The Political Report – October 14, 2022

Amy Walter: “In the Cook Political Report vernacular, the classification of ‘Toss Up’ is used to refer to races that are the most competitive of the cycle, and which either party stands a reasonable chance of winning. Even so, races that share the same ratings designation have many important distinctions from one another; in one state/CD, for example, the political demographics may benefit one party, while in another, the candidate/campaign quality favors a different party. As such, it’s easy to go down the list and assume that these races break somewhat evenly on Election Day.”

“In reality, however, the closest races in each election tend to break disproportionately toward one party. In looking back over the last twelve cycles, the races rated as Toss Ups in the House and Senate have split anywhere from 54 percent to 100 percent toward one party.”

“However, the most competitive House and Senate races don’t always break toward the same party in a given year.”

Henry Olson: “Pundits have seized on close midterm polling suggesting that Democrats could conceivably retain at least one of their congressional majorities. But the behavior of the two parties points to a different conclusion: a Republican-leaning environment that’s slowly getting stronger…”

“Republicans are investing in races in the House and Senate that they should have no business winning in a neutral political environment. Meanwhile, Democrats in the House are spending to defend seats they have no business losing unless the terrain strongly favors Republicans. Either the parties don’t know what they’re doing, or their private data are telling them something at odds with the public data pundits analyze.”


Recent polls show that Libertarian and other third party candidates might end up tipping the balance of power in the race for control of the U.S. Senate.

Consider these cases:

  • A new poll in Arizona shows Libertarian Marc Victor siphoning off support from Blake Masters (R) and giving Sen. Mark Kelly (D) a double-digit lead.
  • Multiple polls in Georgia show Libertarian Chase Oliver may prevent both Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and challenger Herschel Walker (R) from reaching 50% in the Georgia Senate race. That would force the race to a December runoff.
  • And a new poll in Utah suggests that Libertarian James Arthur Hansen and Independent American candidate Tommy Williams could make the difference in the tight race between Sen. Mike Lee (R) and Evan McMullin (I).

With a 50-50 Senate and many close races around the country, it’s possible that third party candidates could make the difference for control of the Senate — even if they end up pulling less than 5% of the vote.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) told Fox News that conservative White men are so concerned about being politically persecuted, they refuse to participate in polls, lest they be arrested by the FBI for their beliefs.

Said Huckabee: “If you’re one of those people, you’re kind of thinking that any given day the FBI may show up, bang your door down, and haul you in. If not, they may put you on a list, call you a domestic terrorist, a threat to democracy. So, conservatives simply don’t answer polls. So, I think we’re seeing something that really can’t be factored in.”


  • WA-Sen: Tiffany Smiley (R): $6 million raised, $2.5 million cash-on-hand
  • NM-Gov: Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-inc): $1.12 million raised (Sept. 6-Oct. 3), $1.7 million cash-on-hand; Mark Ronchetti (R): $1.45 million raised (Sept. 6-Oct. 3), $2.5 million cash-on-hand
  • MI-10: John James (R): $1.4 million raised, $3 million cash-on-hand
  • MN-02: Angie Craig (D-inc): $1.75 million raised, $3 million cash-on-hand
  • VA-02: Elaine Luria (D-inc): $2.85 million raised

“The leading super PAC for Senate Republicans, the Senate Leadership Fund, raised an average of more than $1 million every day in the third quarter, bringing in $111 million, a huge infusion of funds that is already being used to pummel Democratic candidates on the airwaves in more than a half-dozen key Senate races,” the New York Times reports.

“The main campaign arm for House Democrats raised $56.5 million from July through the end of September,” CBS News reports. “Their sum means the committee has raised more than their Republican counterparts in that same period, as the party that holds control of the House faces massive super PAC spending and historical headwinds going into November’s midterm elections.”

Associated Press: “As Democrats brace for midterm defeats that could erase their narrow, five-seat control of the House, a chance to limit the damage may lie in flipping Republican-held seats that voted for Biden to stanch the effect of losses elsewhere around the country.”

“House Republicans are eyeing New England as a path to the majority, working to pick up seats in a region that has been mostly inhospitable to the GOP at the federal level since the Democratic wave election in 2006,” the Washington Post reports.

“Just a month before November’s critical midterm elections, New York has emerged from a haywire redistricting cycle as perhaps the most consequential congressional battleground in the country, and Democrats are mired in an increasingly costly fight just to hold their ground,” the New York Times reports.

“All told, nine of New York’s 26 seats — from the tip of Long Island to the banks of the Hudson River here in Poughkeepsie — are in play, more than any state but California.”

“For Democrats, the uncertainty is particularly jarring: Just 10 months ago, party leaders, who controlled the once-in-a-decade redistricting process in the state, optimistically predicted that new district lines could safeguard Democrats and imperil as many as five Republican seats, allowing them to add key blocks to their national firewall.”

RHODE ISLAND 2ND CD. Suffolk University, polling on behalf of the Boston Globe, shows Republican Allan Fung beating Democrat Seth Magaziner 45-37 in a constituency that Joe Biden would have carried 56-42; William Gilbert, who is the Moderate Party’s nominee, grabs another 5%.

Team Blue is hoping that, even if Fung is ahead now, the undecided voters are just too Democratic-leaning to make him the Ocean State’s first GOP member of Congress since Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse ousted Sen. Lincoln Chafee in 2006. Indeed, Fung is only performing a few points better than Republican Ashley Kalus, who trails Democratic Gov. Dan McKee 42-41 in this constituency. However, Suffolk pollster David Paleologos notes that Gilbert’s presence on the ballot means that Fung can still win even if he fails to take a majority of the vote.

Magaziner himself is borrowing a page from Whitehouse’s playbook by reminding viewers that Fung’s mere presence in Congress would help unpopular Republican leaders take control. His new commercial features senior citizens warning the audience, “Fung’s first vote will make Kevin McCarthy speaker. He’s the Republican leader who’s determined to cut Social Security and Medicare.” A newly established group called Bright Future RI is also spending at least $187,000 on an ad attacking Fung on abortion rights.

This seat, which is home to western Providence and the western portion of the state, has become an expensive battleground: As the latest edition of our House independent expenditures tracker shows, the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund so far has spent $1.4 million here compared to $470,000 from House Majority PAC. AdImpact also reported Tuesday that CLF has booked an additional $1.1 million for this race.

OREGON 5TH CD. The Congressional Leadership Fund is once against trying to tar Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner by invoking her previous service a decade ago on the city council in Santa Clara, California, though this time, the PAC’s latest ad uses more overt imagery to link her with a perennial GOP punching-bag: San Francisco.

The spot in question describes McLeod-Skinner as a “Bay Area politician,” but even though Santa Clara sits in the heart of Silicon Valley an hour away from San Francisco, the ad features shots of SF’s skyline and even superimposes the candidate in front of the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco has, of course, long been a conservative dog whistle for all sorts of imagined liberal debauchery, but it functions most especially as a code-word for “gay,” and it bears noting that McLeod-Skinner would be the first LGBTQ person to represent Oregon in Congress.

To date, CLF has spent $3.4 million seeking to flip this seat while the DCCC has countered with $1.2 million of its own.

OREGON 4TH CD. Democrat Val Hoyle’s latest ad attacks Republican Alek Skarlatos over his “dangerous and degrading comments about women,” playing footage of a podcast interview where Skarlatos and the host joke and laugh about violently choking women to death during sex, furthermore accusing him of “repeatedly liking photos of girls as young as 15” who were wearing revealing clothing on Instagram. The ad cites an Oregon Capital Chronicle story from September that detailed both sets of damning revelations against Skarlatos, who turned 30 on Monday.

In response, Skarlatos has unveiled an ad where he talks to the camera and explains, “When I got out of the Army, I said some immature and hurtful things that I deeply regret. It’s not the man I am today.” He accuses Hoyle of “slinging mud” for trying to hold “a dumb mistake from years ago” against him, which he doesn’t detail.

However, as the Capital Chronicle already noted, Skarlatos had liked numerous photos of underage girls dozens of times since 2020, when he previously ran for Congress, and even as recently as a few months ago, in response to which he had already refused to apologize by saying, “To imply that a ‘follow’ or a ‘like’ of social media influencers on Instagram with over 100,000 followers is inappropriate is absurd.” Furthermore, the podcast interview where he joked about women dying violently during sex took place only four years ago, just months before he first ran for local office at age 25.

NEW YORK 19TH CD. NBC reports that the NRCC will spend another $1.3 million to attack Democrat Josh Riley in this open seat, though it’s not clear yet if this is a new reservation or if the committee is just earmarking money it previously booked for the media markets covering this district.

NORTH CAROLINA 1ST CD. National Republicans have yet to spend in the general election to support Republican Sandy Smith, who overcame serious opposition from the Congressional Leadership Fund in the May primary, but House Majority PAC is continuing to air ads highlighting the abuse allegations leveled against her. So far, the DCCC and HMP have deployed a total of $2.8 million to aid Democrat Don Davis in this 53-46 Biden seat.

LOUISIANA 3RD CD. Attorney Holden Hoggatt is airing a commercial that accuses his fellow Republican, Rep. Clay Higgins, of having put “a gun to his wife’s head, threatening her if she divorced him, and refusing to pay child support for 17 years.” The spot, where an actor parodies the “Crime Stoppers” videos that propelled Higgins to fame before he was elected, adds, “He was last seen impersonating a congressman while voting against fixing the roads you drive on and abandoning hurricane victims.”

The earlier accusation is from 1991, when Higgins’ first wife filed a protective order against him, while the second uses more recent allegations leveled by his second wife, Rosemary “Stormy” Rothkamm-Hambrice. In 2016, less than a week before the runoff, Rothkamm-Hambrice publicly accused Higgins of owing her more than $140,000 in child support, and she even released a recording where he said that he’d have the money to pay if he were elected.

Higgins’ lawyer said afterwards, “If he were to win, it would give him the resources to resolve this matter,” and that his client “is genuine in his desire to take care of this.” Higgins won soon afterwards, but Rothkamm-Hambrice recently told The Times-Picayune, “No payment has been made.”

CALIFORNIA 9TH CD. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Sophia Bollag reports that a previously unreleased 2021 investigation for San Joaquin County acquitted Republican County Supervisor Tom Patti of bribery even as it concluded that he’d “threatened both staff members and community organization members” and “pressured” staff. Bollag writes, “None of the allegations involved violent threats, but rather ones related to job status and funding.”  

Bollag adds that a previous investigation also found that Patti had retaliated against a staffer who complained about him “repeatedly berating” her at meetings, while a third one “found evidence he discussed a confidential hiring process publicly.” Patti denied wrongdoing to the paper and argued he was being targeted because “I’m a white Christian heterosexual male … I’m the Antichrist to the leftist agenda.”

Patti is challenging Democratic Rep. Josh Harder for a seat in the Stockton area that would have gone for Biden 55-43 but where Democrats also struggle with turnout in midterm years. So far, though, no major outside groups have spent anything on either side.

OHIO 9TH CD. While national Republicans cut J.R. Majewski loose after Air Force records show he lied about serving in Afghanistan, House Majority PAC is not acting like they think he’s doomed yet. HMP is airing a new commercial over the story that includes a news clip where the speaker says, “They call that stolen valor when people do that, it’s a shameful thing to do.”

COLORADO 3RD CD. Democrat Adam Frisch has publicized an endorsement from Republican state Sen. Don Coram, a moderate who lost June’s primary 66-34 to far-right Rep. Lauren Boebert.

CONNECTICUT 5TH CD. NBC reports that the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund has reserved an additional $1.1 million to oust Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes in what’s already the most competitive House race in the Nutmeg State in a decade. CLF so far has spent $2.1 million to help Republican George Logan in this northwestern Connecticut seat, which would have backed Biden 55-44, while the DCCC and House Majority together have deployed $1.9 million.

NEW JERSEY 7TH CD. The Congressional Leadership Fund’s newest ad against Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski attacks him for failing to disclose millions in stock trades during the beginning of the pandemic, a story that attracted plenty of attention when it broke last year. The incumbent called what happened an “oversight,” while his broker said that all trades were made “without Congressman Malinowski’s input or prior knowledge.” The House Ethics Committee has an open inquiry into the matter, and its internal rules prohibit it from releasing any decisions within 60 days of the election.

Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who like Malinowski was elected during the 2018 blue wave, went on to author a bill that would prevent members of Congress or their families from trading individual stocks, but party leaders did not hold a vote on it before the House adjourned ahead of the elections.

NORTH CAROLINA 13TH CD. The DCCC’s newest spot against Republican Bo Hines uses footage of him dubbing himself a “MAGA warrior” before the narrator faults him for siding “with Trump to defund the FBI,” which aren’t the type of attacks we’ve seen Democrats use much in swingy seats like this one. Biden would have won this constituency in the southern Raleigh suburbs only 50-48, but Team Blue evidently believes Trump is toxic here: The ad concludes, “Bo Hines: Right for Trump, wrong for us.”

MAINE 1ST CD. Maine congressional candidate Ed Thelander (R) compared federal rules aimed at protecting the endangered right whale to sex crimes against children, the HuffPost reports.

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

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