The Political Report – 4/22/22

A new AP-NORC poll finds 54% of Americans think President Biden has been “not tough enough” in his response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while 36% think his approach has been about right, while 8% say he’s been too tough.

A new American Research Group poll finds 39% of Americans say they approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president and 54% say they disapprove.

For comparison, FiveThirtyEight shows Biden’s approval still 1.5 percentage points above his low.

Following the Republican National Committee’s decision to bow out of the current process, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll finds that 83% of Americans say it’s “important” for candidates to participate in presidential debates — including 80% of Republicans.

Jonathan Bernstein: “All unpopular presidents look to Harry Truman. President Joe Biden has more reason than most to do so.”

“Not just because Truman won a second term (actually, a first full term), despite being unpopular. Biden should look to Truman because Truman is also the president who symbolizes the difference between contemporary public opinion and historical reputation.”

“Florida Republicans are poised to adopt one of the nation’s most aggressive congressional maps, pressing forward with a proposal from Gov. Ron DeSantis that would most likely add four congressional districts for the party while eliminating three held by Democrats,” the New York Times reports.

FiveThirtyEight: “This is about as big of a Republican bias that Florida’s congressional map could have — and darn close to the most egregiously partisan map in the country. The map has an efficiency gap of R+20, which means Republicans would be expected to win 20 percent more seats under this map than under a hypothetical, perfectly fair map.”

“Because Florida has 28 congressional seats, that translates to a 5.7-seat Republican bias — right on Texas’s heels for the ‘honor’ of having the biggest bias of any state.”

David Wasserman: “Our latest scorecard projects a Democratic net gain of between zero and one seat from redistricting alone – virtually no partisan shift from the current maps (and down from a four to five-seat gain in February). That’s a disappointment for Democrats who had hoped that favorable state court rulings in North Carolina and Pennsylvania and their own gerrymanders in Illinois and New York would erase the House map’s GOP skew.”

“By far the biggest new pro-GOP shifts in our outlook are in Florida and Ohio, where Republicans appear to be successfully circumventing state-based anti-gerrymandering laws that once looked like constraints on their ambitions, at least for this cycle.”

“The biggest shift from the 2022 remap? A continued decimation of competitive seats.”

“In the sole debate ahead of Sunday’s presidential run-off, French President Emmanuel Macron attacked his far-right rival Marine Le Pen for owing money to a Kremlin-linked bank and warned that her proposal to ban head scarves for Muslim women could ‘create a civil war,’” Axios reports.

BBC: “Emmanuel Macron was widely seen as the winner of the 2017 debate, when his rival appeared flustered and underprepared. But this time, Marine Le Pen was ready from the start and far more composed.”

“Throughout the debate, it was Mr Macron who went on the offensive, appearing more like a challenger than an incumbent, repeatedly interrupting his rival.”

New York Times: “No French president has been the object of such intense dislike among significant segments of the population as Mr. Macron — the result, experts say, of his image as an elitist out of touch with the ordinary French people whose pensions and work protections he has threatened in his efforts to make the economy more investor-friendly.”

“Just how deep that loathing runs will be a critical factor — perhaps even the decisive one — in the election against his far-right rival, Marine Le Pen. Recent polls give Mr. Macron a lead of around 10 percentage points — wider than at some points in the campaign, but only a third of his winning margin five years ago.”

Meanwhile, Eurointelligence watched last night’s debate and concludes that Le Pen “did not succeed in extending much beyond her existing far-right constituency.”

Politico: “Democrats’ path to saving their narrow Senate majority comes down to defending four states this fall. And in all of them, President Joe Biden is underwater in the polls.”

“Biden’s drag on swing-state incumbents is emerging as a pivotal factor in the midterm Senate elections, where the loss of just one Democratic-held seat in November could put Republicans in control.”

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “As we assess the Senate map right now, we do currently see the Republicans as favorites to take the majority. This is because, of the most competitive seats — the ones we call Toss-ups — Republicans are defending just 1 (Pennsylvania) and Democrats are defending 3 (Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada). And while we’re holding at a Toss-up rating in all of these races, there are some indications that the Republicans are better-positioned in several if not all of them.”

A new Politico forecast of the 2022 midterm elections finds the House “likely” to flip to Republicans and the Senate “leans” to Republicans.

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “The bulk of these changes either move marginally competitive Republican-held seats to the Safe Republican category or move Democratic districts from Likely Democratic to the more competitive Leans Democratic column.”

“Republicans remain strong favorites to win the House majority, and with redistricting nearly complete, we can now offer a more complete assessment of what our ratings suggest for the fall.”

Cook Political Report: “This week, we’re moving eight Democratic-held seats into more competitive categories. With these changes, there are 27 Democratic seats in Toss Up or worse, and that list is certain to grow longer when Florida and New Hampshire finalize their lines.”

“By contrast, there are only 12 GOP-held seats in Toss Up or worse — all of which are due to redistricting, not atmospheric factors. Republicans need to net just five seats to regain the House.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is open to running for president in 2024 if President Biden declines to seek reelection, according to a campaign memo a top political adviser distributed to allies, the Washington Post reports.

Said Sanders spokesman Mike Casca: “While it’s frustrating this private memo leaked to the media, the central fact remains true, which is that Senator Sanders is the most popular officeholder in the country.”

Sanders would be 83 years old on Inauguration Day 2025.

“Add another high-profile Senate candidate to the long-list of Democrats opposing the Biden administration’s reversal of a pandemic-era border policy: Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan,” Politico reports.

“The frontrunner in the Ohio race’s Democratic primary is not mincing words when it comes to the impending reversal of Title 42, a Trump-era rule limiting migrants at the border.”

“The Democratic super PAC American Bridge 21st Century is starting a new $3.5 million ad buy in several battleground states in an effort to boost President Joe Biden ahead of the 2022 midterms,” Politico reports.

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised more than $4.4 million at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco Tuesday night. The fundraiser was conducted through the Nancy Pelosi Victory Fund, which is a joint fundraising committee between Pelosi’s congressional account, Pelosi’s PAC to the Future and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,” Punchbowl News reports.

“A Pelosi aide told us it was the single largest individual donor fundraiser in DCCC history.”

“Pelosi far surpasses any other lawmaker when it comes to fundraising. The California Democrat raised a record $45.7 million for Democrats in the first quarter of this year. She has brought in a mind-boggling $1.16 billion since joining leadership 20 years ago.”

Republicans wage “culture wars” because it lets them to portray Democrats as overly accepting of an odd set of values they say threatens our local communities and families. It allows Republicans to link Democrats to what James Carville calls “the faculty lounge bullshit” from “fancy colleges” where people “use a different language than ordinary people.” But what if Democrats pointed out that it’s Republicans who are actually threatening our most cherished values?

For instance, the vast majority of Americans support abortion rights and LGBTQ rights, “which is why for a long time, many mainstream Republicans stopped making their own stances on those issues — which sometimes differed from society’s prevailing views — central to their campaigns,” as Politico reports.

Yet in red state after red state, Republicans are enacting laws restricting abortion and banning transgender children from school sports. They’re even taking on Disney, an American institution known for supporting traditional values. It’s increasingly clear that Republicans are on the wrong side of these issues. Democrats should point that out.

Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D) gave Democrats a master course this week in how to talk about the culture wars in a short speech that’s been viewed more than 12 million times.

As Greg Sargent points out: “McMorrow didn’t sound defensive or offer mealy-mouthed, hairsplitting fact-checks. She didn’t capitulate to the Republican framing of these matters for a second. Instead, McMorrow laid bare her deepest convictions and explained how they lead her to her positions on gay and trans rights, and why basic human decency demands them. Importantly, she made this about what Republicans are doing.”

Even Carville — who has repeatedly warned Democrats against embracing “wokeness” — told the Washington Post it was an “enormously effective piece of communication.”

He added: “I’d show this clip as an instructional video.”

If you haven’t seen the video, I urge you to watch it now.

Many Democrats think the party should avoid partisan culture issues and focus its energy on pocketbook issues. But if Republicans continue to embrace unpopular — and some would say anti-American — policies, why shouldn’t Democrats be pointing that out?

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) “is preparing to take a step into national politics by launching a pair of new political groups ahead of the midterm election,” Politico reports.

“Youngkin’s new operation will allow him to wade into gubernatorial races across the country on behalf of GOP candidates. Youngkin can also use the apparatus to target a pair of Democratic House members in Virginia whom Republicans are looking to unseat.”

New York Times: “Unlike the New Deal, however, this $1.9 trillion federal investment in American communities has barely registered with voters. Rather than a trophy for Mr. Biden and his party, the program has become a case study in how easily voters can overlook even a lavishly funded government initiative delivering benefits close to home.”

The Los Angeles Times endorsed Lahnee Chen (R) for California Controller.  “Many Californians will balk at the idea of voting for a Republican… But one way to restore some sanity to the GOP is to elevate Republicans, like Chen, who operate in the world of facts.”

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) “wants to work with someone else in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district,” The State reports.

“The longtime South Carolina lawmaker on Thursday endorsed Katie Arrington in her GOP primary race against Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), taking the unusual step of intervening in a contentious party primary that’s playing out in his home state.”

David Drucker: “Well, this ought to make for an interesting weekly delegation lunch.”

Donald Trump Jr. used a radio appearance to endorse former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) in the U.S. Senate race in Missouri.

Said Trump Jr.: “I see who the press hates the most, that’s usually the guy I like — it’s sort of like J.D. Vance in Ohio. When CNN hates you, the Washington Post hates you, the New York Times hates you, it’s like, ‘That’s my guy.’” 

He added: “I see sort of the sham stuff that they’ve thrown at Greitens now… So we’ll see what my father does in it, but I certainly have my own opinions.” 

“The U.S. Senate campaign of Eric Greitens (R), the embattled former Missouri governor, has incurred more than $43,000 in legal bills, far more than any of his opponents,” the Kansas City Star reports.

“Greitens has spent more on legal expenses than every other major Republican candidate combined.”

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick (R) has pledged to “fight the woke mob,” but not long ago he once called for “solidarity by denouncing and eradicating structural bigotry,” Vice News reports.

Wrote McCormick on LinkedIn shortly after George Floyd’s murder in May 2020: “Racism and discrimination more broadly thrive not just in overt actions but also in omissions and willful ignorance. Benefiting from a system that quietly discriminates—without acknowledging it and helping to repair it—only propagates that system.”

McCormick (R) claims he’s running to challenge “the weakness and wokeness that you see across the country,” but the Daily Beast finds he championed inclusive policies while leading an investment firm.

“As the former CEO of the largest hedge fund in the world, Bridgewater Associates, McCormick boasted about his company’s inclusiveness, which extended to full paid coverage for gender transition surgery and earned a perfect score as an LGBTQ-friendly workplace. McCormick also wrote at length about Bridgewater’s diversity and inclusion programs more broadly, which he took credit for spearheading and nurturing.”

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

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