As the presidential elections head toward November, Republicans long ago settled on their candidate. The Democrats finally picked their nominee only after weeks of chaos.
If they'd listened to Columbia County, this would have all been finished five months ago.
Just in case you've forgotten, back during Georgia's Feb. 5 Presidential Preference Primary, the two major parties' winners in Columbia County were John McCain and Barack Obama - both of whom will now face off in November.
McCain's win here was only with a slim plurality; he came out in front of a close, three-way decision with Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee.
Obama whipped Hillary Clinton in Columbia County 59-39 percent.
So, how will the two nominees do in November?
It's certain that Republican McCain will defeat Democrat Obama in Columbia County in November. After all, George W. Bush defeated John Kerry here in the 2004 presidential election 75-24. (Kerry's defeat already was forecast; Columbia County had preferred John Edwards during the Democratic primary.)
But how about Georgia? According to a recent Rasmussen poll, the state still will be red in November with McCain beating Obama 51-41 percent.
A scant 8 percent of voters are undecided. That might be explained by another part of the poll that shows most voters in Georgia just don't like Obama. He has a 54 percent "unfavorable" rating, compared to 37 percent for McCain.
I heard a few minutes of Rush Limbaugh the other day, and he seems to have it exactly right. Whether Republicans like it or not, he said, the November election will be a referendum on Obama: Voters will cast ballots for him or against him; McCain merely will be the recipient of most of the "against" votes.
Grovetown's "stump" meeting Thursday had all the potential.
It had a great organizer - the Grovetown Merchants Association and its president, Sonny McDowell. It had a comfortable indoor venue at Liberty Park. It had candidates or their representatives in four important races. It even had a witty moderator (me).
What it lacked was an audience.
It's a mystery. The candidates, their families and city officials probably outnumbered the citizens.
Most politicians and public speakers will tell you: It's far easier to speak to a large audience than a small one. Even so, all of the candidates did a decent job pitching themselves.
I just wish there'd been more people there to hear the pitches.
-- Though he's far less known and lacks the broad local experience of Grovetown City Council candidate Barry Davis, his opponent, Theoplis Knight, gave a humble, sincere accounting of himself.
"I'm a husband, father and a member of the American Legion," Knight said. "Those are my only qualifications for this office."
-- Likewise with sincerity, state House District 117 candidate Lee Anderson spoke without notes because, he said, he shouldn't need a prepared speech to talk about himself.
While he did OK, here's some advice to any candidate or public speaker from one who has listened to an awful lot of speeches, many of them awful: Writing it down shows respect for the audience. It says you took the time to prepare.
Not everyone can deliver an extemporaneous speech like Bill Jackson - and few should try.
Speaking of whom, some of Jackson's supporters are holding an appreciation dinner for the venerable state senator on Thursday at Bill Kuhlke's riverfront farm in Evans.
I'm sure he'll say a few eloquent words - and I know he'll have a bigger crowd than the Grovetown meeting, even though he doesn't have an opponent for re-election.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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