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22 October 2008

Political Scientists Ponder A Possible Georgia U.S. Senate Run-Off

In today's Savannah Morning News, two of Georgia's most prominent political scientists gave their take on what would happen if Democrat Jim Martin forced Republican Saxby Chambliss into a December 2nd run-off.

"You'd see a lot of national money from both sides," said Merle Black, an Emory University political science professor. "If it makes the difference between 59 and 60, no amount is too much."

"You'd see a lot big guns from both parties and a ton of money poured into the state," [University of Georgia political science professor Charles]Bullock said.
[Source: Savannah Morning News, "Ga. Senate race could end in runoff", October 22, 2008]

Most polls show U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss locked in a tight battle with Democratic challenger Jim Martin. In each of the polls taken, Chambliss is under the 50% plus one threshold needed to avoid a run-off election.

Two days ago, it was suggested on this site that a run-off between Chambliss and Martin would see truckloads of money coming in from across the nation as well as a slew of high profile surrogates stumping for both the Democratic and Republican candidates [Source: Georgia Politics Unfiltered, "Martin vs. Chambliss: 50% Plus One Still In Effect", October 20, 2008]. Ironically, Georgia saw its first high profile surrogate in state Tuesday when Virginia Sen. Jim Webb came to town and endorsed Jim Martin [Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution, "Martin backed by U.S. senator who served in Vietnam", October 21, 2008].

Charles Bullock said that historically, incumbents forced into a run-off were vulnerable. However, both he and Merle Black agreed that Chambliss might eke out a run-off victory because A.) "Republicans usually are better at herding their loyalists to the polls for runoffs;" and B.) "Barack Obama, regarded as a big drawing card for Democratic voters this year, wouldn't be on the ballot."