Georgia Republicans Have a Tiger by the Tail

Amber Phillips, Predictably, some Republican voters in Georgia are turning on the party:

Part of what makes President Trump’s hold over the Republican Party so powerful is that the Republican establishment doesn’t fully understand it. And that means it is unsure about how to wield it without Trump helping.

That’s manifesting in an ugly way for the party in Georgia. As Trump tries to burn down democratic institutions on his way out of office, at least some hardcore Trump supporters in the state are turning on the GOP. …

The Trump wing of the Republican Party was always at risk of detaching from the party establishment. Trump is such a singular figure in U.S. politics, few if any can emulate him. He’s just willing to say things that get certain voters riled up that other politicians won’t. That’s the crux of the problem Georgia Republicans face.

It’s tough to gauge how much of an issue this is for Republicans. Are these just a small group of voters showing up at campaign rallies, feeling disenfranchised because Joe Biden won the state and Trump lost reelection? Or are they indicative of a more widespread sentiment of disgust with the Republican Party after Trump’s loss?

The latter is certainly worse than the former for Republicans, but both are bad. Whichever side wins these two runoff races will have turned out its base in higher numbers. November’s results revealed there are voters who supported Republicans in the Senate races and Biden for president who aren’t as amenable to Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories. But to win, Republicans are also going to need Trump voters. “What we’re going to have to do is make sure we get all the votes out from the general and get them back out,” Perdue said of core Republican voters on a private call with donors this month.

Republicans are concerned enough that allies of Donald Trump Jr. are setting up a super PAC aimed at persuading the president’s supporters in Georgia to vote, Politico reports. The president has somewhat confusingly and halfheartedly told Georgia voters they need to vote, even though he claims the state’s election system can’t be trusted. “I think you’re dealing [with] a very fraudulent system,” President Trump told reporters on Thanksgiving, speaking about Georgia. “I’m very worried about that. They are tremendous people. Kelly Loeffler, David Perdue are tremendous people. They should be in the United States Senate. They’re desperately needed. But I told them today, I said, ‘Listen, you have a fraudulent system.’ ”

Three days later, he was back to falsely saying voting machines such as the ones used in Georgia miscounted votes against him.

Known Unknowns

Jennifer Rubin usefully reminds us that

  • right now, our knowledge of the demographics of the Trump vote is very limited.
  • if you continue to rely on exit polls the draw conclusions about the Trump vote, your are not a fool; rather, you are a damn fool, and
  • in a couple of years, when the political scientists have fully done their work, we will know a lot more.

Emily Badger, writes in the New York Times on the topic Most Republicans Say They Doubt the Election. How Many Really Mean It? Her headline writer tries manfully, but doesn’t quite succeed, in capturing the essence of this extended poli sci thumbsucker on what seems to be going on in Republicans’ noggins and/or what shit might or might not be floating through their crania.

There is, in case you are wondering, some good news, and quite a bit of bad news too. The good news and the bad news go well beyond the polls saying that three quarters of Trump voters think Democrats stole the election. 

There is, for example, a non-trivial slice of the Republican electorate who bloody well know Trump lost the election but want him to stage a coup anyway. 

This unwelcome information is probably not a surprise to you. 

Secretary of State Raffensperger (R-Ga.) and other Enemies of the People

Washington Post, 20 days of fantasy and failure: Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election

N.Y. Times, In Key States, Republicans Were Critical in Resisting Trump’s Election Narrative: They refuted conspiracy theories, certified results, dismissed lawsuits and repudiated a president of their own party

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, What Counts for Brad Rafensperger

I particularly commend to your attention the AJC’s thorough and nuanced account of Georgia’s Secretary of State.

This afternoon also brings this from the AJC: Trump on Kemp: ‘I’m ashamed that I endorsed him’

Like the man who greeted Justice Frankfurter with great relish—yeah, I know I’ve mentioned him before—I look forward to Trump’s visit to Georgia, and to the two Republican Senate candidates’ choice between (a) implicitly endorsing the view that the Republican governor is a traitor or (b) implicitly endorsing the view that Trump is a delusional mad man.

Where the Good Old Boys Are


Greg Sargent, Why did Democrats bleed House seats: A top analyst offers surprising answers.

Will Wilkinson, Why Did So Many Americans Vote for Trump? To the dismay of Democrats, the president’s strategy of ignoring the pandemic mostly worked for Republicans.

David Brooks, The Rotting of the Republican Mind: When one party becomes detached from reality.

My sense is that all three of these blind men have a piece of the puzzle. (Otherwise, why would I direct your attention to them?_

That said, were I focusing on a strategy for further research into the nature of Homo Trumpus, I would be most interested in knowing how far we can take the Wilkinson hypothesis: that a lot of people voted for Trump because they were desperate to keep their source of livelihood in a pandemic, and just wanted to tough it out while we all wait for a vaccine.

To the extent that economic desperation in a pandemic explains much of the Trump vote, those of us in secure economic positions can fault these voters for putting their livelihoods over lethal risk to the general public. But what would we do if we had no money in the stock market and no means of putting food on the table except by going to work this morning?

I Enumerate No Embryonic Poultry, But the Good News from Georgia Just Keeps Coming

Nancy LeTourneau, Trump’s Enablers are Sabotaging the Georgia Senate Runoff Election—and Helping Democrats

CNBC, Republican pollster: Trump’s false ‘rigged’ election claims may hurt GOP chances of keeping Senate

Putting aside the Trump voters who will be affirmatively persuaded to stay at home, to spite the Republican nominees for being insufficiently subservient to Dear Leader. Think about the folks who, if they voted, would vote for the Republican senatorial candidates. Here is the argument being made to them:

You must come out and vote

    • in January,
    • at the tippy-top of the pandemic season,
    • at a time when your Dear Leader is being ignominiously pushed out of the White House,
    • in an election where the people you trust are all telling you that the voting machines are yielding false results, because the Republican governor has joined a Democratic conspiracy, and, by the way,
    • whatever you do, don’t vote by mail, because them damn mail-in votes are riggedest votes of all.

So, Georgia Republican Establishment, How’s that Faustian Bargain Workin’ Out for Ya?

The Great Gaslighting Experiment: A Preliminary Lab Report

Bret Stephens, Trump Contrives His Stab-in-the-Back Myth: An obscene conspiracy theory from the past echoes loudly in the present.

Jennifer Rubin, The Republican Party has split in two. Let’s keep it that way.

Michigan and Pennsylvania, not to mention Georgia, are certified. The transition is officially under way. Patently, the country has come to a fork in the road. It is time for a preliminary lab report on the results of Trump’s massive, unethical social psychology experiment in mass gaslighting.

  1. Apart from the reality-based majority of the country, those who have not succumbed to the gaslighting include
  • most of the business class,
  • the courts, including benches occupied by Federalist Society judges,
  • many Republican office holders, particularly Republican office holders at the state level, and
  • a significant part of self-identified Republicans—although that significant part may well be less than 50 percent.
  1. A large percentage of Republican voters have, however, succumbed to the evil experiment. (The polls are telling us it’s more than 50 percent. I don’t necessarily believe that, because I no longer believe polls. That said, there’s a really good chance it is more than 50 percent of Republicans—maybe a lot more than 50 percent.)
  2. Many people believe Trump’s lies because those lies are the kinds of lies they want to believe. Hatred, fear, and, in many cases, low self-esteem create the potential for addiction to falsehoods, just as they engender the potential for self-medication with alcohol or opioids. But there is a problem with having a propensity for addition: one tends to start with a glass of wine at dinner, move on to several martinis at lunch, and end with shooting heroin first thing in the morning.
  3. How this will all end depends in part on what happens with and to Trump. Making predictions based on the mind of a mad man is a fool’s errand. I am not a fool, so I will not undertake the errand. He may descend into depression and madness. He may go to jail. He may remain free, and as sane as he has been for some time. In the latter case, I doubt very much that he will see his interests as congruent with those of the Republican political class.
  4. In view of all the above, I remain moderately optimistic that the Republican Party will continue splitting in two—and, in consequence, will find it increasingly difficult to win elections.

An Epilogue

WaPo, Laura Ingraham says that Biden will be president: ‘This constitutes living in reality’

And if you don’t like reality, there’s always Newsmax.

Divide et Impera

Daily Beast, Roger Stone-Tied Group Threatens GOP: If Trump Goes Down, So Does Your Senate Majority:

The group becomes the latest in a growing list of Trump backers who are encouraging people to either not vote in the runoffs or write in the president’s name.

Conservative operatives and a super PAC with ties to infamous GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone are calling for Trump supporters to punish Republicans by sitting out Georgia’s crucial Senate runoffs or writing in Trump’s name instead. And though their efforts remain on the party’s fringes, the trajectory of the movement has Republicans fearful that it could cost the GOP control of the Senate.

The most aggressive call to boycott or cast protest ballots in the two runoff races has, so far, come from a dormant pro-Trump super PAC with ties to Stone that unveiled a new initiative to retaliate against the Republican Party’s supposed turncoats by handing Democrats control of the U.S. Senate.

The group, dubbed the Committee for American Sovereignty, unveiled a new website encouraging Georgia Republicans to write in Trump’s name in both of the upcoming Senate runoff elections, which could determine the party that controls the upper chamber during President-elect Joe Biden’s first two years in office. The PAC argued that doing so will show support for the president in addition to forcing Republicans to address the wild election-fraud conspiracy theories floated by Trump supporters and members of his own legal team.

“If we can do this, we have a real chance at getting these RINO senators to act on the illegitimate and corrupt election presided over by a Democrat party that is invested in the Communist takeover of Our Great Nation,” the group wrote on its new website, “We will not stop fighting for you, the American Patriot, against the evils of Socialism and inferior Religions.”

The effort is representative of a broader push among some of President Trump’s most devoted supporters to withhold support for the two Georgia Republican senators facing competitive runoff challenges, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, in the hope of leveraging the party’s fear of losing the U.S. Senate to get more establishment backing for their drive to change the result of the election. The goal, those operatives say, is to expose a supposed vast election-fraud conspiracy abetted by high-level Republicans in Georgia’s state government, including Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.


Rushbo Has Spoken

Rush Limbaugh Slams Trump Legal Team: ‘They Promised Blockbuster Stuff and Then Nothing Happened’:

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is unimpressed by the efforts of President Donald Trump’s legal team to advance his baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

On Monday, Limbaugh opened his show by saying he didn’t know what to make of the Sidney Powell situation, now that the Trump team is distancing themselves from her after days of her unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. The Trump campaign claims Powell is “not a member of the Trump Legal Team” nor a personal lawyer to the president. But Limbaugh pointed out that it’s hard to deny her involvement after her appearance at the news conference led by Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis last Thursday.

“It’s a tough thing to deny she was ever a part of it because they introduced her as part of it,” Limbaugh said. “She was at that press Moving on to the presser itself, Limbaugh recalled that Team Trump seemed like they were about to release devastating evidence for their legal case, but the radio host was underwhelmed.

You call a gigantic press conference like that — one that lasts an hour — and you announce massive bombshells, then you better have some bombshells. There better be something at that press conference other than what we got…I talked to so many people who were blown away by it, by the very nature of the press conference. They promised blockbuster stuff and then nothing happened, and that’s just, it’s not good.

Limbaugh concluded his thoughts on this with “If you’re gonna do a press conference like that with the promise of blockbusters, then there has to be something more than what that press conference delivered.”

Plutocrats Detraining

WaPo, 164 business leaders urge Trump to begin presidential transition for the sake of the country: “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk” the letter says

N.Y. Times, G.M. Drops Its Support for Trump Climate Rollbacks and Aligns With Biden: General Motors said it would no longer back President Trump’s lawsuit seeking to strip California of the power to set fuel economy standards.

I Think He Might Be Depressed

Josh Dawsey, A noisy president goes (relatively) quiet in wake of election defeat:

Since Election Day, he has spoken 8,143 words over 18 days through Saturday, according to, a website which tracks all of his utterances and movements. On average in 2020, he spoke 8,398 words daily, according to Bill Frischling, the website’s owner, but only 454 words per day since Nov. 3. On the last day of the campaign alone, he uttered more than 55,000 words. …

Advisers say he is trying to figure out what to say and what to do. Unlike 2016, when Trump doubted he would win, he is genuinely surprised by the defeat, advisers say. Over the past few weeks of the campaign, advisers on Air Force One repeatedly told the president he was going to win because of the large crowds at his rallies and showed him favorable polling. Trump mused about how he would mock the pundits and his critics after the election when he won again, advisers said.

Since then, he has vacillated between delusion that he actually won, anger and deflation that he lost and a desire to keep fighting. “I don’t think he knows what he wants to say yet,” said one official who has spoken to the president and who, like other aides and advisers, spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal private conversations. “It’s all over the place based on the day.”

“Yes and yes,” one adviser responded, when asked whether the president knows the election is over or believes it was truly rigged. Trump rails against Fox News and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) and dives into Wisconsin laws on some days, while plotting his 2024 campaign on other afternoons and pondering ways to sabotage Biden. One afternoon last week, Trump told advisers that he was going to win Michigan and Pennsylvania and that he could still win Georgia. No one seemed to challenge him. 

Looks Like He’s Off the Trump Train

WaPo, Chris Christie calls the conduct of Trump’s legal team a ‘national embarrassment’:

Several prominent Republicans said this weekend that President Trump’s legal arguments had run their course, calling on him to concede to Joe Biden or at least allow the presidential transition process to begin.

“The conduct of the president’s legal team has been a national embarrassment,” former New Jersey governor Chris Christie said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

Christie, a Trump confidant who helped run debate preparations, said the Republican Party needed to focus on trying to win Georgia’s two runoff elections Jan. 5 to secure the Senate majority, rather than continuing with the unsuccessful legal challenges of the election results.

“The rearview mirror should be ripped off,” Christie said.