Georgia’s Republican voters have spoken and both Gov. Brian Kemp and secretary of state Brad Raffensperger will be the nominees going into November’s elections. The results were not exactly shocking, but it does reveal something important about the Republican political landscape: People are ready to move on from the 2020 presidential election, despite what they believe about the outcome.
Both Kemp and Raffensperger were in former President Donald Trump’s crosshairs for supposedly not doing enough to prevent the Peach State from going to President Joe Biden. Indeed, they also experience the wrath of many conservative voters. The backlash even cost the GOP both of Georgia’s Senate seats as Trump loyalists ran a full-on campaign to persuade Republican voters to let Democrats win. The former president mercilessly attacked the two officials and threw his endorsement behind their primary opponents in hopes of unseating both men. However, even the power of Trump’s blessing was not enough to oust either official.
Kemp won the nomination with 74 percent of the vote. Raffensperger won his race with 52 percent of the vote. To put it simply, both men trounced their competition without breaking much of a sweat.
Another noteworthy factor in this equation is the level of enthusiasm among conservative voters. If Georgia’s numbers are any indication, Republicans are fired up and ready to deliver a brutal smackdown to Democrats in the upcoming congressional elections. In a piece for the Washington Examiner, author Michael Barone wrote:
It’s a party that is also faring better than usual for an opposition party in a midterm election year. Turnout in primaries is a good indicator of partisan enthusiasm. This is less so in states with voter registration by party, but even in such states, Republicans have run well, winning 53% of the two-party primary vote last week in Pennsylvania (where Democrats have a 7-point edge in voter registration) and 55% in North Carolina (where Democrats have a 4-point edge).
In states where voters are free to vote in either party’s primary, Republican majorities of two-party turnout were far greater — 67% in Texas on March 17, 65% in Ohio last week, 62% in Georgia, and 79% in Alabama and Arkansas this week. Only in Oregon did Democrats outvote Republicans, albeit by a narrower margin (55-45) than in the 2020 election (56-40).
RedState’s Joe Cunningham pointed out that many on the right have grown weary of relitigating the outcome of the 2020 election and are looking forward. He wrote:
Trump’s sole focus in the run-up to the midterms has been a focus on the past. The “Stop The Steal” vendetta has turned off a lot of voters. It was David Perdue’s entire campaign strategy, and he got absolutely blown out of the water. The moment Mo Brooks stopped focusing on it in Alabama, he started surging back and forced the establishment pick, Katie Britt, into a run-off. Trump had endorsed Brooks until Brooks began campaigning on moving on from 2020, and Trump switched to backing Britt.
President Trump’s performance as kingmaker has been quite stellar so far, even with his challengers losing badly to Kemp and Raffensperger. But it appears voters are more concerned about sending Democrats packing. This is true even of those who believe the 2020 election was stolen. It seems the election integrity laws that were passed last year have mostly satisfied the base and they are ready to keep moving forward.
This is a promising trend and the right move.
Constantly replaying the 2020 election was never going to be a tenable strategy moving forward. There was absolutely no way to reverse the outcome and Republicans have already passed laws designed to minimize the chances that the level of tomfoolery we saw two years ago will happen in future races.
The Democrats seem dead set on doing everything possible to hand the GOP the House and possibly the Senate in November. It seems they truly want to see a Republican takeover of the White House in 2024 as well. Now is the time to focus on giving them their wish instead of looking backwards.
If Trump wants to continue to see success, he would be wise to follow what his base is telling him. If he decides to give it another go in 2024, harping on what happened in 2020 might not be the best move if he wants to step foot in the Oval Office again. Even if he decides he wants to retain his role as kingmaker, he will still have to move on and refrain from only supporting those who want to keep talking about the 2020 race. Hopefully, he will listen to those who have supported him over the past five years.