I would like to take a few moments and go over the current lay of the land in Georgia for the 2008 election.
Over the last few election cycles we have seen Georgia move more and more in the Republican camp. In 2002, Georgia voted in its first Republican Governor since Reconstruction, Sonny Perdue, and the 2006 statewide election only further solidified this gradual drift of Georgia has they further cemented control of the State House and State Senate, as well as well as witnessing Republican victories in the two top races in the state for Governor and Lt. Governor. Governor Sonny Perdue won with 58% of the vote and up-and-coming Republican political star Casey Cagle defeated the Democratic lamb Jim Martin, who is currently running a quixotic campaign for U.S. Senate, 54% to 42%. This drift has not dissipated.
The Obama campaign, whilst hunting for pink unicorns, once claimed that Georgia would be a battleground state in 2008, but it seems as though they have finally accepted reality and are currently shifting resources from Georgia into North Carolina. The last Presidential poll for Georgia was conducted on August 14th by Rasmussen and had McCain defeating Obamaby nine points, 53% to 44%. Georgia is not a battleground state.
With the state offices filled in the 2006 elections, and those officials not up for reelection until 2010, we are left with one U.S. Senate contest and the thirteen U.S. House races. Georgia, as anyone living there for a period of time can tell you, is divided between Atlanta and the rest of Georgia. We currently have seven Republican and six Democratic Representatives to the U.S. House, with half of those Democrats from the Atlanta area. None of the seven Republicans are in any danger from their bottom-tier Democratic opponents nor are the three Atlanta-based Democrats. That leaves the other three Democrats who live in largely rural districts.
Congressman Sanford Bishop (D) represents the 2nd District and even though his district has a PVI of D+2, which would seem to imply that this district can flip Republican, he’s largely gone unopposed, or faced only token opposition, and usually wins his races easily. Even though he is African-American and his district is 60% white he has been continuously reelected to office since 1993. I know, I know, I thought all Southerners were racist. Another liberal meme goes down in flames!
The other two Democrats compromise the only truly contested races to watch in Georgia. Congressman John Barrow (D) representing the 12th District and Congressman Jim Marshall (D) of the 8th District. We’ll look at them closer down below.
First things first…
The last poll I saw for this race was a Rasmussen poll conducted on August 14th which had Senator Chambliss ahead of his Democratic opponent 50% to 44%. I haven’t seen any polling done since this but I find it hard to believe that Jim Martin has any chance of unseating Senator Chambliss. Democrats have been licking their chops at the chance to unseat Senator Chambliss ever since the 2002 election when he defeated poor, innocent Max Cleland in what Democrats considered a “shameless” negative campaign against a war hero. So, they offer up Jim Martin whose only claim to fame is that he was swamped by Lt. Governor Casey Cagle in 2006 by twelve points, but, then again, when your only other choices were a corrupt DeKalb county CEO and political neophyte still on the bottle, what else were the Democrats to do. Jim Martin now has a new campaign ad out where he is introduced by the aforementioned loser Cleland. I guess Martin is hoping that the majority of Georgians will have buyers remorse, though I seriously doubt it. Jim Martin can hope for a huge African-American turnout due to Obama, but it will not do enough to overcome the huge campaign warchest of Chambliss nor of rural Georgia voters who have largely abandoned the Democratic Party.
I’ll give this much to both Senator Chambliss and Martin, they have pretty slick campaign websites. You might ask, what about Allen Buckley? Who cares? He always runs and always gets about 2%. That’s that.
U.S. House, 8th District
The 8th District encompasses much of middle Georgia and is largely rural, though including the Macon-Warner Robins area. You’d think that with a PVI of R+8 that Republicans would be able to steal this race from the Democrats, but with Congressman Marshall largely able to define himself as a Blue Dog conservative Democrat they have, as of yet, found it difficult to unseat the incumbent. Congressman Marshall’s social conservatism coupled with his support for the Iraq War and the larger War on Terror has made it almost impossible for opponents to label him as a Pelosi-loving liberal Democrat. He faced a very close race against former Congressman Mac Collins (R) in 2006, winning only 51% to 49%, and I felt that with a more likable candidate more competent at campaigning that Republicans had a shot to take this seat away from the Democrats. Is Rick Goddard that man? I don’t know. He’s a former Major General in the Air Force and might be able to steal some of that veteran thunder from the Vietnam vet Marshall, and he has also proven to be pretty decent at fundraising as well. Goddard introduces himself to the district with a new campaign ad. The last funding figures I saw had Marshall with $1.4 million and Goddard with about $400,000. A pretty large disparity, but not entirely surprising.
U.S. House, 12th District
The 12th District stretches from Augusta to Savannah and is the home of the newly plaid shirt wearing, wannabee man of the soil Congressman John Barrow. Congressman Barrow is a Harvard educated lawyer who, when deciding to run for Congressman, rediscovered a love for plain clothing and affected a Southern accent. If you go to his campaign website you can see him standing at a fence with a planted field behind him. For some strange reason I doubt that Barrow has ever gotten his hands dirty, held a hammer, or worn a pair of work boots. Anyhoo…This seat should not be Democratic. Even with a PVI of D+2 there is no reason that a lackluster candidate like Barrow should hold this seat. In 2004 he defeated Republican incumbent Max Burns 52% to 48% and then held off the same Burns in 2006 by only 864 votes, 51% to 49%. The sad fact is that I don’t see Barrow losing this election cycle as Republicans have no top tier candidate. Republican John Stone is the challenger, but when his opposition in the Republican primary consisted of an illiterate political novice and a former radio talk show host with a history of domestic violence, a dead communist could have emerged victorious. Stone’s only claim to fame was that he was a congressional aide to the late, great Congressman Charlie Norwood. Stone has, perhaps, the worst campaign website I have ever seen by a major party candidate and has only a few paltry thousand dollars compared to Barrow’s campaign chest of over a million. This is depressing. I’ll stop now.