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Cracker Squire

THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Location: Douglas, Coffee Co., The Other Georgia, United States

Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tom Crawford lays it out in a post entitled 'It could be a long time in the wilderness for Georgia Democrats'

Tom Crawford, author of the subscription service Georgia Report, writes on his blog:

The process that started eight years ago when Sonny Perdue upset Barnes for governor has been completed. Republicans don’t just have majority control of state government – they have an iron grip that won’t be broken for years.

For those of us who were around on election night in 1990, the change has been a dramatic one. There were 11 races for statewide office on the ballot that year. Democrats, headed by Zell Miller in the governor’s race, won every one of those elections.

There were four Democrats running statewide – Secretary of State Max Cleland, Attorney General Mike Bowers, State School Superintendent Werner Rogers and Labor Commissioner Joe Tanner – who didn’t have an opponent on the ballot.

Of the 10 races for Congress in 1990, nine were won by Democrats. Just one congressional seat was won by a Republican, Newt Gingrich, and even Gingrich was nearly upset by a young lawyer named David Worley.

Needless to say, the political pendulum has swung completely to the other side in the two decades since that election.

Here’s how devastating the Republican wave was, up and down the ballot, in the statewide elections. Roy Barnes raised and spent nearly $8 million in the governor’s race. Mary Squires raised and spent next to nothing in the race for insurance commissioner – not even 5 percent of the amount that Barnes spent. And yet, Squires received about the same percentage of the votes in her race as Barnes did in his.

Three days after the election, state Rep. Alan Powell of Hartwell saw the futility of it. One of the last Democratic legislators left in North Georgia, Powell sent a letter to Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus) resigning from the Democratic caucus.

“The Democratic Party is dead,” he said after sending his letter to Smyre. “I don’t see it coming back in our lifetime.”

By Monday morning, Powell was already caucusing with House Republicans as they elected a new majority leader. The GOP now holds 109 of the 180 House seats, an all-time record. How many more Democrats from rural districts will join Powell before the Legislature convenes in January?

By the numbers

There is always a dropoff in voter turnout in non-presidential election years, but that dropoff in 2010 was much more pronounced among Democrats.

Compare the state’s vote in the 2008 presidential race to the vote in the 2010 governor’s race. There were a record number of 3,924,486 ballots cast in the presidential race, much of that turnout attributable to the presence of Barack Obama on the ballot. There were 2,572,966 votes cast in the governor’s race, a decrease of 34.4 percent.

The Republican vote from 2008 to 2010 decreased by 33.4 percent (683,828 votes) – but the Democratic vote decreased by a whopping 40.1 percent (739,129 votes). There is all the explanation you need for a Republican sweep and a Democrat whipping.

In the 28-county metro Atlanta region, the governor’s race was somewhat competitive. Deal won the metro region by 50-46 percent over Barnes, a margin of 53,447 votes.

Outside metro Atlanta, the Republican advantage really comes into focus: Deal carried those counties with 57.7 percent support to only 38.8 percent for Barnes, a margin of 207,210 votes.

That doesn’t leave Democrats with much to build upon. It gives Republicans plenty of reasons to feel cheerful.

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