Parties counting down as Election Day draws near

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, October 24, 2010

The days are quickly counting down toward Election Day 2010 andvoters across the nation have much to ponder before heading to thepolls on Nov. 2.

North Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District, where Republicanstate Sen. Alan Nunnelee is trying to unseat first-term Democraticincumbent Rep. Travis Childers, is one of the more closely watchedcontests in the nation. Childers has maintained a mostly moderatevoting stance, but still must fend off GOP efforts to link him toSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

On Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, state Rep. Steven Palazzo is waging aspirited campaign against longtime incumbent 4th District Rep. GeneTaylor, a maverick within the Democratic Party. Taylor could holdon to the seat, but discontent with Democratic policies is makingthe race a lot closer than many would have imagined.

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Mississippi’s 2nd and 3rd Districts are receiving relatively littleattention due to the anticipated outcomes in those areas.Democratic 2nd District Rep. Bennie Thompson and Republican 3rdDistrict Rep. Gregg Harper, who will be in Brookhaven Mondayevening for a campaign function, are expected to easily be returnedto new terms in office.

Nationally, polls suggest Republicans will retake the House ofRepresentatives and have a fair chance of taking over the Senate aswell, or at least greatly enhancing their influence in thatchamber.

However, polls conducted days, weeks and months ahead of ElectionDay do not decide contests. Turnout does.

With that in mind, President Barack Obama and other party leadershave been working hard to combat a perceived “enthusiasm gap” amongDemocratic voters and shifting strategy to maintain congressionalcontrol by winning closely contested seats.

Obama, who led the Democratic rise to power in 2008, though, willnot be on this year’s ballot. The lack of his magnetism to bringout voters could be a difficult obstacle for Democrats toovercome.

Discontent over many Democratic-backed policies, like the healthcare overhaul and financial reform, have dulled the spirits of manywithin the party and created downright outrage among many outsidethe party. How those feelings will play out at the polls will be ofgreat interest to political observers and of supreme importance forthe future of the country.

While Democrats are dealing with an “enthusiasm gap,” LincolnCounty Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins is perceiving a low levelof electoral spirit due to a lack of contested races on the localballot. She is urging voter participation regardless of the numberof races.

“Even if it’s only one race, they need to vote,” Watkinssaid.

For most Lincoln County voters, the Mississippi 3rd Districtcongressional race will be the only one of the ballot. Area andstate judicial office-holders are unopposed for re-election.

Lincoln County District Three voters, however, will have anopportunity to elect a new election commissioner for that area.Gloria Brown, Barbara Davis, Rachel Cole Gatlin and Mike Walley arevying for the position held by Bennon Case prior to his death inJune of this year.

As with the congressional contests around the nation, turnout inthe election commissioner race will surely decide its outcome.District Three voters are encouraged to consider the candidates andmake their selections based an expectation of electoral fairnessand quality voter roll maintenance.

Lincoln County may not be at the epicenter of political activity onNov. 2, but congressional election results elsewhere could produceseismic shifts on the national scale. Only voter turnout willdetermine how significant those are.