Perhaps the first question that will face Gov. Nathan Deal in January will be an unspoken one: Is he a four-year governor, or an eight-year governor?
At 68, Deal will be the oldest person to assume the governorship of Georgia in four generations. (Tom Crawford of the Georgia Report points out that Lamartine Hardman was 71 when elected in 1927.)
A politician who has only one term in mind will govern far differently than one who has an eight-year calendar in his head – think of the things Roy Barnes left undone.
And a Legislature is likely to treat a four-year governor with far less deference than one likely to serve two terms. But more than that, think of the Republican jockeying for position that would begin almost immediately.
One of the best things going on ajc.com today is this interactive county-by-county map showing results in the governor’s race. Check it out.
What you see on the right is a non-interactive version. Counties won by Republican Nathan Deal are in red, counties won by Democrat Roy Barnes are in blue. Note the ever deepening racial split among voters.
The real meaning behind Republican Nathan Deal’s trouncing of Democrat Roy Barnes, and the GOP sweep of every state office? Look for the money and energy in Georgia campaigns to shift to summer Republican primaries. That bitter runoff between between Deal and Karen Handel in the GOP primary — which, it turns out, was the real race for governor — will seem like child’s play.
State Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton woke up this morning as the luckiest man in Georgia.
A man in search of a larger venue, Scott killed the better part of a year in a fruitless campaign for governor that included a walk across the entire state. This spring, he considered dropping down to mount a Republican primary challenge to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
Instead, he was persuaded by GOP leaders, including U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, to mount yet another challenge against U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, the Macon Democrat. This one worked. Scott received nearly 53 percent of the vote.
The second luckiest man may be U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany. The Associated Press declared him dead in his race against Republican Mike Keown at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, apparently missing the fact that ballots still out included Columbus/Muscogee County.
Bishop won with nearly 5,000 votes to spare, with 51.4 percent of the vote.
From the Associated Press this morning:
GOP candidate Mike Keown left a message with Bishop’s campaign Wednesday morning after unofficial tallies showed the incumbent Democrat ahead by about 4,500 votes in southwest Georgia’s 2nd District, said Andrew O’Shea, Keown’s campaign manager.
“With that kind of a gap, we just wanted to do the right thing and concede,” O’Shea said.
A sign that the economy and jobs were uppermost in the minds of voters: Amendment 1, which even Republicans said was so vaguely worded that it concealed the fact that it dealt with non-compete contracts for workers, passed easily. Voters were asked if they wanted to make the state “more economically competitive.”
Amendment 2, which would have levied a $10 car tag tax to fund a statewide trauma network, failed – gaining only 47 percent support — despite a multi-million dollar campaign.
In state legislative contests, most of the turmoil on Tuesday was in the House:
– Republican Sam Teasley beat Democratic incumbent Pat Dooley of Marietta with 56 percent of the vote;
– Republican Valerie Clark beat Democratic incumbent Lee Thompson of Lawrenceville with 54 percent of the vote;
– Jill Chambers of Atlanta, chairman of the MARTOC committee, was the only Republican casualty – beaten by Democrat Elena Parent. Chambers’ bankruptcy became a key issue.
– And don’t forget that Alan Powell of Hartwell, unopposed on Tuesday, had said he would consider switching to the Republican party if Roy Barnes lost the race for governor.
Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz takes a shot at one of the nation’s oldest polling firms this morning at the Huffington Post:
Gallup’s final likely voter poll gave Republicans a 15 point margin on the generic ballot, the largest of any major poll and far beyond the average of 6-7 points. The actual result, based on both the national exit poll and votes tabulated thus far, appears to be between 6 and 7 points.
Not only did Gallup miss the actual vote margin by a mile, but their projections about the composition of the midterm electorate were also way off the mark. Based on the exit poll results, it appears that the actual electorate was not nearly as male, old, Republican, or conservative as Gallup’s final likely voter sample.