Mitt Romney has a 99.7 percent chance of carrying Georgia and its 16 electoral votes come Nov. 6, according to a computer model created by statistical analyst Nate Silver of the New York Times.
Conversely, that must mean there’s a 0.3 percent chance — a mere 3 chances in a thousand — that Barack Obama will win the state. So to quote the Jim Carrey character in “Dumb and Dumber,” “You mean there’s a chance?”
No, there isn’t.
The AJC’s most recent poll puts Romney up by eight percentage points, 51-43, which suggests that he will take Georgia by a margin larger than John McCain’s 5.2 percent margin four years ago. And if that poll proves accurate Nov. 6 — and I suspect it will –it would bode well for the party’s immediate future in this state.
Another important gauge of the GOP’s hold on Georgia will come from the 12th District congressional race between John Barrow, the only white Democrat from the Deep South still clinging to a House seat, and state Rep. Lee Anderson from Grovetown, a small town west of Augusta.
The district was redrawn by GOP legislators after the 2010 census, packing it with enough Republican voters to guarantee the election of almost anybody with an (R) by his or her name. Anderson, however, is putting that plan to a stern test. In an election cycle in which money is all but falling out of the sky, Anderson is the exception, being outraised by Barrow by a 4-1 margin through Sept. 30.
Typically, underfunded challengers such as Anderson pin their hopes on “free media” such as debates to get exposure. However, Anderson has refused such public appearances, apparently believing that exposure is something that he should fear rather something to seek. Given the depth of knowledge that he’s shown, he’s probably right. But if he nonetheless manages to win — the race is a tossup, with perhaps a small tilt to Anderson — the victory will be stark testament to the GOP’s enormous political advantage in Georgia.
The third indicator to watch involves the state Legislature, where Republicans are tantalizingly close to achieving a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate. Theoretically, that would give them the power to pass proposed constitutional amendments on everything from school vouchers to abortion to tax reform without needing a single vote from Democrats.
In practice, though, I’m not sure how critical that would turn out to be. For the most part, Democratic legislators have shown no inclination, let alone ability, to act as an effective minority party with any real hope of becoming competitive again. Individual Democrats under the Gold Dome act more interested in keeping a low profile and staying in good graces with those in authority, from the governor on down, than in challenging the majority.
The result is a Republican Party with no real checks on its ambitions, and it shows. It shows in the nomination of weak candidates such as Anderson, and in the appointment of unqualified, well-connected personnel to lucrative top state jobs. It shows in the willingness of party leaders to enrich themselves and their friends without much fear of public reaction. And it shows in the party’s reluctance to rein in the ideological excesses of some of its leading members.
Take a minority party that shucks its duty and a majority party that believes itself invulnerable, and what you get is a complete absence of discipline in the system. By my calculations, over the long term that causes serious problems about 99.7 percent of the time.