Democratic achievements in Georgia confronted with the reality of « midterms »

“If the Democrats win the next election, they will destroy our country, destroy our families, destroy our values. I’m afraid. You have seen how the United States has changed over the past two years, how it has forced people to take vaccines. It is no longer just an election. It is a question of resistance. »

In the parking lot of a flooring and rug merchant in the small town of Dalton, in northern Georgia, Suzanne Foster was emotional on edge last week when speaking politics ahead of the election mid-term on November 8.

But the young entrepreneur still kept smiling after having, a few minutes earlier, with a handful of other convinced Republicans, attended in this same parking lot an impassioned speech by her Senate candidate, Herschel Walker, American football star turned figure. rising trumpism in this southern state.

“You have seen how solid he is. We will do everything to send him to Washington to represent us, she added. And God will help us. »

With more than a week to go, the election campaign appears to be gaining momentum in Georgia, where Republicans are hoping to unseat Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, a pastor from the south of the state, in hopes of regaining a majority within of the upper house of Congress. The ballot also remains an important test for the Democrats who have increased their support there in recent years, tipping the state into their camp in 2020, in favor of two senators, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, but also of Joe Biden. Georgia opened the door to the White House for him, having last done so for a Democrat in 1992 during Bill Clinton’s first term.

“Georgia has turned blue [la couleur des démocrates], summarizes in an interview the political scientist Jelena Subotić, professor at Georgia State University. The question now is whether it can stay that way. »

The latest polls deliver a mixed response, showing a slight lead in favor of Democrat Warnock in office in the Senate, but a gap of more than six points in favor of Governor Brian Kemp over his Democratic rival, Stacey Abrams. The ex-representative of Georgia in Congress from 2007 to 2017 and presidential figure of the Democratic camp is trying this year to dislodge the Republican for the second time and, thus, become the first African-American woman to lead this state, after his defeat. in 2018.

“We have entered uncertain ground”, summarizes in an interview with the To have to Bob Christian, Democratic candidate for the position of representative of the sixth district of the state, which includes part of the former lands of Newt Gingrich, architect of the radicalism of the Republicans, which Donald Trump inherited. “But don’t underestimate Georgia’s new voice, which has become more democratic than you think. We were threatened with a red wave [la couleur des républicains] in 2020, and it didn’t happen. Will it be the same this year? We will see. Will the blue intensify in the next election cycle [soit en 2024] ? I bet yes. »

The issue of abortion

In an election that has historically tended to skew the ruling party, Democrats are hoping big to hold on to office and perhaps win other local political seats, capitalizing on perceptible fears among the public about threats what the Republicans are doing to democracy and women’s abortion rights.

« It took a man to take these rights away from us, » Stacey Abrams said last week at a political rally in the north of the capital, targeting her opponent Brian Kemp. It will take a woman to restore them. »

“I feel, around me, that women are more mobilized to vote this year and ensure that the Democrats have the majority necessary to protect, in federal law, access to abortion throughout the country, leaves fall Marina Freudzion, a young mother who came to exercise her right to vote in advance in an office in the Atlanta area. And this is something that intensified after the revelations made about Herschel Walker. »

Revelations? The far-right and populist candidate who campaigns by insisting on his faith, posing as a « warrior prepared by God to enter the Senate » and condemning abortion, including for medical reasons or after rape , was overtaken by his past in the middle of the electoral campaign. An ex-girlfriend assured that he had forced her to terminate a pregnancy in 2009 and that he had even paid for this abortion. She filed as evidence a copy of a $700 check from Mr. Walker, a receipt from the abortion clinic and a Republican-signed ‘get well soon’ card, reported The Daily Beast.

On Wednesday, a new ex of the candidate also wanted to denounce the hypocrisy of the Trumpist, accusing him of having acted in the same way in 1993. A few days ago, one of the candidate’s sons publicly called his father a  » liar « .

“We don’t even know if it’s true, commented this week LuGina Brown, political organizer for Republicans in Floyd County, met in the city of Rome, to restore the image of her candidate. And then, these are personal things. Everyone has the right to make mistakes. »

“On a personal level, Herschel Walker is just as problematic as Trump. And it’s a chance for the Democrats, who could get the vote of moderate Republican women, repelled by the ex-president, as they did in 2020, and thus keep control of the Senate, « says Jelena Subotić .

Significant mobilization

Sign of a mobilization exacerbated by issues related to the protection of democracy, abortion or even access to the polls – systematically threatened by elected Republicans at each election -, barely seven days after the start advance voting, nearly 1.4 million voters — out of the 7.7 million registered on the lists — had already expressed their choice. This vote is generally more inclined to support Democrats. Republicans, meanwhile, vote more often on Election Day. This is a level equivalent to the 2020 presidential elections.

“The more they try to prevent us from going to vote, the more that convinces us to go out to do it, summed up Wednesday Michael Gordon, a retired firefighter met in the historic district of Savannah, in the deep south of the State. . Each of their attack is accompanied by a counter-attack from our part, added the African-American. There, we are in the process of defeating them. And on November 8, we’re going to make them matte. »

« There was a substantial increase in new voter registrations following the Supreme Court’s overturning of the Roe vs. Wade abortion decision last June, » notes Joseph Watson, political communications specialist at the University of Georgia. If many of those voters oppose the move, they should vote against pro-life Republican candidates, and that could boost turnout and the Democratic vote beyond what polls can currently suggest. »

Since 2018, 1.6 million Georgians have come out of their electoral silence by registering on the electoral lists. Most come from groups more supportive of Democrats, such as African Americans, urban youth under 35, and those who moved to Georgia from urban or suburban areas in other states. This brings the share of citizens of voting age now registered to do so to 95%, according to the Federal Election Assistance Commission.

« I’m sure we’re going to stay blue this year, and for a few more years, » said Samuel Rawls, an employee of a crusader airline in Fulton County, where Donald Trump sought, in 2020, to invent voices to manufacture a victory in the state. But that remains Georgia, with its way of being. The Republicans are still very rooted there, in certain regions, outside the cities. The state of mind is redder, still behind Donald Trump, despite everything. And you can be surprised. »

A state of mind summed up by Jim Tully, president of the Paulding County Republican Party who came to demonstrate, with rage and anger, last Sunday in front of a Democratic rally held in the theater of the small town of Dallas, north of Atlanta.

« This election is literally a matter of life or death, » he said loudly, while proudly holding his American flag. If they win, we will become Venezuela, China, Russia, a country where the government dictates what clothes you can wear, what job you have and how many cars you can own. We will never be a free country again. »

And he added: “Americans love their freedom. And they will do anything to keep it. »

This report was financed thanks to the support of the Transat International Journalism Fund.The duty.

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