SPOTLIGHT

Can Democrats Break Through in Georgia This Year?

Points of Light Foundation CEO Michelle Nunn makes brief remarks during the presentation of the 5,000th "Points of Light" Foundation award with President Barack Obama in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on July 15, 2013. 
National Journal
Alex Roarty
July 23, 2014, 7:45 a.m.

It’s easy for Demo­crats to get ex­cited about Michelle Nunn (D): She raises a lot of money, has a last name fam­ous in Geor­gia, and has had close to a year to build her cam­paign be­fore the gen­er­al elec­tion. But now that Dav­id Per­due (R) has (some­what un­ex­pec­tedly) won the Re­pub­lic­an Party’s nom­in­a­tion for Sen­ate, it’s time for a real­ity check. Is a Demo­crat really go­ing to win in Geor­gia, and are they really go­ing to do it in 2014? — Demo­crats haven’t won a Sen­ate or gubernat­ori­al race in Geor­gia since 2000, when Zell Miller claimed vic­tory. The state’s chan­ging demo­graph­ics have nudged it to­ward com­pet­it­ive­ness, but Pres­id­ent Obama lost hand­ily there in 2008 and 2012. We might soon talk about the Peach State as a pres­id­en­tial battle­ground, but it’s not quite there yet. — Con­sider, es­pe­cially, that it’s a midterm year — when minor­ity par­ti­cip­a­tion drops as a share of the elect­or­ate — in which Obama’s ap­prov­al num­bers are dis­mal. A poll com­mis­sioned by Demo­cracy Corps and the Wo­men’s Voices Wo­men Vote Ac­tion Fund re­leased Tues­day found that in a dozen pres­id­en­tial battle­grounds (in­clud­ing Geor­gia), the pres­id­ent stood at just 37 per­cent. — Re­pub­lic­ans eye­ing the race be­lieve it will be com­pet­it­ive but are con­fid­ent that Per­due will ul­ti­mately pre­vail. Their big, early gen­er­al elec­tion spend­ing has not yet come to Geor­gia: No ma­jor out­side group like the Cham­ber of Com­merce or Amer­ic­an Cross­roads tar­geted Nunn in TV ads dur­ing the two-month run­off, the per­fect time, in the­ory, to soften her up be­fore the fall. It’s a sign Re­pub­lic­ans aren’t feel­ing threatened by her, at least not yet. Per­due, a former high-fly­ing CEO who Rep. Jack King­ston (R) knocked for liv­ing in a gated com­munity, will be vul­ner­able to the same play­book Demo­crats so ef­fect­ively ran in 2012 against Mitt Rom­ney, and it would be fool­hardy to write this race off yet. But as this race reaches the gen­er­al elec­tion, it’s hard to con­sider Nunn any­thing oth­er than a clear-cut un­der­dog.— Alex Roarty

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