In Spectator World, Oliver Wiseman explains the circumstances that led to Raphael Warnock winning the Georgia senate races against Herschel Walker, writing:
There were no surprises in Georgia last night. Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock saw off Herschel Walker’s challenge.
The race was close without being a nail-biter. Decision desks had called the contest before 11 p.m. Eastern and, as of early Wednesday afternoon, with 95 percent of votes counted, Warnock has a 10,000-vote lead over Walker (51.4 percent to 48.5 percent).
The result is an emphatic punctuation mark with which to end this year’s midterms, making the Republican Party’s missed opportunity abundantly clear. As Axios’s Josh Kraushaar notes, this cycle is the first time in eighty-eight years that the party in power has successfully defended every incumbent Senate seat. He also notes that Walker was the only statewide candidate in Georgia who lost, a fact that leads unavoidably to the conclusion that Herschel Walker was a bad candidate. Indeed, every other Republican candidate won with more than 50 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff.
The most obvious comparison for Walker is arguably the least flattering, and that’s with successfully re-elected Republican governor and frequent recipient of Trump’s ire, Brian Kemp. He was up against the well-funded Stacey Abrams and cruised to victory by seven points. The long shadow Trump has cast over Georgia ever since his attempt to interfere in the state’s results two years ago means he arguably owns this result more than any other in the midterms: Walker didn’t just earn Trump’s endorsement. He is only in politics because of Trump, a close friend who urged him to run. The lessons for the GOP are, by now, so obvious that I hardly needed to spell them out.
For Democrats, the Georgia result is another triumph for their recipe for success in contemporary American politics: fight tooth and nail in the suburbs and focus resources on ensuring the loyal Democratic base turns out. And in Raphael Warnock, they have a politician skilled enough to energize his own side without turning off ticket-splitting moderates. It worked in Georgia two years ago, it worked again this month, and it is a strategy that Democrats plan to stick to in swing states across the country in two years’ time.
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