Editor’s Word: Edward Lindsey is a former Republican member of the Georgia Home of Representatives and its majority whip. He’s a lawyer in Atlanta specializing in public coverage and political legislation. The views expressed on this commentary are his personal. Learn extra opinion on CNN.


This 12 months’s costliest US Senate race within the nation – over $380 million spent via the tip of November – is lastly over. Georgia’s incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, pastor at Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, received the December 6 runoff towards his Republican challenger, former College of Georgia soccer star Herschel Walker.

Opinion: Why Herschel Walker misplaced

Two years in the past, Warnock captured his Senate seat in a particular runoff election, due in no small half to former President Donald Trump’s unproven claims of a rigged election system within the state that resulted in lowering Republican base turnout within the runoff. This 12 months, Warnock was broadly seen as one of the crucial weak Democratic senators in search of re-election. Trump urged his long-time pal Walker to run and strongly backed him with Mar-a-Lago fundraising and in-state marketing campaign rallies final spring. With that assist, Walker trounced his Republican opponents in a Might main with 68% of the vote.

So how did Warnock roll to victory on this week’s runoff?

Earlier than answering the query, let’s first set the present political scene in Georgia. Whereas, nationally, Republicans within the basic election final month stumbled and did not capitalize on President Joe Biden’s low approval numbers and People’ perception that the nation is headed within the unsuitable route, a pink wave got here ashore in Georgia. Led by incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, the Grand Previous Get together received each statewide constitutional workplace and maintained stable management of the Georgia Common Meeting. Whereas Georgia could also be a purple state in some respects, it continues to have a particular pink glow underneath its state capitol gold dome.

The one shiny spot for Democrats on basic election evening final month was within the US Senate race through which Walker acquired over 200,000 fewer votes than Kemp and trailed Warnock by virtually 38,000 votes out of over 3.8 million votes solid. Nevertheless, since Georgia requires a candidate to win by a majority and each candidates fell in need of that requirement, Georgia voters felt deja vu with one other Senate runoff creeping into a vacation season.

4 main components helped Warnock bucked the Republican pattern in Georgia this 12 months:

1. Warnock tapped into his background as pastor to attraction to swing voters by presenting himself as a senator who may attain throughout the aisle to get issues finished. He highlighted his work with senators as ideologically completely different from himself comparable to Republican Sens. Ted Cruz from Texas and Tommy Tuberville from Alabama, and trumpeted his assist for area of interest however common packages like capping insulin costs.

This method was in sharp distinction to the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. She ran a sharply ideological marketing campaign with huge progressive concepts designed to whip up her progressive base – and even made provocative assertions like stating, throughout Kemp’s management, that Georgia was “the worst state within the nation to stay.” In a debate, she additionally criticized the “outdated boys membership” of sheriffs who had endorsed Kemp by stating, “I don’t have 107 sheriffs who need to have the ability to take Black folks off the streets, who need to have the ability to go with out accountability.”

2. Walker, like another GOP senate candidates across the nation this 12 months, was broadly perceived by voters as deeply flawed. Democrats, in addition to his Republican opponents within the earlier main, hammered away at his documented previous psychological well being points, allegations of home violence (a few of which Walker has acknowledged, pointing to his psychological well being as a think about his actions), and claims – which Walker has denied – that he had urged former girlfriends to hunt abortions.

This documented historical past and the disputed allegations had an affect on voters who in any other case voted for Republican candidates in November. For example, within the strongly Republican exurban Cherokee County, Walker ran almost 7 factors behind Kemp in November. Comparable drop offs in Republican assist have been discovered all through the state.

3. Walker’s marketing campaign sought to counter this by tying Warnock to Biden, who’s deeply unpopular in Georgia with solely a 38% approval score. This technique stored Walker aggressive within the November election however wasn’t sufficient to safe his runoff victory when race ends in different components of the nation put management of the US Senate out of Republicans’ attain. In consequence, many conservative voters who have been probably keen to place apart their misgivings about Walker if a Republican Senate may restrain the President, failed to come back house to the Republican social gathering nominee this week.

4. For campaigns, runoff elections are much less about persuasion and extra about driving turnout of your supporters. Republicans appear to have been hampered of their efforts during the last two election cycles by Trump’s denigration of early in particular person voting and absentee mail in voting. Whereas GOP operatives and different elected officers have tried to counter Trump’s claims and urge their supporters to view every of those strategies as dependable, there’s nonetheless resistance from many activists and voters within the GOP base to early vote.

This pressured the Walker marketing campaign to position most of its hopes for victory on Election Day voting. Whereas Walker did effectively in Election Day voting, he couldn’t overcome the lead Warnock’s marketing campaign constructed up in early voting.

In mild of the Georgia Republican’s efficiency solely six weeks in the past within the basic election, Warnock’s win this week was spectacular. For Republicans, it was a lesson discovered. Senate Republican Chief Mitch McConnell put it plainly when he mentioned final August, “Candidate high quality has quite a bit to do with the result,” and in no state was that more true than in Georgia in 2022.

Much like states comparable to Pennsylvania, Arizona and others the place candidates in November did not persuade voters to assist them regardless of their misgivings about Biden, Georgia voters merely couldn’t again the previous president’s decide for the Senate.