Donald Trump’s national poll numbers against Hillary Clinton aren’t spectacular, and I think that’s putting it nicely. Jon also mentioned earlier about a prognostication by FiveThirtyEight on the possibility (if the election were held today) that Hillary Clinton could win Georgia. That would be a black eye for Georgia Republicans, but the ramifications go deeper than just losing the presidential election.
This election could give Democrats the needed jolt to organize and possibly make in-roads in Georgia politics by capitalizing on both a Republican candidate with high negatives (although, their candidate isn’t winning many popularity contests herself in terms of likability) and changing demographics in our state. 2018 brings us another round of federal elections as well statewide elections…including an open governor’s contest since Governor Nathan Deal is term-limited. Expect to see Republican elected officials eyeing the house over in West Paces and other seats opening up. It may not be a monumental shift like it was in 2010 where it seemed like every statewide office was being vacated by the incumbent because seeking higher office or retirement, but I suspect that Democratic money will be flowing down to help win a few statewide seats…especially the Governor’s mansion. Even that can affect Georgia Republicans beyond just having to endure a Democratic administration.
The Rules of the Republican National Committee allocate the delegates based upon a few things. Generally, all states have at least 10 automatic at-large delegates; 3 delegates slots for the national committeeman, committeewoman, and state chairman; 3 delegates allocated to each congressional district; and at-large delegates that is 60% of the total number of electoral votes for that state. Then there are the bonuses. Georgia’s allocation for the 2016 Republican National Convention was like this:
Automatic at-large delegates: 10
Committeeman, Committeewoman, State Chairman: 3
3 per Georgia’s 14 Congressional Districts: 42
60% of Georgia’s Electoral Votes (16): 9.6
Electoral Victory for Republican Presidential Nominee: 4.5
Republican Governor: 1
Republican Majority of US House Delegation: 1
At least one state legislative chamber with Republican majority: 1
All state legislative chambers with Republican majority: 1
Republican US Senators: 2
Total 75.1 (rounded up to 76)
Georgia had the 5th-largest Delegation to the RNC this year. The only states that had larger delegations were California (172), Texas (155), Florida (99), and New York (95). Pretty impressive for the Peach State, but let’s play a what-if scenario (using the allocations based off of this year’s primary). What will happen if the prognosticators at FiveThirtyEight are correct (all things being equal) and Georgia goes blue? Well, right off the bat, we lose four-and-a-half delegates from our delegation, so that puts us at 71 delegates in 2020 (tied with 7th-place Pennsylvania). What happens we (I know, unlikely, but humor me) lose the US Senate race? We lose another delegate in 2020 and drop to 8th. Let’s say that the Georgia Democrats can actually organize and get a competitive candidate like Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed or former State Senator Jason Carter to run in 2018 and, with major cash infusions from the DNC, are able to win the Governor’s mansion. We, again, lose another delegate and end up tied with Illinois with 69 delegates.
Not to mention, we are going into a new leadership cycle in 2017 as Georgia Republicans, so delegate allocations for the County, District, and State conventions (as well as representation on the State Committee) could be affected as well. Precincts and counties that are tepid towards the Republican ticket could potentially lose delegates that represent them at the various conventions in 2017, 2019, and 2020.
The choices that we make have consequences, and, for better or worse, we have to live with them.