Donald Trump isn’t the only politician who doesn’t like to lose. Mitch McConnell doesn’t, either.
That is why outgoing Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) has soured on departing President Donald Trump — Trump single-handedly cost the GOP its edge in the chamber.
On paper, the Republicans never should have lost those two special U.S. Senate runoffs — the GOP still holds a commanding 7.9% edge in base party strength in the Peach State, even though that is down a sizable 4.6% from 2016.
In fact, Republicans hold a larger advantage in base party strength in Georgia than in neighboring Florida (+5.6%), where Republicans hold not only the governorship but both U.S. Senate seats. Georgia Republicans’ status also compares favorably with Iowa (+5.7%) and North Carolina (+2.3%), yet the GOP holds both U.S. Senate seats in both Hawkeyeland and the Tarheel State.
But Trump’s unhinged ranting about being “robbed” of victory in the presidential election was toxic in the two months leading up to Jan. 5, in the Atlanta suburbs and some other urban centers around Georgia. Incumbent U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, trying to stay loyal to the president, were between a rock and a hard place and couldn’t overcome the growing antipathy to sore loser Trump.
But other Georgia Republicans didn’t fare so badly, either in the general election or in the Jan. 5 runoffs.
For example, Republicans won both the statewide Public Service Commission races that were on the Georgia general election ballot last year. In District 1, the Republican nominee, Jason Shaw, won outright by about four percentage points, topping 50% and avoiding a runoff. In District 4, Republican incumbent Lauren “Bubba” McDonald finished nearly three points ahead of his Democratic opponent but fell just short of a 50%+1 majority with 49.9% of the vote and so faced a Jan. 5, 2021, runoff. In the 1/5 special election, on the same ballot with the two U.S. Senate races, McDonald won with 50.6% to his African-American Democratic opponent’s 49.4% — closer than the 11/3/20 verdict but McDonald cleared 50% and so was elected.
In other words, both Shaw and McDonald outperformed their fellow Republicans, Loeffler and Perdue, by 2-3%, which was the difference between winning and losing.
What’s more, in the Nov. 3 Georgia regular election, all 56 seats in the state Senate were on the ballot. Republicans retained their majority, losing only one seat statewide, to emerge with a 34-22 edge over the Democrats. In the popular vote, it wasn’t that close, either. Republicans got about 2.4 million votes in the aggregate statewide, Democrats just over 2.0 million. In the state House of Representatives elections, the GOP suffered a net loss of two seats but retained their majority, 103-77. Republicans got a cumulative statewide 51.3% of the total vote, Democrats 48.7%.
Baseline party strength captures a state or Congressional district’s political performance by combining all federal and state election results over the past four cycles (2014-2020) into a single average. It’s akin to meshing election results in Michigan from the state education board races over four cycles to calculate base party strength in the Great Lakes State.
According to Bradley Wascher, contributing analyst for the Washington-D.C.-based newsletter, Inside Elections, who has run the numbers state-by-state nationwide, there are 29 states with a Republican advantage in base party strength and 21 states where Democrats have the edge. Michigan is estimated to have a 1.8% Democratic edge — that’s the weakest of the 21 states where Democrats prevail. Georgia is considered to be the 22nd most Republican state in the union out of 29 where that is true.