What would be a more reliable measure of public sentiment in Georgia’s runoff election for its two US Senate seats? Reuters chose a less scientific method, and came up with great news for the GOP. Or at least 98% great news:
It’s a mixed message that many Republicans fear could tilt the tight Georgia Senate races in favor of Democrats if any significant number of Trump supporters boycott the election – as some of the president’s supporters have advocated in right-wing social media circles. Among those calling for sitting out the races in protest are two prominent pro-Trump lawyers – Sidney Powell and Lin Wood – who have promoted outlandish election-fraud conspiracy theories.
But voters like Frank and Townsend have tuned them out, according to Reuters interviews with 50 Republican voters over the past week in rural, urban and suburban areas of Georgia. All 50 said they planned to vote in Senate runoffs they deemed crucial – even though almost all believed the presidential election was tainted by fraud. (One, however, said he would support Democrats.)
The interviews suggest that Republican Senate candidates could see strong voter turnout despite the turmoil that has engulfed the Georgia Republican party, pitting Trump loyalists against top Republican state officials the president has attacked for rebuffing his fraud allegations.
It also suggests that the messaging from Donald Trump about the importance of the election has succeeded, too. Trump went to Georgia last weekend to rally voters to turn out. While Trump gave vent at length to his grievances about the 2020 election, he also kept returning to the necessity to vote for David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on January 5th. That appears to have entirely eclipsed the “boycott” campaign from Powell and Wood, one that had fellow MAGA-landers accusing both attorneys of being crypto-Democrats.
So why didn’t Reuters simply conduct a poll? Perhaps they will; scientific public polling theoretically provides a predictive mathematical model of an electorate. Stopping the first 50 Republicans on the street seems a bit less reliable — again, theoretically. These days, however, polling has had its problems, even in these runoffs, which oddly hasn’t gotten much interest from pollsters anyway.
At least for now, five weeks after the election that forced both contests into a runoff, there are only four polls listed at RealClearPolitics’ aggregations for the two races. And two of those are from Republican pollsters who clearly want to assess the potential backfire of all the cross-messaging from Powell, Wood, and to no small extent Trump himself. That seems like a very strange paucity, given that pollsters around the country have literally nothing else better to do than to survey Georgia for these races.
RCP has both races within the margin of error, although that’s helped in large part by a questionable Survey USA poll putting Jon Ossoff up by two and Raphael Warnock up by seven. Interestingly, the most recent Trafalgar poll has the gaps backwards: Kelly Loeffler leads Warnock by five while David Perdue trails by one. Trafalgar may be a GOP pollster, but they’ve done better than some of their media-linked competition over the last few years in predictive modeling.
The upshot here is that this will be close, and enthusiasm matters. Right now, Reuters believes that Republicans are fired up as well as angry. That’s a tough combination for Democrats to beat, especially in a state where Republicans routinely turn out more heavily. Republicans also have a massive spending and advertising advantage, plus a better ground game. As long as they can prevent voters from falling for a “boycott” message, it’s better to be Loeffler and Perdue than Warnock and Ossoff.