Abrams has a problem and she knows it.
After months of hype last year about Georgia’s new election law being the “new Jim Crow” in the alleged magnitude of its effect on African-Americans voting, the numbers in this year’s primaries have turned her into a liar.
And even otherwise sympathetic media outlets like the Washington Post and New York Times can’t resist pointing it out. This quote from one black voter in the Post’s recent story has made the rounds in righty media because of how starkly it contradicts the Democratic hysteria: “I had heard that they were going to try to deter us in any way possible because of the fact that we didn’t go Republican on the last election, when Trump didn’t win. To go in there and vote as easily as I did and to be treated with the respect that I knew I deserved as an American citizen — I was really thrown back.”
Voting rights is Abrams’s claim to fame. (Well, that and election trutherism about her 2018 loss to Brian Kemp.) There’s no way she can admit error in having demagogued Georgia’s new law; her credibility on her core issue would be shattered. So instead she’s forced to try to thread this logical needle: Sure, turnout may be up — and it may even be up among black voters — but that’s not inconsistent with voter suppression.
Maybe “suppression” means something different in Georgia than in the rest of the country.
Democrat Stacey Abrams on Georgia's skyrocketing turnout: "We know that increased turnout has nothing to do with suppression" pic.twitter.com/MzTnwNY7KK
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 24, 2022
I can imagine scenarios in which some voters face new obstacles to casting their ballots even while the number of votes cast across the population rises. But to say something as absurd as “increased turnout has nothing to do with suppression” shows you how much flop sweat she’s feeling right now.
If it were true that white turnout was up while black turnout was down, that would be circumstantial evidence that suppression was happening notwithstanding higher turnout statewide. That’s not what Georgia’s seeing in the early voting, though:
According to figures released by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, as of yesterday, May 18, 102,056 more black voters have cast early votes in this year’s primary elections than in 2018 — this is more than three times the number of blacks casting early votes in 2018. (Georgia requests the race/ethnicity of voter registration applicants, and the secretary of state “maintains robust voter registration and turnout data by race/ethnicity.”)
Of the voting electorate, black voters make up 2.75 percent more of the total electorate than 2020. This is not the result that one would expect if the legislation was aimed at voter suppression, and “makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle,” as President Biden put it.
Early voting in both parties is way, way up over 2018, thanks in part to the extra days provided for in the new election law:
Record primary voter turnout continues. Over the weekend many county election offices continued their work and were accepting absentee ballots being returned from voters. The total ballots cast as of this morning is 859,984. 484,008 GOP, 370,648 Dem & 5,328 NP. #gapol pic.twitter.com/uZomnmC1xK
— Gabriel Sterling (@GabrielSterling) May 23, 2022
We’ll need to see tomorrow what Election Day turnout looked like, as it may be that some voters alarmed by the “Jim Crow” demagoguery made a point of not waiting until the last minute to vote for fear that they’d be turned away. That is, total turnout might not end up increasing from 2018 but merely shifting from mostly Election Day voting to mostly early voting. Anecdotally, however, things are running pretty smoothly as of mid-afternoon.
If you want to see how keen Abrams is to salvage some workable spin from this messaging fiasco, though, watch this clip. And pay attention to the end.
“What is happening is that people are looking at one metric and trying to extrapolate an entire narrative and the narrative is very clear: voter suppression is not about stopping voting, it is about impeding certain voters from participating,” Stacey Abrams says. pic.twitter.com/8DDQBtstVJ
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) May 23, 2022
“They are going to try to make it hard, so the more of us who show up, we overwhelm the system with our presence,” she says, emphasizing that the “antidote” to voter suppression is voter turnout. She’s perilously close to arguing there that high turnout is *proof* of voter suppression — the harder you make it for African-Americans to vote, she reasons, the more determined they are to surmount any obstacle you place in their path.
If that’s seriously what she believes then her claim of “voter suppression” is unfalsifiable. If the new election law passes and black turnout drops, that’s obviously voter suppression. If the new election law passes and black turnout increases, that’s only because word got out about voter suppression and black voters rallied to overcome it. She’s not the only black leader in Georgia making that claim either:
“This turnout is not because of S.B. 202, but in spite of S.B. 202,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who leads the A.M.E. churches in Georgia, referring to the bill’s name in the legislature. He said his parishioners were “furious” at how Republicans in the state had justified the law in part by making claims of voter fraud that were later debunked in areas with large Black populations. “African Americans are resilient. You make up your mind there’s something we can’t do, we become more determined to demonstrate that we can do it.”
Conveniently, by that logic, no matter what the actual numbers look like, the Jim-Crow-like voter suppression promised by Democratic hysterics really did happen. They can’t be proved wrong. In which case maybe Abrams would favor a much stricter voting law in Georgia: After all, the more dogged the GOP’s attempts to discourage black voters, the more encouraged black voters become.
Here’s McConnell rubbing Dems’ faces in Georgia’s turnout numbers this morning.
“Shame, shame on the Democrats who pushed the big lie that a grand scheme was afoot to prevent millions of Americans from voting.”
— Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pic.twitter.com/ITNHuB3GgR
— The Recount (@therecount) May 24, 2022