In a phone call on Sunday night, President Donald Trump instructed Georgia’s Secretary of State to find evidence of voter fraud in the November general election. In that election, Trump was defeated by challenger Joe Biden, prompting the incumbent to claim (without evidence) that voter fraud had robbed him of a victory. Since then, Trump’s campaigned has suffered numerous court losses in cases alleging that voter fraud took place.
Sunday’s phone call was Trump’s most recent attempt to undo the results of the November 3 election. The call saw Trump pressuring Brad Raffensperger, the Republican Secretary of State, to simply overturn Georgia’s election results and cite voter fraud. However, since such fraud didn’t take place, Raffensperger noted he has no intention of overriding the popular vote. Following the call, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan called the conversation “inappropriate.”
Speaking to reporters on Monday morning, Duncan stated “I am 100% certified to tell you that it was inappropriate. And it certainly did not help the situation.” Duncan’s statement is among the most forceful rebukes of the president in recent weeks, as Trump has doubled down on pressuring Georgia’s elected officials regarding the election results.
“It was based on misinformation, it was based on, you know, all types of theories that have been debunked and disproved over the course of the last 10 weeks,” Duncan continued, referencing Trump’s countless recent court defeats. Calling Trump’s election claims “misinformation” is strong language for a member of his own party and underscores how frustrated the GOP is becoming with the lame duck president.
Generally, Republicans have tried to avoid speaking out against the president. However, his recent conduct has clearly strained the patience of many elected officials in Georgia. Meanwhile, the state’s Republicans anxiously await tomorrow’s Senate runoff vote.
The Senate runoff races in the state offer a truly once-in-a-lifetime political moment: both of Georgia’s Senate seats are up for grabs, and Democrats could seize control of the upper chamber if they secure both. As such, many Republicans have anxiously tried to avoid open conflict with Trump even as he fumes over his election loss.
However, many are now concerned that the constant attacks on election integrity from Trump could depress Republican voter turnout. If the Republican voter base is convinced that their vote simply doesn’t matter anyway, they may choose to just stay home. This would be a disaster for Republicans, who rely on in-person voting on Election Day, as opposed to Democrats, who often gain a significant lead with early voting and mail-in voting.
Should Democrats gain control of the Senate, there will be few checks on President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda. Such a scenario is a nightmare for Republicans, who only four years ago controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.