Is there a path to victory in the Democratic primary for Thurbert Baker? The folks from Landmark Communications think so:
Some conventional political analysts have written off the Democratic primary election as a sure-thing Barnes victory.
Remember, Barnes badly lost the Gov primary in 1990, and also lost in 2002 with millions in the bank, becoming the only Georgia Governor to lose re-election since the state started allowing Governors to run for re-election in the 1970s. In fact, he’s lost more than he’s won.
Attorney General Thurbert Baker is the highest-ranking African-American official in the state, and he has been uncontroversial to the general public. We at Landmark are projecting that around 55% of Democratic primary voters in July will be African-American — the highest percentage in history. It’s entirely likely that Baker could roll up big numbers with black voters, most of whom have become active after Barnes was Governor.
Republicans have such heavily contested primaries that white voters will opt in bigger numbers to vote in the Republican general primary in 2010 than ever in history.
Here’s the scenario for a Baker win: While Dubose Porter and David Poythress are in the race, it’s difficult to see them getting any major traction unless something big happens. Their vote comes virtually entirely from voters who would otherwise likely vote Barnes. Porter may attract some southeastern geographic white support, as well as rural support in middle Georgia.
If Porter/Poythress combine to win:
12% of the white vote and “other” vote
and 2% of the black vote;
If Baker wins 64% of the black vote (which could be 55% of the total 2010 Democratic primary vote),
and 19% of the white and “other” vote (which would be 45% of the total),
…the combined non-Barnes vote becomes 50.25%, robbing Barnes of an outright win. And none of these possibilities is unrealistic.
In a runoff election, if Thurbert Baker gets aggressive on airwaves — which he has never really done well — and executes a runoff message of contrasting/comparative messaging, anything could be possible. Worse for Barnes, should Roy fight back with negative advertising of his own, it would likely rupture his fragile coalition in the general election — regardless of which Republican wins the nomination.
Conclusion: Baker has a significant base vote among the majority demographic of the Democratic primary. If African-American voters simply decide they want an African-American nominee who could run on an ethics message, then he’ll be the nominee regardless of what Barnes does. Further, Barnes cannot attack Baker without a serious risk of retaliation in the general election by voters staying home.