What Happens, or Should Happen, if Warnock-Walker Goes to a Runoff?

I had just had lunch with a Georgia Political Reporter and we were discussing that the Walker Senate campaign seemed dead in the water. Walker’s public appearances were less than inspiring and the press had been busy showing us clips of his incomplete sentences and, frankly, verifiably false statements. And then later that day The Daily Beast published the first allegation that Herschel Walker had paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion.

And then I went to DC for the rest of the week where every person who learned I was from Georgia asked me what I thought about Herschel and his latest abortion related drama. I wrote this piece while I was in DC in which I predicted a turn toward Herschel’s redemption story as a key part of responding to the Daily Beast’s timed attacked.

By the end of that week, I was getting crazy looks from DC political insiders when I said, somewhat cavalierly, that Herschel would win. I am used to that look. I make mental notes of the people who give me that look so I can circle back around with them later to let them know I was right. I am that petty. Although I don’t say, “I told you so,” choosing instead to offer an incredulous, “if only someone could have known!” And it happens a lot. Don’t subscribe to me for tips on how to win friends and influence people.

What the DC political insiders, wrapped in the bubble of media bombardment and trapped inside their outrage machine, don’t understand is that it is 831 miles to Blakely, Georgia. And down in Blakely, like most of Georgia, what people in DC think is important and what they think is important are not the same thing. DC might as well be an alien planet to the average Georgian. Those 831 miles may as well be light years.

While the DC insiders get wrapped around the axle of scandal Georgians are paying a ton more for everything from toilet paper to eggs to gasoline to, yes, bacon. Watching our checking accounts dwindle away due to inflation while the political class chatter about a decade old accusation seem, well, unimportant.

And many Georgians do not take kindly to people outside our state passing judgement on anything about us. I once read, and I forget where because I wish I could give attribution, that Georgians have a shared mentality of “… and the horse you rode in on.”

That’s to say the Daily Beast has a clear agenda and they ain’t from around here. So, you know, and the horse they rode in on.

And don’t look now, but Walker is surging in the polls. Chuck Schumer is telling President Biden that Warnock is dropping like he’s hot. And there are serious discussions about tanking the economy in order to deal with inflation. I believe many voters are holding their nose, looking past any allegations and directly at their own grocery bill and then voting accordingly.

But am I ready to say, “if only someone could have known?” No. No I am not. Because I think we are heading to a runoff.

Georgia is the only state in the country that uses runoffs for both primary and general elections. And they are murder on turnout. In fact, Kelly Loeffler’s Greater Georgia now refers to those who sat out her runoff as the 339,000 disenfranchised Republican voters, “who voted in the November 2020 general election but did not vote in the January 2021 runoff election.” She identified them and is tracking their voting behavior, noting in an email to her subscribers that as of October 25th only 27,568 of them had early voted.

339,000. Oof.

In the most recent Peach Pundit Podcast (which is hilarious by the way) Buzz and Pye disagreed with me when I said if this heads to a runoff we can expect the DC machine to rain hellfire down on Georgia as a result. Their thinking is that Republicans are performing so well elsewhere that once they secure the majority in the Senate that Democrats will essentially give up on Warnock. I have made note to circle back around with them later to innocently exclaim, “if only someone could have known!”

But we have a solution and we are already using it in Georgia for a small sample of ballots, those who are serving in the military and who are overseas. It was part of SB 202, so every Republican in the legislature has already voted in support of it. And because we know that turnout for runoffs drops so much (for both parties) we need to put it on the express lane to expansion because too many people are having their voice swallowed up by that drop off. A recent Kennesaw State University study actually showed that in many races the ultimate winner received more votes in the first round than voters who cast a ballot in the second round. We are electing candidates by delayed plurality and we are paying a ton of tax payer dollars for the privilege.

339,000. Oof.

Military and overseas voters who vote absentee are allowed to rank the candidates in order of their preference. It is a simple process where if your top choice isn’t among the top vote getters your vote goes to your second choice. It is the same in concept as our current runoff system where if your candidate is among the top vote getters your vote stays with that person until they win (or lose). If no one gets to 50%+1 and your candidate is not in the top vote getters, just like in our current runoff, you get to vote for your second choice. Only there are no Thanksgiving political commercials during the Bears and Lions games and you don’t have to return to the polls in December because your vote was already cast.

Political consultants, who make money on every runoff, hate this by the way. It hits them in the pocketbook harder than Joe Biden’s latest inflationary student loan forgiveness scheme. I expect many of them to howl like a coyote being chased by a bear.

I will get into more details later about the cost of runoffs and how this would all work in real life, complete with examples about how Glenn Youngkin and Winsome Sears, two GOP superstars, were nominated this way. Until then, all I will be thinking about is how much more am I willing to pay for bacon and those Republican 339,000 voters who sat out the last time we had a Senate runoff.


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