Now, This Would Be Interesting

March 13, 2014 10:00 am

by Jon Richards · 8 comments

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.

saltycracker March 13, 2014 at 11:10 am

David Perdue – Republican problem solved

(but then again Georgians like to run on the edge with the eccentric that the others offer)

Tiberius March 13, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I will instead cast my eyes on Charleston, WV and see what Senator Joe Mancin (D-WV) does. He may be the Richard Shelby (R-AL) of 2014. Imagine the sway he’d have under the header “a bird in the hand…”

Jon Lester March 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Did something change? I thought we always had our runoffs 3 weeks after any close election.

Anyway, I think odds are high we’ll have a runoff after the GOP primary.

Jon Richards March 13, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Actually, something did change. A federal judge decided that the three or four weeks between the election and the runoff was not long enough for overseas voters to get their ballots in. That’s why the primary was moved to May 20th, since the longer period between the primary and the runoff would have pushed a runoff to mid-September, too close to the election. The runoff for the general was pushed back as well, to January.

John Sanders March 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm

I can’t think of anything better than Phil Gingery or Paul Broun on CNN everyday in December highlighting their radical views.

Blake March 13, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Of course, a tie is not really a tie as long as we still have Vice President Biden.

northside101 March 13, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Unsurprisingly, yes, the Democrats especially want to play up the chances of a Paul Broun nomination, and then we would undoubtedly see footage of evolution “being from the pits of hell”, maybe some stuff about churches needing to do more to get folks to accept Jesus as “lord and savior”, abolishing the EPA and so on. But Georgia’s political history doesn’t make it likely that the primary votes will go for the most conservative choice available (notice I did not say a conservative choice, but the MOST conservative one)…
—In 1988, TV preacher Pat Robertson ran for the GOP presidential nomination, and there was talk that evangelicals would rise up and put Brother Pat in as the nominee. Didn’t work in Georgia—Robertson came in a distant third behind Bush Uno and Bob Dole, with the Virginia Beach preacher unable to win a single congressional district or county in Georgia.

—In 1992, TV commentator Pat Buchanan (remember him, the “we’re in a religious war” guy?) brought his culturally conservative crusade to the Deep South. Bush the first still beat him in this state by nearly 2-1 in the primary (and Buchanan failed to win even more conservative South Carolina)

—In 1996, Buchanan made a return trip to Georgia, but still trailed Bob Dole by a wide margin.

—Also in 1996, social conservative Clint Day ran for the GOP nomination, but came in third behind Millner and Isakson.

—Day tried again in 1998 for elective office (this time, Lieutenant Governor) and accused the GOP’s Mitch Skandalakis of being too liberal on social views. OK, you probably know who won that nomination…

—in 2002, Bill Byrne arguably was the most conservative of the 3 Republicans running for governor (others being Schrenko and Byrne). As I recall, the farmer from Bonaire won that contest…

Ok, Mike Huckabee did win the GOP presidential primary in 2008, but it is not likely he would have won here in just a two-way race with either McCain or Romney (who split the more moderate primary voters)

Just how would Paul Broun win a runoff? It isn’t likely he would carry the vote-rich metro Atlanta area, and probably not coastal Georgia if his opponent is Kingston.

Chris Huttman March 13, 2014 at 11:16 pm

Control of the Senate was definitely in play in 2008 – had Martin won he would have been the 60th vote (Franken’s race was still undecided at this point). Getting 60 votes in the Senate is way bigger than getting 50.

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