Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 21, 2014

Georgia History

On November 21, 1620 (November 11 under the calendar used then), the first governing document of the English colony at Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Mayflower Compact, was signed by most of the male passengers of the Mayflower.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

The Georgia Trustees outlawed rum in the colony on November 21, 1733 after James Oglethorpe wrote them that it was responsible for sickness and death in Georgia. Two-hundred eighty-one years later, Richland Rum is being distilled with Georgia-grown sugar cane in Richland, Georgia.

North Carolina ratified the Constitution on November 21, 1789, becoming the twelfth state to do so.

On November 21, 1860 Governor Joseph Brown called a Secession Convention following the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.

November 21, 1922 was the first day of Rebecca Latimer Fulton’s service in the United States Senate from Georgia as the first woman to serve in that chamber.

Here are two TV ads from the 1970 campaign by Carl Sanders for Governor.

Yesterday, we taped Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Political Rewind early and it began with special guests former Governor Roy Barnes (D) and former Congressman Buddy Darden (D) discussing their experiences in Georgia politics with Carl Sanders. It was fun to hear first-hand stories of a time in Georgia politics that I’d only read about. The show will air today at 3 PM on WRAS 88.5 FM in Atlanta and statewide on the GPB radio network. If you enjoy Georgia history, you’ll enjoy the show.

Buddy Darden Roy Barnes

In the context of a movement to legalize the medicinal use of an oil derived from cannabis in Georgia, this clip of Jimmy Carter from 1977 is interesting.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The first legislation of the 2015 Session of the Georgia General Assembly, House Bill 6, has been introduced by State Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, to allow grades higher than 4.0 for AP, International Baccalaureate or dual credit courses. It would take a real overachiever to come up with something like that.

The Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting nominations for three vacancies on state courts:

Northern Judicial Circuit comprising Elbert, Franklin, Hart, Madison, and Oglethopre Counties

Coweta Judicial Circuit comprising Carroll, Coweta, Heard, Meriwether, and Troup Counties

Waycross Judicial Circuit comprising Bacon, Brantley, Charlton, Coffee, Pierce, and Ware Counties

Nominations for all three of the vacancies are due on or before December 29, 2014.

In Washington, Congressman Tom Graves (R-Upper Left-hand Corner) will serve as Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch.

“I joined this committee because of the unique opportunity to fight for taxpayers and reform the federal government,” said Rep. Graves. “I want the Appropriations Committee to be known as a place where taxpayer dollars are saved, not spent. As the Legislative Branch Subcommittee chairman, I’ll have a prime opportunity to walk the conservative talk. It’s an honor to have Chairman Rogers and the House Majority entrust me with this major responsibility.”

Immigration

Yesterday’s big news mainly revolved around President Obama’s immigration speech. Here are reactions from some of Georgia’s members of Congress.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 20, 2014

New Jersey became the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights on November 20, 1789.

Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the 22d time on November 20, 1931.

Duane Allman was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 20, 1946.

President John F. Kennedy lifted the naval blockade of Cuba on November 20, 1962, ending the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Newt Gingrich was reelected Speaker of the House on November 20, 1996

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Mark your calendars: Brian Kemp will schedule Georgia’s 2016 Presidential Preference Election for March First.

Last week, Kemp told the five other secretaries of state he’s working with in establishing a so-called “SEC” regional primary (named after the powerhouse college sports conference) that he intends to schedule Georgia’s presidential primary for March 1, 2016—an authority he was granted by the state Legislature in 2011. Tennessee has already set March 1 as its primary day, while the other four states still need to act through their respective legislatures to do the same. Primaries in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are currently slated for later in March, while Arkansas’s is set for May.

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 11, 2014

The first twenty-three cadets at Virginia Military Institute began their service on November 11, 1839.

On November 11, 1918, word reached Georgia that an armistice was signed between the Allies and Germany, ending World War One. Georgia Governor Hugh Dorsery declared a state holiday. Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I, was first celebrated on November 11, 1919 and is celebrated on November 11th every year.

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery was dedicated on November 11, 1921.

On Armistice Day, in the presence of President Harding and other government, military, and international dignitaries, the unknown soldier was buried with highest honors beside the Memorial Amphitheater. As the soldier was lowered to his final resting place, a two-inch layer of soil brought from France was placed below his coffin so that he might rest forever atop the earth on which he died.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is considered the most hallowed grave at Arlington Cemetery, America’s most sacred military cemetery. The tombstone itself, designed by sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, was not completed until 1932, when it was unveiled bearing the description “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.” The World War I unknown was later joined by the unidentified remains of soldiers from America’s other major 20th century wars and the tomb was put under permanent guard by special military sentinels.

On November 11, 1942, the draft age was lowered to 18 and raised to 37. At the time, African-Americans were excluded from the draft over concerns about a racially-diverse military.

In 1945, the idea was put forth to expand Armistice Day to honor all veterans and in 1954, Congress made the change to “Veterans Day” official.

The “General Lee” first left the ground, using a ramp to clear a police car, during filming of “The Dukes of Hazzard” on November 11, 1978.

Ronald Reagan became the first President of the United States to address the Japanese Diet in Tokyo on November 11, 1983.

On November 11, 1988, the Georgia Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in front of the Sloppy Floyd state government building across the street from the Georgia State Capitol.

On November 11, 1997, a monument to Georgia’s World War I veterans was dedicated, also in front of the Sloppy Floyd building.

One year ago today, on November 11, 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced they would move from downtown Atlanta to Cobb County.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, I assumed that the City Council seat vacated by the death of Red McDaniel would be filled in the usual method by a Special Election, but the city charter specifies how vacancies are filled:

If a vacancy occurs within one and one-half years after the date of a regular election for the office of mayor or councilor, then the board of elections shall, within ten days after the occurrence of such vacancy, call a special election to fill the balance of the unexpired term of such office by giving notice in one or more newspapers of general circulation including the newspaper with the largest circulation in Columbus, Georgia. If vacancy occurs more than one and one-half years after the date of a regular election for the office of mayor or councilor, then a person shall be appointed by a majority vote of the total membership of the Council to serve until a successor is elected and qualified at a special election held concurrently with the next regular election for the office of mayor or councilor. The successor elected at such special election shall serve the remainder of the unexpired term of such office.

Here’s what the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer thinks that means:

The city’s charter sets out how McDaniel will be replaced, according to City Attorney Clifton Fay.

If a councilor leaves office within a year-and-a-half of being elected, there is a special election to elect an interim to serve out the term. If the councilor leaves after a year-and-a-half, which is the case with McDaniel, Council will appoint an interim to serve out the rest of the term, Fay said.

However, because the person is serving as an interim, and because Columbus holds municipal elections in the spring or summer, the person elected at the next municipal election would take office immediately instead of waiting until the next January, Fay explained.

Read that again, I think they may be wrong. (more…)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 7, 2014

Georgia and American History

Georgia Governor Joseph Brown addressed the Georgia legislature calling on them to consider Georgia’s future on November 7, 1860, the day after Abraham Lincoln’s election as President.

Jeanette Rankin was elected to Congress, the first female Member, on November 7, 1916 from Montana. After leaving Congress, Rankin moved to Watkinsville, Georgia in 1925. The Jeanette Rankin Scholarship Foundation, based in Athens, Georgia provides college scholarships and support for low-income women 35 and older.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to a record fourth term on November 7, 1944.

Democrat Sam Nunn was reelected to the United States Senate on November 7, 1978.

On November 7, 1989, David Dinkins was elected the first African-American Mayor of New York and Douglas Wilder was elected the first African-American Governor of Virginia.

On November 7, 2006, Georgia reelected its first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue, and elected its first GOP Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.

Georgia Politics – Seven Things You Should Know

1. Welcome to the 2016 and 2018 election cycles. Several months ago, when I first started saying that the 2014 Georgia elections were partly about jockeying for position in the 2016 Presidential race, it was a novel idea. But after campaign visits by Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie (2x), and Rand Paul, it is clear that Georgia will play an important role in the Presidential election. (more…)

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 6, 2012

Georgia and American History

Abraham Lincoln was elected 16th President of the United States and the first Republican to hold the office on November 6, 1860. By his inauguration in March, seven states had seceded.

On November 6, 1861, one year after Lincoln’s election, Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens of Georgia were elected President and Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

President Teddy Roosevelt left for a 17-day trip to Panama on November 6, 1906 to inspect work on the Panama Canal; he was the first President to take an official tour outside the continental United States.

A dam on the campus of Toccoa Falls Bible College burst on November 6, 1977 under pressure from heavy rains, killing 39 students and faculty.

Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R-GA) resigned his office and his Congressional seat on November 6, 1998, effective in January 1999, despite having been reelected three days earlier.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The DunwoodyTalk blog has as good an explanation as I’ve read for how Holmes E. Pyles came in first in the DeKalb County Commission District 1 race.

A simple word was placed under each candidate’s name on the ballot.  Four of the five had ‘Republican’ listed and one had ‘Independent’ listed. Only Holmes E. Pyles was not listed as a Republican.

The runoff of Jester and Pyles will take place next month and will be the only item on the ballot.  The Dems won’t be back as the Republican vote is much bigger.  Jester will not have three opponents competing for the Republican votes.  We all know now that it is possible for a Democrat to make the runoff in District 1, but the chances of a Democrat winning the spot is low.  Jester will need a strong turnout for the runoff.

The blog notes that even in the only Republican-majority district in DeKalb, Michelle Nunn took a majority in 20 of 37 precincts. [Disclaimer: I am a consultant for Nancy Jester's campaign.]

Joel McElhannon, who served as the lead political consultant to the Georgia Republican Party’s Victory 2014 effort has penned “Seven takeaways from the 2014 Elections,” which we were happy to publish. It’s well worth reading the thoughts and conclusions one of Georgia’s top political minds who was instrumental to the best effort I’ve ever seen the GAGOP put forth. Here’s an excerpt:

1. Georgia Republicans Need A Competitiveness Assessment.

Last night was a huge win for Republicans nationally and in the state of Georgia. The GAGOP Victory Program, led by Chairman John Padgett and staffed by countless volunteers and sharp field directors, executed an unprecedented ground game in the Peach State. Over 350,000 doors knocked. Over 1.2 million volunteer phone calls – including 87,000 on Monday alone. Millions of pieces of mail dropped. It provided the rock solid foundation of success for our entire statewide ticket.

But Georgia Republicans should not be lured into complacency by this one night of success. We must also see clearly the political environment and the national wave the swept the country last night.

President Obama’s failed leadership is as popular as Ebola right now.

But he won’t be on the ballot again.

2. It’s Time For Georgia Republicans To Get Real.

Georgia is diversifying. In comparative demographic terms, Georgia is now the state of Virginia (metro Atlanta) dropped down in the middle of Alabama (the rest of our state). Our rural areas may continue to be part of the “old south” but the metro Atlanta region is a vibrant and diverse international community. Bluntly speaking, Georgia Republicans can no longer rely on simply appealing to white voters. We must diversify our approaches and speak to this new Georgia with a bold message about economic opportunity and effective governing.

3. Public Polling In Georgia This Cycle Was A National Embarrassment.

In the recent article “Are Bad Pollsters Copying Good Pollsters” on the highly respected Five Thirty Eight Blog, Harry Enten details how “polling” by non professional polling groups in states where a “Gold Standard” polling program does not exist are wildly inaccurate and tend to copy the results of legitimate pollsters as election day nears. In 2014, Georgia is the new case study for this assessment. As a highly respected political consultant friend told me recently, if these supposed pollsters for media outlets had been employed by campaigns and had been so wrong so frequently, they would have been laughed out of the business.

It’s worth reading in its entirety if you’re interested in the business and process of winning elections, even if I don’t agree with everything he writes.

Polling and Predictions

Speaking of polling, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is living in a glass house when it criticizes the public polling in Georgia, but they continue anyway.

Some of those predicting runoffs didn’t take into account caveats, like margins of error and undecided voters, that swung the numbers.

Meanwhile, some earlier surveys were simply imprecise. They relied on automated calling and Internet surveys, cheaper methods scorned by more established pollsters.

“We have major polling problems (in Georgia),” said Kerwin Swint, chairman of the political science department at Kennesaw State University.

“No one here knows how to model turnout based on voting patterns, population, and issues.”

Survey after survey suggested that Republicans Gov. Nathan Deal and U.S. Senator-elect David Perdue might not surpass the 50 percent benchmarks needed to avoid long, costly and unpredictable runoffs.

Landmark Communications, based in Alpharetta, surveyed Georgia voters in the final days before the election and placed both Deal and Perdue with  leads.

“We identified the Republican surge that took place in the closing days,” Landmark president Mark Rountree said.

“And in the end Georgia had the same surge for Republicans that the rest of the country saw, so the GOP candidates scored a few more percentage points than our, or anyone’s, poll reflected.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution commissioned New York-based Abt SRBI Inc. That survey, which used a mix of live calls to land lines and cellphones, took place Oct. 16-23. It showed the governor’s race in a dead heat and Perdue holding a slim lead in the Senate race. In it, the Libertarian candidates had 6 and 5 percent of the vote respectively. Ultimately that support was pegged at just 2 percent Tuesday night.

SRBI founder and chief research officer Mark Schulman said there were signs of a Republican wave in Georgia and elsewhere but the size of it “has befuddled the pollsters.”

Experts say the technique used by pollsters is significant. Live calling to homes and cell phones is considered the gold standard. Most of the public polls are done through automated calls to homes that under federal law cannot be made to cell phones. About 30 percent or more of registered voters only have cell phones so they are excluded.

First of all, to call the AJC’s polling the “gold standard” is laughable. Not only were they not any more accurate than most of the others, they were flat unable to poll the Republican and Democratic Primary elections earlier this year. In May, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a major “gold standard” poll that tested all the possible November head-to-head combinations for Governor and Senate, but then they wrote this,

The AJC did not poll the Republican or Democratic primary races because low turnout and primaries not confined to party registrants would have made the polling results, in its view, too unreliable.

Gold standard my tailfeathers. Not only were they unable or unwilling to poll the primary elections, they also didn’t poll the last twelve days – nearly two weeks – of the election. There are strengths to live agent phoning to random-digit phone numbers, but getting in-and-out of the field quickly is not one of them.

The question of whether to use IVR “robopolls” or the much-more expensive live-agent polling is best answered, “yes.” That is, use both. Live agent polling is often better in the early stages of the election for message testing when you’re using a long survey instrument, and as occasional benchmarks to fine-tune your sampling frame and the model that predicts the composition of the electorate. IVR is stronger when you need results fast and often. I often run IVR surveys every night the last two-to-three weeks of an election, with sample sizes of 1000-1500 every night. This allows you to be in the field every night affordably. The continuous nature of this style of tracking allows you to pick up trends earlier and more accurately track how voters are converting from undecided to decided. IVR is also very strong with a homogenous electorate, such as within a Republican Congressional District or a Metro Atlanta county Primary, less so in a more diverse electorate.

The difference between the two forms of polling is like the difference between a Ford that you can buy at the dealership and the cars that carry the blue oval in NASCAR races and on drag strips. They both carry the same name, but the difference in specific use, cost, and convenience will often determine which you use. If you’ve got millions of dollars and want to win a race more than anything else on earth, you buy a racecar. If you want to go to the grocery store and pickup the kids from school, you buy a Taurus. If you’re running a second-tier statewide race and don’t have millions of dollars, you might be able to run a live-agent poll one time – at the beginning or the end – but it won’t be of any use and you’d be better using Robopolling or spending the money on advertising.

Media polls are not designed to provide the level of information that campaigns rely on and no sane campaign strategist will pay attention to make his or her decisions on the basis of what public pollsters say. Media polls are designed to provide inexpensive fodder for “horse race” stories, and while the respective media outlets take their accuracy seriously, it’s simply not the same as strapping on a race car.

Non-professionals following public polls closely also may have unrealistic expectations when it comes to polls – polls taken weeks out do not by themselves predict the results of elections.

When I predicted last Friday that Nathan Deal and David Perdue would win without runoffs, it wasn’t simply because I checked the most recent polls. I looked at the RealClearPolitics average and saw that Deal was in the exact same position – 48.0% – that he was in 2010 when he walked away with a victory over Roy Barnes. I considered the strength of the GAGOP voter contact program that at the time had made more than 1.5 million direct voter contacts. I considered what appeared to be a trend nationally of Democratic candidates cratering and undecideds breaking for the Republican party. Finally, I applied “Kentucky windage,” or my estimate of which way the wind was blowing based on my own personal experiences.

Professional strategists running multimillion dollar campaigns will have all these tools, plus their own internal polling, probably that of their respective state party and national organizations, and other analytics, like the results of Voter Indentification calls.

Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications, who did the polling for WSB-TV this cycle, also responded to the AJC’s article, via Facebook:

An AJC article is out tonight saying that polls were off in Georgia. Actually, no, and this premise is not correct.

Here are the actual election results. Our poll results are on our website at LandmarkCommunications.net (#1 and #2 below copied from AJC article)

#1. GOVERNOR’S RACE POLLING:

Election Results: Nathan Deal-R 53 percent; Jason Carter-D 45 percent

Landmark Communications Poll: Deal 51 percent; Carter 45 percent

SRBI Inc-AJC: Deal 43 percent: Carter 42 percent

Survey USA: Deal 47 percent; Carter 42 percent

#2. U.S. SENATE RACE:

Election Results: David Perdue-R 53 percent; Michelle Nunn-D 45 percent

Landmark Communications Poll: Perdue 50 percent; Nunn 46 percent

SRBI Inc-AJC: Perdue 45 percent; Nunn 41 percent

Survey USA: Perdue 47 percent; Nunn 44 percent

• Landmark correctly nailed in Georgia the GOP surge that surprised many other pollsters across the country.

• Landmark nailed the Democratic candidates’ numbers essentially on the head (actual was 45% for both, we had them with 45% and 46% respectively).

• Landmark quite accurately nailed the Libertarian numbers (2% & 3%).

• Landmark also reported the GOP candidate numbers very close to the mark — it’s pretty hard to get much closer than what we released in our final poll.

• Landmark also had undecideds lower than anyone and ran with the call.

Remember also, I wrote earlier this week and again today, that the RealClearPolitics average showed Gov. Deal at 48.0 just before election day, the exact same as he was at that time in 2010. Deal won 52.8% Tuesday night and in 2010 he took 52.9% against Democrat Roy Barnes. Consistency of results and repeatability are also important criteria for judging polling, and the aggregate of public polling was both consistent and repeated its performance.

Remember also that a single poll shows a snapshot of a moment in time for an electorate in flux and under the influence of millions of dollars of advertising. You can’t make a good prediction from one poll – looking at polling holistically, not only did the public polls show consistently both Deal and Perdue ahead, they also showed both Republican candidates on upward trajectories as undecided converted in favor of the GOP. If you got the wrong answer from this year’s polling, you weren’t looking at the whole situation.

Exit Polls

Georgia was the subject of National Election Pool exit polling this year for the first time since 2008. We’ll be diving into both the exit polls and the Secretary of State’s data on voter turnout over the coming days, weeks, and months, but here are a few snapshots from the early analysis, here from the New York Times.

NYT Exit Polls Race Ethnicity NYT Exit Polls Race Gender

These graphics show that the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, David Perdue, appears to have doubled the GOP’s share among African-American voters and increased it among both men and women. Interesting. I suspect Governor Deal carried more of the votes of African-Americans. We’ll see.

 

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 5, 2014

Peter Early was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 5, 1813 after being elected by the Georgia General Assembly.

John Clark was sworn in to the first of two two-year terms on November 5, 1819, again after election by the legislature.

Howell Cobb, who previously served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, was sworn in as Governor of Georgia on November 5, 1852, having been elected by popular vote.

Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who spent part of his youth in Augusta, Georgia and married Ellen Louise Axson, whom he met in Rome, Georgia, was elected President in a landslide victory on November 5, 1912.

Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to his unprecedented third term as President of the United States on November 5, 1940.

Richard M. Nixon was elected President of the United States by a plurality vote on November 5, 1968.

On November 5, 2002, Sonny Perdue was elected the first Republican Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction, beginning the modern era of Republican dominance of Georgia state politics.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

First things first. In DeKalb County, we have a December 2 runoff election for County Commission District 2 between Nancy Jester and Holmes Pyles.

The Brookhaven Redevelopment Powers referendum was defeated.

60.07% of voters said ‘No’, while only 39.93% said ‘Yes’.

There was strong opposition to granting the City Redevelopment Powers.

Some citizens said one of their difficulties with the referendum was that it put too much decision making power in the hands of the current City Leadership and Council.

Others said the city “needs to slow down”, “get great at the basics” and then, perhaps, when those things are accomplished, look at Redevelopment Powers at some point on the future.

Just because you know the clowns doesn’t mean you want to spend all your money on circus tickets. (more…)