The Republican establishment decided to “run it again” in Georgia on Jan. 5. Stacey Abrams was all too happy to oblige. The progressive with a trail of controversial funding ties and voter registration irregularities dating back years was given free rein to trot out the same playbook that propelled Joe Biden to a highly-contested win in the Peach State in the presidential election on Nov. 3. It now appears to have cost the GOP control of the U.S. Senate.
Why Republicans thought things would somehow be different the second time around is a total mystery. Though results are not official, Democrat challenger Raphael Warnock has already declared victory over Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA). Jon Ossoff is widely expected to break away from Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) as the final votes are counted. In the bold new era of mail-in balloting, Democrats always pull away in the late vote-counting. Funny how that works.
The road map for blue victory remained the same. Democrats relied on record-high early voting, mail-in ballots, and high turnout in urban districts to pull off their targeted battleground state victories in the presidential election. In the Georgia runoff, DeKalb County served as a linchpin of this effort. Parts of Atlanta extend into this heavily urban county, which went for Biden by an 83-15% tally on Nov. 3. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Jan. 4, one day before the runoff elections:
“From Monday, Dec. 14 through Thursday, Dec. 31, DeKalb officials recorded 268,737 cast ballots, including both in-person votes and returned absentee ballots. That’s roughly 40,000 total votes shy of the Nov. 3 general election, which broke nearly every early voting record for DeKalb.”
On Jan. 5, multiple sources reported that DeKalb exceeded its November turnout numbers. Democrats even went so far as to assure themselves another early-morning next-day urban ballot dump if needed. Fox 5 Atlanta reported that “DeKalb County elections officials tell us due to technical issues, 19,000 remaining ballots must be manually scanned in order to be tabulated and added to the total vote count.” For a second straight major election in two months, Democrats seem to have a reserve pool of ballots from blue strongholds.
This was all inevitable. Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and other leading Republicans in the state did nothing of consequence to monitor Abrams’ urban voting avalanche in both the leadoff to the Nov. 3 vote and its aftermath heading into the Jan. 5 runoff. Instead, they comforted themselves with the notion that the contested Nov. 3 vote marked a decided rejection of President Trump and that conservative voters in Georgia would leap to defend Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s lofty position.
GOP Divide Deepens
The most intriguing question moving forward is what this debacle means for the future of the Republican Party. A thoroughly deluded establishment believed not only that it could hold onto the Senate while freeing itself from the America First president it despises, but that it could inspire a Trump-loving party grassroots to rally to its side as it wielded the bloody knife. From a tone-deaf McConnell personally scuttling $2,000 coronavirus relief checks to Americans while packing foreign-aid pork into the legislation, to elected Republicans doing everything possible to hamstring the president’s challenges to the Nov. 3 election results, the party’s ruling elite appeared bound and determined to alienate its own voters as the crucial runoff approached.
Making matters worse, in Perdue and Loeffler, the GOP poobahs could not have come up with two more unappealing candidates to inspire a party base that staunchly stands behind Trump.
Perdue is a transparent careerist who astonishingly allowed himself to be caught on video after the presidential election openly fantasizing about the deal-making prospects that beckoned with a McConnell-led GOP Senate working with a Biden administration. Loeffler, meanwhile, is the wife of the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. That fact is the only plausible explanation for why she was appointed to her Senate seat by Kemp in direct opposition to Trump’s stated wishes.
Despite all this, Loeffler campaigned as a political outsider. Along with former Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), another establishment favorite appointed to fill an opening who has managed to turn the neat trick of losing two congressional seats in her state to Democrats since 2018, Loeffler was quite possibly the weakest Republican nominee for the upper chamber in 2020.
Having likely failed to achieve its cherished wish of maintaining Senate control while jettisoning Donald Trump by its political clumsiness and unwillingness to preserve electoral integrity, a ruling Republican Swamp apparatus will now find itself face to face with a party grassroots that is positively seething over all of its actions since Nov. 3. If the Senate is indeed lost, how can current GOP congressional leaders convincingly justify remaining in their posts?
Read more from Joe Schaeffer.