With Trump off the ballot, can Democrats win in Georgia?

As Democratic contender Stacey Abrams looks to defeat Governor Brian Kemp in the much-anticipated rematch of the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election, former President Donald Trump’s absence from the ballot could prove detrimental to the Democratic Party’s efforts in the state.

Despite narrowly supporting Joe Biden and electing two Democratic senators in 2020, Georgia is far from a blue state. The recent success of the Democratic Party in Georgia is usually attributed to efforts to drive out minority votes, but this is not the full picture.

The initiative to inspire black and Latino voters to vote was based on the need to defeat the former president. In Georgia and across the country, Democrats portrayed the 2020 election as a generation-by-generation movement to rid the country of a perceived public enemy. There was little enthusiasm for President Biden and his agenda, but that didn’t matter. Biden was merely acting as a placeholder candidate and a harmless alternative to Trump.

Anti-Trump Republicans are plentiful in the state. Having lived in a suburb north of Atlanta all my life, I have seen for the first time among my neighbors the hatred of the former president and his rhetoric. While many voters agreed with the policies of the Trump administration, a significant number of Georgia Republicans still could not stomach the president’s antics four years later. Biden was the lesser of two evils for these sometimes-Trump voters.

In Georgia’s upcoming gubernatorial election, Democrats and Stacey Abrams will fight an uphill battle with Trump out of office. Now that their former strategy of using anti-Trump messaging to boost election numbers is unavailable, Democrats will need to offer a new reason for their base, and minority voters in particular, to come out on Election Day.

This will prove challenging, as the Democratic Party’s dominance at the federal level has done little to change the day-to-day lives of Georgians. As the pandemic progresses and stimulus checks have long stalled, Abrams will struggle to convince voters that she will bring about changes that the Democrat-controlled House, Senate and presidency don’t.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 09: Stacey Abrams speaks on stage during the 2021 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala on December 09, 2021 in New York City.
SLAVEN Vlasik/Getty Images

To make matters worse for Abrams, she can’t count on the support of anti-Trump Republicans in the state as Biden did in the presidential election. Ever since Governor Kemp denied allegations of electoral fraud in Georgia, tensions between him and the former president have run high. Trump even went people argue That Kemp should “resign from office” in a tweet at the end of 2020. This animosity towards Kemp puts previously prominent anti-Trump conservatives out of the picture. As long as the two are isolated, sometimes-Trump voters will not be easy to support Kemp, as their political values ​​generally align.

Overall, Abrams will struggle on election night until the Democratic Party remains ineffective, and Kemp wins his party’s nomination. However, the race for governor is far from a lost cause for Abrams. The saving grace of the Democratic Party is remaining staunch Trump supporters. While being out of the Trump ballot prevents Abrams from using anti-Trump messaging to his advantage, the Trump base may indirectly help him become governor.

in 2021 speech To his followers in Georgia, Trump claimed to be “having [Stacey Abrams], I guess, it might be better to be your current governor, if you want to know what I think. Could very well be better.” Although it was far from endorsed by Abrams, Trump said, “Stacey, would you like to take [Kemp’s] place? That’s fine with me.” Joking or not, such a scathing displeasure from Governor Kemp will resonate with loyal followers of the former president and affect Kemp’s fare on Election Day.

recently Fox 5 Atlanta/Insider Advantage Poll Turns out that Trump’s support for governor of Georgia, former Senator David Perdue, had left the Republican base divided. The results showed that of potential Republican voters in the state who knew the support, 34 percent intended to vote for Kemp in the primary, while 34 percent were going to Perdue. This squabble within the Georgia GOP gives Abrams a fighting chance in November.

If Kemp wins the primary, the question becomes whether Trump’s most loyal supporters will come out on election night. Many would probably not accept the election to Abrams in the process. Conversely, a Purdue victory in the primaries makes anti-Trump Republicans relevant again. Many conservatives who supported Biden would do the same for Abrams if Perdue wins the nomination.

Regardless, the Democratic Party’s hopes of consolidating its position in Georgia depend on whether Abrams can dissociate himself from the weak performance of the Biden administration—and whether the Georgia GOP is divided beyond repair.

Alex Bleaker is a student at Oglethorpe University. His writings have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times and The Washington Examiner.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.