Michelle Nunn's campaign has a lot going for it. She raises a lot of money, shares a last name with her ex-senator father, and benefits from an ugly and especially long primary fight among Republicans. But, ultimately, whether she can win Georgia's open-seat Senate race will depend on whether a Democrat—during a midterm election where the party is expected to suffer across-the-board losses—can break through in a Southern state where Republicans have enjoyed almost uninterrupted success for more than a decade.
The GOP expects a competitive race, a stumble from their nominee could easily change the contest's trajectory, and—for now—some polls show Nunn holding an early lead. But the dual headwinds of the Republican-lean and an unfavorable midterm political climate explains why for all the optimism about Nunn's ability as a candidate, she enters the general-election race to replace the retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss as a firm underdog.
Nunn learned Tuesday that she'll face David Perdue, the wealthy former CEO of Reebok, after he won the GOP's two-month-long runoff race over Representative Jack Kingston.
If she goes on to lose in November, most will trace her defeat to the first phase of the GOP primary, held in late May. The campaigns for both Representatives Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey ended that day, and both were considered by far Nunn's best possible matchup because of each's penchant for controversy. While Perdue is far from perfect, he won't easily be tagged as an extremist.