ATLANTA — The leading candidates for governor traveled across the state Monday and campaign workers went door-to-door in a final push to rally supporters to the polls for what’s expected to be a low-turnout primary contest.
Seven Democrats and seven Republicans are vying for the state’s top job.
And they are doing most anything they can to remind voters there is a high-stakes election Tuesday.
Ads are jamming television airwaves, and phone calls and e-mails are flying to would-be supporters.
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Turnout for early voting has been low. When early voting ended Friday, 185,062 ballots had been cast, according to the secretary of state’s office. That’s just 3.75 percent of the state’s 4.9 million active registered voters.
Overall turnout in the 2008 general primary election was 22 percent. In 2006 — the last time there was a governor’s race — turnout was 21 percent, elections officials said.
Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University, said for all the heat coming out of the gubernatorial race as it headed into the final days, voters didn’t appear to be engaged.
“I think you could see a very low turnout,” Abramowitz said. “You will likely see the hard core, very dedicated partisans turning out. It seems like some others are waiting until the end to learn more about about the candidates.”
As the gubernatorial candidates made one last pitch for votes Monday, Macon was on many of their itineraries. Democrats Roy Barnes, Thurbert Baker and DuBose Porter made campaign stops in Macon, as did Republicans John Oxendine, Karen Handel, Nathan Deal and Eric Johnson.
On Monday, candidates were hopscotching from airport to airport meeting with supporters from Albany to Augusta. The flyaround — a political ritual — is touted as a way to meet with supporters.
But the small throng of sign-waving backers is an afterthought. The candidates were really looking to attract the local television cameras in the campaign’s critical final hours.
Barnes is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination. But a recent poll shows a tight race between Handel, Deal and Oxendine as they battle for two berths in an expected Aug. 10 runoff.
Abramowitz said low early voting totals could be bad news for Oxendine, the money leader and presumed front-runner until Handel’s endorsement by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin catapulted her to the top of the pack, according to a poll released Sunday.
That means voters will cast ballots with Palin’s backing fresh in their minds and the momentum appearing to swing away from Oxendine, the state’s longtime insurance commissioner.
“There is a lot of volatility in that race. I think it really is wide open,” he said.