Georgia, again

Within a few days after the November election, it became clear that control of the U.S. Senate would hinge on the outcome of the two Georgia runoff races. But with that election two months away, I decided not to obsess over it, for two reasons.

First, I had spent several months obsessing over the November election and thought I could use a break. Second, I was fairly confident that at least one of the Republicans running in Georgia, and probably both, would prevail.

I still believe this. However, the outcome is hardly free from doubt and we are now just two weeks away from the Georgia runoffs. It’s time to take another look.

The polls show both Republican incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, in the lead, albeit narrowly. Perdue leads Democrat Jon Ossoff in four of the five most recent polls reported by Real Clear Politics and in all three of those taken in December. He leads in the RCP poll average by 1.6. He leads in the Trafalgar poll by 2 points. Trafalgar’s polls were among the accurate in the recent elections.

Loeffler leads Democrat Raphael Warnock in four of the most recent polls cited by RCP — the same ones that Perdue leads in. Her lead in the RCP poll average is only 0.8, but that number is unduly influenced by a Survey USA poll that gave Warnock a 7 point lead. That result has no credibility with me. In the Trafalgar poll, Loeffler leads by 6 points.

The poll results, excluding Survey USA’s, comport with common sense. Perdue ran 2 points ahead of Ossoff in November. He just missed hitting 50 percent. The votes that caused him to come up short went to the Libertarian Party candidate, not to a left-winger.

Loeffler’s race was a wild “jungle primary,” so the November results are more difficult to interpret. However, Warnock is so far to the left that, for me, he’s the underdog in a two-way race with any respectable Republican.

Let’s remember that in 2018, a better year for Democrats than 2020, Stacey Abrams failed to win the governor’s race, although she came close. Warnock seems like a more radical version of Abrams.

The analysis can’t end here, of course. We have to consider how high the stakes are in these runoffs and all the resources the Democrats have brought to bear. However, I think Georgia voters are saturated by now, so that the extra dollars the Dems are spending will have no effect.

There’s also the question of whether Republican voters will fail to turn out in the very large numbers needed, due to doubts about the legitimacy of November tabulation. For what it’s worth, I discount this possibility. It seems like something the media likes to write about, rather than something that’s likely to happen. But who knows?

Finally, there’s the possibility that cheating and fraud will carry Ossoff and Warnock to victory. If both are behind by 2 points, let’s say, this amounts to about 100,000 votes. Could the Democrats make up a deficit like that through fraud? Maybe, but I doubt it. However, if the spread is significantly less than 2 points, I could see fraud making the difference.

These races are now in the home stretch. We’ll be checking in on them again between now and runoff day.

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