Polls have painted an incomplete picture of the race, with Childers claiming a five-point lead in a September survey conducted by a Democratic pollster and Nunnelee notching a 50%-42% edge in a survey conducted by his own camp. Election handicappers like the Cook Political Report and the New York Times have rated the race a toss-up, while others — including the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and forecaster Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight — forecast the seat to flip back to the GOP.
For the most part, Childers’ voting record has insulated him from strident attacks. He is among the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus, casting votes against health care reform, cap-and-trade and TARP. The track record has earned him endorsements from the NRA, National Right to Life and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “I said I would be independent, vote pro-life, pro-gun, oppose big-spending budgets and Wall Street bailout. I’ve done what I said I would do,” Childers, 52, explains in a recent ad, which juxtaposes the down-home rep, clad in a blue Oxford shirt and leaning against a fence post, with his opponent, whom he derides as a “typical politician” and blasts for breaking a pledge not to raise taxes.