A release from Public Policy Polling on incumbent U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker:
Public Policy Polling Media Alert: No chance for Democrats in MS-Sen.
Mississippi's Initiative 26 surged from certain passage to overwhelming defeat in a matter of about two weeks as voters soundly rejected conservatives' attempt to restrict abortion rights and birth control accessibility yesterday. But unless Roger Wicker commits some atrocious crime or affront to the state's sensibility like this amendment posed, Democrats can't expect a similar turnaround in their quest to unseat the freshman senator next fall.
Wicker is a rather popular and inoffensive figure. 56% approve and 23% disapprove of his job performance, up from 51-23 when we last polled the state in March. That ties him for the seventh-best-liked of 87 sitting senators we've polled on. So not even a popular and moderate-to-conservative candidate with statewide or congressional experience can come close to toppling Wicker right now. He doesn't match that +33 approval margin in any of the re-election horse races, but he leads any Democrat thrown at him by 13 to 26 points, up from 10 to 18 seven months ago.
Wickers closest matchup at this point would be against Attorney General Jim Hood, who was overwhelmingly re-elected yesterday. Wicker tops him by 13 points (52-39), making Hood the only of the five tested opponents who does even a point better than he did in March. Against the others, Wicker has gained. He tops former A.G. Mike Moore by 14 points (53-39), up four from March. Wicker leads former Rep. Gene Taylor by 21 (55-34), up nine. He also leads his 2008 opponent, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, by 25 (58-33), up eight from March and 14 or 15 from three years ago. Finally, Wicker leads Rep. Travis Childers by 26 (56-30), up eight.
Wicker fails to match his approval margin because while 26% of Democrats approve of his work (which is actually down from 33% in March), only eight to 16% of them are voting for him. The Democrats actually do a better job at converting GOP disapproval into votes than he does Democratic approval into votes. Only 7% of Wickers party dislikes what he is doing in office, but 6-13% of them are pledging for the opposition. Wicker pads his leads by trumping the Democrats by margins of 12 to a whopping 42 points with independents.
A Democratic win in Mississippi would probably indicate an extraordinary wave or a highly flawed incumbent, and right now, neither Wicker nor the political environment suggest that. This seat was probably never on any Democrats list of targets for next year anyway, even though a win here would be a welcome and surprising bulwark against the four seats Republicans have to net to pick up control of the Senate. Democrats have 23 seats to defend, including several in tough, red-leaning territory, while the Republicans have only 10 on the ballot, most in safe Republican states like Mississippi, where true national Democrats are a dying breed.