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Three for three

"Three for three" Continued...

Issue: "Soldiers in harm’s way," Nov. 15, 2003

If the Fletcher victory was the best news President Bush received on election night, it was hardly the only news. In Mississippi, Haley Barbour, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, upset Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, the incumbent Democrat, by a margin of 8 percentage points. The election marked only the second time since Reconstruction that the GOP has captured the top job in Mississippi, and it came on a day with record turnout, weakening Democratic claims that Republicans can win only if most voters stay home.

Coming on the heels of Arnold Schwarzenegger's victory in California, Tuesday's races give the GOP a perfect record in gubernatorial contests this year. The next test will take place on Nov. 15, when Republican Bobby Jindal and Democrat Kathleen Blanco face each other in a runoff election in Louisiana. If Mr. Jindal prevails-and late polls show him with a 4-point lead among likely voters-the GOP will control every Deep South governorship from Texas to South Carolina and down into Florida.

With the Democrats in disarray across the South, the national party may be tempted to write off the region in next year's presidential contest, focusing scarce resources on more competitive regions like the Midwest. But that would likely drive down voter turnout among core Democratic constituencies, making it easier for Republicans to pick up open Senate seats in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

-with reporting from John Dawson in Kentucky

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