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Campaign Report — New GA poll finds Warnock with the edge

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, tracking all things related to the 2022 midterm elections. You can expect this newsletter in your inbox every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday leading up to November’s election.   

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Will Georgia deliver Dems another key win? 

A new poll suggests Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) is the slight favorite in the high-stakes Senate runoff in Georgia on Tuesday, in a race that could help Democrats expand their majority in the upper chamber.

The race between Warnock and Republican candidate Herschel Walker rhas hit records in spending and encouraged high turnout. The GOP is looking to stave off another key battleground loss after many of their Senate candidates in states like Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania were unable to cross the finish line in the general election.

A new poll from Emerson College Polling and The Hill released on Thursday looks promising for Warnock, which shows him leading Walker 49 percent to 47 percent among likely voters. When undecided voters were asked which way they leaned, it boosted Warnock and Walker to 51 percent and 49 percent respectively, though it falls within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points, effectively tying the candidates.

But what’s notable is that when respondents were asked whom they expected would prevail in the race, Warnock led Walker by a higher margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.

Another polling error?: Perhaps one of the best reminders we learned from this past midterm cycle is that polling isn’t always reliable. After all, many polls showed certain Republicans in battleground states with an advantage given President Biden’s underwater approval ratings, key issues of inflation lingering on voters’ minds and historical precedent. But actual turnout reflected a very different story, where Democrats have so far seen all of their incumbents win reelection in the Senate while the party lost the House by a narrower-than-expected margin.

The polling isn’t just interesting about what it tells us about the Senate runoff, but also about 2024.

The survey illuminates how voters feel about a possible presidential bid from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). The poll found that in a hypothetical 2024 matchup between DeSantis and Biden, DeSantis leads the president 47 percent to 43 percent among Georgia voters. Meanwhile, when Georgia voters were asked about a hypothetical matchup between Biden and former President Trump, the president barely edged past Trump 44 percent to 43 percent, well within the margin of error.

And a Marquette Law School poll released on Thursday, too, suggests that DeSantis could be a formidable contender should he decide to pursue a White House bid next cycle. That poll found DeSantis and Biden receiving 42 percent support each in a 2024 hypothetical matchup.

2024 Republicans face balancing act with Trump

With former President Trump officially in the race for another White House bid and his supporters making up a sizable base of the GOP, Republicans who have been widely floated as 2024 presidential candidates have been forced to tread carefully when it comes to criticizing him.

As our Brett Samuels writes, Trump’s dinner with Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and white nationalist Nick Fuentes, is just the latest example of the kind of tightrope Republicans are finding themselves walking in an effort not to ostracize themselves from their base while also seeking to distance themselves from Trump. 

Key quote: “That’s going to be the same tightrope that every Republican in Congress walked for the last four years, but now the tightrope is a lot higher,” Alex Conant, who worked on Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential campaign, told Brett. “Presidential campaigns are the Super Bowl of politics, and everything is scrutinized a lot more.”

How Republican presidential contenders court Trump supporters while addressing the former president’s controversies – if at all – will be heavily watched by Trump and voters alike as the GOP still contends with the fact that the former president is still a major figure amongst the party. And even as Republicans like former Vice President Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo try to stake out their own political futures post-Trump White House, they’ll still be forced to contend with the fact that their careers are tied with the Trump administration.

“I think the people that have done it most successfully, they forge their own brands like Ron DeSantis or Glenn Youngkin, and so their appeal is clearly separate from Trump,” Alex told Brett. 

NEVADA LOOKS TO SHAKE UP PRIMARY CALENDAR

Nevada is eyeing to become the first-in-the-nation presidential primary for Democrats as the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Rules and Bylaws Committee meets this week starting today to look at its primary calendar for the next presidential election.

While Nevada currently holds its presidential primary third after the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, our Julia Manchester writes that Nevadans are making the case it should move to the top spot given the state’s diversity and its performance in the midterm elections.

Supporters point to demographics: “If you’re a presidential candidate and you can win in Nevada, you have a message that resonates across the country,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who just won her own reelection bid last month, said in an interview in November to Julia. “And you can’t parachute in and think that you get a sense of what’s happening there because it is so diverse.”

Democrats who are vying for Nevada to move up the primary calendar list say that the Silver State’s demographics better reflect the country’s and offer a test run of how to engage with different kinds of voters.

“Choosing a Democratic presidential nominee should begin in a state that looks like the rest of our country and a state that helps create real momentum around key groups like Latinos and [Asian American and Pacific Islanders] and it sets the tone for the contests that follow,” Cecia Alvarado, Nevada executive director of Somos Votantes, told Julia. 

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 Biden Herschel Walker Raphael Warnock Ron DeSantis
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