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2022 U.S. Midterms Dispatch 4: Important Elections in The South, and An Uphill Battle for Progressives

The Midterms continued on May 25, with four more primaries and a handful of notable run-offs in different states throughout the Southern United States, which were dominated by Republican turnouts and some important races for Democrats. These elections should further solidify the role Trump and his influence plays as well as the supposed red-wave that may swamp the next two years of American politics.

Georgia

In Georgia, the most heavily watched state of Super Tuesday part two, we saw elections for all levels of government, in a state that has progressively become more of a political battleground and a pointer to how politics may shake out in other parts of the nation. Though the other elections in other states were less about finding out which political party is more dominant, it was about watching the potential waning of Trump’s influence on the Republican party and its voter base and how an endorsement or campaign support doesn’t always mean a win for a candidate.


In Georgia, one of the biggest tests for Trump-backed candidates, went poorly, as both David Perdue and Jody Hice, lost to their challengers in the primary, both an ideological and political win for more moderate Republicans in the state. As, the challenger, Jody Hice, a proponent of “Stop the Steal” and pedaling false claims about the 2020 elections,  failed to win in the primary for Secretary of State, failing to topple, Trump’s public enemy number one, Brad Raffensperger, who protected election integrity in 2020, despite threats and a now well know phone call from Trump. This, election loss for Trump-backed candidates is a big blow in their attempts to gain power in seats that would allow for more power to overturn and disrupt the democratic process in disputed elections. This though was a win for the Republicans who have continually wanted to distance themselves from Trump, along with the voters who felt he went too far in his meddling in 2020. So, the idea that Trump’s grip on the Republican party is strong may be heavily misguided and not based on reality as recent elections, including this one, suggests. It has also been shown that those who do tout the claim of a stolen election have fared poorly, showing that may not be a winning strategy and showing how most voters are distancing themselves from such claims.

In a state like Georgia, one of the many states to institute voter restrictions amid the GOP push to make voting more difficult, following the 2020 voter fraud and stolen election claims. These laws, ended up increasing voter turnout for both sides of the political spectrum, but it was noticeably higher for Republicans than Democrats, something that is not a surprise in a year like 2022, where a red-wave was expected to occur. With this red-wave, Republicans over all have performed better than their opponents,but this was amplified in Georgia, because there wasn’t as many ongoing elections for Democratic candidates, as there were for Republicans.  

The effects of the voter suppression laws should not be completely written off, just because there was a higher turnout in Georgia, because it has been proven with enough motivation and enough interesting races on the ballot, people are able to get pass the hurdles set forth by the laws, with the help of organizations and candidates ensuring that their voters are informed on how to vote under the new rules. The supposed blow was likely lessened in Georgia because of some more progressive groups that have become more active in the state, compared to other states that saw larger impacts on voting access and turnout because of the new laws.  

Image via Georgia Public Broadcasting: Showing Brad Raffensperger

Texas

In the Southern part of Texas, an incumbent of five House seat terms, Henry Cuellar, one of the most Conservative Democrats narrowly holds an edge over, Jessica Cisneros a progressive, yet another possible loss for progressives who are trying to create a more liberal movement in the Democratic Party, efforts which are falling short in many places. Though this race says less about politics in Texas, it shows that old-guard Democrats are willing to stand in the way of progressive candidates, even if they are anti-abortion and anti-gun-control, as Henry Cuellar is. He is the only one currently caucusing with Democrats in the House with such hardline conservative views, which is not a surprise given the location of Texas’ 28th District on the U.S., Mexican border an area known to be a more Republican part of the state. As of the authoring of this post, Cuellar has declared victory, but no results from the AP (Associated Press) or polling projections have called the race in his favor, with just 187 more votes, but a small enough margin to send this into a recount in the next couple weeks. But, this potential win for Cuellar was a major loss to the leftist wing of the Democratic party because of Cuellar’s history in both defending guns, supporting an anti-abortion position and defending oil companies. As of June 7th, 2022, Jessica Cisneros has requested a recount in the election, which will delay the results of this for at least another two weeks. 

 

Following the uncontested primary for Stacey Abrams and an easy win for incumbent governor Brian Kemp over David Perdue, there is a rematch of 2018 in Georgia, but in a completely different political atmosphere, following shifts to Georgia’s demographics, drastic changes to national politics and the enactment of new restrictions on voting rights in the state. But, since the 2018 loss, Abrams has invigorated and strengthened the voter base, as she has worked hard with her organizations to register people to vote and works hard against the anti-voter laws in the state. Though changing national dynamics towards a red wave may challenge an election win, which she lost by less than 55,000 in 2018. But, issues like recent mass shootings and the potential overturning of Roe V. Wade could possibly change the tide back to the left, but that is a question that will be answered in polling and the general election in November.

Image via NPR showing Stacey Abrams 

 


What’s Next?`

June 7th is the next major election, which will include a number of staunchly blue states like California and New Jersey, but as margins grow smaller with more states voting, this will indicate the real strength of Democrats’ chances in November. Even though New Jersey is considered a fairly easy win for most Democrats, its competitiveness went up after a tight gubernatorial race in 2021, which showed that Democrats may have a weakening grasp on the state. This is the first time in this midterm cycle, where a lot more Democratic majority states are voting, which could clear up the picture on the strength of the Democrat’s voter base and their vigor compared to 2020.

Image Credits: Istock 

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