Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 30, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 30, 2014

Lincoln Memorial Exterior
On May 30, 1922, Chief Justice of the United States William H. Taft dedicated the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

Inside the memorial is a seated statue of Lincoln by Daniel Chester French carved from 175 tons of Georgia white marble.
Lincoln Memorial Statue

French also created the statue of Jame Oglethorpe that stands in Chippewa Square in Savannah and a seated statue of Samuel Spencer considered to be a prototype of the Lincoln carving. Samuel Spencer was the first President of Southern Railway and was originally located at the rail station in downtown Atlanta before moving to the Southern Railway passenger station in Buckhead in the 1970s and is currently at 1200 Peachtree Street in front of Norfolk Southern.

No Campus Carry for you

Attorney General Sam Olens has opined that the alleged backdoor legalization of guns on school campuses is an incorrect interpretation of Georgia law.

Olens released a set of frequently asked questions on two gun bills lawmakers passed this year, in response to what he called “numerous inquiries from state agencies” about the new laws. He also cited “conflicts” between the two measures, House Bill 60 and House Bill 826.

Lawmakers struck language in HB 826 that said licensed gun owners were exempt from the law when picking up or dropping off a student. The gun advocacy group said that effectively meant permit holders could carry on a campus at any time.

Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 826 on April 22 and signed HB 60 on the following day.

Olens argued in his FAQs that because Deal signed HB 60 after HB 826, the language in that bill prevails:

“House Bill 60 was signed by the Governor after House Bill 826 and is the later enactment, so the provisions of House Bill 60 control. Therefore, there is a general prohibition against carrying weapons in a school safety zone (which includes the real property or buildings of public or private elementary schools, secondary schools, technical schools, vocational schools, colleges or universities); however, a person who possesses a weapons carry license may have a weapon when carrying or picking up a student and may have a weapon in a vehicle that is in transit or parked within a school safety zone.”

Georgia Carry has said it plans to fight for its interpretation of the law(s).

Recounts and the Runoff in House District 54

Beth Beskin came within three votes of topping 50% and avoiding a runoff in the May 20 Republican Primary for House District 54 and emailed her supporters that they need to vote for her in the July 22 Runoff.

After every vote was counted, including the provisional ballots, I finished 3 votes shy of winning this election outright.

Many of you know that my runoff opponent, John McCloskey, publicly announced yesterday that he is suspending his campaign, and he will support me in the runoff. I am very grateful to him and believe that his actions will spare our district and the Republican party what could have been a bruising runoff and will benefit us all.

Please note, though, that my opponent did not withdraw from or concede this race; his name will still appear on the July 22 ballot.

I am in a runoff and I need everyone’s vote and support on July 22nd.

Early voting starts June 30th.

In Henry County, the 2-vote margin for challenger Brian Prince over incumbent County Commissioner Reid Bowman stands after a recount. According to Elections Supervisor Janet Shelnutt, the six voters who cast ballots in the wrong district can pound sand,

“Yes, we had six people that voted in the third (district) on a paper ballot that should have voted in District Four, but those people, and I don’t mean to be ugly, at some point you need to be responsible for themselves and check out where you’re supposed to be voting and not wait until 10 (minutes) to 7 p.m,” she said.

When Secretary of State Brian Kemp certified election returns for the Primary elections, Fulton County Chairman John Eaves retained his seat over challenger Robb Pitts by a 303-vote margin of more than 45,000 ballots.

In a Douglas County Commission race, we do not yet know the results of a recount between incumbent District 4 Commissioner Ann Jones Guider and J.R. McCoy, whom original vote totals showed 23 votes shy.

In McDuffie County, votes are being recounted in the District 3 Board of Education race as James Taylor requested the recount after coming in third by a three-vote margin behind second-place finisher Richard Downs. Jarvis McNair will be in the runoff, having come in substanially higher than the second and third-place finishers.

Polls, Polling, Pollsters

Nate Cohn writes in the New York Times about the question of whether robopolling can provide accurate results:

In contrast with most polls conducted by news media organizations, which collect random samples of adults and then weight to census demographic targets, most automated firms call from lists of registered voters and therefore do not collect a random sample of adults. As a result, they do not weight to census targets for adults, and instead weight to estimates for the likely composition of the November electorate.

That approach can be effective if the pollster can accurately model the electorate, as the Obama campaign did in 2012. But low-cost automated polling firms often operate with only a few staff members, who seem to have less capability to accurately estimate the composition of the electorate.

Remember when the Atlanta Journal Constitution, less than two weeks before the Republican Primary wrote that they were unable to poll the Senate Primary election?

The AJC did not poll the Republican or Democratic primary races because low turnout and primaries not confined to party registrants would have made the polling results, in its view, too unreliable.

While I agree with Cohn that there are issues with some automated pollsters, there is also a major problem with the “random digit dialing” method if it doesn’t allow you to poll a race at all. Good automated pollsters will acknowledge the shortcoming of their methodology and discuss how they account for it.

I’ve written more about the issue of randomness in “random” digit dialing versus automated polls over at InsiderAdvantage, and on Monday will present some analysis of the state of polling in Georgia’s primary elections. But for now, I will leave you with this: I contend that the state of the art in political polling is in the private polls conducted by campaigns, which are sensitive to accuracy, price, and timeliness. But most of those polls never see the light of day, and it may not be appropriate to judge all polling or all pollsters based on the public releases of those who don’t have the kind of skin in the game that political pollsters working for private clients do.

Dr. Charles Bullock on the Senate Race

Dr. Charles Bullock of the University of Georgia, and a widely acclaimed expert on Georgia elections has written some analysis of how “outsider businessmen” have fared in Georgia elections over at InsiderAdvantage. Here’s an excerpt from that:

The most common stepping stone to the Senate is service either as a governor or a member of the U.S. House. Those who make the transition from the governorship to the Senate have the advantage of having already won election by the same constituency that determines their fate in the Senate campaign. House members, except in tiny states with a single representative, have name recognition with only a fraction of the state’s electorate. But based on their House service, they can speak knowledgably about many of the policy options before Congress.

A more challenging path to the Senate extends from success in something other than politics. John Glenn went from astronaut to senator and Jim Bunning moved from the pitchers’ mound to the Senate. S. I. Hayakawa traded in his academic robes as president of San Francisco State University to become a senator while Herb Kohl owned the Milwaukee Bucks before and during his tenure in the Senate.

Candidates with a business background often tell voters that the talents that paid them handsome dividends can be used to make government more efficient. And while these entrepreneurs would refuse to hire a newly-minted MBA as their firm’s chief financial officer, they try to make their lack of a political pedigree an asset by arguing that it gives them a unique perspective.

Unlike in some other states, the Georgia electorate has not welcomed individuals who try to translate business success into political success. During the last generation, multiple candidates in both parties have discovered that the talents that enabled them to make money did not make the voters like them.

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