Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 7, 2014


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for November 7, 2014

Georgia and American History

Georgia Governor Joseph Brown addressed the Georgia legislature calling on them to consider Georgia’s future on November 7, 1860, the day after Abraham Lincoln’s election as President.

Jeanette Rankin was elected to Congress, the first female Member, on November 7, 1916 from Montana. After leaving Congress, Rankin moved to Watkinsville, Georgia in 1925. The Jeanette Rankin Scholarship Foundation, based in Athens, Georgia provides college scholarships and support for low-income women 35 and older.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to a record fourth term on November 7, 1944.

Democrat Sam Nunn was reelected to the United States Senate on November 7, 1978.

On November 7, 1989, David Dinkins was elected the first African-American Mayor of New York and Douglas Wilder was elected the first African-American Governor of Virginia.

On November 7, 2006, Georgia reelected its first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue, and elected its first GOP Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle.

Georgia Politics – Seven Things You Should Know

1. Welcome to the 2016 and 2018 election cycles. Several months ago, when I first started saying that the 2014 Georgia elections were partly about jockeying for position in the 2016 Presidential race, it was a novel idea. But after campaign visits by Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie (2x), and Rand Paul, it is clear that Georgia will play an important role in the Presidential election.

In 2008, Georgia and South Carolina, along with the rest of the Deep South states, set up a barrier to what earlier appeared to be a Hillary Clinton cakewalk – if we retain an early position in the Presidential Primary and Hillary Clinton does indeed run, it will be a battleground.

2. Black voters elected Nathan Deal to a second term. According to’s analysis of the Exit Polls, African-American voters made up 29% of General Election voters and Governor Nathan Deal received 10% of their votes. With Gov. Deal escaping a runoff by 2.80 percentage points and African-Americans contributing 2.90 points, he couldn’t have done it without the votes of African-Americans. He would still have come in first, and 5%, a standard GOP share of black votes would have been sufficient, but this is still a big deal in Georgia politics. Whether it becomes a turning point or just an anomaly will be shaped by Deal’s continuing outreach in his second term.

The closing days of Deal’s campaign made clear that he will continue outreach to voters not traditionally considered likely Republicans.

Deal told crowds Friday [before the election] that minority support will help ensure that lawmakers complete the third leg of his criminal justice package, an effort to ease the transition of released inmates back into society.

“They recognize I’m the first governor who has really taken a serious effort to deal with this problem,” Deal said of the preachers. “And they are seeing the results.”

Leo Smith criss-crossed Georgia courting his fellow African-Americans on behalf of the Republican Party this year.

Leo Smith, the perpetually upbeat director of minority engagement for the Georgia GOP, was still fired up this afternoon following his party’s big wins the other night.

“Those are huge numbers,” Smith declared in a phone interview. And they are when compared to Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ 4 percent in 2008, the most recent year we had exit polling in Georgia.

Smith has worked for more than a year to find black Republicans as validators in the community and the media that it was OK to vote GOP. The party’s black Republican council worked behind the scenes to keep the party from “walking into potholes” and convinced Republican leaders to support a Martin Luther King Jr. statue at the Capitol.

The next order of business is to create a similar Latino Republican council. Smith said Latinos and Asians are more open to being Republicans because they do not have a multi-generational emotional tie to Democrats that African-Americans do through the civil rights movement.

The keys to successful outreach by the GOP are:

1. Ensure that outreach is not just for election years, but becomes part of the DNA of the Republican Party. An effective outreach begins with listening.

2. Prove that the commitment to sound policy that benefits African-Americans as well as all Georgians was not a fluke. Republicans have not been particularly good on selling the benefits of our policies to black voters and need to continue to improve.

3. Don’t let the Democratic Party get away with telling African-Americans that we don’t like them. Contest them not just when it comes to issues like voter ID and registration that have a political impact, but pushback against economic arguments as well. To put it in business terms that some of my friends in the party may understand better, African-American voters in Georgia have shown a greater willingness than we’ve seen in decades to become customers of the GOP – prove that we’re willing and enthusiastic to serve them and that we share their dreams for a better life for everyone who calls the Peach State home.

3. Politicians spent $100 million and all we got was a replay of 2010. The results at the top of the ticket look just like 2010, but our path to 50% plus one was different. Our new campaign model is one of voter engagement, not just passive persuasion via massive television buys. Without the expensive and expansive effort to turn out GOP voters we could have faced a different Wednesday morning with runoffs or worse.

Don’t put the ground game in a filing cabinet and dust it off in two years. We still have much ground to make up before we’re technological equals to the Democrats. Michelle Nunn’s October quarterly campaign finance filing ran 4255 pages, while David Perdue’s ran 1245, less than a third of Nunn’s. That means that while the quarterly dollar totals were similar, Nunn received more small contributions from individual donors. This is the fruit of Barack Obama’s groundbreaking online fundraising dominance that began in 2008 and has spread through the Democratic party. We need to catch up online.

4. Voters are willing to pay for transportation improvements. With the failure of the T-SPLOST in 2012 in nine of twelve regions in Georgia, many politicians, particularly Republicans, have become gunshy in suggesting ways to raise more money for transportation infrastructure. Before Tuesday, it was clear from state legislative hearings that Georgia has major needs for new transportation funding. What was unclear was a way forward. That may have changed.

On Tuesday, Cobb County voters approved a six-year SPLOST by a 53-47 margin. Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes have become a permanent part of local funding in Georgia, shedding the “Special” part of the name. Forsyth County voters, another stronghold of conservative Republicans, approved a transportation bond referendum by a 63-37 margin. Heavily Democratic Clayton County approved a special sales tax to bring MARTA back to the County by an even wider margin.

Upbeat economic and job announcements, combined with these election results, suggest that voters may be developing a greater willingness to invest in local transportation needs, with specific projects. Perhaps this will change the tenor of the debate over transportation funding.

5. It’s still the economy, stupid. While the media would have you believe that opposition to President Obama drove GOP wins this year, it is clear that voter unease on economic issues played a major role.

The exit polls of Georgia voters illustrate this. Sixty-six percent of voters surveyed after casting their ballots said that the country is “seriously off on the wrong track,” and 81% were “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about the direction of the nation’s economy in the next year. Perhaps more illustrative, 52% said the economy is the most important issue, versus 22% for health care, 13% for foreign policy, and 9% for illegal immigration. Notably, 57% said they favor raising the minimum wage.

Governor Deal offered a successful track record and a coherent vision for continuing economic improvement while Jason Carter offered little to nothing. While Nunn favored raising the minimum wage, the trust deficit for Democrats on economic issues, and disapproval of President Obama’s handling of the economy boosted David Perdue in the Senate race.

6. Polling wasn’t wrong. The media and political enthusiasts have unrealistic expectations.

I dealt with this at length yesterday, even including NASCAR and hunting analogies. To complete the triad of Georgia’s favorite sports, expecting polls taken days, weeks, and months before the election to pinpoint the results is like calling off a football game after three quarters because whomever is in the lead is probably going to win. That said, strategists for the Deal campaign have raved about the accuracy of their internal polling by John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates. Perhaps the advice McLaughlin gave back in May should be given some serious thought.

Deal and Kingston’s pollster advised Republicans across the nation to temper their denunciations of Common Core – or else, in November general elections, the issue could come back and bite them in the fanny
You can read the entire polling memo below, but here’s the upshot:

“All the dangers that come from being associated with the national Republican brand – being exclusive, Anglo-only, anti-woman, anti-Hispanic – are in play here and Republicans would be wise to think of this issue in a broader context.”

I’m not suggesting that Georgia conservatives discard opposition to Common Core. But one important function professional political pollsters play is helping define the best ways to pitch our ideas to voters. Given the importance of our burgeoning appeal to African-American voters in this week’s results and our commitment to continuing outreach, let’s invite them into the conversation.



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