Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 27, 2014

Advertising in the rights of way of state roads and placing signs on private property without the owner’s approval were prohibited in the first Georgia law regulating outdoor advertising, which was signed by Governor Richard Russell on August 27, 1931. Over the years, both practices would become enshrined in Peach State political strategy.

Former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox was nominated for President on the American Independent Party ticket on August 27, 1976, making the race probably the only one to ever feature two former Georgia governors. During the campaign, Maddox described Jimmy Carter as “the most dishonest man I ever met.”

On August 27, 1982, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke the record for stolen bases in a season, nabbing number 119 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Georgia Governor Zell Miller addressed the Democratic National Convention on August 27, 1966. In 2004, Miller would address the Republican National Convention, likely becoming the first Georgian to address both major parties’ national conventions. Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney also addressed the ’96 DNC.

On August 27, 2008, Barack Obama became the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, the first African-American nominee of a major United States political party.

Elaine Boyer indicted

A day after she resigned from the DeKalb County Commission, federal wire fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud charges were filed against Elaine Boyer.

The information charges Boyer with participating since at least September 2009 in a scheme to defraud the county by submitting false invoices for consulting services that were supposedly performed by an unnamed adviser whom Boyer had hired to assist her with her public duties.

According to the information, for at least two years invoices were submitted to Boyer’s office for the adviser’s consulting services, but no such services were performed. Boyer used the invoices to authorize payments—and mail 35 checks totaling more than $78,000—to the adviser who, the information said, funneled about 75 percent of the funds, an estimated $58,000, into Boyer’s personal bank account.

Boyer then used the money to pay personal expenses, including purchases at hotels and high-end department stores, the information said.

The criminal information also charges Boyer with using a county-issued Visa purchasing card, which was intended for county-related purchases, to make more than 50 personal purchases totaling more than $15,000 that included airline tickets and hotel rooms for personal travel for herself and her family.

United States Attorney Sally Q. Yates said she intends to ask for prison time.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the consultant in questions is likely Marion Rooks Boynton.

[A]n Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation that began months ago found that only one consultant received those kinds of payments from Boyer.

It’s Marion Rooks Boynton, a 72-year-old evangelist who ran unsuccessfully for DeKalb County offices 30 years ago. In recent weeks, the AJC had been asking Boyer for proof of the work Boynton had performed.

She could produce none.

Tuesday afternoon, Boyer told a federal magistrate judge she will plead guilty to a mail fraud charge in connection with that scheme. Boynton has not been charged.

Boyer also plans to plead guilty to another scheme first revealed in the AJC in March: using her county purchasing card to pay for personal expenses.

It is my personal hope that Nancy Jester will run for DeKalb County Commission to fill the seat vacated when Boyer resigned. During her service on the DeKalb County Board of Education, Nancy Jester uncovered millions of dollars in fraud, and sacrificed her political career on the School Board to bring the fraud to light. DeKalb County deserves an honest, principled public servant, not another political hack with ties to Elaine Boyer.

More on Polling

Yesterday, I wrote about a difference between the recent poll released by Landmark Communications, and those by other polling firms.

The Landmark poll projects a 29% ‘black vote.’  Frankly, anywhere from 28% to 30% would be reasonable, but we believe 26% is too low and has caused other polls to incorrectly display higher support for Republican candidates at this stage of the election.

The Republican National Committee apparently wrote to a member of the RNC from Georgia:

Having said that the poll you site does have African American turnout #’s at 29%. That is about 4 pts higher than the historic average but I don’t know that it is impossible.

So, there seems to be a difference in opinion on the historic figures for African-American turnout as a percentage of all voters. The difference between the RNC’s 2010 figure or 25% and Landmark’s 2010 figure of 28.5% is very significant in this setting.

It might be correct that an historic average of the percentage of Georgia voters in a General Election who are African-American is 25%, but that’s the wrong number to use as a predictor for 2012 turnout. The clear trend among the Georgia electorate is rising African-American turnout. Additionally, as Mark Rountree of Landmark Communications pointed out,

Since 2010, there have been 925,000 newly registered voters (net) in Georgia. Based on voting behavior by all demographic groups, this registration has added approximately 200,000 net new behaviorally Democratic voters to Georgia’s voting rolls. This means approximately 50,000 net registered voters added each year to the voting rolls in Georgia since the 2010 election.

The most relevant actual numbers are from the 2010 General Election, in which at least 28.29% of voters were African-American, and the 2012 General Eleciton, in which at least 29.89% of voters were African-American. On that basis, I’d say that if your pollster is using 25% as the percentage of the 2014 General Election that is likely to be African-American voters, they’re clearly wrong, essentially more than doubling the margin of error.

Here are three fundamental facts to understand when you’re looking at polling:

1.) the nature of polling is such that you can be wrong in the weighting and still have numbers that accurately represent the state of the electorate

2.) you can have everything absolutely correct methodologically and still be dead wrong on the numbers that count – the margin of error you read about whenever you see a poll is calculated at the 95% confidence interval, meaning that one in 20 polls will be outside the margin of error. Another word for “outside the margin of error” is “dead wrong.” Read that again – 1 in 20 polls is wrong.

3.) a single poll, even if absolutely correct, is a reflection of a point in time, and not a predictor of the future.

Governor Deal in Braselton

Governor Deal Braselton

Yesterday, Governor Nathan Deal spoke to a lunch held by the Jackson County Republican Party in Braselton, Georgia. Lunch was catered by Higher Grounds Coffee House, a very nice shop that I’ll visit again when in Braselton. Second from the right, next to Gov. Deal is Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum.

I’ll listen to the recording later today and see if I can pull out a couple segments to transcribe, but here’s what I took away from what Governor Deal said:

Voter turnout is absolutely critical, Republican voters must go to the polls….I’m afraid [changes in the primary schedule] may have desensitized people in this election cycle to the point where they just stay home, and we can’t afford to have that happen. Our base needs to turn out…. I would urge you to try and make sure that your family, and anybody you have any kind of contact or influence with, please stress to them the importance of this election.

Now this is a precursor to [2016], where we have a Presidential election. So, if Georgia shows any signs of vulnerability, then we are going to be deluged as a state that can no longer be counted on in the Republican column, and that has rather devastating effects for us, so we need to make sure that we do get the [voter] turnout this time.

Sam Olens notches a win for open government

Yesterday, Attorney General Sam Olens announced that his office prevailed in a lawsuit under the Open Records Act against the City of Cumming and Mayor Ford Gravitt.

Judge Adamson ordered the defendants to pay $12,000 in penalties, the highest amount possible under the law. Defendants have also been ordered to pay attorney’s fees in an amount to be determined at a later hearing.

“This ruling is a major victory for government transparency,” said Olens. “Georgians deserve a government that operates openly and honestly. The essence of our democracy is that elected officials are held accountable to the citizens and that citizens are allowed to exercise their rights granted by the First Amendment.”

At a Cumming City Council meeting on April 17, 2012, Mayor Gravitt demanded that citizen Nydia Tisdale cease filming the meeting and subsequently ordered her to leave the meeting. Ms. Tisdale returned to the meeting with another hand held camera and was again told to stop recording the meeting. Georgia’s Open Meetings Act expressly provides that visual and sound recording during open meetings shall be permitted.

“My office takes very seriously our responsibility to enforce the Open Meetings and Open Records Acts. The actions by the mayor in this circumstance were egregious, and it is essential that he be held responsible for his actions.”

Nydia Tisdale, who was ordered to stop video recording a public meeting was also at the center of the dispute this past weekend at an event held on private property, where she was arrested and charged with criminal trespass and obstruction.

Here’s the lesson for folks in politics: video recording devices are everywhere, and if you’re holding a public meeting at which candidates or elected officials are speaking, they will be recorded. In fact, the whole incident at Dawson County was recorded, and at least audio and photos are available. See, there’s this thing called an iPhone that combines a video recorder, audio recorder and camera.

If the candidates speaking this week had simply ignored Ms. Tisdale, there would be no issue. Instead, some well-meaning folks handed Gov. Deal’s opponent, Jason Carter, yet another stick with which to scourge our Republican Governor over something he and his campaign had nothing to do with.

The Democratic Party of Georgia, through spokesman Michael Smith, sent us word last night that they, too have seized on the issue. Smith coupled the reporter’s ouster with the GOP’s all-white ticket to try to make the case that Republicans are “rejecting huge swaths of the public.”

Said Smith: “They continue to alienate women, people of color, the LGBT community, and immigrants with hostile rhetoric and policies. Just this year, the Georgia Republican Party overwhelmingly rejected women and people of color on their Primary ballot. And now—in an apparent attempt to conceal what they say behind closed doors—it seems the GA GOP is purging itself of the press as well.”

This is nothing less than a political amateur hour blunder.

Pro-tip: the media can’t hold a circus if you don’t act like a clown.

Here’s a video shot a couple weeks ago by the lady who was forcibly removed from the Dawson County event. It’s well done and embarrasses no one. In fact, if I were one of the candidates in the video, I’d be grateful, and I’d be forwarding it to my friends and supporters to share with their friends and family.

Best of all, nobody embarrassed themselves or their fellow Republicans.

Professionals on-stage do not get flustered or distracted by video recordings, or even hecklers. They continue with their remarks, and for goodness sake, they don’t embarrass their Governor with whom they share a ticket in November.

Computer Programming as a foreign language

Earlier this week, Governor Deal announced that he is asking the State Board of Education to allow computer programming classes to satisfy part of the requirements for a high school diploma.

“Students need to acquire the 21st century skills necessary to thrive in the modern workforce,” Deal said. “Computing is currently one of the fastest growing occupations in the country with average salaries nearly twice the national rate. In fact, more than half of the projected job growth in the STEM fields will be in computing occupations. We must begin training our young people in these areas prior to their post-secondary education so they are prepared to fill these high-wage, in-demand positions.”

“This change will support our STEM efforts — science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “It is a recognition of the evolving dynamics of our increasingly technologically dependent world.”

“If Georgia is to maintain a world-class workforce, then we must ensure that our students can understand and apply sophisticated technology,” said Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson. “I applaud Governor Deal for this change that will improve the education of students and build a better future for Georgia.”

Currently, Georgia allows Advanced Placement Computer Science to satisfy the fourth and final science credit in high school. Only 18 percent of Georgia high schools offer this class and less than one percent of students took the course in 2013. Other coding courses can count only as elective credit and access to these courses is limited.

“I am working to keep Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation for business and we must have a strong education system that responds to the needs of companies across our state in order to do so,” Deal said. “Computer science should no longer be just a high school elective. With the help of strong partners like Georgia Tech, we can develop these valuable courses and better prepare our students for college and the workforce.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for June 13, 2014

A “Liberty Tree” was planted in Savannah on June 13, 1775 to symbolize support for independence. The first liberty tree was an elm in Boston that became a meeting spot for patriots, but Savannah’s was actually a Liberty Pole. In 2006, a seedling grown from the last of the original Liberty Trees on the campus of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland was planted in Dalton, Georgia. This year, the Dalton Liberty Tree BBQ and Music Festival is held on October 25th.

The Marquis de Lafayette arrived in South Carolina to assist General George Washington on June 13, 1775.

On June 13, 1966, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In Miranda, the Court held that a confession obtained by police without informing the suspect of his rights against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) and to the service of a lawyer (Sixth Amendment) was inadmissible.

Thurgood Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 13, 1967.

As the NAACP’s chief counsel from 1938 to 1961, he argued 32 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully challenging racial segregation, most notably in public education. He won 29 of these cases, including a groundbreaking victory in 1954′s Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregation violated the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and was thus illegal. The decision served as a great impetus for the African American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and ultimately led to the abolishment of segregation in all public facilities and accommodations.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his nomination was opposed by many Southern senators, and he was not confirmed until the next year. In June 1967, President Johnson nominated him to the Supreme Court, and in late August he was confirmed. During his 24 years on the high court, Associate Justice Marshall consistently challenged discrimination based on race or sex, opposed the death penalty, and supported the rights of criminal defendants. He also defended affirmative action and women’s right to abortion. As appointments by a largely Republican White House changed the politics of the Court, Marshall found his liberal opinions increasingly in the minority. He retired in 1991, and two years later passed away.

The New York Times began publishing excerpts from the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971.

After failing to persuade the Times to voluntarily cease publication on June 14, Attorney General John N. Mitchell and Nixon obtained a federal court injunction forcing the Times to cease publication after three articles.Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said:

Newspapers, as our editorial said this morning, we’re really a part of history that should have been made available, considerably longer ago. I just didn’t feel there was any breach of national security, in the sense that we were giving secrets to the enemy.[23]

The newspaper appealed the injunction, and the case New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713) quickly rose through the U.S. legal system to the Supreme Court.

On June 18, 1971, The Washington Post began publishing its own series of articles based upon the Pentagon Papers;[8] Ellsberg gave portions to editor Ben Bradlee. That day, Assistant U.S. Attorney General William Rehnquist asked the Post to cease publication. After the paper refused, Rehnquist sought an injunction in U.S. district court. Judge Murray Gurfein declined to issue such an injunction, writing that “[t]he security of the Nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” The government appealed that decision, and on June 26 the Supreme Court agreed to hear it jointly with the New York Times case.Fifteen other newspapers received copies of the study and began publishing it.

On June 30, 1971, the Supreme Court decided, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the heavy burden of proof required for prior restraint injunction. The nine justices wrote nine opinions disagreeing on significant, substantive matters.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

—Justice Black

Pole Position

After earning the first and second slots at Le Mans in early qualifying, Porsche lost the top spot to Toyota, and holds the 2d and 4th positions in the starting grid. Porsche also took the third starting slot in both GTE-Pro and GTE-Am with the 911 RSR.

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A special edition 911 will be available with the historic Martini livery, under which Porsche has won Le Mans.

The Martini Racing Edition 911s will come in black or white, and will be powered by a 400-horsepower 3.8-liter flat 6 that can produce a 4.1-second zero-to-62-mile-per-hour time.

Poll Position

A poll by SurveyUSA for 11Alive showed Jack Kingston with an 11-point lead over David Perdue in the Republican Primary Runoff Election for United States Senate.

The SurveyUSA poll of 419 likely GOP runoff voters has Kingston with 52 percent of the vote. Perdue has 41 percent. 7 percent are undecided. The poll was conducted by phone June 3-5. The poll has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

The same poll shows Republican Gov. Nathan Deal leading Democratic Sen. Jason Carter 44-38 percent. Libertarian Andrew Hunt got 7 percent. 11 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll shows either Republican, Perdue or Kingston, would beat Democrat Michelle Nunn in November. Kingston would win 43-37; Perdue would win 43-38.

An automated poll by Magellan Strategies for the National Mining Association shows a generic matchup in which “the Republican nominee” takes 47% against Michelle Nunn, the Democrat, with 44%. The NMA poll also showed 53% of Georgia voters are likely to oppose a candidate who supports the Obama Administration’s new carbon emission regulations. Note that the survey included several questions criticizing the carbon emission regs before asking that question.

Yesterday, InsiderAdvantage (for whom I work part-time on their website) released a poll showing Kingston with an 11-point lead over Perdue headed toward a runoff that’s still weeks away.

InsiderAdvantage/Fox5 Political Analyst Matt Towery says: “Kingston has a comfortable lead at present but it has the potential to become a precarious lead. Key demographic groups such as female voters and voters age 65 and over are much more evenly split. Also, contrary to some earlier surveys, our poll suggests that there is a larger undecided vote.

“We conducted this survey before and after the defeat of Rep. Eric Cantor in Virginia– and the undecided vote started to increase after Cantor suffered his loss. Whether the Cantor loss will somehow impact the Georgia race remains to be seen. The July 22 primary race has many more weeks to go, so the numbers could change substantially as we get closer to the actual vote.”

Walter Jones of Morris News, writes about the InsiderAdvantage poll in the Savannah Morning News:

The poll represents a big swing in support since the primary when Perdue’s total was about 4 percentage points more than Kingston’s. Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, benefited then from an expensive television ad campaign with crying babies that was so effective that even his opponents copied it. A new volley of ads from him could swing the support back in his favor.

The poll shows 19 percent of the likely runoff voters questioned still haven’t made up their minds.

After being weighted for age, race and gender to reflect the turnout in past runoffs, the poll shows Kingston with 46 percent and Perdue with 35, given a 4.9 percent margin of error.

Poll: Jack Kingston, Karen Handel fighting for 2nd in Ga. Senate race | savannahnow.com

David Perdue has gained some support, allowing him to pull further away from his rivals in the Republican Senate primary, according to a survey released Thursday.

Karen Handel and Jack Kingston are effectively tied for second, and Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey remain back in the pack in the InsiderAdvantage survey conducted by automatic phone callers to 531 likely primary voters Wednesday evening for Morris News and Fox5 of Atlanta.

Perdue has held onto first place in every independent poll made public this year. His 26 percent in the new results is an improvement of 4 points since InsiderAdvantage’s last survey on May 1. Handel’s 18 and Kingston’s 17 fall within the 4.2 percent margin of error and represents a 3-point retreat for Handel.

Broun has the support of 12 percent while Gingrey claims 11, with 13 percent undecided and 3 percent backing either Art Gardner or Derrick Grayson. Broun and Gingrey each lost 1 point from the previous poll while the percentage undecided rose 2 points.

When the votes are counted May 20, if no one claims more than half of them, the top two candidates go into a July runoff. That’s why the second place is so critical.

The winner will likely face Michelle Nunn, the frontrunner in the Democratic primary who announced Thursday that she had raised another $840,000 one month before the primary for a total of $6.6 million. In this latest report, 86 percent of her donors gave less than $100, suggesting she will have a formidable war chest and broad support by the time the GOP runoff winner emerges, quite likely bloodied and broke.

“The battle between Kingston and Handel for the critical second place position has tightened,” said pollster Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage. “Handel may be reaching a ceiling, which she might not be able to rise above without a major presence of ads on broadcast television.”

via Poll: Jack Kingston, Karen Handel fighting for 2nd in Ga. Senate race | savannahnow.com.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 24, 2014

The Library of Congress was founded on April 24, 18000 and is the largest library in the world today.

Jack Kingston was born on April 24, 1955. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1984 and served four terms and in 1992 was elected to the United States Congress.

“Georgia On My Mind” became the official state song on April 24, 1979, when Governor George Busbee signed legislation designating it.

IBM introduced the Personal Computer Model 5150 on April 24, 1981, though some authorities date the introduction to April 12. It sported an Intel 8088 processor at 4.77 Mhz, a whopping 16k of RAM, which was expandable to 256k, and a clicky keyboard. The initial price tag was $1565, equivalent to more than $4000 today.

Gov. Deal signs legislation

Governor Nathan Deal continues to sign legislation for the next several days. Click here for a comprehensive list of bills he has signed so far this year.

Yesterday, Gov. Deal signed House Bill 60, often referred to simply as “the gun bill.”

“We as Georgians believe in the right of people to defend themselves, therefore we believe in the Second Amendment….  Thomas Jefferson told the world, in the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. He believed in the right to bear arms. He said, and I quote, ‘”The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.’”

That Jefferson quote appears to be spurious, though the sentiment is accurate.

The bill has received coverage nationally. CNN wrote,

House Bill 60, or the Safe Carry Protection Act of 2014 — which opponents have nicknamed the “guns everywhere bill” — specifies where Georgia residents can carry weapons. Included are provisions that allow residents who have concealed carry permits to take guns into some bars, churches, school zones, government buildings and certain parts of airports.

GeorgiaCarry, which lobbied for the bill, calls it “meaningful pro-gun legislation,” despite it being watered down from the group’s perspective. Still, the group has lauded the legislation, which will go into effect July 1. Americans for Responsible Solutions opposed the bill, calling it “extremism in action.”

Calling it “a great day to reaffirm our liberties,” Deal said the law allows residents to protect their families and expands the list of places where they can legally carry firearms, while allowing certain property owners, namely churches and bars, to make judgments on whether they want worshippers and patrons carrying guns.

“The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should be at the forefront of our minds,” Deal said while touting his NRA endorsement for governor and “A” rating during his 17 years in Congress.

The governor said the law “will protect the constitutional rights of Georgians who have gone through a background check to legally obtain a Georgia Weapons Carry License.

Americans for Responsible Solutions opposed the original bill that GeorgiaCarry pushed for, and while the group is pleased that the version Deal signed Wednesday doesn’t allow guns on college campuses or in churches, except in certain cases, it feels the legislation “takes Georgia out of the mainstream.”

“Among its many extreme provisions, it allows guns in TSA lines at the country’s busiest airport, forces community school boards into bitter, divisive debates about whether they should allow guns in their children’s classrooms, and broadens the conceal carry eligibility to people who have previously committed crimes with guns,” said Pia Carusone, the group’s senior adviser.

Time magazine called it “radical.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Wednesday radical new gun legislation that will allow licensed owners to carry firearms into more public places than at any time in the past century, including government buildings, bars, and a wide variety of public places.

The law, called the “Safe Carry Protection Act,” allows churches to “opt-in” to permit weapons, school districts to appoint staff carrying firearms, and requires bars to opt out if they wish to ban firearms, NBC reports. Gun owners caught at airport security checkpoints can pick up their weapons and leave with no criminal penalty.

Critics have called the new legislation the “Guns Everywhere Bill,” and gun control groups including Americans for Responsible Solutions and Mayors Against Illegal Guns have strongly criticized the bill, as has the executive director of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, Frank Rotondo. “Police officers do not want more people carrying guns on the street,” said Rotondo, “particularly police officers in inner city areas.”

Predictably, FoxNews took a different tone.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday signed legislation significantly expanding gun rights in the state.

The bill, described by the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm as “the most comprehensive pro-gun reform legislation introduced in recent state history,” expands the scope of public places where licensed owners are allowed to carry firearms.

Associated Press had the money quote:

House Speaker David Ralston offered a thinly veiled critique of those who might oppose the bill while describing the people of his district.

“This is the apple capital of Georgia. And, yes, it’s a community where we cling to our religion and our guns,” Ralston said, drawing big applause in referencing a past comment made by President Barack Obama.

Via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, here’s a link to the Senate Research Office report on the bill.

The Washington Post has a good rundown on what HB 60 actually does.

One aspect of the bill is that it now allows the use of suppressors for hunting, a change lauded by the American Silencer Association and a local manufacturer.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis says the bill will present some challenges for local law enforcement.

Nunn 2014 a roadmap for Hilary 2016?

Yesterday, I wrote at InsiderAdvantage.com that a Michelle Nunn victory in Georgia changes the electoral map dramatically for 2016 in two important ways. That is behind the paywall, but I have republished it on GaPundit.com for free. Following is an excerpt.

ElectoralCollege2012

The Deep South states of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana were solid red in 2008 and 2012, but Democratic progress in Georgia could remake the electoral college map in 2016. Forty-eight electoral votes are in play in those states, but Georgia’s 16 makes it the biggest target, especially if Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp gets his wish of an “SEC Presidential Primary.”

ElectoralCollege2008

A Michelle Nunn victory this November means that even in less-promising circumstances than 2016, demographic changes will have moved Georgia into the purple category. And it would give the eventual Democratic nominee a much-needed Peach State ally.

Beyond that, however, it changes the dynamic in the Democratic Presidential nomination race by allowing Hilary Clinton to argue that a woman can put in play states otherwise considered at least likely Republican.

Campaigns and Elections

I generally don’t comment on polling done by InsiderAdvantage, because I work on their website, but an article at zpolitics requires a rebuttal with better information rather than hand-picked polls chosen to undermine IA’s reputation. Here’s what zpolitics wrote:

The race for the Republican nomination to fill retiring Saxby Chambliss’s U.S. Senate seat has besieged Georgians with a myriad of polls.

But how accurate are these polls and how much credibility should they command?

In seeking answers to these questions, we looked back  to the last time there was a wide open, statewide GOP Primary in Georgia: the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

With the benefit of hindsight, it seems implausible that then-Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine led the race for the majority of the primary. But that’s precisely what happened. In fact, Oxendine set the pace until late summer, or at least according to the polling at the time:

  • On May 30th, Insider Advantage had Oxendine in the lead at 23%, with Deal in second at 15%, followed by Karen Handel at 14%.
  • On July 5th – just two weeks out from election day – Insider Advantage again had Oxendine in the lead, tied with Karen Handel at 18%. Deal was a distant 3rd at 12%.

As we all know, Oxendine failed miserably, finishing a distant 4th on Election Day, with Karen Handel and Nathan Deal heading into a runoff.

So what can we learn from these polling blunders? We’re just four weeks away from Election Day and, if we attempt to foretell the primary victor based upon surveys produced by some of Georgia’s pollsters, there’s a chance we may all end up with egg on our faces on May 21st.

To be fair, it was an InsiderAdvantage poll that first showed Karen Handel moving into a statistical dead heat with Oxendine. Here’s what my predecessor Dick Pettys wrote on July 5, 2010:

A new InsiderAdvantage poll conducted this week for WSB-TV shows the Republican gubernatorial race in Georgia is now neck-and-neck between Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, for months the unquestioned king of the polling hill in this campaign, and former Secretary of State Karen Handel.

For the next two weeks, four polls showed the lead swapping between Oxendine and Handel, and only beginning July 13, 2010 did polls settle on Handel in first place. IA’s last poll of the Primary showed Handel and Deal in first and second.

As it turns out, a more accurate measure than any single was the RealClearPolitics.com average. That’s why, rather than relying on any single poll, I prefer to use a weighted average I call the GaPundit Polling Index.

While we’re discussing zpolitics, I was on with Martha Zoller and Tim Bryant earlier this week, discussing the Senate race.

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In the Senate race, Congressman Phil Gingrey has a new television ad up:

From the press release:

The ad features the story of Patti Saylor, who turned to Rep. Gingrey for help when seeking answers from the Department of Defense that she – and the Saylor family – deserved after her son, U.S. Army Sergeant Paul Saylor, was tragically killed while on duty serving in Iraq.

In the First Congressional District race, Dr. Bob Johnson has his first ad up.

Rick W. Allen dropped his first ad in the 12th Congressional District race to meet incumbent Democratic Congressman John Barrow in November.

Governor Nathan Deal is asking for campaign volunteers to help at the campaign headquarters on Saturday.

Tractor Pull in 12th Congressional District?

Yesterday, we received competing announcements. State Rep. Delvis Dutton announced the “Farmers for Delvis Coalition,” in his campaign for 12th District GOP nomination.

Kyle Durrence, a Reidsville pecan farmer, said, “I’m enthusiastically supporting Delvis because he understands the importance of farming not only for South Georgia, but for the entire country. The agriculture community has no better friend than Delvis Dutton –  he’s one of us.” Delvis has been a strong advocate for the agriculture community while in Atlanta and will continue to look out for the best interests of Georgia farmers.

Meanwhile Rick Allen announced the Chair of “Farmers for Rick,”

Rick Allen Announces H.G. Yeomans as Farmers For Rick Coalition Chair.

Yeomans, of Swainsboro, endorsed Rick by saying, “I support Rick Allen because he understands the importance of a strong farming and agricultural economy. I believe Rick Allen’s conservative ideas will help lead our country back to the principles we believe in.”

At the risk of invoking the spectre of Lee Anderson, I can say there’s only one way to settle the battle of the “Farmers for” groups: tractor pull.

Georgia Politics, Campaign, and Elections for April 18, 2014

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and William Dawes mounted up on horseback to warn of British troops on their way to confiscate American arms and to warn patriots Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who the British sought to capture.

By 1775, tensions between the American colonies and the British government had approached the breaking point, especially in Massachusetts, where Patriot leaders formed a shadow revolutionary government and trained militias to prepare for armed conflict with the British troops occupying Boston. In the spring of 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British governor of Massachusetts, received instructions from Great Britain to seize all stores of weapons and gunpowder accessible to the American insurgents. On April 18, he ordered British troops to march against Concord and Lexington.

The Boston Patriots had been preparing for such a British military action for some time, and, upon learning of the British plan, Revere and Dawes set off across the Massachusetts countryside. They took separate routes in case one of them was captured….

About 5 a.m. on April 19, 700 British troops under Major John Pitcairn arrived at the town to find a 77-man-strong colonial militia under Captain John Parker waiting for them on Lexington’s common green. Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment’s hesitation, the Americans began to drift off the green. Suddenly, the “shot heard around the world” was fired from an undetermined gun, and a cloud of musket smoke soon covered the green. When the brief Battle of Lexington ended, eight Americans lay dead and 10 others were wounded; only one British soldier was injured. The American Revolution had begun.

President William H. Taft learned on April 18, 1912 of the death of his military aide, Major Archibald Butts of Augusta, Georgia on RMS Titanic.

The honeybee was recognized as the official state insect of Georgia on April 18, 1975.

On April 18, 2006, Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation establishing February 6 of each year as “Ronald Reagan Day” in Georgia and celebrating the date of President Reagan’s birth.

Georgia Politics

Yesterday, InsiderAdvantage released a poll for Fox 5 Atlanta and Morris News on the United States Senate race and the Gubernatorial contest. As a disclaimer, I work for InsiderAdvantage, writing for the InsiderAdvantage.com website, but am not involved in their polling.

The race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate shows political newcomer David Perdue leading 3 congressmen and a former Georgia Secretary of State.

David Perdue: 19%
Jack Kingston: 15%
Karen Handel: 13%
Paul Broun: 11%
Phil Gingrey: 9%
Other: 1%
Undecided: 32%

In the race for the GOP nomination for Governor of Georgia, incumbent Nathan Deal has an overwhelming lead over his two opponents. The results are:

Nathan Deal: 61%
David Pennington: 7%
John Barge: 4%
Undecided: 28%

Matt Towery of InsiderAdvantage was quoted:

“Handel shows the most momentum at the moment,” he said. “Kingston has solidified second place with his more recent ‘Obamacare’ ad featuring images of Barack Obama engaged in leaving a faux voicemail for Kingston. But his first round of ads featuring an old station wagon clearly hurt him with female voters who tend to dominate the metro-Atlanta electorate.”

Handel’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, stressed that she has spent little on advertising while Perdue and Kingston have each invested more than $1 million on television.

“We feel confident that as we spread Karen’s message of achieving conservative results, we will continue to grow our momentum,” he said.

Within an hour of the poll’s release, the Handel campaign sent an email to supporters stating, “a new poll released this afternoon has Karen Handel surging,” and soliciting contributions to help “keep the momentum going.”

Yesterday afternoon, I spoke to Eric Tanenblatt and Tharon Johnson, both from the McKenna Long law firm here in Atlanta. In 1992, Eric Tanenblatt was Political Director for Paul Coverdell’s Senate campaign, and I interned there. Since then, Eric has become a nationally-recognized Republican political strategist and served as a political advisor and National Finance Co-Chair for Governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential campaign as well as Georgia’s State Chairman for President George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000. Tharon Johnson managed Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s first winning campaign in 2009 and National Southern Regional Director for the 2012 Obama For America campaign, leading the presidential re-election campaign efforts for 11 southern states, including two key battleground states, Florida and North Carolina.

Here’s the take on yesterday’s poll and what it means for the Republican nomination for United States Senate from two of the top political operatives in the country.

It was an honor to talk to these gentlemen and be allowed to pick their brains on polling and politics nationally and in Georgia. I learned more in an hour there than in anything else I’ve done in recent years.

Hopefully, we’ll be talking more in the future.

As it happens, I had met Tharon the night before on the set of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “On the Story.” It was a pleasure to be with hosts Bill Nigut and Bobbie Battista, as well as fellow panelists Jim Galloway of the AJC, Jackie Cushman, and of course, Tharon. Here’s a clip.

Handel also announced earlier this week that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is endorsing her campaign for Senate.

Yesterday, Congressman Jack Kingston received the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in his bid for United States Senate. Here is Jim Galloway’s analysis of what it means:

solidifying [Kingston's] position as the choice of the business establishment and representing a blow to businessman David Perdue, who is fighting in the same space of the Republican primary electorate.

The Chamber can back up its endorsement with independent spending, though political director Rob Engstrom would not reveal any plans for a buy. The group has already spent $500,000 each backing Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., in their primaries against tea party insurgents.

Word is Perdue had a testy interview with the Chamber, but Kingston also mostly votes with the Chamber’s wishes: He got 75 percent on the group’s scorecard last year, compared with 67 percent for Rep. Phil Gingrey and 46 percent for Rep. Paul Broun.

I think that it also hurts Kingston in some quarters, Tea Party-type conservative activists who are suspicious of anyone who appears too close to the Chamber of Commerce may distance themselves from his campaign at this point. But to the extent that Kingston wishes to discuss economic development, and fostering both the Port of Savannah and agriculture, Georgia’s largest industry, it enhances his ability to discuss business development and job growth.

Speaking of job growth, yesterday saw the announcement that Georgia’s unemployment rate dipped again, for the ninth consecutive month. This marks the lowest unemployment rate since September 2008, and the lowest since Governor Nathan Deal took office. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Deal campaign is talking to their media strategists about adding that point to the currently-running TV ad.

We’ll wrap up this morning’s news with a look at John McCallum’s newest commercial featuring his wife Heather, who just happened to have been the first deaf person selected as Miss America, winning in 1995. Heather has an impeccable Republican pedigree herself, having spoken at the 1996 and 2000 Republican National Conventions.

 

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 9, 2014

After two days of exchanging letters with his Union counterpart, Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee agreed to meet and make arrangements for the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. At 2 PM, Lee and Grant met in a private home owned by Wilmer McLean at Appomattox Court House, Virginia and Lee agreed to the surrender of his army.

Lee was resplendent in his dress uniform and a fine sword at his side. Grant arrived wearing a simple soldier’s coat that was muddy from his long ride. The great generals spoke of their service in the Mexican War, and then set about the business at hand. Grant offered generous terms. Officers could keep their side arms, and all men would be immediately released to return home. Any officers and enlisted men who owned horses could take them home, Grant said, to help put crops in the field and carry their families through the next winter. These terms, said Lee, would have “the best possible effect upon the men,” and “will do much toward conciliating our people.” The papers were signed and Lee prepared to return to his men.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcV8FPir-HI&t=49m25s

An excellent account of the laying down of their arms on April 12, 1865, by the Army of Northern Virginia was written by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

On April 9, 1968, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta held the funeral for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. More than 100,000 mourners reportedly showed up for the funeral, which could accomodate only 800; 200,000 mourners followed the mule-drawn hearse to Morehouse College.

Campaigns & Elections

It’s not really a campaign, but Governor Deal makes a cameo in the new “Chop Arm Strong” video.

State Senator Buddy Carter has a second ad out in his Congressional bid, again touting his credentials as a pharmacist.

Since at least 2009, Gallup polling has shown pharmacists to be one of the most-trusted pharmacists by survey respondents, and Gallup’s December 2013 ratings showed pharmacists ranked second for honesty and ethical standards. Also unsurprising, Gallup found the two lowest ranked professions are car salesmen and Members of Congress.

Phil Gingrey’s television debut this cycle hasn’t exactly gone as planned.

(Hat tip to Georgia Tipsheet for capturing the video above)

What was expected to be a soft opener for more than $700k in media time bought by the Gingrey campaign turned into a SuperPAC slap and the resulting recriminations. From Daniel Malloy of the AJC:

Ending Spending PAC has been on the air in Georgia hitting Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, but the group does not limit its antipathy to Democrats: It’s now attacking Rep. Phil Gingrey.

The group, funded by Ameritrade founder and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts, has bought $1.3 million in ad time between now and the May 20 primary. We assumed this was all to bash Nunn, but that is not the case.

The Ending Spending ad comes as Gingrey — sitting on more $2 million at the beginning of the year — announces he’s back up on the air with his ad pledging to repeal Obamacare or go home after one term. He’s bought time through primary day.

Gingrey’s campaign responded swiftly, issuing a statement from Campaign Manager Patrick Sebastian:

“This attack on Rep. Gingrey is a clear indication his establishment opponents see he’s on-the-move, and is the most viable conservative in the race.

“The attacks on conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey from this special interest group are straight out of Barack Obama’s liberal playbook. Georgians will not let these Chicago-style tactics on leaders who have proven records in cutting spending, protecting our military and veterans, and fighting Obamacare stop them from supporting conservative Republicans like Phil Gingrey.”

Later yesterday an email to supporters sounded this note:

Their motivation is a clear indication that his establishment opponents see he’s moving up in the polls, and is the most viable Constitutional conservative in the race for U.S. Senate.

Twice named most conservative member of Congress, the establishment will stop at nothing to elect a moderate to the U.S. Senate.

They know Phil has fought to reduce the debt, cut the deficit, cap spending, balance the budget, and — throughout his time in D.C. — has returned more than $1.4 million of his personal office’s funds to the U.S. Treasury.

Most importantly, they know Phil will never waver on our conservative values.

Here’s the ad that Gingrey put at least part of his $725k ad buy behind.

New Polling Index for Governor’s Race

Yesterday, we got our hands on a new poll in the Governor’s race between Republican incumbent Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger Jason Carter, this one by Public Policy Polling (PPP) and sponsored by ultra-lefties MoveOn.org. Hat tip to Greg Bluestein for bringing it to our attention and providing the documents.

If the election for Governor were held today, would you vote for Jason Carter or Nathan Deal?

Jason Carter …………………………………………… 43%
Nathan Deal ……………………………………………. 42%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 15%

If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3.

Democrat ……………………………………………….. 35%
Republican ……………………………………………… 36%
Independent / Other …………………………………. 29%

We have re-calculated the Polling Index for this race. Below is a chart of the three-poll index and tables that also include a four-poll version.

3-poll index Governor 04082014

Deal v Carter
 
 
 
 
 
 
JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril 1April 8
Nathan Deal4745384342
Jason Carter3842413943
NetDeal +9Deal +3Carter +3Deal +4Carter +1

Here’s the weighted average for the last three polls:

3-Poll Index
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014
Change
 
 
 
Deal42.642.5-.1
Carter38.739.7+1

And the weighted average for the last four polls:

4-Poll Index
April 1, 2014
April 8, 2014
Change
 
 
 
Deal43.642.4-1.2
Carter38.538.6+0.1

The weighted average or index looks backwards at the most recent 3 or 4 polls and computes an average that account for the sample size. An 800 sample survey will have more effect on the final number than a 400 sample survey.

This naturally reduces the appearance of volatility and, we think, accounts for differences in pollsters’ methods.

Will Keystone XL open a rift on the left?

Michelle Nunn, the presumed Democratic nominee for United States Senate has endorsed the Keystone XL pipeline. WIll this open a rift within the Democratic Party?

“I have a lot of friends who have different perspectives on Keystone,” Nunn said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We need to continue to focus on green energy and finding sustainable sources of energy, but I do believe we should move forward with Keystone.”
Keystone XL remains a contentious issue on Capitol Hill as Republicans crank up pressure on President Obama to sign it. Nunn would be among the ranks of other oil and gas-friendly Democrats, like Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Mark Begich (Alaska), who support the pipeline.

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