Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Positive trends, actually (Part One)

The latest narrative regarding last night's results involves those who voted for Barack Obama not returning to the polls for Jim Martin. This is partially true, but not to the extent that it's being hyped and focusing on it takes away from a remarkably good effort by Saxby Chambliss to get his voters back to the polls.

This line of argument is being employed at Peach Pundit by numerous folks, and it's been picked up by Blake as well. I somewhat addressed this earlier, but I think it's important to look a little closer.

Let's keep two previous examples in mind in examining this - the 2006 General Election (specifically the governor's race) and the 1992 U.S. Senate race (since it happened during a Presidential election year and featured a runoff). I'll devote this post to comparisons with the 2006 race for governor.

As Flack noted, the turnout numbers for yesterday's runoff closely resembled the numbers for the General Election in 2006 (which is pretty darn impressive). For this year's runoff race, 2,126,494 people cast a ballot, and that exceeds the 2,122,185 votes cast two years ago during a General Election.

In the governor's race that year, Sonny Perdue defeated Mark Taylor 57.9 percent to 38.2 percent, which is wider than the margin of victory Chambliss achieved last night. And, leaving percentages aside, the actual vote totals shed more light as Taylor only picked up 811,049 votes while Martin has 905,638 (and counting) ... in a runoff.

In recent electoral history in Georgia, this is unprecedented. The most recent comparison is the 1992 runoff for U.S. Senate where 1,253,991 turned out to vote. The 1990 governor's race had a turnout of 1,412,287 for the General Election. This election is the first time that a runoff race has exceeded the previous General Election race in turnout.

Let all of that sink in ... almost 100,000 more people voted for Martin in a runoff race than for Taylor in a General Election. Chambliss, despite his convincing win, finished with 9,000 fewer votes than Perdue did in 2006 (which is to be expected).

If anything, this suggests the numbers for Democrats are growing more favorable.


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