Much like the presidential race in 2000, which funneled down to a laser-like focus on the single state of Florida, the 2020 election finally comes down to two runoff Senate elections in Georgia on January 5. They will determine just how much power Democrats will possess for the first years of the 2020s and the capacity of Republicans to stop them.
Consider the leftist landscape if Democrats win both races: Democrats would control the White House and both chambers of Congress, albeit by razor-thin margins – a few seats in the House and a tie in the Senate which can be broken by prospective VP Kamala Harris – allowing them free reign to advance their full progressive agenda. Then consider the alternative if Republicans can win at least one of the two contests and maintain control of the Senate: Together with a newly conservative Supreme Court, it would block the inevitable excesses of the left and at least allow conservatives to sleep at night.
The ongoing debate among the 74 million people who voted for Trump is how involved they should get in the Georgia election when a majority of them feel the presidency was stolen. Should they stay in the fight even if they thought they were robbed in November? Or should they stay home as a form of protest, believing it won’t matter anyway, because their vote for president didn’t really count?
Janet Sherrill, a lifelong conservative residing in the Peach State, reflects what seems to be the majority view of Trump supporters, that this upcoming election is just too important to sit out, no matter the indignities revolving around the presidential election. And ironically, it was the victim of this suspicious election who inspired her to fight on: “The last thing we want to do is be left unchecked. There’s the Presidency, the House, the Senate, and there’s too much at stake. We’ve got to fight all the way to the end, which is what Trump made us believe.”
Those who embrace the reported results of the presidential election are quick to point out that the toxicity of Trump’s personality made his loss explainable, even though it defied virtually every metric which had been unshakable in predicting the outcomes of previous presidential races. And Sherrill, for one, thinks there is something to it, pointing to her own daughter who, she says:
“is a Republican and did not vote for Trump. She just didn’t like what he did and all that. But she is going to vote for Perdue and Loeffler because she believes it’s that important, that it can completely change our policies and what we were founded on in this country.”
Turnout in Georgia could realistically go either way. Republicans who refused to vote for Trump might indeed turn out for establishment candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and put the GOP over the top. But it is at least equally possible that those who voted for Trump might not show up in the same numbers as they did in November. Mail-in ballots, currently running behind the pace of the November election in Georgia, could well decide the outcomes as they did in the presidential contest.
The GOP has one other structural advantage in the race which should theoretically reduce election irregularities. Governor Brian Kemp, Attorney General Chris Carr, and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger are all Republicans, but they have not gained favor among the party rank-and-file on the ground, according to Sherrill, who again reflects the mood of Trump supporters by saying her state’s leadership has been “very disappointing for me. They say ‘Oh, believe in the system.’ But behind the scenes they’re saying, ‘I’m not so sure.’ That just makes me more mad to get out there and vote.”
But as the country discovered on Election Day and beyond, this is not your father’s bright red Georgia. Radical leftist Stacey Abrams came close to winning the gubernatorial race in 2018, and Joe Biden was declared the winner in the 2020 presidential race, the first Democrat to win the state in 28 years. Sherrill says it is “embarrassing, to be honest. We were conservative for so long … a lot of people moved from the North to come to the South and they bring the vote with them. They changed the dynamics of the state and the way we vote.”
On January 5, we’ll see just how much Georgia has changed, and how free a hand Democrats will have to control the federal government until 2022.
Read more from Tim Donner.