While Abrams, 44, is toiling to create her base, her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, is stroking the erogenous zones of his base with what Abrams calls “traditional tropes.” Kemp, 54, boasts that he is “politically incorrect,” which is the politically correct thing for Republicans to say. Throwing caution to the wind, he has announced, “I say ‘Merry Christmas.’” In one primary ad he brandished a shotgun that he says “no one’s taking away” (who wants to confiscate shotguns). Later in the ad, his prop was a Ford pickup for use “in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself.” In another ad he pointed a shotgun at a teenage boy “interested in” one of Kemp’s daughters. He wants you to know he is tough as nails, although most who actually are feel no need for such public display.
As secretary of state, Kemp is the umpire of elections under Georgia’s “exact match” law, which can block a voter’s registration if even a missing initial differs from the person’s other public records. Some Republicans make a mountain out of not even a molehill of evidence of voter fraud: Orchestrating fraud on a scale necessary to turn most elections would be a hugely inefficient investment of time and energy. Some Democrats are comparably overheated about “voter suppression,” which they detect in every measure aimed at election integrity. But because substantial voter fraud is a fiction, measures such as “exact match” do seem designed to sow confusion in order to discourage voters. It has delayed the registration of more than 50,000 Georgians — disproportionately African Americans — who, with proper identification, can still vote on November 6. Democratic turnout in the primary was up 40 percent over 2010, the last competitive gubernatorial contest.