Doubts about candidates tipped the scales in tightest races

Nov 22, 2022, 6:24 PM | Updated: Nov 26, 2022, 1:14 pm
FILE - A marquee in downtown Atlanta displays the word "vote" on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022, in Atl...

FILE - A marquee in downtown Atlanta displays the word "vote" on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022, in Atlanta. Voters deciding to split their tickets or buck their party altogether may have helped Democrats mount a stronger-than-expected performance in the recent midterm elections. AP VoteCast is an extensive survey of this year’s electorate. The survey underscores how voters were selective in their choices despite today’s starkly polarized political climate. Party preferences aside, they often rewarded candidates seen as mainstream while rejecting those viewed as too extreme.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Casting his vote this month in one of the most politically competitive states in the U.S., Seung Lee happily backed Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s reelection. But when it came to the other top Republican on the ballot, Senate candidate Herschel Walker, he was uneasy.

Walker “doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” said Lee, a software tester in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur who ultimately backed Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.

He was just one of hundreds of thousands of voters across the U.S. who split their tickets this year in critical contests for governors’ mansions and congressional seats.

Voters deciding to split their tickets or buck their party altogether may have helped Democrats mount a stronger-than-expected performance in the midterm elections. AP VoteCast, an extensive survey of this year’s electorate, underscores how voters were selective in their choices in spite of today’s starkly polarized political climate, often rewarding candidates seen as mainstream while rejecting those viewed as too extreme.

In Georgia, Kemp won more than 200,000 more votes than Walker, a former football star who faced difficulties throughout his campaign, including his exaggerations about his business record, accusations of violence toward his first wife and allegations from two former girlfriends that he paid for their abortions. His underwhelming vote count forced him into a runoff with Warnock.

While 7 in 10 Georgia voters for Kemp said they enthusiastically backed him, only about half of fellow Republican Walker’s voters said that, according to VoteCast. Among Walker supporters, about 4 in 10 said they backed him with reservations and about 1 in 10 said they were simply opposing the other candidates.

The dynamics were even clearer elsewhere.

In Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro won the governor’s race by a larger margin than John Fetterman in the Senate race, earning nearly 280,000 more votes. Fetterman, who experienced a stroke in May, battled concerns about his health in a tight race with Republican celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz.

VoteCast showed 8% of voters in Pennsylvania split their tickets. Among voters identifying as Republicans, a notable 9% went for Democrat Fetterman, and even more — 18% — went for Shapiro.

Ticket splitting in this election was especially notable given that it has been less evident in recent cycles “as voters have become more polarized and more partisan,” said G. Terry Madonna, senior fellow in residence for political affairs at Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

VoteCast shows voters for Oz and Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate for governor, were less enthusiastic than voters for Fetterman and Shapiro.

Shapiro’s voters outpaced fellow Democrat Fetterman’s in enthusiasm. Still, despite many voters lacking confidence in Fetterman’s health, VoteCast shows Pennsylvania voters were somewhat more concerned about Oz’s familiarity with the state.

About 4 in 10 voters for Republican Mastriano said they supported him with reservations, and about 1 in 10 supported him in order to oppose other candidates. Overall, about two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s voters were concerned that Mastriano, who commissioned buses for people to attend the rally that preceded the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, had views that are “too extreme.” Only about 4 in 10 said that of Shapiro.

Mastriano “had a base among (former President Donald) Trump’s most loyal supporters, that’s why he got the nomination, but he could not expand that base,” Millersville University’s Madonna said. “Establishment Republicans also moved away from him.” Madonna suggested many were content to do so given some of Shapiro’s more moderate issue positions, including on fracking.

In Wisconsin and Michigan, incumbent Democratic governors overcame Republican challengers who were endorsed by Trump and repeated his denial of 2020’s outcome.

Sixty-three percent of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ voters but only 47% of Republican Tim Michels’ supporters said they backed their candidate enthusiastically. About as many Michels voters said they supported him with reservations. By contrast, in the race for U.S. Senate, 54% of voters for victorious Republican incumbent Ron Johnson were enthusiastic about him.

Michels was a weaker candidate — “he had some liabilities,” said Charles Franklin, director of the Marquette Law School poll in Wisconsin. And in the Senate race, though Johnson won reelection over Democrat Mandela Barnes, the margin was narrower than his 2016 or 2010 victories.

“I think there’s a strong case here that the Democratic advantage in turnout boosted the governor’s race a little over two points from where it was four years ago, and also in the process tightened the Senate race to just that one point margin for Johnson,” Franklin said.

In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was more enthusiastically supported than her Republican competitor Tudor Dixon. More were concerned that Dixon was “too extreme” in her political views than said that of Whitmer, 62% vs. 46%. About 1 in 10 Republican voters backed the Democrat.

Arizona stands out from the rest in measures of enthusiasm. Democrat Katie Hobbs defeated Republican Kari Lake in the race for governor despite Lake’s voters being more enthusiastic about the former television news anchor.

Forty-six percent of Hobbs supporters said they enthusiastically supported her, compared to 56% of Lake supporters. Forty-one percent of Hobbs voters backed her with reservations, while 12% were voting against the other candidates.

Lake, who more than once suggested to ” McCain Republicans” that they weren’t at home in her coalition, may have turned off the more moderate members of the party.

As in the other states, voters in Arizona were more likely to be concerned that Lake’s political views were “too extreme”, compared with Hobbs’, 59% vs. 51%. Eleven percent of voters who identified as Republicans backed Democrat Hobbs, including 25% of Republicans who identified as moderate or liberal.

“I think what you see is that this weird coalition has developed … we call it the pro-democracy coalition,” said Reed Galen, co-founder of The Lincoln Project, a GOP group that opposes Trump. “A combination of Democrats, independents and Republicans who move to the Democratic candidate, because that’s the person they see as most accessible.”

“But we shouldn’t underestimate how close a lot of these races were,” he added. “That’s why we call these things the game of small numbers.”


Fingerhut reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Bill Barrow in Atlanta contributed to this report.


Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2022 midterm elections at Find more details about AP VoteCast’s methodology at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Renton man gets 10 years in prison in drug trafficking case

A federal judge has sentenced a Renton, Washington man to 10 years in prison for his role in a violent drug distribution ring, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.
14 hours ago
Associated Press

12-year-old dies in Russian Roulette; murder charges brought

A 12-year-old boy is dead after playing Russian Roulette with peers in Jackson, Mississippi, police say. Jackson’s Deputy Police Chief Deric Hearn identified the boy as Markell Noah, according to reports by Mississippi-based WLBT-TV. Following the death officers arrested two juveniles and one adult Friday. Police say the two juveniles are being charged with murder […]
2 days ago
President Joe Biden shakes hands with a person as he visits shops with family members in Nantucket,...
Associated Press

Biden, family hit Nantucket stores for some holiday shopping

NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — President Joe Biden went holiday shopping on the Massachusetts resort island where he spends Thanksgiving, patronizing smaller independently owned stores on what the retail industry has called “Small Business Saturday.” Biden, his wife, Jill, and daughter Ashley went from store to store on Main Street in downtown Nantucket, lingering at Polo […]
2 days ago
FILE - A lobster rears its claws after being caught off Spruce Head, Maine, Aug. 31, 2021. Environm...
Associated Press

Whole Foods decision to pull lobster divides enviros, pols

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Environmental groups are once again at odds with politicians and fishermen in New England in the wake of a decision by high-end retail giant Whole Foods to stop selling Maine lobster. Whole Foods recently said that it will stop selling lobster from the Gulf of Maine at hundreds of its stores […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Rugby star and ALS campaigner Doddie Weir dies at 52

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Doddie Weir, a former Scotland rugby player whose diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s disease led to a widely praised campaign for more research into ALS, has died at the age of 52. The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) announced Weir’s death on Saturday. The lock played 61 times for Scotland and was famed […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Police: Brazil school shooter wore swastika, planned attack

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — A former student armed with a semiautomatic pistol and a revolver who killed three people and wounded 13 in two schools in Brazil had a swastika pinned to his vest and had been planning the attacks for two years, police said. The shootings took place Friday at a public school with […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Doubts about candidates tipped the scales in tightest races