The midterms are just two weeks away with early voting already underway. There is a lot at stake in the upcoming election. The Senate is currently at a 50-50 split with Vice President Kamala Harris giving the Democrats a razor-thin advantage with her tie-breaking vote.
In addition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also holds a slim margin in that chamber. All of the 435 House seats are up for grabs in the midterms with 35 of the 100 Senate seats also on the ballot. Lastly, 36 states are going to be electing governors.Read More »
Early Voting Ramping Up Across the Country
According to data from Edison Research and Catalist, there have been almost 7.3 million ballots cast across 39 states as of the end of day Monday. This number puts the early voting on pace with the figures from 2018, a year that was distinguished as having the highest midterm participation in recent history.
Florida is leading the rest of the states for the number of early votes with over 1 million already cast. Not surprisingly, battleground state Georgia is also experiencing a high level of early turnout with over 800,000 ballots already cast. Most specifically, Black voters in Georgia have been particularly motivated, casting more ballots than they did by this time in 2018 and the presidential election of 2020.
For instance, Black voters in Georgia are now accounting for 35% of the pre-election votes so far. At two weeks out from Election Day in 2020, this demographic made up 33% of the early voting. In 2018, this number was only 32%.
In contrast, White voters in the Peach State are holding pace with their early voting numbers in 2020 but are down from where they were during the 2018 midterms. Specifically, White voters make up 60% of the current pre-election ballots while they had accounted for 64% in 2018.
Senate Races Tighten in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin
The Senate races are heating up across a number of battleground states, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Both of these states currently have Senate seats controlled by Republicans with one incumbent on the ropes. According to the latest polling numbers in Wisconsin, incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is in a dead heat with his challenger, Democratic state Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.
Over in Pennsylvania, the race is to take control of the seat currently held by retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey. Democratic state Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is narrowly leading Republican candidate Mehmet Oz. While Fetterman has a slight lead over Oz, the polling is well within the standard margin of error.
The political landscape is eerily similar within these two states. For instance, voters in both states list the economy as the top focus with 47% of those polled in Wisconsin and 44% in Pennsylvania selecting the economy and inflation as the most pressing issue. These numbers are roughly double the percentage that chose abortion as the top issue. Voting rights lands in third place among voters in both states.
The candidates are having to shore up resources to stay in the game in both states. According to a recent filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Oz loaned his campaign $1 million through his own personal funds on October 20. This is in addition to the $21 million he has previously spent financing the campaign. This in contrast to Fetterman who earlier said that he has not had to invest any of his personal money in his campaign.
Fetterman has consistently raised more money from outside sources when compared to Oz. Fetterman raised $22 million in the third quarter compared to about $8.9 million raised by Oz. This discrepancy helps to explain why Oz needs to dip into his personal fortune to keep pace with Fetterman’s spending.
Despite enjoying a double digit lead over Oz during the summer months, Fetterman is now dealing with a race that is tightening up in the home stretch. Both campaigns are shifting their campaign focus to the undecided women living in the Philadelphia suburbs. While President Joe Biden carried this area in the 2020 election, it remains to be seen if Fetterman can keep this trend going.
Fight for the Governor’s Seat in Florida
Although incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis enjoys a comfortable lead over challenger Democrat Charlie Crist, that did not stop things from getting ugly during Monday evening’s debate between the two candidates. Crist got right to the point when he asked the governor to look into the eyes of Floridians and pledge to serve a full four-year term if re-elected.
DeSantis never answered the question, instead waiting for the moderator to remind the candidates that they had agreed to not ask direct questions onstage. Crist was referring to DeSantis’ alleged aspirations to run for U.S. president during the 2024 election cycle.
Topics discussed during the debate included immigration issues, transgender therapies for children, and housing. Both candidates took turns serving up pointed one-liners. While Crist called DeSantis a “bully,” the governor repeatedly tried to cast his challenger as an old Democrat comparable to Biden.
Every major poll in the state shows DeSantis with a comfortable lead as high as 10 percentage points. This is significant because DeSantis barely squeaked by with a victory in 2018 when he beat Democratic Mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum by less than half a percentage point.
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