Georgia Democrats are increasingly concerned about Stacey Abrams' campaign against GOP Gov. Brian Kemp: report

Stacey Abrams
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams.AP Photo/John Bazemore
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  • Georgia Democrats are increasingly concerned about Abrams' campaign against Kemp, per The NYT.

  • The 2022 gubernatorial race is a rematch of the 2018 contest between Abrams and the now-governor.

  • While Warnock has connected well with some moderate Republicans, Abrams has trailed his numbers.

Georgia Democrats have become increasingly concerned about Stacey Abrams' gubernatorial campaign against Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, with some pointing to her softer-than-expected numbers among critical blocs within the party base and less-than-optimal support among moderate Republicans who can play a decisive role in determining races in the swing state, according to The New York Times.

In most public polling conducted this year, Kemp has had a narrow-but-steady edge over Abrams, who was also the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee; the most recent FiveThirtyEight polling average for the race had Kemp ahead 49%-44%.

However, while Abrams has been trailing Kemp in most polls, her fellow Democrat, Sen. Raphael Warnock — who was elected in a January 2021 runoff election and is currently seeking a full six-year term in office this fall — has been able to draw broader support among the electorate.

And some Democrats have wondered why Abrams, who is widely considered to be the architect of the party's electoral resurgence in Georgia, has faltered in connecting with groups where Warnock has found success.

Abrams would be the first Black woman in US history to be elected governor of any state if she is successful this fall.

While Abrams continues to poll well with Black voters overall, her performance among Black men lags behind her robust support from Black females — a deficiency that also cost her votes in 2018, when she lost to Kemp by 55,000 votes out of 4 million ballots cast.

And Warnock has also chipped off support from moderate Republicans in multiple surveys, while Abrams has struggled with winning over a significant enough number of these voters to aid in what is likely to be another close statewide contest.

Georgia Democrats, overall, been relatively quiet in critiquing the Abrams campaign, but a few countywide officials and local leaders have privately informed the campaign of their concerns, according more than two dozen officials who spoke to The Times.

Per The Times, the officials pointed out that the Abrams campaign had not engaged with critical Democratic constituencies early on and did not fully take in Kemp's advantages in a midterm cycle that would be challenging for the party.

In her 2018 campaign, Abrams traveled across many of the state's deeply-red counties, criticizing Republicans for rural hospital closures and a failure to fully expand Medicaid.

But at the moment the race continues to lean ever-so-slightly toward Kemp, who was the subject of a GOP primary challenge from ex-Sen. David Perdue fueled by former President Donald Trump's displeasure over the governor's refusal to help overturn Georgia's 2020 presidential election results. (That year, now-President Joe Biden won the state by roughly 12,000 votes out of roughly 5 million ballots cast.)

Kemp defeated Perdue in a landslide, winning nearly 74% of the vote.

Democratic state Rep. Erick Allen, who also ran for the party's lieutenant governor nomination this year, told The Times that while party members were pumped about Warnock's campaign, the same "energy" has not yet translated to Abrams for her 2022 campaign.

"Right now, people are concerned — kind of looking sideways," Allen said, "There's a lot of energy around the Warnock campaign."

"I'm not sure if the same energy that we had four years ago is around the Abrams campaign yet," he added.

Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks to journalists after voting Friday, May 6, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia, during early primary voting.
Sen. Raphael Warnock speaks to journalists after voting in Atlanta, Ga., on May 6, 2022.Ben Gray/AP Photo

'I imagine an electorate that is possible'

Last week, Abrams in an interview with The Times stood behind her 2022 campaign strategy, pointing out that her voter registration and engagement efforts were critical in Peach State voters backing Biden, Warnock, and freshman Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff in the last major election cycle.

"I imagine an electorate that is possible, not the electorate as if the election was held today," she told the newspaper.

According to The Times, Abrams and her top aides feel that her position in the race has been bolstered by pushback against the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion in the country.

She has since blasted Kemp's support for a 2019 law that was enacted after Roe was overturned, which bans abortion in Georgia after six weeks.

Many of her Democratic allies also feel as though gender is at play in the race, casting aside direct comparisons to Warnock, who is running against former University of Georgia football standout and ex-NFL star Herschel Walker.

They also note that Abrams is competing against Kemp, a sitting governor who has a large campaign operation and the firm support of state and national Republicans.

Former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin told The Times that women "just have a harder time capturing the imagination as executives."

While Abrams is adept at rallying base Democratic voters, Warnock has been able to follow her lead — while also winning over some moderate Republicans, many of whom are abundant in Atlanta's populous suburbs, which for decades contained some of the most GOP-leaning voters in the state.

When Warnock was recently asked by The Times if he would stump with Abrams, he said the "pundits" were concerned about who was standing with him on stage and stated that he was "focused" on his campaign.

The next day, Abrams and Warnock held a joint campaign appearance in Cobb County, a key Atlanta suburb that in recent years has moved sharply toward the Democratic Party in statewide races.

"We need Stacey Abrams," Warnock declared at the event, praising her as "a visionary leader" and "my dear friend."

Read the original article on Business Insider