Posted: 6:00 am Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

5 Things to Watch in the U.S. Senate Race 

By Daniel Malloy and Greg Bluestein

David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston square off in a July 22 runoff for Georgia's open Senate seat.

David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston square off in a July 22 runoff for Georgia’s open Senate seat.

Runoff day is finally here, kids. First, check out our premium story on why the Republicans never want this nine-week slog again. This evening, monitor the election returns at ajc.com and follow us on Twitter.

For an in-depth look at the candidates, read our profiles of Rep. Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue. And throughout the day, keep tabs on these five things we’ll be watching as Republicans decide which one of the candidates will be their U.S. Senate nominee.

1. Overall turnout: Will the rain and the negativity of the race depress turnout that was already dismal in the May primary? We also encountered plenty of folks who still were not used to a July runoff, so voter confusion is at play too. If turnout is lower than 10 percent, the likely beneficiary is Kingston — who has the Republican clubs and county sheriffs and small-town mayors working their networks on his behalf.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose office oversees elections, won’t venture an estimate. Still, he said, it’s hard for too many voters to claim ignorance with the TV barrage and direct mail out there.

2. Who’s making inroads in metro Atlanta? Former Secretary of State Karen Handel of Roswell and Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta endorsed Kingston and have been hitting the trail for him. If Handel, in particular, can swing her metro Atlanta base Kingston’s way it could prove decisive. Perdue’s camp, in turn, unleashed former Gov. Sonny Perdue, his first cousin, on the metro Atlanta market on Monday in making a closing argument for the gig.

3. Can Kingston run up the score in the southeast again? Kingston won a whopping 75 percent of the vote in his congressional district in the primary and got strong turnout there. A runoff in the 1st  District should help him, but early voting there was down compared with the weeks before the primary. And a pro-Perdue Super PAC was on air in Savannah with the aim of driving up Kingston’s negatives – and keeping home Savannah residents who have rarely heard an attack on their congressman.

4. Will Perdue’s outside-ATL focus work? An analysis of ad spending obtained by the AJC showed some striking numbers for the nine-week runoff: Kingston and his allies spent $3.02 million on TV ads, while Perdue and accompanying PACs spent $2.22 million. But the distribution is uneven.

Kingston & co. outspent Perdue & co. by nearly $1 million in the Atlanta market, but Perdue forces had a $90,000 edge in Macon, a $50,000 edge in Augusta, a nearly $30,000 lead in Savannah, a $10,000 lead in Albany and a $15,000 lead in Columbus. We’ll be interested to see if votes in those markets favor Perdue accordingly.

5. How late will we go? Yes there will be fewer votes to count, but Fulton and DeKalb counties tend to come in late, and Savannah’s Chatham County could play an out-sized role thanks to Kingston’s roots. This one could be a squeaker. Who needs sleep, anyways?

11 comments
JAWJA
JAWJA

I don't see Handel being a positive force for anyone. And Gingrey? Desperation has set in.

crankee-yankee
crankee-yankee

Just got back from voting in Gwinnett where I overheard the poll workers commenting on how they had not expected a line.

Falcaints
Falcaints

Who really cares, neither of these clowns will do anything but sit around and talk about how conservative they are.  Yawn.

honested
honested

With the foolishness over, get used to saying Senator Nunn!

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Must suck to be Jim "Dan Rather" Galloway today, as his (and the AJC's) manufactured "Nathan Deal Ethics Crisis" crumbles under the actual facts. 


Love watching liberal losers have to deal with reality -especially after they have become so invested in a complete lie.  Guess they can't seem to learn that lesson about "the liberal who cries wolf" ....

longmemories
longmemories

Would love to see a Perdue win but with the entrenched Republican establishment so strongly behind Kingston its hard to see it happening. I expect Kingston to win and to accomplish as much in the next 6 years as he has in the last twenty.

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

I think its gonna be Kingston by a large margin.

Perdue needs big numbers in metro-Atlanta and I just don't see that happening with a low turn-out. I just came back from the polling station - only saw one other voter there while I was.


The Handelites who might have preferred a more moderate choice than Kingston are still butt hurt over Perdue's comments about her lack of a college degree.  They may just stay home, her endorsement of Kingston notwithstanding.

I don't think Sonny moves the needle much and Kingston has some momentum in the polls.

Even though I cast my symbolic vote for the outsider, it's going to be Kingston by 9 points.



honested
honested

@dcdcdc 

Another day and reality seems like a faraway destination for you.

IF the Governor didn't want to be perceived as a crook, he should not have behaved as a crook.

He is entirely old enough to remember nixon.

DannyX
DannyX

@dcdcdc, you poor thing, you just love playing the victim.

Here's some reality for you, the AJC broke the story that there were additional emails.  If the AJC manufactured the story why in the world would they follow up with another story that showed there were additional emails?  Why didn't the AJC bury the new emails?

This is not a about crying wolf,  just another conservative crying about the big bad "liberal media" and victim-hood.