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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How Candidate, Campaign Strategy Fueled Warnock Victory

At the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Greg Bluestein explains “How Raphael Warnock Defeated Herschel Walker,” and writes:

…Warnock and his allies recognized from the outset that winning reelection against Republican Herschel Walker, even with his troubling personal issues and blunders, would require a new strategy….Doing so would mean veering from a 2020 approach that focused almost exclusively on Democratic priorities — and little about his opponent. Instead, Warnock set out to energize liberal Georgians and swing voters by emphasizing his sharp contrast with Walker.

The Democrat was helped by Walker’s pile of personal issues, bizarre behavior and campaign blunders during the runoff. Warnock’s most effective ads, to many, consisted simply of footage of Walker’s confusing remarks on the campaign trail….Inside the Republican’s campaign, aides lurched from crisis to crisis so often it felt like a “death march,” said one staffer, one of a half-dozen Walker allies who were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the inner workings of the operation.

Bluestein adds that “Warnock, meanwhile, held dozens of events to mobilize voters when they most needed the push. A Democratic majority in the Senate, and the absence of other candidates on the ticket, changed the stakes. And a shrewd scheduling move by the Democrat caused chaos in Walker’s campaign.” Further,

“Herschel was like a plane crash into a train wreck that rolled into a dumpster fire. And an orphanage. Then an animal shelter. You kind of had to watch it squinting through one eye between your fingers,” said Dan McLagan, an adviser to Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, one of Walker’s defeated rivals in the GOP primary.

Bluestein notes, “To overcome the staunch support for his rival, Warnock had to motivate both liberal voters who form the Democratic Party’s base and middle-of-the-road Georgians who harbored concerns about both candidates.” Also,

He steered clear of Biden, saying talk of the president’s future should be left to pundits. He spoke more on the campaign trail about work he had done with Republicans in the U.S. Senate than allying with Biden, often to the shock of supporters. And he cast the race as a referendum on Walker.

….Warnock, meanwhile, laid claim to the political center despite a liberal voting record. Jason Shepherd, the former chair of the Cobb County GOP, marveled at Warnock’s “solid, focused and disciplined campaign” in contrast to Walker’s failure to woo swing voters.

….t was clear that one of Walker’s biggest weaknesses was middle-of-the-road voters who had defected en masse to Warnock, voted for the third-party candidate or just skipped the race altogether. But no campaign reset was underway.

Bluestein shares an inter-active map which clearly shows that Walker fell way short of Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp’s total votes, not only in metro Atlanta, but also in the heavily-Republican counties north of Atlanta.

At FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley notes that “The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade gave Republicans an unusual win for the party outside of power, one that ran against public opinion and clearly motivated the Democratic base. At the same time, Trump remained in the political picture and cast his broadly unpopular shadow over Republican Senate primaries, which helped produce a series of poor candidates in key Senate races.” Also at FiveThirtyEight, Nathaniel Rakich adds, “Republicans nominated poor candidates, with Walker being a prime example. He was a political novice with multiple skeletons in his closet who didn’t even live in Georgia….”

None of this should detract from Sen. Warnock’s impressive accomplishment, nor his campaign’s tireless efforts. But Somewhere Mitch McConnell is grinding his teeth.

11 comments on “How Candidate, Campaign Strategy Fueled Warnock Victory

  1. Watcher on

    The “parental choice” argument (i.e. CRT) is bogus but Texeira made it any way. Schools are not under threat of “left wing indoctrination” and this is just fear mongering. Climate change and democracy are also issues that get sneered at by him when they actually scare me and a lot of other people (and not just on an intellectual level). I am not the only one commenting about the relentless negativity from this site in case you haven’t noticed.

    As I have stated before, Ruy offers no real solutions EXCEPT intraparty warfare over cultural issues. How is that not divisive?

  2. Watcher on

    Bluestein notes, “To overcome the staunch support for his rival, Warnock had to motivate both liberal voters who form the Democratic Party’s base and middle-of-the-road Georgians who harbored concerns about both candidates.”

    This makes sense. Note that Warnock did not go around trashing “the cultural left” and somehow still managed to win in traditional Georgia.

    [2nd time attempting to post]

    • Victor on

      A very strong incumbent against a very weak candidate in a scenario where Trump is still a very big figure. In a state that has a huge Black population.

      Still lost the national popular vote.

      Your recipe for Democrats is one where the party barely wins the Electoral College, Senate and House of Representatives because it keeps the electorate significantly polarized.

      Fascism will ascend because liberalism overreaches and doesn’t deliver on fundamentals.

      • Martin Lawford on

        Victor, I never thought of it that way but I know you are correct. Failure to deliver on fundamentals is the reason the term “liberal” became pejorative. It is the reason “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” is a bitter joke. It is the reason so many Americans suspect their elections are corrupt. When the people in government fail in so many ways, either through incompetence or deliberate dereliction of duty, why trust them to run honest elections?

      • Watcher on

        You and TeixAEIra seem to think that creating huge splits within the Democratic Party based on culture wars is the key to victory (to be fair, you at least acknowledge economic issues which Ruy seems incapable of). I am skeptical to say the least.

        Triangulation on the part of the Dems in the past did nothing to end this polarization which you refer to and any majorities based on them proved fragile. I agree there are a few things like “Defund the Police” and “Open Borders” (which Ruy acknowledges only a tiny fraction of the party espouses) are damaging but the GOP will always, always, always fish around for potentially divisive issues. Do we play wack-a-mole for eternity in response?

        Finally, CRT IS NOT TAUGHT in primary or secondary schools but Ruy keeps bringing the issue up. He was also dead wrong about the importance of emphasizing democracy because that actually averted a red wave this time.

        I am all for winning but ya gotta make arguments that make sense and don’t make potential supporters want to vomit in response.

        • Watcher on

          I should also mention that the Democratic Party of Georgia had several decades of running conservative candidates…and still losing.

          • Watcher on

            Finally, Warnock win as a non-incumbent against the far better candidacy of Kelly Loeffler in 2020. Again, there was no jihad waged in his part against “cultural liberalism”.

        • Victor on

          I just wonder why you need to make straw man arguments around Texeira.

          Can you cite examples of how he proposes to “trash” the cultural left?

          • Victor on

            Yes, give me the specific language that would be so offensive to others in the Democratic coalition.

            You yourself have agreed about the problems with defund and open borders. Your argument about CRT is intellectually dishonest. It may not be formally taught, but it underlies a lot of leftwing discourse about the nature of racism and imperialism in the US.

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