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Breaking down the midterms with Chris Dowd

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Sofi Gratas/GPB News
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Gov. Brian Kemp gives a thumbs-up sign in celebration of his reelection win over Stacey Abrams on Nov. 8, 2022.

On the morning after Georgia's midterm elections, Chris Dowd, editor and publisher of AthensPoliticsNerd.com stopped by the WUGA studios to help us break down last night’s election results.

Transcript:

Martin Matheny: Chris, welcome, thanks for joining us this morning.

Chris Dowd: Thank you, glad to be here.

Matheny: Let's start with the statewide picture - the US Senate race, which we'll get to - is still up in the air as of now, but Republicans held onto the full array of statewide constitutional offices: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General. But this is also a state that just two years ago Georgia went for Joe Biden, and it sent two Democrats to the US Senate.

Matheny: How purple is Georgia right now at 7:46 AM on November 9th?

Dowd: I think we're a pretty purple state. We have, you know, Warnock in the lead ... and you know, I think we're in a place now where if Democrats have, you know, a really good candidate running a really good campaign, they're very competitive, so I would say that we're a purple state.

Matheny: Let's talk a little bit about turnout in this midterm election -- record-setting turnout in early voting and absentee voting. What have you seen from the electorate in this midterm election? Is there anything that surprised you about turnout in general?

Dowd: Well, I think early voting is getting more and more popular. I think people thought that we were going to just completely smash the record book based on the early voting turn out, but it just seems like it's just getting more popular.

Dowd: People are choosing to do that over, you know Election Day voting but but yeah, turn out was really great. Here in Athens, our early voting turnout almost beat our total turn out for 2014 for example. So that was really incredible.

Matheny: We haven't quite gotten up to the 2018 levels that that we had seen, which were amazingly high really record-breaking, but it's still an excellent turnout so far. It actually started off pretty slow at first, but it really picked up towards the end of the early voting period, right?

Dowd: Yeah, that's right. Yeah, exactly.

Matheny: I want to talk a little bit about the race for U.S. Senate. Herschel Walker generally underperformed compared to statewide Republicans like Brian Kemp and Brad Raffensperger - three to four points below other statewide Republicans. Is that a function of Walker's missteps as a candidate, or is there more going on here?

Dowd: I think so. I think there are some independents, especially, and even some Republicans who just did not want to vote for Walker and and they voted for anyone else.

Dowd: Basically they didn't vote or or they voted for the libertarian. I think in that many cases, they've also voted for Warnock, so he got about 125,000 more votes than Stacey Abrams did, so there's a lot of ticket splitting going on.

Matheny: In about the 30 seconds that we have left, I want to ask a question about the influence of Donald Trump on Georgia's politics. The governor, not really beholden to Donald Trump - how powerful a figure is Trump going to be in Georgia politics?

Dowd: Well, I think he still has a lot of sway but yeah, he's not sort of the juggernaut that that people have made him out to be, he's definitely seeing some kinks in his armor.

Matheny: All right, Chris Dowd, editor and publisher of AthensPoliticsNerd.com. Thanks so much for your time on this Wednesday morning. Go get some sleep man.

Dowd: OK, thank you.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.