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In case you missed it, this past Tuesday, the Republican primary runoff for the Georgia Senate race took place. Businessman David Perdue prevailed over long-term congressman Jack Kingston of the 1st Congressional District. Perdue's margin of victory was less than 2%, and it is clear that Perdue's strength in Atlanta and its suburbs was the main reason for his victory.

This diary will show that Kingston's strength largely came from areas that former Senator Sam Nunn found to be very friendly for him, while Perdue's strength largely came from areas that were trending away from Sam Nunn even in the eighties.

Here is a map of the GA Congressional Districts for your perusal. This'll be important for context, so refer to it often.

Georgia Congressional Districts
Let us first examine a map of the runoff, with due credit to MCI Maps for their wonderful image.
2014 Georgia Senate, Republican primary runoff
Kingston overwhelmingly won the 1st, the southern parts of the 8th, and did quite well in the 12th (Demosaur John Barrow's district) as well. The 9th and 3rd were brutal for Kingston, as well as the northern part of the 2nd. He won several counties in the far northwestern part of the 14th, but lost the rest. Fulton County was not that bad for Kingston, nor was Cobb County, but Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties were.

With this in mind, I took a look at the 1984 Senate election in Georgia between Sam Nunn and Mike Hicks. Sam Nunn won a punishing 80/20 victory over Hicks, even as Reagan won the state 60/40.

1984 Senate Election. Light blue or orange: <5%. Dark blue or red: >5%.
This map is a comparison of county totals to the statewide average. Counties in blue are those won by Nunn by a margin greater than the statewide average, and those in orange or red are those won by Nunn with a margin less than the statewide average. (Sam Nunn did not lose any counties in this election.)

As can be seen, much of southern and eastern GA is pure Demosaur country. It overwhelmingly supported Nunn and Kingston. Northern GA, even in the 80s, was growing increasingly hostile to Democrats, and not unsurprisingly, supported Perdue by large margins. The counties of Richmond and part of Columbia in the east (the two Nunn-unfriendly counties) are currently the bedrock of Barrow's GA-12 district. However, it should be understood that Richmond, the orange county, is also majority-minority. It's not Demosaur territory. Neither is heavily-white Columbia. The whites in these two counties are fairly staunch Republicans, and have been for a long time.

Much of the area surrounding Fulton County is interesting. Demographic changes and immigration (both in-state and out-of-state) have transformed the entire region in the past thirty years. Nevertheless, you can see some of the problems that have prevented us from winning GA in the past: The GA suburbs aren't just Republican, they've been Republican for a long time. DeKalb, Gwinnett, and Clayton counties around Fulton were some of Nunn's and Kingston's worst regions. Fulton itself, perhaps due to the overwhelming minority population even then, found itself in Nunn's camp by a slightly larger-than-statewide margin, but closely matched the state itself. No, what balanced out Nunn's huge margins in the south was the reflexively Republican areas in and around Fulton, and the areas in northern GA that have been trending away from us for ages.

Okay, so what's the conclusion? The conclusion is that Perdue is everything we could've hoped for in an opponent. Perdue's appeal seems limited to the ancestrally heavily-Republican areas of the state like Richmond, DeKalb, and Gwinnett counties, and the areas of northern GA like Fannin, Union, and Towns counties. Clearly, if Sam Nunn wasn't doing well with these counties in the 80s, Michelle Nunn won't either.

So the battle plan is simple. Make a play for the 1st, 8th, 12th, and 2nd district Demosaurs and drive up minority turnout in and around Fulton county to counteract ancestrally Republican white strength in the Atlanta suburbs and the counties near the Tennessee border.

The magic number is 32%. With some assumptions on turnout, 32% of the white vote means Michelle Nunn wins the election comfortably. 31% is pushing it, 30% is a nailbiter and dependent on large African American turnout, but with 32% of the white vote, we win almost by default.

Can Michelle Nunn win 32% of the white vote? Yes, I believe she can. With Perdue, she can focus on winning southern Demosaurs. Against Kingston, she would've been fighting him in areas that were very friendly to her father and to Kingston, and that could lead to some interesting, but fatal, splits in regions she must win (or otherwise not lose dramatically). Much is made of the changing demographics in GA, and I agree they're significant and must be taken advantage of, but we're still a decade away from a GA that doesn't need residual Demosaur strength for a Democratic win. Let's use that strength while we still can.

Originally posted to Le Champignon on Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 07:37 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kos Georgia and Community Spotlight.

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