Democrats warn of massive GOP turnout in November

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THE BIG IDEA: Democrats warn of massive GOP turnout in November

A major Democratic group is warning party donors to expect a “MAGA surge” in the midterms that will benefit Republicans, Yahoo News Chief National Correspondent Jon Ward reports.

“Democratic consultants are telling party donors that while the shifting political landscape will give their candidates a fighting chance this fall, they are likely facing a huge increase in Republican turnout,” Ward writes.

Hillsborough County voters enter their polling place to cast their ballots on primary election day on Aug. 23, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.
Voters in Tampa at a polling place on primary election day, Aug. 23. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

"The 'MAGA surge' is real," said a presentation for donors by America Votes, a Democratic group that coordinates get-out-the-vote efforts.

"Democrats know that they are competitive in many races that might have been blowouts a few months ago, for a few reasons: The Supreme Court's decision eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion, as well as ebbing gas prices and a string of legislative accomplishments by Democrats.

“BUT," warned the presentation, which was provided to Yahoo News, "what we’re up against: GOP turnout will be very high."

"Democrats expect this 'MAGA surge' largely because turnout in Republican primaries so far this year has been sky-high, just as it was in 2021."

The term "MAGA surge" might be something of a misnomer — the presentation didn't specify whether the GOP's votes would be coming mostly from hard-core supporters of former President Donald Trump or more moderate Republicans. The presentation also didn't delve into why Republicans have been turning out in droves.

It did, however, warn that Democrats will need to embrace traditional means to get out the vote, such as door knocking, and not just rely on an improving national environment. As Ward notes, "In 2020, Democrats stopped meeting voters in person at their homes, out of concern over the spread of the coronavirus. Republicans did not, and in states like Texas, Democrats concluded afterward that Republicans turned out more voters than they had in part because they had not been going door to door.

"In the 2022 cycle, Democrats know that college-educated supporters who are engaged with politics are likely to vote and don't need much help," Ward writes. "But lower-income voters who often don't pay as much attention to politics, if any, need that face-to-face visit. And in an election they expect to be close in many key states, those votes could be the difference."


Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat from Georgia, speaks at a campaign rally in Conyers, Ga., in August.
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., at a campaign rally in Conyers, Ga., in August. (Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Three polls this week highlight how Georgia’s high-profile Senate race could still break either way. Marist College found Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock leading his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, by 47% to 42%, with Libertarian candidate Chase Oliver taking 4% of the vote. But a University of Georgia/Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey has Walker leading Warnock by 2 points, 46% to 44%, and Oliver netting 3% of the vote.

The Cook Political Report rates the Georgia Senate race as a toss-up. FiveThirtyEight currently gives Warnock a 55% chance of holding on to his seat.

The Marist poll and the University of Georgia/AJC survey also found Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp with a healthy lead over Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams. Marist found Kemp at 50% support, with 44% going for Abrams. The University of Georgia/AJC also has Kemp at 50% and Abrams stuck at 42%.

A CBS News/YouGov poll also found Warnock doing better than Abrams. Their survey showed Warnock (51%) leading Walker (49%), and Kemp (52%) running ahead of Abrams (46%).

FiveThirtyEight gives Kemp an 85% chance at reelection, while the Cook Political Report says the race leans Republican.


John Fetterman, lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senate candidate, speaks at a rally.
John Fetterman, lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania and Democratic Senate candidate, at an abortion rights rally in September. (Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In Georgia, Republicans hope that a strong showing for Kemp can help carry Walker across the finish line. In Pennsylvania, Democrats have their fingers crossed that their nominee for governor, Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is facing far-right GOP state Sen. Doug Mastriano in November, will be a boon for Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who is running for an open Senate seat against Republican nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz.

If Kemp and Shapiro win big in November, it stands to reason that it will benefit their parties' respective Senate candidates. But it's also not unheard of for voters to split their votes, supporting a Republican gubernatorial candidate and a Democratic Senate candidate, or vice versa.

In 2018, for example, Arizonans easily reelected GOP Gov. Doug Ducey. But that wasn't enough to save Sen. Martha McSally, the other big Republican name on the Arizona ballot, who lost her race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.


Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz holds a press conference with Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in Philadelphia in September.
Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz holds a press conference with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., in Philadelphia in September. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Speaking of ticket splitting, a new ad from the Mehmet Oz campaign is looking to win over Shapiro voters. To do this, it highlights a supposed 2019 spat between Shapiro and Fetterman, when both men were on Pennsylvania's Board of Pardons.

Whatever their past disagreements, Fetterman and Shapiro have embraced each other on the campaign trail this year. We know of at least one person who may be supporting both Oz and Shapiro, however: Sheryl Bartos, who co-hosted a fundraiser for Shapiro this week, according to Politico. Bartos is the wife of Oz campaign co-chair Jeff Bartos.


Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference in Houston in September.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at a press conference in Houston in September. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Debate season kicks off in earnest next week when Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott squares off against former state Rep. Beto O'Rourke, his Democratic challenger. Abbott has been leading in the polls for months, but O'Rourke is known for his fiery debate performances.


Republican nominee Christine Drazan speaks during the gubernatorial debate hosted by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association in July.
Oregon Republican gubernatorial nominee Christine Drazan at a debate in July. (Jaime Valdez/Pamplin Media Group via AP)

Christine Drazan has a shot at becoming Oregon’s first Republican governor in a generation this November. Polls show her in a dead heat with Democrat Tina Kotek, and the Cook Political Report moved the race to its "Toss-Up" column this week.

Oregon last elected a GOP governor in 1982, but Drazan is likely benefiting from an independent run by Betsy Johnson, a former Democratic state lawmaker who is polling just a few points behind her and Kotek. Still, even if Johnson acts as a spoiler, a Drazan victory might help solve a conundrum for Republicans nationwide: Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, how does an anti-abortion candidate win over a pro-abortion-rights electorate?

Drazan's answer, in so many words, is that while she is against abortion, she wouldn't be able to outlaw the practice in Oregon if she tried. And somewhat like Joe O'Dea, Colorado’s GOP nominee for Senate, she's argued that her views on abortion are basically moderate and in keeping with public opinion on the issue.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s PAC has canceled the ads it purchased to support struggling Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters in Arizona.

According to Axios, which first reported the news, McConnell expects outside Republican groups and major GOP donors like Peter Thiel to step up and help narrow the big fundraising gap between Masters and his opponent, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. But Thiel has so far appeared reluctant to invest more of his personal fortune on Masters, his former employee, who has been hammered on the airwaves by Kelly.