Polls in the Georgia runoff continue to show incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss with about the same small lead over Democrat Jim Martin that he had in the November 4 election. The realclearpolitics.com average, rounded off, is Chambliss 51 percent to 46 percent. By way of perspective, Chambliss beat incumbent Democrat Max Cleland in the considerably more Republican year of 2002 by a 53 percent-46 percent margin. Democrats hope for a disproportionately large turnout of young and black voters, but Barack Obama, busy building an administration with an eye to bipartisan acceptability, seems so far unwilling to deploy the one political asset--personal campaigning by the president-elect--that seems most likely to spark such turnout. I imagine there's some behind-the-scenes arguments among Democrats about whether Obama should (pardon the expression) march through Georgia. Bill Clinton's campaigning for incumbent Wyche Fowler in the 1992 runoff didn't help Clinton's prestige but rather signaled something in the way of political weakness, because Republican challenger Paul Coverdell won. I'm guessing that Obama wants to avoid a repeat of this outcome. And I'm guessing, with some basis, that at least some incumbent Democratic senators would rather not have 59 Democratic colleagues, lest they be put on the record for imposing policies like the abolition of secret ballots in union recognition elections.
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By Michael Barone