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for general elections in the Peach State. Chambliss came up short as a result of 128,000 votes going to the Libertarian nominee. That the Libertarian nominee for the Senate polled 100,000 more votes than Bob Barr, the Libertarian nominee for president and a former member of Congress from Georgia, suggests that Chambliss’s vote for the bailout package, early support for President Bush’s immigration proposals, or some other policy stand alienated a number of conservative voters. While some conservatives “parked” their Senate vote with the Libertarian , Martin failed to maximize his showing among Democrats. Exit polls showed blacks casting 30 percent of the votes in the presidential election but only 28 percent in the Senate contest. If those African Americans who failed to vote for senator had voted as blacks did who registered preferences in the Senate contests, then Martin might have actually finished ahead of Chambliss, although he would not have gotten a majority. Martin’s share of the vote generally exceeded Obama’s in counties that Obama lost, but where the Democratic presidential nominee won, he ran ahead of the senatorial nominee. When the Martin vote share is regressed on the Obama vote, Martin received 8.4 votes for every 10 for Obama. Martin swept the black vote, taking 91 percent of it, according to the exit polls. Chambliss dominated the white vote, defeating Martin by a margin of 75 to 25 percent. Despite spending far more money in the Senate race than he did two years earlier when he ran for lieutenant governor , Martin received a slightly smaller share of the white vote. The election revealed a gender gap, with 59 percent of men supporting Chambliss while 51 percent of the women cast ballots for Martin. Adherents of each political party provided near unanimous support for their party’s nominee . Chambliss won the support of the 30 percent of the electorate who identified themselves as independents by a margin of 54 to 38 percent. White evangelicals, who made up 38 percent of the Senate voters, provided the core support for Chambliss, preferring him by a margin of 81 to 15 percent. Martin dominated the vote from Liberals and defeated Chambliss among moderates by 56 to 41 percent. Chambliss took more than three-fourths of the conservative vote. During the course of the campaign, Martin, like Obama and other Democrats challenging sitting Republicans, sought to link the incumbents to the unpopular Bush administration. Martin’s television ads criticized Chambliss for supporting the economic policies of the previous eight years that, Martin charged, created the conditions that led to the eco62 ★ Charles S. Bullock III nomic collapse. Martin also chastised Chambliss for backing the $700 billion economic rescue package but opposing relief for the middle class and not recognizing that the United States had plunged into a recession. Much of the talk in Washington revolved around the television ad run by Chambliss in 2002 that juxtaposed pictures of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein with incumbent Democrat Max Cleland, a triple amputee from Vietnam. However, in Georgia the old television ad was not a factor. Chambliss ads sounded a theme common to Republican campaigns by labeling Martin a liberal. Chambliss accused Martin of supporting past tax increases and padding his own expense account. Another ad claimed that governor Sonny Perdue relieved Martin of his responsibilities as the head of the Department of Human Resources following the death of two children in DHR care. The only other statewide contest involved a position on the Public Service Commission. Here, as with the Senate contest, the work of the Obama campaign left its mark. Democrat Jim Powell, a political novice, led Bubba McDonald, a former PSC member trying to regain his position, by 23,000 votes. The Obama effort at energizing an enlarged black electorate was critical to Powell’s success. However Powell, like Chambliss, failed to win a majority because of the presence of a Libertarian candidate that threw the election into a December runoff. Obama’s influence had no impact on the makeup of Georgia’s congressional delegation, although it enabled two Democrats who narrowly escaped defeat in 2006 to win comfortably. Obama coattails helped Democrats pick up four suburban seats in the state House while McCain’s strength in northeast Georgia contributed to the defeat of two Democrats. General Election Runoff With all other contests that could be resolved at the ballot box having been settled, political operatives turned their full attention to the Georgia Senate...


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MARC Record
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