Sunday, August 03, 2008

Georgia U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

Georgia U.S. Senate

August 3, 2008
93 Days Until Election Day

Status: Republican Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Safe Republican

When Republican Saxby Chambliss ousted freshman Democrat Senator Max Cleland on Election Night in 2002, it was a sign that Republicans were in for a very good evening. Six years later, the bitterness that many Democrats across the country hold against Chambliss for that win, and in particular for one campaign ad that they felt crossed the line remains, but there is little optimism that Chambliss can be denied a second term, even with a strong cycle for Democrats in 2008.

Cleland and several other prominent Democrats declined to challenge Chambliss's reelection and instead a somewhat crowded field of lesser known Democrats ran instead, with polling data showing that all significantly trail the GOP incumbent. This Tuesday, the top two finishers from last month's primary will face off in a runoff election and after that the general election will officially be underway.

The first place finisher in the primary was Vernon Jones, the elected CEO of DeKalb County. As an African-American, Jones was able to receive strong support from that community and finished first against a field of all white opponents. The second place candidate who advanced to the runoff is a former State Representative named Jim Martin, who was soundly defeated in 2006 as his party's nominee for Lt. Governor. Despite the fact that Jones finished ahead of Martin, he should be expected to be solidly defeated by Martin on Tuesday, as most of the other candidates who lost in the primary have now endorsed Martin. Jones also has a record that involves some serious political and personal baggage going back many years. Most feel that if he were to emerge as the Democrat nominee, Chambliss would easily crush him in a general election.

There are some curious aspects of the Jones vs. Martin contest. Jones, who admits to having voted for President George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004 is now trying to grab ahold of the Barack Obama mantle. He has attacked Martin, who was a John Edwards supporter in the primary, of not having supported Obama. Interestingly enough, Jones also calls himself a more conservative Democrat and says that Martin is too liberal to win statewide.

Martin should win on Tuesday and will be more of a respectable and serious opponent for Chambliss, but the conservative nature of the state and the incumbent's large monetary advantages should still produce an easy victory. There was one somewhat recent Rasmussen Poll which showed that while Chambliss would defeat Jones by 30 points, he had a mere 51-40 lead on Martin. That sort of data should help Martin a great deal among run-off voters, but it still shows that he would begin as a serious underdog and most other polls have showed a wider margin for Chambliss. Not a ton of Georgia or national Democrats seem to be overly enthusiastic about the race, even if Martin emerges on Tuesday. When all is said and done, Chambliss will probably win by around 20 points in November.

Chambliss campaign link (it speaks!):

2008 U.S. Senate races predicted: 3 D, 3 R
Predicted Senate balance of power thus far: 42 D, 29 R


Post a Comment

<< Home