September 21, 2016 10:17 AM
CNN takes a look at the Georgia Senate race between Democrat Jim Barksdale and Republican Johnny Isakson, and wonders if the Democrats missed an opportunity to pick up a Senate seat in this year of presidential candidate discontent. Prominent Georgia Democrats, from Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church to House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams to former gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter refused to run, perhaps thinking that Isakson would be invincible in what was expected to be a strong year for the GOP. But then, of course, Donald Trump won the GOP presidential nomination, and the Georgia presidential race has Trump with a slight lead, although barely outside the margin of error.
“We were giving a godsend, I believe, with Donald Trump,” said Barksdale supporter Leonard Ware as he waited for the candidate to speak in Gwinnett. “If we had a stronger candidate, we could’ve taken that Senate seat.”
For his part, Barksdale says he is in it to win, telling supporters he wouldn’t have run otherwise. The article cites a claim by the Barksdale campaign that if he can get 85% of the minority vote, he could win. The problem, as reflected in the recent Monmouth University poll, is that he only has 62% of the minority vote. And the reason for that, according to CNN, is that Barksdale is mostly an unknown while Isakson, after two senate terms, has name recognition.
In addition to not consolidating the minority vote, the article cites Barksdale’s refusal to try to connect Isakson to Donald Trump, the use of a cap as the symbol of his campaign, and his reluctance to be seen in public after qualifying in March.
The race isn’t over, however. One big unknown is how much Barksdale will be willing to invest financially in his campaign, having already spent $3 million. The other unknown is whether the presence of Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley will get enough votes to keep Isakson below the 50% threshold needed to avoid a January runoff. And indeed, the CNN article envisions a scenario where president-elect Hillary Clinton comes to Georgia to stump for Barksdale in order to gain a Senate majority as the likeliest way for Barksdale to win.