Lesson from Last Night: There are no winners in run-off elections. Only losers.
Last night there were only a handful of elections going on. All of them primaries. Which can only mean one thing…
They were all run-off elections.
For a politician, run-off elections are tough. Campaigning for a primary so late in the election cycle can be daunting to even follow, forget about running in one. While it isn’t THAT terrible if both parties are in the middle of run-offs for a particular political seat – the electoral equivalence of misery loves company – but if your November challenger doesn’t have a run-off to worry about, then it can be downright brutal.
In that case, even in the best of scenarios you are relatively screwed. Take the Senate Primary Run-off that happened last night in Georgia.
For the last couple of months, David Perdue spent quite a bit of his resources (ie money) fending off a very tough Republican opponent in Rep. Jack Kingston in their Republican Run-off Election. And it was close. Like 2-percentage points close. Like it fell just outside the margins that would have required an automatic recount close!
Now after all that, you have to face someone like Michelle Nunn, Perdue’s Democratic challenger for the Georgia Senate seat come November. The advantages that Nunn currently has at her disposal would make any politician jealous. She has a money advantage; has been campaigning and fundraising for weeks while Perdue and Kingston were still squaring off. She has already framed the agenda; Nunn was out there ahead of Perdue setting up talking points in stump speeches and public appearances. And most of all, she has major name recognition; her father was Sam Nunn who represented Georgia in the Senate for 24 years.
Now let’s not get crazy here. This is still Georgia. The same state that hasn’t had a Democrat as a Senator since 2005. But if this were a footrace, Nunn would be a good half-a-lap ahead of Perdue and most of that lead would be due to a primary run-off being so late in the election cycle.
The lesson here, run-offs are hard. In most of those cases, even when you win the race, you still may lose the war.