Sabato’s Crystal Ball Gazes At Georgia’s Senate Race.

We had this item in today’s Peach Pundit Daily (subscribe here) and thought it worthy of a front page post.

Georgia: Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ (R) retirement has opened up a seat that should be won by Republicans. And like flies to honey, there are already five GOP candidates in the field. Ex-Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R) are the establishment’s candidates, while socially conservative Reps. Phil Gingrey (R) and Paul Broun (R) are also seeking a promotion to the upper chamber. (Kingston is an ally of Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, while Handel narrowly lost to Deal in the 2010 gubernatorial primary.) Businessman David Perdue (R), cousin of ex-Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), is also in the race. While Gingrey has a tendency to stick his foot in his mouth, he has nothing on Broun, who has a long history of making controversial statements. The Democratic nominee will probably be non-profit executive Michelle Nunn, daughter of ex-Sen. Sam Nunn (D), unless some bigger names unexpectedly get into the race. Georgia’s other senator, Johnny Isakson (R), recently expressed fear that “a perfect storm” of factors could shift a relatively safe Republican seat into Democratic hands. A no-holds-barred, five-way GOP primary — which will likely go to a runoff — could result in the nomination of someone like Broun or Gingrey, which could put this seat in play. But it’s possible that determining the nomination by convention, which Georgia Republicans recently decided against, could have been even more unpredictable — just ask Republicans in Virginia. Barring Broun or Gingrey winning the GOP nomination, this race is LIKELY REPUBLICAN. But if either winds up being the Republican standard bearer, watch out. If Democrats are going to pick up any Republican-held Senate seat in 2014, this would probably be the one.

For what it’s worth, I think folks are overplaying the whole “Gingrey and Broun are unelectable” meme. Every smart person in America has been saying it (some saying it are smarter than others). It’s been said so much that it makes you wonder if they’re part of a conspiracy to try and bait GOP voters into nominating one of these two or if they simply have no original thoughts on the matter. To be sure Gingrey and Broun have made controversial statements but can’t people come up with a new observation?



  1. Lawton Sack says:

    A few items:

    1. Can we once and for all get a firm definition of establishment? I was informed in Milledgeville that because I had a title that I was part of the establishment. If so, I have yet to be in a meeting where conversations were had about which candidate should be our nominee. The last conversation I had with my fellow District Chairs found that we had a lot of differing opinions on the supposed front runners, but it has never been discussed that we get behind one or two particular candidates.

    Or is establishment meaning that they fit the “typical” mold of a Republican candidate?

    2. Is David Perdue actually in? Everything still says exploratory on it.

    • Doug Deal says:

      “…I have yet to be in a meeting where conversations were had about which candidate should be our nominee. ”

      We don’t have nominations by caucus at the moment.

      Anyway, as I was the one who said the thing to which you were referring, and you misquoted me. I said you (as someone with a badge that said chairman or state committee member) were an “insider”, not “establishment”.

      2) They always do that, it is the Republican form of the Hilary style listening tour.

      • Lawton Sack says:

        1. I heard your statement, but it was not the one I was referring to. Your statement was probably the genesis of the comment I was referring to, though.

        2. There have actually been a couple of people that explored races this year and did not run. I was just making sure I had not missed an announcement.

        • Doug Deal says:

          Then my apologies, I was lost enough in my thoughts of what I had forgotten to say that I likely missed anyone who added to the line of reasoning.

          I think that Perdue’s exploratory committee is a little too aggressive to not be serious about running, but you are right there has been no anouncement. I think there is a benefit in staying “exploratory”, but I forget what that could possibly be.

  2. Debra says:

    “Ex-Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R) are the establishment’s candidates” Jack Kingston YES, but Karen Handle an establishment candidate…. NO WAY …. LOL. After reading that quote, how can one take the rest of the article seriously!

  3. 1. I’m not sure I’d call Karen Handel “establishment”. Sure, she’s held statewide office before, but she’s far from what most consider to be “establishment” I would think.

    2. The article leaves out Derrick Grayson – was that intentional I wonder?

    So far I think I’ve narrowed down my selection to Handel or Broun from those with a likeliness to pull off a win. I like most of what I’ve heard from Grayson, but he’s an underdog with little chance from what I’ve seen so far. My biggest concerns are fiscal concerns. We’ve got to balance the budget and start paying down the debt and ensure that those who have paid into social security all these years actually will be able to receive the benefits they’ve paid for all this time. At this point, I’m not even counting on SS being funded by the time I retire, perhaps 30 years or so from now.

    • Stefan says:

      Leaving out Grayson was intentional in the sense that he doesn’t matter to the race. Sabato’s updates are about likely winners – it’s just a thumbnail. And Grayson is likely the first candidate to be clipped from that thumbnail, and thus isn’t worth a mention.

  4. Stefan says:

    So, I know where he got the Gingrey bit and I tend to disagree with it. If Broun is the nominee the seat is definitely in play, but I don’t think Gingrey is seen the same way though he is conservative in his social views.

    • drjay says:

      gingrey has had some foot in mouth moments that might make a general election more exciting than it would be otherwise…

  5. drjay says:

    i’m not sure anyone is saying gingrey and broun are unelectable–“beatable” may be a better term–also the idea of either of them winning the nomination dovetails nicely with the actual cases of defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory by the gop in places like delaware, indiana, and missouri in the past couple of cycles

  6. Bull Moose says:

    Sabato is very intelligent and is following this race closely. I think his definition of “establishment” is very different from what some here in GA consider establishment.

    I agree, Broun and Gingrey are unelectable. There is no way around there careless statements and fairly outdated view of society.

    As well, I don’t think that fundraising totals for this quarter will mean much in this race for 3 of the top candidates. The one candidate who needs money the most is Jack Kingston. He has to more than double his name ID and that’s going to take massive amounts of money. And that is just to get people to know who he is and does not include voter persuasion. The question becomes, how much money do people want to invest for him to come in 3rd place similar to Eric Johnson?

  7. Joshua Morris says:

    Not sure I follow how Gingrey is portrayed as more conservative than Kingston. I expect more changes in this race long before it begins to matter next year.

    • Doug Deal says:

      I don’t see how one can compare how someone is more or less conservative in the first place. In however this is determined, why is it necessarily the best to have the one that is the most extreme in viewpoint?

      How about instead we pick the one that can articulate the cause for smaller government, the importance of ethics and value of personal freedom? Instead we usually elect the one that is the best at navigating through extreme plegde statements that have no intention of honoring once elected.

  8. Tiberius says:

    “unless some bigger names [Dem] unexpectedly get into the race. ” ?? Other than Kasim Reed, are there any Dems in this state that have name ID?

  9. Dave Bearse says:

    I think Sabato good, but I think he’s off on this race. I’d characterize it as “Safe Republican” for likely nominees other than Broun or Gingrey, and “Leans Republican” or maybe even “Likely Republican” if either of them is the nominees.

    Another way to put it is that it’s the GOP’s to loose.

  10. Harry says:

    Vote your conscience and values, don’t be influenced by what a DC insider is saying to try to steer money. Any Georgia GOP senatorial candidate can beat a Democrat in 2014, especially Broun! I really don’t know what some of you pundits been smoking and where.

    • Harry says:

      It’s too early for me to commit personally, but Broun already has a ton of support among likely primary voters whereas the Dems don’t even have anyone on their team. Some of you must not get out much.

  11. northside101 says:

    Sabato’s “Crystal Ball” has provided pretty solid analysis over last decade or so on national and state races. Last November, for instance, they got 48 of the 50 states right in predicting an Obama win (missing only Florida, where Romney lost by a single percentage point, and Virginia, where thanks to an increasingly liberal Northern Virginia vote, Obama won by four points). No rose-colored glasses, unlike the FOX “experts” who predicted either 325 electoral votes for Romney (remember that Dick Morris?) or 285 for Romney (Karl Rove). And Sabato’s site recently predicted Governor Deal as a safe re-election bet (in part given that the focus will be on the Senate race, not the contest for governor).

    Given that rural Georgia seems solidly Republican these days, for a Democrat to prevail in the Senate contest, he or she probably would have to win heavily in metro Atlanta (now a 28-county region). Breaking even would not do; Obama narrowly won metro Atlanta last year (by fewer than 13,000 votes), but among the 43 percent of Georgians outside metro Atlanta, he trailed Romney by over 315,000 votes, losing badly in, as some examples, northwest Georgia (Dalton, Rome, etc.), northeast Georgia mountains (Dahlonega, Blairsville) and southeast Georgia (Jesup, Waycross, Vidalia, etc.) In 2002, when Sonny Perdue beat Roy Barnes, it was about a 50-50 split between the two in metro Atlanta (then 20 counties), but Perdue overall won handily in the rest of the state.

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