Hurricane Gustav and the Sarah Palin surprise could boost a few downticket Republicans:

1. Mississippi Senate candidate Roger Wicker, who -- so long as Mississippi sees no Katrina-style catastrophe in the next couple of days -- gets to zip around the Gulf coast showing off that, as he put it to the Biloxi Sun-Herald, "almost everything that we have been able to do from the federal level [on post-Katrina relief] has my fingerprints on it." Democrats had hoped that their nominee, moderate Ronnie Musgrove, could pull off a demoralizing coup against the GOP there, but that's looking less and less likely.

2. Disgraced Alaska legislators Ted Stevens and Don Young. If these men are on the ballot in November -- Stevens awaits the outcome of his September corruption trial and Young's GOP primary still hasn't been decided -- a Palin-inspired surge of Alaska Republicans to the polls might help them hang on. Yes, that means Sarah Palin -- anti-corruption crusader extraordinaire -- could be the one person able to keep Uncle Ted or Uncle Don in office. God is a comedian.

--Eve Fairbanks