On one level, Georgia voters have a somewhat subtle decision to make Tuesday. Which anti-family conservative will be co-president-- Mitch McConnell (R-KY) or Joe Manchin (D-WV) for the next two years? Unless both Democrats, Ossoff and Warnock, win-- it will be McConnell, with his ability to prevent everything Biden attempts. But if they do, it will mean Manchin (or Sinema or Kelly or any other right-wing Democrat) will be able to do the same. Democratic voters are suspending judgment and going whole-hog for the win. Many Republican voters are on the verge of just throwing up their hands and walking away from the whole mess.
Over the course of the last couple of days, Astead Herndon and Richard Fausset have been reporting for the NY Times on the unfolding Georgia runoffs. Aside from the credible corruption charges plaguing both Loeffler's and Perdue's campaigns, there are several factors turning hat should be a Republican walk in the park into a rough slog. Over 3 million Georgians have already voted, the most in any early voting in any Georgia election--more than in any presidential election. Astead and Fausset reported that "The breakdown of votes so far shows that vote-rich Democratic strongholds, including Fulton and DeKalb Counties in metropolitan Atlanta, are posting high numbers, while African-Americans statewide are 'voting their weight and then some,' said Charles S. Bullock III, a political scientist at the University of Georgia. At the same time, Dr. Bullock noted, turnout has been weak in the northwestern part of the state, which is home to many working-class white Trump supporters. In Walker County, which Mr. Trump won with 79 percent of the vote, the turnout, as of Wednesday, was only 47 percent of the general election total, according to the website georgiavotes.com."
On top of that, Georgia GOP officials are increasingly worried that Trump, who continues to make the baseless claim that he lost Georgia because of a rigged voting system, is sending confusing signals to his followers that may serve to keep them home on election day. Demanding the resignations of the very conservative Republican governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state, Trump and his allies are fostering a party civil war at just the time the party ha stopped be united. Yesterday, Fausset, flying solo, reported that Trump's late night Friday tweets calling the runoffs "illegal and invalid" will discourage some Republicans from turning out to vote on Tuesday.
"Trump," Fausset reported, "has continued to make the false claim that Georgia’s election system was rigged against him in the Nov. 3 general election. Some Republican leaders are afraid that his supporters will take the president’s argument seriously, and decide that voting in a 'corrupt' system is not worth their time, a development that could hand the election to the Democrats. Some strategists and political science experts in the state have said Mr. Trump’s assault on Georgia’s voting system may be at least partly responsible for the relatively light Republican turnout in the conservative strongholds of northwest Georgia, where Dalton is, in the early voting period that ended Thursday. More than 3 million Georgia voters participated in the early voting period, which began Dec. 14. A strong early-voting turnout in heavily Democratic areas and among African-American voters suggests that Republicans will need a strong election-day performance to retain their Senate seats."
Trump made his assertion about the Senate races in a Twitter thread in which he also made the baseless claim that “massive corruption” took place in the general election, “which gives us far more votes than is necessary to win all of the Swing States.”
The president made a specific reference to a Georgia consent decree that he said was unconstitutional. The problems with this document, he argued further, render the two Senate races and the results of his own electoral loss invalid.
Trump was almost certainly referring to a March consent decree hammered out between the Democratic Party and Republican state officials that helped establish standards for judging the validity of signatures on absentee ballots in the state.
Trump’s allies have unsuccessfully argued in failed lawsuits that the consent decree was illegal because the U.S. Constitution confers the power to regulate congressional elections to state legislatures. But the National Constitution Center, among others, notes that Supreme Court rulings allow legislatures to delegate their authority to other state officials.
Since losing the election to Biden in November, Trump has directed a sustained assault on Georgia’s Republican leaders-- including Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger-- saying they have not taken seriously enough his claims of voter fraud. He has called Kemp “a fool” and called for him to resign. At a rally for Loeffler and Perdue last month in Georgia, the president spent considerable time airing his own electoral grievances, while devoting less time to supporting the two Republican candidates.
Meanwhile, Kemp's and Trump's mishandling of the pandemic has turned Georgia into a COVID war zone with new daily records-- all bad ones. On Friday, Georgia reported the third largest increase in one-day cases of any state-- 11,137, bringing the total to 677,589, or 63,819 cases per million Georgians. 24 new deaths yesterday brought the total to 10,958. Georgia has the 5th highest number of active cases, 320,914, on any state. There are currently 4,563 Georgians hospitalized with COVID and, on average, about 235 new patients are admitted daily. You can see why people could opt out of last minute voting on Tuesday. Perdue himself is now in quarantine, making it harder for him to get across his idiotic "Socialism!!!!" message out effectively.
This morning's Atlanta <i>Journal-Constitution</i> warned about the likelihood of another Trump super-spreader even in Whitfield County Monday, where one in ten residents have already been infected and where 20,000 wing nuts from all over the state (and Tennessee and Alabama) are expected to be coughing and sneezing and spewing all over each other. Whitfield has the highest infection rate among Georgia’s 159 counties for the 14 days ending Thursday. On Thursday afternoon, hospitals in Georgia’s Region A, which includes Whitfield, reported intensive care beds were overcapacity. Northwest Georgia recently elected mentally unbalanced Q-Anon fanatic Marjorie Taylor Greene to Congress, who has decried a mask mandate by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the U.S. Capitol as "oppressive." Could there be a more fitting place for Trump to hold his last rally?