May 9, 2022 - Politics

Inside Raffensperger's campaign to combat misinformation

Brad Raffensperger at a podium with many microphones
Raffensperger addresses ongoing ballot counting in 2020. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Former President Trump’s narrative about the “stolen 2020 election” has touched most Georgia races this year, but none more than the Republican primary for secretary of state.

Why it matters: Georgia’s secretary of state oversees elections (though the 159 counties administer them).

Driving the news: After becoming the main target of Trump's frustration about 2020 and misinformation about voter fraud, incumbent Brad Raffensperger has spent his primary campaign trying to convince Republicans that the election was not stolen.

What he’s saying: Raffensperger tells Axios he tries to be “calm and respectful with my answers."

  • “I’ve traveled around the state, and I’ve talked to people and explained point by point. I don't duck questions. I answer everyone's questions. I just give them facts.”

A scene from the trail: Axios watched this in action at the Gainesville Kiwanis Club last month. Raffensperger told the group he’s “grateful to have this opportunity to set the record straight.”

  • “People ask me what happened in 2020…the short answer is 28,000 Georgians skipped the presidential race, and yet they voted down ballot. The Republican congressmen, they got 33,000 more votes than presidential. And that’s why President Trump came up short,” he said.

By the numbers: Raffensperger listed some of the false allegations of voter fraud and took questions from the crowd about ballot harvesting and stuffing (which there has been no evidence of).

  • “People said that there were 10,350 dead people. There was a total of four.”
  • “People said that there were 66,000 underage voters. There were zero.”
  • "They said that there were 2,423 non-registered voters. There were zero.”
  • “None of it ever added up to anything that would overturn the results of the race.”

Meanwhile, Congress member Jody Hice, Raffensperger’s leading opponent, endorsed by Trump, has structured his campaign around unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election, blaming Raffensperger for the 2020 loss.

  • “The big lie in all of this is that there were no problems in this past election. This last election was filled with problems,” Hice said during the Atlanta Press Club debate last week.

State of play: Recent independent polling from the AJC, The Hill/Emerson University and Survey USA show Raffensperger narrowly leading Hice, but well within runoff territory.

One GOP voter, Paul Cutler, from Villa Rica, tells Axios that he’s supporting Raffensperger, despite Trump’s endorsement of Hice: “I understand where Trump's mad about losing the election. I'm not happy about what happened with Trump. But he's got to let us in Georgia figure out what we want on our own, think for ourselves about what works for Georgia.”

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