Georgia Republican tells supporters: "The other folks are voting"

Sen. Saxby Chambliss is out on the trail in a reelection campaign that's tightened up because of high African-American turnout.

Published October 31, 2008 3:40PM (EDT)

As I discussed in an article Thursday, the African-American vote could prove crucial in down-ballot elections this year, especially in the South. Democrats have a chance to pick up quite a few seats in both the House and the Senate that could hinge on the black vote.

One of the Republicans who's most vulnerable to a surge in African-American turnout is Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss. The incumbent's lead in recent polls is only in the low single digits, generally within the margin of error. And early voting numbers from the state have contained some really bad news for Chambliss. As of this post, the number of people who've voted early there is equal to a stunning 47.4 percent of the total number of people who voted in 2004. Of those who've voted so far, 35.1 percent  are African-American; in 2004, 25 percent of the overall electorate was African-American. Since this is the Democratic Party's most loyal demographic group, well, you can imagine the potential consequences for Chambliss.

As Politico's David Rogers reports (h/t Balloon Juice), Chambliss seems to be well aware of what's happening. Rogers writes: "The Republican is outwardly confident, but there’s urgency in his voice as he tours North Georgia, trying to boost turnout in his predominately white base: 'The other folks are voting,' he bluntly tells supporters."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Saxby Chambliss R-ga.