Georgia Republicans Stayed Home

Weeks of claims of rigged elections may well have cost the GOP the Senate.

AJC (“Turnout dip among Georgia Republicans flipped U.S. Senate“):

Control of the U.S. Senate was on the line, but many Georgia Republicans — at least some deterred by Donald Trump’s loss — stayed home rather than cast ballots in January’s runoffs.

Their absence at the polls helped swing Georgia and the Senate to the Democrats.

Over 752,000 Georgia voters who cast ballots in the presidential election didn’t show up again for the runoffs just two months later, according to a new analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of recently released voting records.

More than half of the no-shows were white, and many lived in rural areas, constituencies that lean toward Republican candidates.

This is the opposite of what normally happens. Both generally speaking and in Georgia specifically, run-off elections favor Republicans because, for a variety of reasons, they’re more apt to turn out a second time.

The report’s explanation for the reverse is plausible but entirely anecdotal:

Trump’s message that the election was stolen discouraged voters such as Craig Roland, a 61-year-old Rome resident. Roland said he didn’t believe his vote would count.

“What good would it have done to vote? They have votes that got changed,” Roland said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever vote again.”

Again, this is literally one dude’s post hoc explanation. But, given weeks of claims from Trump that the election was rigged, it’s reasonable to believe that a lot of Trump supporters believed him.

Then again, it’s also possible that a lot of Republicans who held their nose and voted for Trump as the lesser of evils were turned off by the whole escapade. That the two Republican contenders not only doubled down on the claims but went after their own party’s election officials may have been too much for some.

Again, we don’t have the data to know.

But we do know this:

Meanwhile, 228,000 new voters cast ballots in the runoffs who hadn’t voted in the Nov. 3 election. They were more racially diverse and younger voters who tend to back Democrats.

Unlike the Republicans, the Democrats had a positive and consistent message: We won the White House and retained the House but that won’t much matter unless you turn out to vote to give us control of the Senate.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    I must say I find it quite delightful that Trump’s tantrum cost Rs the Senate.

    You reap what you sow.

    17
  2. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    Lin Wood and Sidney Powell repeatedly telling people not to vote because the election was rigged had a lot to do with it as well.

    11
  3. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: I had the strange feeling that Dems were more surprised by the outcome than Republicans. In the weeks leading up to the runoffs, a lot of GOP operatives were sounding the alarm over Wood, Powell, and Trump. You could sense the growing panic among various Fox pundits and officials like Ronna McDaniel. Dems, on the other hand, seemed hopeful but doubtful that it would make a difference. (I absolutely believe that the Biden team was operating under the assumption that they would be facing a GOP Senate.) Up to now, Republicans just haven’t displayed the self-destructive tendencies of the left; there was no equivalent to “Bernie or bust.” They’d whine about RINOs, but would always come out to vote, like good little soldiers. Until now.

    11
  4. de stijl says:

    @CSK:

    That delights me as well.

    3
  5. de stijl says:

    Respectable Rs now need loony toon folks to get elected.

    That ain’t gonna end well.

    McConnell realized it yesterday. McCarthy punted and kissed Trump’s ring. Cheney is pushing back.

    It is a bit reminiscent of the Know-Nothings. A party built on conspiracy.

    Such an entity has no policy per se to offer beyond shut the borders and throw the outlanders into the sea or onto a gallows.

    6
  6. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:
    I know; interesting, isn’t it? Up until about a week or so before the run-off, Georgia was regarded as a shoo-in for Loeffler and Perdue. And it would have been had Wood and Powell devoted so much time and effort to telling people not to vote.

    4
  7. KM says:

    Well, duh! You tell the faithful their vote is going to be changed against their will, then what’s the point of wasting time voting? You tell a group of people already primed to think the gov is corrupt that a corrupt gov is stealing their vote, why give them a vote to steal in the first place? Trump lost win was in question so why shouldn’t the party that didn’t have his back be punished like Trump clearly wanted? Blood for Donald! Besides, GA is a deep red state so it’s not like they’d actually lose due to MAGAts staying home…..

    Insane troll logic is still logic in that it follows internally consistent rules and pathways. Their “reasoning” isn’t sound but can be traced and predicted to a certain extent. The manipulators keep forgetting this and expect the sheep to do as they are told no matter what tripe is feed to them. The game has always, always, ALWAYS been to give these kinds of nuts lip service to ensure their support and nothing more. Now that Trump’s given them power and validation – they’re not going back in the closet. They expect results of their beliefs and are willing to put true believers in power to make it happen. If the Swamp won’t go away – colonize the Swamp with your own critters instead.

    McConnell is seeing his power erode because the nuts aren’t willing to play the game anymore. He knows MTG and her ilk are going to cost him as Trump fever fades and only the terminal ill are still left to spread their disease around. He can’t afford Trump calling the shots and something like this happening again.

    7
  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    *A few months after sowing.*
    “Are you kidding me? I have to reap ALL of this?”

    9
  9. Owen says:

    @Kylopod: My impression of Democrats in both the 2020 general and Georgia run-offs was a solid effort to stay on message and not take anything for granted. In 2016 the Hillary campaign specifically, and Dems in general seemed complacent and overconfident until it was too late.

    3
  10. CSK says:

    @Owen:
    Well, you can’t really blame them for that. I still have a hard time believing that anyone would vote for a malevolent churl like Trump.

    6
  11. Kylopod says:

    @Owen:

    My impression of Democrats in both the 2020 general and Georgia run-offs was a solid effort to stay on message and not take anything for granted. In 2016 the Hillary campaign specifically, and Dems in general seemed complacent and overconfident until it was too late.

    I agree. But what’s notable is that Republicans never seem to face an equivalent challenge. They always seem to turn out no matter what. They turned out in 2018 and 2020–it’s just that Dems also turned out. And that was enough, because there are more Dems in the country at large. It’s just that the Dems are likelier to not vote unless the party works its ass off to counter this tendency.

    And I believe it’s part of why Dems didn’t perform as well as they might have. It was especially noticeable if you dig into why downballot Dems tended to do worse than Biden. The common explanation I’ve heard is that there was significant “ticket-splitting,” with people who would cast a vote for both Biden and a Republican candidate for a different office. There may have been individual examples of this phenomenon (particularly in Maine with Susan Collins), but it was not as widespread as the conventional wisdom suggests. If you look at the Nov results in Georgia, Biden got nearly 100,000 more votes than Ossoff, yet Perdue only got about 700 more votes than Trump. This suggests that the main thing driving Ossoff’s underperformance in November wasn’t Biden-Perdue crossover votes, but rather Biden voters who didn’t bother to cast any votes for Senate. So the problem wasn’t Republican anti-Trumpers who remained loyal to the party downballot, it was Dems who became so focused on getting rid of Trump they took their eye off the ball for downballot races. That was one of the things I believe they corrected during the runoffs.

    1
  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kylopod:

    If you look at the Nov results in Georgia, Biden got nearly 100,000 more votes than Ossoff, yet Perdue only got about 700 more votes than Trump. This suggests that the main thing driving Ossoff’s underperformance in November wasn’t Biden-Perdue crossover votes, but rather Biden voters who didn’t bother to cast any votes for Senate. So the problem wasn’t Republican anti-Trumpers who remained loyal to the party downballot, it was Dems who became so focused on getting rid of Trump they took their eye off the ball for downballot races. That was one of the things I believe they corrected during the runoffs.

    Shortly after the Nov election 538 had a similar take, noting that ticket-splitting was as rare this cycle as it has in the recent past, with Collins being the notable exception, But even with Collins, there is a segment of her vote that didn’t vote at all for Pres.

    I figured that the Rs would take both GA senate races and only got hopeful that I was wrong, when you could hear the panic in R operative statements.

    An explanation is, the non-voters that trump brought to the polls returned to their normal, pox on them all attitude, and stayed home. Particularly since Trump wasn’t invested at all, in the GA race. If true, this will benefit Dems, as they captured a portion of what was an R voting block. Now they have to keep them. And I’d rather the challenge of keeping regular voters, voting for my candidate, than keep getting non-voters to the polls who turned out only for a personality.

  13. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    That was me getting mouthy.

    Every eligible citizen should vote. It is a civic duty.

    We should, as a society, make it easy to vote. Encourage all to do so.

    2
  14. JohnMcC says:

    @Kylopod: The most eye-opening book about politics I ever read was Kevin Philips’ ‘The Emerging Republican Majority’ from I guess 1968 or there-abouts. Carefully laid out the way an entrenched “Democratic” party could become “Republican” without changing significantly in the least. Went county by county across vast swathes of the South. To the degree that it was a prediction when written which it was, it was and is bang on.

    In that book Philips explains the process by which a party loses a population begins with declines in voting behaviors. Indicates lose of loyalty and lack of expectations. The number of voters that have been changing their registration in the wake of the insurrection of 6 Jan is a late sign.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    D) All of the Above.

  16. Kylopod says:

    @JohnMcC: I have not read Phillips’ book and I’m not familiar with the exact details of its thesis, but my understanding is that it was something that applied to the ’70s and ’80s because (and I know I’m a broken record about this) the Dems didn’t just lose the South in that period–they did so without making up for the losses elsewhere, which is what would ultimately happen later on. The realignment that occurred in the late-20th century was ultimately a tradeoff: The traditionally Democratic South became Republican, but the traditionally Republican Northeast as well as states like Illinois and California became Democrat. The problem was that this didn’t happen overnight, and during the ’70s and ’80s Dems were trapped in a worst-of-both-worlds situation, which is what was really behind the massive GOP landslides of that time. The only presidential election Dems won in that period, 1976, involved Carter temporarily reconstructing the Solid South while losing states like CA, IL, NJ, and most of New England. It was more a last gasp of the old Democratic coalition than a portend of the future.

    By the ’90s, that’s when you began to see the modern electoral map emerge. Not everyone realized it at the time, partly because Clinton was somewhat still following the Carter model as a Southern moderate being able to bring back states in the South (even though he could have won without a single one of them), and also because of the widespread but inaccurate belief that he only won due to Perot splitting the GOP vote. It wasn’t until the Obama years, especially the 2012 election, that the nature of the two parties’ electoral coalitions became clear and undeniable to everyone. The GOP dominates the South, the Plains, and the upper Mountain States; the Dems dominate the Northeast and the West Coast; and the parties then battle over a few states in the Midwest, the Southwest, and a few stray portions of the Old Confederacy. Neither party has a clear electoral foothold, and landslides of the Nixon-Reagan variety simply aren’t on the table.

  17. Owen says:

    @de stijl: I read Heinlein’s “Starship Trooper’s” while a teenager, and although it wasn’t a conscious motivation for me to join the military, I know the concept of “Citizenship” belonging to veterans did have an influence.

    Disturbingly, later in my career I found that many young officers were reading the book, but too often were taking it as a more significant life lesson than I ever did (using it as justification to bitch about the ungrateful general public). At the same time (because of shenanigans in Afghanistan) I found a lot of folks were reading Fraser’s Flashman series (especially the earlier ones). Growing up my dad had most of the Flashman novels and I had read them in early adolescence, which explains a lot about my jaded view of life in general.

    4
  18. de stijl says:

    @Owen:

    I know the movie is divisive. Some absolutely hate it.

    I love it. It is cheekily subversive. Echoes to Robocop. The casting of pretty nobodies mouthing fascist platitudes like Nazi cinema – they all thought they were in a cheesy sci-fi movie, but Verhoeven was making an explicitly anti-fascist movie. It’s brilliant.

    Verhoeven is a hero.

    5
  19. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Weren’t the fascists heroically fighting off the evil alien monsters?

    I will readily admit I ignored any and all symbolism, and focused on the fact that the movie wasted the whole mobile infantry and battle suit ideas Heinlein laid out in the book.

    I do like the first Robocop. IMO it’s one of the best ever Sci-Fi movies.

    2
  20. de stijl says:

    @Kathy:

    I’m not gonna tell you what to do with your free time, but I find Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers just stunningly great.

    The aliens are probably the “good guys”. We struck the first blow and then freaked the fuck out when they retaliated.

    There are explicit call-outs to Robocop in interstitial propaganda ads about how bad the “bugs” are.

    It looks and superficially feels like a sci-fi Ramboesque feature but it is decidedly is not.

    It is a cheeky brutal takedown of fascism.

    Do you want to know more?

    Service guarantees citizenship!

    I’m doing my part!

    1
  21. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    The aliens are probably the “good guys”. We struck the first blow and then freaked the fuck out when they retaliated.

    I saw it a long time ago, but I don’t recall any specific beginning to the war, nor in the book for that matter.

    There are explicit call-outs to Robocop in interstitial propaganda ads about how bad the “bugs” are.

    Yep, that I remember. Very well done, too.

    There’s a too-drawn-out series by Harry Turtledove called Worldwar, where a large alien fleet invades Earth smack in the middle of WWII. When the Wehrmacht fight the aliens, whom do you root for, right?

    On the other hand, there’s no need for hypothetical alien invasions to frame that dilemma: when the Wehrmacht fights the Red Army, whom do you root for?

    Stalin’s Russia was every bit as brutal as Germany at the time, and in his long reign Stalin killed millions of his own citizens as well. His only saving grace was that he didn’t particularly want to exterminate any group.

  22. de stijl says:

    I challenge the framing.

    Absent Hitler and Nazism, would Germany have taken Sudetenland and Austria?

    Would they have invaded The Soviet Union?

    The Weimar Republic was gonna split ugly even without the Nazis.

    Hitler first. Aggressor.
    Stalin second. Defender, but sociopathic tyrannical dictator.

    The general troops like Wehrmacht or Red Army are largely free from the evil their masters did. This is obviously not totally true.

    But Private Andrei or Corporal Johann were slugging it out on the eastern front because their absolute leaders told them to do so. They did not have much choice in the matter.

    Obviously Wehrmacht and Red Army regulars have blame, but Stalin and Hitler are the villains.

  23. Owen says:

    @de stijl:The movie and book shared little, but I enjoyed both.

    As I recall in the movie, the war started when religious colonizers settled on a planet they had been specifically told by the Federation was off limits, which initiated the contact with the “Bugs”. As I recall from the book (which I read about 40 years ago), the conflict just existed.

    I was always of the impression that the actors were in on Verhoeven’s intent, I am a fan of Michael Ironside since seeing him in “Scanners” (1981).

  24. de stijl says:

    @Owen:

    I meant no disrespect to Ironside who is a great workingman actor. Check his IMDB page. Dude is awesome. (See William Forsythe for a similar vibe.)

    I was thinking about the younger cast. Casper Van Dien, Denise Richards, Jake Busey. Were they aware?

    I will have to investigate. I am sure there are clips about that on youtube. I will circle back def with Neil Patrick Harris’ take of on the set, etc.

    Verhoeven was a big Dutch director. Introduced the world to Rutger Hauer when he was a relative pup.

  25. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Always enjoyed the book, never saw the movie.

    Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how much I *personally* like the premise that voters should display some tangible sign of civic virtue, you can’t really rely on that coming from military service, no matter how nobly it gets dressed up. Witness the over-representation of ex-military types on 1/6. Any virtue gained from being willing to sacrifice for the greater good trips over the habits of authoritarianism you also receive, and the related problem of exactly who is defining “the greater good” the (ex-)soldiers decide to follow. And I think there is no philosophical concept more guilty of excusing shitty behavior in human history than “the greater good” aka “the end justifies the means.”

    As for the film Starship Troopers, though I never watched it, it’s only relatively recently I’ve seen claims that it was intended to be anti-fascist. Really, since Trump became President. Before then any review just basically said “it’s terrible.” Gotta be careful giving film-makers too much credit for how something might appear 20 years later. I was recently…forced…to rewatch the Star Wars prequels (really, it involved my nephew and being a “good uncle”). It still sucks, but I was struck by how…prescient…some of what Lucas put in those films looks like with 4 years of Trump behind us. But he’s flat out said he wasn’t trying to make a modern allegory or anything of the type and it’s just coincidence.

    1
  26. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Hitler first. Aggressor.
    Stalin second. Defender, but sociopathic tyrannical dictator.

    That’s debatable. Stalin signed a non-aggression pact, and then collaborated in the invasion of Poland. Look up the Katyn Forest Massacre. In addition, Stalin had invaded Finland the year before. Not to mention what he’d been doing inside the USSR.

    How Stalin failed to see the Nazi leadership considered him an untermensch, and would not shirk from invading the USSR if that was what the deranged lunatic in charge wanted, I guess we’ll never know.

    1
  27. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    I recall Ironside from V: The Final Battle in the 80s (not that bad, really). he was one of the good guys, but an s.o.b. through and through.

    1
  28. de stijl says:

    @Owen:

    Per Ironside, he got the text and confronted Verhoeven on “why are we making a facsist movie?” Makes sense. Within the text of the script it would not be clear that Verhoeven was spoofing Riefenstahl, etc.

    Props for Michael Ironside! Verhoeven had a saucy reply. See wikipedia for full text.

    Per Denise Richards, who may not be the most trustworthy of narrators, most of the young cast were unaware of Verhoeven’s intent until they saw the full-cut and edited movie.

    Apparently Verhoeven got bored and angry after three chapters at what he saw as Heinlein’s right-wing book so he stopped reading and asked the scriptwriter to walk him through it. Lol.

    Dean Norris has a cameo. I have to watch again. I’d also forgotten Clancy Brown. Which is sad because he is awesome. Well, he got awesome later.

  29. Owen says:

    @de stijl: I’m fairly sure most of the actors would have been familiar with some of Verhoeven’s earlier work, and the films I remember tended to poke fun at typical “American Corporatism/Exceptionalism” rotes, which I found to be the case in Starship Troopers as well. And even if they weren’t aware, I am sure their agents would have let them know they weren’t glorifying authoritarianism.

    Not sure which interview you are referring to, the quote on the film’s Wikipedia site implies Ironside’s comments were based on the original book, not the text of the movie.

  30. Owen says:

    @de stijl: So I say I have been a fan of Michael Ironside since 1981, and you recommend I check out his IMDB site. Exactly how many tattoos do you have? 🙂

  31. Owen says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican: I think it is significant that there is no practical civics curriculum in most secondary education systems in this country. It never ceased to amaze me how few of my comrades in arms had never read the Constitution, let alone grasp what it says (outside of the First and Second Amendments, but even then they rarely grasped meaning or context).

    1
  32. de stijl says:

    @Owen:

    I am a savvy old. Adapt, adjust, conquer.

    Two sleeves. Nothing below wrist. 14 I believe. I overwrote at least two. No torso or leg.

    Altho I would go for knuckles now at my age if I had the right two four letter words.

  33. de stijl says:

    @Owen:

    Casper Van Dien and Denise Richards are not the shiniest tools in the box, let’s say. Bless their hearts.

    Dina Meyer and NPH seem to have more going on upstairs.

    I did not think today would end with me touting 2008’s Dr. Horribles Sing Along Blog.

    With Felecia Day and Nathan Fillion.