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Opinion: How 4 weeks changed crucial numbers in the Georgia Senate race

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A quick postscript to our post earlier this evening on the Saxby Chambliss-Jim Martin U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia that the Republicans won handily:

As calculated by a loyal Ticket groupie and all-around good guy, Ben Welsh: What a difference four weeks, some cold rain and the absence of an African American presidential candidates makes. (See news video below.)

On Nov. 4, with Barack Obama atop the Democratic ticket and John McCain-Sarah Palin atop the Republican ballot, the GOP took Georgia in the presidential race, 52.2% to 47%, winning by 204,000 votes out of a total 3.924 million. (Libertarian Bob Barr, by the way, got a little less than 29,000 votes, or 0.7% in his home state.)

No real surprise there.

On the same day in the Senate race, Chambliss, the incumbent, came in first, but not by enough (49.8%) to win. He got 1.867 million votes to Martin’s 1.757 million. Trouble is, Allen Buckley, the Libertarian, snatched 128,000 (3.4%), just denying Chambliss the 50%-+1 vote majority needed to avoid a runoff.

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Fast-forward to today’s two-man runoff: No Barack Obama on the Democratic side. No Bush baggage on the Republican side. No Libertarian Buckley.

With almost all precincts reporting late tonight, there were about 2.126 million total ballots. Chambliss raked in 1.221 million (57.4%) to Martin’s 906,000 (42.6%).

Game over for the Democrats and Harry Reid. Not even close. Republican victory.

Lesson for Republicans and Democrats: Don’t schedule your Senate reelection bid during a presidential election year ending eight years of White House control by your party.

Lesson for Democrats: Figure out some way to get the African American voters to come out a second time for the white guy.

--Andrew Malcolm

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