Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 26, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for March 26, 2014

On March 26, 1734, the British House of Commons voted £10,000 to subsidize the Georgia colony, down from £26,000 the previous year.

On March 26, 1920, This Side of Paradise, the debut novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published. The author was 23 years old.

On March 26, 1982, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Washington, DC for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the design approved a couple weeks earlier was by 21-year old Yale architecture student Maya Lin.

Georgia Vietnam VeteransIMG_2847-L

Yesterday, Georgia honored the state’s living recipients of the Medal of Honor who were awarded the Medal for service during the Vietnam War.

The war accounted for 58,000 American deaths — nearly 1,600 of those casualties from Georgia. Of the 12 Medal of Honor recipients, eight were killed during service. Consider Marine Sgt. Rodney David of Macon: Under fire from attacking forces on Sept. 6, 1967, Davis dove on a grenade to protect others. He succeeded, at the cost of his life. Davis, buried in Macon, was 25.

Americans need to remember their fallen warriors, said Gov. Nathan Deal, a veteran of the Army during the Vietnam era. He was a guest speaker, too.

“It is important for us to be a people who do not take sacrifice lightly, who do not simply talk numbers when we talk about those who died in combat,” he said. “It is proper for us … to understand that it is not just a slogan: Freedom is, indeed, not free.”

Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal has signed ten bills passed by the 2014 Session of the Georgia General Assembly. Most of the bills he has signed so far have been local legislation. Click here for a list that will be updated as he breaks out the special signing pens.

TMZ caught up with Senator Johnny Isakson at Washington Reagan National Airport and asked him about Justin Bieber moving to Atlanta. Isakson’s response: “I’m too old for that stuff.”

Stuart Rothenberg write at that Democrats may have a problem with independent voters in the 2014 General Elections.

The most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal (March 5-9) and CBS News/New York Times (Feb. 19-23) surveys contained little in the way of good news for Democrats — and recent GOP Senate recruiting successes in Colorado and New Hampshire put two more Senate contests into play.

Strategists in both parties agree that Democratic enthusiasm isn’t where it needs to be, especially when compared to GOP voters, who currently look eager to run into a burning building if that is what it takes to express their anger during the midterm elections.

The president’s job approval rating among Democrats stood at 74 percent in the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, and the Republican nature of the electorate in the Florida special election ought to be of considerable concern for Democratic operatives.

Democrats are counting on registering new Democratic voters in some states and turning out traditional Democratic constituencies (younger voters and Latinos, in particular) at a higher rate than in the past, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has promised to spend $60 million to put operatives on the ground in battleground states. Still, it isn’t clear that any of that will pay off in additional victories.

Attitudinally, independents once again more closely resemble GOP voters than Democrats.

The CBS News/New York Times survey found that while Democrats continued to approve of the president (76 percent approve), Republicans (only 7 percent approve) and independents (only 37 percent approve) did not, and while 60 percent of Democrats said the economy is “very good” or “fairly good,” only 17 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of independents agreed. In addition, Democrats were upbeat about the direction of the country, while Republicans and independents were not.

Jennifer Duffy at the Cook Political Report said that Republican primary results will shape the Senate takeover landscape headed toward November.

“I think we stand at a jump ball,” she said. “We need some primaries to get out of the way, from Georgia to North Carolina, before we’ll know more.”

Benjy Sarlin at MSNBC calls the GOP Primary a “threat to push the self-destruct button,” focusing, as usual, on Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey.

The candidate causing the biggest headache is Paul Broun, a four-term GOP congressman who opposes abortion without exception, thinks the Big Bang and evolution are “lies straight from the pit of hell,” (gravity waves be damned), and likened President Obama to Hitler and Karl Marx before he was even inaugurated.

Then there’s fellow Rep. Phil Gingrey, a doctor who suggested last year that Todd Akin was “partly right” about his theories on “legitimate rape” (Gingrey later apologized).

Even if Broun and Gingrey come up short in the state’s May 20 primary, Democrats are hoping a close race will pull the entire GOP field, which also includes Rep. Jack Kingston, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, and wealthy businessman David Perdue, uncomfortably to the right.

In normal circumstances, even a weak GOP nominee would probably be a shoo-in in this conservative state. But Democrats have drafted an unusually strong candidate in Michelle Nunn, whose father Sam Nunn is still revered here for his 25-year career in the Senate.

“What a lot of people don’t understand about the Republicans in Georgia is that up to 2002 a lot of them had a ‘D’ next to they’re name,” Erick Erickson, the Red State founder who briefly flirted with running himself, said. “They’re very comfortable with names like Carter and Nunn.”

“One of the people on this stage tonight is going to be your Republican nominee, and after this primary and the runoff they are going to be bruised, battered and broke,” conservative radio host Martha Zoller told the audience at a Republican Senate debate in Macon earlier this month.

“It’s been halfway a contest to see who can dislike Barack Obama more,” Todd Rehm, a Republican strategist and editor of, told msnbc.

“That is the big question mark, whether the super PACs come in,” Joel McElhannon, a Georgia Republican strategist, told msnbc. “It has the potential to be a big game changer.”

Right now, the outside spending scene resembles Europe 1914, with the major powers – anti-establishment groups like Club For Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund on one side, more traditional pro-business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and American Crossroads on the other – staying tentatively neutral while events play out on the ground. If any one of them decides to enter the race, however, it could suck them all into a massive air war.

McElhannon raised another possibility: Democrats might pour money into a super PAC of their own to boost Broun’s chances. It’s less paranoid than it sounds. In 2012, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill helped ensure Akin got the GOP nomination in Missouri with winking “attack” ads highlighting his conservative positions for Republican primary voters.

The Associated Press writes about the link between the President’s approval rating and the other party’s chances of Congressional pickups in non-Presidential election years. In Political Science circles, this pattern is called “surge and decline.”

[I]ndependent analysts are increasingly bullish on Republican prospects of gaining the six seats the party needs to win control of the chamber.

Such an outcome would alter the legislative calculus in Washington, assuming the U.S. House remains in Republican hands, as most expect. Control of both chambers would allow the party to showcase policy proposals before the 2016 presidential race — and try to undermine the opposition’s ideas.

It would also dramatically change the final two years of Barack Obama’s Democratic presidency, a turnabout that has plagued administrations throughout history. Six years into Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, Republicans won control of Congress in 1918 and then rejected his proposal to join the League of Nations, which he had promoted as an international peace-keeping organization after World War I.

“The Republicans are at least even money — and maybe a little better than that — at taking over the Senate,” said Stu Rothenberg, editor of the Washington-based nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.

Democratic efforts to maintain control are burdened by relatively low approval ratings for Obama and the Affordable Care Act, as well as demographics favoring Republicans because midterm electorates tend to be older and whiter than in presidential years. Democrats are also defending more seats than Republicans.

The president’s party is also fighting history. The White House’s partisan allies have lost ground in the Senate in 12 of 17 midterm elections since the end of World War II.

“It’s too early to make a precise prediction, except to say that Democrats are nearly certain to lose Senate seats,” Sam Wang, who since 2004 has used mathematical formulas and polling data to predict elections for the Princeton Election Consortium, said in an e-mail.

Why have so many commentators on the Georgia Senate race failed to note this dynamic?

Here are the top-of-the-ticket numbers from 2008, 2010, and 2012.

2008       McCain (R) 52.2          Obama (D)  47.0%
2010      Deal (R) 53.0                Barnes (D) 43.0
2012      Romney (R) 53.33       Obama (D)  45.51


Social Media Studies at Georgia Tech

Researchers at Georgia Tech have determined that photos on Instagram with faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos without faces and 32 percent more likely to attract comments.

The researchers also found that the number of faces in the photo, their age or gender didn’t make a difference. On average, pictures of kids or teens aren’t any more popular than those of adults, even though Instagram is most popular among younger people. The study also noticed that men and women have the same chances of getting likes or comments.

A few factors did play a role. As expected, people with more followers attracted more engagement – but only if they didn’t overdo it.

“The more you post, the less feedback you’re going to get,” said Saeideh Bakhshi, the Georgia Tech College of Computing Ph.D. student who led the study. “Posting too much decreases likes two times faster than comments.”

Bakhshi also says that the more photos someone uploads, the lower the probability any single one has of getting likes or comments.

This echoes what was said by a Facebook Public Policy Manager at the Americans for Prosperity Right Online 2013 conference, which I was lucky to attend:

“The amount of engagement someone has with your page will determine how much of your posts they see in the future. If you want them to see more of your posts, get them to engage with something.”

“We found that people interact more with pictures that have people and faces than text, and so if your promoted image has more than 20% text, it will be rejected.”


All five candidates for Mayor of Augusta participated in a forum.

The Effingham Board of Elections has scheduled a hearing on a challenge to the residency of County Commissioner Vera Jones for 10 AM on Friday, April 4.

“Any allegations Ms. Jones is withholding public monies unaccounted for is without basis in law and fact,” Scheer wrote in a letter to the board. “The statute relied upon by the challengers is wholly inapplicable to Ms. Jones. The statute contemplates a public officer’s receipt of public funds, not a private individual or entity’s receipt of public funds.”

Scheer also asked the Board of Elections to forward Jones’ concerns to State Attorney General Sam Olens “for investigation into the possible improper attempt to influence an election.”

The board decided to defer action on the request until after the hearing.

After the meeting Monday, Jones said, “Don’t let them steal the people’s vote.”

The primary election date is May 20.

Jones is seeking a second term for the District 2 seat. Former county commission chairman Dusty Zeigler is running against Jones in the Republican primary.

Twelfth District Georgia Republican Party Chairman Mike Welsh announced a series of debates in the race to be the GOP nominee to unseat Democratic incumbent John Barrow.

GAGOP District 12 Debate Series Dates and Locations:
Monday, March 31 – Bulloch County (Ogeechee Tech) – 6:30PM
Tuesday, April 8 – Laurens County (Dublin High School) – 6PM
Thursday, April 24 – Richmond County (TBD) – 6PM
Thursday, May 1 – Coffee County (TBD) – 6PM

Free tickets are available online through the 12th District Republican Party of Georgia’s Facebook Page.

Congressman Tom Graves (R-Ranger) has worked himself into the good graces of House leadership after a rocky, Tea Party-flavored start.

Once chosen as heir to the conservative movement on Capitol Hill, Rep. Tom Graves is coming back into the establishment fold.

The Georgia congressman known for his votes against government spending is poised to next year become chairman on a subcommittee that directs those very same federal dollars.

Graves’ colleagues and congressional aides point to his ascent as an example of the maturation of the rambunctious tea party class of 2010 (of which Graves is an honorary member, having joined Congress in a special election just months prior to the wave). His evolution, they say, was spurred by a stinging loss in the 2012 race to chair the conservative Republican Study Committee, despite an endorsement by the group’s founders.

He was on the outs with leadership just months ago, but Graves now inhabits a rare and coveted status on the Hill, drawing accolades from both leadership and outside conservative groups — two camps that have publicly sparred in recent months. Whether he can maintain the middle ground in the long-term has yet to be tested.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce sent out a release yesterday urging Georgia’s Congressional delegation to pass a surface transportation infrastructure bill that includes greater funding for federal highways.

Here’s the political ad of the century. Please don’t give Georgia’s GOP candidates any ideas.

Greatest Event of the Weekend

On Saturday, 29 March 2014 from 10 AM to 4 PM, the British Consulate-General will co-host the Second Annual Great British Car Fayre in Historic Downtown Alpharetta. British Vice Consul Claire Newman will be presenting the winning “People’s Choice” award at 3 PM. The event will also feature the Big Chicken Beatles Tribute Band.

I’m not sure why two different people forwarded this notice to me.


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