With only a few days remaining before the July 22 runoff, the race for the U.S. Senate between Representative Jack Kingston and business executive David Perdue is heating up, and negative ads have been hammering each side. Runoffs are a difference beast in politics. In a runoff, the assumption is made that turn out will be low and will consist of only the most dedicated backers of the candidate. As a result, the objective shifts from trying to win undecided voters to actively trying to depress the turnout of your opponent's voters. As a result, undecided voters find they don't like either candidate and stay home as well.
Whether you believe Kingston's claim that David Perdue took $3 million in stimulus funds, a claim rated as "Mostly False" by the Atlanta Journal Constitution Truth-O-Meter, or Perdue's claim that Kingston voted multiple times to raise his own Congressional pay, a practice prohibited since 1992 with the ratification of the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, will depend mostly on which candidate you supported in the Primary. What we can all be sure of is that both campaigns, as well as outside groups, will continue to flood the airwaves and voters' mailboxes with numerous claims about the other side in an effort to reach the tiny number of Georgia voters expected to turn out for the runoff.
If you think that campaigning has reached a new low, keep in mind the 1800 Presidential race between President John Adams and Vice-President Thomas Jefferson. Even without television and direct mail to spread the attacks, the limited technology of the time didn't stop either Adams' Federalists or Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans from waging an all-out war of words against each other. The Adams's campaign claimed that if Jefferson was elected, "Murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will be openly taught and practiced," and asked the question of voters, "Are you prepared to see your dwellings in flames? Female chastity violated? Children writhing on the pike?"
Jefferson was quick to respond, accusing the President of secretly trying to start a war with France, marry his sons to a daughter of King George III, and labelling him a, "blind, bald crippled toothless man," and a character "with neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman."
So far, there is little indication on how well the negative campaigning has worked for either side in the Senate race. There has been very little polling in the runoff; a mid-June independent poll conducted by InsiderAdvantage on June 10-11 gave Kingston a sizable lead. That poll of 401 likely voters had Kingston up with an 11 point advantage 46 – 35% with a margin of error ± 4.89%. As typically happens, however, the polls have tightened as the election draws near. A poll released Thursday, July 10, also by InsiderAdvantage, puts the race as a statistical dead heat. Kingston still leads, but within the margin of error at 42-41%. The survey conducted July 7-9 of 1,278 likely and early voters has a ± 2.7%. The poll also shows 17% of likely voters are still undecided. The longer they remain undecided, the more likely they are to find some other way to enjoy their summer than showing up to the polls.