Big Money, Outsider Image Gave David Perdue Upset in Georgia

Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 09:36 AM

By John Gizzi

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A lucrative TV broadside portraying him as a non-politician and a major turnout of supporters in Atlanta and its surrounding suburbs were the key last night to businessman David Perdue's unexpected win of the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Georgia.

With near-final returns in, first-time candidate Perdue won a tight 51 percent to 49 percent photo-finish in the GOP run-off over the long-presumed favorite, Rep. Jack Kingston. With just over 450,000 voters turning out, Perdue emerged on top by about 6,000 votes and will now face Democrat and fellow first-time candidate Michelle Nunn in November.

“And only one of the final polls on the run-off saw this coming,” veteran election analyst Jay O’Callaghan told Newsmax shortly after Perdue’s win became official. He pointed out that the last PPP poll among likely voters showed Kingston defeating Perdue by a margin of 47 percent to 41 percent and an Insider Advantage poll conducted days before the run-off gave the race to Kingston by 46 percent to 41 percent. (The lone exception to the survey research on the run-off was the WPA Opinion Research poll, which showed Perdue edging Kingston by 45 percent to 44 percent).

Backed by Newt Gingrich, Steve Forbes, the National Rifle Association, and the Club for Growth, Kingston campaigned to the right of Perdue in the run-off. Reminding voters he had never voted for a tax increase, he slammed Perdue for a statement that increasing tax revenues was a “reality” to get the country “out of the economic ditch.” He also campaigned as “100 percent pro-life” and supporting traditional marriage, while Perdue rarely mentioned social issues.

Perdue had few “name” supporters aside from his cousin, former Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, and 2012 presidential hopeful Herman Cain, a longtime friend.

But most Peach State political observers who spoke to Newsmax concluded that Perdue’s television campaign underscoring that he was a non-politician and businessman as key to his success. As he did in the initial five-candidate primary in May (in which he topped the field with 30.6 percent of the vote to 25.8 percent for Kingston), Perdue spent a seven-figure amount from his personal fortune on TV spots that contrasted his background in business with that of 22-year Rep. Kingston.

“The concept of an outsider vs. office-holder message really resonates with Republican voters, especially older voters who are the most reliable to turn out,” said Atlanta public relations man Phil Kent, a Kingston supporter.

Perdue also performed well in Atlanta-area counties, while Kingston’s vote total was down in his South Georgia base.

“The biggest factor in Kingston's loss was his inability to turn out the vote in South Georgia which lowered his margin from the primary by 12, 000 votes,” O’Callaghan told us, “He did well in Savannah, but everywhere else his numbers fell off a cliff. Perdue's numbers were stable. Previous Kingston voters just didn't show up.”

The Georgia seat of retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss is one of the few Republican-held seats Democrats feel they have a chance of flipping this year. The most recent Rasmussen Reports poll showed Democrat Nunn leading Perdue by a margin of 45 percent to 42 percent among voters statewide.

However, Nunn’s contributions from the pro-gun control former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the pro-abortion EMILY’s List, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s Searchlight Leadership Fund are likely to be part of an expected GOP effort to say that the Democratic nominee is somewhat “un-Georgian.” Moreover, David Perdue’s own unexpected win last night is likely to give him fresh momentum in a fall contest the national press is sure to watch.



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