More on the Georgia Run-Off:

From the ABC News Political Radar blog:

The first round in the battle for 2012 is looking like it will be fought out in Georgia [on Dec. 2] ....

With the Senate race in Georgia headed for a run-off, Sen. Saxby Chambliss' campaign has been in touch with a fleet of prominent Republicans -- including Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Rudy Giuliani -- to have them campaign for the senator's reelection over the next four weeks....

One Republican operative with ties to Chambliss said that with the Democrats controlling at least 57 seats in the new Senate, any Republican who wants to be in the mix for 2012 will want to stop by Georgia....

I suspect that the run-off itself might also be a preview of 2010, because it will involve a Republican-Democrat contest without the 2008 turnout surge and in particular without President-Elect Obama's being on the ballot. If the result isn't just 53-47 (not far off from the 50-47-3 result on Nov. 4), but 57-43, that will remind Democrats that the 2010 election will have a very different -- and quite likely more Republican -- electorate than the 2008 election. If the result is 51-49, or of course if Democrat Jim Martin wins, then this will make the Democrats feel that there's a solid pro-Democrat tide even among the regular voters and not just the extra Nov. 4, 2008 turnout, and this may affect how the Democrats will govern with an eye on 2010.

Naturally, it's a mistake to plan too confidently for the future in politics. A lot can and will change from 2008 to 2010, and from 2008 to 2012. Still, my sense is that politicos tend to care quite a bit about such admittedly imperfect signals, partly because they are often the only game in town. (Consider the attention paid to special elections as indicators of what's likely to happen in the next regular election.) So I think that a lot of people are going to be watching the Georgia race very carefully, not just for its bottom-line outcome but also for the spread as well as for the actions of the prospective 2012 candidates.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer to the ABC News blog item.

George Bush? Dick Cheney? Come on, a guy can hope.
11.7.2008 3:32pm
Light Hearted (mail):
Wouldn't you expect President-elect Obama might want to put in a good word for the Democratic candidate, maybe speak at a rally. He would certainly have every incentive. If that happens, perhaps turnout might not be so different from 11/4...
11.7.2008 3:36pm
There is certainly precedent for that - Coverdell lost the general election but beat Wyche Fowler to win the runoff (also thanks to a Libertarian). But I would be surprised if the Dems got this one.
11.7.2008 3:38pm
Eli Rabett (www):
One key is going to be absentee ballots and early voting.
11.7.2008 3:40pm
Marvin (mail) (www):
Turnout is limited to those who voted on 11/4.
So, the question is which party can get the greater number of repeat voters, but with all the attention on this race - I expect almost all voters will vote in the run-off.

I just wonder how many 'new' voters will try to vote in the run-off.
11.7.2008 3:43pm
Tom in GA:
I'm one of those GA voters that voted (R) on the top line and (L) on the second line... I wasn't too worried about Martin winning the general election (nor am I worried too much about him winning the runoff) but I hoped Chambliss would get a message.

The Republican base in Georgia is as strong as in any state and it won't be difficult to get a lot of people out with the concern of the Democrats getting another seat in the Senate. I'll be very surprised if it's closer than 55-45.
11.7.2008 3:47pm
I doubt even a decent amount of Obama campaigning can have the same effect as Obama's name on the ballot (which wasn't enough to help Martin win a plurality of the votes on election day, anyhow).

If Jim Martin somehow manages to pull it off, I think it will be because of two things:

1. Early voting and absentee voting in GA seems to be disproportionately democratic, and the early voting numbers might not drop off as drastically from the general election as will regular voting, and

2. A massive number of Obama staffers and volunteers, both from Georgia and nationally, can shift their focus to Martin. My guess is that Martin has at least 20 times as many volunteers this time around.
11.7.2008 3:47pm
This should be an easy win for the GOP. Democratic turnout in GA is heavily African-American and come on, no matter if Obama gives a speech, there's not going to be anywhere near the turnout for a runoff as there was to elect the first black President.
11.7.2008 3:49pm
arthur (mail):
2010 will turn mainly on the issues of 2010. And the individual candidates that year. This race has nothing to do with it.
11.7.2008 3:52pm
T Gracchus (mail):
"regular voters"?
11.7.2008 3:53pm
T Gracchus: Is that a response to me? If its a riff on early voters being democratic, then well-played. If you're asking me if I meant "regular voters," then no. Its the regular voting that will drop, not the regular voters. At least I should hope voters won't start to drop.
11.7.2008 4:05pm
JosephSlater (mail):
What Arthur said. I'm thinking that Obama and the Dems are not going to alter their positions or style of government based on 3% of the vote one way or another in a single runoff election in a traditionally Republican state that takes place about two years before the next election.

But it's a clever way to set up the issue. "Look at this upcoming political event: Obama would be wise to govern more the way I think he should govern if the result I think is more likely to happen actually occurs."
11.7.2008 4:07pm
William Van Alstyne (mail):
Oh, for goodness sake, Eugene, must you, too, contribute to these feckless political speculations? Please, no more....
11.7.2008 4:28pm
anon345 (mail):
Martin will win. The ground game that Obama put together will get his voters back to the polls. The Republicans are likely to be dispirited. I think it will say nothing about 2010.
11.7.2008 4:38pm
LM (mail):
Could Obama turn surplus campaign funds over to the DNC, which it would then put into advertising in Georgia?
11.7.2008 5:01pm
Thales (mail) (www):
"Could Obama turn surplus campaign funds over to the DNC, which it would then put into advertising in Georgia?"

Preferably a commercial that morphs Chambliss into Osama Bin Laden, in keeping with the Senator's past campaign tone.
11.7.2008 5:26pm
A Law Dawg:
I will be absolutely gobsmacked if Martin wins this race. I wonder if Obama might even forego making more than a token appearance lest it tatter his coattail effect.
11.7.2008 5:36pm
"Could Obama turn surplus campaign funds over to the DNC, which it would then put into advertising in Georgia?"

Basically yes. There's no limit on a contribution from an authorized campaign committee to a national party comittee.
11.7.2008 5:41pm
Hauk (mail):
Very good post--I think you've hit some interesting points.

Tangentially: I think the runoff (and 2010) will be a real test of whether Obama has changed the face of the electorate more permanently. One can look at the fact (as Eugene and Steve seem to have done) that Obama drew people to the polls who may not otherwise have voted--youth and blacks, primarily. And if the theory that these groups voted in the relative numbers that they did because Obama was on the ticket is valid, then I think the idea that there we'll see an easy Chambliss victory has some legs.

On the other hand, (and I'm not saying that this will be the case) an Obama victory might give more blacks a stronger belief in the political process, such that we'll see a greater percentage of the black population turn out to vote in the future. If so, I still don't think blacks will vote in anywhere near the volume that they did in the presidential election--at the same time, we might see closer contests than we would otherwise in traditionally Republican areas with large (formerly apathetic) black populations.
11.7.2008 5:47pm
Big E:
The runoff will be in no way indicative of what to expect in 2012 or 2010. Why? Because Georgia isn't representative of the country as a whole. I'm a native Georgian and while I was pleased to see Obama but up such a strong showing but in the end you knew he wasn't going to win the state. Just look at the voting patterns outside of the urban counties, too often you will find the it almost perfectly matches the counties demographic, whites vote republicans blacks vote democratic. Sad but true.
11.7.2008 6:33pm
Chris Farris (mail) (www):
I live in GA and blog about GA politics.

Saxby will win. GA is a red state, Saxby is pro-FairTax and the Cult of the Fairtax is strong in GA. There is a lot of antipathy for Saxby on immigration, the farm bill and the bailout. However, as more and more comes out from Obama, Pelosi and Reid, the voters of GA are going to say Yikes and come out and vote Republican.

Martin got where he was because of Obama's coattails. Saxby didn't win outright due to quirky GA election law that requires a majority to win. The Runoff won't have a minor party candidate for the disaffected fiscal conservatives to register a protest vote for.

Absentee voting actually tends to help Republicans in GA. And contrary to what was said above, you didn't have to vote on 11/4 to vote on 12/2.
11.7.2008 7:05pm
mike123 (mail):
Marietta, GA here. I voted for McAmnesty and Buckley the Libertarian candidate, as well. I should have voted for Barr but I wasn't sure if McAmnesty could beat Obama in Georgia.

Saxby will win this time, probably by 4% to 6%. It will be fun seeing the candidates come to Georgia. Maybe some of us Conservatives will have fun with them. When McAmnesty comes, we can all wear somberos and hold up lettuce heads.
11.7.2008 9:45pm
John Moore (www):
Thanks, Libertarians, for handing us this mess.

Once again, a fringe party screwed up the election, to no benefit to their own ideology.
11.8.2008 12:15am
GA Student:
I don't think the election will have any major impact on 2010, but I do think this runoff will serve as a little experiment to see if all these newly registered voters are going to stay engaged in the process. The nation is watching, and I can't help but think that those who have doubted this movement every step of the way are just waiting to see once-enthused voters stay home. So I'm just hoping for a decent turnout.

Also, I don't expect Obama to spend an great deal of time here, but an appearance sure would be nice. Many people in GA worked hard for Obama, and they would appreciate the gesture. And even if he didn't win here, he gained some ground and did better than many expected.

If Obama really wants to help, the campaign will call upon those grassroots structures they organized here to get out the vote for Martin. Personally, I'm disappointed that I haven't received any communication from the campaign to Obama's GA supporters about the runoff. There's not even anything about it on the campaign's GA website. I hope someone is in charge of getting back in touch with his supporters! And I hope he doesn't let me down on this one.
11.10.2008 11:17pm