The Political Report – October 22, 2022

“Democrats are publicly and privately growing more concerned about their soft support from Black and Latino men, fearing that any marginal move by voters of color toward the GOP — or low turnout — will be decisive in the midterms,” Axios reports.

“With Republican candidates banking on big margins among white voters, Democrats need to run up the score with Black and Latino voters to win tight Senate and governor’s races in Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and Pennsylvania.”

David Brooks: “The Trumpified GOP deserves to be a marginalized and disgraced force in American life. But I’ve been watching the campaign speeches by people like Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor in Arizona. G.O.P. candidates are telling a very clear class/culture/status war narrative in which common-sense Americans are being assaulted by elite progressives who let the homeless take over the streets, teach sex ed to 5-year-olds, manufacture fake news, run woke corporations, open the border and refuse to do anything about fentanyl deaths and the sorts of things that affect regular people.”

Kim Strassel: “What is real to voters is soaring inflation and energy prices, unsettling levels of crime and an unchecked border. Democrats don’t have any answer for those problems.”

POLLING. Republicans have overtaken Democrats on the FiveThirtyEight polling average for the generic congressional ballot for the first time since early August.

A new Texas Politics Project poll finds Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leads challenger Beto O’Rourke (D) by 11 percentage points with three days until early voting starts for the election, 54% to 43%.

  • CO-Sen: Civiqs (D): Michael Bennet (D-inc): 54, Joe O’Dea (R): 41
  • CO-Gov: Civiqs (D): Jared Polis (D-inc): 55, Heidi Ganahl (R): 40
  • CO-08: Global Strategy Group (D) for Yadira Caraveo: Barb Kirkmeyer (R): 46, Yadira Caraveo (D): 44 (Aug.: 44-42 Kirkmeyer)
  • GA-02: InsiderAdvantage (R): Sanford Bishop (D-inc): 47, Chris West (R): 44
  • MA-Gov: MassINC for the Barr Foundation: Maura Healey (D): 53, Geoff Diehl (R): 23
  • MI-Gov: Cygnal (R): Gretchen Whitmer (D-inc): 49, Tudor Dixon (R): 44 (mid-Oct.: 49-44 Whitmer)
  • MI-SoS: Cygnal (R): Jocelyn Benson (D-inc): 48, Kristina Karamo (R): 40 (mid-Oct.: 48-42 Benson)
  • MI-AG: Cygnal (R): Dana Nessel (D-inc): 45, Matthew DePerno (R): 43 (mid-Oct.: 45-43 Nessel)
  • NV-Sen: YouGov for CBS: Adam Laxalt (R): 49, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): 48
  • NV-Gov: YouGov for CBS: Steve Sisolak (D-inc): 48, Joe Lombardo (R): 48
  • NY-Gov: SurveyUSA for WHEC-TV and WNYT-TV: Kathy Hochul (D-inc): 47, Lee Zeldin (R): 41 (Aug.: 55-31 Hochul)
  • OR-Gov: Hoffman Research (R): Christine Drazan (R): 37, Tina Kotek (D): 35, Betsy Johnson (I): 17
  • OR-Gov: Civiqs (D): Kotek (D): 47, Drazan (R): 39, Johnson (I): 7
  • PA-Sen: InsiderAdvantage (R) for WTXF-TV: John Fetterman (D): 46, Mehmet Oz (R): 46 (Sept.: 45-42 Fetterman)
  • PA-Gov: InsiderAdvantage (R) for WTXF-TV: Josh Shapiro (D): 49, Doug Mastriano (R): 42 (Sept.: 52-37 Shapiro)
  • TX-AG: Clarity Campaign Labs (D) for DAGA: Ken Paxton (R-inc): 48, Rochelle Garza (D): 46
  • WA-Sen: Civiqs (D): Patty Murray (D-inc): 55, Tiffany Smiley (R): 41

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is up with a tough ad saying that challenger Herschel Walker (R) wants to ban abortion for everyone but features the stories about him allegedly paying for an abortion when he impregnated a girlfriend. The spot begins with clips of Walker saying, “There’s no exception in my mind, like I said, I believe in life … There’s not a national ban on abortion right now, and I think that’s a problem.” It then shows footage of reporters talking about the allegations against Walker, including how his former partner produced “a $575 receipt from the abortion clinic,” before another journalist says, “Even his own son is saying Walker is lying.” The spot closes with footage where Walker agrees that his signature is on the check to pay for the procedure.

The Stephen Colbert-produced animated news show “Tooning Out the News” got Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R) — who brandished a fake police badge at a debate last week — on the phone to ask for his help solving a crime, the Daily Beast reports.

“After eclipsing the 2018 midterm elections turnout on the first day of early voting this week, Georgians surpassed the turnout ahead of the 2020 presidential election on the second day of early voting,” Georgia Public Broadcasting reports.

“More than 134,000 voters cast early ballots across the Peach State on Tuesday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger reported. That’s a 3.3% increase over the second day of early voting two years ago. Historically, voting in midterm elections falls off substantially from voting in presidential elections.”

Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R) “said as recently as August that he opposes any exceptions to a ban on abortion, despite stating the opposite during his first and only debate against Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) last week,” CNN reports.

“The comment is the latest in a string of examples of Walker attempting to walk back his strict position on abortion.”

Said Walker: “So, I said, ‘I believe in life.’ I believe in life. And I said, you know, if anyone wants to have an exception, I said, ‘Not in my book.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry. I feel bad for anyone that’s a victim of any kind of crime.’ I do. I feel like that. That is terrible and that’s horrible, but we deal with that as it comes.”

New York Times: “In the ad, and on the campaign trail, Mr. Walker, a former football star, does not elaborate. But in his 2008 memoir, Breaking Free, he revealed that he had been diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder. He described his 12 ‘alters’ — distinct identities that helped him cope with the trauma of being bullied as a child. He wrote of rage and ‘out-of-control behavior’; he played Russian roulette with a loaded gun.”

“Now, as he tries to steady a campaign that could determine control of the Senate, Mr. Walker often speaks of these events in religious, not medical, terms. He either denies the accusations or says he does not remember what happened. Still, he casts himself as a redemption story, saying he is a Christian ‘saved by grace.’”

“But experts say Mr. Walker’s assertion that he has ‘overcome’ the disorder is simplistic at best: Like other mental illnesses, dissociative identity disorder cannot be cured in the classic sense. Psychiatrists say that while patients can learn to manage this disorder — and even live symptom-free for extended periods — the symptoms can recur, often triggered by stress.”

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR. An ad posted by Doug Mastriano’s (R) gubernatorial campaign in Pennsylvania uses stock video footage previously featured in Russian propaganda, Insider reports.

“As he campaigns for governor across Pennsylvania, Democrat Josh Shapiro tells voters how his Jewish faith drives his values. He also tells them about his Republican rival Doug Mastriano, who paid a consulting fee to a far-right social media website where a mass shooter went on antisemitic rants,” the Washington Post reports.

“And in an interview, Shapiro said that when he heard Mastriano accuse him of having ‘disdain for people like us’ because Shapiro and his children have attended a ‘privileged, exclusive, elite’ Jewish academy in the Philadelphia suburbs, the Democratic candidate immediately thought of all the students and teachers whose lives he felt his opponent had put ‘at risk’ by singling out their school.”

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. “National Democrats are heaping praise on their nominee for U.S. Senate in Ohio, lauding Rep. Tim Ryan’s spirited debate performances, his outside-the-box television ads, his aggressive campaign schedule and his robust fundraising,” the Washington Post reports.

“But they’re not spending big money in his race — prompting Ryan and his allies to complain that national party strategists involved with funding decisions are falling to adequately fund his unexpectedly competitive campaign against Republican J.D. Vance for a seat the GOP is hoping to hold onto in November.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “Pennsylvania GOP Senate nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz has shrugged off months of Democratic attacks that he’s a carpetbagging out-of-towner by pointing to the house he and his wife bought last December in the well-to-do Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Athyn,” ABC News reports.

“The fine print of the deed to Oz’s $3.1 million residence in Bryn Athyn shows a wrinkle, though — one that an outside expert called ‘unheard of’: If Oz ever needs to sell his new home, then the last owner gets right of first refusal to buy it back.”

The conservative American Crossroads, which has committed $4 million to this race, is running a commercial designed to motivate voters supporting Josh Shapiro for governor to reject fellow Democrat John Fetterman for Senate. The spot argues that Fetterman voted hundreds of times for pardons that Shapiro, who also sits on the five-member pardon board, rejected. The ad, though, only compliments the gubernatorial nominee in a backhanded way by calling Fetterman “way more radical than Shapiro.”

“When Mehmet Oz (R) starting running for Senate in Pennsylvania, he made a promise: He wouldn’t accept ‘one dime’ from corporate political committees,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“Oz’s latest fund-raising report shows at least eight donations from political committees registered as corporate PACs with the Federal Elections Commission.”

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. Senate Majority PAC and End Citizens United are together running what NBC says is the first TV ad in this race hitting GOP incumbent Ron Johnson over his defense of the Jan. 6 rioters.

The spot stars retired Milwaukee Police Capt. George Silverwood telling the audience, “I’ll never forget Jan. 6th, watching my fellow law enforcement officers defending the Capitol … and then five officers died.” Silverwood continues, “But Ron Johnson is making excuses for rioters who tried to overthrow our government, even calling them ‘peaceful protests.’ Johnson defended Donald Trump’s lies, and supported efforts to make it harder for some people to vote at all.”

Johnson, meanwhile, is airing his own commercial making use of a recent report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel detailing how Democrat Mandela Barnes appeared on the Russian government-funded RT six times from 2015 to 2016, including days after the fatal shooting of five Dallas Police officers. After the narrator blasts Barnes for appearing on “Vladimir Putin’s propaganda news outlet,” it shows footage where the Democrat told RT that “police officers are over-exercising their badges.”

Barnes’ campaign responded to the story last week by saying, “Ron Johnson is the only candidate in this race who recklessly ignored warnings from the FBI when they called him ‘a target of Russian disinformation,’ further endangering U.S. national security.” That matter came up at Thursday’s debate, to which Johnson said, “The FBI set me up with a corrupt briefing and then leaked that to smear me.”

OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR. “In a debate Wednesday night between Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) and challenger Joy Hofmeister (R), the governor took issue with Hofmeister pointing out — accurately — the state’s violent crime problem,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Hofmeister: “So let’s talk about facts: The fact is, the rates of violent crime are higher in Oklahoma under your watch than in New York or California. That’s a fact.”

“Stitt interrupted twice to protest that it wasn’t true. The moderator said that would need to be fact-checked. What was not shown at the debate was that Hofmeister was correct.”

Bloomberg: “Pennsylvania is likely to be a focal point on election night because of the way it counts votes. Unlike other states with heavy vote-by-mail use, counties there can’t begin the time-consuming processing and counting of mail-in ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day.”

“In 2020, Joe Biden wasn’t declared the winner of the Keystone State — and the presidency — for four days, until the Saturday after the election.”

“With vote-by-mail largely favored by Democratic voters after Trump called for voters to cast ballots in person on Election Day 2020, that will likely lead to another “red mirage” in which results from votes cast on Election Day — when more Republicans vote — become public first and are slowly whittled down as mail ballots favoring Democrats are counted. Trump contested his loss in the state, falsely claiming that the late-counted Democratic votes were fraudulent.”

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR. Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels (R) has called police to his home more than a dozen times over the past 20 years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. For a $500 campaign donation, you too can have “10 min to chat about whatever you want: business, politics, guns, crypto, you name it” with Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters (R).

UTAH U.S. SENATOR. Aaron Blake: “The scenario in which McMullin could wield Mahone-esque power comes if the other results break to 50 seats for Republicans and 49 for Democrats — i.e. if Republicans lose in Utah but gain one seat elsewhere.”

“In that case, McMullin choosing Republicans would give them 51 seats and the majority, but choosing Democrats would give them 50 seats and an effective majority, by virtue of Vice President Harris’s continued tiebreakers.”

“McMullin has insisted he won’t caucus with either side, but the pressure would be immense — just as it was in 1881.”

ALASKA U.S. SENATOR. CNN reports that a super PAC called Alaska First is spending $1.2 million against Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in an instant-runoff contest where almost all of the outside spending has benefited the incumbent so far. The group’s spot isn’t online yet, but it says it will blast Murkowski’s vote against Brett Kavanaugh as her “biggest betrayal” and also tout Kelly Tshibaka’s intra-party challenge.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR. While conservative megadonor Richard Uihlein has largely been content to fund a super PAC rather than give money directly to Republican Darren Bailey’s cash strapped campaign, Uihlein did contribute $2 million to Bailey on Tuesday. The Chicago Tribune says that Uihlein donated $1 million to the campaign in late August, which was his only prior general election contribution to the nominee; by contrast, Uihlein forked over almost $34 million to People Who Play By The Rules PAC following the primary.

WASHINGTON SECRETARY OF STATE. Republican state Rep. Brad Klippert announced this week that he would run as a write-in candidate in the special election for secretary of state, where appointed Democratic incumbent Steve Hobbs is trying to fend off independent Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson. Klippert was on the ballot in the August top-two primary in Washington’s 4th District against Rep. Dan Newhouse, a Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump, but he took fifth with 10% after raising very little money.

This isn’t the first time that Republicans have waged a write-in campaign for statewide office after getting locked out of the general election. Joshua Freed tried this in the 2020 all-Democratic contest for lieutenant governor, but it didn’t work: Rep. Denny Heck beat state Sen. Marko Liias 46-34, while write-in votes accounted for the remaining 21%.

Playbook: “We’ve been writing all week about the palpable shift toward Republicans in recent polling. But if Democrats are looking for some good news, our David Siders reports this morning that they can find it way up north. Alaska’s independents seem poised to swing dramatically toward the Democrats, and that could be an ominous sign for Republicans throughout the nation — if not in 2022, then beyond.”

“As the midterm campaign heads into its final weeks, political ad spending for the current two-year election cycle is on pace to more than double from the 2018 midterms,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

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