Election Analysis: NBC’s Chuck Todd looks ahead to November as Georgia primary races take shape
41NBC Anchor Shelby Coates received some election insight from Todd
MACON, Georgia (41NBC.WMGT) – With several key races on the ballot, all eyes are on Georgia this Primary Election Day. Heading into Tuesday, 41NBC Anchor Shelby Coates received some election insight from NBC News Political Director and moderator for Meet the Press Chuck Todd.
Todd shares his take on Georgia’s race for governor and the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs. He also shares why he considers Georgia such an unusual battleground state that requires everyone to head to the voting booth Tuesday and in November.
Shelby Coates, 41NBC News Anchor/Exec. Producer: Let’s start off with the race for governor. The Republican frontrunners are current governor, Brian Kemp, and former U.S. Senator David Perdue. What’s your take on this contest, especially with Donald Trump, endorsing Perdue?
Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director and Moderator of Meet the Press: At this point, I think this race feels like it’s closer to being over than being competitive at this point. I think it’s pretty clear that the president’s [former President Trump’s] endorsement of David Perdue got him essentially into the race, got him the first tranche of money to be competitive in a primary, but it didn’t get him over the top. And I think part of it is, is a couple of things. It’s much harder to knock off an incumbent governor than it is an incumbent Senator.
I think a lot of it had to do with that David Perdue’s entrance into the race was at the behest of Trump, and it was all about the 2020 election. It had nothing to do with the job Governor Kemp did as governor. And I think that that’s, what’s held him back. It’s sort of one of those things, I don’t want to sit here and say, Trump’s endorsement is a negative.
Trump’s endorsement hasn’t been a negative to David Perdue. David Perdue hasn’t given a rationale for why he wants to be governor. You know, I think this is a reflection of the president [former President Trump] having the wrong message for the wrong person. And frankly, I think David Perdue’s the wrong type of challenger in an environment like this, where somebody from Washington is not somebody people want to look to now, if they’re looking for change. I just think a lot of this political environment is a political environment that David Perdue just simply doesn’t fit as a candidate and as a profile, regardless of whether he had Trump’s support or not.
Shelby Coates, 41NBC News: Do you think Gov. Brian Kemp is the strong Republican candidate to take on Democrats Stacey Abrams in November?
Chuck Todd, NBC News: Oh, I think it’s pretty clear that Brian Kemp would be the much stronger candidate for Republicans. Again, it is really hard to knock off a sitting incumbent governor, whether in a primary or general election. Voters… usually like to give a governor a second term. It is rare for governors to lose after first term. It happens. Roy Barnes is a recent example just in the state of Georgia. So, it’s quite possible, and I think this is going to be a nail-biter race, especially when you have a, a full-on rematch now.
That said, the role of Donald Trump in this governor’s race with Kemp and Abrams is going to be fascinating to watch. He’s going to be this wild card. You know, if you don’t have Trump’s endorsement, the other thing you don’t want to have is his ire. Is he [Trump] so frustrated that Kemp won his primary, and Kemp won so easily, that he’s [Trump’s] so bitter, that he tries to sabotage, so he can say, well– I want Kemp to lose the general [election]?. So, I [Trump] could say, see, he [Kemp] couldn’t win the general [election], which was my point all along.
That to me is going to be something Kemp has to figure out how to manage.
Shelby Coates, 41NBC News: I want to switch gears and talk about the race for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat. What are your thoughts on Herschel Walker as the front runner, and can he take on current Senator Raphael Warnock if he wins his party primary?
Chuck Todd, NBC News: Herschel Walker has not ended up in a competitive primary. I think some of us thought there would be more of an effort early on though. The Republican establishment here in Washington led by Mitch McConnell, decided not to have a primary fight with Donald Trump and went ahead and rallied around Walker.
I do think Republicans have made a mistake here. If their goal is to defeat an incumbent Senator, you don’t want to recruit a candidate who is sometimes as well known or more well-known than an incumbent.
To knock off an incumbent, the easiest way to do it is to make it a referendum on the incumbent. Herschel Walker’s nomination will not make this a referendum on Warnock. It may be as much a referendum on Walker’s ability to do the job as it is for Senator Warnock’s ability to stay in.
Shelby Coates, 41NBC News: Georgia is now a swing state. Come November, could Warnock lose his Senate seat and Georgia send a Republican to Congress this time.
Chuck Todd, NBC News: Look, Georgia is about as tight of a battleground state, as you can have. It is as polarized of a state. There are not many swing voters in Georgia. I think really it is about turnout left and right. I think we learned that there is no real swing county in the state. It really is about margins. You know, how well do Democrats do in the Atlanta area? How well do Republicans do in the rural parts of the state?
I think the best thing Senator Warnock has going for him is Stacey Abrams because she is not only popular inside the Democratic electorate, but she has so many resources for get-out-the-vote. I just think it’s an added bonus for him. I don’t know if Abrams can beat Kemp, but Abrams’ ability to organize is only going to benefit Warnock. And, I do think there’s enough of a disparity, there’s certainly enough swing voters, where you can have a situation where Warnock may win and Kemp may win.
The one thing I’m wondering about with Georgia… I do think Democrats nationally don’t look like they’re in good shape, but I do think that Warnock and Abrams will energize the Democratic electorate in Georgia in a way that Democrats won’t be fired up in other states, and that could be the difference between winning and losing for Warnock.