With Broun and Gingrey Out, What Will National Political Columnists Worry About Now in #GASen?

May 23, 2014 10:12 am

by Jon Richards · 15 comments

::Update::

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.

Original Post:

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.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

linuxfanatic May 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

Well now you see why the New York Times dumped Nate Silver. Silver is a left-liberal progressive, but he generally stuck to the numbers, even when they didn’t support the liberal agenda, and he also didn’t do that sort of editorializing. When Silver reported polling data that showed that most people supported late term abortion restrictions during the Gosnell case (which the Times would have never otherwise reported at all, let alone have an analytical breakdown of polling data) and did so without ascribing “war on women” motives to its supporters or efforts to get it passed, that was the beginning of the end for his tenure at the Times.

So now you have this fellow calling Kingston and Perdue “mediocre” (based on what?), extolling Nunn’s qualifications (which honestly are only enough to merit consideration for city council, mid-level executive or maybe mayor of a small city) as superior. I do not deny that there is a racial component to the south’s identification with the GOP (especially in this case considering the vehement hatred against anything and everything Atlanta … the difference in the reaction to the publicly funded Falcons stadium in Atlanta and the even worse deal for the stadium in Cobb is exhibit A) but there is no point in bringing it up time and time again other than to make left-liberals feel morally superior. They prefer it to asking why Democrats in southern and midwestern areas can’t simply run moderate candidates that are noticeably to the right of the national party the same way that liberal Republicans have to in the northeast and far west.

Nate Silver would have written “next time recruit Mike Barrow or someone like him” (something that is actually true) which is why he is no longer around. This article didn’t even talk about how despicable it is to get an obvious liberal to use her family name and accomplishments to try to fool the electorate. It is dishonest and is mighty revealing about the state (and national) party.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm

“This article didn’t even talk about how despicable it is to get an obvious liberal to use her family name and accomplishments to try to fool the electorate. It is dishonest and is mighty revealing about the state (and national) party.”

…+1

“Nate Silver would have written “next time recruit Mike Barrow or someone like him” (something that is actually true) which is why he is no longer around.”

…I think that you meant John Barrow.

Bill Dawers May 23, 2014 at 10:48 am

I think the key to Nunn’s chances will hinge on if, when, and how her father enters the fray.

saltycracker May 24, 2014 at 9:03 am

Yep – and how quiet/diversionary she can stay on far left agendas.

xdog May 23, 2014 at 11:37 am

Bill, we’ll see how much organization Nunn pere can muster. Other issues–how MN will do on the stump, how bloody and expensive Perdue/Kingston gets, how far to the right Kingston goes to try to reel in Perdue.

imo the race will be close enough that huge money will flow into the state for both sides. It’s a good time to own a TV or radio station.

Chris Huttman May 23, 2014 at 11:38 am

Any Democrat who can google Pillowtex or Earmarks still has a lot of upside with this primary runoff.

FranInAtlanta May 23, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Metro Atlanta Republican here – would be called a RINO by some. My take is that Karen Handel hurt her chances with the Santorum endorsement – before that, I think she had a big roll-up of votes in metro Atlanta. My take is that it would be a mistake for either candidate to try to out-right the other – having recently looked up the population of metro Atlanta – we are now over 5 million with Georgia at 9 million. That means unAtlanta is now the minority.
Kingston, Perdue, and Nunn are all likable. If Kingston had not made the statement about the school lunch kids being singled out (which he has walked back – meaning he knows it was offensive), I think he would be in better shape.
Nunn cannot be a choice unless one wants one more vote for Harry Reid. I think it is a mistake for people to call her a vote for Obama.

linuxfanatic May 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Greetings Fran:

“My take is that Karen Handel hurt her chances with the Santorum endorsement – before that, I think she had a big roll-up of votes in metro Atlanta.”

Nah. Perdue, Chambliss and the rest of the candidates are pro-life too. And Handel backed gay rights as a Fulton County commissioner long before the rest of the GOP moved to the left on that issue. Handel also didn’t make social issues part of her 2010 campaign. Had it not been for the Komen issue, no one would ever associate Handel with social conservatism. And the Komen issue wasn’t even about one’s issue on Roe v. Wade. It was the reasonable position that it was wrong for Komen to solicit donations from people for fighting breast cancer, and then turn around and give that money to Planned Parenthood. I know, Planned Parenthood performs breast cancer screenings, but the overwhelming majority of such screenings do not happen at their clinics, but instead with PCPs and similar doctors. The whole thing was just the left taking the ideological position that it is morally wrong to oppose abortion, as if opposing abortion makes you a skinhead or something, and manufacturing outrage over the idea that there are people out there who do not want to donate to Planned Parenthood. So we still don’t even know Handel’s personal position on abortion.

“If Kingston had not made the statement about the school lunch kids being singled out (which he has walked back – meaning he knows it was offensive), I think he would be in better shape.”

Anyone who was offended by that is not going to vote for a Republican anyway. The only reason why it was even controversial is because the left freaks out whenever anyone challenges any entitlements for any reason. Compare that statement to the absolutely loony and offensive things that left-liberals make all the time.

Relax, the GOP has this race in the bag. You mentioned that the majority of Georgia is now Atlanta? Well a ton of white voters are in rural and suburban Georgia. Until the state Dems start taking them seriously, even the demographic changes won’t help them, just as it hasn’t in Texas. Texas is now a majority-minority state (has been for years) and the GOP runs that state with an iron grip. Funny how you never see the media acknowledge that. And Virginia is now a purple state primarily because of all the federal workers. Unless Georgia is going to import 1 million federal workers down here, the Dems need to stop waiting on demographics and start getting serious about candidates that don’t offend the majority of Georgians with their political views.

therightdirection May 23, 2014 at 6:59 pm

“Anyone who was offended by that is not going to vote for a Republican anyway. The only reason why it was even controversial is because the left freaks out whenever anyone challenges any entitlements for any reason. ” A-frickin-men!

That idea doesn’t make sense practically, but anyone with a bit of sense understood all Kingston was getting at was trying to instill work ethic. Sheesh.

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 23, 2014 at 7:10 pm

linuxfanatic, May 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm-

I completely agree with your point that Democrats need to stop waiting on Georgia’s demographics to change completely in their favor and instead need to start getting serious about finding electable candidates that do not offend a Conservative Georgia electorate with their left-leaning ideological political views.

But with an extremely-pervasive public perception that the Georgia GOP has been and continues to be largely-incompetent on major issues like transportation, education and ethics during their 12 years of political rule, it would be extremely dangerous for the Georgia GOP to assume that they’ve got “this race in the bag”.

I personally may think that Jason Carter and Michelle Nunn are a couple of liberal elitist frauds pretending to be some kind of Conservative moderate Democrats, but with the Georgia GOP struggling on multiple fronts (ongoing GOP struggles with transportation, education, ethics, general all-around governance; rapidly-changing racial, ethnic and gender demographics; fierce and self-destructive party infighting, etc…), we seem to have arrived at a point where easy victories will no longer be a guarantee in statewide races as they have been over the last decade or so for the GOP.

Also with two very well-funded challengers with extremely-high name recognition in Carter and Nunn, the Georgia GOP seems to increasingly potentially be in a precarious situation.

Even though the January winter storm severely-depressed his approval ratings and poll numbers, Governor Deal should still somewhat easily win re-election in November.

(…The January winter storm was so harmful to Governor Deal’s approval ratings and poll numbers because the severe traffic jam reminded voters of the Georgia GOP’s mammoth struggles with and very-poor handling of transportation.)

But if his ethics issues flare back-up in a significant way before the election, Deal could easily be a goner, particularly with a well-financed Democrat challenger in Carter who has not yet done or said anything to anger Conservative voters.

(…Despite the derision of national liberals, the votes for the gun-rights expansion and state income tax cap bills have improbably made the liberal young Carter an attractive alternative to the ethically-challenged Deal.)

Also, at this point neither David Perdue nor Jack Kingston exactly seem to be a lock to keep Saxby Chambliss’ U.S. Senate seat in GOP hands, particularly with many of the moderate female voters that the GOP depends on to maintain power seemingly being desperate to see much more female representation in government.

…Moderate female voters like Peach Pundit’s own Bridget Cantrell who has stated that she will vote for Michelle Nunn now that Karen Handel has lost in the GOP Primary because of the perception that the GOP is not as receptive to the needs and wants of female voters as they think it should be.

Despite Michelle Nunn’s obvious liberal leanings and liberal elitist background, how many Republican-leaning moderate female voters do you think feel the same way as Ms. Cantrell?….Particularly in the expansive Atlanta suburbs where GOP-leaning moderate female voters make up a dominant part of the electorate.

If Carter and/or Nunn win in November (or even just make the election really close), the currently ultra-dominant Georgia GOP most-assuredly will find itself in a desperate struggle for political survival moving forward. National Democrats will be inspired by good 2014 general election performances by Carter and Nunn to pour tons of money into Georgia in 2016, particularly if Hillary Clinton runs for President as expected.

…Which is why 2014 is so critically-important to the future well-being of the Georgia GOP. The Georgia GOP needs to pull-out all the stops to smash and destroy Carter and Nunn because winning those races by a comfortable margin will help the GOP to severely-retard (or at least slow-down) the probable growth and expansion of the Georgia Democrat Party. But just barely winning or losing the ’14 gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races accelerates the growth potential of the previously long-dormant Democrat Party in Georgia.

Once the Democrats get back in the door in Georgia, the GOP may never get them back out.

caroline May 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm

That GA senate polling makes me think that maybe there aren’t as many far right people in GA as some would like to think.

FranInAtlanta May 24, 2014 at 1:56 am

caroline, I think you are right. I think there are a number of what are called “squish” Republicans in Georgia – particularly in the metro area. I still remember that Bill Clinton carried my Dunwoody precinct in 1992; however the Dems have moved so far left since then that there is a huge gap between them and even the “squish” Republicans.

Dave Bearse May 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm

There’s scant evidence supporting that Dems have moved far left, but abundant evidence the GOP is moving right. The collective conservative mindset has moved away from science, what with the work being 6,000 years old and global warning a hoax, etc, so the suggestion that relative motion may not be understood, or for those that understand not heard because of the Doppler effect, to those in the bubble.

Chris Huttman May 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm

Guess it depends if you are talking about social issues or economic ones. On social issues for sure – compared to 1992 Dems largely support gay marriage, most support legalizing weed and are probably more liberal (but so is the country as a whole) on a host of issues.

But on economic issues – since 1992 Dems have voted and largely support:
1. Welfare reform
2. The Republican alternative to Hillarycare (aka Obamacare/Romneycare)
3. Lower tax rates than the 1994 budget agreement (the top rate is close but the lower brackets are lower)

Those are three big things that are less liberal than what they supported in 1992.

Meanwhile, it’s not clear that Republicans still support the version of welfare reform they championed – or things like the EITC. Many seem to want to radically scale away that. They clearly don’t support their own alternative to Hillarycare, and they don’t support anything coherent (and I don’t care what people try to argue here they have no ability to support a coherent alternative to Obamacare) and who knows what they would do with tax rates if they were in charge. In other words they’ve clearly moved far to the right on economic policy and it’s hard to point to a real defining reason of why they did it other than the Dems like Obama and Clinton adopted and successfully co-opted some of their stronger arguments (my 1/2/3 from above).

Dave Bearse May 24, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Not at all caroline. Gaffes like Perdue’s remarks on Handel’s lack of a college degree or Kingston’s remark that poor children ought to earn their school free lunch produced poll momentary bumps, but the polling from the beginning of the race to its conclusion largely reflected money, and not substantively policy or platform. Handel and Broun didn’t have the money. Gingrey’s late rise in the polls and finish the followed his spending pattern that was too little too late.

Fair Tax? Anti-common core? Anti-immigrant legalization? Can’t compromise on the budget, and either won’t vote (or won’t commit to vote) for their party’s consensus leadership? Collectively that is the far right, and it was the only thing on the menu—a field of five major candidates and nary a one taking exception to even one of the five foregoing.

The differences between Perdue and Broun were tone, not substance. You’re confusing far right with crazy. The difference is that the crazy doesn’t care about winning.