An unprecedented amount of money and attention is pouring into Georgia ahead of the twin runoff elections for the seats now held by Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue, both Republicans, on Jan. 5. Yet amid the coming flood of campaign ads and carefully crafted messages, only one party is truly communicating the stakes of the election.
It’s the Republicans.
Now don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that what Republicans are saying is honest or even ethical. They’re telling the same lie they did around the country this year: that the Democrats are radical socialists who want to defund the police.
But Loeffler’s central argument isn’t just that Democrats are bad people. It’s that Georgians have to vote against them specifically so that Democrats don’t take control of the Senate. The slogan that begins Loeffler’s attack ads against the Rev. Raphael Warnock is “Save the Senate. Save America.” As one particularly vivid ad says, “Raphael Warnock will give the radicals total control. Saving the Senate is about saving America . . . (foreboding pause) . . . from that.”
Perdue has been sending the same message. “If we win Georgia, we save America,” he told Sean Hannity on Fox News this week. Why, it’s almost as if the message was poll-tested to see what would motivate conservative white Georgians to feel the urgency of voting in the runoff, and coordinated by the two campaigns!
But the Democrats don’t bring the question of Democratic control of the Senate to the front of their messaging.
Meanwhile, Republicans everywhere want to nationalize these races, which is why many of those who will be running for president in 2024 are heading to the state to campaign for Perdue and Loeffler. But Democrats seem spooked by the idea of making this about more than Georgia.
This is, without doubt, a conscious strategy on the part of the Warnock and Ossoff campaigns, and I’m sure they have their reasons. Perhaps they feel that the support Joe Biden got from the suburbs around Atlanta, which helped him win the state, can only be duplicated if it doesn’t seem like too much depends on the outcome—even though that strategy worked in the presidential race, the most consequential contest of any on November’s ballot.
But this is the rare case in which a couple of Senate races really will determine the fate of the country. It’s too bad only one side sees it in their interests to remind voters of how important it is.