MyDD, which tries very hard to be pessimistic nevertheless has to admit today:
Although the Republicans have had, at least in the past two elections, a better turnout operation than the Democrats, this year while many Democratic voters will head to the polls with little or no encouragement from party activists, Republican operatives are going to find getting their voters to vote is like pulling teeth.
Of course, there is a big exception to all this. It's the state where I live, Georgia.
Here in Georgia, the collapse of George W. Bush has been matched by the rise of Sonny Perdue (right). Never mind that Georgia families have lost 8.7% of their earning power these last six years, or that our SAT scores were (until recently) 50th among the states (they sent out a cheering press release when they got to 46th).
Never mind the sprawl that turns Atlanta commutes into LA-like marathons. Never mind the pollution, the crappy schools, or the fact that the manufacturing and agriculture bases of the economy have collapsed. Never mind that one-third of Georgians are black – our Congressmen are leading the fight to kill the Voting Rights Act.
And the voters, apparently, are cheering all this.
It's quite remarkable.
Consider that in 1966, an equivalent point in the last cycle, this state elected Lester Maddox (left), the last true segregationist. Or consider that this state – along with the other Dixiecrat states of Alabama, South Carolina, and Mississippi (where the political climate is similar) represent the heart of the base from which Republicans have been building-out ever since then.
The thesis of the Nixon Era – fear, division, the theory of conflict – it plays very well here. It speaks to the natural prejudices of the majority. It's where they grew up. The FDR Thesis never really ruled here. Even Jimmy Carter ran as a conservative. The Civil Rights movement succeeded here through compromise, leaning into the wind, and was rejected the moment it tried to go beyond mere legal acceptance. I still have to call the Civil War “The Recent Unpleasantness” for fear of offending someone. (Don't worry about German or Japanese attempts to guzzy-up their WWII images until you've seen Georgians in action.)
Something else bears mentioning, and that is 2002. Until 2002 no Republican had been elected Governor of Georgia since Reconstruction. Suddenly, with Sonny Perdue's upset over Roy Barnes, everyone switched. Long-time rural representatives changed parties en masse. Money which had been balanced between the parties now goes entirely to the Republicans.
Talent switched sides, too. Today's Georgia Democrats just won't accept issues which are handed to them. Are legislative leaders shaking down business interests? Did the Governor have laws changed to give himself a tax break?
Well, you won't hear about it in the ads of his opponent, Mark Taylor (right). Instead, Taylor tries to run to Perdue's right. Lock up all felons forever! Eliminate the state property tax! The candidate himself is fatter than the Pillsbury Dough Boy, and wedded to the kind of politics that hasn't really worked for Georgia Democrats since the heyday of Zell Miller. If you're going to be Republican Lite, people will take the real thing, after they get a taste of it.
The Georgia economy this decade has been tied completely to the Bush “recovery.” It's nearly all real estate. That and the military. The only folks making money here are paving the forests for townhomes. One-third of the mortgages in Atlanta are interest-only.
The new leaders of the legislature all come from the “exurbs” -- Chestnut Mountain, Hiram, Powder Springs, Dallas, Woodstock, St. Simon's Island (which despite being 400 miles from Peachtree is, in fact, an Atlanta exurb). While the city builds up and the inner suburbs turn poor, white flight continues, and everyone who hasn't flown wants to.
So every Democratic officeholder in the state is under threat. Two Democratic Congressmen are likely to go down to an onslaught of ads straight out of the 1970 GOP playbook – one in a district that's 45% black!
Georgia Democrats are like a drunk that hasn't quite hit bottom yet. They will in November. Maybe they'll wake up and decide to be Democrats. But when they do, it will be too late for them to take power for a generation. Because opportunities like 2006 don't come along very often, and when you run away from them, you deserve your fate.