The Political Report – October 7, 2022

Politico forecasts that 211 House seats now at least lean toward Republicans, while 198 lean toward Democrats. Another 26 districts are toss-ups.

Playbook notes that 23 races have shifted: “That so many races are in flux isn’t necessarily surprising with Election Day just five weeks away. What is surprising is how those 23 races are shifting: Twelve went toward Republican candidates, while 11 went toward Democrats.”

But Nancy Pelosi said to Stephen Colbert: “I believe that we will hold the House.”

Cook Political Report: “A pattern has begun to emerge: in surveys by both parties, House Democrats’ polling numbers are holding up surprisingly well in states with contentious statewide races driving turnout, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania to name a few. Meanwhile, Republicans are encouraged by House numbers they’re seeing in blue-dominated states, including New York, Oregon and even Rhode Island.”

“This week, seven of our ten rating changes favor Democrats… Historically, it’s rare that so many race ratings shift towards the president’s party in a midterm year.”

Politico analysis “of turnout data before and after Roe v. Wade was struck down in June shows that voters in rural counties were less motivated to cast ballots than those in more Democratic-leaning suburbs and cities after the Supreme Court decision. Though special elections are not a crystal ball, that could spell potential trouble for the GOP if the trend continues to the midterms in November, because rural voters, who overwhelmingly supported former President Donald Trump, are a key constituency for Republican candidates.”

“In four congressional special elections that have been held since June to fill vacant House seats — in Nebraska, Minnesota and New York — the portion of registered voters who cast ballots averaged 27 percent in suburban and urban counties, compared to 22 percent in rural counties, according to the analysis. Ahead of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe, those three groups had turnout numbers similar to each other.”

New York Times: “In competitive districts across the country… Democrats in difficult re-election races are leaning heavily into preserving abortion rights as a closing argument for their uphill bids to hang onto their seats in a year when their party’s majority is at risk.”

“Armed with polling data that shows that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion has moved independent voters in their direction, they have reoriented their campaigns around the issue in the crucial final weeks before the election.”

“The strategy is built around the hope that in the handful of close races that will determine control of the House, the demise of abortion rights has energized independent voters and conservative-leaning women so intensely that it could allow otherwise vulnerable Democrats to eke out victories that previously seemed out of reach.”

Washington Post: “With five weeks left until the midterms, Democrats are seeking to use every tool at their disposal to keep the focus on abortion, an issue they see as a powerful motivator and closing message.”

“Their efforts have collided with ramped-up Republican attempts to center the elections on crime and the economy, posing a growing challenge in the final stretch.”


  • AZ-Sen: YouGov for CBS News: Mark Kelly (D-inc): 51, Blake Masters (R): 48
  • AZ-Gov: YouGov for CBS News: Katie Hobbs (D): 49, Kari Lake (R): 49
  • FL-Gov: Mason-Dixon: Ron DeSantis (R-inc): 52, Charlie Crist (D): 41
  • GA-Sen: Insider Advantage (R) for Fox 5: Raphael Warnock (D-inc): 47, Herschel Walker (R): 44, Chase Oliver (L): 3
  • GA-Sen: SurveyUSA for 11Alive News: Raphael Warnock (D-Inc): 50, Herschel Walker (R): 38
  • GA-Gov: Insider Advantage (R) for Fox 5: Brian Kemp (R-inc): 50, Stacey Abrams (D): 45, Shane Hazel (L): 2
  • GA-Gov: SurveyUSA for 11Alive News: Brian Kemp (R-inc): 47, Stacey Abrams (D): 45
  • MI-08: Cygnal (R) for Paul Junge: Paul Junge (R): 45, Dan Kildee (D-inc): 44
  • NH-Sen: Saint Anselm College: Maggie Hassan (D-inc): 49, Don Bolduc (R): 43
  • NH-Gov: Saint Anselm College: Chris Sununu (R-inc): 50, Tom Sherman (D): 34
  • NH-01: Saint Anselm College: Chris Pappas (D-inc): 49, Karoline Leavitt (R): 41
  • NH-02: Saint Anselm College: Annie Kuster (D-inc): 49, Robert Burns (R): 35
  • NM-Gov: Cygnal (R) for attorney general candidate Jeremy Gay (R): Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-inc): 46, Mark Ronchetti (R): 44, Karen Bedonie (L): 5
  • OH-Sen: Momentive/SurveyMonkey for Center Street PAC: Tim Ryan (D): 49, J.D. Vance (R): 38
  • PA-Sen: Momentive/SurveyMonkey for Center Street PAC: John Fetterman (D): 55, Mehmet Oz (R): 36
  • VT-Gov: University of New Hampshire: Phil Scott (R-inc): 48, Brenda Siegel (D): 31

“Leading Republicans are entering the final month of the midterm campaign increasingly optimistic that a Senate majority is within reach even as a dramatic family fight in Georgia clouds one of the party’s biggest pickup opportunities,” the AP reports.

“And as some Democrats crow on social media about apparent Republican setbacks, party strategists privately concede that their own shortcomings may not be outweighed by the GOP’s mounting challenges.”

“The evolving outlook is tied to a blunt reality: Democrats have virtually no margin for error as they confront the weight of history, widespread economic concerns and President Joe Biden’s weak standing. There is broad agreement among both parties that the Democrats’ summertime momentum across states like Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin has eroded just five weeks before Election Day.”

“As the 2022 midterm elections approach, Fox News is providing dramatically more coverage of competitive U.S. Senate races in weekday prime time than either CNN or MSNBC,” Media Matters reports.

Politico: “After a grueling summer, Republicans are finally making headway in protecting their top two firewalls in the race for the Senate.”

“Holding onto at least one of the GOP-held seats in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — ideally both — is critical if the party wants to flip the Senate. But Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson and Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee Mehmet Oz began the general election with poor favorability ratings and a spending disadvantage on TV…

“In the last month, however, the momentum has shifted: Johnson has retaken the lead in polling, and though Oz is still behind Fetterman, he has narrowed the gap in election surveys. Strategists in both parties cited the barrage of TV commercials labeling the Democratic candidates as soft on crime as the driving factor.”

NBC News: “Although Republicans have long turned to a playbook of attacking Democrats for not being tough enough on crime, pollsters and strategists… said the strategy seems particularly effective this year, amid rising crime rates across the U.S., and elevated voter concerns about the issue.”

Punchbowl News: “Voters in the country’s most competitive House and Senate races face a deluge of Republican ads focusing on the dubious claim that Democrats have empowered the IRS to hire an army of 87,000 new agents to target the middle class.”

“Since Aug. 1, Republican candidates and groups have spent more than $12 million on roughly 24,000 airings of ads warning of a massive influx of IRS agents, according to an AdImpact analysis. The spots are targeting vulnerable Senate Democratic incumbents in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and New Hampshire, as well as toss-up House races from Michigan to Kansas.”

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. Washington Post: Republicans cling to Herschel Walker’s denials.

Donald Trump is reluctant to return to Georgia to campaign for Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R) after his campaign was rocked by an abortion scandal, CNN reports.

“Sure, I was stunned, but I guess it also doesn’t shock me, that maybe there are just so many of us that he truly doesn’t remember. But then again, if he really forgot about it, that says something, too.”  — A woman who told the Daily Beast that U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R) paid for her abortion, after Walker denied it.

The woman who came forward with receipts and a signed “get well” card revealing that Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker had paid for her abortion in 2009 is the mother of one of his children, despite Walker claiming she doesn’t exist, the Daily Beast reports.

The woman is reportedly the mother of one of the four kids whom Walker has publicly acknowledged is his. There’s 23-year-old Christian Walker (who’s been calling out his father as a domestic abuser and a liar over the past week), then three others that Walker didn’t disclose to the public until the Daily Beast reported on them in June.

The woman said she was “stunned” by Walker’s denials, but then again “maybe there are just so many of us that he truly doesn’t remember.”

Walker’s campaign stuck to the denial route on Wednesday in response to this latest bombshell report with a one-line statement: “There is no truth to this or any other Daily Beast report.”

Walker released a new direct-to-camera ad, in which the candidate tells viewers he’s a changed man, “saved by grace” from mental illness.

Playbook: “The spot was filmed as a rejoinder to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, whose campaign has run ads highlighting Walker’s history of violent behavior, including repeatedly threatening to kill an ex-wife, choking her and holding a razor to her throat.”

“But the specter of the abortion story hangs over the ad, especially given Walker’s invocation of Christianity in telling his redemption story.”

Politico: “Since revelations surfaced that the former football star and self-described ‘pro-life’ Republican had allegedly paid for an ex-girlfriend’s abortion in 2009, evangelical Christian leaders in Georgia have banded together to support Walker, as has the Republican Party in general.”

Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R) discussed allegations he paid for a woman to have an abortion with Hugh Hewitt.  Said Walker: “If that had happened, I would have said it. Cause there’s nothing to be ashamed of there. You know people have done that. But I know nothing about it, and if I knew about it, I would be honest and talk about it.”

This is quite a statement in Walker’s defense from many vantage points.

Newt Gingrich: “I think he is the most important Senate candidate in the country because he’ll do more to change the Senate just by the sheer presence, by his confidence, by his deep commitment to Christ,” Gingrich said. “You know, he’s been through a long, tough period. He suffered a lot of concussions coming out of football.”

John Ellis: “Over the course of Hershel Walker’s 12-year professional football career, he was in at least 137 ‘head-on car crashes.’ Watching him speak and struggle to think clearly, you can’t help but wonder if ‘repeated blows to the head’ from playing football at the highest, hardest-hitting level have damaged his brain.”

“It’s painful to watch. Walker shouldn’t be a candidate for the United States Senate. He’s not qualified. He won’t know what to do when (and if) he gets to Washington. He’s only on the ticket because former President Trump endorsed him. The moment he becomes a liability for Trump, Trump will cut him loose. So will everyone else. No one cares about Herschel Walker in GOP circles (or in any other circles, for that matter). If Georgia Republicans could replace him on the ballot today, they would do so in a nano-second. They can’t. It’s too late.”

“The amazing thing is: he can still win.”

ILLINOIS 13TH CD. The DCCC on Wednesday indicated that it was canceling its reserved ad time for Oct. 11-24 in central Illinois’ 13th District, which a spokesperson said was because the D-trip was confident in Democrat Nikki Budzinski’s chances against Republican Regan Deering in this 54-43 Biden seat. The DCCC had previously reserved $420,000 here, but the only one of the big four party committees to actually spend here as of Oct. 3 has been their allies at House Majority PAC, who have dropped a modest $200,000 on Budzinski’s behalf.

MINNESOTA 2ND CD. Legal Marijuana Now Party nominee Paula Overby died unexpectedly on Wednesday with just five weeks until Election Day, which in a bizarre turn of events means this is now the second cycle in a row where the candidate for the pro-pot minor party in this swingy seat has died just weeks before Election Day following the death of 2020 nominee Adam Weeks last cycle.

The presence of a left-leaning minor party candidate on the ballot in this seat is particularly notable because they could potentially take enough voters from Democrats to play spoiler for Democratic Rep. Angie Craig, who faces a heavily contested rematch against Republican Tyler Kistner in a Twin Cities suburbs district that would have backed Biden 53-45.

Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon announced in response to the news that the election will proceed as scheduled (early voting has already begun) with Overby’s name remaining on the ballot unless a federal court order says otherwise. Back in 2020, Simon had ordered the election be postponed as required under state law when a nominee from a party with guaranteed ballot access dies within 79 days of Election Day. However, a federal court overturned his decision on the grounds that it conflicted with federal law requiring federal elections to take place on the the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and the Supreme Court refused to take up Kistner’s appeal to delay the election.

Republicans may indeed have been counting on Overby to draw enough support from Craig to help Kistner win this time after Craig won their prior bout just 48-46 last cycle with the deceased Weeks taking 6% as Biden was winning the previous version of this district by a larger 52-46. Shortly before Election Day, it had come to light that Weeks had told a close friend in a voicemail four months before his death that Republicans had recruited him to run to “pull votes” from Craig.

Publicly available polling has been very limited this cycle, and the most recent survey we’ve seen was a July poll by RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits that found Craig up just 47-46 over Kistner. Ironically, though, that poll problematically did not include Overby and instead only asked about an unnamed “someone else” as a third option.

NEW YORK 19TH CD. Democrat Josh Riley uses his latest ad to try to portray Republican Marc Molinaro as a corrupt opportunist who is trying to get elected in Upstate New York after being “a downstate politician for 30 years” (Molinaro serves as the Dutchess County executive in the middle Hudson Valley just north of the New York City area). The ad hits Molinaro for using taxpayer funds to raise his own pay and drive a luxury car that costs thousands a month, noting that his car usage was “part of a countywide audit” into potentially excessive spending.

PENNSYLVANIA 8TH CD. Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright’s newest ad features a testimonial from a man identified as Kevin whom it says worked for months to clear the rubble at ground zero after 9/11. Kevin praises Cartwright and his wife for representing the victims’ families free of charge, then he excoriates Republican Jim Bognet for how his lobbying firm took in $1.3 million in “Saudi oil money” and worked to fight compensation for the families of 9/11 victims.

Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball now rates Mary Peltola (D-AK) as the favorite in Alaska’s sole House race.

CALIFORNIA 13TH CD. The DCCC’s new commercial, which is airing in both English and Spanish, accuses Republican John Duarte of refusing to refund local farmers after he knowingly sold them “defective trees” while still self-funding his own campaign.

The Modesto Bee wrote in August that a judge ruled in favor of several growers earlier this year who accused Duarte’s company, Duarte Nursery, of selling them pistachio trees without revealing that they had a genetic disorder. The paper says, “The ruling cites at least $8.8 million in losses claimed by the growers,” though the court has yet to decide on how much Duarte Nursery should pay in damages.

IOWA 3RD CD. Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne uses her new ad to push back on Republican attacks to declare that opponent Zach Nunn used a baby monitor for “spying on an opponent in student government,” which the congresswoman argues demonstrates he’s employed “[d]irty tricks, right from the start.”  

The commercial, which is the first we can recall attacking an opponent over something that happened while they were in student council, features a framed clipping of a 2002 story from the Des Moines Register with the headline, “Drake senior rebuked in bugging case.” The article explained that Nunn was suspended from the student senate after admitting he’d planted a baby monitor in the office of the student body president because of what the paper characterized were suspicions that the president and others had “violated rules governing the length and deadlines for campaigns.”

Nunn said at the time, “It’s something I’ll have to live with for the rest of my life and I’m truly sorry,” though even he may not have anticipated it would be used against him in a commercial 20 years later. The Polk County attorney also said that, while Nunn had broken the law, he wouldn’t be prosecuted over it, arguing, “It’s best that this is left at the college level.” The story surfaced in 2014 when Nunn was running for a seat in the state House and again in 2018 when he was seeking a promotion to the state Senate, but he went on to decisively win both campaigns.

MAINE 2ND CD. Republican Bruce Poliquin is airing a commercial attacking Democratic Rep. Jared Golden for receiving a $667 donation in 2020 from Julie Packard two years before her group, Seafood Watch, placed Maine lobster on its list of food to be avoided because the local fisheries pose “a risk to overfished or at-risk species.” The commercial stars GOP state Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, though the spot doesn’t note that he’s an elected official. “Unless he leaves his party, there’s no way Jared Golden can do anything to help Maine,” charges Faulkingham.

Poliquin previously brought up Packard’s donation to Golden at a debate, though this appears to be the first time he’s run an ad on it. The congressman told Politico last month, “I’m not going to give the money back, this woman’s organization is part of this network of nonprofits that are funding these lawsuits against our lobster fishermen.” Golden, who has joined the rest of Maine’s congressional delegation and Democratic Gov. Janet Mills in calling Seafood Watch’s listing a “baseless smear,” added, “​​I’ll take every penny she gives me and I’ll give every penny of it to our Maine lobster fisheries legal defense fund.”

NEBRASKA 2ND CD. Rep. Don Bacon is the one House Republican running in a Biden district who has co-sponsored South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks, and House Majority PAC is running a commercial attacking him over that decision. The narrator adds, “Bacon’s bill would even ban some forms of cancer and fertility treatments.”

NJ-03: Garden State Advance, which is funded by Republican Bob Healey’s mother, last week launched a new $1 million buy against Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, which brings its total investment here to $2.6 million.

Minnesota congressional candidate Tyler Kistner (R) “repeatedly suggested he saw combat while in the U.S. Marine Corps, despite military records that say otherwise,” the Minnesota Reformer reports.

NEW YORK 3RD CD and WISCONSIN 3RD CD. While Democratic campaigns haven’t run too many general election ads focused on the Jan. 6 attack, two nominees in two very different House races are attacking their opponents over it.

A spot for Robert Zimmerman, who is campaigning for New York’s 3rd on Long Island, quotes Republican George Santos saying he “wrote a nice check” to help the accused rioters. Democrat Brad Pfaff, who is seeking southwestern Wisconsin’s 3rd, features an Army veteran in his own commercial saying that Republican Derrick Van Orden “broke past the police barricades, and was part of a riot that injured over 100 cops, and some of them ended up dying.”

Zimmerman and Santos are facing off in a constituency that would have favored Biden 54-45 in the first ever general election for Congress where both major party nominees are gay. Santos back in February was filmed by a Democratic activist at an event where he was asked what he was doing “to get the Jan. 6 patriots out,” to which the candidate replied, “I’ve actually been working on funding a ton of them to get out.” He continued that he “wrote a nice check for a law firm to see if we can help some of them out” before belatedly saying he didn’t “want to publicize it.”

Santos, who lost the 2020 campaign to outgoing Rep. Tom Suozzi, previously said that he himself was “at the Ellipse on Jan. 6” listening to the Trump speech that preceded the attack. He told Lara Trump in February of 2021, “That was the most amazing crowd and the president was at his full awesomeness that day.” Newsday also notes that in subsequent speeches, Santos defended the rioters by arguing, “Imagine breaking into your own house and being charged with trespassing.”

Van Orden, who also lost in 2020 to retiring Rep. Ron Kind, was also in D.C. on Jan. 6, for what he described as “meetings and to stand for the integrity of our electoral system as a citizen.” The candidate, though, insisted, “When it became clear that a protest had become a mob, I left the area, as to remain there could be construed as tacitly approving this unlawful conduct,” adding, “At no time did I enter the grounds, let alone the building.”

The Daily Beast, however, last year posted pictures showing him “standing on a wall on the Capitol grounds that was inside a restricted area.” The story added that, when the Daily Beast recreated the photo itself, it “confirmed that Van Orden would have had to cross police barricades to reach that area.” The candidate later called the report “inaccurate,” though he wouldn’t say more. Van Orden and Pfaff are facing off in a constituency Trump would have taken 51-47.

New York Times: “Those who know Nevada best have always viewed its blue-state status as something befitting a desert: a kind of mirage. Democrats are actually a minority among registered voters, and most of the party’s victories in the last decade were narrowly decided. But the state has long been a symbolic linchpin for the party — vital to its national coalition and its hold on the blue West.”

“Now, Democrats in Nevada are facing potential losses up and down the ballot in November and bracing for a seismic shift that could help Republicans win control of both houses of Congress.”

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

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