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The Political Report – October 26, 2022

Peter Slevin: “It is a repeat of an old Republican gambit: when in doubt, scare people, particularly white people. At the heart of Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy was his effort to brand himself as the ‘law and order’ candidate, a title that Trump later adopted for himself. Alongside images of urban riots and protests against the Vietnam War, Nixon declared, in the voice-over to a 1968 campaign ad, that freedom from violence is ‘the first civil right of every American.’”

“Twenty years later, George H. W. Bush accused Michael Dukakis of being soft on crime, spotlighting the case of Willie Horton, a Black inmate who raped a white woman and stabbed her boyfriend while on furlough. The Bush campaign strategist Lee Atwater said that he would ‘strip the bark off the little bastard’—meaning Dukakis—and ‘make Willie Horton his running mate.’ Three years later, as Atwater was dying of cancer, at thirty-nine, he apologized to Dukakis for the ‘naked cruelty’ of his remark.”

“Across the country, Democratic candidates have been demonized on crime this campaign cycle.”

Nate Cohn: “These Republican opportunities are very real. There are alarming polls for House Democrats in places like Rhode Island’s Second District and Oregon’s Sixth. Mr. Biden won both by double digits, but now Republicans seem to be competitive or ahead. This kind of warning sign rarely happens in isolation. In fact, there’s additional evidence for Democratic softness in the polling in New York, Washington and Oregon, where Democrats usually still plainly lead but by low-double-digit or even single-digit margins that are consistent with their vulnerability in districts like the blue (but-not-quite-so-blue) Oregon 6.”

“In other words, this range of a two- or three-point Republican environment is potentially consistent with anything from a victory for Democrats in the Senate to something that starts to feel a lot like a Republican rout.”

Nate Cohn: “In such a polarized country, understanding how one party can gain an advantage so quickly can sometimes be hard. In this case, the explanation appears straightforward: It’s about the issues on the minds of voters.”

“Over the summer, the dominant headlines and resulting public debate were focused on issues that helped Democrats, like abortion, gun violence and threats to democracy. These issues helped Democrats stay highly competitive, despite President Biden’s low approval ratings and a tendency for the sitting president’s party to get drubbed in midterm elections.”

“But the spotlight on those matters is fading. Voters are less frequently citing them as top concerns while expressing worries about the economy, crime and immigration — issues that tend to favor Republicans and that are being emphasized in Republican campaign ads.”

POLLING. FiveThirtyEight: “Simply put, there have been way fewer polls in 2022 than in past cycles. In 2010, pollsters conducted almost 1,700 polls of individual races for Senate, House and governor between early May and late October. By comparison, we have slightly more than half that number this time around — about 900. But this dropoff isn’t sudden; it’s been a more gradual decline over the past decade and a half.”

  • CT-Sen: Quinnipiac University: Richard Blumenthal (D-inc): 56, Leora Levy (R): 41
  • CT-Gov: Quinnipiac University: Ned Lamont (D-inc): 56, Bob Stefanowski (R): 41
  • CT-Gov: SurveyUSA for Education Reform Now Advocacy CT: Lamont (D-inc): 52, Stefanowski (R): 34
  • GA-Sen: Data for Progress (D): Raphael Warnock (D-inc): 48, Herschel Walker (R): 47
  • GA-Gov: Data for Progress (D): Brian Kemp (R-inc): 53, Stacey Abrams (D): 43
  • MD-02: KAConsulting (R) for the Maryland Republican Party: Dutch Ruppersberger (D-inc): 43, Nicolee Ambrose (R): 34
  • MD-06: KAConsulting (R) for the Maryland Republican Party: David Trone (D-inc): 42, Neil Parrott (R): 37
  • MI-Gov: Cygnal (R): Gretchen Whitmer (D-inc): 50, Tudor Dixon (R): 44
  • MI-Gov: SSRS for CNN: Whitmer (D-inc): 52, Dixon (R): 46
  • MI-07: Glengariff Group for the Detroit News: Elissa Slotkin (D-inc): 47, Tom Barrett (R): 41
  • MI-AG: Cygnal (R): Dana Nessel (D-inc): 45, Matthew DePerno (R): 43
  • MI-SoS: Cygnal (R): Jocelyn Benson (D-inc): 48, Kristina Karamo (R): 41
  • MI-SoS: SSRS for CNN: Benson (D-inc): 51, Karamo (R): 47
  • NH-Sen: Emerson College poll: Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) 48, Don Bolduc (R) 45
  • NV-Sen: Insider Advantage (R) for American Greatness (pro-Laxalt): Adam Laxalt (R): 48, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-inc): 46
  • NV-Gov: Insider Advantage (R) for American Greatness (pro-Lombardo): Joe Lombardo (R): 49, Steve Sisolak (D-inc): 43, Brandon David (L): 4
  • NY-Gov: Bold Decision (D): Kathy Hochul (D-inc): 52, Lee Zeldin (R): 37
  • OH-Sen: Cygnal (R): J.D. Vance (R): 47, Tim Ryan (D) 43
  • OH-Sen: Marist College: Vance (R): 46, Ryan (D): 45
  • OH-Sen: Siena College for Spectrum News: Ryan (D): 46, Vance (R): 46
  • OH-Sen: Data for Progress (D): Vance (R): 49, Ryan (D): 46
  • OH-Gov: Cygnal (R): Mike DeWine (R-inc): 55, Nan Whaley (D): 37
  • OH-Gov: Marist College: DeWine (R-inc): 53, Whaley (D): 40
  • OH-Gov: Siena College for Spectrum News: DeWine (R-inc): 58, Whaley (D): 34
  • OH-Gov: Data for Progress (D): DeWine (R-inc): 57, Whaley (D): 38
  • OR-Gov: Data for Progress (D): Christine Drazan (R): 43, Tina Kotek (D): 42, Betsy Johnson (I): 12
  • PA-Sen: SSRS for CNN: John Fetterman (D): 51, Mehmet Oz (R): 45
  • PA-Sen: CBS News poll: John Fetterman (D) 51, Mehmet Oz (R) 49
  • PA-Gov: SSRS for CNN: Josh Shapiro (D): 56, Doug Mastriano (R): 41
  • TX-Gov: Beacon Research (D) for the Democratic Policy Institute: Greg Abbott (R-inc): 48, Beto O’Rourke (D): 46
  • TX-Gov: Siena College for Spectrum News: Abbott (R-inc): 52, O’Rourke (D): 43
  • TX-15: Bendixen & Amandi (D) for Way To Win (pro-Vallejo): Michelle Vallejo (D): 45, Monica De La Cruz (R): 45
  • TX-AG: Siena College for Spectrum News: Ken Paxton (R-inc): 48, Rochelle Garza (D): 42
  • WA-Sen: KAConsulting (R) for Citizens United: Patty Murray (D-inc): 48, Tiffany Smiley (R): 42
  • WI-Sen: SSRS for CNN: Ron Johnson (R-inc): 50, Mandela Barnes (D): 49
  • WI-Gov: SSRS for CNN: Tony Evers (D-inc): 50, Tim Michels (R): 48

A new NBC News poll finds 49% of registered voters say they plan to vote in person on Election Day this year. That would be a sizable jump from 2020, when nearly 31% of voters cast their ballots in person.

A new NBC News poll finds 36% of Ameircan voters say they trust their U.S. congressman or congresswoman. And just 35% say they trust their president — down significantly from 49% in 2010.

After pouring millions into the effort to beat Donald Trump in 2020, Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer “are giving substantially less to Democratic efforts, part of a wave of major Democratic donors who have cut back their giving, often arguing their efforts to defeat Trump two years ago were sufficient or feeling uncertain whether their money will be put to good use,” the HuffPost reports.

In a contentious, roughly five-minute phone call, Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward defended not disbursing the cash that remains in the party’s campaign account — about $1 million, Politico reports. But Donald Trump pushed back, calling her explanation a “bullshit excuse.”

Ward’s refusal to spend to the bottom of her organization’s coffers has baffled top Republicans, and it remains unclear to those outside the state party leadership why exactly she is hoarding the funds.

Punchbowl News: “Here’s a sign of how bad the political environment is for Democrats right now – the DCCC is going to spend $605,000 on a new ad to defend its chair, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), in the closing weeks of the race. And we expect other pro-Democratic groups to dump even more money into New York’s 17th District on SPM’s behalf very soon.”

The DCCC has mostly pulled out of New Jersey’s 7th district, leaving two-term Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) to largely fend for himself in his re-election campaign against Thomas Kean, Jr. (R), the New Jersey Globe reports.

ALASKA AT LARGE CD and U.S. SENATOR. A new Alaska Survey Research poll shows Rep. Mary Peltola (D) easily winning her race in the second round of ranked-choice balloting. In the U.S. Senate race, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) holds a double-digit lead.

Sarah Palin (R) said she will rank Rep. Mary Peltola (D) — her biggest rival — second on her ranked choice ballot, ahead of Nick Begich (R), Must Read Alaska reports.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the Alaska Federation of Natives on Friday that she’d be ranking Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola first in the instant-runoff general election, while the congresswoman used that same event to say that Murkowski was her number one pick for Senate.

Murkowski, though, seemed reluctant to publicly back the Democrat when the question was posed to her, as the Washington Post writes that she paused for 18 seconds before affirming that she was for Peltola, mumbling afterward, “I’m going to get in so much trouble.” Peltola, by contrast, immediately responded, “I’m voting for her, so we’re even-steven.” Peltola’s support for Murkowski, though, goes back much longer than this, as she helped run the senator’s successful write-in effort in 2010.

Murkowski’s declaration came days before two Alaska pollsters, the GOP firm Dittman Research and the Democratic group Alaska Survey Research, released numbers showing Peltola keeping her seat in November, but there’s one big methodological issue in both: Neither firm allowed respondents to say they were undecided at any point in the ranked-choice process.

Dittman, which was in the field Oct. 4-8, found Peltola beginning with 45% as businessman Nick Begich edged out fellow Republican Sarah Palin 28-23 for second and Libertarian Chris Bye snagged only 3%. After simulating the instant runoff process, Peltola ended up with a 52-48 edge over Begich.

Alaska Survey Research, which polled more recently from Oct. 19-22, showed Peltola in much stronger shape. The congresswoman started with 49%, just shy of the majority she’d need to win outright, while Palin posted a 26-21 advantage over Begich as Bye snagged 5%. The firm found Peltola beating Palin 51-27 in round two after Bye was eliminated, but it also showed her defeating Begich 56-44 when they were the only two remaining options.

Unlike Dittman, Alaska Survey Research also took a look at the Senate race and found Murkowski edging out her intra-party rival, Kelly Tshibaka, 41-39, while Democrat Pat Chesbro and Republican Buzz Kelley snagged 16% and 4%, respectively. After the two trailing candidates were eliminated from contention, the firm showed Murkowski beating Tshibaka 55.5-44.5.

These are all good numbers for both Peltola and Murkowski, but again, the two pollsters’ decision not to allow respondents to say they’re undecided is a big potential issue. As we’ve written before, when a survey does not allow voters to say they’re still making up their minds and instead forces them to choose a side, it’s leaving out a critical piece of information about the state of the race—and not adhering to best practices.

Begich, for his part, is betting he can drag Peltola down with a new spot, which appears to be the first negative TV ad that anyone’s run against the Democrat this entire year. As black and white footage plays of bombs being dropped from a plane, the narrator warns that if Peltola wins a full term, “Alaskans will experience the shock and awe of inflation plus taxation, landing right on your family finances.”

One Republican who was not all impressed by Begich’s effort was Zack Brown, the former communications director to the late GOP Rep. Don Young. Brown, who backs Peltolatweeted that this Begich spot is “nearly an EXACT COPY of Young’s ‘shock & awe’ ad from ’08,” and he shared a copy of that very similar older commercial. “He won’t put in the effort to make an original ad,” continued Brown, “how much effort will he bring to Congress?”

Brown is far from the only former Young aide who wants to see Peltola re-elected despite their party differences. While Palin, who backed an unsuccessful 2008 primary challenge against the incumbent, continues to have plenty of detractors after abruptly resigning as governor the next year, Insider’s Bryan Metzger reports that Young’s old employees, known as “Youngworld,” have a much more recent and more personal animosity toward Begich.

Begich himself was a former Young ally who even co-chaired his final campaign in 2020, and Metzger notes that Begich spent about a month working in the congressman’s office the next year only to launch a bid against Young soon afterward. “It was just such an invasion of our goodwill and the Congressman’s goodwill,” one unnamed staffer said, adding, “We were completely hoodwinked and betrayed.”

Young died in March before that faceoff could occur, but much of Youngworld remains as furious as ever. Brown on Monday night tweeted a picture of Begich’s intern badge​, writing, “Begich was planning on primarying Young all along. He used DY & staff to secure inside info​.” Brown followed up, “According to FEC docs, he claimed campaign expenses BEFORE he came on as an INTERN in Don Young’s office. He KNEW he was going to primary Young before he joined our office, but used the Congressman and staff for his own ends anyway. Disgraceful.”

Peltola, by contrast, had a close relationship with Young for decades, and she even hired his chief of staff to run her office after winning the August special election. Several of Young’s former staffers have reciprocated by throwing her a fundraiser and filming an ad for the new incumbent. Young’s daughter, Joni Nelson, even used last week’s Alaska Federation of Natives event to present Peltola with one of her father’s famed bolo ties.

Even Palin, who was close to Peltola when they served together in state government in the mid-2000s, has continued to shower her rival, who is the first Alaska Native to serve in Congress, with praise. While both the 2008 vice presidential nominee and Begich have encouraged their supporters to rank the other Republican second, Palin used last week’s gathering to say of the congresswoman, “I love her dearly. I’m as proud of her as all of you are.” Palin continued, “And doggone it … I just wish she’d convert on over to the other party.”

National Republicans are presumably far less fond of Peltola than Palin is, but surprisingly, GOP outside groups have yet to spend any serious money in this contest. Peltola, by contrast, has benefited from $1 million in support from a super PAC called Vote Alaska Before Party.

NEW YORK GOVERNOR. “For months, Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York has trusted that the state’s strong Democratic majority would keep her in office largely on the strength of a simple message: Her Republican opponent was too close to Donald Trump and would roll back abortion rights,” the New York Times reports.

“But just two weeks before Election Day, a rapidly tightening contest has Ms. Hochul racing to expand her closing argument as Democrats warily concede they may have misjudged powerful fears driving the electorate, particularly around crime.”

“Across the country, Republicans are flooding the airwaves with bleak warnings — trying to link their opponents to murderers, child abusers and opioid overdoses. Democrats are countering that their rivals would imprison women who seek abortions,” Politico reports.

“That’s in addition to vulnerable Democrats hyping their own work to fund and support law enforcement to answer GOP attacks in a two-year rhetorical clamor over progressives’ now-muted call to ‘defund the police.’”

Associated Press: Lee Zeldin’s crime message resonates in New York governor’s race.

Politico reports that Republican Lee Zeldin’s super PAC allies have deployed an additional $3.4 million in recent days, which brings their total spending since August up to $11 million.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R) ambitions for a 2024 presidential bid have never been as obvious as they were last night when he faced off against Democratic challenger Charlie Crist in the Sunshine State’s first and only debate in the gubernatorial race.

DeSantis refused to answer directly when Crist repeatedly demanded to know if he’d commit to serving a full four-year term. The Florida governor eventually said that “the only worn-out old donkey I’m looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist.”

Politico: “Throughout the debate, Crist tried to push DeSantis to say whether or not he would serve a full four years if re-elected instead of running for president — but the Republican incumbent either did not answer or sidestepped the question.”

“In one of the most heated moments, Crist asked DeSantis to tell Floridians whether he’d carry out his full second term if re-elected, which garnered an awkward pause during the debate as DeSantis waited to answer.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “Republicans are pouring more than $6 million into Pennsylvania’s Senate race hours before the lone debate between their nominee Mehmet Oz and Democrat John Fetterman,” Politico reports.

U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman’s (D) recovery from a May stroke will be a central focus of his debate Tuesday with rival Mehmet Oz (R) as the two men seek an edge in their battle for a bitterly contested seat in Pennsylvania, Bloomberg reports.

Fetterman has been deemed fit for office by his primary care doctor, though he sometimes has trouble processing spoken words, an issue that was put on display in recent weeks as he relied on software during an NBC News interview. He will use a similar closed captioning device for the hour-long televised debate in Harrisburg.

Washington Post: “Tuesday’s debate will be a new test for Fetterman, who has eased his way back into a busier campaign schedule after spending much of the summer recovering off the trail.”

“President Biden and former President Barack Obama will barnstorm the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas on Nov. 5 with the party’s nominees for Pennsylvania governor and Senate,” Axios reports.

MAINE GOVERNOR. Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) and ex-Gov. Paul LePage (R) went head-to-head in a debate on Monday night:

Bangor Daily News: “Paul LePage goes on attack in debate with Janet Mills as he trails in polls”

WGME: “Gov. Mills, former Gov. LePage square off on economy, education, lobster in CBS13 debate”

Portland Press Herald: “Mills, LePage trade blame for high energy costs”

ARIZONA GOVERNOR. David Corn looks at a new ad from Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R).

“It covers the Republican basics: A seemingly conscientious and decent owner of a small business—and his family—is dealing with economic hardship and feels endangered by those liberal Democrats. But the ad leaves out important information: Erickson is not merely a local business owner concerned with inflation; he is a homophobic and Islamophobic pastor.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE U.S. SENATOR and GOVERNOR. In a sign that New Hampshire is at risk of falling off the map of Senate battleground states, the Senate Leadership Fund, the outside group affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that it was canceling $5.6 million in television ads that it had reserved in the state for the final two weeks of the race, the New York Times reports.

CNN reports that Restoration PAC, a group funded by GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein, has booked at least $340,000 to help Republican Don Bolduc days after the Senate Leadership Fund canceled its remaining $5.6 million reservation.

The Republican firm Insider Advantage has released a new survey for American Greatness, a group that denies the results of the 2020 election and doesn’t seem to know who is actually running in the 2022 election. The initial writeup, as well as the poll’s crosstabs, said respondents were asked how they’d vote in the governor’s race between incumbent John Sununu and Democrat Tom Sherman: American Greatness later posted an update saying, “We have removed the polling question for the governor’s race due to an error,” though Insider Advantage told FiveThirtyEight afterward that it asked about the correct Sununu.

New Hampshire’s current chief executive, of course, is Chris Sununu, who is a member of a prominent local political family with two Johns in it. His father, John H. Sununu, led the Granite State from 1983 to 1989 and later became George H.W. Bush’s White House chief of staff, while brother John E. Sununu lost re-election to the Senate in 2008. Neither of them, though, are running for governor this year, though Insider Advantage found a Sununu would lead Sherman 54-37.

That question came after Insider Advantage found Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan fending off Republican Don Bolduc 48-47, both of whom are actually on the ballot: Insider Advantage’s crosstabs, though, show the question as, “If the race for the U.S. Senate in Neew [sic] Hampshire were held today, for whom would you vote?” This survey was publicized days after the conservative Senate Leadership Fund pulled out of the state, so presumably its numbers showed Hassan in much better shape in the great state of Neew Hampshire.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told reporters that he believes New Hampshire should keep hosting the first presidential primary while stumping for Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) yesterday, even though his own state is bidding to host an early primary itself.

OREGON GOVERNOR. Tina Kotek is out with a commercial distancing herself from termed-out Gov. Kate Brown, a fellow Democrat who is finishing up her term with weak ratings, and the status quo. “Nobody in Oregon would say, ‘Let’s keep doing exactly what we’ve been doing,'” Kotek tells the audience, continuing, “I called for a homelessness state of emergency nearly three years ago while Kate Brown did nothing and [Republican] Christine Drazen killed efforts to make our streets safer.” Kotek finishes, “We certainly don’t need a red state takeover to clean up the damn trash.”

MICHIGAN. The Republican firm Mitchell Research & Communications, polling on behalf of MIRS News, gives conservatives some of their best numbers out of Michigan:

  • MI-Gov: Gretchen Whitmer (D-inc): 49, Tudor Dixon (R): 47
  • MI-AG: Dana Nessel (D-inc): 46, Matthew DePerno (R): 43
  • MI-SoS: Jocelyn Benson (D-inc): 49, Kristina Karamo (R): 40
  • Proposal 3 (Right to Reproductive Freedom Initiative): Yes: 50, No: 47

Almost every poll conducted in October has shown a single-digit race for governor, but this is one of the tightest results that anyone has found. No previous poll, though, has shown anything other than a double-digit edge for Proposal 3, which would enshrine the right to an abortion into the Michigan state constitution. Indeed, the last numbers we saw came from a mid-October media survey from Epic-MRA that put “yes” ahead 60-33; that same sample favored Whitmer 49-38.

Whitmer and her allies have continued to air the vast majority of the commercials in this contest. According to the Wesleyan Media Project, 90% of the 6,500 TV spots that ran in this race from Oct. 3-16 were for Whitmer’s side. However, the RGA’s ongoing $3.6 million ad campaign against Whitmer has made a difference for Dixon in one tangible way at least: While Team Red ran only about 640 ads during this time period, that’s exponentially more than the 19 that Wesleyan tracked from Sept. 5-18.

We don’t have comparable information in the contest for Proposal 3, but we do know that the anti-abortion “no” side is outspending its rivals. AdImpact tweeted Monday that the “no” campaign has spent $23 million, compared to $16 million from the “yes” side.

Democrats, meanwhile, have enjoyed a big spending advantage in the contests for attorney general and secretary of state, but MIRS reports that a conservative group called Michigan For Freedom has booked $2.1 million in the former race.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR and WISCONSIN GOVERNOR. Two Democratic governors, Illinois’ J.B. Pritzker and Wisconsin’s Tony Evers, are airing commercials featuring a direct-to-camera appeal from Barack Obama, who until now doesn’t appear to have starred in any ads this year.

COLORADO U.S. SENATOR. The League of Conservation Voters is spending an additional $1.3 million to help Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) trust fund for his adult children has paid no state taxes since 2015, WKOW reports.

OHIO SUPREME COURT. Siena College’s new poll for Spectrum News of the open-seat election for state Supreme Court chief justice also finds Republican Sharon Kennedy ahead by a slim 42-41 over Democrat Jennifer Brunner, both of whom are currently associate justices. That result is little changed from the 40-40 tie that Siena found in late September.

As we previously detailed, partisan control over Ohio’s Supreme Court is at stake this year with Republicans defending a 4-3 majority, but the contest for chief justice won’t affect the partisan balance because GOP Gov. Mike DeWine would likely just appoint a Republican to Brunner’s current seat if she’s elected chief justice. However, the chief justice does wield other important powers, and a close race in that election is a sign that the two other races for associate justice, which Siena does not appear to have polled this time, may also be very close. Democrats would need to win one of the two associate justice races to gain a majority on the bench.

ARKANSAS REFERENDUM. A new Hendrix College poll taken on behalf of the local news site Talk Business & Politics finds voters tied 39-39 on whether to approve Issue 2, a ballot measure that if adopted would amend Arkansas’ constitution to require 60% voter support for any future ballot initiatives to become law. The 60% supermajority requirement would also apply to constitutional amendments referred to the ballot by lawmakers but not to regular statutes enacted by legislators. As we explained last year, Arkansas Republicans put Issue 2 on the ballot this cycle as part of their multi-year effort to kill off progressive ballot initiatives.

Arkansas voters in recent years have used initiatives to pass key progressive policies such as a 2018 minimum wage increase, and they could do so again this year if they approve Issue 4, a measure that would legalize recreational marijuana usage (which the above poll apparently did not survey). But the GOP’s attempt to restrict initiatives via Issue 2 isn’t just a reaction to those progressive policies, it’s also likely a proactive effort to defend their power to gerrymander, since voters unsuccessfully attempted to put an independent redistricting commission on the ballot the last two election cycles and could try again in 2024.

Back in 2020, voters defeated the previous Republican attempt to restrict ballot initiatives by rejecting a GOP-backed amendment that would have made it practically impossible for progressives—but not conservatives—to put measures on the ballot. That failed measure would have imposed a much stricter geographic distribution requirement for voter signatures that would have asymmetrically burdened progressive-leaning voters compared to conservative ones. However, the GOP is likely betting that voters will be more open to supporting the more straightforward change proposed by this year’s ballot measure.

Polling has been very limited for Issue 2, but in the open governor’s race, the same Hendrix poll above finds Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders ahead by an unimpressive 51-41 spread even though both parties have long acted as if she’s headed for a decisive win in a state that Trump won 62-35 two years ago. Consequently, it’s possible this poll’s sample was somewhat too favorable to Democrats.

CHICAGO MAYOR. Allies of Democratic Rep. Chuy Garcia have begun collecting signatures to place his name on the 2023 ballot for mayor, though the congressman himself hasn’t decided if he’ll challenge incumbent Lori Lightfoot. Anyone who wants to run has until Nov. 28 to turn in 12,500 valid signatures, though most serious candidates will try to collect at least three times this amount to give themselves a cushion in a city where aggressive petition challenges are a way of life.

The American Federation of Teachers also announced over the weekend that it was giving $1 million to support Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, who is gathering petitions even though he hasn’t declared he’s in. The Chicago Teachers Union, which is an AFT affiliate, and United Working Families both endorsed Johnson last month: UWF’s executive director said the organization decided it couldn’t wait for Garcia to make up his mind, arguing, “It’s just our experience in previous campaigns that you never get time back and we don’t have unlimited money to make that up.”

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

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