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The Political Report – September 17, 2022

The new New York Times/Siena poll finds 62% of registered voters oppose the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, while 30% support it. Similarly, it finds that 62% of voters favor keeping abortion legal, versus only 31% who think it should be illegal.

But drilling down, it’s the intensity of this opposition that should really worry Republicans.

Specifically, 52% of voters “strongly oppose” overturning Roe, as compared to just 19% who “strongly support” it. The poll also found that 57% of women “strongly oppose” overturning Roe, as compared to just 15% who “strongly support” it.

More worrisome for Republicans is that abortion rights has seemingly energized these women to get out and vote.

TargetSmart drilled down into the voter data from the recent Kansas referendum on abortion and found that women accounted for an astounding 56% of all ballots cast in that election. That compared to just 53.5% of ballots cast in the 2016 and 52.5% in 2018.

The same is true for younger voters, who typically vote at much lower levels in the midterm elections. In the Kansas vote, voters under the age of 30 comprised over 14% of ballots cast, exceeding the youth vote share for each of the past three general elections in the state.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the accuracy of polling, which seemingly undercounted Republican support in the 2020 election.

If the abortion issue increases turnout of women and young people — two important voting blocs for Democrats — then the current polls may actually be underestimating Democratic strength.

New York Times/Siena Poll: “For now, the fury over abortion and the renewed spotlight on Mr. Trump have helped mask deep Democratic vulnerabilities that might ultimately make Republicans favored to retake Congress — if Republicans could refocus the electorate on the economy and inflation. Republicans would lead by six percentage points in the race for Congress, if they could merely win over voters who say they agree with the G.O.P. most on the economy…”

“Voters trust the Republicans more on the economy by a 14-point margin, 52 to 38 percent. And they say that economic issues will matter more to their vote than do societal issues by an 18-point margin.”

“Yet 9 percent of the voters who trust Republicans more on economic issues and say that those issues are most important are voting for Democrats, anyway.”

Aaron Blake: “Nearly three months later after the Supreme Court overturned Roe, that move remains as unpopular as the polls have long suggested; indeed, it appears to be one of the court’s most unpopular decisions in modern history.”

“Despite Republicans emphasizing the idea of sending of the issue ‘back to the states,’ Americans still oppose overturning Roe by around a 2-to-1 margin. And crucially, they still strongly oppose it even when told that the court’s decision means states can now decide the issue for themselves.”

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. “New Jersey is serving as an incubator for Republican candidates in Pennsylvania, with two statewide candidates being New Jersey natives and longtime residents,” the New Jersey Globe reports.

“Gubernatorial candidate Douglas Mastriano (R) was a registered voter in New Jersey for 28 years until July 2021 when election officials changed his status to inactive.”

“Dr. Mehmet Oz lived and voted in New Jersey until 2021, when he moved to Pennsylvania to seek a U.S. Senate seat. He remains on New Jersey’s voter rolls as a resident of Cliffside Park and could legally vote in his home state this November if he chose to not vote in Pennsylvania.”

A new Monmouth poll in Pennsylvania finds that more than half of potential voters say they will either definitely (33%) or probably (21%) vote for Josh Shapiro (D) for governor in November.

Just over one-third currently feel they will definitely (21%) or probably (15%) vote for Doug Mastriano (R).

Also interesting: Significantly more voters say they definitely will not vote for Mastriano (45%) than the number who completely rule out Shapiro (28%).

NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATOR. A new Emerson College poll in New Hampshire finds Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) with an 11-point lead over newly-nominated Donald Bolduc (R), leading 51% to 40%.

Hassan quickly responded to Republican Don Bolduc’s victory in Tuesday’s GOP primary by launching a spot set to start Thursday that attacks her underfunded rival’s opposition to abortion rights before he can respond. Her narrator declares, “The Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade and Don Bolduc and anti-choice Republicans say we should ‘rejoice’ at the ruling denying women access to abortion.” There’s more where that came from, as NBC reports that EMILY’s List will also begin a $1.4 million buy on Thursday.

On the GOP side, NRSC chair Rick Scott insisted his committee would “absolutely” spend against Hassan despite its major money woes. Politico wrote back in May that the NRSC had reserved $9 million for this race, though CNN’s Manu Raju tweeted Wednesday that it had booked only $6.5 million. The group has yet to air any ads here and there’s no reports of it scaling back its reservation, so it’s not clear what the source of the discrepancy is.

During a debate with fellow GOP New Hampshire Senate hopefuls last month, retired Gen. Don Bolduc, the proud election truther who won the nomination this week, bragged about signing a letter falsely claiming Trump won the 2020 election. Then Bolduc declared that “dammit, I stand by” the letter and “I’m not switching horses, baby!”

“Like a driver making a screeching U-turn, Don Bolduc, the Republican Senate nominee in New Hampshire, pivoted on Thursday from his primary race to the general election, saying he had ‘come to the conclusion’ that the 2020 presidential election ‘was not stolen,’ after he had spent more than a year claiming it was,” the New York Times reports.

Said Bolduc: “I’ve done a lot of research on this, and I’ve spent the past couple weeks talking to Granite Staters all over the state from every party, and I have come to the conclusion — and I want to be definitive on this — the election was not stolen.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. Monmouth University released a survey on Wednesday that found 49% of Pennsylvania voters would “definitely” or “probably” support Democrat John Fetterman while only 39% said the same about Republican Mehmet Oz. However, while some observers quickly characterized the results as Fetterman leading Oz 49-39, that’s not the case. This poll isn’t trying to simulate the horserace because respondents weren’t asked whether they would vote for Fetterman or Oz, just how open they are to supporting each man.

By contrast, a new YouGov poll for CBS found Fetterman ahead 52-47 in a straight head-to-head question: Respondents were quizzed if they would select him, Oz, an unnamed “someone else,” or if they weren’t sure, which better reflects the actual decision voters will be faced with in the fall.

While Democrat John Fetterman has devoted much of his time towards attacking Mehmet Oz as an interloper from New Jersey, he uses his new commercial to attack the many quack cures the Republican promoted on The Dr. Oz Show.

“He had a magic pill for everything,” says the ad’s star, a woman identified as Lynne. She then lists some: “Raspberry Ketones. Sea Buckthorn. Alpha CycloDextrin. Yacon Syrup. Garcinia Cambogia.” Lynne then argues, “Dr. Oz pushed all those pills and he knew they didn’t really work,” a statement followed by a clip of the would-be-senator telling a congressional panel, “There’s not a pill that’s going to help you lose weight without diet and exercise.”

IOWA U.S. SENATOR. Democrat Mike Franken has publicized an internal from Change Research that shows him trailing Republican incumbent Chuck Grassley only 48-44, which is nearly identical to Franken’s 49-44 deficit in his early July poll. Two other surveys were released later that month, and they gave Grassley a somewhat larger edge: A media poll from Selzer & Company had the Republican up 47-39, while the GOP firm Cygnal showed him winning 52-43.

Grassley, who has always won re-election with at least 60% of the vote, seems to be taking Franken at least somewhat seriously, as he began running ads against him a few weeks ago. However, no outside groups on either side have spent much here so far.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR. Last week, the Republican pollster Neighborhood Research released an early September survey that shows GOP incumbent Ron DeSantis leading Democrat Charlie Crist 50-41, which is larger than the 3-5 point lead DeSantis posted in several surveys conducted since late August.

Neighborhood Research is run by Rick Shaftan, who has polled for allies of 2017 Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore as well as the campaign of another far-right Senate candidate, 2018 Virginia nominee Corey Stewart. His firm was known as Atlantic Media and Research until 2019 when, after years of legal pressure from the unrelated Atlantic Media, Shaftan changed its name.

FLORIDA U.S. SENATOR and NORTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR. While vocal Republican strategists reacted with horror this week when South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham proposed a nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd quickly announced that they would cosponsor the bill that one GOP ad-maker argued “rips open a political sore.” Rubio, though, seems convinced that he can avoid any backlash with an ad campaign caricaturing his Democratic rival, Rep. Val Demings, as the one with extreme views on abortion.

The senator has launched what NBC says is a one-week buy for $1.8 million, which includes an ad campaign connecting Demings to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The narrator in one insists, “Demings voted with Pelosi to allow radical abortions even at the moment of birth,” before moving on to bashing her on a myriad of other issues; another Rubio commercial uses similar language. Most Republican candidates have been reluctant to discuss abortion at all, but the NRSC recently aired its own ad against Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly in which it insisted that Kelly, like Rubio, also supports “extreme last minute abortions right before baby’s birth.”

Both of these attempts to neutralize abortion as an issue, though, deliberately mislead and fearmonger about a vote both Democrats cast in favor of the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would protect and expand abortion rights and is sometimes described as “codifying” Roe v. Wade. The legislation would only allow abortions later in pregnancy “when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.”

Budd, meanwhile, backed Graham’s bill the very same day that Politico publicized an internal GOP poll warning that abortion rights could badly damage the party’s prospects in the fall. Capitol Communications, surveying Aug. 21-22 on behalf of an unnamed candidate for the state Supreme Court, showed Democrat Cheri Beasley edging out Budd 42-41. Pollster Paul Shumaker spent most of his memo arguing, “The Red Wave is Real,” but he wasn’t so optimistic in a portion titled, “Roe V Wade and The Democrats’ Only Hope.”

“I begin by telling my fellow Republicans, don’t shoot the messenger,” Shumaker wrote, before he revealed that a 44% plurality said that the statement, “Abortions should be the right of a woman and legal in all circumstances” best described their stance. Another 25% selected, “Abortions should be permitted in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or in the case of rape, incest, or to protect the mother’s life.”

Shumaker argued that his party should “[r]adicalize the ultra-left Democrats who support unrestricted access to abortions, including full-term abortions, while not letting Democrats radicalize the Republicans as the Party of an all-out ban,” though Budd doesn’t seem to have internalized that last part.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. “Blake Masters, the Republican nominee for Senate in Arizona, has repeatedly said the U.S. should clean house on the senior ranks of the military, pushing the claim that all the generals and admirals are ‘woke’ and ‘left-wing’ losers who’ve never won a war,” Vice News reports.

Said Masters, on leaked audio: “Your entire general class, they’re left-wing politicians at this point. It’s very hard to become a general without being some kind of left-of-center politician.”

He added: “I would love to see all the generals get fired. You take the most conservative colonels, you promote them to general. Not because the ideology is important, but because the conservative colonels will be able to leave the ideology aside. They just care about an effective fighting force.”

“An interviewer asked Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters to pick a ‘subversive thinker’ whom people should know more about,” the AP reports. “Masters gave it some thought and came up with a risky response for someone running for elected office. He picked the Unabomber.” Said Masters: “I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this. How about, like, Theodore Kaczynski?”

Related from Lawfare: Why right-wing extremists love the Unabomber.

OREGON GOVERNOR. Cook Political Report: “With less than two months until Election Day, the 2022 gubernatorial map has seen some surprising shifts since the outset of the cycle. Republicans had initially started targeting the Rust Belt, hoping to flip control in perpetual swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. But, saddled with weak and cash-poor candidates, those contests have moved down the priority list as new opportunities have emerged.”

“No race for governor has been more surprising than Oregon, which we last shifted into the competitive column at the end of July, moving it from Likely to Lean Democrat. Now, we are changing our race rating once again into the Toss Up column.”

The reason for this new status is due to the presence of a strong and well known Independent state senator running for Governor, turning the race into a 33-33-33 affair.

MASSACHUSETTS MILLIONAIRE TAX REFERENDUM and GOVERNOR. Suffolk University’s newest poll of its home state, which was done on behalf of a trio of media groups, shows a 56-35 majority in support of the “millionaires tax” or “Fair Share Amendment.” The survey was in the field just as opponents of Question 1, which would increase taxes on personal income over $1 million in order to fund education and transportation projects, launched an expensive ad campaign to derail it.

The battle over Question 1 will almost certainly be more competitive than the race to succeed retiring GOP Gov. Charlie Baker, though, as Suffolk has Democrat Maura Healey beating Republican Geoff Diehl 52-26. And while both sides in the Fair Share Amendment fight have millions stockpiled, Healey ended August with an overwhelmingly $4.7 million to $17,000 cash-on-hand lead over her far-right foe.

RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR. Republican Ashley Kalus is airing a new ad attacking Democratic Gov. Dan McKee over the ongoing FBI investigation into his administration over a now-canceled education consulting contract, a story that also caused him trouble in the primary.

Last year, McKee’s administration awarded a one-year $5.2 million contract to ILO Group, a consulting firm that formed just two days after he ascended to the governorship. The legislature, which is dominated by fellow Democrats, went on to look into whether ILO, which beat out a far lower bid from another firm, had an unfair advantage because of its connections to one of the governor’s allies.

The state went on to cancel the contract and pay $1.8 million for six months. McKee maintained that there was nothing strange about how the contract was procured, though he later signed legislation passed in response to the ILO story.

Both state and federal authorities are currently investigating the matter, something McKee’s opponents brought up ahead of this week’s primary. The governor declared at a debate last month that he had not been subpoenaed by the FBI, though he didn’t say if anyone from his administration had been. “My administration is dealing with it internally,” he said, to which the moderator responded, “Is that a yes?” McKee answered, “I am not making a comment on that.”

NEVADA GOVERNOR. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak is up with a commercial responding to ads from Republican Joe Lombardo and the RGA attacking him over Northshore Labs, a company that received a state contract to supply COVID tests that turned out to have an extremely high false negative rate. “Northshore was a federally licensed lab,” says the narrator, “and when bad testing was discovered, Sisolak’s administration launched an investigation and moved to shut them down.” The spot then goes on to argue Lombardo is the one who gave out “contracts to his donors.”

In May, a ProPublica story detailed how the Chicago-based Northshore contracted with the sons of Peter Palivos, a close Sisolak friend and donor who’s been at the center of Republican attack ads, to “build clientele and manage operations.” As a timeline created by the Nevada Independent explains, the Palivoses tasked Mike Willden, a former state health department head now working as a lobbyist, with expediting approval for Northshore’s testing centers. Willdent reached out to the governor’s chief of staff regarding the approval process (though he did not mention Northshore) and was connected with other state health officials.

Northshore wound up getting its fast-tracked approval after one inspector, in the words of the NV Indy, “begrudgingly let Northshore skip the waiting line,” and one of the entities it soon reached a testing agreement with was the University of Nevada Reno. However, school officials this winter determined that Northshore’s PCR results failed to accurately diagnose 96% of positive cases.

Sisolak’s office said it took action to suspend the company’s license the day it learned of the problems, saying of Northshore, “They took advantage of states and local municipalities at a time when millions of Americans were relying on their services.” The governors’ aides also noted that Willden was a “former DHHS director with a long standing reputation in state government” and said he had “vouched for the company.” Sisolak’s team also denied that the governor had discussed Northshore with any members of the Palivos family and said it was cooperating with a federal investigation into the company.

Republicans, though, believe that this story can damage Sisolak. Just before Labor Day, the RGA ran a commercial as part of a $2.5 million ad campaign charging that the incumbent “fast-tracked a government contract for a shady company tied to a campaign donor.” The narrator continued, “Now there’s an investigation and Steve Sisolak is caught in the middle,” language that makes it sound like the governor is the one being probed by federal authorities instead of Northshore.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR and GOVERNOR. The GOP pollster Fallon Research’s new survey for the Republican public affairs firm Montrose Group shows Democrat Tim Ryan leading Republican J.D. Vance 49-46 for Senate even as GOP Gov. Mike DeWine fends off Democrat Nan Whaley 49-37. The horse race numbers came after a few issues questions, including how respondents felt about their area’s income tax levels and whether the economy is in a recession.

When asked about a possible federal ban on abortions last summer, Ohio U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance (R) suggested George Soros might charter planes to send women to California for abortions, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

Said Vance: “Let’s say Roe v. Wade is overruled. Ohio bans abortion in 2022 − let’s say 2024. Then every day, George Soros sends a 747 to Columbus to load up disproportionately Black women to get them to go have abortions in California. Of course, the left will celebrate this as a victory for diversity… If that happens, do you need some federal response to prevent it from happening because it’s really creepy? I’m pretty sympathetic to that, actually.”

KENTUCKY GOVERNOR. State Sen. Max Wise this week backed former Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft in next year’s Republican primary rather than run himself. Multiple media organizations have relayed rumors that Craft is planning to make Wise her running mate (candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run together as a ticket in both the primary and general elections in Kentucky), but she has yet to confirm this.

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

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