10/9 - Suburban State Legislative Races

Looking at SD-32 and HD-132


Sometimes Thursday turns into Friday before you even know what’s happening. Sorry about that, it won’t happen again.

With the Vice Presidential debate happening earlier this week, we would normally be moving into the doldrums in a Presidential election year. But there’s no resting in 2020 where every day is an October surprise. 

This week continues to see Georgia break voter participation records. Compared to 2016, the volume of votes accepted by the state is well over 600% higher. This includes over 80,000 voters who did not vote in 2016. Needless to say there is still a lot of juice left in 2020 turnout for campaigns to pursue in the closing three weeks.

Senate District 32: Third Time the Charm?

Will the third time running be the breakthrough moment for Christine Triebsch, the Democratic nominee in Senate District 32 in Cobb County? Incumbent Republican Senator Kay Kirkpatrick has fended off Triebsch so far in the 2017 special election and 2018 midterms. And while 2020 shows signs this might be the year for Triebsch, the slight edge of Democratic ballots pulled in the June primary also shows why this might be strike three for her. 

Democrats pulled 50.4% of the ballots in the primary, but even though both candidates were unopposed Sen. Kirkpatrick still received 51.5% of the raw vote between the two. While Sen. Kirkpatrick might not see her 57% winning vote total in 2020 like she did in both 2017 and 2018, the impact of a perennial candidate who hasn’t won is a tough image for Triebsch to shake in a down ballot race. Meanwhile, Kirkpatrick will benefit from incumbency and knowing the path to victory versus a known opponent. 

Even with the seismic shift that Cobb County has seen in recent years, a lot of people, especially new voters, are less likely to vote in the down-ballot races. And that may mean Sen. Kirkpatrick gets just enough to win on November 3rd. 

State House District 132: Leadership Matters

State House Minority Leader Bob Trammell is the one seat that Republicans have reliably known they would target this cycle. Just like they targeted it in the last cycle, and the one before that.

That targeting seems to be running into a wall this year and the wall is only getting stronger as we move to November 3rd. In the June primary, 52% of the ballots pulled in HD-132 were Democratic, and across the votes cast in both contested primaries Democrats maintained a 52%-to-48% edge in total votes counted. These are close numbers, and there is belief that this suburban/exurban Atlanta district in a predominantly Republican area should be flippable for the House GOP

But Trammell has consistently out-performed the partisan lean of his district. For instance, in the 2016 Presidential Primary, HD-132 ballot breakdown was 58% Republican to 42% Democratic. And yet in the 2016 election, Trammell won 53.7% to 46.3%, a nearly 12-point swing. Now, with the increased turnout that comes with a general election and a large influx of new voters (30% of early voters this year did not vote in the 2016 general election) Rep. Trammel looks to have an easier path than he would have thought this time last year to reelection. 

Given Trammell’s success to date and assuming he can pull this off again, you have to wonder if his candidacy and campaign becomes a kind of template for state Democrats to continue fighting their way to the majority through suburban districts.

Other Links

There’s a lot going on in politics, so we wanted to also share a few other links that we found interesting this week.

- In the NBA bubble, Doc Rivers challenged all of the NBA’s eligible players to register to vote, and over 90% did exactly that. Up from 20% at the start of the bubble.

- The AP measured "flip zones" of how Democrats have extended their base into suburbia. The Atlanta flip zone stretches 24 miles. For what it’s worth, HD-132 starts about 32 miles outside of the city of Atlanta.

- The NY Times published a long profile on Kelly Loeffler this week.


What do you want to see in the last 3 weeks? We plan on doing this newsletter through the runoff and the more intermittently in 2021 as mostly local races will be dominating the off election year calendar. We continue to respond to what we are hearing. Please feel free to share your thoughts and questions, by responding to this email or reaching out to Ryan directly on Twitter (@gtryan).