Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 15, 2014

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for April 15, 2014

On April 15, 1741, the Georgia colony was divided into two counties – Savannah County and Frederica County.

GeorgiaCountyMap1741

Map courtesy of Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

On April 15, 1776, the Georgia Provincial Congress issued “Rules and Regulations,” which would serve as an interim state Constitution until the Constitution of 1777 was adopted.

On April 15, 1783, the United States Congress ratified a preliminary peace treaty with Great Britain, which was signed in November 1782.

President Abraham Lincoln died on April 15, 1865 of a gunshot suffered the previous evening.

The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association was formed on April 15, 1966 to assist and honor Confederate veterans. One of its most well-known projects was the “Lion of the Confederacy” memorial in Oakland Cemetery.

Photo: J. Glover (AUTiger)

Photo: J. Glover (AUTiger)

RMS Titanic sunk at 2:20 AM on April 15,1912.

Jackie Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia, became the first African-American professional baseball player in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves. Robinson scored the winning run in that game.

On April 15, 1989, Chinese students and intellectuals in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, mourned the death of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaoban, considered a liberal reformer.

DeForest Kelley, born in Atlanta and known for playing Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Star Trek series, was inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame on April 15, 1992.

One year ago today, two bombs exploded near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon killing three people and wounding more than 260 others.

Georgia Campaigns & Elections

Track City

As a candidate, you know you’re legitimate when another campaign or a party organization assigns a tracker to follow and video you. Daniel Malloy of the AJC writes about the now-ubiquitous practice.

As candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House traverse Georgia in this blockbuster election year, their every utterance is being recorded and filed away in the hope of finding embarrassment, extremism or flip-floppery.

Multiple Georgia U.S. Senate candidates have had controversial comments publicized by trackers, via the news media. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston faced scrutiny in December after a tracker caught him saying children could pay a small fee or “sweep the floor in the cafeteria” in exchange for free school lunches.

In 2012 U.S. Rep. Paul Broun told a crowd at a church in Hartwell that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang Theory are “lies from the pit of hell,” in video posted on the church website and distributed widely by a Democrat-allied super PAC.

Trackers hired to follow foes are as much a staple of the modern political campaign in statewide and national races as a Facebook page. In addition, anyone with a smartphone and a YouTube account can publish an off-message moment. It has made political research more dynamic and made candidates that much more cautious about everything they say.

Bobby Kahn, a Democratic political consultant and former state party chairman, said tracking cameras first started popping up in Georgia in 1990 – but then you had to hire an entire crew.

By 1998, they were becoming more common but still not quite accepted.

Former Secretary of State and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Karen Handel was the guest of honor at a recent GOP breakfast in a downtown Carrollton restaurant. As soon as she began speaking, a young man standing in the back wearing a Kingston sticker whipped out a handheld video camera to film her remarks. No one paid him any mind.

When Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn showed up in Washington on Thursday, apparently for a fundraiser, she was greeted by two trackers as she exited her car. One asked “Why are you in Washington, D.C., raising money from lobbyists this morning?” Nunn did not respond, carrying on a conversation with a companion instead.

In Georgia, individual campaigns are doing some tracking, but state Democratic and Republican parties, and Washington-based outside groups have broader footprints.

The infamous remarks by then-Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., about “legitimate rape” – which killed his chances at a U.S. Senate seat – came in a local TV interview that might have been overlooked if American Bridge had not fed it to the national media. American Bridge did the same with Broun’s “lies from the pit of hell” video.

America Rising has 20 trackers throughout the country and in Georgia is following Nunn and U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, who faces a tough re-election. The Georgia GOP is following Nunn and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jason Carter.

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight looked at whether candid camera moments are likely to change the dynamic in an election by looking back at three well-know instances; he found that they can be important when they motivate a candidate’s or party’s base.

the Republican PAC America Rising released a video of [Democrat Bruce] Braley, who represents the 1st Congressional District, referring to Iowa’s other senator, Chuck Grassley, as a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.” The comment might seem ill-considered in a state that generates the fourth-highest income per capita from crop production. It has sparked plenty of attention in the local news media; the Des Moines Register, Iowa’s newspaper of record, has published at least 14 pieces on Braley’s comment.

Is Braley’s remark another thing for Democrats to worry about — or is it the latest example of a purported “game changer” that will prove to have little effect?

Gaffes often resonate more with the news media than with voters. A reasonably large body of political science research has found their impact is usually overstated by those who cover campaigns.

Races for the Senate differ [from Presidential campaigns] in some important ways.

First, the candidates are usually less well-known to voters. Braley has strong name recognition in the northeastern quadrant of Iowa, which he represents in Congress. But statewide, 46 percent of Iowans hadn’t known enough about him to form an opinion, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted before the release of the “farmer” video. For some of them, the “farmer” comment will represent their first impression of the candidate.

The second difference is that the presidential race is never a sideshow. By contrast, senatorial campaigns compete against one another for scarce resources, such as funds from campaign committees, and attention from activists and the national press.

Braley’s remark might not matter much unto itself. But it’s plausible that it could spur activists and the news media into evaluating the Iowa race differently.

Got (Ground) Game?

Walter Jones of Morris News writes about modern campaigns and how to look at them for clues about strategy.

What aren’t visible in this phase of campaigns are efforts being made for the coming ground war critical to boosting turnout. Because so many voters who hate politics can’t avoid news about the president, they tend to only vote in presidential elections. Getting them to vote and to choose a particular candidate in an off year like 2014 requires considerable effort.

The Barack Obama campaigns of 2008 and 2012 developed stunningly effective techniques to reach these reluctant voters, largely through social media, email and precisely targeted canvasing. By their nature, these techniques are only obvious to the receiver rather than to outside observers like political reporters and rival campaigns, which is why Republicans were caught off guard by them both years Obama ran.

Staking yard signs on busy roads is a clear tipoff of a campaign’s activity. Blasting thousands of text messages to individual voters isn’t.

The question of get-out-the-vote tactics is also a mystery to pollsters because they don’t know how to adjust the raw results to match expected turnout. If the tactics are successful, there may be more young voters or women or blacks than in a typical off year, rendering a poll inaccurate if it is adjusted to account for the demographic mix of past elections in non-presidential years.

While political junkies can only speculate about what campaign is using which turnout techniques, they do have a front-row seat for watching the air war played out on their television screens. They’ll be making particular note of who has a coherent message and who switches to attack mode and whether the attacked candidates respond in a way that furthers their own message or that strays from it. There should be scorecards printed up for tracking the hits, strikeouts and errors.

For amateur scorekeepers, the first step is to isolate the core message from the trappings. Consider who the target is, such as a candidate talking about taxes or national defense is usually going after men while one talking about education or abortion rights is after younger voters and women.

Then, analyze future messages to see how closely they stick to that original message. It can actually make watching political ads fun, and it’s why diehard politicos are glad their wait is over for this visible phase to finally arrive.

Stuart Rothenberg writes today in RollCall.com about how to assess ground tactics.

In an era of micro-targeting and sophisticated get-out-the-vote operations, how can a handicapper know exactly how an election outcome will be affected by a strong ground game?

For me, the answer has always been pretty obvious: I can’t.

It’s not that I dismiss or undervalue the importance of a campaign’s “field operation” or denigrate the impact of registration efforts or voter turnout strategies by one or both parties. It’s that I have never found a way to measure the impact of “ground game” operations during an election.

Earlier this year, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee disclosed that through its Bannock Street project, it would spend $60 million to put 4,000 paid staffers on the ground in its attempt to retain control of the Senate.

Could Democrats register enough voters or turn out people who previously didn’t vote during midterms to flip a couple of House and Senate contests? Maybe. It certainly seems possible.

“According to Sasha Issenberg, the author of ‘The Victory Lab,’ a good ground operation can add a point or two to the vote,” reported veteran National Public Radio correspondent Mara Liasson in late March. (“Democrats Count On the Fine Art of Field Operations.”)

[W]hen evaluating a candidate’s chances of winning an election — or a party’s prospects across the country — the only way I know of including the results of field operations into my handicapping is through survey data showing enthusiasm and intensity of vote intention. And that certainly won’t show up now or, in all likelihood, for the next few months.When I asked one pollster about the best way to evaluate the impact of a party’s ground game, he told me to “wait until they count the votes.” At that point, it’s possible to compare election results to previous cycles and to consider what changes in turnout took place and how they may have been related to field operations.

Politics365 covers campaigns and elections from the perspective of communities of color. Much has been made of changing demographics in the Peach State, but the question for 2014 is how that will effect the composition of the electorate. Here’s the takeaway from political professional Kirk Clay from a social media conference discussion of Georgia politics from Politics365.

This conference was the launch of a plan to untie and mobilize large numbers of white progressive and “voters of color” (VOC) through the use of “predictive modeling” to strategically micro-target supporters. What’s even more impressive? You could see #GA123’s impact with 200 tweets being reproduced 66 times — a high ratio and strong online activity for a conference of this size.  What’s more, many in the audience were media personalities and local “influencers” with large followings so #GA123 could’ve potentially touched over 120,000 people.

The concept is simple, mobilize progressive voters to take three important steps: 1) Vote in the primary election, 2) early vote in the general election, and 3) get a friend to vote on November 4th.

mpact on Election 2014: “Republican candidates running for Georgia U.S. Senate want low turnout to win. Their support comes from precincts with plenty of older white male voters.” Therefore, the only hope progressives have of holding on the U.S. Senate is with the help of a “Voters of Color Fire Wall.” This wall can be built in “States of Influence” – places like Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina that are not necessarily majority minority but have enough diversity to effect the election. The question is how to ignite the “Rising Electorate” in a midterm.

Case: Georgia is undergoing a remarkable demographic transformation and will soon be an electoral swing state. For these reasons Georgia is at the center of the political universe as it relates to the “Rising Electorate.” As witnessed at the state level in 2012, this rising electorate helped give President Obama 46% (1,773,827) of the Georgia’s vote – only a point off his 2008 performance. More importantly, the VOC vote share grew from 32% in 2008 to 37% for the first time ever. As a result, we now know that a Democrat can successfully win a bid for U.S. Senator with support from 35% of the progressive white vote.

Read that last paragraph again, where it says, “the VOC vote share grew from 32% in 2008 to 37% for the first time ever. As a result, we now know that a Democrat can successfully win a bid for U.S. Senator with support from 35% of the progressive white vote.”

Turnout key in 2014

If turnout, especially among voters of color, will be determinative in 2014, how will parties and campaigns attempt to deal with this to their advantage? Sean Sullivan, writing for the Washington Post, asserts that it’s no accident that Democrats are talking about race and politics lately.

So what to make of Democrats’ rhetoric? Regardless of motivation, they’ve elevated the question of whether strains of racism exist within the GOP and that is far from a risk-free proposition, strategists in both parties say.

“Very risky to accuse the GOP of outright, overt racism,” said one Democratic strategist who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “Midterms are about motivating your base, so perhaps that is what’s going on. I think more Democrats should take their cues from President Obama, who to my knowledge has never accused his opponents of being racially motivated.”

Saying outright that elements of the Republican Party are racist could potentially spur minorities — who vote overwhelmingly Democratic — to turn out in larger numbers and give them something to rally against. But it could also have the opposite effect: Energizing the Republican base to voice their disagreement at the polls with what Democrats are saying about their party.

Midterm voters “don’t turn out to vote for something, they turn out to vote against something,” said Republican pollster Glen Bolger. “Republicans have their motivation, but the Democratic leadership is casting about for ways to get their base to the polls. Maybe it’s one of their blind data tests; Harry Reid is crying about the Koch Brothers, while the House side has been assigned ‘Republican racism’ as their meme. It’s a pretty thin gruel the Democrats are trying to serve to their voters.”

Democrats are working every day to to get as many African Americans and Hispanics as they can to vote this year. Battleground elections that could decide control of the Senate are happening in states like Louisiana, Arkansas and North Carolina and Georgia, where the minority population — especially African Americans — is very substantial. Democrats’ success or failure there lies heavily in how successful they are in boosting turnout among minority groups.

Closer to home, Georgia Democrats are actively seeking to turnout young voters in hopes of bolstering their chances in November.

The Young Democrats of Georgia [held] their annual conference … April 11-13 in Columbus….
Jason Carter is the 38-year-old Democratic gubernatorial campaign, and he will be headlining a special awards dinner at the conference. Organizers say the weekend events are geared toward whipping up excitement among the party’s youth, in the hopes they will campaign for the candidates and come out and vote in November.

Non-presidential elections rarely galvanize younger voters, said Mark Rountree, a pollster and a political strategist who often works with Republicans.
“Off-year elections do generally become older,” he said. “You don’t see the turnout of young people that you see in presidential elections. I think you will see a reduced number who are voting.”
That could favor Republicans like Governor Nathan Deal, who is 71. He belongs to the largest block of registered voters in Georgia, those age 65 and up. With more than 890,000 people, the group is nearly double the size of the next largest block, 18-24-year-olds, who number about 500,000.
But it may not be that simple. Notably, Rountree says a recent poll conducted by his firm, Landmark Communications, in conjunction with WSB shows Deal doing well with youth voters. And that could be a problem for him.
“In our survey, Gov. Deal was actually winning among young people so low turnout could be a help to Sen. Carter,” Rountree said.
But while Deal may be having success courting younger people, Carter is simply young himself. At 48, so is Nunn. And party officials are banking that will pay off in connecting to voters.
“For folks in Jason’s age bracket, it is fresh on their minds trying to pay off student loans, trying to find a good-paying job, all of that,” said Michael Smith, a spokesman with the Democratic Party of Georgia. “It’s all fresh on Jason’s mind. Plus he has a young family and a lot of young Democrats have young families.”

Recently, lawyers and “community activists” gathered in Atlanta to discuss voting rights and turnout. From National Public Radio,

Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, has watched elections in Georgia since not long after Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Last year, a divided Supreme Court gutted part of that law, throwing into chaos a system that had required Georgia and eight other states to ask for federal permission before making any election changes.

“We know that in Georgia it is having a negative impact in some of the jurisdictions, and one of them is Augusta-Richmond County,” McDonald said.

Before the Supreme Court ruled, the county planned to move up its elections from November to July. But the Justice Department objected to that plan, arguing it would depress black turnout. After the Supreme Court ruling, the county no longer had to ask for permission, so the change was made.

Already, the Atlanta Journal Constitution has found African-Americans are underrepresented in local governments across the state.

Not everyone at the training believes there’s reason for alarm in Georgia. Bryan Tyson, a young Atlanta lawyer, said the Supreme Court majority was right last year when it called out Congress for failing to update decades-old triggers in the Voting Rights Act.

“I haven’t really seen any sort of massive resurgence of problems as a result of that,” Tyson said. “Not really any major issues that I’ve seen as a result.”

Ann Brumbaugh is a lawyer who’s represented the state elections board and worked on a bipartisan rewrite of Georgia’s elections code. She sees more cause for concern.

“It makes some people more willing to do reckless things, and it makes other people less willing to do necessary things,” Brumbaugh said, explaining that not many eyes are focused on what small counties and towns are doing.

County Connections

Governor Nathan Deal spoke to the Association of County Commissioners in Savannah. From the Savannah Morning News:

Gov. Nathan Deal said Monday jobs have been the focus of his administration and county commissioners have been his partners in that process.

“With your cooperation, we have achieved the designation as the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business,” Deal said. “And we’re working hard to keep it.

“With your help in the last three-plus years, we have seen more than 235,000 private-sector jobs created in Georgia.”

Then Deal, speaking to the crowd of 1,000-plus members of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, offered more good news: State revenues for March were 12.3 percent higher than a year earlier.

“Folks, we’re coming out of this thing,” Deal said, adding that the state is almost at 5.5 percent growth in fiscal year to date.

“But we recognize that we have things we need to do to help your communities prosper and keep our state growing,” Deal said.

High on that list is job training.

Deal’s campaign rolled out 145 local elected officials who have endorsed the Governor’s reelection bid.

Deal Commissioners

“Along with the municipal leaders they partner with, Georgia’s county commissioners know the needs and challenges of their communities better than anyone else,” Deal said. “I am honored and humbled by their endorsements and support. In conjunction with our mayors coalition and county chairs in all 159 counties, Commissioners for Deal adds to our unrivaled grassroots organization in every corner of the state. I pledge my continued partnership with each of these county commissioners to guarantee Georgia remains the No. 1 state in the nation to do business.”

Commissioners for Deal Co-Chair Charlotte Nash (Gwinnett) said, “Gov. Deal is a strong partner for our counties and local communities as we have joined together to make Georgia the No. 1 state in the nation to do business. I’m proud to stand alongside these elected officials from every corner of our state and offer the governor our support.  His vision and strong leadership are crucial to ensuring Georgia’s continued economic success.”

Commissioners for Deal co-chairs include:
Co-Chair: Chairman Bob Blackburn-Coweta County
Co-Chair: Chairman Charlotte Nash-Gwinnett County
Co-Chair: Chairman Kevin Little-Walton County
Co-Chair: Commissioner Carvel Lewis-Quitman County

For a complete list of Commissioners for Deal endorsements, click here.

Events

Muscogee Lunch April 15 2014

The Greater Fayette Republican Women’s Club will hold our Thursday, April 17th evening meeting beginning at 6:30pm at Fayette County Republican Party Event Center, 174 Glynn Street North, Fayetteville. The guest speaker will be U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey M.D., candidate for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. Also speaking will be Richard Woods, candidate for the Republican nomination for State School Superintendent. Local candidates who are vying for seats on the Board of Education and the County Board of Commissioners will be introduced and offered the opportunity to speak for a few minutes on relevant issues. A light supper will be provided by GFRWC. For more information, please contact Debby Dickinson, 404-376-4132 or ptcdebby@bellsouth.net.

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