Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Democrat Matthews Ran Stronger in Runoff for Georgia House Seat Than in First Round of Voting

Turnout High in Clarke

Democrat Dan Matthews, in his unsuccessful bid yesterday to represent Oconee County and the rest of the 113th District in the Georgia General Assembly, outperformed his June 21 record by nearly 11 percentage points.

His 37.6 percent of the vote was only a bit lower than the 38.9 percent that Democrat Becky Vaughn achieved against incumbent Republican Bob Smith in 2006 and 10 points ahead of what Democrat Suzy Compere did against Republican Hank Huckaby in November of 2010.

Compere, who did almost no campaigning, got 27.5 percent of the vote. Matthews got 26.7 percent of the vote in June.

Matthews at June 30 Forum

Matthews made his stronger showing yesterday while running against a single Republican who made party a central issue rather than against three Republicans fighting among themselves.

Republican Chuck Williams won handily, with 62.4 percent of the vote, and it is hard to imagine what circumstances might have brought about a Democratic victory in a district with a strong Republican voting history.

Matthews’ gain during the second phase of the campaign suggests, however, that at least some people were paying attention to the campaign and not merely selecting the name on the touch screen based on party labels.

Voter turnout was higher in all four counties in yesterday’s runoff than it was in the June 21 first round of the special election, but the gains were greater in Clarke County than in Oconee.

Oconee County contributed a smaller percentage (67.1) to the votes yesterday than it did on June 21 (68.9).

Matthews actually did better yesterday in Oconee County and worse in Clarke County in a two-way race with Williams than he did in June. Sarah Bell and Alan Alexander, both Republicans, were on the ballot in June.

In June, Matthews got 28.4 percent of the votes cast for either him or Williams in Oconee County. Yesterday, Matthews got 30.0 percent of the vote in Oconee County.

As was true in the June 21 election, Matthews ran best in the City Hall precinct of Watkinsville. Matthews lives in Watkinsville, but in the Annex precinct. Williams ran best in both elections in his home precinct of Antioch, in the southern part of the county.

In June, Matthews got 77.5 percent of the votes cast for either him or Williams in Clarke County. Yesterday, Matthews got 61.1 percent of the vote in Clarke County.

Matthews got 28.0 percent of the vote in Morgan County yesterday and 41.2 percent of the vote in Oglethorpe.

All of Oconee County is in the 113th District, while only parts of Clarke, Morgan and Oglethorpe counties fall in the district.

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