Friday, January 8, 2021

Georgia Republican Cross-Over Vote Elected Democrats Ossoff and Warnock to U.S. Senate

On Tuesday, Georgia held a run-off election featuring two U.S. Senate seats.   In an upset, the two Democratic challengers, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.  The two victories gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.

Usually in runoff elections, turnout drops dramatically from the general election that preceded it. This time that did not happen. About 4.5 million Georgians turned out to vote, nearly 90% the total that voted in the general election.

Can the Democrats' two Senate wins be attributed to Democrats turning out more voters than the Republican Party?

Actually, Georgia Democrats did not beat the Republicans at turnout.  Fortunately for political analysts looking at the Georgia runoff, there was a third race on the January 5th ballot, a contest for the Georgia Public Service Commission.  

In a state like Georgia, which doesn't register voters by political parties, the best way of measuring partisanship in an election is to look at low profile races on the ballot to establish a baseline.  When entering the voting booth, voters generally know about candidates at the top of the ballot.  But as voters make their way down the ballot, they soon encounter races for which they know little beyond the names of the candidates, if they know that.  It is at that point that people's partisanship kicks in to guide their choices.

Below is a table of the election results in Georgia:

Ossoff (D)    2,247,312 50.5%
Perdue (R)   2,206,009  49.5%          D margin of victory: 41,303

Warnock (D) 2,266,333  50.9%
Loeffler (R)  2,187,042  49.1%         D margin of victory:  79,291

Public Service Commission

McDonald (R) 2,288,390   50.4%
Blackman (D)  2,243,676   49.6%   R margin of victory:  44,714

So in the Ossoff-Perdue race, 86,017 voters scratched, i.e. voted for the Democrat Ossoff and then voted for the Republican for Public Service Commission.  In the Warnock-Perdue race, it was 124,005 Republican voters scratching.

It is highly unlikely it was Democratic-leaning voters casting their ballots for Republican McDonald.  Almost certainly McDonald won because a (slight) majority of voters in the Georgia run-off election were Republican or leaned Republican.  But many of those Republican-ish voters did not like Loeffler and Perdue at the top of the ticket

I think the problem for the GOP was that the two Senate seats became nationalized.  Georgia voters, including a significant percentage of Republicans that lived in the state, wanted to send a message of disagreement with Trump and their two Senators who had tied themselves so closely to the President.

OOP's short takes:

  • It looks like The House is going to impeach Trump again, and this time, there may be some Republican support for his removal in the Senate.  So encouraging foreign powers to interfere in an American election, obstructing justice, dangling pardons, refusing to cooperate with legislative oversight, and abuse of power are not impeachable...but fomenting a mob to attack the Capitol and endanger the lives of members of Congress is a step too far?   Good to know where the line is.
  • Breaking news is that Trump won't attend Biden's inauguration.  In other news, water is wet.
  • It is being reported that Trump is considering a self-pardon.  Yes, there is about a 90% chance of that happening.
  • I hope that one thing that will be high on a President Biden's list of priorities is ethics reforms.  One thing we learned from the Trump presidency is we can't expect a future President to do things simply because they are "norms."  Might want to make those "norms" - like a President turning over his tax returns - actual laws with teeth.
  • Yesterday there was yet another record set as to Covid-19 new cases and deaths.  By next weekend, the United States will be at 400,000 deaths.


Anonymous said...

First, thank you for taking the time over these several months to offer your opinions and perspectives. I appreciate the effort and the thoroughness of your comments.

Not related to this specific post, but I’d like your opinion on the heated discussion several Trump supporters had with Sen.Young on Wednesday morning, specifically your initial thoughts on where Trumpism leaves the Indiana Republicans. Do you foresee a challenger in the 2022 Republican Senate primary and, if so, how the makeup of the state could make it feasible. I believe the Richard Mourdock challenge of Richard Lugar had other underlying issues, but that race suggests it might be possible? I would value your thoughts.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 7:18,

Trump's real strength was all the news coverage he could generate as a candidate or President. For 5 years he was the center of the political universe After 1/20, Trump won't have the bully pulpit of being President or running for President. With his no longer being the center of attention, I think it inevitable that Trump's power and influence over his followers are going to wane. Young no doubt will get a Trumper challenger in 2022, but I think by then Trump's influence over the GOP electorate will have waned so much that Young will be able to survive the challenge. Plus, GOP candidates trying to act like Trump, generally doesn't work. I wouldn't bet against Young being re-elected.

I think the GOP, nationally and at the state level, is going to be in a wilderness for some time, waiting to develop a post-Trump ideology. Trumpism was never about ideology or the issues. It was about a personality. But issues and ideology is generally what ties people to a political party. Unless Trump runs again in 2024, I think it's pretty certain Trumpism fades. I don't buy for a second that a Don, Jr. or Ivanka can walk in and take over Trumpism. There has been talk about Ivanka running for Senate in Florida, possibly Don, Jr. running for Senate in Montana or some place like that and Eric's wife, Laura Trump, running for Senate in NC. I just don't that they can recreate their father's domination of the GOP. Plus, people really don't like carpetbaggers, which was part of Kelly Loeffler's problems.

Btownmoon said...

Great article. The GA PUC election results are so telling of the tide (finally) turning against Trump. It's about time.

What's the logic of Sen Braun's decision to initially object to the counting of the electoral college results? Granted, he changed his mind due to the insurrection, which may indicate his stance was nothing more than a stunt or political posturing. He's a millionaire republican in a deep red state and not up for reelection for 4 years. His seat is safe unless of course there's another millionaire republican that can out-spend him in the 2024 primary (e.g. Hollingsworth).

Paul K. Ogden said...


Not so sure I buy that Braun is in a safe position next time he runs. He'll be running in a presidential year when statewide Democrats do much better. Indy is solidly blue and the Indy suburbs have steadily been trending more Democratic. Without Trump on the ticket, the GOP turnout in the rural parts of the state will probably drop. It could be that, with Trump gone, the suburbs will go back to being solidly Republican, but the trend of the suburbs to be more Democratic actually preceded Trump. Trump just sped up the conversion.

With a really strong, well-funded Democratic challenger, I think the D's have a chance at winning that race, even more so with the Governor's race next time as Holcomb will be term-limited. Of course, Indiana Democrats are their own worst enemies. Myers was not exactly a strong candidate, to say the least.