https://www.theepochtimes.com/analysts-georgia-voters-midterm-decisions-greatly-affect-nation-trumps-political-influence_4457770.html

When Georgia residents cast their ballots in primary voting that concludes on May 24, they will have made decisions that affect the entire country, experts say.

They’ll also signal how influential the endorsements of former president Donald Trump will be going forward.

And they’ll likely end Trump’s streak of tapping winners, predicted three experts in Southern politics.

There’s even a chance they’ll make Georgia the next Deep South state to turn blue, flipping it from being Republican-led to being controlled by Democrats, experts told The Epoch Times on May 9.

The primary elections in Georgia come at a time when emotions about politics practically crackle in the air. Voting outcomes in Georgia long have been predicted to be a bellwether for what’s expected nationwide in primaries and in November.

“The thing about Georgia is that Georgia has been trending slightly blue because its demographics are changing,” said Susan MacManus, professor emerita at the University of South Florida.

Not affiliated with any political party, MacManus has written many books on politics and is one of the most-quoted political scientists in the South.

Susan MacManus is one of the most-quoted political scientists in the South. (2018 file photo courtesy of USF)

Since flipping many years ago from being a Democrat-stronghold, Georgia has been considered until recently to be a solidly conservative Republican state, she said.

But now, young people who tend to vote Democrat are moving in because “Georgia is booming, because of its economy.”

“So it’s a growing state, and everybody thought that in terms of the South transformation Florida would be the next to turn blue after Virginia,” MacManus said. “But now now it looks like Georgia might be No. 2.”

Georgia Democrats may not have quite enough momentum yet to take complete control of the state this election cycle, but it’s likely to be very close, she said.

That’s largely thanks to black politicians who have been campaigning aggressively and registering new voters year-round, she said. And as a result, young voters—who usually don’t show up in big numbers to vote in years where the nation isn’t choosing a president—may cast a surprisingly high number of ballots this year, MacManus said.

“Georgia is a traditional ‘red state’ gravitating ‘blue’—thus a bellwether state for the 2024 Presidential Election,” agreed analyst Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. Bergerson has been studying and commenting on national politics for 50 years.

Epoch Times Photo
Peter Bergerson of Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, is an expert in Florida and national politics and public policy (Florida Gulf Coast University)

Trump’s influence

It’s not just Republicans who stand to lose power if Georgia switches to Democrat control, MacManus noted.

Depending on who prevails in Georgia, former president Trump could experience a loss of power too, MacManus said.

If Trump’s picks in Georgia don’t win, his influence in future elections could diminish, she predicted.

Trump endorsed 12 candidates in Ohio, and all 12 won their primaries, including U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who did not have the backing of Republican kingmakers in the state.

But Georgia could be trickier for Trump, MacManus said.

Charles Bullock teaches political science at the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs and is regarded as an expert in Southern politics and elections, among other things. He wholeheartedly agrees with that assessment.

“Trump has singled out Georgia for an inordinate amount of, and maybe the most, criticism. Since the 2020 elections, he’s been blaming the governor and the secretary of state for his not winning Georgia,” Bullock said.

“And he said early on that his top priority this year was to deny reelection to [Governor] Brian Kemp.”

And the comments will have made Trump vulnerable if Republicans don’t show up to the polls in significant numbers, he said.

Epoch Times Photo
Former president Donald Trump (L) listens as J.D. Vance, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Ohio, speaks during a rally on April 23, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Trump endorsed 10 candidates in Georgia.

Republican voters still look to him for the nod on candidates, shows experimental polling done by a colleague, he said.

But voters have to know about the endorsement for it to be of any help to the candidate, Bullock said.

The study showed that candidates got a 30-40 percent boost in likely voters when Republicans polled were told of the Trump endorsement, he said. But few down-ballot candidates in Georgia have raised enough money to buy the advertising needed to make a Trump endorsement known, he said.

“So Trump has a lot on the line in Georgia, and a number of these are long shots,” Bullock said.

He endorsed “David Perdue, who Trump convinced to get into this contest, and it looks like he’s going to lose,” Bullock said.

Some recent polls show Kemp may be beating Perdue 2-to-1, Bullock said.

A RealClearPolitics average of polls in the week ending May 2 showed Kemp beating Perdue by more than 22 percentage points.

Former President Donald Trump Rallies Supporters In Georgia
Former U.S. Senator and Republican candidate for Governor of Georgia David Perdue waves to supporters of former President Donald Trump after speaking at a rally in Georgia, on March 26, 2022. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Primary results are challenging to predict because they typically draw a “much lower turnout” of voters than a general election, Bullock said.

But this election cycle shows signs of bucking that trend.

After the first week of early voting, 180,620 ballots had been cast, with 57 percent of those being Republican ballots, and almost 42 percent Democrat. The remainder of ballots cast were nonpartisan.

Voters in Georgia do not register by party, but request ballots based on the primary in which they’d like to vote.

“Nonpartisan ballots are just for the few nonpartisan races,” said Walter Jones, spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State Office’s Elections Division. “Some people prefer to vote that way, rather than a party ballot, which also includes the nonpartisan contests.”

Georgia’s early turn-out is “far ahead of the early voting from four years ago,” Bullock said. The fact that ballots requested are disproportionately Republican is not surprising, he said.

That’s because the highest-profile contest—the race for governor—is on the Republican side. Democrat gubernatorial candidate, voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is running unopposed.

Epoch Times Photo
Charles “Chuck” Bullock, is an expert in Southern politics and elections and teaches political science at the University of Georgia. (Courtesy of the University of Georgia)

For some candidates, such as U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker, Trump’s endorsement didn’t matter much.

The Olympian and University of Georgia Heisman Trophy winner already is so beloved that his victory in the primary is almost guaranteed, even in a large field of Republican candidates, Bullock said.

“He has no serious opposition.”

The same goes for incumbent Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R), who earned the Trump nod, but didn’t need it, because of her popularity in Georgia and beyond, and her ability to raise millions in campaign donations, Bullock said.

Trump’s endorsements carried “big potential” in other races.

But “pretty clearly, an awful lot of Georgia voters don’t know who Trump endorsed for insurance commissioner,” Bullock said.

If Trump-endorsed candidates lose their races due to that inability to get their message to voters, they could make future Trump endorsements drop in value, Bullock said.

When it comes to the power of the Trump endorsement, Georgia voters likely hold the future.

And if Trump’s influence fades, that will help Florida’s Gov. Ron Desantis (R) surge even more in popularity as a choice for Republicans as their nominee in 2024 for president, MacManus said.

DeSantis, who’s hoping to hold onto his seat as Florida governor in November, has repeatedly declared he’s not running for president. But political analysts widely dismiss that claim.

Epoch Times Photo
Then-President Donald Trump introduces Florida Governor Ron DeSantis during a homecoming campaign rally at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., on Nov. 26, 2019. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

That’s why Georgia could signal how powerful Trump’s endorsements really are, setting the tone for his influence, and even electability, in future elections, MacManus said.

The fact that candidates aren’t trumpeting Biden endorsements also speaks loudly.

“I don’t think any Democrat running statewide would seek that out,” Bullock said. “Biden, as it is nationally, is upside-down in his popularity. So no Democrat is going to try to get that.”

Even Abrams distanced herself from Biden, when he visited Georgia, conspicuously failing to attend the event, saying previous commitments couldn’t be rescheduled.

So in Georgia, Biden appears to hold little influence. And it’s unclear how much power Trump still wields, analysts agree.

“On the day after the primary, that’s when we’ll be calculating Trump’s batting averages. So out of his 10 endorsees, how many of them make it?” Bullock said.

Herschel Walker has been far ahead throughout, so his race “is kind of ‘a gimme.’ Trump’s most meaningful role in that race was in “getting Herschel to run,” Bullock said. “His endorsement isn’t going to matter now.”

“Another one where his endorsement doesn’t really matter is with Marjorie Taylor Greene. She doesn’t have opposition on the Republican side.

“But the woman who is the leading opponent has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Marjorie Taylor Greene has raised millions of dollars. So it’s not going to be a real contest there, either.”

“But these others? Yeah, it does matter” how it turns out, when it comes to determining Trump’s future leadership role in the Republican Party.

But there’s more reason to watch Georgia.

Epoch Times Photo
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks in Washington on April 6, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“I think people are looking at Georgia because there’s also the possibility that Stacey Abrams, once it gets to the general [election in November], could be the first black female governor [in the country] and certainly in the South.

Five other black women are running in gubernatorial contests. They are Harvard University professor Danielle Allen (D) in Massachusetts; business owner Deidre DeJear (D) in Iowa; educator Deirdre Gilbert (I) in Texas; small former state Sen. Connie Johnson (D) in Oklahoma; and state Sen. Mia McLeod (D) in South Carolina.

“I don’t think she’s going to make it,” MacManus said of Abrams. “But then, George Soros just poured a million dollars into her campaign,” and that could make the winning difference.

Nanette Holt

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Nanette covers a wide range of issues, mostly in Georgia and her home state of Florida. She started as a journalist in a competitive, daily-newspaper market, and later launched a community newspaper in a geographic area ignored by other media. She spent many years writing and editing for a variety of national and international magazines, and has been hired to coach best-selling authors for book publishers. When she’s not chasing news, Nanette enjoys cattle ranch life with her husband, three children, and far too many horses, goats, cats, and dogs.

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