Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Silly assumptions

Erick tries to analyze last night's results - which I followed in a live blog last night - but I think it's too simplistic and too heavy on his unabashed infatuation with Sarah Palin.

His argument assumes that Democrats in Georgia can't bank on African-American support because that allegiance is dedicated to Barack Obama and not the party (nevermind the years of historical voting patterns that suggest otherwise), and that banking on strong turnout in that community is a foolish strategy.

He also puts forward the idea that had Obama visited the state and traveled all over on behalf of Jim Martin, as Palin did for Saxby Chambliss, it would have driven up support somewhat (I actually think there would have possibly been a stronger reverse effect with Obama's presence magnifying the need for conservatives to 'stop' his 'agenda'). Still, there's no doubt that Palin boosted Chambliss, particularly on the eve of the election.

The real issue, though, was the fact that Republicans in Georgia double-downed on a winning message for their base, which was framing the campaign around the concept of this state being a 'firewall' that would prevent Democrats from taking a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate. That was the driving factor that sent more Republicans to the polls and probably persuaded some Republicans who voted independent or cast a ballot for Martin on Election Day to back Chambliss yesterday.

African-American turnout was depressed yesterday, but runoff voting is always depressed across the board. The difference was that the GOP base had a more compelling reason to get out and vote. Democrats had already won the presidency and picked up 58 seats in the U.S. Senate and built a substantial majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the need to 'get' to 60 votes wasn't as imperative.

As far as this notion that African-Americans who backed Obama didn't back other Democrats, the numbers from Election Day suggest a different story. Obama tallied 47 percent of the vote in Georgia, while Martin finished with 46.8 percent and Jim Powell picked up 47.9 percent.

In 2004, without Obama on the ticket, Becky Vaughn picked up 20,000 votes in Athens-Clarke County in a State Senate race that spanned the entire community. Four years later, Sherry Jackson picked up 19,000 votes in a State Senate race that featured six fewer precincts.

By in large, Obama supporters voted down-ticket. They just remained true to form for most runoff models while Republicans turned out in better numbers yesterday.


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