The Republican Party continues with its identity crisis:
There were two major statewide races. As of midnight EDT, The race for US Senate had a spread of less than 2%. 85,000 fewer people couldn’t bother to learn the differences between Richard Woods and Mike Buck, a race that has a difference of roughly 700 votes, or less than .2%. The results of each race mean very different things, but this much is clear: The “voice” of the Georgia GOP is being determined by razor thin margins. But at the end of the day, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. To the victors…
The concept of the Tea Party continues to trump the reality of the Tea Party:
David Perdue, cousin of a two term Governor and appointee of said Governor to one of the state’s more prominent boards successfully used his own money to brand himself as “the Outsider”. In doing so, he managed to defeat not only all pretense of Georgia’s GOP establishment, but virtually everyone those of us in the media often quote as “Tea Party Leaders”, that seemed to all endorse Jack Kingston. It’s clear that many Georgia Republicans still identify with the nebulous idea that is the Tea Party. It becomes less clear when you try to determine who, if anyone, leads this movement, or try to articulate how, exactly, it is led.
That battleground we’ve all been looking at? Wrong.
We’ve known the Democratic playbook has long been based upon the belief that suburban white women who traditionally vote Republican will, if given a reasonable alternative, vote for a Democrat. Make no mistake, this premise (and potential reality) will still be in play. But with the nomination of David Perdue, we now have a tangible central geographic battleground: Houston County, Georgia.
Bonaire Georgia , the home of Georgia’s Perdues, is approximately 15 miles from Perry, Georgia, the homeplace of people named Nunn. Georgia turned “red” when folks around this part of our great state decided Sonny was worth trading in the label of “Sam Nunn Democrat” for the party most had long since been electing for President. We now have a battle of Sam’s daughter versus Sonny’s cousin. Those who know them best? Start polling Houston County this morning if you want to read some tea leaves.
4. Does anyone know how to poll this state?
My gut told me from the beginning that Kingston, the man who could unite the Ga GOP factions, would assimilate the voters of Handel and Gingrey…and maybe split Broun’s. Virtually every poll made public indicated this was happening. While the race closed a bit in the final weeks, virtually every Georgia and DC insider believed Kingston was winning. Upon leaving WXIA, I had a brief conversation with Emory Political Science Professor Andra Gillespie who had been paired with me for analysis for the evening. She questioned if Republicans had a bit of a problem in our polling models. I remarked that we had the same issue in 2002, when Sonny first turned the state red. Seems as if we’ve had this problem a few times since. With so many races coming down to the wire (See Governor’s runoff circa 2010), do we really know how to poll, and do we rely too much on polls? (To be clear, on this Senate race, my gut and the polls agreed – and were both wrong. Mea Culpa if needed). Can our Republican pollsters be relied upon to evaluate Republican races?
5. The game plans of politics are written on an Etch-A-Sketch
There are no certainties in life, and significantly fewer of them in politics. Most Republicans (and I’ll assume most Democrats) had an expected playbook coming out of Tuesday’s election. Scrap it. The Democrats surely will require less readjusting than the GOP, that had all but banked on who their Senate nominee would be. But now the playing field is set. So all will begin to implement their November game plan. Until the next unexpected thing happens. The deck of political cards has been shuffled, and wild cards have been dealt.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.