Late today word came that the razor thin senate race in Georgia will be heading into a Dec. 2 runoff between Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin. Chambliss failed to reach 50 percent, extending the campaign by another four weeks.
Republicans have expressed confidence that Chambliss will be better positioned in the runoff because he won’t have to contend with the enormous Democratic turnout, particularly among black voters, that the state experienced Tuesday.
But a GOP operative in Georgia with ties to Chambliss’ people, told me this afternoon that there is tremendous fear within the campaign that with Obama’s strong support, Martin could prevail next month.
“If Obama comes in and campaigns and fundraises for Martin, and stops in Atlanta, Macon and Savannah, then Saxby is in deep trouble,” the strategist told me.
“Any other time, I would say Saxby wins easily, but Obama is a phenomenon—think about how many e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers he has of Georgia voters. If he shares that infrastructure with Martin, anything’s possible,” he said, adding “Still, it’ll be a tough call for Obama. Does he dare risk the goodwill he has now by wading into a senate run-off where the Democrat could lose despite his vigorous support? He’ll have to balance the benefit of that goodwill with the value of gaining an additional vote in the Senate.”
And it looks like Martin is already getting help from the Obama campaign. This from fivethirtyeight.com...
Doug Daniels is a contributor to Politics magazine. firstname.lastname@example.org
"We've been getting emails from organizers who had already purchased their plane tickets to come down to Georgia. It won't be for a 60th seat, but it will be a seat nonetheless, and Democrats will have the rallying cry of "Remember Max Cleland!" Chambliss defeated Cleland in 2002 after airing a notorious ad that tied war hero Cleland to Osama bin Laden."