Liberal surge ‘brewing’ in Georgia? Lay off the eggnog

Brandon Howell Contributor, Georgia Tipsheet
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MSNBC, the Washington Post, and others have all published or opined recently about how Georgia is trending blue.

It’s not, and it’s not likely to be anytime soon.

The Post offered a nuanced take, saying Senate and gubernatorial hopefuls Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter were accelerating the shift to battleground status and pegging Georgia as one of the only states in which “Democrats have even plausible hopes of taking a Senate seat from Republicans in 2014.”

Meanwhile, MSNBC took a wholesale dip in the eggnog.

“There is a liberal movement brewing in the Peach State,” read the caption below Chris Hayes’s segment.

But that notion pays no mind to the electoral trends that have dominated the state for the last decade.

Republicans have held the governor’s mansion since George W. Bush’s first midterm, both branches of General Assembly since 2004, and the party laid claim to every statewide office in 2010. Nine of fourteen congressional seats are held by the GOP, Mitt Romney took more votes from the state last year than John McCain in 2008, and a Democratic presidential nominee has not won its electoral votes since 1992.

Current public opinion, both towards policies and the elected officials themselves, also tells a different tale.

Some 47 percent of respondents said they felt Obamacare was going to drive up their costs in a recent survey, compared to just 11 percent who felt the unpopular law would actually make healthcare more affordable. Furthermore, a third of those surveyed predicted it would outright worsen the quality of care.

Comparing state and federal lawmakers also shows that Georgia voters are fairly satisfied with the status quo in Atlanta. A separate survey pegged incumbent Republican Governor Nathan Deal with a 54 percent approval rating, while just 42 percent gave Obama high marks. The Georgia General Assembly carried a 47 percent approval rating, compared to just 11 percent for Congress.

That’s not to say Democratic pollsters haven’t tried to paint a different picture. Public Policy Polling has repeatedly sought to cast the state’s party makeup as evenly split between Republican and Democrat, and were scoffed at by onlookers aware of the state’s electoral composition.

Despite all of that, out of state liberals are determined to bitterly cling (if you will) to the idea that this will all change come November 2014.

Yet even their candidates seem not to buy it. To say “a liberal movement is brewing” in Georgia is to ignore the posturing of the Democrats’ anointed candidates, too.

Troll through every missive issued by Senate hopeful Michelle Nunn’s camp since she launched her bid in July, and you won’t find the word “Democrat.” What you will see are a litany of centrist platitudes, retreads of the party’s red state playbook that’s worked less every cycle in states across the nation.

Nunn backed Obama’s initial plan for military intervention in Syria, yet even then the president wasn’t cited. Instead, she noted the state’s two GOP senators as fellow supporters.

That backfired.

Within days polling data showed a majority in opposition to the idea and one of those GOPers, Johnny Isakson, reneged on his support less than a week after Nunn attempted using his support for proof of bipartisanship.

State Senator Jason Carter, the former president’s grandson and lone Democrat looking to unseat Deal, brands himself a “fiscal conservative.” His voting record doesn’t show it, but that’s a story for another time. He boasts of his rating from the NRA and has already looked for daylight between Jimmy Carter and himself on a litany of issues.

Beyond that, he calls Obamacare a “mess,” while attempting to toe the party line on Medicaid expansion.

That’s not what you do when a “liberal movement is brewing.”

To be sure, the state will see purple hues in the coming years. Changing demographics have made the likelihood of such a shift probable, but despite that, the chances of Democrats accelerating the process just isn’t that high, nor is there any real evidence of a “liberal movement brewing.”

The two things that could really help the party’s viability are Obama’s numbers improving and his policies gaining more traction, neither of which appear fathomable in red states.

recent Politico piece noted the dependency of Peach State Democrats on the other party’s primary, using only the word “hopeful.” That kind of lightening in a bottle dependency alone rebukes the narrative of a Liberal trend at work.

Brandon Howell is an account director at Hynes Communications and a contributor to the Peach State political blog Georgia Tipsheet. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonDHowell.