The Political Report – November 13, 2022

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) is projected to win the U.S. Senate race in Nevada, NBC News reports. Her victory means Democrats are guaranteed to retain control of the Senate.

She is currently leading by 7,000 votes, or 48.77% to Adam Laxalt’s 48.11%.

“Ironic isn’t it? Mitch McConnell stealing a Supreme Court seat cost him his last chance at being Leader McConnell.”— Former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), on Twitter.

Dan Balz: “Whatever the final numbers show, 2022 will be remembered as an election that produced an incremental earthquake, an election of small shifts that added up to big surprises, an election in which the party that hopes to recapture the House emerges disappointed and more divided. Election 2022 was a dual referendum: on President Biden and the Democrats but also on former president Donald Trump and the Republicans.”

“Trump has changed politics in many ways, and Republicans paid a price for it Tuesday. His presence has created an energized electorate. Since he was elected, huge voter turnouts have become the norm: a midterm record in 2018, a presidential-year record in 2020 and a near record again this year. Midterm elections usually mean complacency among voters whose party just won the White House. In the age of Trump, every election is consequential, and both sides come highly motivated.”

National Review: “For Republicans, it should be clearer than ever that they have trouble reaching potentially winnable swing voters because of the unhinged appearance and revolting character of the party’s Trump-era incarnation.”

The Economist: “On top of his other flaws, the former president is a serial vote loser.”

“Overlooked amid frantic punditry about the ‘red ripple’ in Congress: Democrats quietly won and defended majorities in state legislatures across the country, weakening GOP power on issues at the heart of the national political debate,” Axios reports.

“State legislative races are on pace to be the highlight of the Democratic ballot. If Democrats hold on to Nevada, this will be the first time the party in power hasn’t lost a single chamber in the midterms since 1934.”

Frank Luntz: “The people I talked to over the last 24 hours have essentially said enough, Donald Trump. Enough of this chaos. Enough of the yelling and screaming. They look at the U.S. Senate and they’re mad at the former president. They think he supported the wrong candidates. His endorsement still matters within the GOP, but they’re frustrated because they think he is supporting candidates that are simply un-electable, and we have seen this across the country.”

“I think Trump’s kind of a drag on our ticket. I think Donald Trump gives us problems, politically. We lost the House, the Senate and the White House in two years when Trump was on the ballot, or in office. I think we just have some Trump hangover. I think he’s a drag on our office, on our races.”— Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R), in an interview with WISN.

 “Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who controls some of the most powerful organs in conservative media, appeared to make clear Wednesday that he would prefer to cast aside former President Donald Trump in favor of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as the leader of the Republican party,” CNN reports.

FiveThirtyEight: “In Colorado’s 3rd District, Boebert may hold on: She now leads by 794 votes and her lead grew even with light-blue Pueblo County reporting most of its remaining votes. ABC News estimates that around 5,000 votes are outstanding in the district, which means Frisch would need to win 58 percent of those to win, which seems unlikely.”

“But as we’ve seen, the vote method and timing matters. Colorado is a vote-by-mail state, but votes dropped off on Election Day tend to be more Republican, while those coming through the mail tend to be more Democratic. So until we have the results in hand, it’s hard to know just how red or blue a batch of newly reported votes will be.”

Washington Post: “Republicans lost three House races that were considered competitive in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire, as well as a similar Senate race in New Hampshire.”

“The Republican nominee for Maryland attorney general said he will not concede the race despite trailing his Democratic opponent by more than 300,000 votes,” the Washington Post reports.

Republican campaigns almost completely ceded digital campaigning to Democrats this cycle, FWIW reports.

Democratic strategist James Carville said Florida is probably now out of reach for Democrats in 2024, The Hill reports. Said Carville: “It’s not as many electoral votes, but I think Democrats might be better off looking harder at Mississippi than Florida.”

CA-37: State Sen. Sydney Kamlager has decisively beaten former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry in an all-Democratic race to succeed Rep. Karen Bass, who gave up her seat to run for mayor. Kamlager holds a 62-38 edge with 59% of the estimated vote in. 

CA-40: Republican Rep. Young Kim has held off Democrat Asif Mahmood in this eastern Orange County constituency. With 63% in, Kim leads 59-41 in a contest that attracted relatively little outside spending from Republicans and about nothing from Democrats.

MT-01: Republican Ryan Zinke is going back to the House after defeating Democrat Monica Tranel 50-46 in this newly created eastern Montana seat.

NV-01, NV-03, NV-04: The Nevada Independent has called wins for all three Democratic members of the Silver State’s House delegation, each of whom are based in the Las Vegas area.

With a little more than 90% of the AP’s projected vote in for each seat, 1st District Rep. Dina Titus is beating Republican Mark Robertson 51-47, while fellow incumbent Susie Lee holds a 51-49 advantage over Republican April Becker in the 3rd. Rep. Steven Horsford, finally, edged out Republican Sam Peters 51.5-48.5 in the 4th. These margins may shift as the state’s remaining ballots, which are likely to favor Democrats, are counted. 

Last year, Democrats made the risky decision to make Titus’ once-safe seat competitive in order to help Lee and Horsford. Many politicos, including Titus herself, predicted this would bring about disaster for the party, but Team Blue instead ended up going three for three after an unexpectedly strong night.

WA-08: Democratic Rep. Kim Schrier has fended off Republican Matt Larkin in an expensive fight for a competitive seat that includes the eastern Seattle suburbs and part of Central Washington. Schrier currently leads Larkin 52-48 with 70% of the estimated vote in.

IL-12: The Chicago Tribune wrote Wednesday, just hours after state Sen. Darren Bailey’s campaign against Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker came to its predictable conclusion, that unnamed “[p]olitical associates” of GOP Rep. Mike Bost “have privately expressed concerns Bailey is eyeing a primary challenge” for 2024 in the safely red 12th District.

Voting Rights: Voting rights-related measures were on the ballot in a handful of states on Tuesday, and the outcomes so far have been a mixed bag for voting access. On the positive side, Connecticut voters backed constitutional amendment Question 1 to allow for in-person early voting by a 60-40 margin. Michigan voters by that same 60-40 margin approved Proposal 2, which amends their state constitution to guarantee in-person early voting, strengthen access to absentee voting, and protect the election certification process from partisan attempts to subvert it like some Republicans tried to do in 2020.

On the other hand, Nebraska voters passed Initiative 432 by 66-34 to amend their constitution to require photo voter ID. Ohioans also passed GOP-backed Issue 2 by 77-23 to ostensibly ban noncitizen voting in local elections (even though no locality already allowed it), but by replacing a constitutional guarantee that “every citizen” has the right to vote with a limitation that “only a citizen” has voting rights, the amendment subtly weakens voting protections potentially even for citizens.

Meanwhile in Arizona where the results haven’t been called yet, GOP-backed Proposition 309 would make Arizona’s voter ID statute more restrictive by disallowing alternative non-photo IDs for in-person voting and also require birthdates and voter ID numbers to vote by mail; currently, mail voters without a photo ID can sign an affidavit where their signature is verified by comparing it with the signature on their voter registration form on file. Voters are currently rejecting it 51-49 as of Friday morning with 82% of the estimated vote in, but enough uncounted votes are remaining to potentially change that outcome.

Minimum Wage: Voters in Washington D.C. passed a referendum to raise the minimum wage for tipped employees, while their counterparts in Portland, Maine rejected an even more far-reaching plan that would have also extended the minimum wage to gig workers.

D.C.’s Initiative 82, which would increase the $5.35 minimum wage for tipped employees to match the $16.10 requirement for non-tipped employees by 2027, won 74-26. Voters approved a similar proposal in 2018 only for the D.C. Council to junk it, but the council member who led those repeal efforts said just before Election Day that he had “no plans” to do it again.

But Portland’s Question D, which would have also raised the citywide minimum wage to $18, failed 61-39 despite the backing of former rivals Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The “no” coalition included the National Restaurant Industry, which also tried to take down Initiative 92, as well as Uber and DoorDash.

Two state-level ballot measures to raise the minimum wage also passed. Nebraska voters supported Initiative 433, which would increase the minimum wage from $9 to $15 by 2026 and index it to inflation thereafter, 58-42. Nevada’s Question 2, meanwhile, is ahead 54-45 with 90% of the projected vote in, and the Nevada Independent has called the race. This proposal would elevate the minimum wage to $12 by 2024 but remove inflation adjustments: It also would let the legislature pass a minimum wage law higher than the constitutionally mandated minimum.

State Legislatures: While the biggest Democratic state legislative flips in the nation were arguably its historic victories in the Michigan state House and Senate, those weren’t the only chambers that went from red to blue.

Minnesota Republicans acknowledged Wednesday that they’d lost control of the Senate for the first time in six years and would remain in the minority in the House: Those pickups, along with Democratic Gov. Tim Walz’s re-election win, gives Team Blue control of the trifecta that they lost in 2014. The upper chamber is only up in years ending in -2, -6, and -0, while the entire House stands for re-election every two years.

Over in Pennsylvania, state House Democrats say they’ve secured at least 102 of the 203 constituencies needed to recapture the majority they lost in the 2010 red wave, though Republicans have not conceded defeat. Team Red, meanwhile, kept its edge in the Senate, where only half of the chamber is up each cycle, though Democrats so far have netted a seat. Democratic gains came months after the bipartisan redistricting commission selected maps approved by four of the five members; in past years, the GOP had controlled the tie-breaking vote to ram through gerrymanders.

There are a few chambers where the situation is even more unsettled. In the GOP-held New Hampshire House, which is the largest state legislative chamber in the nation, unofficial results give the GOP leads in 203 of the 400 races. The clerk’s office, though, acknowledged, “Important to note MANY of these races were close; recounts could change the makeup of the House.” Republicans appear to have kept control of the Senate, which they aggressively gerrymandered earlier in the cycle.

The situation is also uncertain in both chambers of the Alaska legislature, especially since instant-runoff tabulations won’t take place until Nov. 23. The state House is currently run by a coalition of Democrats, independents, and a few Republicans, and no one knows if GOP hardliners will be in charge for the first time in six years. The GOP leadership controls the Senate, but initial results show that it’s possible enough Democrats and moderate Republicans will win in order to form their own coalition.

Arizona Republicans, meanwhile, appear set to keep their narrow majorities in the House and Senate, though that’s not yet clear. Democrats, meanwhile, will keep control of both chambers in ColoradoMaineNew Mexico (though only the House was up this cycle), and Washington. The party also looks to be in good shape in Nevada and Oregon, though Democrats in the latter state could lose the 60% majorities needed to pass tax bills.

There were a few other chambers with high-stakes races even though control wasn’t at stake. Wisconsin Republicans aimed to secure the two-thirds supermajorities they’d need to override vetoes from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who won re-election on Tuesday, but they fell just short: The GOP netted the one seat it needed for the Senate, but only three of the five necessary for the Assembly. Their counterparts in North Carolina, likewise, got the 60% Senate supermajority they needed to defy Gov. Roy Cooper but fell one seat short in the House.

Republicans in Florida, though, claimed the two-thirds in each chamber they wanted: As the Miami Herald explains, GOP leaders now have “the power to shut down debate, override rules that govern the lawmaking process, override a governor’s veto and limit the ability of Democrats to influence the debate and to pass legislation.”

Montana Republicans also appear to have won a historic supermajority. Unlike in most states, Republicans need two-thirds of the entire 150-person legislature to hit this threshold, not two-thirds of each chamber: A supermajority would let the GOP place constitutional amendments without any Democratic support, or even hold a constitutional convention. Democrats in the New York Senate, finally, are waiting to learn if they’ll keep their two-thirds majority in the Senate.

Ballot Measures: Pro-choice activists won referendums in CaliforniaMichigan, and Vermont to enshrine reproductive rights into their respective state constitutions. The most competitive of these contests was Michigan’s Proposal 3, which attracted heavy spending from both sides but still decisively passed 57-43.

Progressives also beat a measure in Kentucky that would have amended its governing document to say it does not recognize a right to an abortion. This 52-48 victory came on extremely red turf, but the battle over abortion rights is far from over there. Cases challenging the Bluegrass State’s abortion bans are still pending in the courts, and the state Supreme Court may yet uphold them. However, the justices at least will be free to decide these challenges on the merits, rather than having the decision taken from them.

Montana’s LR-131, another anti-choice question that would require “health care providers to take necessary actions to preserve the life of a born-alive infant” or face up to 20 years in prison, was rejected 53-47 as well.

Alaskans, meanwhile, overwhelmingly rejected a referendum to hold a state constitutional convention, which progressives feared could be used to get rid of the state’s abortion rights protections. Voters in Missouri and New Hampshire also said no to the constitutional convention questions on their ballots, though neither of those campaigns attracted much energy on either side. Both Alaska and New Hampshire are set to automatically consider another constitutional convention in 10 years, while the next Missouri vote is in 2038.

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

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