Tag Archives: Sen. Johnny Isakson

Attack of the Attack Ads

(Sen. Perdue Ad)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 17, 2020 — All four Georgia Senate runoff candidates are already hitting the airwaves with new messages that telegraph just where they want their campaigns to head in the final weeks of 2020 political overtime.

As you know, Sen. David Perdue (R) faces Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff for the in-cycle six-year term, and appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) opposes Rev. Raphael Warnock (D) in the special election to fill the final two years of resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term. Loeffler was appointed when Isakson left office at the end of 2019 for health reasons. Both contests will be decided on Jan. 5.

The outcome will decide the Senate majority. If the Democrats sweep the two races, they will become the majority party because the new vice president, Kamala Harris, will break the 50-50 tie. If Republicans just win one of the two, they will maintain their current majority status, albeit smaller, at 51-49. Winning the pair means the GOP will have only lost a net of one seat in the 2020 election cycle as their majority would register 52-48.

Sen. Perdue set the tone of his runoff effort with a new ad (top) that highlights Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) saying, “when we (meaning the Democrats) take Georgia, we will change America.” The Perdue ad defines “the Schumer-Pelosi-Ossoff” change as “defund[ing] the police, voting rights for illegal immigrants, and making Washington, DC the 51st state.” The message then quotes Ossoff as saying, “change is coming to America.” The ad closes with the narrator saying, “believe them. Vote Perdue to stop them.”

(Jon Ossoff Ad)

Ossoff responds with an ad (above) solely devoted to COVID-19. The media consultants found virtually identical COVID related statements from President Trump and Sen. Perdue, and then runs their audio consecutively in an attempt to tie the two together. The ad closes with the narrator saying that “David Perdue ignored the medical experts, downplayed the crisis, and left us unprepared.”

The special election is taking a much different tone. Challenger Raphael Warnock, the Baptist minister who pastors the church over which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father once presided, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta, re-visits Sen. Loeffler’s controversial COVID related stock transactions and creates an ad around this subject (below).

(Raphael Warnock Ad)

The script says Sen. Loeffler, “after receiving confidential briefings on Coronavirus immediately starts dumping stocks …making sale after sale and getting rid of $3.1 million before the market crashed.” The tagline ends with the narrator saying, “Kelly is for Kelly. Warnock is for us.”

The ad, of course, makes no mention of Sen. Loeffler’s transactions being investigated and cleared by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but it is more than probable that we will be hearing that part of the story in future Loeffler campaign communications.

Sen. Loeffler launched a hard-hitting new attack centered around her theme, “saving the Senate is about saving America.” The ad attacks Rev. Warnock for “calling police thugs and gangsters, host[ing] a rally for Communist dictator Fidel Castro, and prais[ing] Marxism in speeches and writings.” (below)

(Sen. Loeffler Ad)

With the campaign battle lines being drawn early in this two-month runoff campaign, we can expect this type of hard-hitting rhetoric to continue all the way to the Jan. 5 election as both sides attempt to motivate their base voters to return for the runoff.

The last time we saw a US Senate runoff in Georgia – Georgia and Maine are the only two states that require general election winners receive majority support – occurred in 2008 when Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) was forced into a secondary vote. The circumstances were similar. Sen. Chambliss placed first in the general election but, like Sen. Perdue, finished just a few thousand votes under the 50 percent threshold (49.8 percent). This forced Chambliss and his opponent, Democrat Jim Martin who received 46.8 percent, into a Dec. 2 runoff election of that year.

Sen. Chambliss prevailed in the runoff with 57.4 percent of the vote. In that year, 3.752 million people voted in the general election with 2.138 million returned for the runoff election for a drop-off rate of 43 percent. In 2020, a total of 4,945,702 individuals cast a vote in the Perdue-Ossoff Senate race, while the figure was approximately 37,000 people lower for the special election, 4,907,872. While a drop-off from the 2020 general election is expected, political intensity suggests it will likely not be as high as we saw in the 2008 US Senate runoff campaign.

Political Overtime in Georgia & Maine

Note: Last week in the polling recount Update, a typographical error was made in one of the quoted Iowa polls. The Siena College/New York Times survey should have read: Sen. Joni Ernst (R) 45%, Theresa Greenfield (D) 44% (not 55-44%). We apologize for the mistake.


By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2020 — There has been discussion about seeing a great number of political campaigns not being called on Election Night, thus creating what could become a rather long “political overtime” period. Laws in two states, however, could send key Senate races into political overtime, but for a different reason than not having all of the ballots either received or counted.

Georgia and Maine have unique laws that create a secondary election period should no candidate receive majority support in the general election. Many states employ runoff contests in nomination battles, but Georgia and Maine are two entities with special laws governing the general election should no majority be achieved. In this particular year, three US Senate races, in a cycle where the battle for chamber control is close and intense, could be forced into political overtime in just those two places.

In Georgia, all contenders failing to reach the 50 percent mark sends the contest into a general election runoff. Considering the 2020 calendar, that secondary election date is scheduled for Jan. 5, meaning that the current election cycle would then be expanded for an additional two months. If the majority hinges on the two Georgia seats, it won’t be until the new year until we would have the opportunity of knowing which party would lead the Senate in the next Congress.

In the Georgia-A seat, polling hasn’t yet put one of the candidates, Sen. David Perdue (R) or Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff, at or over the 50 percent mark. In the last 10 polls of the Perdue-Ossoff race, neither man has reached 50 percent when any of the three minor party or independent candidates were listed, or referred to, in the survey questionnaire.

The Georgia-B campaign, which is the special election to fill the balance of resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term, is certainly headed for political overtime. Here, the candidates are placed on the same ballot regardless of political party affiliation.

Polling throughout this election year suggests that none of the four major candidates, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), and businessman Matt Lieberman (D), are anywhere close to majority support. Therefore, the top two finishers on Nov. 3 would advance to the secondary election on Jan. 5.

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Rep. Collins Makes His Move in
Georgia’s Special Senate Race

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville)

Oct. 21, 2020 — Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) began the 2020 special Senate election campaign as the early leader, enjoying an advantage over appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), Atlanta businessman Matt Lieberman, the son of former Connecticut US senator and 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, and Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock (D), who now ministers the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father once pastored.

The race, however, has changed significantly since those early days.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R)

By taking advantage of her huge personal wealth and being cleared of wrongdoing over controversial stock transactions that she and her husband, Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, made just after she received early COVID senatorial briefings, Loeffler eventually moved past Rep. Collins in the political standings.

Once Democrats began to coalesce around Rev. Warnock, the race again changed. The pastor began securing first place in multiple statewide polls after receiving many key national endorsements. This left Rep. Collins and Sen. Loeffler, the two Republicans, fighting each other for second place.

Baptist pastor Raphael Warnock (D)

The congressman, knowing he couldn’t compete with Sen. Loeffler’s wealth, or even the Democrats institutional money once the party establishment began to support Rev. Warnock in earnest, held a large portion of his resources for a strong late finish after raising $6 million for the race through Sept. 30.

Rep. Collins’ campaign strategy may be paying dividends. A new Emerson College survey (Oct. 17-19; 506 likely Georgia voters, interactive voice response system and online responses) finds another change in this rather uneven special election campaign. According to their data, Rep. Collins has now tied Rev. Warnock for first place in the jungle primary with 27 percent apiece. Sen. Loeffler trails with 20 percent and Lieberman, who had dropped well into single digits in many other polls, also rebounded to 12 percent support.

This poll conflicts somewhat with a recent Survey USA study (Oct. 8-12; 677 likely Georgia voters, online) that found Rev. Warnock at 30 percent, Sen. Loeffler posting 26 percent, Rep. Collins attracting 20 percent support, and Lieberman back in single digits with eight percent preference. Previous polls returned similar numbers to that of S-USA, but with larger percentages for Rev. Warnock.

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Sen. Loeffler’s Strange Response

Loeffler ad


By Jim Ellis

May 6, 2020 — As we have seen since the COVID-19 quarantines began, appointed Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) has been reeling politically. Her backslide began after news stories showed that she and her husband, New York Stock Exchange chairman Jeffrey Sprecher, made stock transactions of at least $18 million to better position themselves after receiving early Senate briefings about the potential coronavirus effects. She has now launched a $4 million response media buy.

Her ads, however, yield a rather unusual approach. While not mentioning the core attack against her, which is that she took personal financial action in response to receiving alarming policy briefings, the ad script indirectly underscores her extraordinary wealth. This may prove an ill-advised self-defense approach and it is difficult to see how the ad message begins to reverse a negative tide. (See ad at top.)

The Loeffler campaign media buy is divided among three similar television and digital ads, but they all emphasize that Sen. Loeffler is being attacked by liberals, that she has donated $1 million of her own money to COVID-19 hospital operations and is forfeiting her Senate salary for the benefit of coronavirus victims. In two of the ads, the narrator explains that the senator sent her private jet to bring back stranded individuals in foreign countries after quarantine bans were implemented.

Recent polling has projected Sen. Loeffler as being buried within the middle of a field of five significant candidates. In the latest poll, from the Cygnal research group taken during the April 25-27 period, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) holds a 29-12 percent lead over Atlanta businessman Matt Lieberman (D), the son of former Connecticut senator and 2000 vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman. In third place with 10.6 percent preference is Rev. Raphael Warnock, who pastors Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his father once presided. Sen. Loeffler then follows, virtually tying Rev. Warnock at 10.5 percent. Former US Attorney Ed Tarver trails the group with 4 percent.

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Georgia’s Dual Senate Races

By Jim Ellis

May 5, 2020 — Georgia is the only state this year that features two US Senate races, and a new poll suggests that both are interesting.

The Peach State’s politics have garnered more national attention since 2018 as election results suggest that Georgia is moving closer to the ideological center. Still conservative, the 2018 governor’s election that saw Republican Brian Kemp slipping past former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (who has since become a national figure and one of the contenders to be Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate) by just over one percentage point. Additionally, the Democrats gained a congressional seat in the Atlanta metro area and came within 419 votes of converting a second.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler (R) to the U.S. Senate to succeed retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is leaving office at the end of the year due to health issues.

A substantial increase in the state’s minority population, almost all of which is occurring in the Atlanta metropolitan region, during the past decade (Asian, plus-31 percent; African American, plus-17 percent; Hispanic, plus-14 percent) is the chief reason for the uptick in Democratic candidate support.

With this background, the Cygnal research organization released the results of their most recent Georgia statewide poll (April 25-27; 591 Georgia voters, all but six of whom say they are definitely or probably voting) and their data finds two competitive US Senate races unfolding.

The results reveal one incumbent in serious trouble and the other headed for a potentially competitive re-election battle. In fact, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) trails not only US Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), who leads the jungle primary field by over 17 points, but actually places fourth in the field behind two Democratic candidates yet close enough to them to become entangled in a statistical tie. Sen. David Perdue (R) maintains just a six-point lead over the only Democrat tested against him, former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff.

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