Good news -- for now: Majority of Georgia voters want split control in Washington (Update)

Yes, yes, I know, polling … but the latest Harvard CAPS/Harris survey isn’t quite the kind of horse-race polling that went awry in 2020. For that reason, it’s also not quite as predictive, at least theoretically, about what we can expect to see in the two Georgia runoff elections taking place on January 5th. However, it’s good news for Republicans, assuming that they can shake off attempts to undermine their own advantages in the special elections that will determine control of the Senate.

That turns out to be the best argument for the GOP in the next few weeks, according to the poll. A double-digit majority wants split government in Washington DC, indicating significant distrust of Democrats even in a state where Joe Biden edged out Donald Trump in the presidential race. Update — This is a national poll, not a poll exclusively of Georgia voters:

Fifty-six percent of voters said they want a divided government with Republicans in control of the upper chamber, according to data released exclusively to The Hill.

Forty-four percent of voters said they wanted Democrats to control the Senate.

“As of now, the voters want divided government and their votes for the Senate and House indicate that as well,” said Harvard CAPS-Harris polling director Mark Penn. “This is a strong headwind for Democrats in the special election though [President] Trump’s continued failure to concede could muddy the waters here.”

So far, Harvard CPAS/Harris hasn’t released any of their internals, but the sample was at least quite extensive. Amended: The poll has a national sample of 2200 registered voters, so we might have to wait for those internals to see how Georgia voters specifically feel about this. (Thanks to The Hill’s Julia Manchester for clarifying the scope of the poll, and reader David R for prompting the question, too.)

However, we actually do have “polling data” on this point with Georgia voters … the actual election. Joe Biden won Georgia with 2.474 million votes, but Jon Ossoff only got 2.374 million in a nearly-binary race against incumbent Republican David Perdue, who got 2.462 million votes, just slightly ahead of Donald Trump. As the Washington Post’s Lenny Bronner deduced yesterday, Georgia voters endorsed split government on November 3rd, even including in the Atlanta area where one might expect more Democratic Party fealty. They may have wanted a change at the top, but Republicans got more votes in each of the Senate races than Democrats did.

The message of split government, especially to keep hard-Left progressives in check, should sell well. That is, if Republicans can keep from out-crazying the hard-Left progressives first. Donald Trump Jr tried yesterday to tamp down Lin Wood’s nutty call for Republicans to boycott the elections, but who’s going to rein in Roger Stone — or whomever is behind this?

Conservative operatives and a super PAC with ties to infamous GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone are calling for Trump supporters to punish Republicans by sitting out Georgia’s crucial Senate runoffs or writing in Trump’s name instead. And though their efforts remain on the party’s fringes, the trajectory of the movement has Republicans fearful that it could cost the GOP control of the Senate.

The most aggressive call to boycott or cast protest ballots in the two runoff races has, so far, come from a dormant pro-Trump super PAC with ties to Stone that unveiled a new initiative to retaliate against the Republican Party’s supposed turncoats by handing Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.

The group, dubbed the Committee for American Sovereignty, unveiled a new website encouraging Georgia Republicans to write in Trump’s name in both of the upcoming Senate runoff elections, which could determine the party that controls the upper chamber during President-elect Joe Biden’s first two years in office. The PAC argued that doing so will show support for the president in addition to forcing Republicans to address the wild election-fraud conspiracy theories floated by Trump supporters and members of his own legal team.

“If we can do this, we have a real chance at getting these RINO senators to act on the illegitimate and corrupt election presided over by a Democrat party that is invested in the Communist takeover of Our Great Nation,” the group wrote on its new website, “We will not stop fighting for you, the American Patriot, against the evils of Socialism and inferior Religions.”

This almost sounds like a put-up job, except that CAS has a known pedigree that points back to Stone. It’s not clear whether Stone has any ties to the group now, but this is the kind of game Stone likes to play, and play for Trump.

This plan runs into one major problem, however. (“One”?) This is a runoff, which means write-ins are not allowed. The ballots have no place to write in another candidate anyway:

All a “write in” will do is spoil the ballot. They won’t get tallied, so there’s not even any public satisfaction about whatever response the CAS gets for this call. It’s literally the same thing as not voting at all, except for all the time wasted in casting an invalid ballot. As a practical joke on gullible voters, it ranks right up there with a 4chan project.

Unfortunately, Republicans will have spend at least some of their resource advantage in Georgia playing whack-a-mole with wacky ideas like this. About the only person who could put an end to this insanity is Donald Trump himself, and he’s spending his time retweeting a borderline-insane Hollywood celebrity this morning. Hopefully, Georgia voters won’t lose their taste for divided government easily.

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