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‘Democrats need to remember that this is a base election,’ expert says

Northwestern political science professors weigh in on the Georgia Senate runoff races

EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern University political science professors are available to comment on the Jan. 5 Georgia Senate runoff elections, as well as a national survey on election fairness.

Alvin B. Tillery Jr. is an associate professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy. His research and teaching interests are in the fields of American politics and political theory. His research focuses on American political development, racial and ethnic politics and media and politics. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Tillery
“In my view, the race is going to come down to how Mr. Trump’s bad behavior in Washington and the messaging that the two Democratic candidates deploy in the closing stages of the race impact turnout. By continuing to push his wild conspiracy theories about the election and threatening to veto the COVID-19 relief package — which Mitch McConnell only put on the floor to help the two Georgia Republican senators — Mr. Trump is creating chaos for his party in the peach state. It is entirely possible that this erratic behavior will drive down Republican turnout in these races. On the Democratic side, with Warnock and Ossoff leading in the polls, the messaging question is: How can they continue to hold the ball and run out the clock to victory? This will be a lot easier for them to do if Trump fails to sign the COVID bill. If he does sign it, Warnock and Ossoff will need to become more aspirational with their messaging in the closing days of the race to draw new minority and progressive voters to the polls.

“My own polling in the state shows that there are huge opportunities for the Democrats to gain support by stressing their support for the #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName movements and focusing on criminal justice reforms. In short, the Democrats need to remember that this is a base election — and their base is African American voters and progressive whites in and around Atlanta.”

James Druckman is the Payson S. Wild Professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the University’s Institute for Policy Research. Druckman is also part of the university consortium conducting the 50-State COVID-19 surveys at His research focuses on political preference formation and communication. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Druckman
“Our nationwide post-election survey found that over two-thirds of respondents (67%) were somewhat or very concerned about voter suppression, and voter intimidation was a concern for 62% of respondents. These numbers create a puzzle for the current Senate elections in Georgia,” said Druckman. “For some, the concerns may de-mobilize, but for others it may be a mobilizing factor to get your vote in, especially to combat concerns about suppression and intimidation.”