Georgia Race For the Finish: Chambliss vs. Martin

Amie Newman

Georgia will hold a run-off election on December 2nd to determine the winner of the Saxby Chambliss/Jim Martin U.S. Senate race. If Martin wins, Georgians will have their first pro-choice representative in years.

Updated 11:57am PST, November 13, 2008

Georgia’s Senate race between Saxby Chambliss, anti-choice Republican, and Jim Martin, pro-choice Democrat is extremely close. And it’s making RNC Chairman, Mike Duncan, nervous. On CNN.com Duncan says he’s angry that Obama campaign is sending volunteers to Georgia and Minnesota (where the race is even closer between Republican Norm Coleman and Al Franken, Democrat), claiming the campaign has "tens of millions of dollars leftover that they are sure to dump into the Democrat challengers’ campaign coffers."

DailyKos has Chambliss ahead in the race, 49% – 46% with a just certified December 2nd run-off election closing in on voters. FiveThirtyEight.com reports that 87% of Georgia voters say they will vote in the December 2nd election (compare this to 67% of voters who voted in the general election on November 4th). However, Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight doesn’t quite believe it:

People may have the best intentions, certainly, and there is probably some response bias in the sort of person who might answer a series of a pollster’s questions about the runoff election. Nevertheless, a lot of these people are pretty much … lying. They’re not going to show up. In 1992, when the late Paul Coverdell won his senate seat against Wyche Fowler in a runoff, participation declined from 2,251,587 Georgians in the first go-around to 1,253,991 in the runoff, roughly a 50 percent drop.

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In a SurveyUSA poll, where the majority of respondents voted for Senator McCain, 51% of voters say they voted for Chambliss with 39% supporting Martin. Interestingly, the poll also noted that while 15% of voters said that a visit by John McCain to their state would encourage them to vote, 30% of voters said that a visit by President-Elect Obama would encourage a vote from them as well. 

And while Silver and his crew at FiveThirtyEight.com are taking a more relaxed approach, NARAL Pro-Choice America says now is not the time to sit back. According to an email from the group, Chambliss is "about as anti-choice as they come…the fight is not over."

Chambliss’ presence in a new U.S. Congress could very well contribute to some devastating healthcare access and rights consequences.  During his reign, writes NARAL, he voted against expanding health care for low-income children, against tax cuts for middle-income Americans, has time and time again opposed legislation that would provide birth control and help prevent unintended pregnancy; went on record opposing Roe v. Wade, essentially declaring that the case was wrongly decided and should be overturned; and voted to end funding for clinics that offer birth control, pregnancy tests and breast cancer screenings to millions of American women.

Jim Martin, his challenger?

Well, Molly from Blogforchoice.org, writes:

Jim Martin has stood on the side of women and now it’s our turn to stand with him. Throughout his entire legislative career, Jim was fighting against anti-choice politicians who threatened Roe v. Wade; who undermined a woman’s right to choose at every turn; who thought that they knew better than women and their doctors what was best for women and their families. Jim stood with us even when his family was threatened…even when it wasn’t popular…even when he constantly had to face down anti-choice politicians in the legislature.

Georgians who support reproductive health and rights, expanded access to healthcare for those Americans who need it (including children), and a proponent of women’s rights, have a real opportunity to see this come to fruition for the first time in years. If you need an infusion of optimism (or at least a reason not to despair), FiveThirtyEight.com’s Silver gives his conclusion after analyzing the stats:

The point is … if the polls going into December 2nd say that Saxby Chambliss is going to win the runoff by 7 points, you shouldn’t be a but surprised if Jim Martin actually wins instead. And you also shouldn’t be surprised if Chambliss wins by 20. This will be a return to the high margins of uncertainty that we saw in the primaries.

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