Election Results & Thoughts – August 11, 2015

Well, yesterday’s headline race, the runoff in Georgia’s HD #80 in the Atlanta suburbs, was anything but uneventful as Democrat Taylor Bennett registered an impressive victory over Republican J. Max Davis.  I’ll hopefully post a more detailed look at these results later, but the lede is that Bennett converted his 37% showing in July’s special election against three Republican candidates into a win with almost 55% against just one.  As was noted yesterday, both state parties made winning this previously-Republican controlled seat a priority, and it’s fair to say that Bennett’s 450 vote margin was larger than almost anyone expected.  Voter turnout saw a big jump as well with almost 5,000 votes cast, a near 25% increase over July.

In Georgia HD #146 in the Warner Robins area (Houston County), Shaw Blackmon defeated Larry Walker, 57%-43%, in a runoff between two Republicans.  That was very close to the margin between those two in the special election won by Blackmon, meaning that supporters of Kelly Burke, who finished 3rd in July, backed the two runoff candidates in similar proportions.  As the early voting numbers suggested, turnout increased here as well with just over 4,400 votes cast, up about 12%.

In Georgia HD #155 in the south-central part of the state, Clay Pirkle took 59% of the vote against fellow Republican Horace Hudgins in the runoff for this seat.  Interestingly, when one totals the results from Ben Hill, Coffee, and Irwin counties Hudgins actually has a small advantage, but Pirkle took almost 75% of the vote in both Tift and Turner counties in the western half of the district to produce his big victory.  Pirkle’s strong support there is not surprising, given that all of his in-district campaign contributions before July’s special election were from those counties, a fact which I noted in my original analysis of that contest here.  Turnout was up in this runoff as well, with almost 4,000 votes cast, an increase of just under 5%.

So, recent trends in Georgia special election runoffs performed very strongly, as all three candidates who won the special also won their runoff (13 of the last 15), and total votes cast in the runoff were higher than the special (7 of the last 9).

In South Carolina HD #106 in the Myrtle Beach area (Horry County), Russell Fry won his runoff against fellow Republican Tyler Servant, 60%-40%.  As noted in my analysis before the special election two weeks ago, Fry had a huge edge in in-district campaign contributions, so his victory here was not really a surprise.  Voter turnout in the runoff showed a healthy increase here as well, up about 13%.

Finally, there were three special elections in the Philadelphia area yesterday, and as expected, all were comfortably held by Democrats.  Ed Neilson won the HD #174 seat, 62%-38%, against Republican Tim Dailey.  In HD #191, Democrat Joanna McClinton received 71% against two other candidates, a Republican and an Independent.  And in HD #195, Democrat Donna Bullock took 86% of the vote against Republican Adam Lang.  In all three districts, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a large margin.

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