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.

 

Joel McElhannon – 7 Key Takeaways From Last Night’s Elections in Georgia

Joel McElhannon of Parlay Political served as the primary political consultant to the Georgia Republican Party’s Victory 2014 Program. Joel wrote this on his own after seeing the results of this year’s elections. Whether you love him or hate him, Joel McElhannon possesses one of the best political minds in the state and you should pay attention when he writes on the topic.

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.

Yes, Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn bellyflopped yesterday. But that does not mean Georgia’s population is not changing. It does not mean the Democrats will discontinue their ground game efforts. It does not mean radical liberal groups will not continue their vicious and possibly illegal tactics on election days to cause chaos and confusion for voters and lay the foundation for more frivolous lawsuits.

Despite a warm day in the sun, there are dark clouds on the horizon, and Republicans in Georgia should prepare now.

For the future, there are two key numbers to remember – 11% and $2.6 million. (more…)

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…)

Nunn leads Senate race; Deal and Carter tied | The Augusta Chronicle

The Augusta Chronicle story has changed and now reads:

Pollsters weighted the responses to reflect an anticipated turnout in which 30 percent of the voters are black and 55 percent are female.

Assuming that 37% of voters in November will be African-American is either delusional, or the results were weighted to put the Senate and Governor’s races smack in the middle of what everyone else’s says. This is what FiveThirtyEight refers to as “herding.” Why would they do this?

Herding is the tendency of some polling firms to be influenced by others when issuing poll results. A pollster might want to avoid publishing a poll if it perceives that poll to be an outlier. Or it might have a poor methodology and make ad hoc adjustments so that its poll is more in line with a stronger one.

There’s a reason the polling firm here is among the very lowest-rated by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.

The closer the election gets, the harder it is to tell who is going to win, according to a poll released today showing the races for governor and the Senate effectively tied.

Democrat Michelle Nunn’s 47 percent gives her a slight lead in the Senate race over Republican David Perdue’s 45 percent, but the survey’s 4 percent margin of error means they’re statistically in a dead heat less than two weeks before Election Day. Libertarian Amanda Swafford’s 4 percent could trigger a January runoff by preventing Nunn from getting a majority. Another 4 percent haven’t made up their minds yet.

In the contest for governor, Republican Nathan Deal and Democrat Jason Carter each command 44 percent while Libertarian Andrew Hunt is taking 5 percent. Eight percent of those surveyed were still mulling over the choices.

The poll of 704 general-election voters was conducted by automated questionnaires via cellphone and landline Tuesday and Wednesday by InsiderAdvantage and Opinion Savvy on behalf of Morris News Service and Fox5. Pollsters weighted the responses to reflect an anticipated turnout where 37 percent of the voters are black and 55 percent are female.

via Nunn leads Senate race; Deal and Carter tied | The Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 22, 2014

James Oglethorpe of Georgia signed a treaty with Florida’s Spanish government on October 22, 1736 that is commemorated each year with a very large cocktail party.

On October 22, 1832, the Cherokee Land Lottery began in which the Georgia state government gave away millions of acres of land in 160-acre and 40-acre parcels.

Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation changing the number of Georgia Supreme Court Justices from three to five on October 22, 1887

President Grover Cleveland arrived in Atlanta aboard the Southern Railway to tour the Cotton States and International Expo on October 22, 1895.

Grover Cleveland Atlanta

Four-hundred thirty-three Atlantans were poisoned by bad moonshine on October 21, 1951.

President John F. Kennedy announced the American naval blockade of Cuba after spy planes photographed Soviet missiles on the island 90 miles off the coast of the United States.

The third and final debate between Jimmy Carter and President Gerald Ford was held on October 22, 1976 at Williamsburg, Virginia.

The Atlanta Braves won the first World Series baseball game played outside the United States on October 22, 1992, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 7-2 with pitcher John Smoltz starting for the Braves.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democratic Race-Baiting

Ferguson Mailer

The Georgia Democratic Party is engaged in vicious race-baiting in a divide and conquer strategy to drive African-American voters to the polls. The above photo originated, I believe, from an AJC scan, but has been traveling across the internet for 24 hours. (more…)