Georgia’s primaries reveal a disturbing degree of sore loser-ism
Georgia’s primary election day already feels like an eternity ago, but the outcome of the Republican primary has left many in shock. Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State (SOS) Brad Raffensperger, Attorney General Chris Carr and Insurance Commissioner John King all overcame Trump-backed challengers and secured the GOP’s nomination. In most cases, the races weren’t even close.
Kemp routed David Perdue by a margin of around 74 to 22 percent and Carr and King both garnered more than 70 percent of the vote. Only the race for secretary of state was remotely close in which Raffensperger defeated Jody Hice by 52 to 33 percent. Given that Donald Trump was heavily invested in toppling these incumbents, many of his supporters have wondered how the former president’s chosen candidates could have been so handily defeated—leading them to blame meddling from Democrats in Georgia’s open primary.
In the Peach State, both Democrats and Republicans have the option to vote in each other’s primary elections, and according to Trump and company, large numbers of Democrats chose to vote in the Republican primary in order to stymie the Trump slate of candidates. While there certainly were crossover voters, Trump’s conspiracy theory should raise some eyebrows.
“Just 7 percent of those who voted early during last month’s Republican primary cast ballots for Democrats in that party’s 2020 primary election,” reads a New York Times article. “And 70 percent of this year’s crossover voters who cast early ballots in the G.O.P. primary had participated in both Democratic and Republican primaries over the last decade.” So, as it stands, the available data suggests that the vast majority of crossover voters weren’t scheming Democratic operatives, but highly sought-after swing voters.
While not all of the data is available yet, it makes little sense why Democrats would want to support Kemp over Perdue or Raffensperger over Hice. Kemp consistently polled better against Stacey Abrams—the Democratic nominee for governor—and if I was a Democrat in the SOS race, I’d much rather face Hice, given his penchant for promoting conspiracies. Moreover, why would these crossover voters appear to reject some of Trump’s picks and then buoy others, like Herschel Walker who earned Trump’s endorsement and garnered around 68 percent of the vote?
There’s no doubt that some Democratic stalwarts voted in the GOP primary, but the notion of a successful, organized Democratic push that influenced the outcome of these races seems to hold little—if any—water. Even so, that isn’t stopping some from demanding that Georgia change its primary rules to limit crossover voting, but this isn’t the first time someone claimed that a Georgia election was stolen or fraudulent.
After voters rejected Trump at the polls in 2020, he and his supporters blamed election fraud. Some asserted that somehow Hugo Chavez—the dead Venezuelan former dictator—or his family undermined the election and that the Dominion voting machines switched people’s votes from Trump to Joe Biden. Still others said that operatives figured out a way to exploit the absentee voting system.
At this point, some of these conspiracy theories are so unfounded that they deserve a segment on the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens. Nevertheless, many have demanded numerous elections audits and that ballot drop boxes and absentee ballots be essentially outlawed, but claims of a fraudulent election have been exhaustively debunked. After a few Georgia audits and no less than 60 elections lawsuits, no widespread voting irregularities that would have given Trump victory were found.
Sowing doubts over fair elections and undermining the public’s confidence in them isn’t a tactic unique to Republicans. In 2018, Abrams lost her gubernatorial bid to Kemp by around 55,000 votes, but resisted conceding and asserted that the election had been stolen from her—a claim that doesn’t appear rooted in truth. In fact, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, “no evidence emerged of systematic malfeasance – or of enough tainted votes to force a runoff election.”
Republican or Democrat, it’s time for naysayers and sore losers to accept the results of legally run elections. Just because you or your chosen candidate lost a race doesn’t mean that the election was stolen. It may just mean that the electorate prefers someone else.