Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, where we’ll be tracking all things related to the 2022 midterm elections. You can expect this newsletter in your inbox each week leading up to November’s election. Someone forward this to you? Sign up here and view the full edition here.

Today we’re looking at the uphill battle Democrats face in the Peach State and how redistricting has changed the game for a number of states.

Email us tips and feedback: Max Greenwood (mgreenwood@thehill.com), Julia Manchester (jmanchester@thehill.com), Tal Axelrod (taxelrod@thehill.com) and Mychael Schnell (mschnell@thehill.com). 

BATTLEGROUND GEORGIA

Georgia isn’t looking as good for Democrats this year. 

A new poll from Emerson College and The Hill paints a tough picture for the Democrats running at the top of the ticket in the Peach State.  

Looking ahead to the November general election, Democrat Stacey Abrams is trailing Gov. Brian Kemp (R) 44 percent to 51 percent. If former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) succeeds in his bid to oust Kemp in the May primary, he would still have an edge over Abrams. In a hypothetical matchup, Perdue leads the presumptive Democratic nominee 49 percent to 44 percent, the poll found. 

The outlook isn’t much better for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who’s running for his first full term in the Senate after winning a hotly contested runoff election in 2021. In a head-to-head general election matchup, Warnock is trailing his likely Republican opponent, former NFL star Herschel Walker, 45 percent to 49 percent. Of course, that’s still within the survey’s 4.3 percentage point margin of error.  

Things could still change before November: Unlike their Republican rivals, neither Abrams nor Warnock are facing serious primary challenges, though Walker is still the heavy favorite for the GOP Senate nomination. The Emerson College/The Hill poll shows the former football star scoring 57 percent support in the primary, while his closest competitor, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, is running in a distant second place with only 13 percent support. 

Kemp, meanwhile, holds an 11-point lead over Perdue, notching 43 percent support to Perdue’s 32 percent. Still, that holds out the possibility of a runoff between the two if neither manages to win at least 50 percent of the vote in the May primary.  

Remember: Democrats never expected an easy path to victory in Georgia. The state has long been a bastion of conservatism and only recently entered competitive territory for Democrats. They’re banking on recreating the coalition of voters that helped propel President Biden to victory in the Peach State in 2020. But with Democrats in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, doing so is likely to be a significantly harder task. 

COUNTDOWN 

216 days until the 2022 midterm elections 

RETIREMENT WATCH 

Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) is the latest member of Congress to announce that he won’t seek reelection this year

The reason? Gibbs’s primarily rural district was redrawn significantly in this year’s redistricting process and now includes parts of Cleveland’s western suburbs. That put him in contention with Trump-backed primary challenger Max Miller, complicating Gibbs’ path to reelection. In a statement announcing his retirement, Gibbs slammed the redistricting process in Ohio, noting that it largely eviscerated the district that he’s represented since 2011.  

What Gibbs is saying: “It is irresponsible to effectively confirm the congressional map for this election cycle seven days before voting begins, especially in the Seventh Congressional District where almost 90 percent of the electorate is new and nearly two thirds is an area primary from another district, foreign to any expectations or connection to the current Seventh District.” 

Some context: Miller, a former Trump aide, initially challenged Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) after Gonzalez voted to impeach Trump. Gonzalez announced last year that he wouldn’t seek reelection and much of his district was added to Gibbs’s district. The former president announced that his endorsement of Miller would stand even in a primary against Gibbs, who is also a loyal Trump supporter.

AD WATCH 

House Majority PAC, the main super PAC supporting House Democrats, is out with a new spot highlighting Democrats’ efforts to stabilize the U.S. economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, supply chain disruptions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The 30-second ad comes a week after HMP announced that it had booked more than $100 million in TV and digital ad space ahead of the November elections. Check out the spot here

It’s the economy, stupid: Perhaps more interesting than the ad itself is its impact. HMP commissioned the firm Blue Rose Research to look at how the ad’s economic focus plays out among voters. What it found was that the “ad increased respondents’ views that America is on the right track by 2.1% and approval for President Biden’s handling of the economy by 2.4%,” HMP said, also adding that, “on economic approval, the movement observed by Blue Rose Research in this test was in the top 5% of all videos tested on this metric in the last year.”

THE MONEY RACE 

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) raised more than $10 million in the first three months of 2022, her campaign announced on Wednesday, as the former Orlando police chief looks to topple Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) from his perch in Washington. The massive haul leaves Demings with more than $13.1 million cash on hand which, according to her campaign, is the largest war chest a U.S. Senate challenger has ever had in Florida history. Since announcing her campaign in June, Demings has raked in upwards of $30 million. 

Despite the strong fundraising numbers, however, polls suggest that Demings will have a difficult time ousting Rubio from Congress. A survey conducted in February showed the incumbent with a double-digit lead over the congresswoman. 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raked in $43 million in the first quarter of 2022, the group announced on Tuesday, giving the campaign arm $44.1 million cash on hand as the GOP looks to take control of the upper chamber in November. The NRSC raised $13.28 million in March alone from more than 96,000 donations. The Q1 and March hauls are the largest in NRSC history for the month of March and first quarter, according to the committee. 

The massive war chest puts the GOP on strong footing as Washington inches closer to November, when Republicans are aiming to tip the Senate red. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised about $10.67 million in January and roughly $15 million in February, but the group has not yet released its March haul. 

ICYMI

Max is out with a new story today looking at how Republicans and Democrats are trying to expand the House battlefield after redistricting significantly shrunk the number of competitive districts.  

From Max: The smaller battlefield is the result of both parties drawing new maps designed to give their candidates an advantage before the general election even begins. While the exact size of the battlefield is still shaping up, both parties are already having to target districts that typically wouldn’t merit a second look. 

“The play this time — there’s fewer competitive seats of the old nature, so we’re going to have to be winning seats in Democrats’ areas,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on the sidelines of House Republicans’ annual retreat late last month.

Check out the story here

THIS WEEK’S OP-EDS

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Campaign page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.

Tags Anthony Gonzalez Biden Bob Gibbs Brian Kemp David Perdue Gary Black Herschel Walker Joe Biden Max Miller Raphael Warnock
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