Legendary journalist, (and drug addict, and gambler, and general human being) Hunter S. Thompson once wrote that, “Victory is a fleeting thing in the gambling business. Today’s winners are tomorrow’s blinking toads, dumb beasts with no hope.”  The same could be said about politics, where in a single night an entire campaign can be reduced to shambles, an entire career ended in the stretch of a few hours.

Waking up on Sunday morning, (afternoon) after a weekend in Las Vegas, I was certainly a blinking toad.  My gambling career, lasting all of two nights, was more than enough to convince me that I’m not cut out for the rough and tumble lifestyle that Thompson lived and breathed.  At least though, I thought between hangover-related naps, that my political ‘bets’ for the runoff elections were a sure thing.  I may not know how to count cards or understand a single rule about craps, but my election predictions were sure to come true.  A testament to my predictive talents that would make up for whatever money and pride I lost hunched over a poker table some 48 hours prior.  Looking back on my last column though, it’s pretty clear that I didn’t do so well.  Luckily I didn’t lose any money predicting runoffs though, and I don’t have enough pride left to skip this column, so let’s go back and take a look at my latest round of miscalculations.

 

CD 1: Buddy Carter vs. Bob Johnson

This race has profiled more than any other in the state as a classic GOP-civil war-establishment vs Tea Party matchup.  Carter has the background in state politics and the endorsement of just about every elected official in South Georgia.  Johnson just received nearly $400,000 worth of ad buys from Tea Party organization The Club for Growth, and has repeatedly attacked Carter for acting ‘like a liberal’ in the Georgia Assembly.  This past Sunday the pair had a heated mud wrestl… er.. slinging match — if you’re into that sort of thing the debate airs Wednesday at 7:00pm on GPB.  All in all the candidates aren’t really that different.  Both are staunchly conservative GOPers in a staunchly conservative district.  As we saw in the Senate Primary, where Jack Kingston received 75% of the vote from his home district, CD 1 is fiercely loyal to its elected officials.  That bodes well for Carter, who won the primary fairly handily.

Prediction: Carter 58% —– Johnson 42%

 

Actual result: Carter 53.8% —– Johnson 46.2%

I was a bit ambitious in predicting such a large margin of victory for Buddy Carter down in CD 1.  Blame it on those folks turning out to the polls in record numbers for the primary.  I also may have underestimated the Tea Party support, (or Club for Growth dollars) that poured into Johnson’s campaign down the stretch and turned the race from a cakewalk for Carter into a nasty little brawl in the final weeks.  Carter, though, ended up with too much support from Savannah, and in Georgia’s First Congressional District that’s where you win the race.  Between this race and David Perdue’s big negative ad-buys in Savannah in the couple of weeks leading into the runoff, the air was thick with flying mud.  Could all that negativity have dampened turnout in the area that propelled Kingston’s primary election?

 

 

CD 10: Mike Collins vs. Jody Hice

Hands down the most fun race of the election cycle.  You’ve got two candidates who essentially tied in the primary, (Hice 33.5% to Collins 33%).  There have been weird youtube Vanilla-Ice satire videos.  There have been the revelations that Hice thinks the gay community wants to recruit and sodomize children.  There have been revelations that Hice thinks Muslims don’t deserve 1st Amendment protection.  There have been mailers sent out to Democratic voters in the district encouraging them to vote for Collins, which of course has the Debbie Dooley’s and Erick Erickson’s of the world crying foul and hearkening back to the Thad Cochran race in Mississippi.  Hice has that rare quality of turning off Democrats, independents, moderate Republicans, and presumably regular Republicans.  Unfortunately for Collins, this is the district that elected Paul Broun, who unsurprisingly has endorsed Hice.  This one looks like it will be the closest of the lot, don’t be surprised to see a redux of the Cochran-McDaniel race where Democrats come across the aisle to choose what is in their minds the lesser of two evils.

Prediction: Collins 53% —– Hice 47%

 

Actual result: Hice 54.3% —– Collins 45.7%

My first big whiff.  I would say that I let my personal views cloud my judgement on this one, but I really did think all the negative press would clue people into the fact that Hice is a disaster waiting to happen.  This is a guy who said, speaking on the issue of women holding political office, “If the woman’s within the authority of her husband, I don’t see a problem.”  The more I think about this guy winning a Congressional seat, the more I question whether the people of CD 10 are living in 2014.  To be fair, Hice’s campaign seemed to circle the wagons when the controversy began to swirl, putting forth an enormous grassroots effort.  This is one of those districts where having the ‘liberal’ media hating on one of the candidates means that he’s the one everyone is going to rally behind.  The rest of the state may be dismayed at having a representative who is sure to embarrass us all at some point in the near future, but this is the district that elected Paul Broun.  They don’t really care what we think.

 

CD 11: Bob Barr vs. Barry Loudermilk

This has been a hot race on social media, with supporters of both candidates engaging in as much verbal sparring as the candidates themselves.  Loudermilk finished first in the Primary by a fairly large margin, including winning Barr’s home-base of Cobb, so heading into the runoff he looked like the early favorite.  The State Senator seems like a fairly standard Republican candidate; whatever knocks he might have gotten for being so far to the right on social issues are balanced out by how conservative the district is.  Meanwhile Barr’s history of… erm… being very open minded when it comes to changing his stance on certain issues probably isn’t doing him any favors as he tries to claw back into the race.  Loudermilk’s campaign released an internal poll last week saying he was up 49% to 28%, but as always internal polls should be taken with a grain of salt.  Barr’s camp insists the race is tight, with most of Tricia Pridemore’s and Ed Lindsey’s supporters coming over to his side, but the lack of any public polling supporting that idea may be telling.

Prediction: Loudermilk 60% —– Barr 40%

 

Actual result: Loudermilk 66.1% —– Barr 33.9%

My most ambitious, (and most correct) bet and I was still 6%+ off the final margin.  I just couldn’t catch a break.  Loudermilk as a candidate seems like he was created in a lab as the perfect representative of this district.  He has the look, he has the background in state politics, he is a staunch conservative, and he appeals to both the establishment as well as the Tea Party.  Bob Barr, try as he might, couldn’t find a way to get to Loudermilk’s right, so he really didn’t have any ground to stand on as he desperately tried to claw back into the race.  Many were surprised at just how big this margin was, and it speaks volumes about Loudermilk as a candidate as well as the job that his campaign team did that he won so handily.

 

U.S. Senate: David Perdue vs. Jack Kingston 

This race, like the rest, has gotten downright nasty as it has hit the homestretch.  The debate on Sunday consisted almost purely of back and forth attacks, with Perdue harping on Kingston’s fundraising connection to a Palestinian businessman awaiting deportation for a federal conviction, and Kingston accusing Perdue of abusing his power as an appointed member of the Georgia Ports Authority.  Momentum seemed to have crossed over to Kingston after the primary, but polling done by Public Policy Polling as well as by your own favorite political news organization show that it has tightened up closer to the runoff.  The Kingston campaign seems to have done the better job in this long runoff process though, and another high turnout from his home district, (driven in part by that Congressional race) should see the Congressman take the next step up to the Senate.

Prediction: Kingston 55% —– Perdue 45% 

 

Actual result: Perdue 50.9% —– Kingston 49.1%

Ah, the big one.  This is where I should put a gambling metaphor, but I know so little about the pastime that I can’t fit in an appropriate one.  I’m still trying to figure out how Kingston blew this thing.  He had establishment support.  He had Tea Party support.  He had the U.S. Chamber pouring millions into advertising.  He had Karen Handel at his side stirring up support from women, (and presumably from metro-Atlanta).  He had that rabid base in South Georgia that would turn out even on a rainy runoff Tuesday and push him over the edge.  But somehow none of it worked.  David Perdue tapped into that core feeling that nearly all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, share; that Congress is doing a really, really, poor job.   Perdue won this race in metro-Atlanta, an area which Kingston targeted heavily leading into the runoff.  Kingston’s heavy spending though was thwarted by a brilliantly run campaign from Perdue which focused on voter identification, voter contact, and very focused advertising in key areas.  So a loss for all the party insiders and a loss for my prediction resume, but overall a win for the GOP, which gets a candidate who has few weaknesses for Michelle Nunn to target this fall.

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