Brian Kemp only has one path to victory on Tuesday. Stacey Abrams has two.
Mike Pence is sooooo cute! Did you catch him the other day, down in Georgia, stumping for Brian Kemp? Boy, after 2 ½ years if getting more and more insignificant in Trump’s shadow, he really let his insecurity flag fly high. He told the crowd, “Stacey Abrams has Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey coming to town for her. Well, actually, I’m kind of a big deal too!” No Mike, what you really are is the guy who checks the mikes before the Rolling stones take the stage for a concert. Siddown and shut up!
As in so many races across the country, the Kemp-Abrams race is too close to call, the last poll I saw had Stacey Abrams with a 0.3% lead. But from where I’m sitting, when the votes are counted on Tuesday night, Brian Kemp is in a much worse situation than Stacey Abrams is. Because Kemp can’t just win, he has to win. Here’s why.
There’s a 3rd party candidate in Georgia this year, doing what 3rd party candidates always do in a state, mucking it up for everybody else. Kemp can’t just beat Abrams 48.7%-47.9% on Tuesday, because if nobody gets a 50.1% victory margin on Tuesday, there will be a run off special election on December 4th. And this would likely be a kiss of death for Brian Kemp,l for two reasons.
First of all, time is not on Brian Kemp’s side. Not only one, but two federal court judges issued rulings over the last couple of days that freed up mail in and new citizen ballots that Kemp was desperately trying to suppress. If they have to go to a special election 28 days later, two things happen. First, there are 28 more days for courts to rule that Kemp must process those 53,000 applications he has sitting in a desk drawer, providing a sudden influx of new potential votes against him. And second, if there is a special election, the state will have to send out new mail in ballots, and Kemp is already under an order that the counties can no longer throw out ballots based solely on a signature mismatch, without contacting the voter for verification. In Gwinnett county, an absurdly large number of ballots had already been rejected before the court order was imposed. All of those people will get new mail in ballots, and the county can no longer just toss them into the incinerator.
The other likely problem for Kemp in a special election is going to be voter intensity. The normal wisdom is that midterm turnout is depressed from Presidential election year turnout. But voter turnout in an off year special election? Fuggedaboudit, it’s in the cellar, with last years TV Guides. I don’t know if Brian Kemp, as Georgia’s secretary of State, had anything to do with fixing the special election date for one week after Thanksgiving, and exactly three weeks before Christmas, but regardless, it’s about the worst date imaginable for s gubernatorial special election, with only one office, and two names on the ballot.
But not this time. This time, the Democrats are fired up. Going into 2018, there was little reason to believe that this Governors ;s race was going to be anything but a walkover for the GOP. The Democrats not only have a chance to flip the Governor’s mansion, and not only can they tell Brian Kemp once and for all where he can stick his voter suppression, but they have a chance to hoist the trophy for electing the first female black Governor in US history. And if Abrams stays close enough in the vote tally on Tuesday, Democrats could flip some legislative seats in GOP suburban districts, making the landscape that much friendlier for Abrams if she wins. What will be firing up the GOP for that special election? Brian freakin’ Kemp? And since nothing succeeds like success, if there’s a national blue wave on Tuesday, that would only inflame Georgia Democrats more to get in on the spoils.
But Kemp would likely face exactly the opposite problem in terms of GOP voter enthusiasm. IF the Democrats bring it over the finish line on Tuesday, if the blue wave crashes on shore, Kemp is likely fucked. Mainstream GOP voters, the ones Kemp needs, will be totally pissed at Trump for throwing away their House majority, and will be pouting in their Colt .45’s. And he can forget about Trump supporters entirely. If Trump loses the House on Tuesday, he isn;t going to give Brian Kemp any more thought than who will pick up his BVD’s from the bathroom floor. Trump is stumping for Kemp this weekend to win Georgia now! On Tuesday, and to save vulnerable House seats with it. If Kemp has to go to a run off, Trump is going to have bigger fish to fry than worrying about some “terrible loser” candidate down in Georgia, who couldn’t even win when Trump set the table for him. And without Trump’s orders, Trombies couldn’t care less about Kemp.
Obviously, the optimal outcome would be for Stacey Abrams to get about 52% of the vote on Tuesday and make a statement. But Georgia this year is one of those rare occasions where a candidate can get a second chance., with what could be very unique circumstances. If Abrams can stay within 1 point +/- of Kemp on Tuesday, for once I think a Democrats chances actually increase going into a special election. Better to not let it get that far though.
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