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Republicans are nervous about Georgia runoffs — and that’s a very good thing

Runoff-bound Georgia Republicans confessed some of their worry about their chances in the waning days of the Trump era on a Nov. 10 phone call with donors, The Washington Post reports. But they also admitted that Donald Trump might have been a problem for them.

Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were joined by Karl Rove and Sen. Todd Young, a recent chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which hosted the call. “I’m assuming the worst but hoping for the best,” Young said—meaning President-elect Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which is the basis for the urgent pitch to Republicans to make a push in Georgia. And, not coincidentally, the pitch to Democrats to make a push in Georgia.

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Perdue admitted that Donald Trump may not have helped Republicans in Georgia, trying to frame that as a good thing going forward.

“I’m talking about people that may have voted for Biden but now may come back and vote for us because there was an anti-Trump vote in Georgia,” Perdue said. “And we think some of those people, particularly in the suburbs, may come back to us. And I’m hopeful of that.”

At the same time, Perdue whined about how Georgia is changing, saying: “They changed, dramatically, the face of the electorate in Georgia. Many of these new voters are from California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, and they’re not of the conservative persuasion.” Kelly Loeffler, let it be noted, was born in Illinois, grew up in Illinois, went to college in Illinois, and went to business school in … Illinois.

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So Perdue wants to get out the vote in the suburbs, where “an anti-Trump vote” hurt him on Nov. 3, but he’s also worried about the changing face of the electorate, which is bringing in those darned northerners. That may not be the most coherent argument ever, but maybe it will work on Republican donors.

One very interesting question in this runoff, though, is whether and how Trump will engage. Will he even care, since he’s increasingly aware that he won’t be dealing with the next Senate anyway? Will he get angry that Republicans are moving forward on the runoffs rather than going to war for him, and end up dragging them down? Comments like “there was an anti-Trump vote in Georgia” are just the kind of thing that might enrage him.

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These runoffs are an uphill battle for Democrats—it’s still Georgia, after all—but it’s good to see Republicans nervous.

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