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The Political Report – 11/2/2021

In New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson University has Governor Phil Murphy (D) leading 53% to Republican Jack Ciattarelli’s 44%.

In Virginia, Abt Associates for the Washington Post and George Mason University have Former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) leading with 49% to Republican Glenn Youngkin 48%. A new Roanoke College poll in Virginia finds McAuliffe also leading by 1 point, 47% to 46%. A new Insider Advantage poll in Virginia shows Youngkin leading McAuliffe 47% to 45%,

For comparison, the FiveThirtyEight polling average shows Youngkin ahead 47.7% to 46.7%.

“Early voting hit a record high in Virginia’s dead heat governor’s race between former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin,” CNBC reports.

“At least 1,137,656 voters submitted early ballots… That makes up roughly one fifth of the state’s 5.9 million electorate.”

Former President Donald Trump cast doubt on Virginia’s election system — a state he lost by 10 points in the 2020 election — while also urging people to vote for Glenn Youngkin (R) for governor, the Washington Examiner reports.

Said Trump: “I am not a believer in the integrity of Virginia’s elections, lots of bad things went on, and are going on. The way you beat it is to flood the system and get out and vote.”

Trump also hypothesized the news media and “perverts” are trying to “convince people that we do not like each other” so that the former president’s base won’t show up to vote for Youngkin.

NBC News: “A win Tuesday by Youngkin or anyone else on the GOP ticket — or even a close loss — would reset the electoral calculus. If Democrats are struggling here, what does that mean for other Southern states like Georgia and North Carolina, where the party has made gains by copying the Virginia playbook and where Democrats hope to defend or pick up Senate seats in 2022?”

“Virginia was barely contested in the last presidential election, but a Youngkin victory might put it back in play, squeezing Democrats by making them play defense with working-class white voters in both the upper Midwest and in more diverse Sun Belt states where the party had been making gains lately.”

Jeff Greenfield: “The political universe Tuesday night will look a lot like the start of a NASCAR auto race, with the Virginia governor’s election serving as the starting gun for the next year — or two or three — of campaign diagnostics. You can already hear the budding analysis: ‘Democrats See Midterm Doom!’ ‘Dems Dodged a Bullet!’ ‘Will Biden Face a Renomination Challenge?’”

“We don’t need to wait until the results are in, however, to draw one clear conclusion from this contest. It will or should deal another decisive blow to one of the most enduring, least useful observations about American elections: ‘All politics is local.’”

Harry Enten: “If the polls are to be believed, Republicans are going to do very well in Virginia given the political baseline in the state. Traditionally, this would foretell a strong Republican performance in next year’s midterms. In fact, given Virginia is more blue than the nation as a whole on the presidential level, a tie in this year’s gubernatorial election would essentially be in line with Republicans winning the national House vote by 5 points next year.”

“To be clear, McAuliffe can very much still win this race. The election is well within the margin of error… Still, the most likely outcome is a close margin between McAuliffe and Youngkin. That’s bad for Democrats given that President Joe Biden won the state by 10 points last year.”

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball just changed its rating for Virginia’s race for governor from Leans Democrat to Leans Republican.

New York Times: “The former Virginia governor [McAuliffe] and his top aides, who have been pushing congressional and White House officials to pass the bill for over a month, were both stunned and infuriated… They were amazed Ms. Pelosi had been forced to delay the vote for the second time in a month, baffled why the president didn’t make a more aggressive push and despairing about the impact of yet another round of negative stories from Washington.”

New York Times: “The size and atmosphere of dueling events during the last weekend of campaigning before Election Day on Tuesday reflected the trends in the most recent polls. Mr. Youngkin, the Republican candidate, greeted crowds of more than 1,000, while Mr. McAuliffe, the Democrat, hustled through sparsely attended events from morning to night.”

Politico: “There is scant evidence that McAuliffe’s attempt to revive the agitated emotions of 2020 and to cast Youngkin as a Donald Trump proxy is working. What seems evident is that many residents are feeling drained and ready to return to a time when politics wasn’t all-consuming.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “The estranged wife of Sean Parnell (R) — the candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania — testified under oath Monday that he tried to choke her until she bit him to escape, that he hit their children and verbally lashed out at her with obscenities,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“In tears, Laurie Parnell said that her husband would call her a ‘whore’ and a ‘piece of shit.’ She also testified that he once put her out of the car and left her by the road after they argued when he told her she had to get an abortion.”

Said Mrs. Parnell: “He was strangling me.”

A new PRRI poll found that 31% of Americans believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, including two-thirds of all Republican voters and 82% of those who trust Fox News as a news source.

Among those who trust One America News Network and Newsmax, 97% say they believe the election was stolen.

Most troubling: 30% of Republicans agree that violence might be warranted.

Said pollster Robert Jones: “I’m not an alarmist by nature, but I’m deeply disturbed by these numbers. I think that we really have to take them seriously as a threat to democracy.”

When asked which party is the biggest threat to democracy, a new NPR/PBS/Marist poll finds 42% said Democrats and 41% said Republicans, while just 8% blamed both parties.

The same NPR/PBS/Marist Poll shows 44% of Democratic voters want Joe Biden replaced on the 2024 Democratic presidential ticket, while 36% want him to run for re-election and 20% are unsure.

A new NBC News poll finds 50% of Republicans say they are not confident their vote will be counted accurately.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR. Jonathan Chait: “Ron DeSantis is the patron saint of a segment of the conservative Establishment that has made its peace with Donald Trump largely by pretending he does not exist. DeSantis has followed their strategy of ignoring Trump’s lies and authoritarianism while cultivating his followers with more refined attacks on their shared enemies.”

“Ironically, however, DeSantis has moved far enough to the extreme that they have now been forced into the position of applying the same method to DeSantis that they used for Trump. They have constructed an imaginary version of DeSantis, lavishing praise upon the ‘Ron DeSantis’ they created who shares all the positive qualities of the real-life politician of the same name, with none of his glaring flaws.”

The new NBC News poll asked voters which political party was best at handling various key issues.

Here’s where Democrats have an advantage:

  • Climate change: Democrats +24
  • Coronavirus pandemic: Democrats +12
  • Education: Democrats +10
  • Abortion: Democrats +10
  • Voting rights: Democrats +5
  • Election security: Democrats +1

Here’s where Republicans have an advantage:

  • Border security: +27
  • Inflation: Republicans +24
  • Crime: Republicans +22
  • National security: Republicans +21
  • Economy: Republicans +18
  • Immigration: Republicans +9

In the minds of American voters, no party dominates on handling the important issues facing the country.

A new PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll finds 59% of Americans say the global community is doing too little to address climate change.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. The Atlantic has an excellent profile of Ohio U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel (R):

“Don’t blame Mandel for the lack of attention. He’s desperately sought the spotlight with outlandish stunts and a willingness to say anything that he thinks might resonate with voters—in fact, that’s been the sole constant throughout his political career. Mandel once ran on bipartisan appeal, but he’s since cycled through other identities—Tea Partier, proto-Trumpist, and now Big Lie true believer—as they serve him. You can accuse Josh Mandel of many things, and I will, but you cannot accuse him of insufficient hustle.”

ILLINOIS SIXTEENTH CD. “You can fight against the cancer in the Republican Party of lies of conspiracy of dishonest. And you ultimately come to the realization that, basically, it’s me, Liz Cheney and a few others that are telling the truth. And there are about 190 people in the Republican Party that aren’t going to say a word, and there’s a leader of the Republican caucus that is embracing Donald Trump with all he can.”  — Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), on ABC News, on why he decided not to run for re-election.

Kinzinger’s decision is also probably likely because the Illinois’ Democratic legislature passed a new congressional map that would have placed him in the same seat as fellow GOP Rep. Darrin LaHood. That would have likely been an impossible primary for Kinzinger, who was one of just 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump in January.

We may not have seen the last of Kinzinger, though, as he said, “This isn’t the end of my political future, but the beginning.” The outgoing congressman didn’t rule out running for the Senate or governor earlier this year, but he’d still face a difficult task winning over a Trump-worshipping electorate before he could concentrate on trying to prevail in the general election in this very blue state.

NEW YORK U.S. SENATOR. Since moving to the Upper West Side in New York earlier this year, former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has been sounding out confidantes about primarying his nemesis Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in 2024 — but has decided against it, Politico reports.

NEW YORK GOVERNOR / ATTORNEY GENERAL. On Friday, Attorney General Tish James became the first prominent New York Democrat to announce a primary challenge to Gov. Kathy Hochul, who ascended from the lieutenant governorship in August after Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace. James’ kickoff video did not mention the incumbent and instead focused on her record in office, including how she “sued the Trump administration 76 times, but who’s counting?”James also alluded to her investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo that directly led to his departure (he announced he was quitting a week after James released a blockbuster report concluding that he’d harassed 11 women and retaliated against at least one). James, without mentioning the ex-governor, told the audience, “I’ve held accountable those who mistreat and harass women in the workplace, no matter how powerful the offenders.”

James would be the first Black woman elected governor of any state, but early polls indicate that she starts out at a disadvantage. An early October poll from Marist showed Hochul leading James 44-28 in what was at the time a hypothetical matchup, while a Siena survey done days later put the incumbent’s edge at 47-31. Other candidates may also run: New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams recently filed paperwork for a bid, while New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and Rep. Tom Suozzi are among the Empire State Democrats who have also shown an interest in the job.

Still, the attorney general presents Hochul with a high-profile opponent who has won difficult primaries before. James, who got her start in elected office holding a Brooklyn-based seat on the New York City Council, ran citywide in 2013 to succeed de Blasio as public advocate. James found herself in a primary runoff against state Sen. Dan Squadron, but she benefited from her extensive backing from the city’s labor movement. Her extremely strong showing in the city’s predominantly Black areas, as well as strong performance in Hispanic precincts, propelled her to a 59-41 win, and she had no trouble in the general election.

Plenty of political observers spent years expecting James to run for mayor in 2021, but she unexpectedly got an earlier shot at a promotion when Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned in May of 2018 after multiple women accused him of sexual assault. James consolidated the support of Cuomo and other members of the state party establishment, but she still faced serious primary opposition from law professor Zephyr Teachout, who had challenged Cuomo from the left in 2014 and lost a high-profile House race two years later, and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. James ended up beating Teachout 40-31 before easily securing victory in November.

James’ decision to challenge Hochul now also means that the Empire State is in for what will likely be a competitive Democratic primary to succeed her in one of the most influential attorneys general offices in America. We’ll have more about the potential field for this post in a future Digest.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR. Former Trump adviser Roger Stone said he “may be forced” to run for Florida governor if Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) does not audit votes cast in the state during the 2020 election, The Hill reports.

Said Stone: “I heard Gov. Ron DeSantis say that Florida had the most honest election in our history in 2020 yet I know for a certainty there are 1 million phantom voters on the Florida voter rolls. These ‘voters’ simply do not exist.”

Walter Shapiro: “It was always folly to believe that Biden and the Democrats could top the New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society with a 50–50 Senate and just three votes to spare in the House. The White House deserves some of the blame for encouraging unrealistic expectations about what was ever possible in a Congress poised on the knife edge.”

“As a result, Democrats refuse to recognize their own victories. In addition to the $1.9 trillion stimulus package, Congress is poised to approve a $1 trillion infrastructure bill and, most likely, the downsized $1.75 trillion Biden spending plan. A trillion here and a trillion there—and pretty soon it adds up to real money. It might not be LBJ’s full Great Society package, but add the three bills up, and it amounts to transformational policies buttressing the social safety net and battling climate change.”

OHIO REDISTRICTING. “A new bipartisan commission tasked with redrawing Ohio’s political boundaries every decade surrendered its authority to draw congressional districts without even considering a proposal, punting the decision to a state legislature overwhelmingly controlled by Republicans,” The Hill reports.

ILLINOIS REDISTRICTING.  On Friday, the day after both chambers of the Democratic-led state legislature passed Illinois’ new congressional map in a late-night session, Democratic Reps. Sean Casten and Marie Newman each said that they’d run for the new 6th District in Chicago’s western suburbs, while Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger announced his retirement from the House.

Republicans may also be in for their own incumbent vs. incumbent primary between Reps. Mike Bost and Mary Miller in the 12th District in downstate Illinois, but only Bost has confirmed he’s running again; as we’ll discuss, Miller could instead decide to take on fellow Rep. Rodney Davis.

It’s now up to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker to sign the new boundaries, which will reduce Illinois’ congressional districts from 18 to 17, into law, but the Chicago Tribune says this is “expected” to happen. Altogether, Biden would have carried 14 of the state’s 17 new seats compared to 12 of the 18 existing districts.

We’ll start with our look at the new 6th District, which, according to data from Dave’s Redistricting App, supported Joe Biden 55-44. Our initial analysis finds that 41% of the residents of the new 6th District are Newman’s constituents compared to 23% for Casten. However, Politico’s Ally Mutnick tweets that Casten’s portion of the new constituency contains far more Democratic voters, writing, “Biden won Newman’s area by 3.8% but Biden won Casten’s area by 20.2%, per an analysis shared with Politico.”

The new 12th District well to the south is overwhelmingly red turf at 71-28 Trump, so all the action will be in the GOP primary. Bost represents 53% of the new seat compared to 47% for Miller, and he quickly made it clear Friday he’d be running here.

That was a far different response than Miller, whom Politico says “began to scurry away when” asked, but she doesn’t sound like she plans to retire after just one term. When the congresswoman finally provided a response to whether she’d be willing to take on a fellow incumbent she replied, “I have no idea, but I can say I laughed when I read that they think they’re terrorizing me. Because I am not scared.” The Belleville-News Democrats’ Kelsey Landis writes Miller’s family farm is located about a mile south of the new 12th District in the 13th, a new seat that supported Biden 54-43 and that would likely be unwinnable for the far-right congresswoman.

A Bost-Miller match still isn’t guaranteed, though, as Landis speculates that Miller could instead decide to go up against a different Republican colleague, Rodney Davis, in the safely red 15th District. Miller might have more appeal to primary voters than Davis, who held a competitive seat for a decade by presenting himself as a moderate, and she’d have a small geographic advantage, as she represents 31% of the new 15th compared to 28% for Davis. A spokesperson for Davis, who previously threatened to run for governor if he wound up in an unfavorable seat, said his boss would “make a formal announcement on his 2022 plans” after Pritzker signs the redistricting bill into law.

The new map, meanwhile, strengthens Democrats in two competitive districts compared to the existing boundaries. Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood’s new 14th District in the Chicago exurbs backed Biden 55-43, while the current seat with the same number supported him just 50-48. The new 17th District along the Iowa border, which will be open because of Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos’ retirement, also went for Biden 53-46, a big shift from Trump’s 50-48 win in the current 17th.

Inexplicably, though, the new map also makes the 14th and 17th a point redder compared to the second version by stranding some blue precincts in surrounding GOP districts. However, Illinois map-drawers haven’t seemed focused on fine-tuning their districts despite their eagerness to pass an aggressive pro-Democratic gerrymander. 

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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