Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 20, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 20, 2014

On May 20, 1791, George Washington spent his third day in Augusta, where he visited Richmond Academy.

Blue jeans with copper rivets were patented by Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis on May 20, 1873.

On May 20, 1916, more than 20,000 visited Stone Mountain for the dedication ceremony to mark the beginning of a Confederate memorial on the north face.

On May 20, 1995, the section of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to automotive traffic.

The 400th episode of The Simpsons aired on May 20, 2007.

Voting Today

Today we go to the polls to vote in the earliest Primary elections in modern state history. To check out your polling place, visit the Secretary of State’s MVP page, sign in, and you can find out where to vote and view a sample ballot.

Baseball Players and Political Professionals

Someone told me last night that political professionals are as bad as baseball players in their superstitions. Here are mine:

1. I am an election day voter and after my morning routine is done, which today includes being on WGAU 1340 AM at 9:45 with Tim Bryan, I will walk to my precinct, check in and cast my ballot. At this point, I’m still undecided on the United States Senate race and DeKalb County Sheriff.

2. Sometime this afternoon, I’ll probably try to catch a matinee, usually something Mrs. GaPundit wouldn’t see, so Science Fiction, Action, something like that.

3. This evening I will stay home, away from victory celebrations, frantically hitting “reload” for several hours.

4. Last night, I had the traditional “night before an election” meal, catered by Mrs. GaPundit and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.

Here’s what I’ll be watching

Turnout, turnout, turnout. When the first precincts and counties start coming in, I’ll be comparing turnout to past performance, and I’ll keep an eye on several races. And not just numbers in certain precincts, but geographic areas like DeKalb County, where we’ll elect a Sheriff in a nonpartisan election on all ballots – normally the Sheriff is decided in a partisan Democratic primary with no real November challenge, but this year, like recent Sheriff Tom Brown’s 2001 election after the death of Derwin Brown, will be a nonpartisan special election.

Yesterday, Secretary of State Brian Kemp released figures on this year’s early voting, along with a comparison to 2010, the last year in which we had a gubernatorial race on the Primary ballot. He claims, “The numbers make it clear that Georgia voters are increasingly taking advantage of early voting opportunities,” but I disagree. Here’s the press release, along with some analysis after the jump

Secretary Reports Early Voting Numbers

Atlanta – Early in-person voting ended on Friday, May 16.  While mail-in absentee ballots can still be cast until the polls close tomorrow evening, the majority of early votes have been cast.


Number of ballots cast:  239,281
Number of ballots voted in person:  214,975
Number of mail-in ballots returned:  24,306
Number of mail-in ballots outstanding:  14,385
Number of ballots cast, Republican:  147,995
Number of ballots cast, Democratic:  88,316
Number of ballots cast, non-partisan:  2,970

Compared with four years ago, early voting numbers are higher than they were in 2010.

Number of ballots cast in 2010:  212,487
Number of ballots voted in person in 2010:  162,065
Number of mail-in ballots returned in 2010:  50,422

“The numbers make it clear that Georgia voters are increasingly taking advantage of early voting opportunities,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.  “The counties have done a wonderful job of fine-tuning the early voting process.”

In 2010, in person early voting was spread out over a seven-week period rather than the three-week period that exists now.  The numbers reflect that by compressing the process, more Georgia voters actually vote early.

“This early voting period was an extremely smooth process,” said Kemp.  “I appreciate the work of my staff, the county election officials and the many poll workers and volunteers who worked so hard.”

Brian Kemp has been Secretary of State since January 2010. Among the offices wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting secure, accessible and fair elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders.

I think a better comparison is to the 2012 General Primary, which was during a Presidential year, but we’re talking about the July General Primary, not the March Presidential Preference. In the July 31, 2012 Primary election, 413,361 early votes were cast.

So, 2014 has seen 239,281 early and advance votes cast, but which prior year is a better comparison? Kemp says 2010, which has merit, but I think 2012, as voting behavior become habit over time, but there’s room for disagreement. I think that this year will see markedly lower turnout than the 2010 General Primary where some 680,000 GOP votes were cast in the Governor’s race, and far fewer votes than the 2012 General Primary in which nearly 845,000 votes were cast in the top-of-the-ticket PSC District 3 race on the Republican side.

Either way, we’ll know tonight what turnout looks like.

Governor – Will Nathan Deal hit 70% and will he take Dalton, Ga. There’s really no doubt in my mind Governor Deal will win tonight’s election, but 70% is a hard mark to top, even for a very popular incumbent. And while Dalton, Ga will carry no extra weight in the returns, it will be of mild interest to me whether David Pennington carries the town he was Mayor of until recently. It provides a “best possible case scenario” for the challenger who probably remains unknown to a large swath of the voting public.

Secondary Statewide seats – mainly of interest to see what the “undervote” is, or the number of votes dropped off between the contested top of the ticket and the lower, uncontested seats. Personally, I’ll pick a candidate in most of the uncontested races.

Contested Legislative seats

Senator Mike Dugan v. Bill Hembree in Senate District 30 – in December 2012, Dugan won a special runoff election after Hembree nearly won the special election without a runoff, taking 48% of the vote.

Don Balfour v. P.K. Martin and Mike Beaudreau in Senate DIstrict 9

In the battle state Senate District 9 race, two candidates are challenging incumbent Don Balfour, Gwinnett’s longest serving senator, for the Republican ticket to seek the Senate District 9 seat. District 9 encompasses much of the Lawrenceville and Snellville areas in central Gwinnett.

Challenging Balfour, who was acquitted last December in a case involving false per diem reports, are former Gwinnett County commissioner Mike Beaudreau and former Lawrenceville City Councilman P.K. Martin.

All three candidates espouse conservative political philosophies.

Balfour’s issues with the Senate ethics committee, and his indictment and acquittal on charges of taking state expense reimbursements to which he was not entitled are the major issues.

Senator Jack Murphy v. Michael Williams v. Lauren McDonald in Senate District 27 – Murphy won reelection two years ago by only 114 votes, but his 2012 opponent is not on the ballot. After some speculation that he would not run this year, Murphy qualified on the last day.

Open Senate seat in District 16 – After Majority Leader Ronnie Chance announced his retirement, seven candidates entered the primary in the open seat.

State House Seats to Watch

Martin Sullivan v. Jesse Petrea  in House District 166 – Ben Watson created the open seat when he became the only candidate for Senate District 1 when Buddy Carter ran for Congress.

Brooks Coleman v. Jef Fincher in House District 96 – Coleman, long-time Chair of the House Education Committee has become the focal point of anti-Common Core forces, as he is blamed for killing legislation that would have reduced or eliminated the role of Common Core. Nonetheless, Coleman retains a very high level of personal popularity in Duluth and in his district.

Charles Gregory v. Bert Reeves in House District 34 – Gregory is arrogant and useless in office, depriving his constituents of effective representatition. The difference bewteen Gregory and the late Bobby Franklin is that despite voting “no” on almost every bill he ever saw, Franklin was a gentleman and well-liked by his colleagues. You don’t have to be a jerk to vote against anything.

Sam Moore should be retired today – after introducing both the “Child Molesters Bill of Rights” and the “Cop Killers’ Bill of Rights” in his maiden session, I don’t care which candidate against him wins.

Congressional Elections

First District – I think Buddy Carter will come in first, followed by possibly Dr. Bob Johnson, John McCallum or State Rep. Jeff Chapman. But I think we’ll have a runoff. If you were in the First District yesterday, you might have seen Miss America 1995 waving a sign for her husband.

Heather Whitestone McCallum Sign Waving

Tenth District – Mike Collins and Jody Hice will likely go a second round.

Eleventh District – Bob Barr and Barry Loudermilk will enter a runoff. The most recently-release public polling is from Landmark Communications via the Marietta Daily Journal:

ORMER U.S. Rep. Bob Barr of Smyrna and former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk of Cartersville appeared to be headed toward a July 22 runoff to succeed Phil Gingrey as 11th District Congressman as Primary Day dawned, at least according to a poll of 400 likely Republican voters released on Monday by Landmark Communications.

That poll had an error margin of 4.9 percent and showed Loudermilk in the lead at 28.2 percent, followed by Barr with 25.0 percent, Ed Lindsey with 16.2 percent, Tricia Pridemore with 11.8 percent, Allen Levene at 1.7 percent and retired Army Col. Larry Mrozinski at 1.4 percent.

I’ve done some work on voter analytics for the Bob Barr campaign, and I’m going to predict that Barr leads Loudermilk by 1.5 to 3.5 points at the end of the night.

Twelfth District – If I had to guess, I’d say that Rick W. Allen will be the eventual Republican challenger to Democratic incumbent John Barrow. If Eugene Yu forces a runoff, I don’t see how Yu advance to the November General Election.


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