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Strong early-vote turnout gives Dems hope in Georgia runoffs


#Meanwhile, early-vote turnout has lagged in #Republican-held congressional districts, likely leaving GOP #Sens. #Kelly #Loeffler and #David #Perdue with a larger deficit heading into #Election #Day than they had to make up on #Nov. 3, with early voting concluding this week leading up to the #New #Year’s holiday.

#Both parties have been closely tracking the in-person and absentee ballots that have already been submitted, looking for data on the state of the races after the extremely close contests in #November and with less than a week left to tweak get-out-the-vote and advertising strategies for next #Tuesday’s vote.

#While the early-vote figures provide some comfort to #Democrats, they are hardly predictive: #Republican officials have always anticipated needing to overperform on #Election #Day compared with #Democrats. GOP voters have long preferred casting ballots in person and on the day of the election, but the partisan differences in voting became even more acute after #President #Donald #Trump spent much of the year criticizing voting by mail and attacking the administration of #Georgia’s #November election.

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#At the very least, though, the strong #Democratic performance so far puts extra pressure on #Republicans to perform on #Election #Day. The two #Republican senators are relying on #Trump to juice turnout next week: The president is holding his final rally of the election cycle on #Monday night in one of the most #Republican-heavy corners of the state, an effort to drive his supporters to the polls in an area where they need to win by huge margins.

#Karl #Rove, the veteran GOP operative who is heading the joint fundraising committee between #Loeffler, #Perdue and the #National #Republican #Senatorial #Committee, wrote in a memo this week that the votes cast so far favor #Democrats more than they did in #November, according to a copy of the memo obtained by POLITICO.

“While the combined total number of votes cast so far by absentee mail-in and in-person early voting is a couple points more #Democratic than it was in the fall, this is likely to be the result of early voting in the run-off being cut by two days,” #Rove wrote in the memo, referencing the fact that early voting sites were closed on #Christmas #Eve and #Christmas #Day. “We expect GOP numbers to keep rising this week and forecasts show good weather for #Run-Off #Day, #Jan. 5.”

“President #Trump’s visit to #Dalton for a rally #Monday night #Jan. 4 should help drive GOP turnout that #Tuesday in a big way,” #Rove added.

#For #Democrats, the simple fact that turnout is so high is already a positive. The party has consistently struggled in runoffs in #Georgia thanks to major dropoff from #Democratic voters who stayed home after #November, a trend that does not appear to be continuing this year.

#It’s impossible to draw determinative conclusions from early-vote numbers, and operatives tracking the trends caution against predicting the #Jan. 5 results based on voting so far. #But the trends point to high turnout and a close election for #Democrats even in a state where their #Senate candidates underperformed #Joe #Biden’s narrow victory two months ago.

“#Everything that I hear seems pretty good. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, but this is not what it was like in 2018,” said #Chris #Huttman, a veteran operative in the state who has been closely tracking the early-vote figures.

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#Democrats lost two downballot runoffs in 2018 after more of their voters failed to show back up. #But that election took place in #December and didn’t include the high-profile stakes of these two #Senate races, creating entirely different turnout scenarios. #Huttman cautioned that while voting 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 is going to look like,” #Huttman said. “I know in 2018, I was like, ‘The light side does not look good.’”

#Huttman said his analysis showed #Democrats on pace to bank about 80 percent of the early vote they received in #November, while #Republicans were only on pace to bank about two-thirds of their early vote.

#In congressional districts controlled by #Democrats, the percentage of the general election vote that has voted early is higher than in the congressional districts controlled by #Republicans, according to voter data analyzed by #GeorgiaVotes.com, which has tracked the early voting tallies throughout the runoff. #Republicans are aware of that deficiency but are relying on their turnout operation to drive those voters to the polls next #Tuesday.

#One #Republican operative working on the runoffs, who requested anonymity to speak frankly, said the GOP’s problem for early voting wasn’t a massive surge among #Democrats, but the lag in their own areas. #With early voting taking place during the holidays, including the two days where locations were closed last week, #Republicans hope more of their voters are simply planning to vote on #Election #Day.

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“I feel really good about what we have done down there,” the operative said of their ground game. “We always knew #Georgia was going to be close. #We know where our deficiencies are. #We know what we have to do.”

#Democrats have prioritized early and absentee voting to a higher degree than #Republicans, and an advantage at this point was expected. #Democrats consider it a firewall against GOP performance next week. #But the higher share of the #Black vote, plus the addition of tens of thousands of new voters who did not vote in #November, are positive indicators.

#Though #Biden won the state narrowly, #Perdue outpaced #Ossoff by nearly 100,000 votes, and #Republicans earned more overall votes than #Democrats in the special election for the other #Senate seat. #To have success in the runoffs, #Democrats needed a more favorable electorate, and believe there are indications that it may materialize.

#Tom #Bonier, the CEO of #TargetSmart, said the vote so far among key #Democratic constituencies was a “very good sign” for the party, though he cautioned against over-interpreting the early vote to try to predict the outcome of the runoffs.

“We know they’ll win #Election #Day, but will they have enough to erase this advantage?” #Bonier said of #Republicans. “It appears to be pretty clear that they’ll need to win #Election #Day by a wider margin than they did in #November.”

#Perdue and #Loeffler on the trail throughout the election have encouraged their base to vote early and continue to do so this week to narrow the gap. #So far, the weather forecasts for #Tuesday are sunny and pleasant. #But that hasn’t stopped the warnings about waiting.

“#You never know what the weather is going to be next week. #We only have #Tuesday next week,” #Perdue said on conservative commentator #Hugh #Hewitt’s radio show #Monday. “You got to get out and vote before #Thursday. #We’re just telling everybody in the state you can’t take a chance not voting.”



[ source link ]
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/30/georgia-senate-early-voting-452221

##Strong #earlyvote #turnout ##Dems #hope ##Georgia #runoffs

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