How Black voter turnout will shape Georgia governor's race: The Note

There are signs that Democrats in Georgia and elsewhere should be worried.

September 27, 2022, 6:02 AM

The TAKE with Averi Harper

Black voters are often referred to as the backbone of the Democratic Party -- and as high-stakes midterm elections approach, campaigns are working to ensure that this key voting bloc turns out in full force.

In Georgia, where some Democrats have expressed fears that the party's gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, has hit a slump with Black male voters, Abrams' campaign has invested in outreach to Black men and other untapped voters of color.

"What we know is that Black voters are not deciding between whether they're going to vote for me or for [Gov. Brian] Kemp. They are deciding if they're going to vote for me or not vote," Abrams said on a call with Black journalists on Monday.

There are signs that Democrats, in Georgia and across the country, should be concerned about Black voter turnout. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 55% of Black voters said they intended to vote in comparison to 72% of white voters -- a result that advantages Republicans, whose support is strongest by far among white voters. Plus, Biden's strong approval with Black voters is at a career-low 31%, according to the same poll.

Research conducted by the NAACP and public opinion research firm HIT Strategies indicates that losing ground with Black men and Black millennials could become a stumbling block for Democrats.

"Young Black voters are extremely cynical, extremely frustrated, not just with Democrats, not just with Republicans, not even just with politics -- they are cynical towards institutions that they felt like have failed them. At the top of that list is the Democratic Party. But they are not exclusive on that list," said Terrance Woodbury, CEO of HIT Strategies.

Abrams told reporters that her campaign has aimed, through targeted outreach, to "connect the dots" for Black voters about how her win could turn into policies that would benefit Georgians. It remains to be seen if that work will be enough to turn out the minority voters vital to her effort to unseat Kemp.

PHOTO: Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, left, speaks with a constituent after a news conference in McDonough, Ga., July 29, 2020.
Brian Kemp, governor of Georgia, left, speaks with a constituent after a news conference in McDonough, Ga., July 29, 2020.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

The prospect of ticket-splitting could be a possibility in some of this year's most high-profile races and is already a reality in at least one case in a major battleground.

In Pennsylvania on Monday, Philadelphia's police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, split their 2022 endorsements between both major parties by backing Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

On the campaign trail, Oz has sought to tie issues with crime and gun violence in Philadelphia to Democratic policies -- and his opponent, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. Although U.S. senators have no direct oversight of local policing practices, Oz cited crime in Philadelphia as part of his pledge to support officers and allow them "to do their job," ABC News' Will McDuffie reports.

Asked by ABC News if he believes in reforming any aspects of policing, Oz said Monday that he would encourage the use of body-worn cameras and more community policing. Oz also said the use of body cameras on officers "provides a lot of freedom to the officers at a time of crisis."

FOP Lodge 5's president, John McNesby, said an endorsement committee met with Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano prior to making the decision to back Shapiro. The outcome of that meeting appeared to raise more questions for the group about how Mastriano would engage with union priorities, if elected.

"To me, it just doesn't seem like everything's clicking with Mastriano," said McNesby, adding, "He was just totally different as far as right to work and as far as unions and as far as, 'Do as I say and not as I do.' We don't like that."

PHOTO: Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania's Democratic nominee for governor, speaks to the crowd during a campaign event in Gettysburg, Pa., Sept. 17, 2022.
Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania's Democratic nominee for governor, speaks to the crowd during a campaign event in Gettysburg, Pa., Sept. 17, 2022.
Marc Levy/AP

The TIP with Abby Cruz

The Republican National Committee on Monday sought to spotlight concerns over migration at the southern border, hosting a press call in the wake of the latest numbers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. According to that data, released last week, Border Patrol apprehensions of migrants have exceeded 2 million so far this fiscal year, a significant increase from 2021.

"What's happening in South Texas isn't just affecting us, it's affecting the entire state, the entire country and we need help," said Rep. Mayra Flores, the Republican nominee for Texas' 34th District. "We need help from other states like California and New York -- step up. We have a problem and it's not just a South Texas problem. It's an American problem."

The government's border data shows authorities overall saw a 2.2% increase month-over-month in unique encounters with migrants in August. People arriving from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela were the faces behind that growth, according to the Biden administration.

Amid sharp GOP criticism, the White House has stressed its push to humanely process migrants who seek to enter the U.S. -- in contrast, officials say, with the Trump White House -- but note they have only limited influence over immigration from other countries.

Republican lawmakers said on Monday's call that the influx of people was taxing their communities.

"How on earth are we going to provide for the ... immigrants who have crossed the border since January 2021?" said Texas Rep. Monica De La Cruz, the 15th District Republican nominee. "When we can't even take care of our own people in this area, it's absolutely outrageous. And it's unfair and is plain wrong."

Some of the Republicans on the call are running in competitive swing district races in Texas that could help decide who controls the House next year. The 15th and 28th seats are held by Democrats; the 34th is vacant.

"The good news is that it does not have to be this way," said Rep. Cassy Garcia, the 28th District's Republican nominee. "Democrats and Republicans can come together to solve difficult challenges. And I believe in bipartisanship and all of us are eager to roll up our sleeves and work hard for our communities."

The growing numbers at the border and border security are among the leading concerns of Texans who will cast their ballots in November. Rep. Flores said enforcement was a priority for her but that she feels immigration is an issue -- despite the long history of unsuccessful legislation in Congress -- that can be worked out between both parties in Washington.

"This should not be political," she said.

PHOTO: Migrants walk along the border wall after crossing into El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, Sept. 22, 2022.
Migrants walk along the border wall after crossing into El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, Sept. 22, 2022.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Tuesday morning with a look at the preparations in Florida for Hurricane Ian. ABC's Ginger Zee leads us off. Then ABC's Ian Pannell reports on the protests across Russia against President Vladimir Putin's mobilization order. And ABC's Megan Williams in Rome breaks down what to know about Italy's new far-right prime minister. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • At noon, President Biden will deliver remarks in the Rose Garden on his effort to lower health care costs.
  • Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin will campaign for Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who is running against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Wednesday for the latest.

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