Today's Ratings Changes:
Mississippi (Wicker): Likely Republican to Leans Republican
After former Mississippi AG Mike Moore passed on the race to replace retired Sen. Trent Lott, few were bullish on this contest as a Democratic pickup opportunity, even after former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove jumped into the fray. But recent polls suggest that Musgrove's statewide profile is giving him an early advantage over interim Sen. Roger Wicker, who previously represented Northeast Mississippi in the House. Coupled with Barack Obama's presence on the ballot energizing the state's large African-American constituency (roughly 37% of the population), Musgrove picked the perfect year to try a statewide comeback. What's more, the lack of party identification on the special election ballot could hurt Wicker with "low-information" GOP voters.
Still, Wicker's huge early financial edge cannot be discounted, as it has allowed him to get on the airwaves early in order to raise his name recognition in Southern Mississippi. Wicker's biggest weakness (his lack of a statewide profile) also represents room for growth.
This will be a tightly-watched contest, and it won't be the GOP lock that some had assumed it'd be after Haley Barbour worked around the law to push the special election to November.