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Campaign Report — Warnock pulls ahead in new GA poll

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, 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. 

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Georgia race remains tight

New polling from Emerson College and The Hill continues to show a tight race for Georgia’s Senate seat amid recent bombshell accusations that have shaken up the contest between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

Forty-eight percent of Georgia voters say they support Warnock, while 46 percent say they back Walker, falling within the plus-or-minus three-point margin of error. However, since the last Emerson College poll in August, Warnock’s support has increased by four points and Walker’s support has decreased by two points.

The poll was conducted Oct. 4-7, falling within the time period that the Daily Beast published a bombshell report alleging that Walker encouraged a former partner to get an abortion and paid for the procedure. That report was published on Oct. 4.

Warnock remains favorable: In terms of favorability, 51 percent of Georgia voters said they had a favorable view of Warnock while 48 percent said they had an unfavorable view of him. Forty-seven percent of voters said they had a favorable view of Walker while 49 percent said they had an unfavorable view of him.

Spencer Kimball, the executive director of Emerson College Polling, points out that the gender gap in the race has increasingly favored Warnock.

Women break for Warnock: “The gender gap in the Senate race has shifted in the Democrats’ favor since August,” Kimball said. “Republican Walker’s 8-point advantage with men has closed to 6, and Warnock’s lead with women has grown from 5 points to 9.”

The poll of the gubernatorial race paints a different scenario for incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and his Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams. Fifty-one percent of voter say they support Kemp, while 46 percent said they supported Abrams. Another two percent say they are undecided.  

House Dem optimism grows

With exactly a month to go until the midterms, Democrats are feeling increasingly confident about the battle for the lower chamber.

The Hill’s Mike Lillis reports that Democrats believe they can minimize their losses, and in the case that they do lose the majority, they believe they can at least make life more difficult for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) if he becomes Speaker McCarthy.

A red ripple?: Republicans need to net only four seats to gain back control of the lower chamber, but margins could matter to the House GOP when it comes to moves like impeaching President Biden and cutting federal spending.

While Democrats acknowledge behind closed doors that they are still facing an uphill climb, election experts are increasingly pointing out that the odds of a massive red wave appear to be slimming. Last week, the Cook Political Report shifted seven House races in favor of Democrats and analysts at Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia shifted four House seats in favor of Democrats.  

SENATE RACES TURN UGLY

Meanwhile in the race for the upper chamber, things are getting nastier.  

The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports that this dynamic is most noticeable in the three battleground states of Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

In Nevada, the vitriol spiked last week at a rally for GOP candidate Adam Laxalt when Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) dubbed Democrats as “pro-crime” before going on to suggest that Democrats who back reparations want them because they think people who committed crimes are owed it. In Wisconsin, incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) and Republicans are lambasting Democratic Senate nominee Mandela Barnes with attacks accusing him of being soft on crime.

In both states, Barnes and incumbent Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto have hit back accusing Johnson and Laxalt of being close with the pro-Trump rioters that stormed the Capitol in 2021.

It gets uglier: Keystone Pennsylvania has proven to be a beast of its own when it comes to the negativity and vitriol seen in the Senate race. The Republican nominee Mehmet Oz has continuously hit Democratic nominee John Fetterman over his record on crime and the state of his health after Fetterman suffered a stroke in May. Fetterman, on the other hand, has painted Oz as being out of touch, portraying him as a quack doctor that has stronger ties to New Jersey than he has to Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, Fetterman made headlines when his campaign put up billboards calling Oz a Dallas Cowboys fan ahead of this Sunday’s NFL matchup between the Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Will Nevada turn red?

And speaking of Nevada, The Hill’s Caroline Vakil reports that signs are emerging of a growing red wave in the state.

Some recent polling shows Laxalt narrowly leading Masto within the margin of error. The stakes for Democrats are higher this year because the state’s Senate race could play a deciding factor in who ultimately controls the upper chamber next year.

“They’ve been masterful for several cycles in registering and turning out voters. Now, the registration numbers are not what they used to be. The Democratic lead is much smaller than it usually is this time of year,” Jon Ralston, CEO of The Nevada Independent, told Vakil.

GOP optimism grows: And it’s not just the state’s Senate race that has Democrats nervous. Incumbent Democratic Reps. Dina Titus and Susie Lee are facing tough races in both of their respective districts.

Republicans, on the other hand, are feeling optimistic.

“The question has always been how good of a year, and you don’t really need to ask Republicans to find that out. You need just look at the way Democrats are campaigning, and it will tell you what they think,” Zachary Moyle, former executive director for the Nevada GOP, told Vakil.  

Takeaways from the first Ohio debate

Ohio Senate candidates Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance faced off in a Nexstar television debate Monday in Cleveland.

The forum saw the two hit each other over a number of topics including China, President Biden, former President Trump and ties to Washington and Silicon Valley.

One of the most memorable lines of the evening was perhaps when Ryan branded Vance an “ass-kisser” to former President Trump.

The Hill’s Julia Manchester breaks down five takeaways from last night’s showdown in Ohio.  

POLL WATCH

An poll from the Arizona-based OH Predictive Insights shows incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly leading his GOP challenger Blake Masters 46 percent to 33 percent, while Libertarian candidate Marc Victor came in with 15 percent support. Another six percent said they were undecided.

A new Marist poll shows incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet leading his Republican challenger Joe O’Dea by seven points in Colorado.

A WDIV/Detroit News survey in Michigan’s 10th House district shows Republican John James leading Democrat Carl Marlinga 44 percent to 36.1 percent.

A Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll of Rhode Island’s second House district shows Republican candidate Allan Fung leading Democrat Seth Magaziner 45 to 37 percent. Another 13 percent said they were undecided.  

AD WATCH

A political action committee supporting Herschel Walker, 34N22, rolled out a new ad titled “Good Actor,” showing body camera footage of Raphael Warnock’s ex-wife after an alleged domestic violence incident in 2020.

Democratic Florida Senate candidate Val Demings rolled out a new ad titled “Independence” in which she touts her independence from her own party.

Republican Missouri Senate candidate Eric Schmitt put out a new ad titled “Heiress” contrasting himself with his Democratic opponent Trudy Busch Valentine.

The Senate Majority PAC released a new spot titled “In Charge” hitting North Carolina Senate candidate Ted Budd over his anti abortion stance.

In the House, the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee released ads in Iowa’s 3rd district,  Michigan’s 8th district, Maine’s 2nd district,  New Hampshire’s 1st district, Arizona’s 6th district, California’s 22nd district,  New Mexico’s 2nd district, Pennsylvania’s 17th district, and New York’s 17th district.  

Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rolled out ads in Michigan’s 8th district,  two ads in Maine’s 2nd district, North Carolina’s 13th district, and Texas’ 34th district.

Incumbent Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar’s campaign rolled out a new ad hitting back against attacks from his Republican opponent Cassy Garcia in Texas’ 28th congressional district.  

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.

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