By Matt Towery
Real Clear Politics
In the classic movie “The Godfather,” Michael Corleone
travels to a small restaurant in the Bronx to meet with a rival
Mafia boss. At the table the boss tells a corrupt policeman who is
there to serve as a third-party witness that he is going to
“speak to Michael in Italian.” In the movie they switch
languages to keep the policeman in the dark.
So I’m going to speak “Georgian,” not to keep anyone out,
but to hopefully add context to two situations that the media has
First the recount. Despite assertions by Secretary of State Brad
Raffensperger�and in the local media, the effort has been
disingenuous. There was a failure to properly authenticate ballots.
Finding thousands of uncounted ballots in the process doesnâ€™t
help create confidence in what Georgia officials claim to be a
In addition, post-election data shows that some 15,000
individuals who no longer live in Georgia voted in the recent
general election. Another 8,800 inactive voters mysteriously cast a
vote in this cycle. Some 14,000 â€œlow propensityâ€ voters who
basically have not voted in 10 years also participated. Almost all
of those votes were cast before the November 3 same-day voting.
None of this suspicious activity could change the course of a
recount in which not enough monitors were provided. And in many of
the larger counties, monitors were forced to observe from a
distance where they could not see the ballots. Signature
verification was not even considered. But those lists of
non-resident, inactive, and other so-called â€œmiracleâ€ voters
could have their status challenged for the upcoming runoff, if done
so quickly. That is not voter â€œsuppression.â€ Itâ€™s enforcing
the basic integrity of the election process.
A recent InsiderAdvantage poll showed that only half of Georgia
voters believe the results of the November election were fair and
accurate. Among Republicans, this figure was more than 70%. So
thatâ€™s the landscape as we enter the runoff stage in an election
that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.
Will the dog hunt?
Our survey found Democrat Raphael Warnock narrowly ahead of
Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler 49%-48%, with Republican Sen. David
Perdue tied with Democrat Jon Ossoff at 49%-49%.
This suggests to me that both Republican incumbents are slight
underdogs. I come to this conclusion not just as a pollster who
usually gets Georgia right, but who served as a state
representative, a GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, and as the
political analyst for three of the four Atlanta network
And this is where I start speaking â€œGeorgian.â€ When I served
in the legislature, our legendary House Speaker Tom Murphy used to
say, as the legislative session was in its last days, that we were
â€œdown to the lick log,â€ (a farming term) meaning time was up.
The Republican candidates in these Senate races are down to that
â€œlick log.â€ Advanced in-person voting starts in less than a
month and absentee ballots start being mailed this week.
And while Democratic activist and former state Rep. Stacey
Abrams tweeted on Sunday that more than 600,000 voters already had
requested mail ballots, Georgia Republicans are busy fighting with
each other. They must find a way to appeal to two, very disparate,
branches of their party. One dominates the suburbs â€“ not just in
Atlanta, but also outside Athens, Savannah, Columbus, and Sea
Island. This is the establishment wing of the GOP. The other is the
massive Donald Trump GOP that dominates rural towns and counties
from the mountains of North Georgia to the Florida line. With the
silence of the Republican Gov. Brian Kemp over the voting issues in
Georgia, both rank-in-file Republicans and many state leaders are
fighting each other. This is a house divided that must come
together quickly — and may not.
Resentment toward Kemp among Trump supporters, who are still
reeling from an election result they mistrust, could make turnout
for Perdue and Loeffler problematic. Kemp has been asked to call a
special legislative session to clean up Georgiaâ€™s chaotic
absentee ballot laws but refuses to do so. In our latest
InsiderAdvantage survey of Georgia, Kempâ€™s approval rating had
plummeted to 37%, with Republicans divided over him.
The early campaign messages in the two races may further
Loeffler advocates have gone to the airwaves linking her
opponent, the Rev. Warnock, to support of controversial positions
and political figures. One of those ads has images of him dressed
in more traditional African dashiki-style garments while preaching
in a church. Perhaps that might persuade a few suburban white
voters, but those images could also inflame Georgiaâ€™s very
powerful African American demographic. Whether it is this
particular ad, or something else, you can bet that Loeffler will be
accused of racism. Itâ€™s a time-honored tradition in Georgia
politics and trust me, itâ€™s coming.
As a percentage of the vote, African Americans made up less of
the general election turnout in November than in recent
presidential contests. That should actually concern Republicans.
Why? Because in the runoff Georgians could make history by electing
a black pastor to the U.S. Senate from a state in the Deep South. I
expect African American participation to increase: certainly,
Democrats are trying to pump it up, as powerful figures such as
Barack Obama have come to Georgia to point to this unique
In Perdueâ€™s instance, it appears that the well-worn â€œheâ€™s
too liberalâ€ TV ad (which rarely resonates with voters in
Georgia) has been substituted with a â€œheâ€™s too radicalâ€
version. Perdueâ€™s opponent, Jon Ossoff, has carefully cultivated
image of a â€œprogressive moderate.â€ Throwing the â€œR wordâ€
around might not do enough to damage the Democratic nominee. Just
ask Craig Keshishian, the last living pollster for Ronald Reagan.
Keshishian flatly declares, in a California version of our Georgia
lingo, â€œThat dog wonâ€™t hunt.â€
And running Sen. Chuck Schumer in attack ads wonâ€™t work either
because most Georgia voters have only a vague concept of who he is
or what he does.
To recover their momentum, Republicans have to find a way to do
First, the messaging to Atlanta suburban white voters must be
specific as to how a victory for the Democratic nominees will
impact them in a very personal way. That means ads showing solar
panels being forced on their homes and social workers substituting
for police. Calculating the cost of their soon-to-be new tax
increases in their city or county, courtesy of lost revenues due to
COVID, might make these voters think twice about casting a vote
that is likely to add to their federal tax burden. Unless they see
tangible challenges to their lifestyle or pocketbooks, suburban
voters will likely continue their drift to a party they view as
moderate — or perhaps even liberal — but not socialist.
Secondly, the Trump base must be reengaged. Make no mistake, a
huge portion of these voters couldnâ€™t care less about the two
U.S. senators. Their devotion is to Donald J. Trump, and only Trump
can deliver them back to the polls. In Georgia, Trump is not a
political figure among most Republicans; heâ€™s closer to a
Finally, letâ€™s return to that discussion of the recount. How
about those many voters who have moved out of Georgia or who have
not voted in ages but somehow managed to send an absentee ballot
this go-around? These votes, however they were obtained, represent
the slim margin which make the two Republicans sight underdogs in
my book. There is a short window in which, under Georgia law, their
status can be challenged by appealing to their local county
For the two Republican incumbents, and for the balance of power
in the Senate, we are truly at â€œthe lick log.â€
Matt Towery is an attorney, a former Georgia state legislator,
and the co-founder and chairman of InsiderAdvantage Georgia. He has
polled presidential and statewide races across the nation for 20
Analyst says absentee ballots already key to Georgia runoffs
appeared first on WND.