'Unexpected trend' of Kemp-Warnock voters hints at the return of 'split-ticketers' in Georgia: conservative
Sen. Raphael Warnock and 2022 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams are two of Georgia’s most famous Democrats. The difference between them is that Warnock has been slightly ahead of his GOP rival in most recent polls.
Warnock, running for reelection, is being challenged by Republican Herschel Walker, while Abrams is trying to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Abrams became a major rock star in the Democratic Party after narrowly losing to Kemp in Georgia’s gubernatorial election of 2018, but Kemp entered the general election in 2022 with considerable momentum after defeating a GOP primary challenger, former Sen. David Perdue, by a brutal 52 percent in May. Even though Perdue was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, Kemp enjoyed a massive victory in that primary.
Most polls have been showing Kemp with single-digit leads over Abrams. In early September, a Fox 5/InsiderAdvantage poll showed Abrams trailing Kemp by 8 percent. But a Quinnipiac poll released on September 14 showed Kemp leading Kemp by only 2 percent, which was a hopeful sign for Abrams’ campaign.
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According to Never Trump conservative and former Republican Tim Miller, Georgia’s “Kemp-Warnock voters” are an example of an “increasingly rare breed” in the United States: “the split-ticket voter.”
In an article published by The Bulwark on September 19, Miller explains, “The split-ticketer’s decline has been thoroughly documented by our foremost political biologists. The number of House districts that have a representative from a different party than their presidential vote has plummeted this decade…. In fact, the current Senate has the fewest split-ticket delegations since the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment gave us the direct election of senators.”
But Peach State residents who are planning to vote for GOP incumbent Kemp and Democratic incumbent Warnock, according to Miller, indicate that the “split-ticketer might recover in Georgia.”
Miller notes that he recently visited Calhoun, Georgia in the hope of talking to some Kemp/Warnock voters and had no problem finding them.
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“They were much easier to find than I expected,” Miller reports. “Over the course of two days, the Kemp/Warnock voters I found included: a Trump 2020 voter; a past campaign colleague of mine; my college friend’s retired parents; a current UGA student; a suburban Atlanta tax consultant; an exurban Atlanta banker…. Despite the massive spread in these voters’ ages and ideological orientations, their explanations for their votes had directionally similar themes.”
Miller continues, “For starters, they thought Brian Kemp is doing a good job and Herschel Walker is a clown. That, I expected. But underneath, a more unexpected trend emerged: For many of the ticket-splitters, it seemed like their perception of Abrams vs. Warnock was as much of a factor as the difference between the Republicans.”
One of the Kemp/Warnock voters Miller interviewed was Ansley Thompson, who Miller describes as a “thirtysomething, stay-at-home mom who had been a straight-ticket Republican voter since 2016.” Warnock and Abrams are both liberals, and both are quite popular with the Democratic base. But Thompson views Abrams as more of an ideologue and believes that she hasn’t made an “effort to appeal to moderates.” That isn’t to say that Abrams really is such a hardcore ideologue, only that Thompson sees her that way.
“I suppose that In These Polarized Times, not actually being the insurrectionist makes Kemp different,” Miller writes. “In an alternative universe where the Republican Party was looking for a model with an ability to reach crossover voters in 2024, Kemp might be the rare species that offers it. Alas, the GOP doesn’t seem to be sending any explorers to Georgia to survey the fauna. The rest of the party is happy with the snake they know. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via e-mail.”
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