These Are the Reasons Herschel Walker Could Survive Abortion Allegations

Abortion allegations against Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker have roiled one of the country’s tightest races that could decide the majority in the now 50-50 chamber.

The closeness of the race — Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) leads by 1.3 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average — means it could be swung by any bombshell report, and abortion is a key issue.

But national Republicans are standing by Walker, who said the latest accusation against him is a “flat-out lie,” and if he wins, five factors might contribute.


Distrust of the liberal media The Republican base, which includes many of the Georgia voters who would have moral objections to a candidate’s involvement in procuring an abortion, is going to be skeptical of the Daily Beast as a source for an allegation against a GOP candidate. This comes in the context of broader conservative concerns about liberal media bias. But the Daily Beast genuinely leans left, and Republicans might question the timing of the report.

After looking like a long shot to win a Senate seat early on, Walker, a former college and NFL star running back, has been gaining in recent weeks. The report is a textbook “October surprise” with the potential and likely the intent to upend the election.

That doesn’t by itself mean the report is false — remember the Hunter Biden laptop? But it does mean that the people most likely to believe the claims against Walker were already the least likely to vote for him.

Bill Clinton In the 1990s, feminists mostly stuck by the 42nd president amid various sexual misconduct allegations on the grounds that his public policy views aligned with theirs — especially on abortion. Social conservatives made the argument that Clinton’s personal moral character should factor into his fitness for office. Even if you did not believe the accusations of nonconsensual sexual behavior, Clinton was, at a minimum, guilty of multiple instances of adultery.

Social conservatives lost this argument. When congressional Republicans sought to impeach Clinton for lying under oath about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, most voters viewed it as a private matter rather than an object of public concern. In 1998, anti-impeachment outrage helped Democrats defy history and avoid major losses in the midterm elections.

Clinton’s behavior did factor somewhat into George W. Bush’s subsequent win in the 2000 presidential election. After “Me Too,” some liberals regretted their 1990s support for Clinton. And people who espouse conservative social values, such as opposition to abortion, are always vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy that aren’t necessarily applicable to liberals.

But the precedent that “lying about sex” should not be a political matter was set, and most of Walker’s political foes believe abortion is and should remain a personal choice.

Donald Trump A second president who may also help Walker is the same one who helped launch the former football player’s political career. Trump had a reputation for being a playboy for much of his adult life and was beset throughout the 2016 campaign with rumors of sexual misconduct of varying degrees of severity. His lewd Access Hollywood footage leaked in October, seemingly ending any chance he would win the presidency.

The subsequent reemergence of Hillary Clinton’s email scandal played an important role in rendering Trump’s political obituaries premature. The former president’s detractors still mostly view the scandal as a videotaped confession of sexual assault, with his reference to grabbing a woman’s anatomy an enduring anti-Trump rallying cry. But Republican voters see it differently, regarding the news story as a late political hit job against Trump. They may see shades of this happening to Walker.

There was already a burst of fundraising for Walker after the report, and his campaign manager reportedly made the Access Hollywood comparison.

The closeness of the Senate and Georgia’s role in Democratic control The Senate is evenly divided, with Democrats relying on Vice President Kamala Harris’s tiebreaking vote to hold the majority. But Harris wouldn’t have been the difference-maker if Republicans hadn’t first lost two Georgia Senate runoffs in January 2021, one of them won by Warnock. The Senate majority may once again come down to Georgia.

Republican voters may decide to swallow any concerns they have about Walker, reasoning they are not voting for the man as much as they are casting a ballot for GOP control of the Senate. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp is favored in his reelection campaign. President Joe Biden’s job approval ratings in Georgia are low, despite the fact he narrowly carried the state in 2020.

The GOP base, though split on Trump’s allegations of Georgia voter fraud as evidenced by this year’s Republican primary results, is hungry for a win. Will enough independents split their tickets and vote for both Kemp and Warnock to keep Walker out of the Senate?

Warnock’s position on abortion The incumbent Democrat voted for a federal bill advertised as codifying Roe v. Wade that would nullify Georgia’s restrictions on abortion. Warnock favors legal abortion with taxpayer funding, with the bill he voted for going beyond fetal viability, the standard set in Roe as revised by 1992’s Casey v. Planned Parenthood, both overturned by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

Many anti-abortion voters, who would be most concerned about the allegations against Walker, might therefore view voting for Warnock as making them more complicit in abortion. Anti-abortion groups have been working to appeal to men and women who have been involved in abortions themselves and may have regrets, though messaging from other parts of the GOP coalition critical of Walker’s ex-girlfriend could undercut that.


Georgia has become a politically volatile state. Biden was the first Democratic presidential nominee to win there since Clinton in 1992. Both Senate races went to a runoff, which Democrats narrowly won.

But Republicans defied the 2018 midterm election “blue wave” and won close statewide races, including against then and current Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams.

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