Let’s talk about Georgia.
Full disclosure before we begin — I’m a native of the great state of Georgia and spend about half my year there, traveling between home and Washington DC as my job demands. I say that for two reasons: 1. The primaries in Georgia are personal to me. I care a great deal about what happens in the state, which actually is relevant to the rest of this column beyond just as a framing tool. And 2. I’ve done a fair amount of talking to Georgia voters and maybe can provide insight about the orange elephant in the living room.
To set things up, let’s look at what happened in the two most consequential primary races. Incumbent Governor Brian Kemp handily beat former Senator (and Trump-endorsed — which is VERY important to the press and some in DC) David Perdue and will face the increasingly ridiculous (more on that in a second) Stacey Abrams in the general. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (who apparently is chummy enough with Bill Kristol acolyte Sarah Longwell for her to call him simply “Brad” in a tweet celebrating what looked to be his eventual win) not-quite-as-handily warded off a primary challenge from Rep. Jody Hice (also Trump-endorsed).
Given the absolute state of the 2020 election in Georgia — where the question of election integrity gained validity with disturbingly believeable allegations of ballot harvesting, vote count halting due to mystery burst water pipes, CCTV footage of suitcases of ballots under tables, and on and on — it was something of a shock that Republicans chose the two guys who were arguably in charge of that failed circus. But there’s a pretty good mathematical reason that could be playing a role in Tuesday’s outcome: crossover voting.
All day yesterday, wrapped in the stories about high voter turnout in the state, and how “haha the liberals were so wrong about Jim Crow 2.0!,” was mention that Republican turnout in Georgia strangely exceeded Democrat turnout. The reason is not rocket science — Abrams, who was unopposed, didn’t need Democrat votes to make the ticket, so Democrats took advantage of Georgia’s open primary system and voted for Republican candidates. There are already stories out there detailing the rate of crossover voting for early voters. 7% Dems voting R was an early number I saw, and that’s not an inconsquential number for early voting. The number at the polls would be an interesting supplemental statistic, as would an analysis of how many voters answered the questions on the Republican ballot about the Republican policy platform. Would crossover voters answer those questions, and how? I’ll say this: if Democrats did cross over enough to significantly boost Kemp’s numbers and help make Raffensperger look like people still liked him, that makes me very, very suspicious of intentions on all sides.
Despite these things, oh how the media has made it all about Trump and his “revenge tour” (just Google it, look for Greg Bluestein)! It’s beginning to look a lot like the media and the left are the ones who simply cannot let go of their boogeyman, rather than looking as though conservatives need to hang on to their champion. And again, anecdotally, Georgia voters I’ve spoken with care less about an endorsement than they care about who’s going to make sure their vote counts. That’s on both sides, by the way. As mentioned, neither Kemp, Raffensperger, nor Abrams (who, when confronted recently with high voter turnout numbers, said turnout has nothing to do with supression and that may be the silliest attempt to walk back from a losing narrative I’ve ever seen) have a great reputation there.
Granted, crossover voting doesn’t answer all the questions. Perdue barely campaigned, which was odd. It was as if his heart wasn’t in it, even after defeating (in court) Kemp’s cycnical attempt to raise money improperly (you can Google that, too.) Abrams, for her part, was less concerned about the improper behavior, but wanted to be able to do it, too! Maybe that makes Kemp the perfect person to run against her? Regardless, should Kemp win, this will be his last consecutive term so Republicans will have to identify a new candidate. Stacey’s probably not going anywhere. Why should she? She’s making tons of money losing elections!
So let’s recap — crossover voting likely helped the incumbent Republicans, who had a disastrous record of securing the 2020 election in Georgia. But these two men do seem to be who many Republicans AND Democrats in Georgia want on the Republican ticket. For Republicans, it could be as simple as knowing Kemp and Raffensperger have both been successful at beating silly Stacey, and that’s a good bet to make. The crossover votes make it stranger, especially since something else happened in the run-up to Tuesday’s returns: the Acela corridor “conservaitve” punditry class began singing Kemp and Raffensperger praises on Twitter. See if you can spot the common thread between the people I personally saw gleeful over their wins:
Alyssa Farah, Sarah Longwell, Bill Kristol, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, Erick Erickson.
Try to sort out what these people have in common and you’ve gotten somewhere in the question of who cares about Trump. Voters in Georgia likely just want someone they know can beat Abrams, but I’m not sure that’s what the crew above wants; especially given the tendency by some of them to VOTE FOR BIDEN for pete’s sake.
Perhaps Kemp is a savvy enough guy to use these DCish endorsements without becoming a slave to their DCish desires. To Georgia voters, Raffensperger looks weaker in that department.
But no matter what happens in the general, this really wasn’t all that much about Trump, except to liberals and nominal conservatives in the media and outside of Georgia who needed it to be.