Donald Trump will certainly sink Herschel Walker (R) if Sen. Raphael Warnock (R-GA) has anything to say about it. And he is already working on it with this video:
Here’s how Warnock’s campaign is playing it: A 30-second ad released today features Trump’s endorsement of Walker at his Tuesday announcement. Near the end, this message appears: “Stop Donald Trump. Stop Herschel Walker.” #gapol #gasen pic.twitter.com/B3MzXnOBFu— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) November 17, 2022
If you don't want to bother watching it, it shows Trump endorsing Walker then, at the end, the words: "STOP DONALD TRUMP. STOP HERSCHEL WALKER." appear on the screen. Warnock is trying to connect them like Siamese twins. This is precisely what Republicans are worrying about: an election in which Trump is on the ballot even though he is not on the ballot. Their fear is that it will motivate Democrats to vote more than it will motivate Republicans. It will be hard for Republicans to localize the race and make it about Georgia issues when Warnock is doing his best to make it an up-or-down vote on Trump.
Warnock's strategy has two targets. First, he is aiming at Democrats statewide. Most of them despise Trump and if they think a vote for Walker is a vote for Trump, they will make every effort to make it to the polls. Second, Warnock is aiming at the Atlanta suburbs, which includes many college-educated voters who are (or were) nominally Republicans. Quite a few of them don't like Trump, and having him thrown in their faces on television every day is going to remind them to go vote.
The only potential downside for Warnock is also motivating the Republican base. But Trump's popularity there is shrinking. The exit polls on Nov. 8 showed that only 37% of the voters approve of Trump, so he is bleeding even among Republicans. So in essence, Warnock is making a calculated (and evidence-based) bet that more Democrats than Republicans will be motivated by making the runoff a referendum on Trump.
In contrast to Trump, whose appearance with Walker would be a mixed bag, Gov. Brian Kemp (R-GA) is actively campaigning for Walker and has appeared on the stump with him. The Governor no doubt figures that showing loyalty to the Republican Party is worth the indirect association with Trump. Also, if Walker loses by a little bit, no one will be able to accuse Kemp of not being a team player. Just coincidentally, Kemp will be term limited in 2026, just as the term of Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) ends. Kemp probably knows that. (V)