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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Georgia and the Non-Ideological State of the Race

Now that my home state of Georgia has become relevant as one of the larger February 5 venues, I’ve been paying some attention to the state of the race there, and it illustrates how non-ideological the contest has become on the Democratic side.
There’s a new AJC/Mason-Dixon poll out, which shows Obama leading Clinton 33-30, with Edwards trailing at 14%.
In the absence of cross-tabs for that poll, one is driven to a review of the heated competition for big-name endorsements in GA among the Big Three campaigns, which tell you a lot about what the campaign’s not about (big hat-tip to the blogger RuralDem for compiling the lists of endorsements).
As I noted in a post back in October, much of the old-line moderate-conservative white Democratic Establishment in Georgia has lined up in support of John Edwards. Aside from the overlap of these folks with the identity-group of trial lawyers, there’s not much about them to suggest they’re down with the anti-corporate, “fighting populist” rhetoric of the Edwards campaign this year.
The Obama-Clinton competition for Georgia endorsements, mainly of African-American elected officials and other notables, is fascinating for its absence of any ideological, racial, gender, or even generational character.
HRC’s got two congressmen: John Lewis and David Scott. Obama’s also got two: Sanford Bishop and Hank Johnson. Scott and Bishop are Blue Dogs; Lewis is a member of the House Democratic leadership; and Johnson has the most liberal voting record of any Georgia congressman. Go figure.
Beyond Congress, HRC has been endorsed by the only two black statewide elected officials, Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, and Attorney General Thurbert Baker (who flipped from an early Obama endorsement). Obama’s been endorsed by the best-known African-American elected official, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. Clinton’s endorsement by civil rights icon John Lewis is countered by Obama’s endorsement from civil rights icon Joe Lowery. HRC has the bulk of behind-the-scenes African-American business and civic leaders, while Obama has the bulk of black state legislators and clergy. (There’s also a sizable biracial group of legislators that endorsed Bill Richardson, whose state chair, former congressman Buddy Darden, is a prominent DLC/Blue Dog backer; they are now up for grabs). Again, if there’s any discernable pattern on racial, gender, or ideological lines, it’s hard to find.
Maybe endorsements don’t matter much, but in Georgia at least, they do paint a fascinating picture of how little the 2008 contest seems to revolve around what we think of as the normal intraparty conflicts. I hope and trust that’s a good thing.

One comment on “Georgia and the Non-Ideological State of the Race

  1. Dan on

    It will help to keep things factual if you cite margin of error when reporting statistics. This is important when results are within MOE. Clinton and Obama are within the 5% margin of error for cited poll.


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