Voter turnout in Georgia.
November 29, 2022
Republican election officials in Arizona and Pennsylvania have disenfranchised every voter in their respective counties by refusing to certify the results of the midterm elections. As a result, none of the votes cast in those counties will be counted in federal, statewide, county, or municipal elections—a massive violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the US Constitution. The reasons for refusing to certify the votes are rooted in delusional conspiracy theories promoted by Republican candidates who refuse to acknowledge they lost. See NPR, Counties in Arizona, Pennsylvania fail to certify election results by legal deadlines.
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs tweeted a copy of her lawsuit against Cochise County officials with the message that “Cochise County had a statutory duty to certify the results of the 2022 General Election by today. My office has filed a lawsuit to ensure all voters have their votes counted.” While lawsuits compelling county officials to comply with their statutory duties are a good first step, they are not enough. The bad-faith strategy of refusing to certify election results that do not align with the election officials’ partisan interests is a violation of the constitutional rights of every voter whose vote is not counted. The DOJ should step in to pursue civil rights claims against the individuals who refused to discharge their legal obligation to certify election results.
If the only consequence of a wrongful refusal to certify an election is an order compelling the officials to do their duty, there is no deterrent effect against the future subversion of elections. If these same county officials refuse to certify results in favor of a Democratic presidential candidate in 2024, a handful of elected officials in a smattering of counties across the nation could overturn the will of the people in electing their president.
We cannot allow anyone to believe that they can engage in such conduct with impunity. Merrick Garland needs to move swiftly and decisively to open civil and criminal investigations of the contumacious county officials—and make a public announcement that he is doing so. Anything less will signal weakness and hesitancy in defending the right on which the rule of law is predicated—the right of the people to choose their leaders.
Georgia early voter turnout breaks records—despite GOP voter suppression efforts.
In last Saturday’s edition of the newsletter, I quoted a “political strategist” who claimed Georgia voters were not interested in politics over the holidays. Political strategist Brian Robinson said,
Voters have been tuned out, traveling, seeing family, watching football, not necessarily talking about politics or reading about politics . . . And people aren't going to vote in a referendum on an abortion issue.
Robinson did not mention that the Georgia legislature passed a bill last year that sought to eliminate early voting over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Such voting became possible only on Wednesday of last week after the Georgia Supreme Court refused to block a lower court decision permitting early voting on the weekend.
Georgia voters turned out in force over the weekend and on the first Monday of early voting. On Sunday, Georgia voters broke the record for weekend voting—more than doubling the previous record set in October 2020. On Monday, a quarter million Georgia voters turned out—breaking the record for early voting during a weekday.
Although it is possible that Republicans are contributing to the surge in early voting, the demographic data suggests otherwise. Per a Georgia news outlet, the early vote skews strongly to younger and Black voters:
Black voters were by far the largest racial demographic group - with 84,218 votes constituting about half (46.3%) of all turnout. In November, Black voters made up 26.2% of the turnout.
White voters were 37.9% of the turnout over the weekend, according to state data, compared with 59.5% in November.
[T]he youngest demographic - those aged 18-24 - accounted for some of the largest turnout. More than 18,000 voters in that age range went to the polls, about 10% of all the early votes so far. That's a strong uptick from their proportion of votes in the Nov. 8 election - which was about 6%.
Of course, the early voting numbers may be distorted by the GOP nonsensical notion that votes cast on election day are somehow more “secure” than mail ballots or early votes, so we should not over-interpret the early voting data. But the situation could be reversed—which would be cause for alarm. And, in general, when more people vote, Democrats do better.
The early voting numbers remind us of a lesson that we should never forget: Voter suppression efforts can always be overcome by increased turnout. But we should also never forget that the burden of increasing voter turnout in the face of suppression falls disproportionately on Black voters and the working poor—which is precisely the result that Republicans seek to achieve when they enact voter suppression measures. A victory by Warnock would be notable for many reasons, but especially because it would overcome cynical efforts by Republicans to perpetuate Georgia’s legacy of denying Black citizens the rights guaranteed to them by the US Constitution.
We can’t avoid talking about Trump.
We will be talking about Trump for the next two years—and likely longer. Whenever I devote a substantial portion of the newsletter to Trump (as I did yesterday), I receive comments from readers saying either (a) we should not give Trump “attention” because that is what he wants, or (b) the problem isn’t Trump but his followers. While both points have persuasive force, Trump is the leading candidate for the 2024 GOP nomination despite all his troubles. That may change, but it won’t change by ignoring Trump.
To be clear, I am not saying that Trump will win the nomination; but we would be foolish to count him out. See Rolling Stone, Stop Wish Casting: Trump Is Going to Cruise to the 2024 GOP Nomination. Of course, a well-aimed indictment or two could change the political dynamic overnight.
Moreover, as I noted yesterday, Trump’s troubles “bleed into” the rest of the party. Kevin McCarthy’s speakership fight is about which side of the Trump fault-line members of the House GOP choose. So, too, with Trump’s decision to dine with two men who freely espouse antisemitic views. As noted in the New York Times, many members of the Jewish community who have supported Trump through scandal and insurrection are finally separating from him over the Kanye / Fuentes meetings. See NYTimes, Trump’s Jewish Allies Denounce Dinner With Kanye West and Nick Fuentes.
Trump’s loss of support in the Jewish community is bad news for Trump—but also for the white nationalist wing of the GOP House caucus. Per the Times,
House Republican leaders say they will reinstate Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, and Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, to committees from which they were jettisoned by Democrats in part for their antisemitic comments or associating with white supremacists like Mr. Fuentes.
By crossing a line, Trump has also endangered the political fortunes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar—at the exact moment that both are seeking to be elevated to important committees by Kevin McCarthy. If McCarthy elevates Gosar and Greene to secure the Speakership, his tenure and the GOP majority in the House will be brief.
So, yes, the problem is Trump, but not merely Trump. The twin viruses of antisemitism and white nationalism have infected the GOP to its core. Surviving those viruses may be impossible for the GOP as it is presently configured. But if it does, it will be because Trump somehow holds together a base of white nationalists, antisemites, and Christian evangelicals. He did it in 2016, so it is not impossible. But the media has turned on Trump (especially Rupert Murdoch); corporate America is beginning to turn on the antisemitism and white nationalism of Trump, Musk, and Ye; and Trump’s competitors in the GOP are drawing resources away from Trump that would have otherwise funded his 2024 campaign.
The 2022 midterms are not over, and the 2024 presidential primary has already begun, at least for Republicans. We are waiting with bated breath for news about investigations and legal defeats for Trump as he descends into rage-induced madness over the appointment of Jack Smith. Amidst it all, Joe Biden continues to navigate the nation through choppy waters.
On Monday, Biden called on Congress to stop a rail workers’ strike—a move in which he placed the interests of Americans above his political interests as a union supporter. And he is reacting with caution to the protests in China, a move that has drawn intense criticism from many quarters—especially on the right. Biden’s instincts are right (for now). A sudden collapse in China would roil world markets and inflict hardship across the globe.
The last two years have been tumultuous—but they seemed less so because Biden was at the helm. He has not been perfect, but he has been what the nation needed during a fraught period in our nation’s history. As we enter the next two years of divided government, he may again prove to be the president we need as we consider indicting and jailing a former president who is seeking reelection. The times have found Joe Biden, and we are fortunate that he answered the call to duty.
Talk to you tomorrow!