After I published this post, we got two additional pieces of news about the Georgia Senate race that are worth a mention.
First, the folks over at Cook Political Report have an updated profile of the race behind their paywall. After a review of the primary results, it looks at the runoff, calling David Perdue a political newcomer and noting that his business record will come up if he is the ultimate nominee. For Jack Kingston, they point out the disadvantage of being a sitting House member who may not be able to motivate voters. For Michelle Nunn, there’s this:
Nunn has proven to be the strongest Democratic Senate challenger of the cycle to date, and has largely stayed above the fray. She has been the subject of several glowing national profiles, but Republicans are beginning to set their sights on her, and it is unlikely that she will continue to get a free ride. Polls show a very close race regardless of whether Kingston or Perdue is the nominee.
Then, Rasmussen Reports is out with a new poll that tests a Kingston-Nunn and a Perdue-Nunn general election. In both cases, Nunn comes out the winner, leading Perdue by a 45%-42% margin, and Kingston, 47%-41%. With a 4% margin of error, and five months before the election, you might want to discount the value of the poll.
In fact, Ed and Stefan, two of our more left-leaning front page posters, disagree on exactly how viable Michelle Nunn might be in November. They will be sharing their thoughts with our readers on Tuesday.
For the last year or so, the popular narrative in the political press about the Georgia Senate race was that Michelle Nunn would have a chance to turn Georgia blue if the GOP were to nominate a Todd Akin-like candidate such as Phil Gingrey or Paul Broun.
Of course, the Democrats’ dream ended Tuesday evening, when the more “evenhanded” Republican candidates Jack Kingston and David Perdue won slots in the runoff to be held on July 22nd. So where does that put the political press now?
First in line is Hotline on Call in the National Journal, with a piece entitled “Without a Republican Screwup, Does Michelle Nunn Stand a Chance?” The theme of this story is that, well, the Dems lost their major chance of a win with a Broun and Gingrey loss, but there is always hope that Kingston and Perdue will make a mistake in the runoff:
Few Democrats would argue that Gingrey and Broun weren’t Nunn’s ideal opponents, but they’re adamant she still has a shot at victory in November. She’ll benefit from a two-month period when Perdue and Kingston will fight each other, rather than her, until the runoff election. That battle, Democrats hope, will force the eventual GOP nominee to adopt an even more conservative agenda unpalatable to a general-election electorate.
“The reality is, no matter who makes it past today, you’re going to have a historic two-month runoff where the top two vote-getters are going to be running further and further to the right in a very low-turnout race,” said Tim Alborg, a Georgia-based Democratic strategist.
On the other hand, the story notes the unwillingness of outside groups to spend money now in an effort to paint Nunn as an undesirable candidate. This is seen as a good sign by some in the GOP that no matter who wins in July, Nunn has a slim to none chance of winning in November.
More commentary comes from the New York Times, and its Upshot columnist Nate Cohn, who manages yet again to find a racial way to draw the electorate.
In the racially polarized South, where white voters have been trending Republican for more than a generation, the Democratic route to 50 percent is mainly a matter of racial demographics. Democrats must wait for more nonwhite voters to overcome their disadvantage with white voters.
That wait might end soon in Georgia, but not in this November’s election. In the midterm balloting, the share of whites will be around 64 percent of registered voters, down from 72 percent in 2002, when the Democratic senator Max Cleland lost re-election by 7 points.
The story goes on to say that Nunn has a small chance of pulling off a win, but only if she would be the perfect candidate able to draw 30% of white voters.
Compared to its rating before the primary, the Upshot model predicts a better chance of a GOP win in the Georgia Senate race, even as it increases the odds of the Democrats holding on to the Senate majority. The Georgia race has moved out of tossup territory, increasing the likelihood of a GOP win to 67% from 59%. Nationally, the Democrats are considered to have a 56% of retaining a majority, compared to 52% just over a week ago.