Better Democrat Jim Martin is up against Saxby Chambliss in Georgia today, and it's pretty clear, sitting in DC, that there just is not that much enthusiasm for this race on the Democrati side. The last nine polls are showing Chambliss ahead. The dynamic here is set by Republicans throwing everything they have into the race, including surrogates like John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney in there, whereas Democrats have put Al Gore and Bill Clinton to surrogate for Martin, but not Obama. Obama has cut a radio ad and some robocalls, but the high voltage press and field jolt that would be possible - especially among African-Americans - in a low turn out run off is missing. That choice seems to have contributed to a corresponding enthusiasm drop across the party for Martin, as it should. Obama has put his organizers in the battle, but not his own prestige. I have seen the number of mentions of '60 votes in the Senate' drop substantially, ironically even as that goal is quite possible should Franken win and Martin take the seat. If nothing else, this should suggest that the 60 vote goal was always something of a chimera.
From what I understand, Chambliss is a weak candidate, failing to do good constituent services or really endear himself to Georgians on a local basis. This will come down to turnout, but it seems unlikely that Chambliss has been framed well enough to lose him that slender margin he's always carried. People just aren't that interested in the race. Sean Quinn down in Georgia suggests that Obama field organizers are finally seeing GOTV numbers they are happy with. That's a hopeful sign.
It would be great if Martin took the seat, and if he does, it will be a real testament to the organizers down in Georgia, who will have been able to overcome a persistent and slender lead in a Southern conservative state. Obama will deserve some credit for that, considering the campaign he put together, but the organizers, who are working fiercely in the most disempowering environment possible - a Southern state beset with apathy, are just heroic. If Chambliss takes it by a substantial margin, this was never meant to be. But, depending on the margin, this seat went to Chambliss, a mediocre mean-spirited loser in a Republican caucus that spans the vicious to the sociopathic, there will be wonder whether Obama picked working with 56 Democrats in the Senate (plus Sanders and Lieberman) over putting his own prestige directly on the line.
That might be a good strategy, in fact, I might suggest it to Obama were I advising him, since he's putting together a government and doesn't necessary need a political loss right out of the gate (though the inauguration would sweep that memory away). But it's still a damned if you do damned if you don't scenario for Obama, which is probably why he's been relatively quiet.