Deal Downgraded from ‘Safe Republican’ to ‘Likely Republican’

Bad weather and ethics charges, along with slow but steady trends in Democrats’ favors, have caused Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, to downgrade Gov. Nathan Deal’s chances for re-election.

Gov. Nathan Deal
Gov. Nathan Deal

The center now says that the governor’s seat is ‘Likely Republican’ instead of its previous ranking, ‘Safe Republican.’

“Responses to natural disasters or statewide crises can have a markedly positive or negative effect on governors, although Deal might’ve gotten a do-over of sorts with a smooth state handling of the second storm,” writes Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “Perhaps more seriously, Deal has been dogged by ethical questions in office, and there’s a possibility that they could be a liability in the fall. Assuming he defeats a pair of primary opponents, Deal is slated to face state Sen. Jason Carter, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, in the fall.

State Sen. Jason Carter
State Sen. Jason Carter

“Democrats are banking on demographic changes in the Peach State to make these races competitive, and Georgia is slowly moving in the Democrats’ direction,” Kondik continues. “As one shrewd local observer told us, Atlanta’s suburbs, politically, are similar to Northern Virginia 15 years ago, and we know how Democratic that region has become. But for this year’s elections, the more important factor for Democratic statewide campaigns here is the quality of the Republican candidates. Carter needs Deal to be in trouble to win, and Michelle Nunn, a promising Senate candidate, is banking on a bad Republican nominee to emerge in the open U.S. Senate race.”


  1. notsplost says:

    There is one very large factor that makes Atlanta’s suburbs very different than N. Virginia. That is the fact that unlike that area, Atlanta suburban voters are not massively dependent on a bloated federal bureaucracy for their livelihoods. I just heard a statistic that only 4% of Atlanta residents work for the Federal Government in any capacity, vs. a larger percentage statewide due to military bases and such.

    So I am not sure how “shrewd” that local observer is … perhaps it is more likely an example of “the wish is the father of the thought.”

  2. SmyrnaModerate says:

    I agree that noVa is not the right comparison for Atlanta. Not all of the suburban growth in Virginia is demographically driven but due to high tech and employment related to the federal government which equals many more workers who are more educated which is a group that votes more democratic. Loudoun county virginia has the highest per capita income in the country, is 68% white and Obama carried the county handily twice.

    Atlantas better comparison is Los Angeles. Growth there is almost entirely demographic in the suburbs. Orange County was 78% white in 1990, 65% white in 2000 and 44% white now. That’s exactly the trend line for Gwinnett and Henry counties and Cobb isn’t far behind.

  3. Three Jack says:

    With this news, it is even more concerning that GOP primary voters will likely nominate the ethically challenged governor for a 2nd term.

    First question that comes to mind; what has Deal done to earn a new 4 year contract? Has Georgia made progress on the major issues it faced since he was sworn in? I would argue he has no significant accomplishments and has done absolutely nothing to address the major issues of transportation and education. But he has managed to setup a jobs program for friends/family while dodging many questions about the ethics of his administration. In other words, he has covered his own behind so that he can maintain his personal lifestyle while ignoring what needs to be done for Georgia to compete in this economy.

  4. northside101 says:

    Comparing Northern Virginia (basically everything north of Fredericksburg and Culpeper) to metro Atlanta is not precise. Northern Virginia (NoVa, as many in the Commonwealth call it—sometimes with derision if one is conservative in that state) is much more Democratic today than metro Atlanta (28 counties) is. Obama handily won NoVA in 2008 and 2012—in 2012, it provided the margin of victory in Virginia, as overall he lost the rest of the state. Metro Atlanta went just narrowly for Obama last time (by less than 1 percent, or 15,000-vote margin), and Obama lost heavily in the remaining 43% of Georgia who votes outside metro Atlanta. Obama won only 40% of the Georgia vote that is outside metro Atlanta.

    NoVA really hasn’t been a strongly Republican region for years—the last time a GOP presidential candidate won solidly up there, well, it was so long ago, the Berlin Wall and Soviet Union were still around (not relegated to the history books like today), Vince Dooley was still coach at UGA, and Tom Murphy was only about halfway through his 29 years as Speaker. Yep, have to go all the way back to 1988, Bush Uno. In 1992, 1996 and 2000, the NOVA region split about 50-50 in the presidential contests, and backed John Kerry narrowly in 2004. But being much more liberal on social issues than the other 70% or so of Richmond, it will not back far-right Republican candidates, which is a problem for Republicans in a state who sometimes like to nominate far-right candidates (see Oliver North, 1994 and Ken Cuccenelli, 2012)

    Long term, metro Atlanta certainly becomes less Democratic/conservative, but in the short term (2014), question is can a Democratic candidate win big enough in metro Atlanta to offset likely losses in the rest of the state? The part of Georgia where Obama’s approval ratings might match the temperatures from our recent cold snap. Recall in 2002, Roy Barnes did not lose to Sonny Perdue because of a landslide loss in metro Atlanta—Barnes actually carried metro Atlanta (then 20-counties), but had disastrous showings in rural Georgia, places like Dahlonega, Jesup, Vidalia. The rural/small-town vote still packs a punch in this state, even if smaller than years before.

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