It wasn’t much of a shock to see Raphael Warnock elected to a full, six-year term in the U.S. Senate Tuesday. The race was important. A lot was riding on the outcome, including how the U.S. Senate would be organized for the next two years.
The most important lesson coming out of Georgia is directed at former President Donald J. Trump, who either needs to learn to stay on message or get out of politics. His ill-timed, ill-considered Tweet about pre-election social media’s pre-election suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story makes this clear. (RELATED: JOSH HAMMER: The ‘New Right’ Is Here To Stay, Even If Its ‘Dead Consensus’ Critics Want It To Disappear)
Without going too far into the weeds, Trump’s argument it constituted “a massive fraud” sufficient to call for “the termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those found in the U.S. Constitution” was just too much. Republican and GOP-leaning Independent voters, especially those in high-income areas around Atlanta, heard that as a callback to Jan. 6. Walker needed them to win. Trump drove them away.
The gap is easy to see. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and the other statewide candidates running for office all won convincingly — and with more than two million votes on Nov. 8. Only Walker was under that, meaning lots of Republicans skipped over his race when they voted.
Walker went down for some of the same reasons that other candidates across the nation did — and it’s important to realize that whatever he did that wasn’t helpful, it all didn’t come down to Trump. Here are some of the other reasons:
Unvetted Candidates Are A Problem
Too many of the GOP candidates running in important 2024 statewide races weren’t properly vetted. They’d either never run for office before or were plucked from an obscure position that had allowed them to escape the kind of close scrutiny that’s leveled many a campaign. Just because a person is a celebrity, like Walker, it doesn’t mean they’re a good candidate for public office.
GOP Candidates Lacked A Message
Walker’s campaign lacked a compelling message that resonated with the voters they needed to win. That’s true for a lot of high-profile candidates who got close but failed to make it over the goal line on Nov. 8.
Political analyst Jim Ellis said it well in Wednesday’s edition of Ellis Insights when he wrote the Walker campaign failed to offer “a reason to vote for the GOP candidate while relying almost solely on arguments to vote against the incumbent.” The former football great could not convincingly explain what he would do, if elected, to improve the lives of the average Georgia voter.
“Warnock bad” may fit on a bumper sticker but without “Walker good” to go with it, the voters — especially Independents — will usually stick with what they have rather than take a chance on an unknown quantity.
The Ground Game Matters More Than The Air War
One clear takeaway from the last election is that Democrats have upped the ante on early voting, voting by mail, and anything else that has to do with ballots not cast in a polling place on Election Day. Walker’s numbers on Dec. 6 were up from what they were on Nov. 8, but still not enough to win. That suggests the GOP has learned some things from its defeats but still has a long way to go.
It was an important race that didn’t get the help it needed. Had Walker won, the GOP would have been in a better position to block Biden nominees to the federal bench, protect the filibuster and keep everyone focused on what Krysten Sinema and Joe Manchin, both of whom must face the voters in 2024, would do every time an issue got hot.
Now their work is much harder.
A former UPI political writer and U.S. News and World Report columnist, Peter Roff is a Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network media fellow. Contact him at RoffColumns AT mail.com and follow him on Twitter @TheRoffDraft.
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