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A few more questions before the polls close

By Tom Baxter

A few more questions to ponder before the voters supply the answers Tuesday:

Is there a Trump bump?

Much of the heavy early voting turnout can be attributed to voters adjusting their habits and a lot of local races which will be settled at the primary level. There’s no question the gubernatorial grudge match pitting Gov. Brian Kemp against both former President Donald Trump and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue is the top draw on either party’s ballot, however.

We’ve had regular updates on how many Georgians have voted and in what party’s primary, but we don’t know where they’ve been voting. Kemp’s lead in the polls has grown so wide at the end of this race, you wonder if a portion of the Trump base hasn’t been counted yet.

How much will Jody Hice hurt Bee Nguyen?

Alarmed at the idea of the secretary of state’s office being captured by a handpicked Trump candidate, thousands of Democrats voted early in the Republican primary. Of course they voted against Perdue as well, but Hice’s challenge to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is especially worrisome to these voters.

Chances are that if they feel that strongly about ballot protection, these Democrats would have ended up voting for Nguyen, who’s in a Democratic primary contest with four veteran vote-getters. Raffensperger, who’s up with a lot of ads and taking credit for the successful rollout of the new voting regulation, may not need the Democrats’ votes as much as Nguyen does.

How long can Herschel Walker celebrate?

Walker has raced so far ahead of his Republican Senate rivals that it didn’t get much notice last week when rival Gary Black declared that if Walker won the primary, he wouldn’t vote for him in the general election. Walker hasn’t earned his vote, Black said, because of his treatment of women and failure to take responsibility for his actions.

Meanwhile another primary rival, Latham Saddler, has bought a lot of TV time to make a late push. Walker may still be the safest bet in the Republican primary field, but he’s got repair work to do. One thing Walker could have gotten out of this race was some debate experience, ahead of his general election race against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. He might regret not taking the opportunity.

Is Election Day still a thing?

Some see the heavy early voting numbers as a sign the trend is replacing Election Day voting. Others see the heavy early vote as a sign Election Day turnout will be even heavier. We’ll know who’s right very soon.

Can the Republican Party unify after this high-profile feud and does it matter?

If Kemp wins, maybe Trump will surprise the world and say something conciliatory. It won’t be much of a story after Tuesday night whether he does or doesn’t.

Just as there are Georgia Republicans still sore about stuff that happened in 1988, there will be some who will never forgive Kemp and Raffensperger for the 2020 election. There are many more Georgia Republicans whose biggest concern now is Stacey Abrams and will vote for whichever Republican can beat Stacey Abrams, with the confidence that they can always go back to fighting with each other after November.

I’ll be back later this week with a few thoughts about what we learned on Tuesday night.

 

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Tom Baxter

Tom Baxter has written about politics and the South for more than four decades. He was national editor and chief political correspondent at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and later edited The Southern Political Report, an online publication, for four years. Tom was the consultant for the 2008 election night coverage sponsored jointly by Current TV, Digg and Twitter, and a 2011 fellow at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. He has written about the impact of Georgia’s and Alabama's immigration laws in reports for the Center for American Progress. Tom and his wife, Lili, have three adult children and seven grandchildren.

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