Georgia Senate Odds: Herschel Walker Scandal Sinking Campaign?

Written By Evan Scrimshaw on October 11, 2022
herschel walker

With the revelations last week about him paying for an abortion, Herschel Walker is in trouble to win Georgia’s Senate seat. With his position potentially weakened, can Democrats take advantage and win the seat? Or will the GOP rally the flag in what was reliably red territory until 2020?

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Georgia Senate Election Odds: Party To Win

Republican odds in Georgia have sunk from $0.44 at the start of August.

PartyPredictIt PriceImplied Odds
Democrats$0.66 -194
Republicans$0.35 +185

Herschel Walker Abortion Scandal Details

The former University of Georgia Bulldogs star has been no stranger to controversy already this year. Between not being able to answer questions to claiming in a speech that China will take America’s “good air” and send back “bad air” if Democrats’ climate legislation gets approved, he’s courted controversy.

This time, the controversy isn’t over what he said, but what he did. In the spring, it came out he had more kids than just the one we knew about, the TikTok influencer Christian Walker. It came out that he had multiple children he had never disclosed, and that he barely ever saw them.

Last week, it came out that the mother of one of his kids had had an abortion in the late 2000s, which Herschel initially claimed was false. He also said he’d sue for defamation (no lawsuit has come).

Since then, he’s claimed that he didn’t know the woman he paid with a personal check to have the abortion. That is disproven by the fact his wife texted the woman this week to try and stop her talking to the Daily Beast. It’s also disproven by the fact that she is the mother of one of Herschel’s kids.

There’s been almost no polling of this race since the scandal broke, except a poll taken on the day after the initial story broke, showing Walker down 3%. The more concerning point for Republicans is the fact that that same pollster – InsiderAdvantage – had Walker up 3% last time they polled.

Effects Of The Scandal

This is going to be a huge problem for the GOP, because Walker’s now going to bleed votes he can’t afford to lose. The reason Georgia has trended left, and the reason Biden, Warnock, and Ossoff won it in 2020, is simple. There are tons of voters who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 who now can’t vote for the current GOP.

This is not just true in Georgia, or in America – every time an English speaking democracy goes to an election, the right does worse amongst degree holding voters. These voters used to vote for the GOP, or the Canadian or UK Conservatives, because their economic interest in tax cuts exceeded their willingness to vote against their party’s cultural conservatism.

The combination of Trump, the repeal of federal abortion rights, and the fact that the GOP got three social conservatives on the Supreme Court has meant that these voters can’t vote for the GOP anymore in most cases.

To reverse this, the GOP needed to run a candidate who could come off as more socially moderate than usual, and they didn’t. By running Walker, who likened abortion to murder, they already closed that path off. Now, the fact that he has had an abortion means that even more of these voters will be offput by his lying.

At this point, Herschel’s best case scenario would be the Libertarian candidate taking a lot of these disaffected Republican votes and Walker winning with 46% of the vote. But, in Georgia, that’s not possible – you need 50% to win.

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Runoff Election?

Herschel’s biggest problem is the runoff rule, because if no candidate gets 50% on the day in Georgia, the top-two candidates go to a runoff. This saved Georgia Democrats in 2020, when Jon Ossoff actually lost by any other state’s rules but still won because of that runoff.

Here, the GOP have a problem, because their best chance to win was 50% on the day, and now the Herschel scandal forecloses most of that chance. The GOP have a better chance on the day, because as turnout in Georgia rises, more and more of the electorate is in Trump-friendly parts of the state. Drop turnout, and you end up losing more Republicans than Democrats from the pool.

This is why Democrats won in 2021 by more than Biden did – Black voters in the state came out at the same rate as November, but rural whites – the GOP’s best voters – didn’t. The GOP will suffer that same fate in a December 2022 runoff, which means they have to win outright.

But they can’t, and Democrats definitely can win on the night. Getting Raphael Warnock to a runoff might be the best the GOP can do – but that’s not worth much in the grand scheme of things.

Conclusions

The weird refusal of some in the press to acknowledge the very obvious – that this scandal is a heat-seeking missile for Romney 2012-Biden 2020 voters to stay Democrats – has led to people thinking this scandal won’t matter.

It will.

Herschel’s only plausible path to victory was outright on election night. Runoff dynamics are too difficult in Georgia now for the GOP to have much of a chance to win in December. Now, with this scandal over his head, his chances of outright victory are greatly diminished.

The problem with Herschel’s entire candidacy is that it was a fraud. From what his son has said, Walker promised to get ahead of his past and now hasn’t. The other thing is, the entire premise of why Herschel Walker would be a good candidate is fraudulent.

There are two ways a Republican wins Georgia these days – doing better than Donald Trump in the white parts of greater Atlanta, or doing better with Black voters. Herschel was never going to be a good candidate for Forsyth County’s left-trending band of social liberals. His appeal, implicit as it was, was that running a Black Georgia star would get Black Democrats to switch right.

The problem with that is Black Georgians aren’t idiots, and the idea that just running a Black person would win Black votes was nonsense. The Walker candidacy was based around white Republicans’ assumptions about what Black Georgians would vote for, and now they’re screwed.

Herschel’s candidacy is the political equivalent of a 7-5 Bulldogs season at this point. They might win their Bowl game – or, get this race to a runoff – but nobody will consider it a success.

The GOP threw away a winnable Senate race the second they ran Herschel. Now, he’s just confirmed it. Bet accordingly.

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Evan Scrimshaw

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