Casey Cagle’s hopes to be Georgia’s next governor came crashing down earlier this week.
As soon as he announced his run in April 2017, the lieutenant governor became the Republican front-runner. He raised in excess of $11.5 million -- more than double the man who beat him in the runoff, Brian Kemp -- and amassed a long list of endorsements.
None of that mattered. Cagle won just 31 percent of the vote in a two-person runoff race. That was a drop of 8 points compared with his performance in a crowded primary election.
Cagle led the May primary with 39 percent but fell short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff. Kemp won about 26 percent in the primary -- leaving about 1 in 3 Georgia Republicans without his or her first choice for governor in the runoff.
Here’s how the election unfolded.
About 45 days before the runoff, counties mail absentee ballots to voters who request them. This group of voters is generally small. Cagle started strong.
Three weeks before the election, polling places opened for early voting. This group has more voters than the mail-in group and foreshadowed what was to come.
By Election Day, Cagle trailed with 44 percent of all early voters to 56 percent for Kemp. The fallout from a secret recording where Cagle admitted to supporting “bad public policy” to undercut a rival candidate and Donald Trump’s endorsement of Kemp had wiped him out. Election Day voters are by far the largest group. More than 420,000 Georgia Republicans showed up at the polls on Tuesday, and about 75 percent of them chose Kemp.
Cagle saw his share of the vote drop in 146 of 159 counties in the runoff when compared with the primary. By contrast, Kemp improved in every county by an average of more than 40 percentage points. Here’s the map of what Cagle won and lost in vote share, with red showing increases and blue losses.
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