Walker Campaign

Rebecca Meghani

During the midterm election cycle, voters have been targeted with candidates’ ads that promote their campaigns. This has resulted in multiple smear campaigns, specifically against Herschel Walker, GA’s Republican candidate, by Raphael Warnock, GA’s Democratic candidate. Walker has been accused of pressuring women to get an abortion with the second women revealing her claims right before the election day. 

During a press conference on Oct. 26, an anonymous woman accused Walker of pressuring her to have an abortion in 1993. Walker has expressed support for a federal abortion ban, one of the strictest with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.

“Herschel Walker is a hypocrite and he is not fit to be a U.S. senator,” Jane Doe said. “We don’t need people in the U.S. Senate who profess one thing and do another. 

Jane Doe brought forth evidence of her relationship with Walker and he has continuously denied claims that he paid for an abortion, including at an event in northeast GA.

“You know, guys, I’m done with this foolishness,” Walker said. “I’ve already told people this is a lie.”

There have been suspicions that releasing this information in the manner it was done is a strategy by the Democratic party to hurt Walker’s numbers in the midterms. Jane Doe stated she decided to come forward with this information after she heard that Walker denied previous allegations from another woman who stated he paid for her abortion.

According to The Associated Press, Warnock received 49.4% of the vote while Walker received 48.5% resulting in a December runoff election. Due to this continuation of the election, the voters will continue to face the onslaught of political ads throughout the next month. Warnock and other democratic groups have spent millions on ads to derail Walker’s campaign. According to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that tracks money in politics, both Warnock, Walker and outside groups have spent a total of $262 million. 

Walker has faced much controversy during his campaign cycle which seemingly may have affected his numbers. 

“Going into the senate race, we have a candidate that is propped up by the national Republican party, specifically Donald Trump, and I think the voters can tell the difference between a candidate like Kemp who can stand on their own and a candidate like Walker who really can’t and does what he is told which made the difference for me,” said Connor Hilly, a junior political science and economics major. “I voted for Brian Kemp and in the senate race, I voted third party because I didn’t like either candidate and I don’t know what I was hoping for but I knew that I couldn’t in good conscience vote for either of them.”

Even throughout the Republican party, there have been doubts about Walker among some due to his past.

“His history clearly shows he doesn’t give a damn about abortion,” Hilly said. “For me, I’m a pro-choice voter so it’s hard for me to distinguish if that matters to pro-life voters. I will say, for most of my pro-life friends, they voted for him anyways but it definitely mattered to me and the results show it matters to other people as well.”

Though the senate election went into a runoff, the republican candidate for governor, Brian Kemp, won his election by 7.5%, according to The Associated Press. Within the Republican party, there have been differences between Trump backed candidates, like Walker, and non-Trump backed candidates, like Kemp. 

“This is a sign that Republican messaging right now is not working, that the MAGA wing of the party is not effective to people,” Hilly said. “There’s a lot of issues voters are concerned about and we were prophesying a red wave, you hear it across social media and cable news channels but it didn’t happen. I think it didn’t happen because Republicans are going too close to the sun, too far to the right with the MAGA wing of the party. If you look across the country, most of the Trump backed candidates when non-Trump backed candidates did better.”

MAGA, Make America Great Again, has become a popular slogan within the Republican Party since Donald Trump, former President of the United States and currently running for president for 2024, used it during his past presidential campaign. This movement has been viewed as more radical in comparison to the moderate side of the Republican party that has quickly become popular among Republican voters.

“MAGA has driven a wedge between voters within the Republican party,” Hilly said. “This is an omen for Republicans and we need to change the message. Tuesday’s results showed that we flew too close to the sun. The MAGA movement has created a radical wing of the party that has always been there, I mean both parties have their radical parties, but Trump has added fuel to that fire and there’s a battle in the Republican party.”

As Walker is a Trump backed candidate and has also been accused with allegations that damage his reputation, there is the question of morality versus policy when it comes down to voting. This seems to have made a difference in GA’s midterms as Kemp outperformed the Democratic governor candidate, Stacey Abrams, but Walker was unable to do the same against Warnock. 

“A lot of people thought he was morally neutral by just doing what is he told but there is a difference between that and someone who is not morally great and made a lot of mistakes,” Hilly said. “Who you are as a person matters but for other people, it’s plain down the line of policy and we can see that in people who just vote red or blue. Enough people do that to where morality doesn’t make a swing.”

Election day’s result in the senate race can prove this clear difference between MAGA Republicans and more moderate Republicans by the race going into a runoff. GA has been known as a red state that arguably has shifted slightly in recent years with a higher percentage of voters voting for the Democratic party. 

“I think GA is a purple state, I will go as far to say that I think we are a swing state,” Hilly said. “If Republicans came back down to Earth, we wouldn’t really be a swing state. If we continue to promote these MAGA candidates, I think you’re going to lose more moderates and GA is going to become more purple.”

While morality is an issue for some voters, having Republican control over the senate may be more important which is what we may see reflected in GA’s runoff election.