Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Why a Georgia runoff is typically an uphill fight for Democrats 


Stacey Abrams is urging Georgia voters to get ready for a Dec. 4 runoff once absentee ballots are tallied, and if that’s the case, she’s got her work cut out for her.

Even as Brian Kemp and his allies say they’re confident he avoided overtime, they also recognize that statewide runoffs tend to favor the GOP. 

No general election race for governor has ever required a runoff, but Republicans have dominated many of the other races that go into overtime, starting with a 1992 narrow win by Republican challenger Paul Coverdell over Democratic U.S. Sen. Wyche Fowler.

Republicans also thrived in the last general election runoff took place in 2008, when U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss trounced Democrat Jim Martin in a runoff after the Republican narrowly missed an outright win.

Then again, Democrats hope a flood of momentum and attention will keep Abrams’ supporters motivated. Polls already suggest high Democratic enthusiasm, and voters won’t be able to avoid news about the race. 

Another wrinkle: The timing of the runoff could force Deal to rethink plans to call a special legislative session next week to provide about $100 million in relief from Hurricane Michael and decide on a controversial tax break for jet fuel.

Moving ahead as scheduled would mean that Kemp, who has dismissed demands to resign as secretary of state, wouldn’t be able to raise cash for at least a week during a crucial time for his campaign. State law restricts him from doing so when the General Assembly is in session. 

And even a Kemp victory in a runoff would put him in precarious territory going into his first term in office in a weakened position.  

Abrams, meanwhile, is already honing her runoff pitch.

“You’re going to have a chance to do a do-over,” she told supporters at her election night party in Atlanta. “And I need you to know that it is my mission to serve you, to serve Georgia, to make you proud.”

Read more:

Nail-biter in Georgia: Kemp leads Abrams, but runoff a possibility 

Kemp ‘confident’ of victory, Abrams predicts runoff 

How Georgia counties voted in the 2018 Georgia Gubernatorial election 

Georgia’s secretary of state race likely headed for runoff 

 


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.