[guest post by Dana]
Today is the big day in Georgia as voters choose either Democrat Raphael Warnock or Republican Herschel Walker in the runoff election.
Reports estimate that more than a million Georgians are expected to vote today.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Warnock has a slight lead over Walker, yet it’s possible that Walker could still win:
However, five surveys from more established pollsters (Emerson College, InsiderAdvantage, SSRS, SurveyUSA and the University of Massachusetts Lowell) all consistently put Warnock a few points ahead of Walker. That said, it wouldn’t be shocking to see an unexpectedly strong performance from either of the candidates. Other factors agree with the polling that this race is tight, and Warnock’s polling lead is still smaller than the average polling error in U.S. Senate races since 1998.3 While Warnock may be better positioned than Walker, either candidate could still win.
Meanwhile, according to a recent report, Warnock has remained strong in several areas, including raising money. Consider:
His campaign and outside Democratic groups have spent more than double that of their Republican counterparts, according to the latest spending report from AdImpact. In just the final week, Warnock’s campaign has spent $7.6 million on advertising compared to the Walker campaign’s $3.65 million in ad buys.
Not quite the case for the Walker camp, which has been struggling to raise funds in the last week of the campaign:
“Simply put, we’re being outspent 3 to 1 by Warnock, and we’re being outspent nearly 2 to 1 by outside groups. We need help,” Walker campaign manager Scott Paradise wrote in the memo sent to donors Thursday…
The memo calculates that Warnock and the Democratic groups backing him have spent and committed a combined $92 million since the November election, compared with $45 million that Walker and his Republican allies have ponied up.
While urgent last-minute fundraising appeals are a staple of any campaign in the closing days, the sense of concern underlying Paradise’s plea is underpinned by data and concerns from fellow Republicans that suggest the election is trending in Warnock’s favor.
President Obama also showed up for Warnock at a campaign event a few days ago. The former president took the opportunity to mock Walker, which the crowd loved:
Barack Obama in GA: "Since the last time I was here, Mr. Walker has been talking about issues of great importance to the people of Georgia, like whether it's better to be a vampire or a werewolf. This is a debate that I must confess I once had myself … when I was 7." pic.twitter.com/Iy2QJU04uw
— The Recount (@therecount) December 2, 2022
And in a cringe moment, Walker attempted to push back on the whole werewolves v. vampires on Fox News:
“Well, what’s sad is they’re always trying to mislead people,” Walker told Fox host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday after Obama poked fun at his comments. “That’s the same as you listening to… Obama talking about I’m talking about vampires and werewolves… Why don’t they tell the whole story?”
Walker discussed his internal would-you-rather werewolf vs. vampire debate in the context of recalling a movie he said he had watched about a vampire. He concluded his story by talking about the importance of faith because in the movie, he said, a person who did not believe in God tried to kill a vampire with a cross and failed because they didn’t have faith. On Fox, Walker said, “The whole story is the story involved people having faith, having faith and continuing to go out and do your job, having faith to get things done. So they don’t tell you the whole story.”
I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Herschel Walker is not a good candidate. In fact, he is a terrible candidate. He is often confused, and unable to speak in-depth about policy issues, and as seen above, he is simply not the best and brightest of possible candidates. I’ve also said before that I wouldn’t be surprised if he had suffered a traumatic brain injury during his football years or was diagnosed with CTE, contributing to his inability to clearly communicate and his lack of basic comprehension. And although never thoroughly vetted as a candidate, he is a famous football star and Heisman Trophy winner, and Donald Trump endorsed him. All of which counts for a lot to Georgians. The whole thing seems to be an unvarnished look at the underbelly of politics: A famous person is flattered when approached by a powerful group of deep-pocketed individuals who in turn flatter the politically inexperienced individual and make him an offer he can’t refuse. Said individual then goes on to ignore the advice of those closest to him, accepts their offer, and finds himself in the eye of the storm. It’s been obvious that Walker’s enablers, such as the far-right media, walk him through interviews by feeding him hints and even filling in the blanks for him. And along with his supporters, including fellow Republican lawmakers, these enablers easily ignore the word salad coming out of his mouth. The man clearly requires assistance. And that’s why I cringed when I saw Obama mock him. Talk about shooting a damaged fish in a barrel. But Walker gives his opponents a lot to work with and he willingly signed up for this gig. However, I still believe there is something ugly about the Republican Party putting him up as a candidate in the first place. But what was anyone to do about it?
“McConnell has suggested to allies that former Georgia senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler should take another look at running again, according to three sources familiar with the matter, after their narrow losses in January flipped the Senate to Democratic control.”
Ultimately those efforts went for naught. And by around this time last year, McConnell had given up – endorsing Walker’s bid. “Herschel is the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate,” McConnell said at the time.
And then there is this:
In a brief interview with POLITICO on Saturday, Walker seemed to mistake which chamber of Congress he was running for and also appeared to think the outcome of his race would determine control of the Senate.
“They’re not [less motivated] because they know right now that the House will be even so they don’t want to understand what is happening right now,” he said of voters. “You get the House, you get the committees. You get all the committees even, they just stall things within there. So if we keep a check on Joe Biden, we just going to keep a check on him.”
Republicans have won the House, and Democrats will control the Senate no matter what happens in Georgia. A win by Warnock would pad their majority by one seat, to 51-49.
When we look at which candidate is the most informed about politics and policy, has a decent grasp of basic history, can articulate his position and clearly communicate it to the American public, it isn’t Walker. And yet, the right will vote for him not only because he is the Republican candidate but because they know that there will be plenty of handlers and aids directing his every move, and instructing him on what to say and how to advance the Republican agenda. And that seems to be all that matters in the end.
Note: It’s interesting to me – and telling, I think – that Republicans continue to attack President Biden over his mental fitness (or lack thereof) and senator-elect John Fetterman’s auditory processing issues, and yet don’t have any problem with similar manifestations by Herschel Walker.