Larry Sabato's analysis of Ga. governor and Senate races - Northwest Georgia News: Home

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Larry Sabato's analysis of Ga. governor and Senate races

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Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014 8:57 am

In an article on the topic last week, we asked readers to chime in with other races where they thought third-party and independent candidates might have an impact on some statewide races. We got a lot of e-mails and tweets about the gubernatorial and Senate contests in Georgia, but multiple readers also mentioned the Connecticut gubernatorial race. Some thoughts on those three races are below.

GA-Gov: With ethics troubles making his life more difficult, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) may not be able to win in November; that is, he might have to win in a December runoff. Deal’s problems, which also include lingering frustration with the state’s response to ice storms this past winter, might push some voters toward Libertarian Andrew Hunt, a former tech company CEO. In a June SurveyUSA poll, Hunt garnered 7%. Hunt could send the race into overtime, so to speak, if he helps keep either Deal or his opponent, state Sen. Jason Carter (D), from winning a majority. Should that happen, a Dec. 2 runoff looms. Nonetheless, unless Deal’s problems get even worse (which they could), he would likely be positioned to win that runoff, which would almost certainly feature lower turnout than the November general election.

It should be noted that no Georgia gubernatorial general election has ever gone to a runoff, at least one featuring a popular election. The only time in modern Georgia history that no candidate achieved a majority in a gubernatorial election was in 1966, when Republicans seriously challenged for the governorship for the first time since Reconstruction. In that race, segregationist Lester Maddox (D) faced off against Rep. Bo Callaway (R), with write-in votes for former Gov. Ellis Arnall (D), who lost to Maddox in the Democratic primary, keeping either major-party nominee from winning a majority. Although Callaway won a 3,000 vote plurality, at that time the state legislature decided elections where no one polled a majority (a system Vermont still has today for general elections). Because the legislature was almost entirely made up of Democrats, Maddox won the vote 182-66 and the governorship.

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