The Georgia Senate runoffs were unusual and here is my take on what happened.

Republicans rationalized the dangerous Hail Mary of contesting the official electoral college vote in order to appease the Trump fanatics who they feared would not turn out if the GOP did not fight to the death for Trump. Clickbait media fed the narrative of a corrupt election even though nearly forty courts found no admissible evidence that would have changed the outcome.

In their egregious attempt to overturn the election to appease the Trump wing they likely alienated moderate Republicans and supercharged the turnout of the opposition.  All that campaign spending is designed more to boost turnout than convert any undecideds; Trump was a godsend for that purpose.  He spent much more effort attacking fellow republicans Kemp and Raffensberger than he did attacking Warnock and Ossoff, violating Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment.

When FDR announced his plan to pack the Supreme Court in 1937, he enjoyed enormous popularity and his party was in solid control of both houses of Congress.  Yet even his own party opposed the extremity of his plan and stood against it.  There are many Republicans beyond the Never Trumpers who think his efforts to overturn the election are a dangerous precedent; it is easy to envision this action coming back to haunt them. In a race to the bottom, even if you win, you end up at the bottom.

The Republicans are now in a no-win dilemma. The GOP has always been plagued by litmus test absolutists. If you are not 100% on board with any one of the anti-abortion activists, gun rights activists, or various versions of religious rights activists they will punish their party by staying home- even if the alternative is far worse for their cause.  The Democrats almost always unite at elections no matter how contentious their division is between elections.

This is the narcissism of minor differences.  We will react more strongly to disagreement within our tribe than a greater threat from outside the tribe. Sunnis and Shiites; Catholics and Protestants.

If the GOP appeases the Trump fanatics with extreme measures, they lose their committed conservatives who actually care about ideology, policy and the importance of political institutions. But they likely cannot appeal to the Trump followers with only a return to sound conservative ideology.  They become dependent on the Democrats becoming too radical to accept. If they cannot bridge the two wings of the party their only strategy is to be the lesser of evils, hoping the other party goes further off the rails than they do.

Nobody likes accepting defeat in a close race, but Trump’s strategy was to double down on a losing hand like a drunken delusional gambler at the blackjack table. The outcome was predictable, but the damage is far beyond his stake in the game.