GA Keeps Swing State Focus Until January

This week’s Courier Herald Column:

There’s a bit of a cruel irony in writing a column with a deadline on election day that won’t be read until after the results are known.  It forces the author to either ignore the main issue of the day or adopt a predictive tone for events that will already be in the past by the time they are printed.

With that in mind, I’ll also point out that I actively renounced the title of “pundit” after the 2016 election cycle.  That cycle generally proved all of the “experts” wrong, myself included.  More importantly, punditry has become a source of entertainment for too many that substitute a permanent horse race of campaigns for the actual acts of governing.

We have gotten to this divided place in American politics by focusing exclusively on campaigns and cheering for gridlock until the next one.  Half of us refuse to accept the results of “the most important election of our lifetime” and instead begin to prepare for the next campaign.

As I can’t yet give a take on Tuesday’s election results and what they mean for us, I’ll now look ahead to the next election that can be projected with the most certainty before election day votes are counted.  Georgians are most likely to have a runoff of the Senate seat formerly held by Johnny Isakson (and possibly the one held by David Perdue).

Based on current polling it appears Raphael Warnock will face either Senator Kelly Loeffler or Congressman Doug Collins on January 5th.  Georgia law requires candidates to receive 50% plus one vote to be elected, and that’s not likely in this crowded field.

On this election, Republicans start out with a disadvantage.  The GOP activist class may disagree, pointing out that Republicans hold all statewide offices going into election day, and I’m sure they’ll also note that historically they have a turnout advantage for runoffs.

I’m going to guess that by the time the final disclosures are filed, the Republican candidates and groups supporting them will have spent $50 Million or more.  And what has that gotten them for a runoff?

A friend of mine relayed a story this week of his daughter reporting that she had voted in her elementary school’s mock election.  Their household in the target suburban Atlanta Republican potential swing voter demographic.

When going down her list of preferred candidates, she said she had voted for Warnock.  Her dad, intrigued as to her choice as there’s been little to no discussion of him in their home, asked her why.

“In his ads, he seems like a really nice man” she said.  Then, she added the kicker that should help Republicans understand their disadvantage.  “And, no one else in their ads has said anything bad about him.”

$50 Million of Republican money was spent this summer trying to prove which Republican is better friends with Stacey Abrams, or who compares most favorably with Attila the Hun.  Raphael Warnock, unknown to many of Georgia’s voters before this campaign, has been allowed to define himself, positively.

Two Republican candidates for Senate have spent the general election cycle appealing to their party’s base.  Raphael Warnock has been allowed to position in the center. 

If you’re just ready for all of this to be over, you’re out of luck.  Expect your holiday season to come with $100 Million or more to reposition the image of both Warnock and the remaining Republican between now and January 5th

2020, already a year many of us would wish to forget, is going to drag this campaign season and the political ads, mail, and texts befitting a swing state all the way into 2021.  May I be among the first to wish you a Happy New Year.


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