Tag Archives: Georgia

Analyzing the 2020 Turnout Increase

By Jim Ellis

March 29, 2021 — As we know, election year 2020 produced the largest voter participation level in history, including a substantial increase from the last presidential turnout in 2016. Now that all states have reported finalized election numbers, we know that a total of 158,507,137 individuals cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election, a number that shattered even the highest pre-election turnout predictions.

The figure also represents a 15.9 percent turnout increase when compared with 2016, which, at that time also set a record for raw number voter participation. Attempting to explain the large jump, the proponents of the election system overhaul legislative package in Congress, HR-1/S.1, credit the rise to the heightened use of early and mail voting, and therefore want to make permanent most of the court ordered COVID-19 pandemic response procedural changes. Digging deeper, however, we find that there are other factors present that help explain the voting uptick.

While all but five states (Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, Missouri, and New Hampshire) employed some form of early voting, another five conducted their elections only through the mail. The usual all-mail states of Colorado, Oregon, and Washington were joined by Hawaii and Utah according to the Ballotpedia election statistics organization that regularly publishes related data.

All five of these latter states saw turnout growth rates that exceeded the national average, including the state posting the highest increase, the Aloha State of Hawaii, which saw a whopping 32.5 percent rise in voting.

As stated earlier, the national average turnout increase when comparing the 2020 figures with 2016 is 15.9 percent. Eighteen states saw an increase greater than the national mean average, while 32 states and the District of Columbia fell below that number. All 51 entities, however, reported an upsurge in voting from 2016. The median average calculated to an increase of 12.8 percent.

Let’s concentrate on the 10 states with the highest increase from 2016. They are:

STATE        PERCENT INCREASE
Hawaii 32.5%
Arizona 31.6%
Utah 31.5%
Texas 26.2%
Idaho 25.8%
Nevada 24.9%
California 23.4%
Washington 23.2%
Tennessee 21.8%
Georgia 21.5%

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Georgia: New Poll, Same Story

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Raphael Warnock will face an interesting challenge depending upon who emerges from the Republican primary.

March 18, 2021 — The Trafalgar Group and the Insider Advantage entity, both Atlanta-based firms, partnered to test the politically beleaguered Georgia electorate about freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D) standing as he looks to run for a full six-year term in 2022.

Being one of the top battleground states in the 2020 presidential contest and hosting two US Senate campaigns last year, 56 public polls were conducted of this electorate from July of last year through the Jan. 5 runoff election. Almost all of them repeatedly showed results within the margin of error on the presidential and both US Senate races; and, with the final total showing President Biden and former President Trump separated by just 11,779 votes while the Senate races came down to one and two-point finishes, the polling proved correct.

Now we see Trafalgar and IA beginning the 2022 Georgia election cycle polling. The new survey (March 7-9; 1,093 likely Georgia voters, interactive response system and online) again finds very tight hypothetical Senate race results. Because Sen. Warnock won the special election in January, he must stand for election to a full six-year term in 2022.

Trafalgar and IA tested three Republicans against Sen. Warnock: former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, ex-US Rep. Doug Collins, and the past University of Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker. None of the three have announced their candidacies but all confirm they are considering the race.

According to the results, Sen. Warnock fares best against the woman he defeated in January, ex-Sen. Loeffler. In this ballot test, he leads 46-41 percent. Both Collins and Walker perform better, especially the latter. The Warnock edge narrows to one point against Collins, 46-45 percent, and the new incumbent actually drops behind Walker, 46-48 percent. Notice that Sen. Warnock records 46 percent against all three potential opponents suggesting that he is vulnerable heading into what promises to be another hard-fought Peach State US Senate battle.

While the pollsters tested the job approval ratings for both President Biden and Gov. Brian Kemp (R), they surprisingly did not include such a question regarding Sen. Warnock.

The approval ratios were poor for both the president and governor. Biden scored a 41:55 percent favorable to unfavorable job approval rating, with 32 percent strongly approving and a large 46 percent strongly disapproving.

Gov. Kemp continues to show weakness as he heads into what will be a difficult run against his former opponent, ex-state House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams. The governor is again in upside-down territory, recording a 33:53 percent negative approval rating. Only nine percent responded that they strongly approve of the governor’s performance while 26 percent strongly disapproved.

At this point, the pollsters asked Republican primary questions to those most likely to vote in the 2022 GOP nomination election.

If Loeffler, Collins and Walker were all to oppose each other in the Senate primary, we see the latter two men virtually tied at 32 percent apiece. Loeffler trails with 24 percent support.

A Collins-Loeffler match would favor the former, as the ex-north Georgia congressman would record a strong 52-32 percent lead. Walker would lead Collins 50-36 percent in a one-on-one match-up, and the former football player would hold a commanding 62-26 percent advantage over Loeffler.

The Georgia Republican respondent cell is strongly pro-Donald Trump with 70 percent saying they would “absolutely” vote for the former president if he were to run again. Only 14 percent of this sample cell said they would vote for anyone other than Trump. Another eight percent said they would consider voting for the ex-president.

We can expect another very active Georgia election cycle, with the Senate and governor’s race assuredly being covered as if they are national campaigns.

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R)

March 10, 2021 — Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R) announced via video yesterday that he is not seeking a third term next year. He will conclude an era of elected public service that spanned 14 years in the House in addition to completing a dozen years in the Senate. Prior to his federal career, he served as Missouri’s secretary of state, was the Greene County clerk, ran for governor, and saw his son elected governor.

The Blunt exit brings the number of Republican open Senate seats to five and could soon go to seven if Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) follow suit. Sen. Grassley will turn 89 years of age before the next election, and Sen. Johnson originally made a two-term promise when he first ran in 2010. The other announced GOP retirees are Sens. Richard Burr (NC), Pat Toomey (PA), Rob Portman (OH), and Richard Shelby (AL).

Without Sen. Blunt in the 2022 race, we can expect a contested Republican primary. Potential candidates include Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the son of former senator and US Attorney General John Ashcroft, and US Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin/St. Louis County), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth/Jefferson City), Sam Graves (R-Tarkio/St. Joseph), Billy Long (R-Springfield), and Jason Smith (R-Salem/Southeast MO) among others.

Resigned Gov. Eric Greitens, who was forced from office due to a sex scandal, was beginning to talk about launching a primary against Sen. Blunt, so in an open-seat situation he will be another person whose name will regularly surface.

We’re seeing almost the opposite response among Democrats. The initial public comments from two of the most well-known Missouri Dems, former Sen. Claire McCaskill and 2016 nominee Jason Kander, who held Sen. Blunt to a tight 49-46 percent win in 2016, both immediately indicated that they will not run in 2022. Thus, a previously announced Senate candidate, former state Sen. Scott Sifton, apparently becomes the early leader for the party nomination.

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Perdue Changes Course in Georgia

By Jim Ellis

Former Georgia Sen. David Perdue (R)

Feb. 25, 2021 — Just when former Sen. David Perdue (R) appeared prepared to challenge new Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) in the 2022 general election, he abruptly reversed course and announced Tuesday that he will not run. Perdue had filed a 2022 campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, but such action does not make one an official candidate.

Without Perdue in the 2022 race, the fight for the Republican nomination becomes a free-for-all. Earlier in the week former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), who lost her Jan. 5 Senate runoff election, as did Sen. Perdue, confirmed that she is considering running in 2022 in addition to forming a grassroots organization with the goal of increasing right-of-center voter registration in Georgia.

Former Rep. Doug Collins (R), who lost in the 2020 special Senate election, placing behind Sens. Warnock and Loeffler in the crowded jungle primary, also said that he is considering a new run for the Senate, or even a potential Republican nomination challenge to Gov. Brian Kemp.

Yesterday, Atlanta Journal Constitution political reporter Greg Bluestein listed several more Republicans who apparently have not yet ruled out a Senate bid next year. They are: Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, Attorney General Chris Carr, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, and former US Ambassador to Luxembourg Randy Evans.

In the Nov. 3 special jungle primary, Rev. Warnock captured the highest vote total, 1,617,035 of 4,914,361 ballots cast from within a field of 20 candidates. Sen. Loeffler placed second, 292,760 votes ahead of third place finisher Collins.

The fact that Loeffler finished substantially ahead of Collins will be one argument she will likely use to convince base voters that she is most able to defeat Sen. Warnock this time around. Collins, conversely, will contend that a Republican primary is very different than a special election in a regular voting schedule, thus suggesting that he is better positioned to win a primary nomination and develop a stronger base from which to oppose Sen. Warnock.

With Georgia changing politically, any Republican nominee is going to have a difficult time unseating Sen. Warnock but doing so is certainly within the realm of possibility. In the Jan. 5 runoff, while both Loeffler and Perdue were losing to their respective Democratic opponents, a third race was also on the ballot.

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Perdue Making Moves in Georgia

By Jim Ellis

Former Georgia Sen. David Perdue (R)

Feb. 19, 2021 — Defeated Georgia Sen. David Perdue (R) is taking the first steps toward making a quick political comeback. This week he filed a new 2022 US Senate campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission to explore his prospects against new Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), who will be standing for a full six-year term after winning the 2020 special election. Perdue says he will make a final decision about launching his candidacy next month.

One of the former senator’s arguments to support a new campaign is that he “won” the November general election, which, he points out, drew a record high turnout.

Using the term “won” might be a stretch because we obviously know that Georgia has a runoff system even for the general, which must be satisfied to actually win, but he did finish 88,098 votes ahead of Jon Ossoff in the first election in which 4,952,175 people cast ballots. This total, however, was only enough for 49.73 percent of the vote, a scant 0.27 percent from clinching the seat.

The Jan. 5 runoff turned out differently, as these types of elections often do when an incumbent fails to achieve majority support in the first vote. That is, the second-place finisher frequently wins.

In January, now that the final votes are tabulated and certified, Ossoff produced a 54,944-vote edge from a participation factor of 4,484,902 voters, meaning 467,273 fewer individuals took part in the runoff election. This drop-off rate of only 9.4 percent, however, is the lowest ever for this type of a secondary electoral contest. The typical participation rate falls by at least one-third.

Therefore, Perdue’s argument that he “won” the record turnout election is less credible when understanding that the runoff had a small drop-off rate, and its turnout as part of the super-charged 2020 election cycle is well beyond a standard midterm participation factor.

Additionally, while a Perdue 2022 entry might dissuade other potential Republican nomination contenders such as former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who campaigned closely with Perdue as part of their Republican team effort, it apparently isn’t yet stopping at least one other potential rival.

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