Anyone interested in politics should pay attention to Larry Sabato. He runs the University of Virginia Center for Politics. And among other things, he publishes his Crystal Ball, which attempts to peer into the future and divine the outcome of elections.
This week, he takes a look at the prospects of a Republican takeover of the Senate. Republicans need five seats for a tie, or six seats to win control. That’s a challenge, but possible this year given Democratic retirements and vulnerability due to the dislike of the Affordable Care Act.
As pundits have pointed out for the last year, a possible obstacle to the GOP hopes of taking the Senate is here in Georgia. The concern is that if Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey win the Republican nomination, past controversial statements or a future Akin moment could cause the loss of a winnable seat to Michelle Nunn.
Sabato sees this as well, but throws in an interesting twist:
Georgia: Democrats probably can only win the open seat in Georgia if Republicans nominate a poor candidate here, like firebreathing Reps. Paul Broun (R, GA-10) or Phil Gingrey (R, GA-11), both of whom are capable of kicking away a race with cringe-worthy verbal missteps. Michelle Nunn (D) would undoubtedly prefer to face one of them, although Republicans are hopeful that neither candidate could survive an eventual runoff against an establishment candidate such as Rep. Jack Kingston (R, GA-1). A post-November runoff if no one gets over 50% here in the general election is possible. Imagine if Georgia and Louisiana went to overtime, with the Senate in the balance? Georgia’s runoff wouldn’t be until Jan. 6, 2015 — after the new Congress will be seated. Hmm…
Six years ago, Saxby Chambliss beat Jim Martin in a runoff held on December 2nd. The race was forced into a runoff because Libertarian candidate Jim Buckley received over 3% of the vote in November, leaving Chambliss just short of the 50% + 1 he needed to win outright.
Even though the outcome wouldn’t have affected the balance of power in the Senate that year, Georgia was the center of attention in the political world through the Thanksgiving holiday. The Libertarians have nominated Amanda Swafford as their candidate in the Senate race. Imagine waking up on November 5th to the news the GOP will have 50 Senate seats to the Democrats’ 49, with the Georgia race going into a runoff. If that happens, the Peach State will have a very different type of holiday season this year.