Gary M. Wisenbaker, Valdosta Today Editorial Director:
So the Great Midterm Election of 2014 ends.
Georgians are spared, against all the predictions of main stream polling and punditry, the ordeal of a gubernatorial runoff in December and a United States Senate runoff in January. There is, indeed, a merciful God.
And rather than a re-shading of Georgia from red to blue to become purple, as predicted by Atlanta Journal columnist Jim Galloway, the state remained quite red. Not only did the Republican Party retain control of the state legislature, all seven constitutional offices, and a U.S. Senate seat, it also picked up a congressional seat with the defeat of Democratic Congressman John Barrow.
The results were convincing. Governor Deal and Senator-elect David Perdue each received 53% of the vote statewide. The “down ballot” victory of the remaining constitutional offices in Georgia were even more solid ranging from 58% to 55%.
While the margin was not predicted, Valdosta Today reporter Eric Baker wrote as early as October 29 that Perdue was “pulling away” based on exit polling data and was leading in most all demographic groups. The polling data reported the same for Deal.
In Lowndes County the results were even more striking with Perdue capturing 59% of the vote, Deal with 56% and the other down ballot GOP incumbents garnering 60% each. And in the only contested Lowndes County commission race, new comer and GOP candidate for the District 3 seat Mark Wisenbaker received over 70% of the vote.
These numbers reveal a party with support that is both broad and deep.
Galloway’s prediction of the demise of the Georgia GOP’s hold on the electorate, based on his Democrat Oracle at the state Capitol (“Win or lose, this election will be a ‘gift’ to Georgia Democrats”) was not only greatly exaggerated but, well, dead wrong. It’s a “gift” the Democrats might want to exchange.
So one wonders why the psephologists were so wrong in predicting the outcome of this election. Six point swings are a pretty big miss as many were showing Perdue and Deal at only 48% or so going into the election. Maybe it has to do with the method and manner of the surveys. Many are now done in “robo call” fashion. Fewer people have home phones so maybe it’s more difficult to get true statistically appropriate samplings. Then there’s over counting black, under counting blacks, over counting whites, under counting whites, and what not.
But maybe it was, in the end, a rejection by Georgia voters of “identity politics”.
A leading Democratic pollster warned days before the election, according to a headline, that “Without Black Vote, Democrats Face ‘Crushing Losses’”. The New York Times proclaimed “Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate”. And even the Georgia Democratic Party shameless played the race card with the mailing of the now infamous “Ferguson Flier”, a piece seeking to equate a GOP victory with threatened harm to black children.
Restricting its reach to ethnic groups at the expense of proposing policies that benefit all Georgians or Americans is no way for the Democratic Party to build a majority. Ignoring the needs and aspirations of the voting majority and hoping to intimidate the black voting block with scare tactics to overcome that deficiency is rather risky, not to mention divisive and exclusive politics at its worst and meanest, as last Tuesday demonstrated.
The victorious party in this last election touted a message of growth, prosperity and freedom from government for all Americans, not just certain segments. People want jobs, not extended unemployment benefits; they want paychecks that put food on the table, not expanded EBT benefits or an artificial minimum wage that weakens payrolls rather than grows them; they’re more interested in being safe and secure from terrorists and plagues than being politically correct.
Deal and Perdue vastly out performed expectations in the Latino community with such a message. And they both outperformed the 2012 GOP ticket in the black community as well. They succeeded because they pledged to work for all Georgians and all Americans.
Dividing the people in a state or a country for political expediency is a shameful way to run a campaign. It is certainly no way to govern.
Gary Wisenbaker, B.A., J.D. is a native of South Georgia where he practiced law in Valdosta and Savannah for 31 years. He has served as state Chairman of the Georgia Young Republicans and Chairman of the Chatham County (Savannah) Republican Party. Gary is a past GOP nominee for State Senate, past delegate to the Republican National Convention and has chaired or co-chaired numerous Republican campaigns for President, US Senate on the county and district level as well as local campaigns. Gary hosts his own blog at www.garywisenbaker.com