What happened to Stacey Abrams?
Four years ago, Stacey Abrams had the world at his feet. Yes, she had just lost Georgia’s gubernatorial race to Gov. Brian Kemp less than 60,000 votes – but after such an unexpectedly close match, she was announced by the Democratic Party how a promising new leader. There was Speculations as to whether she would be selected as Joe Biden’s running mate during his 2020 presidential bid (a prospect Abrams welcomed), and she was largely credited to the Pioneering work for a new playbook focused on winning over black voters in Georgia, especially after Biden flipped the state in 2020. Although Biden eventually tapped into the Sen at the time. Kamala Harris of California to share the ticket, Abrams kept her eyes on the governor’s mansion. But this year she’s going into the race even more as an outsider when she was in 2018.
The race’s most recent polls consistently show Abrams, a former minority leader in Georgia’s House of Representatives, lagging behind by single digits, according to Kemp FiveThirtyEight poll average beginning this past Friday at 12 p.m. Eastern. (All data in this article is as of this date and time.) An October survey by data for progresshowever, noted that the Republican had a 10 percentage point lead over Abrams — 3 points more than then The company last queried the race, in September. And while Abrams had stronger support among Democrats than Kemp did among Republicans, according to a September Monmouth University The poll also concluded that Abram’s road to victory was “much narrower” this year.
Abrams campaign is too attracts much less buzz this year compared to the frenetic excitement of her candidacy in 2018. This is striking because there is a significant gap between Abrams’ poll against Kemp and that of Senator Raphael Warnock, another Democrat on the ballot who is running for re-election against Republican Herschel Walker. According to our database, there are no recent unbiased polls giving Walker an edge. Most impartial polls, especially the following Walker’s abortion controversy, gave Warnock a single-digit advantage. As a matter of fact, Weighted average of FiveThirtyEight is almost 2 points in favor of Warnock. Deluxe prediction by FiveThirtyEight of the election has meanwhile rated the race as a toss-up.
In the governor’s race our deluxe forecast gives Kemp on a 9-in-10 chance of re-election as of this past Friday at 12 p.m. Eastern. Since Abrams is a black woman seeking a statewide office in the South, sexism and racism are probably responsible for some of their underperformance – but not all. Abrams’ lackluster polls can also be attributed to lukewarm enthusiasm for her candidacy among black men. Plus, unlike 2018 when it was run for a vacancyshe is now against an incumbent who has proved its worth a… to be skillful politician in office.
“Term of office still matters,” he said Parish Johnson, Professor of Political Science at the University of Georgia. “Additionally, Kemp now has a record to run on, so the conditions for Abrams are very different from 2018.”
In short, a loss for Abrams this year could be due less to her shortcomings as a candidate and more to a series of burned-in assets working in Kemp’s favor.
For one, Kemps relative popularity as governor is a boon to his candidacy. Also, he is in his race against Abrams played on issues important to Georgians – like economics and inflation – as a political point to keep him in office. Abrams was now talk a lot about abortion – and this despite a six-week abortion ban came into effect in Julythis issue seems less important to Georgia voters.
What also speaks for Kemp is the political environment in 2022 a lot of unlike four years ago when Republicans controlled the White House. At that time, the Democrats were largely able to continue discontent with Donald Trump and working to tie their challengers to the former President. But Trump is not in the White House this year. And in the time since 2018, Kemp has fallen out of favor with the former president after him resisted the pressure to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He too had to fight back a major challenger backed by Trump, former Senator David Perdue, in May. Kemp should have easily broken with it the mainstream of the GOP.
“It’s not difficult for someone to position themselves to Trump’s left, especially when ‘left’ simply means you’re not going to overturn an election,” he said Periloux Peay, Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University. “It doesn’t mean that [Kemp] is definitely a moderate or even someone who tends to be conservative. He’s a staunch Republican.”
But even if his politics are very conservative, Johnson said, Kemp’s demonstration of independence from Trump could still help him. “You can imagine, for example, that there are voters on the more moderate side who may have slight preferences for democratic politics but still want to give Kemp credit for his performance or for the performance of Georgia’s economy,” she said. “You could say, ‘He’s not really my thing, but at least he wasn’t willing to interfere in an election like the previous president wanted.'”
Furthermore, as we have already reported, Georgia’s electorate is ideologically calcified by race and geography. In short, this means Abrams is likely to win an overwhelming majority of black voters, while Kemp is likely to do better with rural, white voters. This dynamic exists primarily because the Peach State’s demographics have changed drastically over the past two decades thanks to an influx of new black residents. So whether this competition is tight may depend on how many black Georgians of voting age vote. What goes against Abrams, however, is that she’s reportedly having trouble gaining traction with black men who might be leaning toward Republican. For her part, Abrams has attempted to accommodate this by hosting talks dubbed “Stacey and the Fellas.” Hire black men in the state. But it’s not clear if their efforts are paying off: At least one survey showed Kemp netting 15 percent of the black vote.
It could also be more difficult for Abrams — versus Warnock — to appeal to independent or moderate Republican voters disillusioned with the GOP but unwilling to support a progressive candidate. That’s because not only does she not have a national record, but stereotypes about women have long existed Black politicians being perceived as progressive, even if that is not necessarily the case. Also, conservatives have spent the last four years painting Abrams as a left-wing extremist bogeyman. Abrams seems to have done it at times, too struggled to find her place within the Democratic Party. While recently she has taken more progressive positions on issues such as reparations for black Americans as reparations for slavery, was her record as a legislator marked by bipartisan negotiation.
Other issues Abrams has faced this year are largely out of her control. The states restrictive new voting rights could dampen turnout among voters of color and Biden could also be a tug on the nominations of Abrams and Warnock because his approval ratings in the state are well below both Democrats, according to an October report Quinnipiac University Opinion poll. According to the poll, just 44 percent of likely voters in the state approved of Biden’s job performance, while 51 percent supported Warnock’s performance and 48 percent had a favorable opinion of Abrams.
“Kemp … could have some success in associating his rival with Biden’s policies, especially among voters unhappy with what’s happening nationally,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen that in relation to the narrative of the opposition around Stacey Abrams – a sense that voting for them would send the state in the wrong direction.”
Still, the race for governor might be closer than we think. Until now, Voter turnout in Georgia is higher than four years ago, and early voting currently shows a higher proportion of blacks voting this year than at this point in previous elections. “If Stacey Abrams wins or comes close to winning, it will likely be due to an early in-person vote or ballot-by-mail,” Peay said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to find Stacey Abrams has a lead on election night that then narrows as the night progresses.”
At the end of the day, the outcome of Georgia’s gubernatorial campaign could mean that the environment for Kemp is simply better. Abrams is not quite to be counted, but a win for them this year does seem far-fetched – especially compared to 2018.
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