Over at The Upshot last week, I was not surprised to read Nate Cohn, Narrow Path to Senate for Michelle Nunn in Georgia. This is important because she is running to replace Saxby Chambliss, a man so conservative he once shot a man for not frothing at the mouth enough. Nunn is the main Democratic hope to turn a red Senate seat to blue. Cohn’s analysis indicated that she was still a long shot. The whites in the state now only represent 64% of the voters, which is down from 72% in 2002. But they’ve become a lot more Republican. This trend will continue to the betterment of the Democrats, but it isn’t going to happen by this November.
But according to Cohn, there’s hope. He wrote, “Demographic change has pushed Georgia far enough that a Democrat could conceivably squeak out a narrow win if everything goes right. But there should be no mistaking this race for a true tossup.” That’s the kind of information that ten years ago would have been pretty cheering, “There’s hope!” But now that sounds like unless her opponent starts talking about how girls in short dresses deserve to get raped, Nunn will lose.
Yesterday, some information came out that cheered up cynical old me. It’s a poll result and we always have to remember that a single poll means basically nothing. But conservative polling outfit Rasmussen Reports performed a survey of 750 Georgians Wednesday and Thursday—so after the Republican Primary. And although we don’t know which of the Republicans—Kingston or Perdue—will be running against her, Nunn is beating both. She beats Kingston 47%-41% and Perdue 45%-42%. And this is not a poll of registered voters; it is a poll of likely voters.
There are more caveats than facts in all of this, of course. The big one is, again, that this is just a single poll. And this is Nunn’s first campaign. But that may not matter, given that she is the daughter of Sam Nunn, the four-term United States Senator from Georgia. And like her father, she’s quite a conservative Democrat. So I’m sure that she has at least a decent chance at winning this race. Right now, because I’m feeling optimistic, I think I will disagree with Cohn and say this is a tossup.
Following the elections this year has been a very frustrating activity. It really is too early to say much. For example, we won’t know for a couple of months if Kingston or Perdue are going to run against Nunn. But like most liberal observers, I’m expecting great carnage in November and for two years, I’ve thought that the Republicans had a 50% chance of taking over the Senate. But then it started to look worse. I believe FiveThirtyEight put it at 60% chance. But now, The Upshot gives the advantage to the Democrats: 56% chance of keeping the Senate.
A lot of people talk about how this might be a “wave election.” I don’t much buy that. I don’t even think it makes sense in non-presidential elections. But if there is a trend, right now it is toward the Democrats. We might just hold on to the Senate. Of course, if we don’t, it isn’t that bad. The Democrats will take it back in 2016. As I wrote last year, It’s Now Or Never for Senate GOP.