Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Georgia Stacey Abrams speaks as her Republican opponent Secretary of State Brian Kemp looks on during a debate in Atlanta, Georgia, October 23, 2018.
John Bazemore/Pool via REUTERS

Trump thinks Georgia race was ‘stacked against’ Kemp (it wasn’t)

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 11/16/18, 9:29 PM ET

Stacey Abrams, beaten but not defeated, vows voting rights fight

Rachel Maddow reports on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ non-concession speech in which she acknowledged that she was out of legal options to contest Brian Kemp’s victory, but vowed continued legal action over Georgia’s voting rights
In his latest Fox News interview, which aired yesterday, Donald Trump was eager to defend the Republican Party’s poor showing in the midterm elections by arguing that he personally looked good. The president was specifically excited about Georgia’s gubernatorial race, which ended late on Friday afternoon with Brian Kemp’s (R) victory.

Referring to some of Stacey Abrams’ (D) high-profile supporters, Trump told Fox News’ Chris Wallace, “I won against President Obama and Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama in a great state called Georgia for the governor. And it was all stacked against Brian and I was the one that went for Brian and Brian won.”

I can appreciate at some level why the president is eager to boast about the results, but the idea that “it was all stacked against” Brian Kemp is demonstrably ridiculous. In fact, the exact opposite is true: it was all stacked in Kemp’s favor, thanks to Kemp’s own efforts to ensure his own success. Mother Jones’ Ari Berman summarized this nicely:

There were a multitude of voting problems in the gubernatorial race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. Eligible voters didn’t show up on the registration rolls or were purged by the state. Thousands of Georgians had their registrations put on hold and weren’t sure if they’d be able to vote. Some voters were wrongly flagged as non-citizens; others had their ballots rejected because poll workers told them they had the wrong ID. Hundreds of polling places were shuttered before the election, and other precincts had four-hour lines. Absentee ballots were rejected because of signature mismatches or other minor errors. One Abrams adviser described it as “death by a thousand paper cuts.” […]

We don’t know yet – and might never know – how many people were disenfranchised or dissuaded from voting in the state. But it’s clear that Kemp did everything in his power to put in place restrictive voting policies that would help his candidacy and hurt his opponent, all while overseeing his own election.

Georgia’s system didn’t fail as a result of neglect or incompetence. Rather, Kemp, in his capacity as Georgia’s secretary of state and chief elections official, designed a process that worked exactly as intended.

There’s a debate underway in some circles about whether it’s fair for Democrats to use the word “stolen” in reference to this race, and the language certainly matters.

But let’s not miss the forest for the trees: Brian Kemp really did oversee a massive purge of the voter rolls. He really did needlessly freeze thousands of voter registration applications. He really did close key polling places. He really did falsely accuse Georgia Democrats of an illegal “hack” just days before Election Day.

In this fight over who was allowed to register, who was allowed to vote, and who was allowed to have their ballot counted, Brian Kemp wrote the rules for his own election. A cloud of illegitimacy hangs over the process, and it’s likely to follow the far-right governor-elect.

There is no sane way to look at these circumstances and conclude that “it was all stacked against Brian.”

Donald Trump and Georgia

Trump thinks Georgia race was 'stacked against' Kemp (it wasn't)

Updated