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The Political Report – November 7, 2022

The final national NBC News poll of the 2022 midterms “finds a highly competitive campaign landscape ahead of Election Day, as Democrats have pulled even with Republicans in enthusiasm, but President Joe Biden remaining unpopular and voters expressing deep dissatisfaction about the state of the country.”

“Forty-eight percent of likely voters say they prefer a Democratic-controlled Congress as the outcome from Tuesday’s elections, while 47% prefer a Republican-controlled Congress.”

“Americans have cast more ballots ahead of Election Day than they did during early voting before the last midterm election, continuing a trend of increasingly relying on early voting despite vocal objections from some Republicans,” the Washington Post reports.

“As of Saturday, voters had cast more than 39 million ballots, surpassing the number of early votes in 2018, according to data maintained by the United States Elections Project. This year’s total will grow because election officials are still receiving ballots through the mail and some states allow in-person early voting through the weekend.”

“Republicans hold significant advantages on the bread-and-butter issues of the economy and inflation that are central concerns of this fall’s election, and are poised to claim a majority in the House in Tuesday’s election,” according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

“Voters’ intentions for the House are split about evenly, with 49 percent of registered voters saying they will vote for the Republican candidate in their district and 48 percent saying they will vote for the Democrat. Likely voters split 50 percent Republican and 48 percent Democratic.”

“If recent history is a guide, Democrats need a clear lead in this measure to hold off Republican gains. Many more Democratic seats are considered toss-ups, according political handicappers, putting the party at a disadvantage heading into Tuesday.”

Politico: “Some Democrats have fretted that Republican firms are deliberately flooding the zone for the purpose of affecting these polling averages — and the subsequent news coverage that comes with apparent momentum.”

Dan Pfeifer: “While I put nothing past the Republicans, there is no evidence to suggest the existence of coordinated efforts to rig the polling averages to create the false impression of a Red Wave. To be honest, this collection of clowns tends to commit their crimes in public.”

“But… creating a false sense of momentum is a long-running Republican strategy. Many Republicans believe the best way to win elections is to convince voters that you are already winning. The strategy is loosely based on the idea of social proof – people want to be with the winners, not the losers.”

“As Republican candidates make their final appeal in key states, they’re tapping some of the most polarizing figures in their party and turning to messages centered on cultural division and at times pushing racial discord,” the Washington Post reports.

“At the same time, many Democrats are scrambling to highlight more moderate themes, overlooking the far left of their party and bringing in surrogates who appeal to middle-of-the-road voters.”

POLLING. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has gained a double-digit lead over Mike Franken (D) in the closing days of Iowa’s U.S. Senate race, 53% to 41%, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows.

Said pollster Ann Selzer: “It’s a seemingly insurmountable lead, though anything can happen. This is a very good poll for Chuck Grassley. He gets not only the overall lead but the strong support of the people who are the core of his base. And Franken, by comparison, it’s more lukewarm among his base.”

Iowa’s likely voters and those who already have cast ballots prefer Republican candidates in all four of the state’s congressional districts, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll found. 

The final Emerson College Polling survey in Oregon finds 44% of voters support Democrat Tina Kotek for Governor while 40% support Republican Christine Drazan, and 8% support non-affiliated candidate Betsy Johnson.

A new Morning Consult survey finds President Biden’s net approval rating — the share who approve of his job performance minus the share who disapprove — is underwater in 45 states.

A new Dittman Research poll in Alaska shows Rep. Mary Peltola (D) ahead of her two Republican competitors in the race for Alaska’s lone congressional seat with 56% of the vote in the state’s new rank-choice voting system. Sarah Palin (R) would come in second with 44%.

Nate Cohn: “Many stalwarts of political polling over the last decade — Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, ABC/Washington Post, CNN/SSRS, Fox News, New York Times/Siena College, Marist College — have conducted far fewer surveys, especially in the battleground states, than they have in recent years. In some cases, these pollsters have conducted no recent polls at all.”

“And on the flip side, there has been a wave of polls by firms like the Trafalgar Group, Rasmussen Reports, Insider Advantage and others that have tended to produce much more Republican-friendly results than the traditional pollsters. None adhere to industry standards for transparency or data collection. In some states, nearly all of the recent polls were conducted by Republican-leaning firms.”

“This creates a big challenge for a simple polling average like this one. From state to state, Democrats or Republicans might seem to be doing much better or much worse, simply depending on which kind of pollster has conducted a survey most recently. The race may seem to swing back and forth, from week to week.”

Nate Cohn: “Way back in September, we noticed a warning sign in the polls: Democrats were showing strength in exactly the places where the polls overestimated their chances in 2020.”

“The pattern raised the possibility that solid Democratic leads in several key Senate races were a mirage — the result of the same biases that led the polls to overestimate Democrats in those same states two years earlier.”

“With the election only days away, that warning sign is gone: There is no longer any material relationship between relative Democratic or Republican strength in the key Senate races and the polling error from 2020.”

FLORIDA GOVERNOR. “Donald Trump finally bestowed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with one of his infamous nicknames, signaling a rivalry between the two popular Republicans is heating up as both men could run for the GOP nomination for president in 2024,” Insider reports.

“Trump was referencing a poll that showed he was in the lead among other potential Republican nominees when he offhandedly called DeSantis ‘Ron DeSanctimonious.’

“It was the first time Trump had debuted the nickname publicly, but New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who has long covered Trump, said on Twitter the former president had been testing out the nickname over the past two weeks.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) released a new ad which appears to brand himself as the state’s messiah — created and sent by God to be a “fighter” for freedom.

From the ad: “God said I need a family man. A man who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply with smiling eyes when his daughter says, she wants to spend her life doing what dad does. So God made a fighter.”

“Former President Donald Trump hasn’t endorsed Gov. Ron DeSantis this year because, as he has explained, his fellow Floridian never asked. Mr. DeSantis didn’t attend the Trump rally on Sunday in Miami, his allies said, because he wasn’t personally invited,” the New York Times reports.

“Bruised egos are commonplace in politics. But rarely has a rift at the top of a party spilled so fully into view at such a pivotal moment. At a rally on Saturday night in Latrobe, Pa., Mr. Trump bestowed one of his signature nicknames on Mr. DeSantis: Ron DeSanctimonious.”

“Their escalating tensions took center stage on Sunday, with dueling campaign rallies in Florida just two days before voting concludes in the 2022 midterm elections. Mr. Trump campaigned in South Florida with Senator Marco Rubio and other Florida Republicans, while Mr. DeSantis made his case for re-election during a set of events along the state’s west coast.”

2024. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) “has decided that he won’t run for president in 2024 — making him the first big-name Republican to step aside as former President Donald Trump and others make moves toward running,” Politico reports.

“Cotton has attributed his decision to family concerns, saying that a national campaign would take him away from his two young sons, who are seven and five years old.”

Republican megadonor Ken Griffin told Politico he is prepared to support Ron DeSantis should he decide to run for president in 2024.

Said Griffin, of Donald Trump: “He did a lot of things really well and missed the mark on some important areas. And for a litany of reasons, I think it’s time to move on to the next generation.”

FORECASTS. The Cook Political Report shifted its forecast of control for the Senate toward Republicans just four days out from the midterm elections.

“While a handful of races remain incredibly tight, and polls show they could go either way, the far better national environment for Republicans has many Democratic strategists we have talked to staring down a gloomy prospect.”

“Several have wished this election could have been held even a month ago, but it appears Republicans could be peaking at the right time. More traditional midterm expectations seem to have again taken hold, which is never good news for the president’s party.”

David Wasserman notes there’s still a lot of uncertainty in the battle for control of the House, with 35 races still in the Toss Up column.

But he says not all of them are alike and offers “my guesses as of this moment on where they’ll land.”

WISCONSIN. New York Times: “If Wisconsin Democrats lose several low-budget state legislative contests here on Tuesday — which appears increasingly likely because of new and even more gerrymandered political maps — it may not matter who wins the $114 million tossup contest for governor between Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, and Tim Michels, a Republican. Those northern seats would put Republicans in reach of veto-proof supermajorities that would render a Democratic governor functionally irrelevant.”

“Even though Wisconsin remains a 50-50 state in statewide elections, Democrats would be on the verge of obsolescence.”

GEORGIA U.S. SENATOR. “To win a single Senate seat, Republicans and Democrats have spent the equivalent of $30.83 on every one of the 7.8 million eligible voters in Georgia. That comes to somewhere north of $241 million and counting,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“For all the money spent, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker, a former All-Pro running back for the Dallas Cowboys, remain virtually deadlocked, many polls show. A few have shown Mr. Warnock gaining momentum in recent days.”

PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATOR. “The biggest names in Democratic and Republican politics — Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — head to Pennsylvania on Saturday hoping to tip the balance in a closely contested midterm race that could determine control of the U.S. Senate,” Reuters reports.

New York Times: “The moment represents both a clash from the past and a fight over the future. While the issues are distinctly 2022 — crime, high inflation and the unraveling of federal abortion rights — voters are again being asked to choose between the establishment politics of President Biden and former President Barack Obama, and the chaotic, disruptive force of former President Donald Trump.”

“To press their case, Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama will reunite in a familiar place, sharing a stage in Philadelphia — an event that brings back echoes of the enormous 2016 rally at Independence Mall where the party’s top leaders joined Bruce Springsteen and Madonna to try to push Hillary Clinton over the finish line.”

Wall Street Journal: “If Mr. Fetterman loses, Democrats will blow their best chance to pick up a GOP seat—the one held by Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring.”

“If Mr. Oz loses, Republicans will have to pick up at least two other Democratic-held seats to have a shot at taking control of the Senate, which is now split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris the tiebreaking vote.”

Oz will campaign with Donald Trump today, leading Playbook to note: “Is this the event you want on the last Saturday before Election Day when you’re trying to woo suburban moderates around Philly? Front pages tomorrow will be Oz embracing Mastriano and Trump. Not exactly the Glenn Youngkin 2021 playbook.”

“The top Democratic Senate super PAC is rushing to put Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of John Fetterman on the airwaves,” Politico reports.

“It is launching a new television ad featuring the superstar’s announcement on Thursday evening that she supports Fetterman in Pennsylvania’s race for the Senate.”

“Oz and Pennsylvania? Look, I lived in Pennsylvania longer than Oz has lived in Pennsylvania — and I moved away when I was 10 years old!” — President Biden, while campaigning in Pennsylvania.

“If someone’s willing to peddle snake oil to make a buck, then he’s probably willing to sell snake oil to get elected.” — Barack Obama, quoted by the Washington Post, on Dr. Mehmet Oz (R).“If we have kept the Senate in 2014, we’d have a very different Supreme Court making decisions about our most basic rights. So, midterms are no joke.” — Barack Obama, quoted by The Hill.

Donald Trump Jr. took to the stage at his father’s rally and called Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman (D) “brain dead,” the Daily Mail reports.  Said Trump Jr.: “I believe that if you’re going to be in the United States senator, you should have basic cognitive function.”

NEW YORK GOVERNOR. “With an overwhelmingly Democratic state seeing an apparent surge in Republican momentum, President Biden came to the Hudson Valley of New York on Sunday to rally the party faithful for Gov. Kathy Hochul, the incumbent facing a surprisingly strong challenge from Representative Lee Zeldin, a Trump-aligned Republican,” the New York Times reports.

“The governor’s race has become one of the more competitive in the nation, despite New York being a deeply Democratic state, with registered party members outnumbering Republicans by more than 2 to 1. The state’s voters haven’t elected a Republican to a statewide office in two decades, but Mr. Zeldin has displayed strength in some polls, narrowing the gap to single digits with a campaign focused on crime and the economy.”

NEVADA U.S. SENATOR. Jon Ralston predicts Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) will hang on to win re-election.

“Red wave or not, candidates and campaigns matter. Adam Laxalt is an abysmal candidate who has lived on his last name for credibility and fundraising since he moved here a decade ago. Anyone with an R after his or her name would be competitive this cycle, and his automaton-like performance, where he can disgorge puerile talking points to thrill the faithful and avoid any serious questioning (a candidate for governor and Senate who never debated!) has been something to behold.”

However, Ralston is not so sure about Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) and thinks challenger Joe Lombardo (R) can pull out a narrow victory.

“They’re gambling that they have this magic moment where we’ll all be so mad, we’ll stop thinking. Anyone who wants to make you mad, anyone who wants you to stop thinking is not your friend.” — Bill Clinton, quoted by the New York Times, campaigning for Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) in Nevada.

The Atlantic: “When the 44th president came on stage, the crowd greeted him like a long lost friend — or a favorite teacher who’d returned after a series of varyingly unimpressive substitutes.”

New York Times: “In interviews with more than a dozen women in swing regions ahead of Election Day, many said they thought of themselves as apolitical. But they could not avoid the sense that politics were intruding on their lives.”

“Notably, the women, who live in a variety of suburban settings, shared a sense of pessimism about the direction of the country. They were strained by the cost of housing and groceries, they said, and fearful of crime. Many felt freedom itself was under threat, whether the freedom they sought was the right to abortion or the right to shield their children from what they considered objectionable ideas on gender and race.”

“Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the GOP’s most vocal critic against Trumpian politics’ threats to democracy, has endorsed Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) over Spanberger’s Republican challenger in one of Virginia’s most consequential races this year, transcending party lines to push for the vulnerable Democrat days before the election,” the Washington Post reports.

Benjamin Wallace-Wells: “The consensus among a number of G.O.P. pollsters and operatives I spoke to this week is that in the Senate races that are thought to be competitive, Republican candidates are heading for a clean sweep: Mehmet Oz will beat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, and not just by a point or two; Adam Laxalt looks pretty certain to defeat the incumbent Democratic senator Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada; even less regarded candidates such as Blake Masters in Arizona will be carried into office by a predicted wave.”

“To these Republican insiders, certain high-profile races in which G.O.P. candidates were already favored now look like potential blowouts—Kari Lake’s campaign for governor in Arizona, J. D. Vance’s for Senate in Ohio. And some races that seemed out of reach, such as the Senate campaign, in New Hampshire, of the election denier Don Bolduc, now look like possible wins. The word that kept coming up in these conversations was ‘bloodbath.’”

WISCONSIN U.S. SENATOR. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) “acknowledged that a major provision he fought to insert into former President Donald Trump’s signature 2017 tax bill helped his old plastics firm and many others financially,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

“What he didn’t say was how much it could be benefiting members of his family.”

Politico: “Republicans across the ideological spectrum are eagerly accepting Gabbard’s endorsement and even hosting her for rallies in their home states, arguing her departure from the Democratic Party bolsters their view that it has moved too far to the left.”

“But the GOP’s unapologetic embrace of Gabbard is particularly conspicuous as its leaders try to dispel the notion that they’re not tough enough on Russia amid a sharp internal divide over aiding Ukraine.”

New York Times: “In many cases, their anxieties stem not from experiencing serious crime, but from seeing homeless encampments, or finding a syringe or human waste on the sidewalk, or reading accounts in their neighborhood social networks of vandalism on a local bike path.”

“In interviews, voters criticized liberals’ efforts to eliminate cash bail, decriminalize marijuana and decrease funding for police departments, even if those policies have not been put in place where they live.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has been on the offense against the Walt Disney Co. for months, criticizing the entertainment giant for opposing legislation he championed and signing a law to strip the company of its special taxing district,” the Washington Post reports.

“Before he attacked the company, DeSantis — who is up for reelection next week — was a groom walking down the aisle in a Disney wedding. He and his wife, Jill Casey Black, a former anchor at Jacksonville news station WJXT who goes by Casey, wed at Walt Disney World on Sept. 26, 2009.”

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

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