2ND UPDATE at 11:05 p.m.: It looks like, whoever ends up ahead either way, the vote will be within the 1 percent margin that would allow the loser to request a recount. Which means this contest may not be over yet. How long can one primary last, anyway?
And with that … g’night, y’all.
UPDATE at 10:05 p.m.: My questions about today’s turnout appear to have been unfounded. With 84 percent of precincts reporting, more than 550,000 ballots already have been counted in the GOP runoff for governor. It would appear that Republican voters had a similar amount of enthusiasm for the runoff as they had in July’s first round, when they cast 680,000 ballots.
Now, enthusiasm for whom? The early results suggest that Nathan Deal built on his momentum more than Karen Handel did; in a lot of the early-reporting counties, he cut into or reversed Handel’s lead from July. Handel turned the tables on Deal in Catoosa County, which was part of his former North Georgia congressional district. But in places like Baldwin County, Brantley County, Morgan County and Newton County, Deal turned triple-digit losses to Handel into triple-digit wins over her.
He also appeared to cut into her July margins in Cobb County and may have beaten her in Gwinnett. It looks like the election may hinge on how many more votes are counted in Fulton. I may or may not stay up late enough to find out …
The original post is below.
It will be interesting to see the turnout figures for today’s GOP gubernatorial primary runoff. My guess is that the kind of campaigns that Karen Handel and Nathan Deal waged against one another have depressed Republican voters’ interest rather than piqued it.
And I wonder what kind of problem that will present for the party’s eventual nominee against Roy Barnes.
Both Handel and Deal had forward momentum after the July 20 primary, since both candidates had surpassed longtime front-runner John Oxendine and held off a late charge from Eric Johnson. After fighting for months with the expectation that only one of them could make a runoff (presumably against Oxendine), suddenly both Handel and Deal had survived the first round.
But rather than challenging one another to new heights, each candidate has tried to hold one another down, like two drowning swimmers gasping for air. There are political consultants who will tell you that the first candidate to go negative wins a runoff, and that may be true in most years. But with the electorate in a foul mood at all kinds of politicians, I have my doubts about how good a strategy it was this year.
We’ll get an idea of that answer tonight. A falloff in turnout is to be expected, but how much?
About 14 percent of active registered voters cast GOP ballots last month. If that percentage falls too far into the single digits, I’d say Republicans ought to start worrying about what their bickering candidates have done to their party.
***Consider this an election-night open thread.