. He wants to run up the score, and I think he will be successful in doing so.

In MS-01, Rep. Travis Childers has done a pretty good job of avoiding his Democrat party nationally. There has not been a lot of outside money in the rematch between him and Southaven Mayor Greg Davis. Though Childers accepted help from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, the press has shown no interest in calling him on it. The smart money would be on the incumbent, but this race could go either way. Desoto county residents vote, and they can have great impact. Plus, there will be a lot of folks in MS-01 that will be pulling the lever for John McCain at the top of the ticket over Obama. Childers will actually need some crossover McCain voters, but there’s really no way to find out how it’s going to work.

Supreme Court Races
These races are notoriously hard to figure out, so I won’t make any predictions. However, I will note that Bubba Pierce is a real candidate and is well organized in the south of the state. His race against incumbent Justice Oliver Diaz could be one of the more interesting races to watch on election night.

In the central district, there is a legitimate three candidate race. Chief Justice Jim Smith is running against “Kitch”, also known as Jim Kitchens, and Ceola James. James is a longshot, but could force a runoff between Smith and “Kitch”. Again, the smart money is on Smith here, I think, but these judicial races are tough to call.

One final note
Though I have enjoyed this election season, the next 72 hours are the ones I hate the most. This is when the desperation comes out. Remember that the DCCC on behalf of Travis Childers distributed handbills linking him to the KKK. This is the kind of stuff that comes out in the last few days of a campaign. All of the Mississippi major press outlets knew about this flyer that came out Friday night. However, all that I spoke to in the media were scared to run a “bombshell” piece like this so close to the election itself. After Childers won, they were scared to call anyone on it.

People who would perpetrate this sort of nastiness know that the press is scared to intervene with late breaking stuff in particularly contentious campaigns, so that is when they strike. It’s usually low tech and nasty. From push polls to robocalls to handbills to sample ballots, be on the lookout for this stuff because it will hit the streets Thursday, Friday and Saturday. You may see it Trick or Treating or at church on Sunday, but I will bet there will be a nasty viral internet commercial, handbill or something ill-conceived in one of these more contentious races here shortly. If you find these on your voicemail or in your mailbox on or your doorstep, send ’em to us so we can put it out there.

Enough with the punditry . . . go vote.