The Corner

Elections

Blame Everything, but Especially Trump

President Donald Trump attends a campaign rally for Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler ahead of their January runoff elections in Valdosta, Ga., December 5, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

As I type, the Republicans look like they are going to lose the Georgia races, both of them. Congratulations to Joe Manchin, the moderate Dem of West Virginia, who would then be the most powerful senator. Congratulations to Stephen Breyer, the associate Supreme Court justice who would be promptly informed by the incoming White House that he is 82 years old and can be replaced, hopefully before another octogenarian Democrat dies in the world’s greatest deliberative body.

Blame the GOP candidates. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue were bad candidates, though Loeffler was much, much worse. To my eyes, it seemed as if Loeffler barely understood — let alone believed in — the content of her attack lines on Raphael Warnock.

Blame Governor Brian Kemp: Why did he choose Loeffler to fill the seat? She’s a great fundraiser, but there was no evidence of talent for electoral politics.

Blame Donald Trump: This is the third election in which Donald Trump has made himself the sole focus of a campaign, and the third election that Democrats won new voters and had fantastic turnout: 2018, 2020, and now 2021. Instead of the races being about control of the Senate, Trump made the election about himself and his baseless claims of voter fraud. By indulging these claims, Loeffler and Perdue were put into a civil war with their governor and other elected Republicans in Georgia. They also gave more reasons for Democrats to turn out.

At first glance, the combination of voter-fraud claims and some sloppy attacks on Warnock that seemed to hit upon the black church tradition he represents reversed the modest gains the Republican Party seemed to be making with black voters. Running an out-of-touch billionaire did the rest of the damage, likely depressing the left-behind rural whites who turned out for Trump in such astonishing numbers.

These two candidates and Trump would have had a hard time running a successful race outside of a Trump rally. Running this race in Georgia was politically criminal.