Feeling snubbed? Do you fear that neither national Republicans nor Democrats care much about you? Do you believe your opinion and your vote are not valued by either party?
Then you must be an average Georgia voter. We're not speaking here of the party-adored fat cats with lots of money to pour into politics, but regular middle-class men and women who plan to cast ballots in the Nov. 2 election for either President George W. Bush or challenger John Kerry. (We won't know until July 13 whether Ralph Nader qualifies for the Georgia ballot.) Unless you have cash to contribute, the folks from the big parties don't come calling anymore. They seem not to care whether you vote.
Sorry, we have bad news for you, dear voter. Your ballot has already been counted. The experts from both major parties and the media have decided the general election is over in Georgia. George Bush won the state in a landslide.
So the campaigns are focusing on 17 "battleground states" where the experts can't agree on the winner. The Peach State is not among them.
Except for campaign-contribution events, Georgia will be ignored by the presidential campaigns. But the situation transcends the presidential race. The general election for other offices is becoming almost an afterthought in congressional and senatorial donnybrooks. The primary counts most. A review of the down-ballot elections suggests many, if not most, of the important races will be settled in the July 20 primary or the Aug. 10 runoff primary, not in the Nov. 2 election.
Georgia is slipping back to the sad era of one-party politics, when winning the Democratic primary was tantamount to election. Now it's the GOP's turn. In today's political arena, the Republican primary will decide the winner in the lion's share of elections.
For instance, the race for the U.S. Senate is turning into an expensive primary brawl among Johnny Isakson, Mac Collins and Herman Cain, each trying to outdo the other two as the most conservative Republican who ever was.
Meanwhile, the once all-powerful Democrats could amass for their Senate primary no more than a collection of unlikely and little known candidates, including a multimillionaire who makes news in encounters with his ex-wives and a one-term congresswoman who says God told her to go for the Senate.
So who do you bet will be our next U.S. senator? The winner of the Republican primary, of course. That's probably - but not certainly - Isakson.
Consider some other congressional elections:
Fourth District: A lone Republican, Catherine Davis, is showing the elephant flag in the primary. Just about everybody else agrees, however, this is a solidly Democratic match with ex-Rep. Cynthia McKinney leading a parade of five other candidates. A Democratic runoff seems likely. A Democratic winner is certain.
Sixth District: Seven Republicans are vying to succeed Congressman/senatorial candidate Isakson. Not a Democrat is in sight.
Eighth District: Four Republicans are fighting for the post now occupied by Congressman/senatorial candidate Mac Collins. A lone Democrat with little name recognition also weighed in.
Of Georgia's 13 congressional posts, only the 3rd and 12th Districts are expected to feature full-blown, well-financed two-party fights in November.
In District 3, Democratic incumbent Jim Marshall of Macon is engaged in a rematch with Republican Calder Clay in the general election.
Four Democrats - John Barrow, Tony Center, Caine Cortellino and Doug Haines - are wrestling for the privilege of trying to take out GOP incumbent Max Burns in what they believe is the overwhelmingly Democratic 12th District. Unlike the rest of Georgia, the 3rd and 12th Districts may receive national attention (and cash) from both parties.
Although several legislative and local elections will be decided in the November balloting, the election process in much of the state will come to a close in July or August. The Grand Old Party will win in a walk. Four years from now, the Republican primary is likely to be even more important, unless a sudden shift in the partisan winds occurs.
What difference does it make whether we select our public officials in the midsummer primary or the autumn election? Just this: Only a handful of Georgians vote in the primary. Historically, the big turnouts in presidential years come in November. For example, only 27 percent of registered Georgia voters participated in the parties' general primary in 2000, but 69 percent voted in the general election. In 1996, a piddling 33 percent cast primary ballots, while 62 percent voted in the general election. Those numbers mean a relatively small minority of citizens - many of them one-issue zealots - select our public officials in the primary. No wonder so many nutcakes keep cropping up in high places.
You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.