RNC chair: Chambliss win shows Obama mandate talk "hot air"

Mike Duncan says proved "the ideology of the country [hasn't] shifted to the left," but the election wasn't really that significant.

Published December 4, 2008 7:45PM (EST)

Republican National Committee chair Mike Duncan hasn't had much to gloat about over the past month or so. But to read an op-ed he wrote for the Politico on Thursday, you'd think one new election result had changed all that.

Writing about Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss' win in a run-off election held Tuesday, Duncan says:

Georgians refuted any notion that the ideology of the country has shifted to the left... Notably, Chambliss won in spite of strong support by President-elect Obama and Democrat organizations for Jim Martin. Georgian’s clearly sent a message that any rhetoric about a liberal mandate is nothing but hot air...

In the first contest since the presidential election and what many believe is the first race of the 2010 cycle, Republicans won because we coupled a strong, conservative candidate in Saxby Chambliss with a solid ground game that reached out to millions of Georgians and turned out the vote. Chambliss’ reelection sends a message to all those who believe the Republican Party and its core principles are anything less than strong and competitive.

As I wrote in a post on Wednesday, this sort of talk really reads way too much into Chambliss' victory. Georgia's a red state; that Chambliss even had to face a run-off was really a testament to the size of Barack Obama's coattails on Nov. 4th. It's no surprise that, without Obama at the top of the ticket, election results in the state would revert back to the status quo. And yes, despite the Senator's margin of victory -- about 15 points -- which surprised some people, that really is the status quo there. In 2004, President Bush beat John Kerry in Georgia 58-41. The same year, Republican Johnny Isakson won his Senate race 58-40.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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