Georgia's Trump fracture
The GOP is fractured in Georgia, and the crack could doom the party nationwide
In 2022, Gov. Brian Kemp, who former President Donald Trump despised, beat Trump’s candidate, former Sen. David Perdue, by 51.9 points. (You saw that right: the margin between the two candidates was over 50 points. The actual percentages were 73.7% for Kemp, 21.8% for Perdue.) Perdue previously lost his 2020 Senate race in a runoff to Democrat—now Senator—Jon Ossoff. He lost because Trump told Georgia voters to stay home since the 2020 election was rigged. Enough voters believed him, and stayed home.
In 2022, Kemp faced a rematch with Democrat Stacey Abrams, whom he had narrowly beaten in 2018 by about 50,000 votes. Kemp increased his previous margin to 297,899. Voters didn’t want an election-results-denying governor. They didn’t want a Trump-aligned governor. Trump’s candidate for Senate, football star Herschel Walker, lost to Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock, who also won in a special election runoff in 2020 against Republican Kelly Loeffler (who Trump luke-warmly supported).
In just one day, Trump lost both Republican Senate seats in Georgia. He also handed control of the Senate to Democrats, who have kept it to this day.
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Walker lost to Warnock by a margin of 37,675 votes in the first round—close enough to force a runoff. In the runoff, Warnock increased his margin to 99,389 votes. The combined vote total in the first round—on election day—in 2022 was 70,686 fewer ballots cast in the Senate race than the gubernatorial race. The “spread” between Kemp’s victory over a Democrat and Walker’s loss to a Democrat was 335,574 votes where around 3.9 million voters showed up (a record turnout).
Most of those voters (over 8%) were Republicans who were sick of Trump-influenced politics, stolen election claims, and overall poor choices for candidates.
Now this entire schism is about to come roaring volcanically back to the surface as Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis readies her indictments. She will almost certainly indict the former president. He will almost certainly be booked (with a mug shot). The indictment will almost certainly reference statements made by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who repeatedly told Trump on a recorded phone call that the then-president’s facts were wrong.
It is beyond dispute that Raffensperger’s facts are right and Trump’s are wrong. A hand-count, full audit, and many investigations by the GBI have proven that the Georgia 2020 election results are as solid as any election in history. This leaves two possibilities: either Trump still believes a known falsehood, which isn’t illegal per se, or that Trump knows he lost Georgia, which makes the DOJ’s case on the latest conspiracy indictments (which David Thornton wrote about yesterday) stronger.
“Innocent until proven guilty” is the standard by which Trump will be tried, but witness after witness will crumble before physical and direct evidence that Trump and his acolytes engineered secret meetings in the Georgia state capitol, to sign a slate of fake electors, and transmit those to the Archivist of the United States. Georgia has a broad racketeering statute, which may be used by Willis’ team to go after Trump.
The effect of this is that Trump-supporters in Georgia will find themselves on the losing side of a political battle for the GOP, while they continue to control the top positions of the state party. The party will circle itself around Trump, and most of the voters will side against him. In 2024, it will be near-impossible for Trump to win Georgia, which will likely go solid blue. Fortunately, the governor’s race won’t be until 2026—a midterm year—so Kemp will keep his job.
It’s one thing when a federal case is levied against Trump with a Democrat in the White House. Charges of “weaponization” and such are easy to make when the current administration is pursuing the frontrunner for the opposing party for charges that could have been aimed against Democrats (it was popular in 2016 for Democrats to claim the election was rigged; the RNC has a list of claims) who wanted to encourage faithless electors to sink Trump. It’s totally another thing when a county DA in Georgia has the support of the sitting Republican governor and secretary of state (who oversaw the 2020 election).
The Georgia GOP is fractured, and will remain fractured with little hope of healing in the near future. Other state parties may find themselves in similar situations (Arizona and Pennsylvania are fully there). As the nation moves toward 2024, if Trump manages to delay his trials (I believe he will), the voters will have their way in what could be the biggest landslide since 1972, except instead of red, it will be blue.
I know that Democrats have their problems, especially with their patrimonial attitude toward minorities, and their religious fervor for socialist policies to bring about a green future when China couldn’t care less about timelines for battling climate change. But those problems will become back-burner issues for Republicans who are sick of their party going for the same stolen election and “Deep State” tropes that Trump has been pushing for nearly eight years.
There are parts of Georgia that are as Trumpy as Trumpy can get. But Georgia, in 2020, and in 2022, broke from Trump. Don’t believe the loud and proud images you see. At the ballot box, if Trump avoids prison, the schism could turn GOP voters sour. The “blue wave” didn’t materialize in 2022, but there wasn’t a red wave either.
In 2024, the GOP is going to find out exactly what voters think of its leadership. (Fingers in ears, “naa naa naa”.) I suspect they don’t want to know.