Five Takeaways From Georgia’s Primary Runoff

July 23, 2014 1:16 am

by Charlie · 93 comments

  1. 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…

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

WeymanCWannamakerJr July 23, 2014 at 3:01 am

1. I am also dismayed that 85,000 voters couldn’t trouble themselves with checking another box.
2. The TEA Party is a populist movement that in many ways doesn’t differ from many others that have preceded it. Some of its leaders don’t differ much from other populists like Tom Watson either. Eventually all but the most ignorant will quit sending their telemarketers their money.
3. I sincerely believe Perdue has a better chance of defeating Nunn than Kingston would have regardless of the Houston County roots. His support in the Metro area is obviously higher than Kingston’s.
4. Perhaps IVR polling has run its course. Maybe there should be a return to spending some money for boots on the ground polling again. I’m not impressed with internet sources either.
5. The Republican game plan may have to concentrate on getting a Senator over a Governor. It may not come to that but if it does a Democratic Governor with everything else Republican can’t do much damage. A Senator is pretty much in there for many years, typically as many as they want and the balance is of course pretty delicate right now. Face it, Deal is damaged goods and an unquestioning legislature allowing him carte blanche has harmed the party in this state.

Bobloblaw July 23, 2014 at 8:23 am

I’m one of those 85k. I don’t vote in races where I don’t know the candidate’s background. I’m from illinois. Look up Mark Fairchild and Janice Hart to see what happens when people vote for candidates without knowing their backgrounds.

Chris Huttman July 23, 2014 at 9:28 am

Learned that lesson myself when I ran against a convicted felon (and won) in a Democratic primary. Had I not informed voters of her record, many people would have voted for her based on her being the woman candidate.

ryanhawk July 23, 2014 at 9:05 am

I’m dismayed that we had two candidates in a runoff who were so uninspiring that 85,000 people who actually made it to the polls didn’t find either of them worth voting for.

The actual number of uninspired voters was likely much higher — I did vote for tweedle dee — but only because I thought he was weaker than tweedle dum and more likely to lose in November in the event a candidate worth voting for made it through the other teams runoff.

Ken July 23, 2014 at 3:44 am

Good analysis, Charlie.

The GOP is having growing pains. While everyone is busy talking about the shifting demographics, there has been a shift in who votes in which primary. In the past, people in rural areas of the state who voted GOP in the general election, still voted in the Democrat primaries because of local elections, especially sheriff’s races. They were, in effect, held hostage because of a lack of choice at the local level. That has changed and they now often vote in GOP primaries – but these voters are not plugged into the GOP organization.

This may be the problem with the polling. In the past, the GOP primary wasn’t closed but it might as well have been. “Democrat” was the default setting and people needed a reason to vote in the Republican primary. Now there are still areas when any reason to vote Democrat is acceptable. “I like his hat,” will do when all else fails, but there are larger areas of the state in which the default color is Red. I believe these “independent Republicans” hold the key to the gap between poll results and outcomes.

We long-time Republicans all seem to know each other. We often know the candidates from personal experience. It’s not a mistake if it seems nearly all of your friends supported Jack Kingston. Those who have had interactions with Jack largely favored Jack. The longer you have been involved in Republican politics, the greater the chance that you have met Jack, an elected official who actually enjoys GOP functions and being around GOP activists. Newer or non-affiliated GOP voters have not had that opportunity.

The non-affiliated Republican voters clearly had a different agenda than those Republicans who are plugged into the party. A part of that agenda seems to be that they want new faces.

The opportunity for the GOP is to seek out these independent GOP voters and listen to them. They are obviously willing to vote GOP and for every one that voted in the primary and the primary run-off there are several we failed to reach because we did not speak their language. This is a gift, if we’ll just unwrap the package.

saltycracker July 23, 2014 at 8:00 am

Guess the “affiliated” Republicans don’t know jack.

Ken July 23, 2014 at 8:50 am

Actually, Salty, that would be he “non-affiliated Republicans.” As always, thanks for your in-depth and always-insightful commentary.

Trey A. July 23, 2014 at 10:52 am

Local races are now influencing more Democrats and Independents to pull GOP primary ballots in the suburban metro and other places. That could also influence the terrible polling.

Ken July 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Exactly.

notsplost July 23, 2014 at 6:10 am

Very good writeup Charlie.

The biggest surprise for me was seeing that Hice won handily. I would have thought that he would have run into trouble with some of the comments he made about certain citizens not getting the same rights as others.

Perdue winning was a mild surprise. Perhaps the years of sub-teen approval ratings for Congress have finally taken their toll, and as above commenter points out new faces are going to have the advantage.

As for my County, we are stuck with another marionette of the Chamber of Commerce on the County Commission (Weatherford.) Looks like I’ll be working to elect his Democratic opponent (Derrick Crump) in the general election.

Dr. Monica Henson July 23, 2014 at 6:28 am

Superb analysis, and wise advice to the GA GOP.

notsplost July 23, 2014 at 6:42 am

Is it normal for more votes to have been cast for a particular race in the runoff vs. the general primary?

This appears to be the case in a couple of instances, one being Barr v. Loudermilk and the other a Commissioners race in Cobb County.

Bartow Politics July 23, 2014 at 11:11 am

I’m not sure where you are getting your numbers for Barr vs. Loudermilk. There were 57,009 votes cast on May 20th, 52,435 for the July 22nd run-off. Individual precincts may have been slightly higher, but that could be from a strong person-to-person get out the vote effort by the candidates involved in the run-off.

Nixonstheone July 23, 2014 at 7:06 am

Who’s fooling whom: Houston County has probably been the most consistent GOP county in the state outside of the metro area (for years, even before Sonny took the governor’s mansion). While Perdue grew up there, Michelle Nunn has never even lived in Houston. Perdue carries it easily.

chamblee54 July 23, 2014 at 7:08 am

http://chamblee54.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/runoff/
@EWErickson is zero for two with his endorsements in the senate race. Spell check suggestion for Perdue is Duper

John Konop July 23, 2014 at 7:21 am

I also think the numerous run off elections in Georgia is driving voters away…In Cherokee county we have had 4 elections in less than 7 months…this has created us picking people by the most driven one issue voters having the biggest say…..many times it does not represent the real view of a community. We saw this in the Moore election in Cherokee….He wins in a special gets the same votes in a general and loses….as we have more elections it even burns people out in general elections…my phone, mail….has been going non stop for a year….finally most of it has nothing to do with real issues just personal nasty negative campaigning…..not sure of the answer….many of us see the problem….BTW with low voter count it has to make polling tough…

saltycracker July 23, 2014 at 7:31 am

And we will have to endure Cosby ranting and taking the tea party to a new low. The beating she will take in November, if she gets qualified, will not slow her followers down from making absurd accusations.

Raleigh July 23, 2014 at 9:00 am

At least it will be entertaining and another case for having “None of the Above” as a choice.

saltycracker July 23, 2014 at 7:39 am

So many are so burned out on the assaults and half truths and misinformation from the mailers, robo calls and media looking at the “personal interest” side.

John Konop July 23, 2014 at 8:42 am

Salt, I was at a party this weekend….non political people…you could of repeated your comment…..over and over again…..you hit it on the nail…..

saltycracker July 23, 2014 at 7:24 am

The Perdue win was all about breaking the gridlock in Washington.
Kingston had his chance and was endorsed by those many are tired of, let a new face have a chance.

xdog July 23, 2014 at 7:27 am

TPers won with Hice and Loudermilk, made Ralston stand up and walk around, lost with the rest of the goper establishment (GE) with Kingston.

Deal can’t be happy with GE’s failure to deliver. Time to work the phones, Nathan, see if you can round up some new best friends.

Does super-PAC money matter? Is their ROI approaching zero?

goper polling is a joke. They might as well flip a coin or ask me.

I bet Sonny is happy today. ‘Boy did OK last night. Course I did better in 2002. Did it with other peoples’ money too.’

Nathan July 23, 2014 at 7:31 am

Now comes the hard work towards November.

Corvid July 23, 2014 at 7:48 am

The big challenge for GAGOP will be to separate the campaign messages for Senate and Gov.

If Holly LaBerge continues to put Ethics pressure on the Gov, and Carter starts pounding on Deal at the same time, how will Perdue keep it from tainting his own campaign??

Deal has more problems that Carter is sure to exploit. It may not drive votes to the Carter camp but it will surely dampen enthusiasm for GAGOP voters.

Perdue needs to keep Deal at arms length until this plays out.

Rich July 23, 2014 at 7:56 am

Democratic playbook? nevermind.

6. Barack Obama is not the anti-christ
7. Perdue is taller than Kingston
8. Polls are designed to reinforce delusions
9. The tea party is over
10. Political ads are a disgraceful waste of money

Jane July 23, 2014 at 7:57 am

Purdue may have more problems getting minority support. If you cannot connect with middle class minority voters even a little bit, the GOP will be in trouble this year. Deal has potential because of some of his initiatives, but it could be hard as well.

Patrick T. Malone July 23, 2014 at 8:04 am

Great points but #2 stands out for me. The original TEA partiers voted for the outsider while its purported leadership supported Kingston. This is more in line with the way the movement was founded.

debbie0040 July 23, 2014 at 9:17 am

Patrick Malone, tea party vote was split on this race just like it was in the May 20th vote. You act like all tea party activists supported Kingston and that is not true.

Kingston couldn’t overcome the support of the Chamber.

Three Jack July 23, 2014 at 10:48 am

“Kingston couldn’t overcome the support of the Chamber.”

Without the chamber, Kingston would not have been a factor. They spent millions promoting him.

Kingston’s problem was/is his 22 years in congress. I would bet if you did a survey of TPers you would find most voted for Perdue because he is not a lifelong politician.

TeaPartyMichael July 23, 2014 at 10:18 am

The reality is that the Tea Party is too nebulous, widespread, and diverse to ever function as a dependable electoral machine. We’re not ever going to be this uber-effective political faction that can reliably elect candidates. Despite what some people would like to believe about us, and despite how various individuals would like to depict themselves, there isn’t the kind of leadership anywhere in the movement that can direct enough of our numbers to a particular candidate. We’re always going to be divided when there are multiple viable options. Where we excel and where we are powerful is in policy issues that can unite us all, such as Obamacare. The more we try to focus on who’s winning an election, and less on what’s happening once these people are in office, the faster we’ll continue to lose credibility. The reality is that we need to be able to work with elected officials even when they’re not the ones we would have liked to see elected.

Engineer July 23, 2014 at 8:23 am

Another thing that should be noted, Kingston clearly and solidly took southern Georgia (except for Dougherty County, which was a 6 vote difference, Quitman, Stewart, & Clay were all a 2 vote difference), the problem is he couldn’t make inroads north of the fall line and shore up some of those far western GA votes. Although I was surprised to see how much support he got in NW Georgia.

Source:
http://results.enr.clarityelections.com/GA/52176/136969/en/md.html?cid=6010

xdog July 23, 2014 at 9:11 am

I’m amazed. Dougherty had 95000 residents in 2010 and Kingston and Perdue combined pulled in 1200. That’s barely 1 percent. By comparison, Clarke 117000 and 4000, Richmond 200000 and 5800, Lowndes 109000 and 4600.

Spacey G July 23, 2014 at 8:51 am

Was hoping this was going to be a list of good BBQ joints.

Stephen in Southside July 23, 2014 at 9:00 am

#2 Was dead on

Ed July 23, 2014 at 9:05 am

WRT polling, in fairness I think 2002 was a legitimate shock so that would be a reason polls were bad then. Now it just seems as if there are two lurking variables that need to be accounted for: the demographic changes and the rapid evaporation of landlines.

I guess what I’m saying is that there are people who probably now how to poll Georgia just they might be a year or so behind so thinks are a little askew.

xdog July 23, 2014 at 9:13 am

I bet the donks know how to poll. Maybe the gopers can sub it out.

debbie0040 July 23, 2014 at 9:09 am

I can sum it up in one word why Kingston lost – Mississippi

The U.S. Chamber’s part in Mississippi caused a huge backlash against the U.S. Chamber backed candidates. Perdue ran commercials that attacked Kingston being supported by the Chamber

I and other tea party leaders supported Jack and we posted on FaceBook but did not send out emails and we saw a huge difference in reaction after Mississippi. We knew Jack was not a pawn of the Chamber but others were not so certain. There are everyday tea party conservative voters that aren’t politically active that just drew their opinion from the powerful tv ads Perdue was running against the Chamber and they made their decision based on that. They don’t see the FaceBook posts or don’t receive emails from candidates. . Kingston also did not tout tea party endorsements in any of his paid advertisements.

Kingston also had a low turnout from his Congressional District…

Jody Hice won by a big margin and it appears the mail piece sent to Dems backfired big time. Jack Murphy and Don Balfour defeated in 2014 – Murphy lost by a wide margin. Ralston’s hand picked candidate Megan Biello was soundly defeated by Wes Cantrell. Marty Harbin won his state senate race.

notsplost July 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

If only the same logic applied to Cobb County.

We’ve got perhaps the worst Board of Commission ever. Complete tools of the Chamber. Might as well just put 5 chimps up there and train them to vote however the CoC wants them too. At least we’d get some amusement out of watching the chimps do funny things.

I’m beginning to think this place is cursed. Maybe I really need to leave and head somewhere else like Fulton County. I’d rather hand over my tax dollars to liberals. At least they mean well.

xdog July 23, 2014 at 9:19 am

‘everyday tea party conservative voters that aren’t politically active that just drew their opinion from the powerful tv ads’

I didn’t know there were any tpers who aren’t politically active or at least politically vocal, and if there are, why would they inform themselves from tv ads for one candidate over the other? You’d think they’d follow the well-publicized positions of their leaders. Maybe they aren’t tpers after all. Maybe their leaders don’t lead anybody.

debbie0040 July 23, 2014 at 10:30 am

The positions were not well publicized. I am talking about tea party values voters that aren’t politically active. You guys seem to think the whole world revolves around FaceBook and blogs. FaceBook reach is limited. As far as I know, Kingston did not run ads touting tea party support. Perdue ran ads criticizing the U.S. Chamber and that won him much support. Political junkies are different from average voters. Again, tea party support was divided just like in the May 20th primary. The tea party did not did not get behind one candidate for May 20th and they did not get behind one candidate July 22nd. Perdue finished in 1st but did not come away with over 50% because of the many candidates in the field.

The problem is getting tea party activists behind one candidate sometimes. The tea party is very diverse – you have some that are pro life, some pro choice, some oppose gay marriage, some support gay marriage, some that normally vote Republican, some that vote Libertarian. Activists feel different issues are top priorities. The tea party is not one person or even one group. In 2012, tea party support was divided among candidates for President.

They did get behind Jody Hice, Michael Williams, got behind Loudermilk except for Canton Tea Party, Marty Harbin, Wes Cantrell, Woods, etc.

Even in the general election tea party activists won’t agree 100 % on the same candidates for some offices.

griftdrift July 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

But they all agree on Mississippi, right?

c_murrayiii July 23, 2014 at 6:11 pm

So let me get this right, the pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, libertarian leaning TPers got behind Hice too? Or do they just not exist in the 10th District, despite Oconee and Clarke county holding a fair number of young folks who are arguably the right demo for libertarian GOPers and TPers? BTW, both those counties went to Collins, if my info is correct.

troutbum70 July 24, 2014 at 9:50 am

All politics is local! I’m sorry but Mississippi had nothing to do with Kingston losing or any Chamber ads. The Chamber ad didn’t have enough time to build up any presence. Perdue came in first or second in every county, in the Primary, except for those around Kingston’s district. Kingston had to overcome some steep numbers in the metro Atlanta area. Kingston came across as the guy with all the connections and endorsements and looked like the ultimate insider being on Capital Hill for 22 years. And when your strategy is to trash your opponent and just blatantly make stuff up, it will backfire on you. Voters want to hear how you’ll make their life better.

ryanhawk July 23, 2014 at 9:30 am

“everyday tea party conservative voters that aren’t politically active that just drew their opinion from the powerful tv ads Perdue was running against the Chamber”

So your opinion is that Perdue won because “tea party conservative voters” are stupid and easily fooled?

seenbetrdayz July 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Well they don’t believe that now of course! Now the Tea Party is great and well, mumble mumble mumble something about unity mumble unity.

Oz July 23, 2014 at 9:33 am

From my point of view, I had to choose between:

Perdue — Outsider who did some offshoring to other countries.

Kingston — Insider who was endorsed by the Chamber which is in favor of cheap labor (H1B visas/amnesty).

I did not see Perdue’s Ads or focus on Mississippi, but the Chamber support is what pushed me over to Perdue in the end. Chamber seems to be business over people.

I’ve always been pro-capitalist, but I wish there was a way to support pro-growth policies that still take US workers into account instead of just rules that help the businesses, but not the people.

Chris Huttman July 23, 2014 at 9:37 am

You seem to forget that Perdue led round 1 well before Mississippi happened and it was only logical (even though practically every Republican pundit couldn’t see it) that he would be favored in round 2.

Despite the fact that Broun and Gingrey’s campaigns were a joke and Handel never caught fire, Kingston received only 13% of the votes in the Atlanta DMA the first time out. He was propelled into the runoff by “weak” partisans from areas that he had represented in Congress. There was little evidence that he had persuaded many actual Republican primary voters the first time to vote for him.

In the Atlanta DMA which is around 65% of the state, the two non-Congressmen (Perdue/Handel) easily outpaced the three members of Congress. Despite Handel’s endorsement and her own and rabid supporters self image of her as some sort of quasi-Palin tea party hero, she has always gotten the votes of the non-establishment moderates. What did Kingston and his allies say about Perdue in their TV ads? Oh yeah – that he’s a moderate! Whoops.

In actuality, I think Perdue is a weak candidate too. His appeal is barely an inch deep. He’s only an outsider against a 22-year Congressional incumbent. He had the best ads in a first round against jokers and an underfunded threat (Handel) that couldn’t match him. He barely eeked out a win in the second round against a guy who didn’t really know how to run a race because he hasn’t had to in decades.

That has much, much, much more to do with it than Mississippi and who the Chamber supported.

ryanhawk July 23, 2014 at 9:46 am

“He’s only an outsider against a 22-year Congressional incumbent”

There was some truth to this, but no longer. Having the Republican establishment, the Chamber of Commerce, and the tea party “leadership” all line up against Perdue has gone a long way towards defining him as an outsider in a way that will be very helpful in the general election and beyond.

Michael Silver July 23, 2014 at 10:06 am

Perdue, Loudermilk, and Hice Hice Baby all beat back the the Republican establishment, the Chamber of Commerce, Crony Capitalists, and the tea party “leadership”.

After overcoming those significant hurdles and back-stabbing by so-called friends, the general election will be easy.

Michelle Nunn’s chances will wither away by October when folks realize that she’s a terrific person. Full of grace and a huge heart. BUT, folks will reach the realization that we need send someone tougher go fight for our nation in that cesspool of sleaze and self-interest known as the US Senate.

To be frank, Michelle is too good for the Senate.

Bridget Cantrell July 23, 2014 at 10:23 am

Michelle Nunn’s maturity, patience, grace, and ability to strategical works across party lines to accomplish a goal is exactly what we need. She’s not too nice though; a good person, but not girlishly naive.

CEO to CEO… She’s simply a better leaders. And a leader is what we need.

Jon Lester July 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

I get the feeling her effectiveness at doing that will be inversely proportional to the desirability of the goal.

debbie0040 July 23, 2014 at 10:49 am

You guys underestimate Michelle Nunn. She is a “Blue dog” Democrat, is an outsider and hasn’t made the same gaffes as Perdue has. Perdue has his share of 47% comments that will be used by Nunn’s people.

Chris Huttman July 23, 2014 at 11:04 am

We will have to agree to disagree on that front. The average general election swing voter won’t really care what the calculus was in the Republican primary.

Dave Bearse July 23, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Except that the Chamber, Tea Party, leadership, and the other candidates including Kingston will all be lined up for Perdue against Nunn. Remember, only about a quarter or less of those that will vote in November even bothered with this election.

debbie0040 July 23, 2014 at 10:43 am

Perdue finished 1st but did not have over 50% May 20th, he had just over 30%. 70% voted against him.

Chris Huttman July 23, 2014 at 11:09 am

I would argue that the lion’s share of Broun, Gingrey and Handel voters weren’t voting “against” Perdue in the first round. They were voting for their candidates, same as Kingston. If you compare 2010 to 2014, Perdue did take a lot of voters away from Handel. In that sense, he was the only candidate who demonstrated in the first round that he could persuade voters away from someone.

In the first round, Kingston was the natural place for Gingrey and Broun voters to end up – yet they stuck with Gingrey/Broun despite the fact that they had to know they had no chance by that point. In fact, I’d argue that to the extent that Gingrey voters went anywhere, they went to Perdue also.

So something like 50% of the voters in the first round were just voting parochially for their guy (or girl). To the extent that anyone was making up their mind, they went with Perdue. Saying 70% voted against him is not really right.

Trey A. July 23, 2014 at 11:09 am

Chris, I think you’re spot on. Especially with the somewhat effective labeling of Perdue as a moderate by Kingston’s folks (despite Perdue’s cries to the contrary). Lots of moderate, pro-business voters in those big metro suburban counties pull GOP primary ballots because all of their local races are decided in the Republican primary. “Moderate” and “CEO” are more positive terms for these folks than “NRA” and “No-Amnesty.”

griftdrift July 23, 2014 at 11:20 am

I concur

Chris Huttman July 23, 2014 at 11:31 am

Thanks guys!

rmarsden89 July 23, 2014 at 10:10 am

Debbie I can assure you that the majority of Georgians did not make their decision based on Thad Cochran winning, or the way he won. Also do you remember 9 weeks ago, when Perdue was in first by a large margin and by all accounts leading as peoples second choice, that was before Mississippi. One of the big reasons that people voted for Perdue was because they wanted someone who hadn’t been in DC for 22 years, I liked him because i agreed with him when he asked the question, If Jack was going to change Washington wouldn’t he have done it in the past 22 years? In saying that i feel i need to say that I like Jack, I would have had no problem supporting him, he is a good man, and would have done a decent job, but I and it appears that a majority of 12% of Georgians felt that Perdue will do a better job

Salmo July 23, 2014 at 10:45 am

“One of the big reasons that people voted for Perdue was because they wanted someone who hadn’t been in DC for 22 years, I liked him because i agreed with him when he asked the question, If Jack was going to change Washington wouldn’t he have done it in the past 22 years?”

Anyone who believes a single member of the United States House of Representatives should be singlehandedly responsible for overhauling the way the federal government operates is an idiot in need of a civics lesson. That was a stupid talking point that admittedly stuck with many voters despite having no basis in reality. It ultimately highlights a voter as intellectually lazy that they would simply dismiss a candidate for their longevity rather than actually taking the time to inspect their voting record.

rmarsden89 July 23, 2014 at 8:34 pm

If it struck with so many voters, how was it a stupid talking point? The point he was making was, if he was going to change things wouldn’t he have already gotten up a coalition and changed them. When you have someone that has been in DC for 22 years, that had implied in his campaign elect me to help change Washington, how can you not ask yourself well why hasn’t he done anything to change it yet? That is not the only reason that I supported David, i also liked the fact that he has been in the private sector and been very successful in the private sector. Your point about Jacks voting record is valid, but when it came down to it, because these guys were so close to each other on the issues, I and a lot of other people who voted went with someone that we thought could make a difference and would take a different set of skills up to DC.

Noway July 23, 2014 at 9:24 am

A good thinning of the old herd. Let’s see what these new fellers can do. Will anything change much? Doubtful. I don’t see a Tom Coburn, gen-u-ine legislative troublemaker in this bunch. Broun, Gingrey and Kingston will immediately begin to collect a whopper pension that the rest of us can only fantasize about. Thanks, boys, for all of your efforts over the years to cut disgraceful levels of federal “vote buying” er, I mean, spending. My two month old great-niece thanks you profusely. Let’s all make our desktop screen savers be the ever spinning federal debt clock. Watch those figures tick by with mind-numbing speed. That super collider in Switzerland is a veritable tortoise by comparison. Will next year’s federal budget be even one dollar less than this year’s? Nope. So, all of the rhetoric of “changing the way DC works” is all talk. At least the last few months have been semi amusing to all of us political nerds. All of our emotional capital we’ve put into our favorite “team” is/will be for naught.

John Konop July 23, 2014 at 9:36 am

The sad part this is what I hear all the time…..more and more think it just does not matter….no real answers….I hope through blogs like this a few voices get heard…..I have seen on a local level positive reform can happen….I think focusing locally may be the best answer….

Noway July 23, 2014 at 9:50 am

This blog is hugely helpful to allow all of us to voice our opinions and I’m sorry to be a downer with most of my views on the future but I have seen nothing that has given me hope on the federal level. I’d probably go into a year-long manic high if I ever saw anything change. Anddd, I have no doubt that last night’s winners believe they are the next Jimmy Stewart, all full of sacred ideals, but it never seems to materialize.

John Konop July 23, 2014 at 10:25 am

Noway,

We have agreed and disagreed on issues through the years….I have always had a lot of respect for your comments….It is clear you do not speak from being part of a political spin machine…You think through an issue and have a real opinion…Please keep it up!

Noway July 23, 2014 at 10:49 am

Thanks, John. We’ll see. I hope your positive attitude comes to pass. Now, it’s off to Longhorn for a rack of ribs!

Lea Thrace July 23, 2014 at 10:44 am

I got a glimmer of hope when I saw that the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act got signed yesterday. It’s a tiny thing. A little ripple in the pond. But it at least offers so hope that both sides can get together and agree on something that is actually needed.

Just call me Pollyanna but I remain optimistic.

Noway July 23, 2014 at 10:50 am

And God Bless you for it, too, Lea!

Three Jack July 23, 2014 at 11:06 am

Lea,

What benefit will the WIOA provide? It looks nothing more than an extension of failed jobs training programs that the federal government should not be providing in the first place.

Jon Lester July 23, 2014 at 9:41 am

I didn’t expect Kingston to lose, but it serves him right, after he voted for loan guarantees to the current Kiev regime. Perdue doesn’t have that or any other previous House vote hanging over him.

My plan is the same; I’ll vote for Swafford, both for principled reasons and to help force a runoff. You Republicans might be well-served by a Senate runoff, both for Perdue’s odds and for limiting what Democratic leaders do while the Senate balance remains unknown.

Mrs. Adam Kornstein July 23, 2014 at 10:17 am

Regarding polling, the Republican leaning shops seem to be stuck calling the same 2,000 people expecting different results. The Senate race had a 7 point difference all along, yet as we all saw it was closer than that. Heck reading this blog and the comments could have told anyone it was closer than 7 points. In one poll the undecides was 7%.

It will be interesting to see how the data unpacks in the next week or so. Did everyone oversample 65 year old white men? Was any diversity considered? Is the age range skewed? This is going to be important for polling against Michelle.

Bill Dawers July 23, 2014 at 10:34 am

A few thoughts re polling:

-I didn’t obsessively study any of the Senate polling because most of the surveys seemed to screen for likely voters rather than just give us a big pool of data generated from responses by registered voters. A screen for likely voters will almost always capture more party diehards and highly motivated voters than a broader screen for registered voters. The problem with screening for likely voters is that many of those people won’t actually vote, and many of those whose poll answers were tossed out will actually vote.

-The geographical divisions of this race might have made polling especially tricky. If there was too big of a sample from south Georgia, that would have inflated Kingston’s numbers. I honestly don’t know if polling firms ever try to adjust the numbers based on geography.

slyram July 23, 2014 at 10:35 am
gcp July 23, 2014 at 11:41 am

A few observations from an independent. I was glad to see voters reject the two retreads; Kingston and Barr. By voting for Perdue, voters ignored all the professional political endorsers but my question is what do you professional endorsers do now? Do you quietly and embarrassingly support Perdue or do you just go away?

As for Perdue; will his message stray from smaller, more efficient government? Some of us will be watching closely.

Edward Lindsey July 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Let me offer these perspectives from one of the candidates who learned a lot by coming up short this year.

1. “Success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan.”

2. One member of a coalition of a defeated candidate pointing the finger at another member of a coalition and saying, “they were the reason the candidate lost” just sounds silly.

3. We spend a lot of time talking about it, but endorsements of candidates have a marginal impact at best. What matters then? See 6 below.

4. Polling is worthless unless you can also predict the % turnout. This year’s turnout was a record low for recent elections and way off from what folks originally expected (See 8). Given that, an ouija board and tarot cards were just as effective.

5. For all the faults folks have found in picking apart Jack Kingston campaign (See 1 above) — whom I endorsed (See 3 above) –, he almost pulled off a remarkable feat. He comes from an area of the state far removed from the population center of Georgia. He pulled together a remarkable coalition unheard of in recent years in our state (See 2 above). People that know him best, adore him as shown by the % of votes he got from the coast. He only lost by a few thousand votes. We should not toss him aside. Instead, we need him.

6. Message matters. David Perdue — as well as Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk — echoed exactly what the GOP voters want this year in their federal candidates. They all promised to take something fundamentally different to Washington — call it pitchforks and torches or mops and Clorox — and that is exactly what the voters who came out to vote (See 8) are demanding. You can disagree/agree with it but that is the mood we are in right now.

7. Money matters but only if backed up by the right message. (See 6)

8. Voter turnout was disturbing this year — 18% in the primary and only 12.5% in the runoff state wide and in many areas far below that. As Americans, we pride ourselves on being an example to the world on the value of democracy. Maybe it’s time for us to take a civics lesson from abroad. In war torn Afghanistan, with leaders far from perfect and with bombs going off all around them, the Afghan people defied the Taliban and stood in long lines to vote in their general election and runoff. See http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/world/asia/afghanistan-voting.html?_r=2 and http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/06/15/afhans-say-election-turnout-strong-50-killed-in-attacks/. Here in Georgia what is our excuse for our apathy? Mad at robocalls? Tired of negative ads? Turned off by volunteers knocking on the door? Not wanting to get wet in the rain? Well, we need to grow up. We face serious problems abroad, in Washington, under the Gold Dome in Atlanta, and in our own local communities. Nothing has ever been fixed by people who sat on the sidelines and refused to participate.

9. And finally, the Rev. Peter Marty says, “Nothing has been more destructive to the Church, than those who believe they have the sole possession of the truth.” This applies doubly to politics. :)

Edward Lindsey

Chris Huttman July 23, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I like this Ed Lindsay – excellent points.

Dave Bearse July 23, 2014 at 11:42 pm

“Here in Georgia what is our excuse for our apathy? Mad at robocalls? Tired of negative ads? Turned off by volunteers knocking on the door? Not wanting to get wet in the rain?”

Two candidates with positions the same as peas in pod as concerns most voters may had had something to do with it.

objective July 23, 2014 at 3:22 pm

re: polling, i want to assume that the best polls – esp for primaries and runoffs- are based upon likely voters. but i’m guessing that “likely voters” is much broader than the super voters who are the truly most likely to vote in these contests. are there any polls that actually focus just on the super voters?

Chris Huttman July 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm

In my experience quantifying who is and is not a likely voter is putting your thumb too heavily on the scale. Simply calling everyone, asking if they will vote and who they will vote for seems to be a better indicator.

Unfortunately, calling everyone is expensive, so pollsters like to cull down the pool of prospective interviews if they can. So let’s say you limit your pool to just voters who have voted in at least 2 of the last 4 primaries. While voters like that may make up a majority of voters, what about someone who voted in just 1 primary (they are at least somewhat likely to show up again) and what about the people who haven’t voted in a recent primary? They pop in and out too.

Sometimes the opinions of the “likely” pool aren’t different from the non-likely – the same way that the vote preferences (in Georgia at least) of cell phone voters aren’t that different from their demographically similar cohorts who have land lines – because our electorate is so racially polarized. Sometimes the likely pool just has similar but amplified opinions, the ratio of supports of candidate A to B is the same as with non likely voters but with fewer undecideds.

But sometimes the voters are different. Jack Kingston outperformed most of the late primary likely voter polls. In South Georgia – where he cleaned up – many people who voted for him either don’t normally vote in Republican primaries or haven’t established the kind of history that would give them “2 out of 4″ status.

Similarly, we’ve never had a primary so early and a runoff so early. How could you possible be smart enough to say who would be likely? It’s the first time we’ve ever had this election.

objective July 23, 2014 at 4:26 pm

yes to all u said.
but this goes to charlie’s point, which is really the lack of sophistication of polling.
the reality is we know possible voters, somewhat likely voters, likely voters, and very likely voters. are the pollsters weighting them properly? ie, if u were to take a cross section of voters from yesterday, u could probably confidently estimate the % that were very likely, likely, unlikely, etc. i imagine- perhaps it is only imagination- that pollsters know the stats for this on every past election. and when u know those #s, you can then stratify your sample to make a properly proportional sample of those who vote. or you can weight based upon the strata. it looks like pollsters presently just weigh based on demographics, or maybe the broad “likelihood” of voting (unlikely voters simply excluded from sample).
and while the timing of this runoff was different, and perhaps leads to some variation, i can’t imagine why this wouldn’t just lead to weighting super voters even more.
either way, having properly weighted strata should increase accuracy. along with, of course, sufficient sample size. (i tend to think that the minimum should be 1000. more expensive, yes. worth it? seems to be…)

Chris Huttman July 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm

More good points. I have conducted many polls in this state (and elsewhere) that have been highly accurate without having to get a sample size anywhere near 1,000. My philosophy is pretty simple – I ask people what their opinion is. I also typically randomly call any/every available phone number (or a sample thereof) unless there’s a very good reason not to – such as that a primary has already happened and some voters are excluded from voting in the other primary’s runoff. Or in other states if there is a closed primary system.

My philosophy is that more or less if you call everyone, they will tell you (somewhat accurately) if they are actually planning to vote and (much more accurately) who they are intending to vote for. Especially in a primary or other low turnout affair, people who aren’t planning to vote will either tell you that or not have an opinion (or not a strong one) on who they are voting for.

So if you think about it – the way we conduct a primary or runoff in Georgia is that every eligible voter – all 5,000,000 of them can vote. We start with 5 million, we say come to the polling place and if you come to the polling place, cast your ballot, we will add them up and we will see who got the most votes. The closest way to approximate this with a poll is to ask a random sample of everyone who they support if they do happen to support someone, and add up the totals.

The alternative to this is to start deleting some of the 5,000,000 people. I’ll give you some examples with real numbers for the 2014 Republican primary. 14% of the people who actually voted hadn’t voted in 2010 or 2012 primary (despite the fact that 2012 had enormous turnout). Another 29% had voted in just one of the prior two primaries. Just 57% had voted in both 2010/2012 primaries.

So if you had only included the supervoters, you would not have talked to about 43% of the people who actually did vote. And in addition to that, 340k supervoters voted, but your sample would have been drawn from all 448k prior supervoters – meaning that only 75% of the people you sampled would have even shown up. A full 25% of the supervoters you would have interviewed wouldn’t have even shown up to vote.

So if you did a poll of 1,000 “supervoters”, about 750 of your respondents would have been actual voters, but 250 of your respondents would be non-voters! Your poll would include 250 worthless interviews junking up your overall response. You can see where that kind of error would come in.

Now if instead you did an 800 person poll of the approximately 4,000,000 Georgians who had at least voted once in any election since 2008 and asked them how likely they were to vote, you might end up with 300-350 of them saying they intended to vote in the Republican primary (the real number would be closer to 120 just based on turnout) and so you would have people skewing their self reported likelihood, but you’d also get a random sample of 300 people from the rarely who turnout to the supervoters of who they actually support.

On most days, I will take 300 responses from everyone and just ignore the undecideds over a 1,000 sample sample that’s been arbitrarily pre-screened which includes nearly as many responses from people who statistically don’t vote as it doesn’t include responses from people out there who will vote but weren’t even interviewed.

The only exception to this line of thinking is when your poll is for message testing. If I’m sending mail, and I have a limited budget, I’m going to go after those 2/2 voters who are 75% likely to show up instead of playing go fish in an ocean of low turnout voters when only a select few will turn up. If I need to know what to say to the people I can actually afford to communicate with, I’ll pre-screen. But, and this is a crucial distinction, a message testing poll (what most campaign polling is) may very well include a horse race question, but it is typically not designed to be perfectly accurate (it may or may not be). However, polls produced for media consumption – this is the only reason to exist. And when they make decisions that lead to bad results, you have to question why the media keeps paying for them and promoting them.

xdog July 23, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Good stuff. Appreciate the look under the hood.

northside101 July 23, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Kingston’s emphasis on metro Atlanta in the final weeks of the runoff campaign paid dividends in closing much of the gap with Perdue. As one example, in May he received 6,370 votes in Cobb, but he got 21,827 there yesterday, an improvement of better than 15,000 votes. As another example, in Fulton he took 5,516 votes in Round 1, 13,841 votes in Round 2, an improvement of over 8,000 votes.

But there may have been a cost to that metro emphasis—a sampling of counties in his area shows some marked drops over the two month-period. Appling County, on Hwy 341 in southeast Georgia, saw Kingston get 1,709 votes in Round 1, 954 yesterday, a decline of 755 votes. In Glynn County (St Simons/Brunswick), Kingston got 5,673 votes the first time and 4,758 the second time, a decline of 915 votes. In Bulloch County (Statesboro, 3,325 votes for Kingston in Round 1, 2,506 in Round 2, a drop of 819 votes. Just between those 3 examples, Kingston was getting about 2,500 fewer votes than last time—not insignificant in a race he lost by 8,500 votes. In fact, it looks like Kingston got about 5,000 fewer votes this time in his home district, CD 1, than he did in May, while Perdue picked up about 2,500 more votes in CD 1 than before—a flip of about 7,500 votes just there. Perhaps Kingston had no choice here on metro Atlanta, given he ran much worse north of I-20 in May than south of there—but perhaps a reminder was needed for the home base.

The lack of a runoff in CD 12 (GOP primary won by Rick Allen in May) probably also played a role. Kingston took about 62 percent in the 12th District this past Tuesday. But turnout in that district dropped about 20,000, from 48,000 to 28,000. between the two rounds. As for the runoffs in CD 10 (Paul Broun’s old seat) and 11 (Gingrey’s old one), those apparently worked in Perdue’s favor—he carried both districts yesterday against Kingston.

The value of endorsements obviously has been questioned. Handel of course came out strongly for Kingston, and that probably helped Kingston improve his Fulton showing—but Perdue still carried Tom Price’s 6th CD (the heart of Handel’s base, especially in north Fulton) with 55 percent of the vote. Phil Gingrey endorsed Kingston, and Perdue got 54 percent in his district yesterday. From a preliminary analysis, other than his own congressional district, it looks like the only GOP-held congressional district Kingston won in the runoff was Austin Scott’s 8th CD, where Kingston’s strong base in Valdosta helped him win that district.

As for the ads, the reality is that Kingston and Perdue would vote the same probably 95% of the time if not more. So the slightest differences had to be exaggerated. And Kingston’s ads may have been over the heads of some voters. While the Savannah harbor expansion of course benefits Georgia overall, the emphasis on that in his ads may have made it look like he was instead running for this district again. And the “Keystone Pipeline” is probably not an everyday topic of discussion, much less familiarity, among many voters. Finally, I don’t it was clear to voters why Kingston needed 6 years in the Senate after 22 years in the House. What different was going to get done that had not been accomplished since the beginning of the Clinton Administration (1993) when he was sworn into the House? That may have been a factor in Perdue’s showing in the voter rich northern suburbs of Atlanta, home to many lawyers, IT professionals, bankers and other white-collar occupations, voters who could “relate” to putting a businessman into office.

Mark Rountree July 23, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Great stuff, Northside.

The Last Democrat in Georgia July 23, 2014 at 6:02 pm
Mark Rountree July 23, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Charlie, all fair questions and reasonable points.

As one of the folks who released our polls for public review, I know that our polls have been generally quite accurate over many years. In fact, we actually *did* call the election in 2002 for Sonny Perdue in a poll conducted over the final few days of that election.

Here are a couple observations about voter turnout yesterday:
1. Metro Atlanta was down only 11%.
2. Outside of Metro Atlanta, turnout was down 26%.

In the end, Kingston’s voters — who were substantially in non-Metro Atlanta — did not turn back out. Yet Metro areas did, where Perdue was stronger.

Kingston’s path to win was to have non-Metro voters return to the polls for the runoff (coupled with making up some political ground in Metro Atlanta, where Perdue did very well in May), but that did not materialize. Our polling model had generally comparable turnout between Metro and Non-Metro with some changes based on localized runoffs, as I assume did every polling firm in the country since Kingston was seen as the leading candidate by all published polls that I saw (though I can’t speak for other firms, obviously).

In the big picture, no polling operation can be correct every time. What counts, I believe, is to have faith in polling companies who don’t have unannounced conflicts of interests (political or financial), have established general accuracy over a period of time, are open to questions and criticism and are willing to learn and modify to stay accurate.

John Konop July 23, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Mark,

Why do you think turnout is down? Why was outside the metro even worse?

Mark Rountree July 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Thanks John. My theory is that both campaigns focused most effort and time to metro Atlanta, and that neither had a very great ground game outside of it — at least in terms of get-out-the-vote efforts.

I am not being critical when I write this point above — but it just seems obvious when you look at the First Congressional District in a microcosm: Chatham County had about 17,000 in the May Primary and about 17,000 again in the runoff, a drop off of nearly zero among his closest relationships and supporters. However the *NON*-Chatham counties of the First Congressional District dropped off by about 28% … even worse than the overall turnout drop off of the state as a whole. And that was in Kingston’s *own* congressional district. I kept up with the First District in detail because I was doing the Buddy Carter campaign.

So it strikes me that GOTV programs for Kingston were non-effective. I don’t know what they did for GOTV, as I have not been in touch with them. But it appears to me, based on the First District turnout, that this appears to be an obvious issue.

John Konop July 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Mark,

Thanks for the comment….you bring up a very important point….your poll numbers do not include a bad get out to vote plan……that is a variable that would be hard to poll….since you are basing it on trending data…..do you think the numerous amount of elections has hurt….? In cherokee we under about 3800 votes decide a commisioner race…I think it was under 10 percent…

Mark Rountree July 24, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Thanks. I didn’t mean to infer that polls are right or wrong based on someone else’s GOTV program, though. That’s the responsibility of the pollster to gauge. I’m just saying that in this instance – a runoff election – that the disparity of Metro vs non-Metro contributed to the issue all polling firms had.

Jane July 23, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Did the much lower primary and run of numbers for the Democrats indicate problems for the Democrats in the General? Yes, the had two coronations versus a heated GOP primary, but their numbers were dreadful.

The Last Democrat in Georgia July 23, 2014 at 11:40 pm

With an overwhelmingly conservative electorate, of course the Democrats are again going to struggle like they have in every statewide election since 2002….Though with their robust fundraising ability and Deal’s ethics issues, Nunn and Carter might perform better than any GA Democrat has in over a decade.