Monday, October 27, 2008

Showdown in Georgia

Pundits are becoming increasingly interested in Georgia this year, as the traditionally red state has been highly targeted by the Obama campaign, has seen record early-voting turnout, and has a competitive U.S. Senate election.

A column on the Huffington Post reported Friday that Obama could pull off an upset in Georgia because of an unusually high expected turnout among African Americans. In 2004, blacks made up about 25% of the voting population in the Peach State, but are expected to make up over 30% of the electorate this year due to the excitement of a black candidate.

The Obama campaign is capitalizing on this excitement. Between January and October, the campaign registered 400,000 new voters - about half of them black. In addition, Obama has seen success in early voting operations there. He is ahead by 6% among early voters - over 18% of the state's electorate. According to Politico today, 35% of early voters have been African Americans.

And Obama's success in Georgia has helped another Democrat on the ticket. Recent Democratic polls show Democrat Jim Martin within striking distance of incumbent GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss, and that is without weighing the higher expected black turnout.

Concerned about those prospects, the RNSC has released tough ads in Georgia characterizing Martin as a super-liberal.

Congressman David Scott (D-GA) of the Atlanta suburbs has not been so fortunate. He is facing a tough re-election against Republican physician Deborah Honeycutt, who has raised nearly $5 million and has been trying to tie Scott to corruption. But Scott, an African American, still has a lead in a traditionally Democratic district.

Of course, the Republicans still have the upper-hand in the Empire State of the South. The Presidential RCP Average has McCain leading Obama by 5.3% in Georgia and the GOP still has a strong Evangelical base to help their 72-Hour Program.

But if the Democrats are able to pull off upsets in Georgia, it will have a serious impact on the American political psyche, demonstrating that progressives can win anywhere with the smarts and effort needed of them - even in the Bible Belt.

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