The Political Report – November 3, 2022

Cook Political Report: “The scariest Halloween reality for House Democrats is the number of seats President Biden carried comfortably in 2020 that are at genuine risk a week out. And if you’re looking for House upsets, the best places to watch might be blue states where there’s no competitive statewide races driving turnout, Democratic governors are underperforming and GOP candidates have been able to seize on high crime and inflation.”

“This week, we’re moving ten seats in the GOP’s direction – all in very blue states and all in districts Biden carried by between eight and 20 points in 2020. Three are open seats where the lack of an incumbent has allowed the GOP to remain closer to spending parity: two on Long Island and one in suburban Portland. In all three cases, GOP strength in governor’s races and concerns about crime are imperling down-ballot Democrats.”

“Heading into the final week of voting, some of Democrats’ key base voters’ levels of enthusiasm are far below that of Republican-base voter groups,” the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found.

“While white women with college degrees, who are an important bloc for Democrats, are among the most enthusiastic to vote, Black voters, Latinos and young voters are among the least.”

“At the same time, older voters, Trump voters, white evangelical Christians and rural voters — all key GOP groups — are fired up to vote. Those without college degrees are less enthusiastic about the election, but that’s driven by voters of color without degrees.”

“Notably, showing why midterm elections tend to be base elections, independents are also way down the list when it comes to enthusiasm.”

“With less than a week left to go before the midterms, just about everything is breaking in Republicans’ favor,” Axios reports. “Just a few weeks ago, Republicans seemed to be on the ropes thanks to a slate of polarizing, MAGA-aligned candidates with seemingly strong Democratic opponents, and a relentless Democratic focus on abortion.”

“Now, though, all of those fortunes seem to have been reversed.”

POLLING. “White suburban women, a key group of midterm voters, have significantly shifted their support from Democrats to Republicans in the closing days of midterm campaigning because of rising concerns over the economy and inflation,” according to the latest Wall Street Journal poll.

“The new survey shows that white women living in suburban areas, who make up 20% of the electorate, now favor Republicans for Congress by 15 percentage points, moving 27 percentage points away from Democrats since The Journal’s August poll.”

“Two years after helping deliver President Biden the presidency, and four years after decisively handing control of the House of Representatives to the Democratic Party, Americans living in the suburbs are poised to once again play a major role in an election,” FiveThirtyEight reports.

“But after Democrats got the upper hand in suburban areas in 2018 and 2020, the pendulum looks set to swing back in the GOP’s direction in 2022 — at least to some extent. Most of the House races that will decide the election will take place in suburban and exurban districts: About 7 in 10 House races viewed as at least somewhat competitive — those not rated as solidly Democratic or Republican — are in predominantly suburban districts.”

CNN has just released a new poll which also shows a strong shift in the Republican direction. It shows a four point Republican advantage on the generic ballot (GOP 51%- Dem 47%) versus a a three point advantage for Democrats one month ago (Dem 50% – GOP 47%). A new NPR/Marist poll, always released today, shows almost the identical result and a comparable shift from just a month ago – from D+3 to R+3 from early October to early November. Until this morning we really didn’t have premium polls confirming this shift. Now we do. Those are relatively small numerical differences but they translate into big numbers in control at least of the House.

ADS and SPENDING. Many Republican political ads “are showing a breathtaking disregard for accuracy and clarity, with Republican candidates and their allies twisting tangential elements into baseless or misleading claims,” the Washington Post reports.

“One of the biggest radio ad blitzes in the final stretch of the midterm elections is a provocative package of advertisements aimed at deepening cultural divides over transgender care for children and racial tensions,” the New York Times reports.

“Financed by two groups run by former Trump administration officials, the ads have been placed with Black and Hispanic radio stations, along with conservative talk radio stations.”

“But the inflammatory radio spots contrast with a more standard-issue ad campaign this month from former President Donald Trump. Mr. Trump’s TV spots, created by his super PAC, MAGA Inc., have promoted messages on inflation and crime that generally align in both issue and tone with those of many Republican candidates seeking federal office.”

“There are just six days left in this chaotic midterm, which means campaigns around the country are readying their final pitches for voters,” Playbook reports.

“Candidates traditionally use their last flight of ads as a “closing argument” — a chance to tell voters who they are, what they plan to do if they win and, most importantly, ask for their vote. It’s the executive summary of their campaign, typically delivered direct-to-camera in a bid to make one final connection with voters.”

“But this year has been anything but typical. As those final ads have started trickling into Playbook HQ we’ve seen some candidates observe the old pieties, while others just continue bludgeoning their opponents.”

“America First Legal, launched by longtime Donald Trump aide Stephen Miller, has plastered airwaves and mailboxes with the issue ahead of the election — all without mentioning candidates currently running for office, as both groups are registered nonprofits,” Politico reports.

“In five key races for governor, Democrats are devoting the largest share of their ads to abortion, seeking to highlight their Republican opponents’ commitment to passing or preserving restrictions after the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade,” the Washington Post reports.

“As Democrats hope the issue will drive voter turnout, Republican gubernatorial candidates are leaning into advertising about crime and the economy.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. Washington Post: “Oz’s research was scheduled to lead off the scientific session of the 83rd annual American Association for Thoracic Surgery conference, where physicians in that specialty convene to discuss developments in their field. But Oz was forced to withdraw his work and was banned from presenting research to the organization for the next two years.”

“At issue were questions about the strength of the data used by Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, to reach an important medical conclusion… The penalty he experienced in 2003 was a significant one.”

Mehmet Oz (R) suggested on Fox News that Pennsylvania, where he is running for U.S. Senate, is on the Atlantic Ocean.

Said Oz: “This is important: We do not have a Republican senator north of North Carolina on the Atlantic coast until you get to Maine, if I don’t hold this seat.”

He added: “And there’s been a Republican senator in Pennsylvania most of my life. I’m going to keep one here as well.”

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR. Tim Michels, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ (D) Republican rival, declared during a campaign event on Monday that Republicans “will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor.”

Michels has parroted Trump’s voter fraud lies about the 2020 election and even floated the idea of decertifying the 2020 election results (which isn’t possible).

Evers’ veto pen is one of the few safeguards left against Wisconsin GOP lawmakers’ voter suppression efforts.

A spokesperson for Michels denied that the candidate was promising single-party rule, telling the Washington Post that Michels just meant that his policies would be so popular, “voters will reward” Republicans in future elections.

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) endorsed Rep. Tim Ryan (D) over J.D. Vance (R) in the Ohio Senate race, the latest sign of just how far the one-time member of House GOP leadership has fallen out with the Trump-dominated wing of her party, The Hill reports.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. Former Rep. Justin Amash excoriated Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters (R) in a tweet.

Said Amash: “I’m a libertarian, and Masters is an authoritarian grifting as hard as he can to convince both libertarians and nationalists he’s one of them. We disagree on immigration, policing, war, economics, free speech, and more. In all those areas, he wants less liberty and more tyranny.”

Libertarian Marc Victor announced Tuesday that he was dropping out of the race and endorsing Republican Blake Masters, a move that comes after about 900,000 ballots have already been cast. A similar thing happened during the final days of the state’s 2018 Senate race when the Green Party nominee, the appropriately named Angela Green, dropped out days ahead of Election Day and backed Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Sinema days later beat Republican Martha McSally 50-48, while Green took the balance.

KANSAS GOVERNOR. The DGA’s Kansas Values Institute is rolling out a spot starring two Republican governors of yesteryear, Bill Graves and Mike Hayden, praising Democratic incumbent Laura Kelly as an effective bipartisan leader. The duo go on to argue that Republican Derek Schmidt would just lead to a repeat of the horrible years when Sam Brownback ran the state’s economy into the ground.

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. The Senate Leadership Fund’s new ad against Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock utilizes 2020 police bodycam footage where his ex-wife, Ouleye Ndoye, accused him of running over her foot with his car after an argument. A different Republican super PAC, 34N22, ran a similar spot a few weeks ago, but SLF hadn’t made use of this material in its TV commercials until now.

As we previously wrote, these allegations surfaced more than two years ago during Warnock’s special election campaign. The police report said that first responders were “not able to locate any swelling, redness, or bruising or broken bones” on Ndoye’s foot, and the candidate was not charged. Warnock also told police that he’d tried to drive “slowly” away from his wife’s home that night and that he then heard her accusing him of running over her foot. Republicans highlighted the story late in the runoff campaign, but Warnock went on to unseat appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler soon afterwards.

Kanye West endorsed Herschel Walker in the Georgia U.S. Senate race, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The second woman who alleged that Herschel Walker (R) paid for her abortion told ABC News that he pressured her and that she felt threatened.

Said the woman: “He was very clear that he did not want me to have the child. He said that because of his wife’s family and powerful people around him, that I would not be safe and that the child would not be safe.”

She added: “It is very menacing. I felt threatened and I thought I had no choice.”

GEORGIA GOVERNOR. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) wouldn’t say at a debate whether he would sign new abortion limits into law if he’s elected to a second term, weeks after he said at a previous showdown that he “would not” support going beyond restrictions he backed in 2019, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

NEVADA GOVERNOR. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s new ad highlights the $25 million that hotel millionaire Robert Bigelow has spent to directly or indirectly support Republican Joe Lombardo, which the narrator argues shows that Bigelow is “trying to buy the governor’s office for himself.” The commercial continues, “When Bigelow tried to evict Nevada families during the pandemic, Gov. Sisolak said no. So now Bigelow is single-handedly funding Lombardo’s campaign, buying a governor who will always say yes.”

Bigelow, who owns both the hotel chain Budget Suites of America and Bigelow Aerospace, has long devoted much of his interest and money towards research into UFOs and the afterlife rather than politics. Bigelow has long made contributions to both Democrats, including his late friend and fellow UFO enthusiast Harry Reid, and Republicans, but he never approached megadonor status until this cycle. Bigelow, though, told the Associated Press back in September that he blamed the public health measures Sisolak took early in the pandemic for wrecking his aerospace company, which explains why he’s determined to sink the Democrat’s re-election chances.

These aren’t the only contests, however, where Bigelow has been heavily involved for Team Red. In addition to giving $10 million to help Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Bigelow has also donated to groups attacking Nevada Democrats across the ballot. The NV Independent said last week that Bigelow has thrown down close to $50 million altogether to aid Republicans.  

OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR. OK-Gov: Democrat Joy Hofmeister’s allies at Imagine This Oklahoma are airing a commercial starring former Republican Rep. J.C. Watts, who remains a prominent figure even though he’s been out of office for two decades. Watts tells the audience, “I was a Republican then, and I’m a Republican now. And friends, I’m voting for Joy Hofmeister.” While Watts doesn’t mention GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt by name, he declares, “All this scandal and corruption is just too much.”

UTAH U.S. SENATOR. Associated Press: “The race has been inundated with outside spending, with super PACs unaffiliated with either the Lee or McMullin campaign spending heavily on glossy mailers and attack ads on the local affiliates of the four major television networks in the lead-up to the midterm elections.”

“The amount of money pouring into the race reflects how McMullin has turned Utah from a political afterthought to a legitimate battleground. The outside spending supporting him also illustrates the traditional partisan dynamics at play in the independent-versus-Republican race and the emerging reality that some Democratic Party-aligned groups and donors see McMullin — an anti-abortion conservative — as one path toward preventing Republicans from controlling the Senate.”

MICHIGAN ABORTION REFERENDUM. The Glengariff Group’s new survey for the Detroit News and WDIV shows Proposal 3, which would enshrine the right to an abortion into the Michigan state constitution, ahead 55-41, which is a drop from 62-24 a month ago.

Jonathan Bernstein: “First, normal polling error could be more of a problem in this election because there are simply fewer polls in 2022 than there used to be. The less polling you have, the more unreliable the estimate will be…”

“Second, it is harder to do polling these days. Between the demise of landline phones and the ever-shrinking share of voters willing to talk to pollsters, the old way of doing things that persisted for some 50 years is pretty much gone…”

“A final challenge is the change in who votes and how. In the last several elections, we’ve had constant change in voting rules. Some states have made voting easier with automatic voter registration, relaxed rules for absentee voting and extended early voting. Other states have made it more difficult by reversing those policies. Republican voters, who until 2020 were more likely to use absentee ballots, are now much less likely to vote that way. All of this  changes how likely different groups are to vote, but not necessarily in predictable ways.”

Gallup: “The 49% of Americans who say they have given ‘quite a lot’ of thought to this year’s congressional elections is essentially unchanged from the previous reading in June. In addition, 2% volunteer that they have given the midterms ‘some’ thought, while 44% of U.S. adults say they have given them ‘only a little.’”

“While the June figure was unusually high for that point in the midterm election cycle, this lack of change is a departure from previous elections. Typically, as Election Day draws closer, the amount of thought given to an election increases.”

“Although the current percentage of Americans who say they are thinking a lot about the elections is five percentage points lower than the final preelection reading in 2018 — a year when turnout was the highest in a midterm election in over 100 years — it is on par with the 48% average for this measure since 1994.”

Walter Shapiro: “The 2022 midterm campaigns—with spending on TV ads alone likely to come close to $10 billion—have become a consultant’s dream. Almost everything spontaneous has been drained out of American politics. Now campaigns are almost completely waged with dueling 30-second spots in which the candidate is merely a bit player who often says nothing more than, ‘I approve this message.’”

“Candidates—especially right-wing Republicans—shun the traditional media as they largely campaign on conservative talk radio and safe venues such as Fox News and Newsmax. Public campaign schedules, which used to clog inboxes, are now often as closely guarded as all the nuclear secrets that are not housed at Mar-a-Lago. Safe spaces are what all campaigns desire since, in an age when everyone is a videographer, an off-key joke or a snappish response to a voter can be plastered all over Twitter and YouTube within three minutes.”

Kristina Karamo (R), the Trump-backed candidate for Michigan secretary of state, “once expressed support in 2020 for one of QAnon’s most outlandish conspiracies: that elites drink the blood of children and ‘sell baby body parts’ after abortions,” Vice News reports.

Said Karamo, on an audio recording: “If you go to the Satanic temple website, they have an entire five-minute video explaining why abortion is a religious ritual. They literally say that it is a sacrifice, it is a religious ritual for them to have an abortion, it is sick. And as you mentioned, the baby body parts… they sell the organs. There’s a ton of money involved in freshly harvested organs. There’s so much evidence out there.” 

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

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