Perhaps one of the more surprising 2012 results was Rep. John Barrow (D-Augusta) not just winning, but winning by a margin of 53.7%-46.3% over State Rep. Lee Anderson in a district where Obama only won 43.64% of the vote in 2012. Despite getting his district changed to lose Savannah and gaining some federally red southern Georgia counties, Barrow called upon only weak competition. Lee Anderson ran a notoriously bad campaign. Despite ducking out of debates and candidate forums, he managed to win the GOP primary and runoff over businessman Rick Allen (who is so far the consensus GOP candidate against Barrow in 2014). He ran a series of bad ads that scream low production values(!) which overused the color yellow and showed off Anderson's permanent squint and hayseed manner of speaking. Barrow, on the other hand, had some damn fine ads despite what you may think of them policy-wise. I daresay, and despite Barrow being written off so early, that if it wasn't for the major outside spending in favor of Lee Anderson's campaign, Barrow would have probably gotten above 55% of the vote.
For this diary, I decided to see where and by how much John Barrow outperformed Obama's 2012 performance on the county level. Since only two counties are split (Effingham and Columbia), it was easy to draw on DRA. Furthermore, since Barrow outperformed Obama in every county, I used a spectrum of blue. Results below the fold.
Here's the color code for the ranges of Barrow's over-performance for the counties on the map of GA-12, from darkest blue to lightest blue:
Navy = Obama's percentage + greater than or equal to 18%
Blue = Obama's percentage +14% to less than +18%
Royal Blue = Obama's percentage +10% to less than +14%
Dodger Blue = Obama's percentage +6% to less than +10%
Sky Blue = Obama's percentage +2% to less than +6%
John Barrow's largest over-performance by percentage was in Tattnall County (the only county colored navy) where Obama got a poor 28.46% and Barrow got 49.07%. There were only two counties Obama won in 2012 in GA-12: Richmond (location of Augusta) where Barrow got 71.91% to Obama's 66.54% and Burke where Barrow got 64.76% to Obama's 55.28%. Richmond County also saw the least over-performance for Barrow due to the fact that Democrats there almost all voted for Obama, making it less elastic. John Barrow won the Romney counties of Coffee (where Obama got 35.00% to Barrow's 51.22%), Bulloch (where Obama got 39.86% to Barrow's 52.32%), Evans (where Obama got 35.59% to Barrow's 50.17%), Jenkins (where Obama got 43.89% to Barrow's 56.67%), Screven (where Obama got 45.48% to Barrow's 60.67%), Treutlen (where Obama got 39.05% to Barrow's 55.95%), and Wheeler (where Obama got 35.74% to Barrow's 51.06%).
In short, Barrow's 8 years of building a centrist image (to the chagrin of liberal activists) in his previously light-blue district paid off. He was able to sell himself to the dixiecrat southern Georgia counties that the Republicans counted on turning him out of office. And with Republicans so far settling with Rick Allen (who lost to the poorly-run Lee Anderson primary campaign), I'd bet on him holding on for the foreseeable future. But that is incumbent on him running his campaigns like he did in 2012.