Warnock’s victory proves Trump is political poison
We learned three things from Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D-Ga.) successful reelection victory: Former President Donald Trump is political poison. President Joe Biden is a cagey politician. Candidate quality really matters.
Republican former football star Herschel Walker’s failure in the race against Warnock is a glaring indictment of Trump’s perverse influence on the fortunes of the Republican Party.
The failed former president has put his party between a rock and a hard place. The jury of public opinion is still out on Trump’s own reelection campaign, but the GOP defeat in Georgia will prompt a new round of questions within the GOP about his presidential prospects for 2024. The problem is he’s still popular with rank-and-file Republican voters.
However, the hits just keep on coming for Trump with one legal blow after another. If you had a bad day, Tuesday, it was nothing compared to his.
Even before the voter verdict in Georgia ruined his day, a jury in New York City found the flagship of his economic empire, the Trump organization, guilty of criminal fraud and illegal business practices. Trump was not charged but the investigation into his involvement in the scandal continues.
Then federal special prosecutor Jack Smith, who is investigating Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, subpoenaed communications between election officials in several battleground states and Trump administration and campaign staffers.
Warnock’s victory in Georgia on Tuesday is also stunning validation of Biden, which is amazing for president with a shaky job rating.
The president didn’t travel to Georgia during the midterms to campaign for Warnock. He did the smart thing by staying on the sidelines and letting Trump do the heavy lifting for him. Biden was willing to stay out of the limelight to help his party, but Trump just wouldn’t take one for the team and stay off the field.
The Democratic strategy for the midterm elections was to let Trump be Trump and it worked like gangbusters. He is the gift that keeps on giving to Democrats.
While Warnock’s win made it clear that Trump is political poison, it is obvious that his successor isn’t. In the November Election Day Poll, more Georgians voted against Trump than Biden. Warnock’s victory gives Biden more wiggle room in the Senate with a 51-49 Democratic Senate majority and enhances his own reelection prospects. Even though an overwhelming number of Americans believe the nation is headed in the wrong direction, Biden’s party barely lost control of the House and improved his position in the Senate.
While Republicans in Washington did everything they could do to keep Walker’s floundering campaign afloat, the former president did everything he could to sabotage the campaign of his handpicked candidate over the last few weeks. Trump just can’t leave the stage and Walker paid the price.
First, there was Trump’s infamous dinner with right-wing extremists Nick Fuentes and Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. Then Trump made even bigger headlines when he called for the termination of the Constitution. Both events were public relations disasters that put Trump on center stage and Republicans in a bad light.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-K.Y.) noted the importance of candidate quality in the race for control of the upper chamber. The outcome in Georgia proved his point: The Democratic candidate was a Baptist preacher and pastor. His GOP opponent was a man with more personal problems than an erratic character in a bad soap opera.
Warnock deserves lots of credit for his victory. He has won four general elections in the last two years in a super competitive purple state with a GOP governor, Brian Kemp, who just handily won a second term.
Warnock ran a campaign that appealed to moderate and independent voters living in the Atlanta suburbs. Walker campaigned to rally rural conservative voters but there weren’t enough of them left in a fast-growing cosmopolitan state. Warnock also relentlessly raised a ton of money, which gave him a massive spending advantage during the entire campaign.
Victory in Georgia was the capstone of a Democratic midterm performance in the face of heavy odds that surpassed anybody’s expectations. Now the real fun begins, and we will find out whether Democrats can extend the party’s good fortune through 2024.
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. His podcast, “Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon,” airs on Periscope TV and the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.