Republicans Split Votes 5 Ways in Georgia Special State Senate Election, so No Republican Qualified for the Run-Off

On November 7, Georgia held special legislative elections in several districts. In Georgia, special elections do not allow party nominees. Instead, each candidate runs, and if anyone gets 50%, he or she is elected. Otherwise a run-off is held. In the State Senate district 6 race, five Republicans and three Democrats ran. No one got a majority, so there will be a run-off in January 2018. In the November 7, 2017 election, though the total vote for the Republican candidates combined was slightly higher than the total vote for Democrats, two of the Democrats placed first and second, so the run-off will be between two Democrats. Here are the election returns.


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Republicans Split Votes 5 Ways in Georgia Special State Senate Election, so No Republican Qualified for the Run-Off — 11 Comments

  1. Top 2 strikes again.

    Candidate/incumbent replacement lists —

    NO more now super dangerous vacancy elections

    — with even worse extremist candidates and voters.

  2. I think a more fair runoff system in a multi candidate race would allow the several most successful candidates who’s combined vote comprises greater than fifty percent to move on to the second round, and if necessary subsequent rounds.

  3. McKoon was also the one who filled SB112 last year which would have repealed all signature requirements, so maybe it won’t screw over non R/Ds who want to run in specials to bad

  4. @Clay,

    Or make it so Top N advance, where N is the smallest number of candidates who had N/(N+1) of votes. So there could be a majority winner (>1/2), or Top 2 if they received 2/3 of the vote; Top 3 if 3/4 and so on. And then permit the nominally eliminated candidates to combine their votes to qualify additional candidates whose vote total was greater than the last qualified candidates.

    In this race, the Top 4 had 82.16% of the vote, which is greater than 4/5. The 4th candidate received 16.76%, and the remaining candidates had a total of 17.83%. It would be possible for the 5th candidate to qualify, though in this particular case it would require a Democrat and two also-ran Republicans to support the 3rd Republican.

    All advancing candidates, except the leader could withdraw. Repeat as often as needed.

  5. The Georgia special election system is faulty, but it should not be described as “top-two.” The difference is that in Georgia, the first round is an actual election and can and usually does actually elect someone.

    James Mahoney, thank you very much for pointing out my typo, which is now fixed.

  6. It also looks like a case of a dummymander.

    The Cobb County portion of the district had about 1/3 of the total votes, but was overwhelmingly Democratic, close to 70% with the black Democrat receiving 43.37% of the vote. The Fulton County portion of the district had 2/3 of the vote, with about 60% Republican. The black Democrat received 11.99% of the vote in this area.

    So you have an increasingly Democratic and black suburban area attached to a Republican district, perhaps to keep its numbers up.

    In the 2016 election, the Republican only won with a 52% majority. The two counties had almost equal vote shares in 2016.

    Comparing 2017/2016:

    Fulton R: 9587/26554 36.1%
    Fulton D: 6374/14945 42.6%
    Fulton T: 15961/41499 38.5%

    Cobb R: 2592/15784 16.4%
    Cobb D: 5464/24256 22.5%
    Cobb T: 8056/40040 20.1%

    So a voter in Cobb was about half as likely to vote in the special election, which indicates a strong difference in economic status. But of those who did return in Cobb, they were overwhelmingly Democratic and black. The Democratic vote share in Cobb increased from 60.6% to 67.8%,

    In Fulton, the Republican share decreased from 64.0% to 60.1% not all that much. Fulton voters voted in the special, because they vote in all elections, and the Republican candidates targeted them. In Cobb, voters who had voted for Trump, and then marked on (R) in a down-ballot race were not even aware that there was a special election because they don’t belong to a country club.

  7. There were 8 special legislative elections in Georgia. Four require a runoff, and four had a majority winner. Because special elections are by definition open seats, they often attract more candidates. A popular incumbent could have blocked many possible ambitious politicians. They might think the incumbent is doing a good job, or that it would be fruitless to challenge. All these barriers disappear once the incumbent withdraws. 4 of 8 is an unusual definition of ‘usually’.

    The four races that require a runoff had 20 candidates, or an average of 5.0 per race. Those where a candidate received a majority, there an average of 3.25 candidates.

    Any system that uses segregated partisan primaries is untenable. The difference between Top 2 and an Open Primary as used in Louisiana, and Georgia, Texas, and California special elections are negligible.

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