The influence of Donald Trump on Republican voters was tested in the Georgia primaries on Tuesday. Trump’s top targets for this whole election cycle were the Republican Governor, Brian Kemp, and the Secretary of State, Brad Raffensberger.
After the Governor and Secretary of State refused to “just find 15,000 votes” in a now infamous call from then President Trump, the former President vowed to make sure they lost in the next Republican primary.
Trump personally recruited former US Senator Sonny Perdue to run against Kemp in the primary and campaigned for Perdue. He also campaigned against Raffensberger. Kemp and Raffensberger both won in landslides when all precincts reported late Tuesday and yesterday morning. Kemp beat Trump’s handpicked challenger by more than 50% and Raffensberger won by double-digits.
The only other sitting Republican that Trump challenged was Idaho Gov. Brad Little. Last week, Little won against his Trump backed challenger by more than 25%.
Trump-backed candidates for House have had more mixed results, with Trump backed Q Anon supporter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene winning her primary challenge easily in her northwest GA district, for example
So what does all of this say? There are probably several things. The primary one being that Trump’s influence does not mean as much as might have been the perception prior to Tuesday. The two people he worked to defeat the most, won in landslides. Yet, he still has influence within the GOP, evidenced by the fact that so many candidates have sought his endorsement. That would not happen if candidates did not think it would get them votes.
Probably the real conclusion is that the campaigns are driven by local and specific issues. An endorsement from the former President may help marginally, but the individual campaigns, issues and people on the ballot are what will determine the outcome. And what seems clear about the issues, is that voters—even Republican ones—are not really all that interested in talking about the last election and want to look forward instead of looking back.
That is not a bad thing.
The only question now is whether Trump will try to throw the general election for Republicans in Georgia and other places where the primaries did not turn out his way. That is especially a question in Georgia where in 2020 Trump said that there was little reason to turn out if elections were rigged and, largely as a result, the two Republican candidates for US Senate both lost in runoff elections and control of the US Senate flipped to the Democratic Party.