Booting Barnes: Explaining the Historic Upset in the 2002 Georgia Gubernatorial Election

Danny Hayes, Seth C. McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Republican Sonny Perdue's defeat of Democrat Roy Barnes in the 2002 Georgia gubernatorial election was a stunning upset. Not only did Barnes, the incumbent, have history on his side—no Republican had been elected governor of Georgia since Reconstruction—he led in every pre-election poll and outspent Perdue six to one. To explain Perdue's victory, we rely on a unique exit poll conducted by Fox News and a county-level statistical model. Our analyses of these data show that several issues salient in the campaign helped Perdue win. Specifically, Barnes was hurt by anger over his positions on education reform and a drastic overhaul of the state flag. At the same time, the victory can be interpreted more broadly in terms of an ongoing realignment among white Georgia voters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)708-738
Number of pages31
JournalPolitics and Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


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