Ten Most Vulnerable Republican Districts in Georgia

As mentioned in other rankings, there are a hundred ways to determine how vulnerable a legislative district is for a takeover by the opposing political Party.

Just because a district or a legislator appears on this list does not mean that they are in political trouble.  It does generally mean that the legislators who represent these districts must be able to find ways of winning over voters from the opposing Party.

These rankings are not a statement about the legislator who represents them. This ranking is simply a mathematical formula that determines how strong or weak a district is compared to all the other districts in the state.

The following is a list of Republican House members representing districts in which Democrats can win a majority, or a significant percentage, of the vote. Of all the Republican-held districts in Georgia, these 10 Republican-held districts have the highest capacity for Democrats to win votes, a figure that is stated in the right column: The Democratic Ideal.

The Democratic Ideal is the average of multiple election results within each district for the best-performing statewide (non-Presidential) Democratic candidates in 2006, 2008 or 2010.

Thanks to Mike Seigle, Gabriel Sterling, Mark Pettitt and Andrew Pantino here at Landmark for researching and contributing to this targeting report. Doing a report like this requires hundreds of man-hours, accumulating thousands of pieces of information including election results, voter history, and geographic and demographic information.

Tomorrow we’ll release the Top Ten List of Most Vulnerable Democratic Districts.

Rank        District               GOP Incumbent                              Democratic Ideal

#1.            151                       Bob Hanner/Gerald Greene        66.57%

#2.            171                       Jay Powell                                           59.46%

#3.            138                      Mike Cheokas                                     59.43%

#4.            117                       Doug McKillip                                    58.05%

#5.            119                       Chuck Williams                                  56.08%

#6.            158                       Butch Parrish                                     56.02%

#7.            13                         Katie Dempsey                                  55.88%

#8.            40                        Rich Golick                                           55.39%

#9.            149                       Jimmy Pruett                                     54.58%

#10.          164                       Ron Stephens                                    54.03%

 

Common characteristics of Vulnerable Districts:

Only 1 of the 10 are in metro Atlanta (Golick). 9 of 10 are outside of Metro Atlanta;

2 of the 10 are in the Athens area (McKillip and Williams).

Only 1 of the 10 are in North Georgia (Dempey). Most of the House Districts where Democrats can still muster a majority are in South Georgia.

 

**Tomorrow morning we’ll release the Top 10 List of Most Vulnerable Democratic Districts.

59 comments

      • Ed says:

        Very true.

        As I said elsewhere, just looking at the D performance it is baffling why Hanner and Greene switched, other than a desire for power. I mean, FFS, there are ITP districts that don’t perform that well for Democrats.

  1. By the way, this report is simply an interesting derivative of the overall biennial targeting report that we do at Landmark. In other words, we don’t put in hundreds of hours just to come up with a ‘Top Ten’ list: we create this report and formulas it in order to empirically know, in every precinct of the state, deep-cut data about electoral performance in different scenarios about every Congressional District, House District, Senate District, Commission District, County election, etc etc in the state.

    In other words, we do it to assist in our work in future campaigns. The Top Ten this-and-that rankings are simply a side-result. But interesting nonetheless.

    • drjay says:

      stephens ceded a lot of friendly territory to keep purcell part of the chatham delegation and maintain an even gop/dem balance for local legislation, so he may more vulnerable on paper than he had been before…

      • That may be so, but you have to remember that the “ideal” vote they are talking about is made of up basically Michael Thurmond, Thurbert Baker and Tommy Irvin running for re-election. They got about 15% more of the vote than the average Democratic candidate running either in an open seat or against an incumbent. In whiter places, the disparity was even larger. So that 54% “ideal” vote – 15% = 40% Democratic district. In other words, there is no chance that a Republican loses this district, unless somehow a Democratic incumbent with similar stature to Irvin/Baker is redistricted into the district, and a total loser like Perry McGuire runs against them.

        Meanwhile, there are fast trending parts of Gwinnett where even Tommy Irvin and Thurbert Baker might not have won a majority, but Obama (not considered “ideal”) might have gotten 45%. Each year the electorate gets more and more non-white. I’d rather run there than in Ron Stephens district by a factor of approximately infinity to 1.

        • Agreed with what you’ve written (except about Perry M, he’s a good guy. Jim Fernander and I ran his first campaign when he got elected to the State Senate in 1993).

          This a simply and solely a statistical model and, as such, is not intended (or able) to take into account things like demographic trends. However, I think the list is pretty accurate. It simply determines whether a Democratic majority coalition is even possible in each House district.

          Obviously, it’s based solely on past elections. If Obama runs against a Republican nominee of Ron Paul next year, for example, Obama wins in a landslide and could affect districts all over. But the odds of that are … well … zero.

          (yep! had to pop open the RP balloon! 😉

    • They may be more vulnerable in a subjective sense, yes. But I’m not referring to the candidates or the legislators themselves, but rather in this case just a specific definition: the districts with Republican incumbents where statewide Democratic candidates have performed the best (top ten)

  2. Ed says:

    I do want to say that this is actually a really neat series you’ve done.

    Any chance you could give us a sneak peak at tomorrow’s list?

    • Thanks! And it’ll surprise you who’s on the list. Honestly, a few of them surprised me.

      And sure, I’ll send it to you if you’ll do the double-secret PP handshake, then cross your heart & hope to … well….

    • Ken says:

      It also grades Tea Party Favorite Tim Scott (SC-1) exactly the same as my rep Austin Scott (GA-8) and some of the Tea Party folks in the district think Austin is too quick to compromise. My, my.

  3. cheapseats says:

    I can’t really see any of these going Democrat but some of these guys are still wet-behind-the-ears Republicans and their new districts are full of people who have never heard of them. I see most of these are more like “open seats” for a Republican primary challenger than any chance of them going to the Blue Team.

    On the other hand, there’s always the Big Surprise – the old saw about getting caught in bed with a dead hooker or a live 15-year-old one comes to mind.

    Plus, as I’ve said before, when you Red Team guys leave the Dems with no hope then you can’t be surprised when they all the Blues come over and vote in your primaries – which they will do out of pure spite!

    Anything can happen when you let morons vote.

  4. For the record: I don’t think any of the incumbents are *actually* vulnerable, other than the 151st District. For essentially the same reasons Chris Huttman analytically wrote and implied: that these are local legislators, not statewide candidates, and personal relationships transcend partisanship with a certain (variable) amount of the electorate.

    These districts, save the one, are quite likely to all re-elect these Republicans.

  5. Bert Loftman says:

    http://www.ElectTheRightCandidate.us has scored all of these vulnerable Republicans as RINOs.
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmropTJjc6wqdElKWDFrWElmTXZtdHVXcmNURWl2Znc&hl=en#gid=192
    It would be good if they were challenged and lost. If the challenger won in the primaries we might get a real conservative. If a Democratic challenger won in the general election, conservatives would be better off without contaminating their caucus with liberals.

    • Ken says:

      Or perhaps they are voting as their constituents would have them vote. Look at the makeup of the districts.

      Better check on that baby vs. bathwater thing.

      I’m also trying to figure out why limiting the practice of chiropractics to chiropractors is a piece of liberal legislation.

      • Bert Loftman says:

        Baby v. bathwater – a good point and only time will tell who is right.

        The chiropractor is an interesting point. If one is a crony capitalist then protection of chiropractors or hair braiders is important but if you are a true conservative then the free market and not government should rule.
        Thanks for the input. It seems to me that our country is going down the wrong path and I am trying to help.

        • Ken says:

          Bert,

          I’m pretty sure that chiropractors require some special training and before someone cracks my neck, I’d like to know they have been certified to some established standard. I like my barber, but I don’t think I would let Jack align my vertebrae.

          I don’t think ensuring someone is qualified to do a job is crony capitalism when special skills are required and failure to do the job correctly could result in loss of life or permanent injury.

          Manipulating someone’s spine? Yes. Wiring a house? Yes. Writing a prescription and diagnosing a disease? Yes. Driving a cab? No. Braiding hair? No. Mowing a yard? No. Being President? No.

          Licenses do provide additional information to consumers in areas where consumers may not have the knowledge to differentiate between quacks and geniuses. I think that is a good thing, not a bad thing. Oh, and I’ll bet the person who inspects the beef, pork, chicken and fish you consume is trained and licensed in some meaningful way. Would you like to see that requirement removed?

          If you’re trying to make the world better, and I have no reason to doubt you, remember there are always unintended consequences to implementing or repealing any legislation or creating or destroying any institutions.

          • Bert Loftman says:

            For my ideas, I would refer you to CATO and search for “licensure” where you can find articles like, ” The Medical Monopoly: Protecting Consumers or Limiting Competition?’ and “Professional Licensure and Quality: The Evidence.”

            Private certification, not government licensure should be the norm. I am a retired neurosurgeon and it required private board certification for me to perform surgery.
            Trust the free market, it does the job better and cheaper than government.

            The government has certified imported foods laced with salmonella and allowed the Chinese to lace mild with Melamine‎. In my opinion, relying on the government for your safety gives many gullible people a false sense of security.

            • Ken says:

              No one is perfect, Bert. We ALL know government fails to come remotely close and it usually works on the wrong problems.

              Until someone proposes a viable method that allows for transition to a proven private licensing procedure, then I will continue to prefer what we currently have to the unproved. Maybe a period of time in which both are required might works as a transitional period.

    • Doug Grammer says:

      Bert,

      http://www.ElectTheRightCandidate.us is your website, isn’t it? You’ve got some interesting legislation used in your scorecard, such as “add denatonium benzoate to antifreeze to render it unpalatable.” You’ve got some interesting ideas if that’s what you use to decide which Republican is a conservative and which Republican is a “Rino.” I’d rather see who voted to raise taxes and use that as a marker. I’d be interested to see how the rest of the GOP state senators voted on all of the bills that you use to condemn all the Rino’s.

      Personally, I’ll never vote for someone I agree with 40% of the time over someone I agree with 60% of the time. In other words, I disagree that conservatives would be better off without contaminating their caucus with liberals, if the legislature as a whole is less likely to vote they way I would like.

      • Bert Loftman says:

        Hi Doug, good to hear from you. If you want to live in a nanny and regulatory state then so be it. As for myself, I do not like the idea of the government increasing the cost of goods and services because some loonies like to drink antifreeze.
        Regarding your ? about how the other state senators voted on the bills, it is all documented at
        https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AmropTJjc6wqdGg4WURvMGVpYllpQlpoSk9wZFgyaVE&hl=en#gid=106
        Thanks for the comments, Bert

        • seenbetrdayz says:

          The lousy bit about it is that these little ‘insignificant’ issues tend to be pushed through while the politicians are kicking around the idea of tax increases.

          It’s become too simple to push off these little regulatory nonsensical issues (which pass, usually), because we think there’s something greater to handle and judge politicians by.

          The end result is that 1,000 little insignificant issues pass through the cracks into law while politicians ponder and ultimately vote for tax increases, which means, eventually, we’ve lost on all counts.

          That’s one reason why I try to understand a politician’s philosophy about government roles rather than get bogged down in issues (though, it’s very tempting to pick a favorite issue to draw lines in the sand with, and I’ve been a part of that problem, admittedly). If a politician has a philosophy (and commits to it), I have a good idea of what his/her votes will look like (for better or worse), without even needing to break things down on an issue-by-issue basis.

          • Ken says:

            + a whole lot

            Just as generals tend to fight the last war, voters tend to elect the politicians who have solutions to resolved or no longer existent issues. The way to elect the right people is to know who they are and what they believe. You are, oh so, correct in your assessment.

            So, do you have any ideas on how to get mainstream media to adopt your position? We need answers to questions that are not being asked.

            • seenbetrdayz says:

              I don’t know if the mainstream media will ever adopt my position. I mean, I arrived at it when politicians started losing credibility in my view, and trying to find out a critter’s philosophy was a way to cut straight through the bull____.

              But the media? It thrives on bull____, so I don’t know if it will ever adopt my position.

        • “As for myself, I do not like the idea of the government increasing the cost of goods and services because some loonies like to drink antifreeze.”

          As a libertarian, I actually support requiring antifreeze to taste bad. Why? Because when a water pump blows on a car or a radiator is leaking, it leaks out onto the same ground where dogs and other animals tend to roam. I don’t think the additive is to make it unpalatable to people… it’s to make it unpalatable to animals. If someone’s vehicle is leaking antifreeze at a rest area for instance and my dog happens to jump out the door of the car and start drinking it before I can stop him, how exactly do I hold the owner of the leaking car liable for any medical bills my dog may incur? I’m with you on the whole nanny state thing… but with a product that is so widely used and discarded / leaked onto the ground… it needs to be as non-toxic as possible and unpalatable to any sort of animal – domestic or wild.

        • Doug Grammer says:

          I might be wrong, but I think it was to keep pets and wild animals from drinking antifreeze. I’m not aware of a case where people have been drinking antifreeze, but I have heard of pets dying from doing so.

          Republican don’t believe in zero regulation. If they did, that would make them anarchists or libertarians. (not much difference, but there is some.) They should believe in limited regulation or only in necessary regulation. They should believe in smaller government. They should believe that government that is closest to the people is the best form of government. They should believe in lower taxes and a fairer form of taxation. They should believe in a strong military and law enforcement that is just. That means they should be against illegal immigration. And, IMO, they should be pro-life.

          I appreciate that you want to make a difference. However, with what I’ve just said in mind, votes that are 52 to 0, or 5 to 3 don’t tell us a lot. Show us differences that broke down to close to party splits where just a few Republicans voted with the Dems. That will highlight potential RINO’s. 3 or 4 voting against everyone else doesn’t make them the only Republicans in the room. Show us who voted to raise and lower taxes. Show us who voted to put things on the ballot to let people decide in a referendum. IMO, adopting federal rules of evidence is a good thing, and all but 3 State Senators agreed with me.

          I’m not so sure that the Patient Right to Know Act which makes sure Patients know as to whether a physician has medical malpractice insurance is a good gauge of who is a Republican and who is not. Only 5 Republicans voted against it and all Democrats and all remaining Republicans voted for it. If this legislation fails your smell test, shouldn’t we abandon mandatory liability insurance for car owners and drivers licenses? We wouldn’t want to live in a nanny state, would we?

          • “Republican don’t believe in zero regulation. If they did, that would make them anarchists or libertarians. (not much difference, but there is some.)”

            Poor Doug… apparently he doesn’t even know what a libertarian is…

              • Nope… the only smashin’ an burnin’ I do is around the farm.

                Contrary to Doug’s statement, libertarians are for limited government. Libertarians support limited regulations that support their belief of individual liberties and responsibilities. On the one hand he says Republicans *should* believe only in limited regulation, yet he believes that even online poker should be outlawed. He also doesn’t believe someone should be able to pay someone else for sex. Nor that people should be able to smoke marijuana within the privacy of their own homes. That’s not limited regulation, it’s overstepping the boundaries of the government being able to tell us how to spend our own money and what we can do to our own bodies.

                Aren’t the Republicans the ones who created No Child Left Behind? Didn’t government grow under Bush? Aren’t Republicans just as guilty of supporting programs such as paying farmers not to grow crops? The only difference between Republicans and Democrats is not *whether* to spend our money, it’s *how*.

                • Calypso says:

                  “Contrary to Doug’s statement, libertarians are for limited government. Libertarians support limited regulations that support their belief of individual liberties and responsibilities. On the one hand he says Republicans *should* believe only in limited regulation, yet he believes that even online poker should be outlawed. He also doesn’t believe someone should be able to pay someone else for sex. Nor that people should be able to smoke marijuana within the privacy of their own homes. That’s not limited regulation, it’s overstepping the boundaries of the government being able to tell us how to spend our own money and what we can do to our own bodies.”

                  I agree with all of the above. To paraphrase Mr. G. Carlin, ‘Selling is legal. Sex is legal. So why isn’t selling sex legal?’

                  Where I hold a difference with the Libertarian Party is what I perceive to be the libertarian isolationist policy they hold.

                    • Doug Grammer says:

                      A drug, broadly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function Marijuana is a green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant. Marijuana has a chemical in it called tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. All forms of marijuana are mind-altering (psychoactive). In other words, they change how the brain works. The most widely used illicit drug in the United States, marijuana is commonly referred to as a gateway drug because it is often the first drug an individual will try before potentially moving to harder substances.

                      Long-term marijuana abuse can lead to addiction; that is, compulsive drug seeking and abuse despite the known harmful effects upon functioning in the context of family, school, work, and recreational activities. Estimates from research suggest that about 9 percent of users become addicted to marijuana; this number increases among those who start young (to about 17 percent) and among daily users (25-50 percent).

                      All that being said, you want an addictive drug to be (re)legalized. Cocaine used to be legal. As was opium use. How do you feel about those? I don’t trust individuals on mind altering drugs to solely indulge at home. I think if it were legal and driving response times by individuals smoking pot would be lowered, there would be more fatalities on the road.

                      Now when you argue that pot and driving are OK, are you also OK with drinking and driving?

                    • “The most widely used illicit drug in the United States, marijuana is commonly referred to as a gateway drug because it is often the first drug an individual will try before potentially moving to harder substances.”

                      And yet alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana. Are you suggesting we go back to the days of prohibition of alcohol as well? That worked awfully well too, didn’t it?

                      I’ve never advocated that drinking and driving should be legal. I’m advocating that an otherwise naturally occurring plant should not be illegal. Cocaine, if I’m not mistaken, basically takes lab equipment to produce, right? Marijuana takes picking it off the plant… no different than you might walk through your yard and pick an apple or pear off the tree if I’m not mistaken. (Sorry, I’m not that up to date on whether you dry marijuana first or whether you can smoke it fresh off the plant… I suppose I can research if need be…)

                      The fact that something may be addictive should have no bearing on the situation. Cigarettes, alcohol, video games, the Internet, sex… all these things are possible addictions. Are you going to also advocate that we outlaw sex altogether?

                    • Doug Grammer says:

                      David,

                      You didn’t answer my question. Which and how many drugs do you want legalized? I am for enforcing the laws that we have now. IMO, Drinking is OK, but smoking pot is not.

                    • The only drug I’m actively advocating that we legalize is the most widely used one in the US that grows just as naturally as the grass in your front yard. You’re trying to group this plant into the same category as hard drugs like heroin and crack. That’s like trying to group a skateboard in with a Ferrari because they both have four wheels. And your opinion is just that… your opinion. But laws shouldn’t be created based on opinion. I don’t like mushrooms – but I don’t advocate that they should be outlawed… I simply pick them off the pizza. Same with marijuana… it’s not my kinda thing, so I don’t smoke it. Nobody’s talking about forcing you to use marijuana, Doug. But of course that individual liberties thing isn’t something that Republicans understand very well, is it?

                    • “The most widely used illicit drug in the United States, marijuana is commonly referred to as a gateway drug because it is often the first drug an individual will try before potentially moving to harder substances.”

                      Do you know why a lot of those people move to harder substances? Because most of those people have been told over and over that marijuana is this horrible drug with all these various side effects… and then they try it and figure out that they’ve been lied to all these years. So if they’ve been lied to about marijuana, perhaps they’ve been lied to about all these other drugs as well, so why not try them too? The sooner people start telling the truth about marijuana, the better off our society will be.

                    • Doug Grammer says:

                      “The only drug I’m actively advocating that we legalize is the most widely used one in the US….. ” and that is alcohol.

                • David, you wrote “He (Doug) also doesn’t believe someone should be able to pay someone else for sex.”

                  Did Doug make this statement somewhere here, or were you tryin’ to work a deal? Source please…

                  • Doug is against legalized prostitution… he’s said it here many times. It serves no purpose for me other than to use fewer of the tax dollars I contribute to the system for the purpose of enforcing the current laws. How many millions of dollars have we spent in law enforcement to find, investigate, hold a sting operation and arrest prostitutes in Georgia I wonder?

                    • Doug Grammer says:

                      That’s true. I wonder how many tax dollars we could raise by selling pot at the playground? If it makes a profit, it should be legal?

                    • I don’t think I’ve seen anyone advocating selling pot at the playground. You sure do like to take things to the extreme, don’t you? Most everyone I know that is advocating legalizing marijuana advocates a “grow your own” or “equal to cigarettes – tax / regulate / 18+” style policy. But outright prohibition isn’t working and will not work in the future.

                    • Calypso says:

                      First off, I think virtually every, if not every, drug should be legalized, regulated and taxed. I do see a potential problem with your desire, David, of also allowing a “grow your own” status for pot, or any other drug, for that matter. It could turn into a modern version of moonshining and the regulation and taxation (primarily the regulation) of it would be in jeopardy. I feel the same way about prostitution.

                      With his ‘selling pot on the playground’ question, Doug is doing nothing more than assembling strawmen for his weak argument.

                    • Doug Grammer says:

                      I know he didn’t say…”by the playground,” but what I’m hearing is if it makes a profit, it must be good. I was stretching an example out of proportion to make a point. Just because it makes a profit doesn’t mean that’s something society wants us to do. What’s next? Selling guns to Mexican drug lords? …wait, the federal government hates that type of competition.

  6. Ken says:

    Thanks, Mark.

    This is an excellent way of looking at these districts. My home district is #9 on your list (District 149) and we knew it would be tough. For that reason I’m not surprised to see it make the top 10.

    In addition, about 70% of the district is new to our state rep Jimmy Pruett, but he works hard and I believe he’ll still carry it without too much drama. I expect the Democrats will run someone, but I don’t know of anyone who could actually carry the district for them in 2012.

    Disclaimer: Jimmy is a personal friend of mine and a fine state representative.

  7. ZazaPachulia says:

    I know Matt Ramsey’s in about the safest GOP district in the state, but I wish he were on this top ten list. I’d love to see someone make a primary run at him after his shepherding of the economy-killing, lawyer-bail-out debacle that is HB87.

  8. Herb says:

    We need to target all these guys for defeat. 2012 could be the year we snag both chambers of the State Legislature, or failing that, fall slightly short. We should also gun for CD’s 1 and 7-10. We must ensure the GOP pays dearly for their obstructionist policies.

      • Ken says:

        Doug,

        I think Herb is smoking his namesake again. There is a reality gap of large proportions here and, of course, no explanation, no justification, no clarification; just hallucination.

    • Herb, these incumbents are highly likely to be re-elected other than in District 151. They are all good campaigners and have support that transcends Party voting.

      That was my point: that generically the districts themselves can be interesting, but the incumbents are strong. Dempsey, Powell, Stephens, Golick, Cheokas et al are *highly* likely to be re-elected.

      On the Democrat list, though, Crawford and Massey-Reece are gone if they run again. Buckner and Parent are extremely vulnerable. Marin has a very strong challenger (Mark Williams). Terry Johnson has won before, but his district continues to be problematic for him, and in an anti-incumbent year may lose the old-time support he’s previously enjoyed. Dems will actually lose a few of their vulnerable districts.

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