Neither Republican running in Georgia's closely watched Senate race has a natural advantage in metro Atlanta, where the state's most populous area and a ring of northern exurbs are serving as the key battleground ahead of Tuesday's runoff.
Both Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue have been spending a major portion of their time and money wooing voters along the busy stretches of Interstates 75 and 85 just before they merge south of downtown Atlanta and then as they split off heading for north Georgia and some of the most Republican parts of the state.
It marks a gigantic "X'' on the map, and both campaigns are zeroed in on running up their support in the area. Kingston spent all day Friday in the northern Atlanta suburbs and was back again on Sunday. Perdue has been crisscrossing all of north Georgia and the northern suburbs and exurbs of Atlanta as part of an RV tour launched nearly two weeks ago.
"It's up for grabs," said veteran Republican strategist Chip Lake, noting that up to 70 percent of GOP primary voters live within the metro Atlanta media market which covers much of north Georgia.
Certainly, no candidate can ignore metro Atlanta and north Georgia and have any hope of winning a statewide election. But the dynamics of this particular race, which has already garnered national attention as Republicans seek control of the Senate, means the election will likely be won or lost based on what happens there.