News Release: Faculty Experts, Politics

Oct. 27,  2008

Georgia Senate Race Competitive, Run-Off Possible

The Georgia Senate race between Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin looked like an easy walk to reelection for Chambliss a few months ago, but with a week to go, the election is up for grabs.

"The race is very competitive," says Emory political scientist Merle Black, with the Obama campaign sending in volunteers and both candidates seeing an infusion of money from their national parties. What's fueling the close race is "the economic crisis," Black says. "Voters are worried and angry about their economic situation."

There is also the possibility of a run off if neither gain at least 50 percent of the vote, as required in Georgia, Black says. If the third party Libertarian candidate takes 4-5 percent of the vote, "we could have a situation where the race is not decided on Nov. 4. If that happens we can expect a huge amount of national attention from both parties for this race, although turn out is generally much lower in a run off election."

Georgia Could Be the "Sleeper State" for Democrats

Overall, "Georgia may be the sleeper state for the Democrats, and McCain can not afford to lose any of the Southern states," says Black "Expectations are for a huge turnout. If Obama or McCain comes to Georgia during the last week of the campaign, that would probably indicate a national Obama landslide." 

Black, Emory's Asa G. Candler Professor of Politics and Government, is a renowned expert on national politics and the foremost authority on politics in the South. One of the nation's most incisive commentators, Black is coauthor of "Divided America: The Ferocious Power Struggle in American Politics." Reach him at 404.727.6570 or


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