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politico – High early voting turnout gives Dems hope in Georgia second round

In the meantime, early voting turnout lagged behind in Republican-held congressional districts, likely leaving the GOP Senses behind. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue with a bigger deficit heading into Election Day than they were due on Nov. 3, with early voting ending this week before the new Vacation of the Year.

Both sides have been closely monitoring the in-person and mail-in ballots that have already been submitted, looking for data on the state of the races after the extremely tight contests in November and with less than a week to refine the exit. voting and advertising strategies for next Tuesday’s vote.

While the early voting numbers provide some comfort to Democrats, they are hardly predictive: Republican officials have always planned to have to outperform on Election Day relative to Democrats. GOP voters have long preferred vote in person and on election day, but partisan differences in voting became even more acute after President Donald Trump spent much of the year criticizing postal voting and attacking the administration November elections in Georgia.

At the very least, however, the strong Democratic performance so far puts additional pressure on Republicans to perform on Election Day. Both Republican senators are counting on Trump to ramp up turnout next week: The president holds his last rally of the election cycle on Monday night in one of the more Republican corners of the state, an effort to lead his supporters to the polls in a area where they have to win with huge margins.

Karl Rove, the veteran GOP agent who heads the joint fundraising committee between Loeffler, Perdue and the Republican National Senate Committee, wrote in a note this week that the votes cast so far favor Democrats more than they had only done so in November, according to a copy of the memo obtained by POLITICO.

“Although the combined total number of votes cast so far by absentee mail and advance voting in person is a few points more democratic than it was in the fall, this is probably the result of an early vote in the second round. being cut for two days, ”Rove wrote in the memo, referring to the fact that early voting sites were closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve Day. “We expect the GOP numbers to continue rising this week and the forecast shows good weather for the second day of January 5th.”

“President Trump’s visit to Dalton for a rally on Monday evening Jan. 4 is expected to help dramatically increase GOP attendance on Tuesday,” Rove added.

For Democrats, the mere fact that the turnout is so high is already a positive. The party has always struggled in the second round in Georgia thanks to a significant drop in Democratic voters who stayed at home after November, a trend that does not seem to continue this year.

It is impossible to draw any conclusive conclusions from the early vote numbers, and agents who follow the trends are warning against predicting the January 5 results based on the vote so far. But trends point to a high turnout and tight elections for Democrats, even in a state where their Senate contestants underperformed Joe Biden’s tight victory two months ago.

“Everything I hear sounds pretty good. I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall off, but that’s not what it was in 2018,” said Chris Huttman, a state veteran who followed. close to the start. vote numbers.

Democrats lost two rounds of voting in 2018 after more of their voters failed to show up. But that election was held in December and did not include the high-level stakes of those two Senate races, creating entirely different participation scenarios. Huttman warned that while the vote so far looked good for Democrats, Election Day remains a huge unknown.

“I can tell you that the light side of the moon looks good, and I don’t know what the dark side of the moon will look like,” Huttman said. “I know in 2018 I was like, ‘The light side doesn’t look good.’ ‘

Huttman said his analysis showed Democrats were ready to rack up about 80% of the early vote they received in November, while Republicans were only on track to rack up about two-thirds of their early vote. .

In Democratic-controlled congressional districts, the percentage of the general election vote that voted early is higher than in Republican-controlled congressional districts, according to voter data analyzed by GeorgiaVotes.com, which followed the first counts of the votes throughout the second round. Republicans are aware of this shortcoming but are counting on their participation operation to lead these voters to the polls next Tuesday.

A Republican agent working on the second round, who requested anonymity to speak frankly, said the GOP’s problem with early voting was not a massive push among Democrats, but the lag in their own areas. With early voting taking place during the holidays, including the two days the premises were closed last week, Republicans are hoping more of their voters simply plan to vote on election day.

“I feel really good about what we did there,” said the agent of their ground game. “We always knew Georgia was going to be close. We know where our gaps lie. We know what to do. “

Democrats prioritized early and absent voting to a greater degree than Republicans, and an advantage at this point was expected. Democrats see it as a firewall against the GOP’s performance next week. But the higher share of the black vote, along with the addition of tens of thousands of new voters who did not vote in November, are positive indicators.

Although Biden narrowly won the State, Perdue edged out Ossoff by nearly 100,000 votes, and Republicans won more votes overall than Democrats in the special election for the other Senate seat. To succeed in the second round, Democrats needed a more supportive electorate, and believe there are indications that this could come to pass.

Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, said the vote so far among major Democratic constituencies was a “very good sign” for the party, although he cautioned against over-interpreting early voting to try to predict the outcome of the second round.

“We know they will win on Election Day, but will they have enough to erase that advantage?” Bonier said of the Republicans. “It seems pretty clear that they will have to win on election day by a bigger margin than they did in November.”

Perdue and Loeffler on the trail throughout the election encouraged their base to vote early and continue to do so this week to close the gap. So far, the weather forecast for Tuesday is sunny and pleasant. But that didn’t stop the warnings about the wait.

“You never know what the weather will be like next week. We only have Tuesday next week,” Perdue told Conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Monday. “You have to go out and vote by Thursday. We’re just telling everyone. In the state, you can’t take a risk of not voting.”

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