Yes, Kemp won, and he didn’t cheat, ei­ther, but not all the news is good for Repub­li­cans

The Telegraph (Macon) - - Opinion - BY ERICK ERICKSON Erick Erickson is host of At­lanta’s Evening News on WSB Ra­dio.

If you are a Repub­li­can, the good news is that Brian Kemp will be the gov­er­nor of Ge­or­gia. Stacey Abrams ran the most com­pet­i­tive race in re­cent mem­ory, but it was not enough. She brought more new vot­ers and young vot­ers to the polls than other re­cent can­di­dates, but Kemp found new vot­ers as well and got them out to vote.

The Kemp cam­paign strat­egy was sim­ple and ef­fec­tive. They max­i­mized their turnout in south Ge­or­gia to add cush­ion to losses in the metro At­lanta coun­ties. In many coun­ties in Ge­or­gia, Kemp ex­ceeded Nathan Deal’s mar­gins by more than 10 per­cent. That the race was so close is, in part, a mea­sure of how en- gaged Democrats are.

It is a bit of mythol­ogy to claim that the state has moved very blue over the last four years or even the last two years. Yes, Ge­or­gia has been trend­ing very slowly to the Democrats. No, it has not been enough. That is bad news for Democrats. The Democrats’ claims of voter sup­pres­sion are false but are de­signed to pro­vide a sense of griev­ance and cast doubt on the le­git­i­macy of the race. It is an un­for­tu­nate new tac­tic of pro­gres­sives to claim that any elec­tion or in­sti­tu­tion is il­le­git­i­mate un­less they win.

There is good news for the Democrats. Kemp padded his mar­gins out­side At­lanta with sig­nif­i­cant pro-Trump vot­ers, but in do­ing so he lost vot­ers in the metropoli­tan At­lanta area be­cause he was so tied to Don­ald Trump. Repub­li­cans are go­ing to have to weigh care­fully the ben­e­fits of ty­ing them­selves to Trump in statewide races. In places like Ten­nessee, it cer­tainly helped. In­creas­ingly, in places like Ge­or­gia, it can hurt.

Look­ing at the ad­justed exit polling data, Kemp re­ceived 38 per­cent of the His­panic vote, which is a good num­ber for a Repub­li­can in Ge­or­gia. If Repub­li­cans can make fur­ther in­roads into the His­panic vote in Ge­or­gia, the GOP could have a new mech­a­nism by which to fore­stall Demo­crat advances.

With­out new vot­ers, how­ever, the GOP in Ge­or­gia is in de­cline. It lost sig­nif­i­cant seats in the state leg­is­la­ture. It saw two long­time Repub­li­can con­gres­sional dis­tricts go wob­bly. It will have to find money for runoffs in sev­eral statewide races. But it will keep the Gov­er­nor’s Man­sion. That will mat­ter when it comes to redistricting in 2021.

Pulling out from Ge­or­gia and look­ing na­tion­wide, the same sit­u­a­tion is hap­pen­ing else­where. In heav­ily Repub­li­can Kansas and Ok­la­homa, Repub­li­cans lost sub­urbs there, too. Up­per in­come white vot­ers are los­ing their taste for Trump. He told them to think of him as on the bal­lot and they did by vot­ing Demo­crat. In South Carolina, Trump vot­ers ral­lied to beat Mark San­ford, the Trump-crit­i­cal Repub­li­can con­gress­man, but then the vot­ers of San­ford’s district re­jected the Trump re­place­ment hand­ing a Repub­li­can seat to the Democrats.

One should not look at this shift and think it means the Democrats will win the pres­i­dency in 2020. Af­ter the 2010 de­feat of Democrats by Repub­li­cans, lots of Repub­li­cans pre­sumed it meant Barack Obama was beat­able in 2012. He wasn’t. With Repub­li­cans in charge of the House, Obama had some­one to run against. Now Trump has Nancy Pelosi to run against and she is more un­pop­u­lar in the coun­try than him.

Still, Trump would not have won in 2016 with­out the vot­ers in Wis­con­sin, Penn­syl­va­nia and Michi­gan. For those keep­ing score at home, the vot­ers in those states just shifted Demo­crat. That is the bright­est warn­ing sign Repub­li­cans must pay at­ten­tion to.

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