“The voter suppression we’re seeing in Georgia and across the country is Jim Crow in new clothes,” Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia wrote on Facebook last year while campaigning for reelection. Such rhetoric has become commonplace on the political left, even while it has never been more divorced from reality.
In January, President Biden traveled to Atlanta and used similarly charged language to describe voting rules supported by Republican lawmakers in Georgia and other states. “Jim Crow 2.0 is about two insidious things: voter suppression and election subversion,” Biden said. “It’s no longer about who gets to vote. It’s about making it harder to vote.” Vice President Kamala Harris added that she would “not stop fighting against the anti-voter legislation that Republican legislatures continue to push at the state level.” Anti-voter legislation?
Democrats insist that Republicans have made it harder to cast a ballot by passing voter ID laws, limiting the timeframe for early voting, and reverting to pre-Covid voting protocols now that the pandemic has subsided. But if that’s true, why has voter participation been rising, including among the minority groups that Democrats claim are being targeted for disenfranchisement?
Warnock defeated his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, in a runoff election on Tuesday that saw voter turnout exceed what it was on Election Day last month. It “surpassed expectations of election officials, who expected fewer voters to show up for the second round of voting,” reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Instead, turnout “increased by 200,000 voters from the 1.4 million people who cast ballots in Nov. 8 in the general election.”
According to the U.S. Elections Project database run by University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald, Georgia’s voter turnout this year not only exceeded the national average but was the highest of any state in the South, where black voter registration tends to be higher than in other parts of the country. Nevertheless, Georgia has become the poster child for a voter-suppression narrative that simply can’t withstand serious scrutiny. Progressive Democrat Stacey Abrams lost her 2018 gubernatorial bid in the Peach State and has made voter suppression her signature issue ever since, even though black voter registration and turnout rates in the state that year surpassed those of whites. Nor was the phenomenon limited to Georgia. An analysis of the 2018 midterms by the Pew Research Center found that “all major racial and ethnic groups saw historic jumps in voter turnout.”
You might expect that black voter participation would grow with Barack Obama on the ballot, and it did, but the trend predates the election of the nation’s first black president and speaks more broadly to an advancement in race relations that Democrats downplay or ignore out of political expediency. Black voting rates have increased steadily since the Clinton administration, according to census data, even as more states have passed voter ID laws that liberals say deter black voting. In 2008 and 2012, the national black voter-turnout rate surpassed the white turnout rate, even in states with the strictest voter ID laws. Democrats continue to invoke the nation’s ugly Jim Crow past to suggest that nothing has really changed since the 1950s, but when Obama won the presidency in 2008, he performed better among white voters in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia than John Kerry did in 2004 and Al Gore did in 2000.
In Georgia this week, Warnock accomplished something similar, and in a saner political environment it would be recognized for the racial progress that it represents in a state that was once a bastion of the Confederacy. Warnock won by big margins in racially and ethnically diverse Cobb and Gwinnett Counties, the state’s biggest after Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, reported the Wall Street Journal. “Mr. Warnock drew 59% of the vote or more . . . in the two counties, larger shares than Mr. Biden drew in his narrow victory in 2020. A decade ago, both counties reliably voted Republican.”
Warnock’s victory is yet more evidence that black voters can turn out and make a difference in elections when they are sufficiently motivated to do so. The voter-suppression narrative that Democrats push is a turnout strategy: the goal is to keep black voters angry and paranoid. “Just because people endured long lines that wrapped around buildings, some blocks long, just because people endured the rain, and the cold, and all kinds of tricks in order to vote doesn’t mean that voter suppression does not exist. It simply means that you, the people, have decided that your voices will not be silenced,” said Warnock in his victory speech.
Democrats are making a heads-I-win-tails-you-lose argument. By their reasoning, a Democratic loss is evidence of voter suppression, but so is a Democratic win. Moreover, the If I don’t win, votes were suppressed narrative is a close cousin of the If I don’t win, the election was rigged narrative that they rightly criticize. Do they even hear themselves?
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