Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 8, 2014

Last night, I got to be on GPB’s “On the Story,” with hosts Bill Nigut and Bobbie Battista, AJC writer Jim Galloway, columnist Jackie Cushman, and former Congressman Buddy Darden.

We started with the Bob Johnson video, and I gave this pro-tip:

I always tell new candidates, “if you find yourself prefacing a statement with ‘this is going to sound crazy,’ you should immediately drop the mic and walk off stage.”

Congress passed the second part of the Militia Act on May 8, 1792, requiring all able-bodied white male citizens to be enrolled in the militia.

Coca-Cola was first served at Jacobs’ Pharmacy in Atlanta on May 8, 1886.

A Constitutional Convention convened on May 8, 1798 in Louisville, Georgia to rewrite the state Constitution after the Yazoo Land Fraud.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed in Augusta, Georgia on May 8, 1845.

On May 8, 1864, Union forces under Sherman continued to engage Confederates at the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge four miles west of Dalton, Georgia.

Elsewhere on the same day, the Army of the Potomac under Grant reached Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and found that Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had beaten them there from the Battle of the Wilderness.

On May 8, 1977, the Grateful Dead played at Cornell University’s Barton Hall, years later the show is widely considered to be their best ever. Here’s the best song from the best show.

Governor Sonny Perdue signed legislation designating the current state flag on May 8, 2003.

Senate Debate Saturday

Saturday, the GAGOP Senate Debate World Tour will touchdown at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts in Columbus.

The debate will begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on WRBL News 3 and streamed on The debate can be heard in the Columbus area on Boomer 95.3 FM or statewide on select radio affiliates of the The Georgia News Network.
Candidates Paul Broun, Art Gardner, Phil Gingrey, Derrick Grayson, Karen Handel, Jack Kingston and David Perdue will all take part in the debate.
News 3’s Phil Scoggins will serve as moderator. News 3’s Teresa Whitaker and GNN’s John Clark will join a media panel made up of local journalists in questioning the candidates.

A limited number of tickets are available to the public wishing to sit in the audience. Tickets can be reserved by clicking here.

A Few of My Favorite Things

This recording by John Coltrane:

Today is National Coconut Cream Pie Day.

Trip Advisor has righteously ranked Georgia as the Number One State for Barbecue in the Nation. Governor Deal should issue a press release about this immediately. Three Georgia Barbecue spots ranked in the top ten nationally. But any top ten list that leaves out Fox Brothers and Community Q is suspect.

Let me know your favorite place for Coconut Cream Pie and/or Barbecue in Georgia. Because GaPundit will roadtrip for good food.

Georgia Senate Race

Another poll has been released showing David Perdue continuing in the lead, followed by Karen Handel in second place, and with Jack Kingston in third.

Here’s what I think the sum of polling in the United State Senate race shows: a close three way race between Perdue, Handel, and Kingston. The results after May 20th may be different than what we’re seeing now, but it’s very likely two of those three will be headed into a runoff.

David Perdue – 23.1%
Karen Handel – 21%
Jack Kingston – 15.1%
Paul Broun – 8.6%
Phil Gingrey – 8.5%
Undecided – 20.1%

Before that poll was released, I spoke to David Lightman of McClatchy News, who was writing a story about what the North Carolina Senate results tell us about the influence of the Tea Party. Here’s the full text of what I wrote to him:

The Tillis win, though impressive, differs from Georgia’s primary in two material ways.

First, 46 percent does not avoid a runoff in Georgia, and runoffs may favor grassroots organization and enthusiasm that are the hallmarks of Tea Party groups.

Second, with fewer candidates, the North Carolina Primary presented different math. Three Members of Congress in Georgia all have geographic bases within their own districts. Karen Handel has a geographic and personal base from the 2010 campaign, and David Perdue is winning the advertising war. With five major candidates, the likelihood of a primary is higher, and at least in theory, the threshold to get a ticket to the second round is lower. That raises the possibility of someone making a runoff with 17-23% of the Primary vote, which might leave the door open to a candidate with a geographic base and grassroots enthusiasm.

The most important thing I’m going to be looking at in the coming days, in terms of drawing conclusions about Georgia’s primary are turnout statistics from North Carolina. If it’s true that turnout was pretty light, that may mean similar numbers in Georgia.

Part of the rationale for moving the Primary election earlier than it’s ever been was to grow turnout among suburban, middle class, and family-type Republicans who might be on vacation during the summer. But what appears to be lower turnout in early and advance voting, if coupled with lower turnout in North Carolina, might suggest lower turnout.

A lower turnout race usually favors ideologically-driven and personally-charismatic candidates like Paul Broun.

Today, I think the window of opportunity is closing fast for Broun, and has probably shut for Phil Gingrey. But turnout remains the million-dollar question, and that is currently unsettled.

Here are Early/Advance Voting statistics as of yesterday’s file release by the Secretary of State’s office.

Top Five Counties for Early/Absentee Votes
Early/Absentee Votes by Party
Missing data…..447………..<1%
Early/Absentee Votes by Gender
Missing data……..14
Early/Absentee Votes by Race
Amer. Ind. or Alaska Nat……22……….<1%
Asian or Pacific Islander……262………<1%
Black, not Hispanic………24,617…..28.60%
White, not Hispanic……..58,229…..67.08%

This morning, I wrote at about how turnout may affect the Senate race:

It’s that top tier of Perdue, Handel, and Kingston, that is of most interest and where turnout will come in. It’s commonly-held that intensity of support affects the turnout of a candidate’s supporters and in that informal measure, I give a slight edge to Karen Handel first, and Jack Kingston second. Low turnout, especially in Metro Atlanta makes the scenario of a Handel v. Kingston runoff election plausible.

Part of that informal turnout analysis is that much of Perdue’s support is based primarily on his campaign television ads, which can boost support among less-active voters, but rarely affects the decisions of hardcore voters and activists unless it is accompanied by personal outreach by the candidate and his campaign.

And this intensity or propensity to turnout is where Tea Party groups and voters become important. It’s also where the Democrats may have or develop an edge.

The Obama victories in 2008 and 2012 were thought to be internet-driven, but I’ve come to the conclusion that they were really turnout-driven, and that their turnout efforts were aided by the internet.

Sasha Issenberg wrote about this in November 2012 when the Obama reelection was still fresh.

Democrats have proved themselves better—more disciplined, rigorous, serious, and forward-looking—at nearly every aspect of the project of winning elections.

After losing even more dramatically in 2008, Republicans acknowledged that Obama’s campaign was tactically superior and technically more advanced than John McCain’s, and the party’s operatives leafed through David Plouffe’s memoir, The Audacity to Win, for clues on what the Democrats did right….

If Republicans brought consumer data into politics during Bush’s re-election, Democrats are mastering the techniques that give campaigns the ability to understand what actually moves voters. As a result, Democrats are beginning to engage a wider set of questions about what exactly a campaign is capable of accomplishing in an election year: not just how to modify nonvoters’ behavior to get them to the polls, but what exactly can change someone’s mind outside of the artificial confines of a focus group.

Going beyond that, I would say that it wasn’t just the targeting and analytics that made the Obama campaign different, but also the connection they forged between the campaign and the individual voters, and they way they made voters interact.

Tea Party groups vary not just ideologically (Green Tea, anyone?) but in whether they actually meet, or have only an internet presence. That leads to two important effects with respect to campaigns. First, it’s hard to claim the mantel of “Tea Party candidate,” since there are so many groups and they all have their own ways of supporting candidates. Many have viewed Paul Broun as the “Tea Party” candidate, but recent endorsements of Karen Handel by Tea Party Express and Sarah Palin give her a colorable claim.

For voters who attend Tea Party events, it gives them two important connections to candidates. They are likely to meet many of the candidates, and that face-to-face campaigning can make them stronger supporters of whomever they decide to vote for. And attending Tea Party events also make them more likely to pay attention to local elections, enhancing turnout.

For reporters not immersed in the election process, I suspect it’s tempting to view the Tea Party in terms of how it affects strategy, who is the “Tea Party candidate,” and to view them as competing with the Chambers of Commerce or more traditional political action groups. But the distributed leadership and variety of Tea Party groups makes them different and makes the mechanism through which they affect elections different, and makes it difficult for traditional journalists to asses the effect they will have on Georgia’s 2014 Senate race.

Georgia Tea Party Inc Solar

In my unofficial, totally-subjective rankings, The Georgia Tea Party, based in Marietta, is one of the stronger and more effective Tea Party groups in the state. Tonight, from 7 to 9 PM, they will meet at Roswell Street Baptist Church, 900 Roswell Street, Marietta, GA, to hear from Virginia Galloway, Regional Field Director of Faith and Freedom Coalition and longtime State Director of Americans for Prosperity.

John Linder active again in Georgia

This week, former Georgia Congressman John Linder endorsed Donna Sheldon for Congress in the Tenth District.

“I have known and supported Donna since she first began her service in the Georgia State House,” Linder said. “She has been a wonderful public servant for her constituents, and I am certain that her integrity and commitment to service will follow her to Congress. Furthermore, Donna is committed to the FairTax and I believe the best candidate to help further that important reform bill. I am proud to endorse her candidacy for Congress, and I know her presence there will yield results.”

“No endorsement in this race could make me prouder or have more impact than John Linder’s,” Donna said. “He fought for real reforms in Washington and that is exactly what I intend to do as well: starting with the Fair Tax.”

Just now, I received an email from Jack Kingston saying that Linder has endorsed him for the United States Senate.

“I recruited Jack Kingston 30 years ago to run for the Georgia House,” said Linder.  “Eight years later we were both elected to Congress and Jack became our representative on the Appropriations Committee.  Jack took that responsibility seriously and, while Congress often just argues over cutting the rate of growth, Jack actually cut spending.”

“When I introduced the Fair Tax in 1999, Jack was an early co-sponsor and is still working to pass the bill,” Linder continued.

“Over the last 30 years Lynne and I became friends with Libby too,” said Linder.  “We know their kids and think the world of the Kingston family. That is reason enough for us to endorse Jack Kingston to be Georgia’s next Senator.  But I always come back to the spending.  Jack Kingston is serious about cutting spending and deserves your vote!”


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