With any challenging political environment, there are always very real opportunities to show leadership and win the trust of voters. In the second of a two-part series analyzing recent polling data released by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, we’ll discuss the real opportunities Republicans have in front of them for the election in 2022.

The General Assembly is now in the thick of debate and moving through the legislative process. One bill in particular is simultaneously a flag to plant and a beacon of destruction for the Republican Party. HB531 is the omnibus election reforms bill currently being debated. Naturally, strong partisan opinions on both sides are directing how this debate unfolds.

Going back to the AJC polling, Republicans can demonstrate leadership on this subject. The one word that scares many of the GOP legislators is moderation — but that is exactly what general election voters want to see. Voters want to see strong controls on the process of absentee ballots, as 74% of those polled want to require ID to request and cast a ballot by mail. Even 55% of self-identified liberals support such a measure, a 12% margin of those who don’t. However, 59% of those polled oppose eliminating drop boxes, with a margin of 22% against those who support. As well, 55% oppose eliminating no excuse absentee ballots.

Republicans need to show some degree of moderation when addressing these reforms. Thorough, seasoned, and unemotional debate is critical. This is where the real opportunity lies. Leadership is as much an intangible demonstration of values as it is showing your constituents you “passed something.” This is what voters in swing districts want to see. They don’t want to see partisan division continue to bog down the legislative process. They want to see consensus. Election reform bills are a perfect way to demonstrate that.

The other opportunity in front of the GOP is redistricting, and what that affords the party in 2022 and beyond. As we discussed in Part 1 and will discuss in a future piece, demographics in Georgia’s population are changing. While many people assume that demographics are destiny, there has been small but profound shifts among demographic populations in voting patterns and preferences. Notably, Trump increased his share of Hispanic voters (themselves an extremely diverse group of voters) in Florida and helped to move the State out of the swing column in 2020. This means that district lines can be drawn to create more diverse districts while protecting the Republican majority.

Yes, this will create more mildly competitive districts, but that is a good thing. The reality is that Republicans need to face some stiff competition at the ballot box, as that will breed innovation and development of better techniques in campaigning. Republicans lag far behind in absentee ballot chasing, ironic considering that Reagan pioneered the strategy during his re-election campaign in 1984.

We at Lesix might be odd in saying this, but we want the resulting fight that comes with taking a measured approach to governing. Republicans should be excited at the prospect of competitive primaries that allow genuine leaders to emerge. We should be excited at the prospect of beating Democrats in November to demonstrate our philosophical positions that actually result in policies that help protect peoples’ freedoms and livelihoods. We should cherish the opportunities that competition brings, instead of insulating ourselves from it by overreaching during this critical pre-election year.

*****

Sources:

https://www.ajc.com/politics/interactive-poll-of-georgia-voters-january-2021/TWP2LTEGFZEGNFUPMS3NIWPDWU/

https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/popest/2010s-state-detail.html#par_textimage_785300169

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54972389