The Marietta Daily Journal – Officials see light early voting turnout

“It’s been very slow” said Janine Eveler, director of the Cobb Board of Elections.

As of Wednesday, 8,514 people had cast ballots, either by coming to an early voting polling station or by mailing in absentee ballots, according to the county.

There are 392,761 registered voters in Cobb, Eveler said.

In-person votes during the early voting period are tallied along party lines. As of Wednesday, 5,565 Republicans have voted at an early voting polling station. For Democrats, 1,586 have come in early to vote, and 28 non-partisan voters have cast their ballots.

Of the 2,512 absentee ballots issued by the county, 1,335 have been tallied as of Wednesday.

Mail-in ballots are not broken down along party lines when counted.

Eveler stressed all absentee ballots will be counted before election officials are allowed to go home on Election Day.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Officials see light early voting turnout.

Capitol Impact: Who Will Win the Republican Senate Primary? | Flagpole Magazine | Athens, GA News, Music, Arts, Restaurants

In one more week, Georgia will hold its earliest primary election ever and give a definitive answer on the race everybody is watching, the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. Recent polls have established some clear trend lines as to which GOP candidates should advance to the runoff election.

Businessman David Perdue has been running in first place, but his support has fluctuated below the 30 percent level. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah and former secretary of state Karen Handel appear to be battling for the second spot in the runoff.

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, who’s always had problems raising money, has settled back into fourth place, while Rep. Phil Gingrey of Cobb County has dropped to fifth place in most recent polls.

These trends suggest it will be Perdue facing either Kingston or Handel in a hellacious runoff election. But if there’s one lesson we should have learned about Georgia politics, it is that polls in a primary campaign can be very unreliable. To illustrate, we need look no farther back than the Republican primary in the governor’s race four years ago.

For months in 2010, the poll results kept telling us that John Oxendine, a highly controversial insurance commissioner for 16 years, was leading the primary field and seemed to be the most likely nominee to run against former governor Roy Barnes in the general election. I’m not talking about dubious surveys conducted by sloppy polling firms, either. These included polls commissioned by the state’s largest newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on behalf of a consortium of Georgia newspapers that paid big bucks for the survey numbers. Just six days prior to the primary election, the Journal-Constitution released a poll showing Oxendine in first place with 31 percent among likely Republican primary voters, with Karen Handel at 23 percent, and Nathan Deal at 18 percent.

via Capitol Impact: Who Will Win the Republican Senate Primary? | Flagpole Magazine | Athens, GA News, Music, Arts, Restaurants.

Tuesday’s election results might depend on voter turnout | Online Athens

ATLANTA | Anyone wishing a bigger say in government should vote Tuesday since signs of an unusually low turnout suggest every vote cast might carry more meaningful consequences.

“We are closing in on what appears likely to be a very weak, or low-voter-turnout primary on May 20,” said pollster Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage. “We are now thinking that the actual vote on Tuesday could be at least 100,000 votes fewer than it was in the GOP primary of 2010, which was our last midterm and gubernatorial cycle.”

Early expectations are for an about a 16-percent voter turnout, which is less than half of the likely turnout in November.

The Republicans have contested races for U.S. senator, governor, superintendent of schools, public-service commissioner, congress in districts like the 1st, 10th and 12th, and a handful of legislative districts.

Democrats’ main decisions are for Senate, insurance commissioner, superintendent and secretary of state. Since the heaviest advertising has been for the GOP Senate race, that’s drawing the most voters. In early voting, two of every three ballots cast were in the Republican primary.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Republicans will dominate in the general election because the Democratic governor’s race isn’t contested and their Senate primary is so lopsided in favor of Michelle Nunn that many Democrats may see little reason to bother voting.

On the other hand, heated mayoral races in Athens, Augusta and Columbus are driving turnout. As a result, Muscogee and Richmond were two of the five top counties in terms of early voting turnout. Already 8,500 people have voted in Columbus and 7,100 in Augusta, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, which didn’t release the Clarke County figures.

Candidates are doing what they can in the remaining hours to spur turnout. Most spent the weekend bouncing from one rally to another, and the statewide contenders who have the money will zoom around Georgia by plane on Monday. All the while, they are airing TV ads, sending mailers and having volunteers and machines call supporters.

via Tuesday’s election results might depend on voter turnout | Online Athens.

Senate hopefuls claim ‘business’ label in Georgia | GainesvilleTimes.com

ATLANTA — The leading candidates in Georgia’s crowded Republican Senate primary are all claiming the pro-business mantle as they battle each other and chase conservative voters.

One of the front-runners, Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah, pitches his U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsement as proof of his commitment to the private sector, despite two decades on Capitol Hill. But another contender, wealthy businessman David Perdue, hangs his entire campaign on the argument that voters should elect a former corporate CEO instead of politicians like Kingston, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel or two other congressmen: Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey.

Handel tells her own private sector story, anchored by a brief stint running a local chamber of commerce in Georgia’s largest county. Gingrey, a six-term congressman, and Broun, who was elected in 2007, tout their work running private physician practices at various points in their careers.

It’s a key dynamic in one of the country’s most closely watched and fiercely fought election-year contests, which will help decide which party controls the Senate for the final two years of President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House.

“This race is going to be all about turnout,” Handel said Friday in Gainesville.

Next Tuesday’s seven-candidate GOP primary is certain send the top two vote finishers to a July 22 runoff, and the eventual nominee will almost certainly face Democratic favorite Michelle Nunn in November. A victory for Nunn, the daughter of former longtime Sen. Sam Nunn, would hand Democrats a once-unlikely pickup of retiring Republican Saxby Chambliss’ seat and dent GOP hopes of reaching the national six-seat gain needed for a majority.

But angling for the business mantle comes with risks in a race where runoff spots could come down to a few thousand votes.

Many verbal attacks are leveled at Perdue, who has spent at least $2.1 million of his own fortune on the primary. He drew criticism this week for telling a Georgia newspaper that solving the nation’s budget woes would take spending cuts and revenue increases. That sounded to some like “raising taxes.”

via Senate hopefuls claim ‘business’ label in Georgia.

Adoptable Georgia Dogs for May 19, 2014 – Smokey and the Bandit Edition

Gandolf

Gandolf is clearly an adult male Basset Hound mix; he loves people, and has a funny personality. He weighs about 65 pounds, which is Basset Hound size. Gandolf is available for adoption from the Henry County Animal Shelter in McDonough, Georgia.

Elvis Cobb

Elvis, a young adult male Basset Hound, was picked up stray and although he was microchipped, a search for his owner ended up empty. He is 6 years old and weighs 55 lbs. He is a sweet guy, with the longest ears! Elvis is current on his vaccines and upon adoption will be neutered. He will also require heartworm treatment, as he is heartworm positive. Elvis is available for adoption from the Cobb County Animal Shelter in Marietta, Ga.

Mack

Mack is a middle-aged Basset Hound, about seven years of age, who was found stray in North Georgia and is undergoing heartworm treatment. When he is healthy enough, Mack will be available for adoption from Basset Hound Rescue of Georgia, based in Marietta, Ga.

Scully

Scully is a German Shepherd/Lab mix who needs a new home no later than Thursday, when she will be taken to the local animal control. Please help keep this youngster out of the pound, where she will probably be euthanized. She’s about 11 months old, weighs 60 pounds, and has been an outdoor dog. Scully loves playing fetch, and would love to learn how to be housebroken and become an indoor dog.

Scully is available for private placement – if you are interested in helping her, please email me directly and I can put you in touch with the folks helping her find a new home.

Loretta

Loretta is a beautiful 5-year old Treeing Walker Coonhound who desperately needs a foster or adoptive home. Coonhounds make excellent lazy indoor companions, but they’re also great for active families. Their personality is friendly, and they quickly become part of your family. Without a new home by 4 PM Tuesday, Loretta will be euthanized on Wednesday morning.

Loretta is available for adoption from Barrow County Animal Shelter in Winder, Ga.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 19, 2014

Button Gwinnett died on May 19, 1777 of a gunshot wound received in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh.

Georgia ratified the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which governs voting for President and Vice President on May 19, 1804.

The Battle of Spotsylvania ended on May 19, 1864. In Georgia, the Affair at Cassville occurred on May 19, 1864.

The Rubik’s Cube is 40 years old today.

When, in the spring of 1974, Ernő Rubik, a Hungarian professor of design, invented his eponymous cube, he had no idea that it would become one of the world’s best-selling toys. Nor did he envision that it would impact fields as diverse as science, art, and design – the subject of “Beyond Rubik’s Cube”, an exhibit at the Liberty Science Center, in Jersey City, New Jersey, that opened 26 April to celebrate the puzzle’s 40th anniversary. And he certainly couldn’t have imagined that, one day, his puzzle would be at the center of a competitive sport in which the top performers can re-solve it in less time than it takes to read this sentence aloud.

The first Rubik’s Cube competitions began in the early 1980s and were largely a promotional affair that vanished with the collapse of the initial fad for the puzzle. But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Internet allowed hobbyists around the world to find each other and run competitions of their own. More than 1,700 competitions have taken place in 66 countries since the 2004 founding of the World Cube Association, a governing body modeled after FIFA, the arbiter of international soccer. (Unlike, soccer, however, there is no qualification for any of these tourneys, including the World Championship: anyone can sign up.)

On May 19, 1977, “Smokey and the Bandit” was released.

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College on May 19, 2013.

Historic Low Voter Turnout?

This weekend I downloaded the latest Secretary of State’s Absentee Voter File and through the end of the early and absentee voting period, 236,001 votes were cast. Early voting is finished, though the total will climb a little bit due to lag in reporting, and mail-in ballots being received.

Compare this to the July 31, 2012 Primary election, when 413,361 early votes were cast, and we have had 43% fewer votes this year than in the 2012 Primary.

Here are some turnout statistics from early and advance voting:

Early Voting by Gender
Female…….54%
Male……….46%

Early Voting by Ethnicity
White………..70%
Black………..26%
Hispanic……<1%
Asian………..<1%
Indigenous…<1%
Unknown…….3%

Early Voting by Party
Democrat……36.91%
Republican….61.92%
Nonpartisan….1.17%

Top Counties
Fulton………15,559
DeKalb…….15,772
Cobb……….12,141
Muscogee…..8,341
Gwinnett…….6,997
Richmond…..6,968
Forsyth………6,499
Chatham……5,509
Cherokee….6,850

Top Congressional Districts
CD2……..22,263
CD9……..21,835
CD10……20,926
CD1……..20,749
CD12……20,407
CD8……..19,899
CD3……..17,669
CD11……15,507

Below is a chart of Google Search volume for “Georgia Governor Election”.

Tom Crawford makes a cogent point about the interaction of low voter turnout and polling:

trends suggest it will be Perdue facing either Kingston or Handel in a hellacious runoff election. But if there’s one lesson we should have learned about Georgia politics, it is that polls in a primary campaign can be very unreliable. To illustrate, we need look no farther back than the Republican primary in the governor’s race four years ago.

For months in 2010, the poll results kept telling us that John Oxendine, a highly controversial insurance commissioner for 16 years, was leading the primary field and seemed to be the most likely nominee to run against former governor Roy Barnes in the general election. I’m not talking about dubious surveys conducted by sloppy polling firms, either. These included polls commissioned by the state’s largest newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, on behalf of a consortium of Georgia newspapers that paid big bucks for the survey numbers. Just six days prior to the primary election, the Journal-Constitution released a poll showing Oxendine in first place with 31 percent among likely Republican primary voters, with Karen Handel at 23 percent, and Nathan Deal at 18 percent.

A look at the RealClearPolitics retrospective on the 2010 Gubernatorial Primary shows that, in fact, the polling picked up a surge for Karen Handel in the first or second week of July 2010, and from one week out, polling consistently showed Handel in first place.

The Gainesville Times discusses local turnout in Hall County and what it could mean on Tuesday.

Hall County is certainly not immune, but low turnout here might be even more pronounced in primary races this year for a few reasons.

First, several local races are uncontested. It also is a nonpresidential election year. And, finally, the primary date was moved up on the calendar this year to coincide with federal election schedules. Taken together, these factors spell trouble for turnout come Tuesday.

There are about 95,000 registered voters in Hall County, but just 2,354 cast ballots during three weeks of early primary voting. Another 409 have returned absentee ballots.

“We’ve had a very low turnout,” Elections Director Charlotte Sosebee said.

The low turnout thus far promises one of two things come Tuesday: The polls will either be dead or swamped, Sosebee said.

The District 4 Public Service Commission Republican primary is perhaps the least heralded of all statewide contests.

The commission regulates the rates and services of Georgia Power, natural gas providers and telecommunications businesses in the state. The commission, however, does not regulate municipal utilities and electric membership corporations, such as Jackson EMC.

But incumbent Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, Hall County Commissioner Craig Lutz and Lavonia general practice attorney Doug Kidd each said they lament the ostensible truth that voters simply are unaware what role the commission plays in their lives.

Closer to home, South Hall races are running hot with two competitive contests that will help determine the course of public policy in the fastest-growing part of the county.

Ken Cochran and Kathy Cooper square off for the District 1 Board of Commissioners seat to replace Lutz.

Without any polling on the race, the front-runner going in is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile, Mark Pettitt and Traci Lawson McBride are challenging incumbent Brian Sloan in the Republican primary for the Post 2 Board of Education seat representing South Hall.

Each candidate has promised not to raise the millage rate to increase the school budget.

Finally, Paul Godfrey will challenge incumbent Bill Thompson in the Republican primary for the at-large Board of Education seat.

In Douglas County, voting has also been slow, according to the Douglas County Sentinel:

As of around noon Friday, the final day of advanced voting, 4 percent, or about 2,800 voters, had cast ballots out of Douglas County’s roughly 70,200 active voters.

About two-thirds of the ballots cast in early voting were in the Republican Primary in Douglas County.

Douglas County Elections Supervisor Laurie Fulton said she was initially projecting between 20 and 25 percent of voters in the county to vote in the primary.

“I guess the best I could say is we hope we can reach that turnout,” Fulton said.

To still reach that projection, there’s going to have to be a heavy influx of voters showing up at precincts around the county on election day.

Advanced voting typically makes up around 30 percent of the total turnout in primary elections, Fulton said.

She speculated that voters may not be turning out to vote because the primary this year is two months earlier than usual and because she said there are “so many unknown names running for office.”

Walter Jones of Morris News places the importance of voter turnout in the context of the United State Senate race:

Anyone wishing a bigger say in government should vote Tuesday since signs of an unusually low turnout suggest every vote cast might carry more meaningful consequences.

“We are closing in on what appears likely to be a very weak, or low-voter-turnout primary on May 20,” said pollster Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage. “We are now thinking that the actual vote on Tuesday could be at least 100,000 votes fewer than it was in the GOP primary of 2010, which was our last midterm and gubernatorial cycle.”

Early expectations are for an about a 16-percent voter turnout, which is less than half of the likely turnout in November.

On the other hand, heated mayoral races in Athens, Augusta and Columbus are driving turnout. As a result, Muscogee and Richmond were two of the five top counties in terms of early voting turnout. Already 8,500 people have voted in Columbus and 7,100 in Augusta, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, which didn’t release the Clarke County figures.

Candidates are doing what they can in the remaining hours to spur turnout. Most spent the weekend bouncing from one rally to another, and the statewide contenders who have the money will zoom around Georgia by plane on Monday. All the while, they are airing TV ads, sending mailers and having volunteers and machines call supporters.

“(GOP Senate candidate) Karen Handel clearly has the most targeted get-out-the-vote effort,” Towery said. “Her use of social media and automated phone calls to her base could give her an extra point or two in the final vote count. (Rival Jack) Kingston has turned around his TV ad campaign, running stronger ads and taking on (businessman David) Perdue. And Perdue is now attacking Kingston as well.”

Turnout in Gwinnnett is lagging as well, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post:

It’s going to be an interesting Election Day,” [Gwinnett Elections Superintendent Lynn Ledford] said. “I really can’t say (how many will turn out), but it’ll be interesting.”

During the early voting period last week, the turnout was light, Ledford said, but it was steady.

As of the end of the day Thursday, about 5,788 ballots had been cast in Gwinnett. That is down compared to four years ago, the last mid-term, gubernatorial election year, when about 9,300 votes were cast during absentee and advanced periods. But Ledford said she isn’t sure if that is an indication that the polling will be light on Tuesday.

“I’m sure there will be lines on election day, but I don’t think it’ll take longer to check in than to vote,” she said.

Bob Barr running for Congress: The bizarre return of Georgia’s unpredictable conservative.

HOLLY SPRINGS, Georgia—The letter was so compelling because no one expected Bob Barr to write it. It was January 2009, shortly after President Obama had put forward Eric Holder as his nominee for attorney general. Barr had just run for president as the Libertarian Party’s nominee, but he remained best-known as the tireless inquisitor of Bill Clinton. Republicans, eager to weaken Obama, were lacerating Holder for his role in Clinton’s pardon of financier Marc Rich. Barr was not.

“Mr. Holder and I may have had disagreements over policy matters during the time he served in the administration of President Clinton,” he wrote. “However, I never had reason to question his personal and professional integrity, or his deep understanding of and commitment to our Constitution and especially the Bill of Rights.” Holder, he suggested, “will restore public confidence in the Department of Justice.”

Barr, at that time, seemed to be morphing into a sort of post-partisan figure. He’d left the GOP for the Libertarian Party in 2006, out of disgust for the Bush administration’s civil liberties record. “I’ve been very pleased to listen to some of the things some of the Democrat leaders are saying,” he told me then. He won the Libertarian nomination by telling activists that he’d “made mistakes,” like backing the war on drugs. “The last few times I’ve been on the same panel as Bob Barr,” Democratic New York Rep. Jerry Nadler told me recently, “we’ve been on the same side.”

via Bob Barr running for Congress: The bizarre return of Georgia’s unpredictable conservative..

RNC clamps down on 2016 primary debates – James Hohmann and Dylan Byers – POLITICO.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Virtually every Republican leader agrees that the 20 GOP debates in the last presidential primary season damaged Mitt Romney — remember “self-deportation”? – and briefly made front-runners out of eventual flameouts like Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.

Party leaders vowed never to let it happen again. On Thursday, they took action, moving at a Republican National Committee meeting here to dramatically cut the number of GOP primary debates — possibly in half.

A group of 13 RNC members, essentially operating under the control of party Chairman Reince Priebus, will choose the timing, location and media partners of the 2015-2016 Republican primary debates. They will insist that conservative panelists join moderators from the mainstream media.

To make it stick, the plan would crack down on candidates who participate in debates that aren’t sanctioned by the party — by barring them from ones that are.

The biggest surprise about the overhaul is how little resistance it met. The new regime will benefit top-tier candidates who don’t need the free media exposure, as well as broadcast networks that spend big money to produce debates and don’t want to put on more than a few of them. The losers are underdog candidates and cable channels, which draw bigger-than-usual audiences on debate nights. It will also mean fewer sponsorship opportunities for non-TV media properties.

The likely result of Thursday’s move: About half as many debates as in 2012 and, potentially, friendlier questions.

via RNC clamps down on 2016 primary debates – James Hohmann and Dylan Byers – POLITICO.com.

AJC poll finds tight races for governor, Senate | www.myajc.com

Democrats have a serious chance to end Republicans’ statewide dominance and win U.S. Senate and governor’s races this year, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll suggests. But the general election contest has yet to truly begin, and GOP candidates will soon sharpen their attacks against their rivals.

The statewide survey found that Gov. Nathan Deal is 3 percentage points ahead of Democrat Jason Carter in his bid for a second term, within the poll’s statistical margin of error. At the same time, Deal’s approval ratings have lodged at 44 percent, below the 50 percent threshold incumbents aim to reach.

Michelle Nunn, the likely Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, has sizable leads against four of the five top GOP contenders for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. She polls only 1 percentage point ahead of David Perdue, a Fortune 500 executive who is among the front-runners for the GOP runoff in July.

The poll is good news for Democrats hoping the party can harness a rising number of minority voters and other newcomers in November rather than waiting for future election cycles, as national political observers envision Georgia as a swing state in the making. But there’s a long way to go.

Top Democrats are untested in statewide campaigns and have faced few attacks at this point. Deal’s campaign has so far ignored Carter in its feel-good ad campaign, and Republican Senate candidates are busy battering each other ahead of the May 20 primary. The independent voters who are likely to swing the race lean Republican, the poll shows.

via AJC poll finds tight races for governor, Senate | www.myajc.com.