What (Scott) Brown can do for Georgia, part 2
In response to my post last week about the lack of competition in Georgia House and Senate races, a source who follows state electoral trends emailed me the following facts and observations:
- “In [the] 2008 general election, 38 of the 56 state senators (21 Republicans and 17 Democrats) had a ‘free ride’ in November (no opposition from the other party). Of the 18 races that saw a Democrat and Republican run against each other (in that chamber), none was close. The ‘closest’ contest was in Senate District 46 (Athens-Monroe), won by Republican Bill Cowsert by a 58-42 percent margin. Only one other incumbent got under 60% (north DeKalb’s Dan Weber, who took 59%). The Senate has been stable politically (party representation) since the 2004 election. In 2004, 34 Republicans and 22 Democrats were elected to the Georgia Senate, a margin which remained unchanged in the 2006 and 2008 cycles.”
- “In the State House last year, only 6 of the 180 seats changed [party] hands. Democrats picked up 4 GOP-held seats and Republicans won 2-Democratic held seats, for a net gain of 2 Democratic seats. As with the Senate, the vast majority of House incumbents (141) had a free ride last November….Incidentally, GOP has won majority of votes cast for State House (contested and uncontested) in every election cycle since 1996, save for 2002 (when multimember districts ‘rigged’ the numbers somewhat). In 2008, GOP won 59% of all votes cast for State House, compared with 40% for Democrats and 1% for write-ins/independents.”
- Generally speaking, 30% black voter registration determines whether a seat goes Democratic or Republican. In the Senate, all 22 Democrats hail from districts that are over 30% black in voter registration (compared with just 1 Republican, Johnny Grant of District 25). The other 33 Senate Republicans represent districts that are under 30% black in voter registration. In the House, Democrats have a 65-9 advantage over Republicans (with also 1 Independent) in seats that are over 30% black, but among seats less than 30% black, Republicans hold a 95-9 edge over the Democrats (with1 vacancy)
- Georgia’s congressional delegation lines up the same way. All 6 Democrats come from districts over 30% black in voter registration (with 2 representing majority-black districts, Hank Johnson of the 4th and David Scott of the 13th). All 7 Republicans come from districts less than 30% black. In the 2008 presidential election, Obama won 5 of the 6 Democratic-held congressional districts in Georgia (losing only Jim Marshall’s district), while McCain won Marshall’s district and the 7 GOP-held ones.
My two cents: None of this sounds very enticing for potential challengers, particularly a Democrat challenging a Republican or vice versa. Redistricting after this year’s Census will be very important and interesting to watch. Last time, Roy Barnes and the Democrats overreached and got slapped down by a federal court, resulting in the current maps. This sequence of events has left Democrats smarting for nearly a decade. Won’t some Democratic candidate for governor raise this point against Barnes sooner or later?