Stacey Abrams reportedly plans to run for governor of Georgia in 2022. Because she never conceded the race, some may joke she is running for reelection.
If Democrats win one or both of the Senate runoffs in January, expectations of an Abrams win in two years will skyrocket, and the argument that “Georgia is a blue state now!” will carry some weight. Regardless of the outcome, Abrams’s national fanbase will ensure she’ll face no serious competition for the nomination and be well-funded for the general election.
But without at least one win in the Senate runoffs, it will be fair to wonder if Abrams will turn into the 2022 version of Jaime Harrison, Amy McGrath, or Beto O’Rourke — a Democratic challenger in a red state that is adored by Democrats outside of her state, but whose chances are overestimated by a media that love to hype the chances of the next Great Southern Democratic Hope.
Abrams lost her gubernatorial race by 54,723 votes in 2018, or 1.4 percentage points. Georgia’s down-ticket races that year received much less discussion, in part because they were less competitive. Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Geoff Duncan won, 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent, a margin of 123,172 votes. The Secretary of State race went to a runoff, and Brad Raffensberger won, 51.8 percent to 48.1 percent. Democrats did flip ten seats in the state House, but that only shifted the chamber to a 105-75 split, and Democrats flipped two seats in the state Senate, but that only changed it to a 35-21 split.
And the national political environment for Democrats in 2018 was really good for the party, perhaps near-ideal.
Right now, Biden leads by 14,172 votes out of almost 5 million cast, as the state completes a hand recount. That counts as a remarkable win, but it’s twenty-nine one-hundreths of a percentage point. That’s a thin reed for the “Georgia is a blue state now” argument, although it can be plausibly argued that the state is now more competitive. But overall, Georgia is still a pretty heavily Republican-leaning state.
This doesn’t guarantee that David Purdue or Kelly Loeffler will win reelection, or that governor Brian Kemp is guaranteed to win a second term in 2022. But Biden’s narrow win is likely to fool Democrats into thinking that Georgia is not a Republican-leaning state anymore.