The Democrats badly need to consolidate their 2020 gains in Georgia. Their tiny majority in the U.S. Senate may well stand or fall based on the fate of Sen. Raphael Warnock’s reelection bid. Moreover, they want Stacey Abrams in the Governor’s Mansion because they need to control how the Peach State’s election integrity law is enforced in 2024. Considering her frequent denunciations of the statute, strict adherence to its provisions would hardly be her top priority as Governor. It appears unlikely, however, that Georgia’s voters intend to entrust her with that responsibility.
Abrams is popular with Beltway Democrats, the corporate media, and various celebrity activists. She has even appeared on “Star Trek: Discovery” as President of United Earth. Yet Georgia voters are considerably less enamored of her. The polls suggest that she is not a serious threat to the Republican incumbent, Gov. Brian Kemp. None has shown her with a lead in the race. Most show her behind by 5 to 7 points. Indeed, a new poll of likely Georgia voters conducted by the Democrat-leaning firm, Data for Progress (DFP), shows Abrams trailing Kemp by 9 points. This is not a good portent for her second gubernatorial race.
As for Senator Warnock, he is struggling to fend off first-time candidate Herschel Walker. Despite a war chest full of out-of-state donations and obsequious media coverage, Warnock remains essentially tied with the former football star in the polls. The RealClearPolitics average shows him leading Walker by only 1.6 points and the new poll noted above shows Walker ahead by 2 points. Moreover, standard horse race polls won’t matter as much this year as will those which measure how Americans feel about the direction of the country. The latest Monmouth University poll should terrify any candidate associated with the party in power:
A majority of 57% say that the actions of the federal government over the past six months have hurt their family when it comes to their most important concern. Just 8% say Washington has helped them.… Just 10% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction while 88% say it is on the wrong track. This marks an all-time low for this question going back to 2013. The prior low was recorded in May of this year at 18% right direction and 79% wrong track. Just 15% approve of the job Congress is doing, matching the May result.
The Monmouth poll also confirms that rising prices at the grocery store and the gas pump are increasingly the source of real hardship: “The number of Americans who are financially struggling has increased by double digits in the past year as inflation and gas prices top the list of problems faced by the nation’s families.” Georgians are no exception. They want solutions from Abrams rather than fabrications about voter suppression or criticisms of the state itself. They want more from Warnock than tweets about Big Oil price-gouging, particularly while the leader of his party drains our Strategic Petroleum Reserve and sends oil to China.
This brings us to the most daunting obstacle facing Abrams and Warnock — President Biden’s plummeting job approval ratings. A new Civiqs poll released on Friday lists Biden’s approval/disapproval numbers in every state. In Georgia, 63 percent of registered voters disapprove of his performance, while only 25 percent approve of the job he is doing. It’s a truism that a midterm election in the first term of a president always costs his party seats in the House. Is this pattern as consistent in Senate and gubernatorial races? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Abrams and Warnock are behaving as though it is:
Stacey Abrams and U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock are trying to shift the political conversation away from President Joe Biden’s economic record.… Democratic maneuvering comes as polls indicate rising inflation and fuel prices are the top factor for voters in an election cycle that already favors Republicans.… The two candidates are trying to light a fire under the fragile coalition of voters that made Biden the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since 1992 and powered U.S. Senate runoff victories that flipped control of the chamber.
That they need to change the subject from Bidenomics in order to “light a fire” under their own voters implies an enthusiasm gap that favors the Republicans. The turnout for Georgia’s May primaries compared to that of 2018 reinforces that conclusion. In the 2018 GOP primary, 607,874 voters cast ballots. Republican turnout in May hit 1,204,742, nearly a 100 percent increase. The Democrats also increased turnout, but not by nearly as much. In 2018, they cast 553,450 ballots. This year they increased turnout by about 30 percent to 727,168. If turnout in November approximates similar ratios, Abrams and Warnock will lose.
The Democrats need to consolidate their 2020 gains in Georgia. Their tiny majority in the U.S. Senate probably depends on the success or failure of Sen. Raphael Warnock’s reelection campaign. Moreover, they need Stacey Abrams in the Governor’s Mansion because they need her to deliver the Peach State to the Democrats in 2024. But the Democrat base is too discouraged to turn out and the Republicans are counting the days until November 8.
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