- Donald Trump admits he could have done more to boost voter turnout in the critical 2021 Georgia Senate runoffs.
- Trump told reporter David Drucker he didn’t do more because he was “angry” over the election outcome.
- Analyses of voter data show a significant drop-off in turnout among conservative voters in the runoffs.
Former President Donald Trump admitted he could have done more to boost voter turnout in the critical 2021 Georgia Senate runoffs for incumbent GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, but didn’t because he was “angry” over losing the 2020 presidential election.
Trump discussed his role in the January 5 runoffs in an interview for Washington Examiner reporter and author David Drucker’s new book, “In Trump’s Shadow: The Battle for 2024 and the Future of the GOP,” published on Tuesday.
“They didn’t want to vote, because they knew they got screwed in the presidential election,” Trump told Drucker of Georgia Republicans, acknowledging that depressed GOP turnout cost Republicans control of the Senate.
Drucker then asked Trump what he think could have happened if the then-president had instead said that, “despite some irregularities that deserved looking into, the state’s voting system was reliable” and urged his supporters to vote.
“I don’t know,” Trump said. “I did two very successful rallies – very successful rallies. I did say a version of that, but not as strongly as you said, because I was very angry with what happened there.”
Following the Republican losses in Georgia, which handed Senate control to Democrats, Trump insisted he wasn’t to blame. Instead, he repeatedly pointed fingers at Georgia’s GOP governor, Brian Kemp, for refusing to overturn his state’s election results and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for refusing to support $US2,000 ($AU2,696) stimulus checks as part of the December 2020 COVID-19 relief bill.
Two full recounts in Georgia confirmed that Trump lost the presidential election in Georgia by about 12,000 votes, but the former president has continued to aggressively spread the lie that the election was rigged.
Trump went on to tell Drucker that his fixation on the 2020 results “could be a problem” or “could be an asset” going into the 2022 midterm elections.
But the available evidence from the Georgia runoffs, where two Democrats, Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, unseated their Republican opponents, points to the former. Analyses of verified voter file data and precinct-level results show that low turnout among Republicans and Trump supporters are to blame for Perdue and Loeffler’s losses.
An analysis from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that over half of the 752,000 voters who voted in the presidential election but sat out the runoffs were white and disproportionately hailed from strongly Republican rural areas that backed Trump in 2020, particularly in Northwest and Southeast Georgia.
By contrast, the areas with the least amount of voter drop-off between the presidential and runoff elections tended to be more nonwhite and Democratic-leaning, like the rapidly blue-trending Atlanta metro area and predominantly Black regions of Southwest Georgia. The 228,000 new voters who cast ballots for the first time in the runoffs were also predominately younger and nonwhite, constituencies that are disproportionately left-leaning.
Another report from Georgia Public Broadcasting found that Georgia precincts that backed Trump in 2020 saw a drop-off of 310,000 voters compared to a 220,000 vote dropoff in precincts that backed President Joe Biden.
The Trump team’s legal efforts to overturn his election loss included infighting and power struggles between White House lawyers and Rudy Giuliani. Pro-Trump lawyers like Sidney Powell and Lin Wood also spread disinformation and conspiracy theories and told Republicans not to vote, contributing to the lower turnout.
Perdue, who had asked the Trump team to spend more time campaigning in Georgia before the election that forced him into a runoff, appealed to the White House to try and stop Trump from stop pushing allegations of fraud, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender’s book “Frankly We Did Win This Election.” But Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and then-White House advisor, told Perdue he was out of luck.
“Once Donald put Rudy in charge, it guaranteed this was going to be a clown show,” Kushner told Perdue, according to the book, adding: “I can’t help you.”