It is not a coincidence that all the polling around Labor Day took a turn towards the Democrats. Look at any election year and you will see the same thing happen. We should consider it a natural phenomenon. Pollsters are still sampling the same number of Democrats and Republicans, but the kinds of Democrats and Republicans shift around holidays and weekends.
Republican voters tend to be married with kids. They tend to go on vacation around Labor Day and spend time with families on weekends. When a pollster needs to fill out the number of Republicans in their polling during those periods, they have to try harder and typically wind up with Republicans who are single or married and childless, both of whom tend to be more socially liberal than the average Republican. This causes the polls to wobble.
Georgia is one of the very best examples of this phenomenon. In 2010, 2014 and now in 2018, Democrats in Georgia tend to do very well in statewide polling around Labor Day. Michelle Nunn tied and then moved ahead of David Perdue in their Senate race in 2014’s polling. Jason Carter tied and moved ahead of Gov. Nathan Deal in his re-election bid. Both wound up losing. In 2010, Roy Barnes fairly consistently stayed ahead of Deal in the governor’s race until October. The only gubernatorial campaign since the turn of the century where the Democrat did not lead in Labor Day polling was in 2006.
In this year’s gubernatorial polling, Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams are tied at roughly 45 percent of the vote. That is the total percentage collected by Nunn in 2014 and one point higher than what Carter got against Deal. The real story here should not be that the candidates tied. We saw that pattern throughout 2014
The real story is that, if the polling is to be believed, Abrams has reached her vote ceiling and Kemp is at his vote floor. I suspect Abrams will get another percentage point or two given the level of Democrat support this year in what is a wave year. But the state has not shifted so dramatically from 2014 or even from 2016 when Donald Trump won the state. Do not forget the hype over the 6th Congressional District and Jon Ossoff. Despite a massive effort by Democrats, he could not close the gap with Rep. Karen Handel.
The GOP will see losses in Georgia. In the metro Atlanta area, Republicans are bracing for several legislative losses that will take them further away from a super majority. But they will still keep control of the state legislature and they should keep control of the governor’s office as well. Again, Democrats are always tied or ahead in Labor Day polling in Georgia.
What is getting little notice nationwide, however, is how the current turmoil for Republicans is actually a federal issue related to the president. At this point, few analysts of either party expect the Democrats to make major gains at the state legislative level around the country. While this is in part because of gerrymandered districts that favor Republicans, it is in large part due to all politics still being local. People like their local politicians still. The national mood has not shifted that far.
Republicans should expect to lose the U.S. House of Representatives. The Democrats only need a few dozen seats and could win the House with just California and Pennsylvania’s recently redrawn districts that favor Democrats. But Republicans panicked in Georgia should calm down.
Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.