Georgia's Primary Demonstrates How Incumbency Mattered to Voters

AP Photo/Ben Gray

We’ve seen plenty of armchair quarterbacking of Georgia’s primary last week, with experts and everyday citizens analyzing what the results mean for Trump’s endorsement of candidates. My PJ Media colleague Rick Moran has even explored how the race-hustlers and grievance-mongers of the left will spin the fact that Georgia’s 2021 voter law didn’t suppress minority turnout in the primaries into a voter-suppression narrative for the general election.


But one of the biggest themes we saw in the May 24 primary was the importance of incumbency. In large numbers, Georgia Republican voters trusted the people in power enough to reelect them.

Take a look at the governor’s race, for example. Gov. Brian Kemp faced a challenge by former senator David Perdue, and polls had Kemp projected to win by a landslide of about 30 points. The Kemp team, in what one staffer called a “scorched earth” campaign, concentrated on the governor’s record and how he can beat Stacey Abrams again. He won by 50 points.

Other statewide seats with incumbents running had similar results. Embattled Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger easily escaped a runoff, while Attorney General Chris Carr overwhelmingly survived his primary battle. One of the more interesting statewide races was for Insurance Commissioner. Kemp appointed John King to the post after Jim Beck, who won in 2020, was arrested for embezzlement. King was the first Hispanic statewide official in Georgia, and he also won handily.

“For those outside Georgia, that race is particularly telling because King had no real name ID as an appointee who stepped into the office when the elected Insurance Commissioner got indicted,” writes Erick Erickson. “King had no real campaign machine and traveled the state with Brian Kemp. King crushed his opponent and will go on to be Georgia’s first statewide elected Hispanic official.”


In the cases of these statewide officials, voters saw their records and trusted them for results. Incumbency with proven records mattered — the 2022 session of the General Assembly in particular gave the GOP tons of important victories.

Related: Georgia’s Historic Legislative Session Brought Important Conservative Victories

In congressional primaries where there was a Republican incumbent, the incumbent won handily (granted, a few of them ran unopposed). Click the dropdown on the right to see each district.

That phenomenon includes the controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene in the 14th district in the northwest part of the state. Even with one strong challenger (alongside a few weak ones) and tons of controversy surrounding her, Greene won easily.

But 14th district voters didn’t just go for Greene. Look at this quick analysis of how Greene’s district voted:

You can see in all three races that the incumbent not only won but trounced his or her closest challenger. It’s worth noting that Greene carried a Donald Trump endorsement while Kemp and Raffensperger didn’t.

The 2022 primaries were supposed to be a referendum on Trump and the 2020 election. It turns out that voters weren’t interested in rehashing that battle, even as they voted for Trump-endorsed candidates for open seats and stuck with candidates who had fought for the former president when he was in office and for the integrity of Georgia’s elections after 2020.


Or, as Dan McLaughlin put it over at National Review, “it turns out that Republican voters have a lot else on their minds, and aren’t particularly stuck in 2020.”

Georgians focused on the future and the GOP candidates who could ensure a better Georgia going forward. Those candidates, whether at the state or congressional level, are the ones in office now.

Now, let’s beat Stacey Abrams and Raphael Warnock.



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