Monday, October 11, 2010

Roy Barnes Path to Victory according to the National Journal's Hotline

Welcome back to Hotline On Call's Path To Victory, where we look at some of the marquee races and how each side plans to win. This week, we're examining the Georgia governor's race between former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) and former Rep. Nathan Deal (R).

On the surface, this should be a race that Republicans have in the bag. The state has trended right and we're looking at a very Republican year. Democrats, however, believe they have a shot at this race and point to it as an example of Democratic gubernatorial candidates successfully running against the GOP environment. They are practically gleeful to be facing Deal, who emerged from a crowded GOP primary and has been beset by numerous ethical scandals that have come to light since.

On election night, keep an eye on this one: If Barnes prevails, it'll show that Democrats can take advantage of flawed Republican candidates this year. If Deal wins - or, as some polls suggest - wins big, it'll be a sign of the beginning of a Republican tidal wave.

As usual, we start with the challenger and, since this is a Republican held seat, that means the Democrat. Here is Roy Barnes' path to victory.

No Learning Curve: In many ways, Barnes is the best candidate Democrats could have hoped for this year. He has, of course, high name ID and he can argue that he'll restore sanity and order to a state that is on the verge of crisis.

As such, Barnes wants to convince Georgians that things were better when he was in charge. He is also making the case that there isn't time for someone who lacks his experience to try to turn the state around.

This messaging is evident in Barnes' positive ads, which focus on job creation - a top issue in Georgia, which has 10% unemployment. All of these ads end with the tag line, "Roy Barnes, no on the job training necessary."

Deal's Deals: A big part of Barnes campaign is focused on Deal and the seemingly steady drip of news stories detailing corruption allegations. "They almost could not have picked a worse candidate to run against Barnes," said one Democrat involved in the race.

Allegations that one of Deal's companies received more than $1M from a no-bid state contract, that his campaign is paying thousands for the use of a private plane to a company Deal partially owns and that he could be facing bankruptcy are all part of the Democrats' attacks.

One particularly hard hitting ad from Barnes shows 2 men discussing the race at a coffee shop. One man calls Deal "slippery as a bag of snakes" and the other says "guess we can call him 'shady Deal.'" It ends with a slogan of Barnes' campaign: Deal is "too corrupt, even for Congress."
Democrats hope these stories will help Barnes attract moderate Republicans, many of whom likely backed former Secretary of State Karen Handel in the GOP primary. Handel ran largely on cleaning up the ethics of the State House and Democrats believe her backers would be receptive to this message.

Get Rural: For Barnes to do well, he has to recapture the southern and rural parts of the state. When he won the governorship in '98, Barnes carried the south - following the Democratic path to statewide victory in Georgia used since Pres. Jimmy Carter. Four years later, however, Sonny Perdue trounced Barnes here as he marched into the governor's mansion.

Barnes has clearly gotten this message, as he has spent a lot of time campaigning in the south so far this year. In the primary, his strength in the southern and rural areas helped him avoid a runoff. He also has an advantage here in that Deal is from northern Georgia, something that is unusual for a gubernatorial candidate.

Keep an eye on counties like Turner, Coffee, Dodge, Wayne and Ware. Barnes carried these in '98 but lost them in '02. They are rural counties with, generally, low populations. Returns in these counties also tend to come in first on election night, and observers say that if Barnes is running even or ahead in this area he's in very good shape. (That's not a particularly easy task: John McCain (R-AZ) carried most of these districts by 60% or more in '08.)

Barnes will also need to run up the score in the state's urban areas like Atlanta and Augusta. Large vote totals in Atlanta counties like Fulton and DeKalb will be critical for Democrats.
Perhaps more important than that, however, will be turning out the sizable African American vote. In past elections, Africans Americans have cast 25% of the vote. In '08, they composed 30% of the vote. Democrats say that if that number crosses 25% again this year, Barnes will be in good shape.

I couldn't said this any better than Mr Jacobs did. I'll say it right now, Barnes will carry Turner, Coffee, & possibly Dodge Counties. I can't say about Ware & Wayne County. Other Counties to keep an eye on also are: Lanier, Worth, Telfair, Emanuel, Tift & Monroe. If he carries some or all of those counties in particular, he will be in great shape & plus no one knows how high the AA (Black) Vote will be in november. The AA (Black) vote is the hardest vote to detect before election day & if that number is in the 27-28% range, that's a good sign! Anything higher, would be a blessing for dems.


J said...

Same margin as last IA poll, both gained 4 points. No cross tabs. Barnes has 27% of the white vote, which I find rather suspect. Theoretically, if whites and blacks were the only voters, and blacks go 95% for Barnes, 24% black turnout puts him over the top (theoretically of course). CNN 2006 exit polls had blacks at 16%, 30% in 2008.

IA pollster thinks energized Republican men will vote Deal in... But it's not like we saw the Tea Party energy throwing out Georgia politicians like in other states.

J said...

Here's the poll.

J said...

Math above is bad...

At 24% black turnout, which is 22.8% for Barnes, he'd need 27.2% more, or 35.7% of whites (27.2/76).

At 28%, he'd need 32.5% of whites.

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