Robert Novak has just reported that Mac Collins stands an excellent shot at winning Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District. Republican voters in Fayette and Henry County will be upset when they go to the polls tomorrow to prove Novak right and find that Jim Marshall and Mac Collins are nowhere to be found on the ballot. In Georgia’s 8th Congressional District, where Marshall and Collins are actually running against each other, I am hearing from Democratic sources that President Bush’s last minute visit intended to rally the Republican troops has actually done the opposite, by rallying African American and core Democratic voters back to Marshall.
I have seen some of the polls in this race, and I can tell you that I was initially surprised to learn that Marshall was more popular among moderate and conservative whites than among liberal voters of all stripes. I finally chalked this up to the conservative voting record Marshall has, and the desire of liberal voters to send someone more liberal to Congress than Jim Marshall.
Well, liberals in Jim Marshall’s district may not be as excited about Jim as they are about the overall prospect of Democratic house takeover, but there is one thing that they can truly get behind, and that is their opposition to President Bush and continued Republican control of Congress. Bush came to the district on October 31st, which was Tuesday of last week, the second day of early voting. I have obtained and analyzed the early and advance voting numbers and have found something shocking: Far from rallying the Republican base to support Collins, Bush’s visits seem to have the opposite effect.
Here’s the proof…
Of all absentee ballots received in the 8th Congressional district on Monday and Tuesday (so mailed before Tuesday) 17.5% were African American. What happened on Tuesday? Well as President Bush was stumping for Collins, disgusted African Americans and white Democrats were in a hurry to mail in their absentee ballots, many of which had been outstanding for weeks. The number of African American returns shot up to more than 24% of all ballots returned!
Another ominous trend for the national Republicans who’ve pinned their “control of Congress” mudflaps on the back of Mac Collins’ campaign big rig was manifesting itself with the early voters. While the AA share of Monday’s early voters was only 15%, it began steadily rising through the week corresponding with Bush’s visit. By week’s end on Friday, nearly 22% of all early voters in the district were African Americans. Democrats and Independents also saw a steady rise.
Nearly 26% of Monday’s early voters cast a ballot in the Republican gubernatorial primary, but by Friday it had declined on average 1% each day, with only 20.12% of early voters casting a ballot in this year’s gubernatorial primary. What about Democratic primary voters? They averaged a healthy 27% for the entire week.
GA-8 was always something of a long shot for Republicans, and conservative American Spectator blogger Quinn Hillyer agrees with me that national Republicans have made a serious strategic error in going after Marshall. I encourage you to read his column, and as Mac Collins is stuck raising debt retirement funds from gullible Republican seniors in Columbus and Peachtree City well after this election is over to reimburse President Bush’s visits to the district ask yourself: have the national Republicans become so morally bankrupt and blinded by ideology and partisanship that they’ve alienated a potential bipartisan ally like Jim Marshall?
While I believe Jim Marshall will continue to do what is right for the country regardless of party, come Tuesday and thanks to President Bush he will enter a third term in Congress with something he hasn’t enjoyed before: overwhelming support not just from conservatives in his district but also from liberals as well. And Mac Collins? He’ll be at Glenn Richardson’s office lobbying the legislature to put Butts County in the “new” 12th district.