Sick of the GA Run-Offs? Wait ’til January…

Well, maybe.

The latest update from Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics contemplates the runoff possibilities for both the Georgia Governor and Georgia Senate races.

The brouhaha over Governor Deal’s involvement in the affairs of the ethics commission could raise the possibility of a runoff in that race:

With ethics troubles making his life more difficult, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) may not be able to win in November; that is, he might have to win in a December runoff. Deal’s problems, which also include lingering frustration with the state’s response to ice storms this past winter, might push some voters toward Libertarian Andrew Hunt, a former tech company CEO. In a June SurveyUSA poll, Hunt garnered 7%. Hunt could send the race into overtime, so to speak, if he helps keep either Deal or his opponent, state Sen. Jason Carter (D), from winning a majority. Should that happen, a Dec. 2 runoff looms. Nonetheless, unless Deal’s problems get even worse (which they could), he would likely be positioned to win that runoff, which would almost certainly feature lower turnout than the November general election.

No matter whether David Perdue or Jack Kingston wins the GOP Senate runoff on Tuesday, there’s a possibility of a runoff there as well:

There, Libertarian Amanda Swafford could have a similar impact to that of her fellow party member Andrew Hunt, winning enough of the vote to throw the contest into overtime. In fact, Swafford, a former town council member in suburban Atlanta, polled at 6% in that same SurveyUSA poll where Hunt pulled 7%.

The federal judge’s decision to extend the amount of time between elections and runoffs will have an impact on runoffs in the general election. That’s because the nine weeks he mandated only applies to federal races. State and local races could continue as they have in the past, allowing three weeks between election and runoff. The legislature set the date of the primary and its runoff the same for both federal and state races in order to save money from having to hold two separate elections. Smart move, given we have a statewide runoff ballot for the federal Senate race and the state’s school superintendent race.

For possible runoffs in the November elections, legislators rolled the dice the other way, declaring the state runoff date to be Dwecember 2nd, five days after the country celebrates Thanksgiving. The Senate runoff, if required, would be on January 6th, five days after the country celebrates the new year. That’s also three business days after the new Congress convenes on the 2nd.

Most of the campaign operatives I’ve talked to from races still to be decided hate (that’s not too strong a word) the longer time period between election and runoff. Trying to sneak a little time away from the campaign in order to open presents on Christmas morning, or to watch a bowl game is something nobody is looking forward to.

But, it’s a possibility. And one that could be made much worse if control of the Senate rests on the results of a Georgia Senate runoff election held in January.


  1. brettbittner says:

    I predict some mis-steps by Senate campaigns involved in a January run-off. Holidays will be intruded upon and votes lost due to some overzealous campaigning when people are trying to spend time with their families. The Thanksgiving intrusions are bad enough for the December run-off dates, though I think the extended holidays that arise from Christmas, New Year’s and Hannukah will offer land mines for the Senate campaigns to step on.

  2. If we have two runoffs (I think it’s most likely that someone wins outright from either side) it would be pretty fascinating for the Senate people to be able to use the Governor runoff as a real time experimental labratory to see who turns out, whether turnout operations were effective, etc.

  3. Jon Lester says:

    You might have seen in last year’s Virginia gubernatorial race that Robert Sarvis actually took almost twice as many votes from McAuliffe as Cuccinelli, and that could well happen here with Hunt and Swafford, because quite a few Georgia voters unhappy with the GOP are still very distrustful of Democrats.

  4. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    With the way that things are currently going for him, Governor Deal can only hope that he has a chance to win the election in a runoff.

      • WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

        You could be onto something here Chris. Wonder if the Libertarian candidates will get more air time on the local channels approaching November?

        • Jon Lester says:

          They’ll need to do what Robert Sarvis did in Virginia last year, which is to go all over the state and introduce themselves to everyone they meet. I would guess that some of the people answering recent polls weren’t aware of any Libertarians in the running before they were asked.

  5. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    I’m a little puzzled by these endless posts about the run off fatigue. I voted in the Republican primary, and have yet to hear a word from either Senate candidate seeking my vote.

    Not. One. Word.

    There are very few signs around my East Cobb neighborhood, not sure what outreach is going on, but it’s barely visible.

    • xdog says:

      You’re lucky. I’ve had a few calls from Kingston and two from Perdue, many from both Collins and Hice, a donk survey, several from allgunsallthetime groups, and an offer to listen to a Paul Broun town-hall meeting, not to mention 10-12 I’ve just hung up on or failed to answer. I would be glad to share the wealth.

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