Campaign Report — Georgia on our minds
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.
All eyes on the Peach State
The sun is setting on the 2022 midterm elections.
Voters in Georgia are heading to the polls Tuesday on the final day in the Senate runoff election between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and former football star Herschel Walker (R).
Warnock pulled ahead of Walker and a Libertarian candidate on Nov. 8, falling just short of the more-than-50-percent-majority needed to win. That forced the race into a Dec. 6 runoff, according to Georgia law.
While the country has waited with bated breath, Georgians have been smashing records at the ballot box. The Peach State has repeatedly topped its one-day record for early voting, tallying more than 350,000 voters just last Friday.
Dems feeling good: A surprising early-voter turnout is one of several reasons why Democrats are optimistic ahead of the runoff, as The Hill’s Hanna Trudo and Al Weaver report.
The party sees a top candidate in Warnock, a reverend who won a runoff in 2021 and faces a candidate endorsed by former President Trump who has been battered by controversies.
The final count is expected to be close, with a survey by Emerson College and The Hill late last week finding Warnock with a 2-point lead. Among those surveyed who had already voted, Warnock had a 29-point advantage.
Walker’s vulnerabilities, including previous reports that he paid for an abortion despite now being staunchly against the procedure, could be a mobilizing force for Warnock. And on the heels of a dispiriting midterm for Republicans, his links to Trump may be hurting him more than they are helping him in the contest.
The race will also give Democrats some much-needed breathing room, although they will control the majority in the upper chamber no matter who wins tonight. It will also be worthwhile to note, as The Hill’s Niall Stanage writes in his five things to watch for, how both President Biden and former President Trump react to the outcome of the election – whoever wins.
Trump’s troubles grow
The first few weeks of former President Trump’s bid for the White House have been tumultuous, stirring up questions about his viability as the GOP nominee in 2024.
Just last week, the presidential hopeful drew condemnation from several high-profile conservatives for dining with a white nationalist and Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who has espoused antisemitic views and went on an antisemitic rant shortly after the dinner.
And now, Trump is in hot water yet again after he claimed over the weekend that Twitter’s handling of a controversial story about Hunter Biden meant parts of the Constitution should be disregarded so he could return to the White House.
All of which to say, some in his party may see this as an opening to move away from Trump.
Key quote: “If you’re one of these other people who’s interested [in] running this year, this is certainly an opportunity to create some contrast,” Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the second-ranking Senate Republican, told The Hill’s Brett Samuels.
The layers of controversy come after many of Trump’s hand-picked candidates in key Senate and gubernatorial races lost their elections last month.
But others argue the generally quiet response from Republicans after Trump’s weekend comments about the Constitution suggest Trump’s campaign ambitions may not be too badly hurt.
OP-EDS FROM THE HILL
Why the Georgia Senate runoff is still important, by Ryan Matsumoto of Inside Elections
For Republicans reviewing 2022, time to ask the impolite questions, by Ron Nehring, former chairman of the California Republican Party and the RNC’s State Chairmen’s Committee
Democrats must think differently to win rural votes, by William S. Becker of “Democracy Unchained: How to Rebuild Government for the People”
Trump is still the go-to guy for GOP hate, by pollster Brad Bannon
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Campaign page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.