Thursday, October 23, 2008

Georgia Votes

According to a new Democracy Corps poll conducted on October 16-19 among 600 likely voters in Georgia, Barack Obama trails John McCain in this state by just two points (44 to 46%). Over in the Senate race, incumbent Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss holds a four point edge over Democratic challenger Jim Martin (48% to 44%). And Democratic Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis is once again running unopposed.

Over at The Atlantic magazine, Marc Ambinder notes that the early voting numbers look very promising for Democrats. So far, African Americans have made up 36% of the early vote turnout in Georgia and may make up 35-36% of the total electorate, 5 points more than their proportion in the census (29%). In 2004, black voters made up only about 25% of total turnout.

This doesn't mean that Obama's going to win Georgia, it just means that he'll do a lot better here than John Kerry did. George Bush carried this state by 17 points in 2004, and in the last six years, Republicans have replaced Democrats in both Senate seats, and won the governor’s office for the first time since Reconstruction. Yet despite McCain’s popularity in Georgia (54 % favorable – 30 % not so much), he leads Obama by just two points. Despite Martin’s lack of name recognition (55 %), he trails Chambliss by only 4.

The survey results show that the Republican brand is tarnished in this once reddest of red states, and a national wave threatens to carry it over to Democratic shores. Obama and Martin still trail and must make gains to win here, but the fact that Georgia is even close speaks to the powerful political currents across the country.

I'm more excited than ever now that as fate would have it, I'm voting in Georgia now, where my vote might possibly make a real difference, rather than in Oregon, which would probably go Democratic with or without me.

Change apparently is coming. Last night, I attended the first session of a new Zen sitting group in Kennesaw, Georgia. Kennesaw is in Cobb County, the very bastion of the Atlanta-area Republican party. Cobb County was famous for passing some sort of anti-gay resolution just before the 1996 Olympics, and as a result, the Organizing Committee boycotted the County and no Olympic events were held there. Kennesaw had its own notoriety for passing a law that required every homeowner in the town to also own a gun, and threatened to prosecute anyone who didn't have a firearm. And yet, eight people showed up to participate in the meditation service, held right in downtown Kennesaw, virtually next door to the Civil War Museum. It was a beautiful and remarkably profound session.

On another note, I was deeply saddened to learn that my brother-in-law, my sister's husband, was recently hospitalized. No one's quite sure yet what the problem is, and diagnostic tests are proceeding as I write. Only time and prognoses will tell how he will fare. I'm sending him my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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