My Post-Mortem of Chambliss v Martin

Crossposted on Progressive Blue

Let me begin this with something upbeat.  The winner of the Jim Martin sweepstakes is Meridian05. Enjoy your prize!

Analysis below the fold......

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The Final Word On Georgia's Senate Race

"This isn't about anything but winning."

[Source:  Insider Advantage Georgia, "Re-Tooled Campaign Put Chambliss Over The Top", December 3, 2008]

That six-word sentence attributed to Republican National Committee member and former head of the Georgia Republican Party Alec Poitevint says it all about Saxby Chambliss' successful re-election campaign.

Chambliss, the GOP and their allies didn't care how nasty they had to get or what they had to do so long as their team got the most votes at the end of election day (and trust me, here in Georgia, the ads run against Democrat Jim Martin called him everything but a child of God).

The motto and mantra of Saxby's campaign seemed to be "Just Win, Baby," and win is what they did.

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GA-Sen: Turnout Reportedly Light

Polls in Georgia close at 7PM Eastern and so far, as expected, turn out appears to be rather light.

Polling stations across Georgia reported low to moderate voter turnout. At the Atlanta Public Library on Ponce de Leon Ave., where more than 1,600 people voted in the general election, only 400 people had voted by noon today.

While conventional wisdom is that lower turnout favors Chambliss, there's just no way to really gauge whose supporters are coming out to vote today. As Matt Towery, CEO of Insider/Advantage, whose final poll showed Chambliss up 4, put it:

"The race will turn on whether the tradition of Republicans returning to the polls in greater numbers than Democrats in runoff elections will prevail, or whether the almost 1 million automated phone calls by Barack Obama to African-American and longtime Democratic voters will somehow motivate Democrats to return to the polls."

Martin's organizational advantage extends beyond robo-calls from the President-elect. The campaign's GOTV effort has way outstripped anything Chambliss has going for him.

Matt Canter, a spokesman for Mr. Martin, said the campaign had 3,200 people knocking on doors and 3,000 others making phone calls to likely Democratic voters.

Michelle Grasso, a spokeswoman for Mr. Chambliss, said the Republicans were relying largely on e-mail and telephone messages to remind voters of the election. The Chambliss campaign has sent two messages a day to supporters for the past four weeks and will continue to contact voters today, she said.

Sean Quinn has more:

Yesterday we learned that the Martin contact rate during GOTV has been impressively high, with up to 1,000 contacts for 1,500 attempts. According to that source, who knows numbers from working through previous Georgia Democratic voter files, this is just a stunning improvement. What those numbers imply is that the influx of organization will allow for the efficient channeling of volunteer dials and knocks. Where labor fills in, the campaign knows who and where the voters are. Unlike the Obama emphasis on early voting, the Martin campaign did not do a gigantic absentee push, instead opting for a big December 2 turnout.

As of last night, according to Martin spokesman Matt Canter, 2,500 volunteers had signed up for the online neighbor-to-neighbor phonebanking tool. Word is that this number has been smashed, beginning early this morning. In addition to and separate from the online phonebanking volunteers (from anywhere), 3,200 on-ground volunteers have deployed around the state for Runoff Day knocking and calling.

So, how many points is organization worth exactly and are Martin's contacts delivering votes more reliably than Chambliss's? We'll begin to get an idea when polls close in 45 minutes.

Update [2008-12-2 18:18:38 by Todd Beeton]:Per Breaking Blue, Senate Guru has a breakdown of the top Georgia counties to watch as results begin to pour in.

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Ludacris: Chambliss Is Just About Politics, Not The People

It was a chilly evening in Atlanta Monday night, but that didn't deter supporters of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jim Martin from rallying on the steps of the State Capitol a day before the closely-watched run-off election between Martin and Republican Saxby Chambliss.

"We need at least one U.S. Senator who is a Democrat and works for us in Washington," state Democratic Party Chair Jane Kidd told the crowd.  "All we have is 24 hours to get the job done."

Accompanying Kidd on the stage was a who's who of political leaders, radio personalities and hip-hop artists --including Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth and Michigan Congressman John Conyers-- all encouraged Democrats to get out the vote for Jim Martin.

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PPP: Chambliss Maintains Lead

A new Public Policy Polling survey (1,276 LVs, Nov. 29-30, MOE +/- 2.7%) of the Georgia Senate race shows Saxby Chambliss continuing to hold a steady lead over Democrat Jim Martin in tomorrow's run-off (11/24 results in parentheses.)

Chambliss 53 (52)
Martin 46 (46)

If Chambliss does win tomorrow, it looks as though it will be due to a combination of overwhelming support among white voters and a not high enough turnout among African-Americans to put Martin over the top.

Chambliss is up 71-28 on Jim Martin with whites. For Martin to win the runoff with that performance, the electorate would have to be 34% African American. Given that it was only 30% for the general election with Barack Obama at the top of the ballot and that early voting was less than 23% black, that does not seem particularly likely.

Chambliss's advantage among white voters on Nov. 4th was similar: 70-26. What is way down is the percentage of early voters who are African-American. Sean Quinn reminds us:

Whatever turns out to be the case, at the close of early voting Wednesday, according to the Secretary of State's office 345,564 had voted, and 22.5% of those votes were African-American, an ominous dropoff from the 34.5% of black early voters for the general election.

But with the uncertainty surrounding the turnout, this race should still be considered anyone's game.

Still, according to Georgia Democratic Party spokesman Martin Matheny, thousands of volunteers were hard at work across the state knocking doors in the rain and making phone calls on Jim Martin's behalf. The lines on Election Day will be much shorter than during the general election, given the much shorter ballot, and Democrats here think that most of its voters are going to turn out on Runoff Day itself.

You guys have really stepped up to donate to Jim Martin over at our Road to 60 ActBlue page. Since being added to the page on Nov. 6th, Martin has received 71 donations for a total of $3,342. Great work. Today, however, I encourage any last minute donations to go through the DSCC. Every donation of $5 or more made up until 9pm Eastern tonight will be matched 2 to 1. So give to Martin HERE to help the GOTV effort on the ground. This entire election is about turnout and your dollars can still have a very real impact.

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