What we learned from Brian Kemp’s landslide victory

The Gist: In the Republican runoff for Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp crushed Casey Cagle by a margin so large Kemp’s oversized pickup truck could easily fit in it. Kemp won with about 69 percent of the vote, sweeping the entire state — including the metro Atlanta area where Cagle was expected to have a stronghold.

What’s Next?: Kemp will go on to face democrat Stacey Abrams in the November election in a race that will determine the direction of the state for the next four years. Kemp and Abrams are at polar opposite ends of the political spectrum, so it will be a hard-fought battle.

What we’ve learned: Between the May 22 primary, where democrats chose Abrams, and the July 24 runoff, where republicans chose Kemp, we have learned several things about how the changing political landscape that has swept the nation is impacting Georgia. Here is a rundown of some new political realities we now know.

Georgia isn’t a place for moderates: If you are a moderate republican or a moderate democrat, you’re not going to have a lot of influence over the course of the next four years. Stacey Abrams represents the far left of her party, and Brian Kemp represents the far right of his. Abrams intentionally campaigned on the left and it energized Georgia democrats, who showed up to the polls in droves. Abrams won in a landslide. Kemp intentionally made himself the anti-establishment pro-Trump choice for governor and won in a landslide.

This doesn’t mean there are no moderates in Georgia, but the middle will get lost in the shuffle as each party appeals to the extremes. When it comes to political appointments and policies, moderates could find themselves without a seat at the table.

A Trump endorsement carries a lot of weight in Georgia: Most pundits are pinning Kemp’s victory on Donald Trump’s endorsement of him. While it is possible the secret recordings of Casey Cagle did more damage than they are being given credit for, it appears the Trump endorsement was at least the final nail in Cagle’s coffin. Kemp’s polling shot up after the endorsement and republicans in the state marched in lockstep with their president.

The November Election could go either way: In the May 22 primary, Stacey Abrams got 421,302 votes. A total of 550,904 democrats voted for governor in that race. In the July 24 republican runoff, Kemp got 404,112 votes and just over 581,000 republicans voted. The numbers here are close, especially when considering that the November election will have a higher turnout than a primary or runoff. 

According to the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, in 2014, Georgia had 5.1 million active voters, so while the primary and runoff have given us a lot of information about the state’s democrat and republican voters, it doesn’t tell us which voters didn’t turn out that may in the November election.

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