Can Baker win?

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.

Re-think that.

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.


  1. macho says:

    Knowing this election is probably going to be focused on ethics and anti-lobbyist, Baker will present an interesting contrast to Barnes. I don’t think you can discount Baker yet.

  2. Technocrat says:

    If Baker losses the primary to Demo-KRAT Barnes the 55% of Democratic voters will be so mad that half of them will vote for their quarter Lumbee brother John Oxedine in the General Fearing the
    K-RAT will bite their children’s toe off.

    Half of them think he’s been passing for 15 years anyway.
    It could be the greatest landslide since Roosevelt.

  3. Tiberius says:

    And how often will Barnes talk about Baker’s prosecution of Marcus Dixon, the Rome statutory rape case. It is an explosive issue in the black community and Barnes can hammer Baker over and over.

    Baker’s defense that he had to do it as the state’s highest law enforcement officer is an explanation that will not play in the black community. Simply won’t.

    Don’t presume Baker’s hold on the Afri. Amer vote.

    • polisavvy says:

      You are so true about that one. My son was interning at the Governor’s office when this came down the pipe. He received a gazillion calls from irate people about this and, according to him, the vast majority were African American and they were very upset with Baker. A lock on the African American community is not a sure thing, in my opinion either.

  4. ZazaPachulia says:

    Marcus Dixon nothing… how about Genarlow Wilson…

    Baker has got to be the least liked African American politician within the Georgia African American community this side of Victor Hill and Vernon Jones.

    The Republican who convinced Shirley Franklin to stay out of the governor’s race is a genius. She’s the only African American potential candidate with a legit shot at winning the keys to the governor’s mansion.

  5. fishtail says:

    To me, Thurbert Baker is a very competent and principiled Attorney General. He has never abused his office for personal gain or played politics with his legal rulings. Can you imagine what John Oxendine would have done in that position?

  6. old political pro says:

    if the sky is blue…..and the wind is just right….and if suzy wear a pink shirt…..and if the groundhog sees his shadow……

    what a load of babble masquerading as analysis. few listen to this thug, but it’s no wonder that those few who do are wandering aimlessly through their political careers.

  7. oldtimepol says:

    I’ve been puzzled about the way the press and the insiders look at the Democratic contest. As usual, they’re in love with Roy and seem to think (as always) that he’s a brilliant politician. Everyone seems to forget that his first campaign against Zell and Andy was a disaster. Then you had 2002….no need to restate the obvious on that one.

    So he won one in 1998 – against who? Lewis Massey , who wasn’t ready and dropped out, and Guy Millner, who’s the only guy with a worse track record in campaigns than Roy over the last two decades and who was running one last losing ego trip. 1998 was also the last good year to be a Democrat around these parts. Whatever you think of Roy as a governor, he isn’t really much of a candidate.

    I don’t know whether Thurbert (or any other Democrat) can win the general election here these days, especially with where Obama is headed. But I don’t get the writing off the guy gets, considering he’s gotten himself elected three times (which is two more than Barnes), and the notion that a black candidate has no shot at getting two-thirds of the black vote in a primary just seems off to me. Plus, th guy has shown he can win some white voters.

    But one this is for sure, Thurbert (or DuBose or even old Poythress) is a better Democratic chance in the fall than Barnes. What’s that saying about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?

  8. Hi Byte.

    I think I’m the thug. ha! 😉

    Old political pro sounds like someone with perhaps an ax to grind over another lost campaign somewhere.

    He’s right on one point though: there are certain things that have to happen to make it for Baker. Where old political pro is wrong is that we’re not *predicting* those events and statistics to happen, and he likely knows it. We are stating that “this is the math if it does”.

    Porter and Poythress numbers are likely correct, and maybe even conservative…they could potentially do better than 12% of the white vote, obviously. Baker could win some significant part of the white vote, as well. He always has. I don’t think it’s a longshot to say Baker could win 1 out of every 5 white voters in the Dem primary. Do you?

    The hard part for Baker will be winning the 64% of the black vote in July.

    But remember that around 72-75%% of Dekalb county voters in the Democratic Primary will be African American in 2010, and DeKalb is the largest county bloc vote in the state. Baker normally does very well there.

    Further, DeKalb, Fulton and Clayton combine to account for around a third of the entire statewide vote in a Democratic Primary. Clayton will have a primary that is composed of 85% African Americans, and Fulton should be similar to Dekalb. All have elected African American leaders, and African Americans have won most of the countywide offices in all three counties.

    • Medic8310 says:

      Have the pollsters forgotten about the 5th candidate in this (D) primary? Although Camon is not expected to bring in large numbers, he is slowly building a grassroots campaign, and will share the AA vote in the primary. With all of the “if this, then that” in the equation, 4-5% could throw everything off. He has shown his ability to “hold his own” in the debates, and any poll that does not include the numbers he will pull will be skewed to say the least.

  9. Insider Mike says:

    Baker needs to get his cash on hand up in Roy’s ballpark (Roy is at $2.2M, Baker is at $900k), but if he can force a runoff, then there’s a shot.

  10. Tiberius says:

    Will Baker run the same ads he has run as AG? Walking down the steps of the capitol or a courthouse surrounded by law enforcement. Not exactly an image that has historically been endearing to the A.A. community.

  11. slyram says:

    Baker is good people and appreciate his service to the state. He might be too nice to become governor at this point—you never hear about him energizing a crowd. Let’s be honest; the governor’s race will be decided in the GOP primary so Georgians need to watch that contest.

    If I can’t have a Democrat in office, give me the GOP person most familiar with the entire state and who has an earned history of serving everyone—not just the people from his or her party. It is good to see Cornerstone or anyone seeing the political arena from a birdeye’s view or the bigger picture. The candidate most liked my GOP primary voters could be the person the person Democrats like least. We remember when the GOP voters got behind Denise Majette because while a D she was better in their opinion than Rep. McKinney. At first glance, Austin Scott is the GOP candidate my community would most—maybe Deal has gotten cool living part time in Chocolate City all these years and Handel did attend Frederick Douglas High.

    The same logic would apply if the GOP really wanted the seats of Georgia Blue Dogs—produce candidates who moderates could stomach. That’s not happening.

  12. Jane says:

    The Democrats have a tough time finding candidates with cross over appeal especially in the down ticket races and in the Senate race. The cannot rely on their Governor candidate to attract enough swing voters to make a real difference or coat tails for other races. If Barnes gets it, minority turn out will not be energized. If Baker gets it, there will be no one to energize suburban white liberals or White rural Democrats necessary to have a competative election.

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