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Obama heads to Georgia as Warnock seeks a big lead in early voting

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Georgia voters cast more than 1 million ballots ahead of the Dec. 6 runoff Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican claimant Herschel Walkerwith Warnock looking to extend the Democratic Party’s clear lead in early voting with a visit from Barack Obama on Thursday.

The former president will campaign with Warnock ahead of the final day of early voting. The rally, which promises to be the biggest event of Warnock’s four-week run-off election, highlights the two parties’ different approaches to early voting in the final election in 2022.

Democrats used an all-out fight to garner as many votes as possible, while Republicans, especially Walker himself, took a less aggressive approach that could leave the GOP candidate heavily dependent on runoff turnout on Election Day.

“I think voter turnout is good, and I want to encourage people to stick with it,” Warnock said on the campaign trail this week, comparing voting to waiting in line at a popular Atlanta lunch spot. “I went into Slutty Vegan the other day and the line was wrapped around the block and people were still waiting and getting their sandwiches,” he said. “I went and voted yesterday and it was pretty painless.”

Walker is expected to vote on Election Day, as he did in November.

Warnock topped Walker by about 37,000 votes out of nearly 4 million cast in the general election, but fell short of the majority required by Georgia law. This resulted in a four-week runoff election with a shorter early voting window than in the first round.

Statewide early voting data, including some Thanksgiving weekends and weekdays in some counties, show higher overall turnout in the most Democratic and congressional districts. Still, both parties are finding data to advertise as they vie for any advantage in the final contest of the 2022 midterm election cycle, and both campaigns generally agree that Warnock will lead among early voters, as he did in the first round. and Walker has the lead on the ballot on Election Day, as he did in November. The final winner will be determined by the respective advantage.

TargetSmart, a Democratic data processing company, analyzed the identities of more than 830,000 voters who had cast ballots by the end of Tuesday and concluded that Democrats had increased their lead by 14 percentage points compared to six days prior to November. 8 elections. That analysis did not include more than 240,000 additional ballots filed Wednesday.

Scott Paradise, Walker’s campaign manager, dismissed notions of Democratic dominance. He argued that their advantage was due only to the fact that early voting took place over the weekend in predominantly Democratic counties, while more Republican areas waited for early voting across the state, which began on Monday. Republicans unsuccessfully sued in state court trying to block Saturday’s early runoff vote.

Paradise said an analysis by Walker’s campaign found that nine of the 10 counties with the highest voter turnout on Monday were counties Walker won in November with a combined 70% of the vote. He added that among the state’s most populous counties — those with more than 100,000 registered voters — two Republican bastions, Hall and Forsyth, had the highest turnout on Monday. Paradise said the trends reflect high Republican enthusiasm.

Still, Republicans have some catching up to do.

In four of the state’s five Democratic congressional districts, at least 43 percent of early voting totals had already been registered by Tuesday, according to statewide voting data compiled by Atlanta-based independent analyst Ryan Anderson. November election, when every Georgia county had at least 17 days of early in-person voting. Only one of Georgia’s nine Republican congressional districts exceeded that 43% mark.

Warnock first won a seat in the Senate runoff on January 5, 2021, when he and Senator Jon Ossoff prevailed over Republican incumbents to give Democrats narrow control of the Senate early in President Joe Biden’s term. Warnock won the by-election and is now seeking a full six-year term.

This time, control in the Senate is not in effect: Democrats have already secured 50 seats and have the deciding vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. That puts pressure on both Warnock’s and Walker’s campaigns to convince voters in Georgia that it’s worth their time to hold a runoff vote, even if the national stakes aren’t as high.

Warnock received about 70% of the first-round vote in advance voting; for Walker it was about 58%. This gave Warnock a lead of over 256,000 votes. Walker responded with an Election Day lead of more than 200,000.

The senator’s campaign, Democratic Party committees and relevant political action committees have focused their efforts on early voting. Republicans countered with their own broad push, including a direct mail effort from one Super PAC featuring Gov. Brian Kemp, who won 200,000 more votes than Walker to win a second term.

Still, Republicans are grappling with some narratives within the party, including from former President Donald Trump, that cast doubt on some early voting, especially mail-in voting, pushing some Republicans to vote on Election Day. As recently as Tuesday, Trump said on social media that “YOU CAN NEVER HAVE A FAIR AND FREE ELECTION WITH MAIL-IN BALLOTS – NEVER, EVER. WILL NOT AND CANNOT BE!!!”

Walker himself makes no mention at all of early in-person voting or mail-in ballots when urging his supporters to vote.

Democrats, meanwhile, see Obama as a key figure in repeating Warnock’s lead in early voting because the former president remains very popular among mainstream Democrats and has a solid reputation among independents.

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