Republicans Forced to Choose Between Women and Their Conservative Base

This article by Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur does a good job summing up the self-created dilemma Republicans find themselves in five weeks before Election Day:

The growing furor over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination has Republicans trapped between their conservative base and the female voters who’ll be pivotal to deciding control of Congress in November.

President Donald Trump and his conservative allies are rallying behind Kavanaugh, calling allegations of sexual misconduct brought by two women a Democratic smear campaign intent on blocking his confirmation to the high court. But they’re doing so amid a widening gender gap that has women increasingly breaking toward Democrats six weeks before the midterm elections.

“The Republicans are in a pickle because the base — Christian right and Federalist Society types — are demanding this seat, but the party is losing support with the critical suburban females who want to hear Dr. Ford out,” said Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor and chief executive officer of the oil drilling-services company Canary, LLC. He was referring to Christine Blasey Ford, a California college professor, who alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they both were in high school.

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seem hell-bent on pressing forward with the nomination, having scheduled a committee vote for Friday, one day after the hearing with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. There are no indications as of this writing on Wednesday morning that Kavanaugh himself intends to withdraw, or of the White House intending to do so. The key will be reaction to the hearing on Thursday.

If Kavanaugh stumbles during his testimony or Ford manages to convince other senators (Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bob Corker) of the validity of her allegations, the nomination is sunk. It would be doubtful that McConnell would go through with a full vote on the Kavanaugh nomination if the math isn’t there, lest he risk another embarrassment like John McCain’s dramatic thumbs down vote which torpedoed health care repeal.

If Kavanaugh withdraws or fails to get a majority of the vote in the Senate, the repercussions on Senate Republicans could be serious – depressed base voter turnout in a year they had a favorable map could mean that endangered Democrats in Indiana or North Dakota survive, while traditionally Republican-held seats in Arizona, Tennessee and Texas could be flipped by the Democrats. If the Republicans lose control of the Senate, they lose the ability to confirm President Trump’s executive branch and judicial nominees for the final two years of his first term.

Given this dynamic, Republicans have no choice but to go all-in on Kavanaugh, even though he has the worst poll numbers of any Supreme Court nominee in history and the sexual assault allegations will turn off female voters.  Unless more accusers come forward, the hearing on Thursday will be the determining factor in whether Kavanaugh gets on the Supreme Court or not.

Internal GOP Poll: 61 Percent Think Trump Tax Cuts Benefit Large Corporations and the Wealthy

Republicans have lost the messaging war on President Trump’s tax cuts, according to an internal poll commissioned by the Republican National Committee obtained by Bloomberg. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which slashed corporate tax rates, reduced individual rates, and eliminated or capped deductions, is considered by political observers and journalists as the signature legislative achievement of Donald Trump’s presidency so far.

One graph in the study includes the blunt header, “We’ve lost the messaging battle on the issue.” Data from the survey shows that most respondents think the law benefits “large corporations and rich Americans” over “middle class families” by a 61-30 margin. However, overall approval of the bill remains closely divided, 44-45.  This is close to the RealClearPolitics polling average measuring support for the bill: 39-42.

The two main arguments Republicans were expected to make in the home stretch of the campaign season this fall were the tax cuts and President Trump’s judicial nominees. Based on this internal poll as well as the recent allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, it would appear that the two central arguments for continued Republican control of Congress are tainted at best.

If the tax cuts are polling this poorly in an internal Republican-commissioned poll less than two months before the election, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to reverse public opinion in the final six weeks of the campaign.

Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves: Record Number of Female Candidates in 2018

 

Some fascinating numbers compiled by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University (these figures are accurate as of September 10, 2018):

  • Senate
    • 53 women filed (31D 22R)
    • 22-29 record in primaries
    • 24 still running (16D, 8R)
    • Previous records
      • Filed (40 – 2016)
      • Won primaries (18 – 2012)
      • Serving in Senate (22 – 2018)
    • House of Representatives
      • 476 women filed (356D, 120R)
      • 232-223 record in primaries
      • 247 still running (194D, 53R)
      • Previous records
        • Filed (298 – 2012)
        • Won primaries (167 – 2016)
        • Serving in House (84 – 2013-2018)
      • Governor
        • 61 women filed (41D 20R)
        • 14-42 record in primaries
        • 18 still running (13D 5R)
        • Previous records
          • Filed (34 – 1994)
          • Won primaries (10 – 1994, 2002, 2006, 2010)
          • Serving as Governor (9 – 2004, 2007)
        • Lieutenant Governor
          • 64 women filed (37D 27R)
          • 24-37 record in primaries
          • 26 still running (15D 9R)
          • Previous records
            • Nominees (29 – 1994)
          • Statewide Executive Offices
            • 122 women filed (69D 51R 2NP)
            • 83-31 record in primaries
            • 91 still running (56D 34R 1NP)
          • State Legislatures
            • 2,951 candidates in 43 states (2059D 872R 12NP 3I 5P)
            • 1,095 incumbents (669D 415R 3NP 3I 5P)
            • 1,069 challengers (834D 229R 6NP)
            • 787 open seats (556D 228R 3NP)

The big takeaway: women, especially Democratic women, are running in record numbers less than two years after Hillary Clinton lost the presidential race. The fact that the figures are so lopsided in the Democrats’ favor is an indicator of the intensity in their base as well as the feeling that 2018 will be a wave year in their favor.  Politico, citing CAWP data, reports that Democrats nominated 180 women in House races this year, shattering their previous record of 120. When minority and first-time candidates are also taken into account, depending on how many of them win, they could significantly alter the face of the next Congress on the basis of age, years of service, race and gender.

Scandals Ensnare New York and Virginia House Republicans

Two scandals involving different members of the House Republican caucus erupted in the span of 12 hours.

While most political observers were waiting for results to come in from Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio last night, Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) announced that he was severing ties with a campaign consultant less than three months before Election Day. This decision came amid allegations that Taylor’s campaign staff had collected petitions with forged signatures to get former Democratic candidate Shaun Brown on the November general election ballot, with the intention of having Brown siphon votes in the general election from Taylor’s Democratic challenger Elaine Luria.  The Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney asked Circuit Judge Glenn Croshaw to appoint a special prosecutor. Roanoke Commonwealth’s Attorney Donald Caldwell was picked for the job.

Reaction from the Democratic Party of Virginia:

“Democrats and Republicans agree that the integrity of our election process is paramount. VA-02 voters deserve to know if Congressman Taylor’s paid staff violated the law and if all candidates received the required number of signatures to make the ballot this November. We look forward to seeing the results of Commonwealth’s Attorney Caldwell’s investigation into this matter.”

Reaction from the Luria campaign (Caveat: this statement is dated August 1, before Caldwell’s appointment was announced):

“Dirty and deceptive politics like this are exactly why Washington is broken and people are losing faith in their government. Clearly, Scott Taylor is terrified and willing to do anything to avoid going head to head with Commander Luria,” said Kathryn Sorenson, Elaine Luria’s Campaign Manager.

This morning, the Department of Justice announced an indictment against Rep. Charles Collins (R-N.Y.), his son, and his son’s fiancee’s father on allegations of insider trading.  (You can read the document here, or watch the press conference here) Speaker Paul Ryan announced he was stripping Collins of his membership on the House Energy and Commerce Committee until the allegations were resolved.  Collins has said he will fight the charges and continue his reelection campaign in November.

Both districts are usually reliably Republican, but both incumbents are now under a legal cloud that may or may not dissipate before the election. What political effect, if any, these legal developments will have on Taylor and Collins is not known. The Collins indictment virtually assures that ethics will become a major issue in this cycle, though most of the ethics scandals of the past two years have involved Trump cabinet officials like Scott Pruitt, Tom Price and Ryan Zinke, not to mention the President himself. Democrats used the “culture of corruption” message to devastating effect in flipping the House of Representatives in 2006, so it’s likely they will use an updated version of that playbook for the next three months.

John James Wins Michigan GOP Senate Primary

The Associated Press calls the race for veteran and businessman John James.  He will face off against incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow, who is currently favored to win re-election in November.

August 7 Primary and Special Election Results

All times are PST.

4:58 p.m. The last of the early vote counts from the Ohio 12th Congressional District are in, and Democrat Danny O’Connor is up by a landslide. He can’t pop the champagne yet, because Election Day ballots are still being counted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5:00 p.m. Polls close in Kansas and Missouri. Ballot counting begins.

5:06 p.m. Absentee vote numbers from Ohio:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5:13 p.m. Update from Columbus Dispatch public affairs editor Darrel Rowland:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5:19 p.m. From Ohio governor John Kasich’s political strategist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5:32 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5:35 p.m. Interesting observation on the urban/rural political divide pointed out by respected political journalist/pundit Ron Brownstein:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5:48 p.m. The Cook Political Report announces its projections for both primaries in the Michigan governor’s race. No call from the AP or any other news organizations yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5:56 p.m. Finished numbers are in from Marion County, Ohio:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5:58 p.m. Reaction to the Marion County numbers from Danny O’Connor’s pollster:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:00 p.m. 32 percent of precincts reporting in Ohio’s 12th congressional district. Per MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki, the question of the night in this race will be if Troy Balderson can chip away at Danny O’Connor’s lead from early voting and come out ahead on the basis of Election Day votes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:05 p.m. Outside group American Bridge just dropped its first general election ad against Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:07 p.m. Updated take on the Ohio numbers from The Economist’s G. Elliott Morris:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:10 p.m. Half of the votes are in in Ohio, Balderson keeps chipping away at O’Connor’s lead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:14 p.m. 59 percent of the Ohio 12th district vote in and Balderson has cut O’Connor’s lead down to almost 2,400 votes, according to the Ohio Secretary of State.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:17 p.m. All of the votes from Morrow County, Ohio are in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:19 p.m. Balderson takes the lead for the first time with 66 percent of the vote in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:26 p.m. In the Kansas GOP gubernatorial primary, with 310 out of 3539 precincts reporting, Jeff Colyer has a 41-38 lead over Kris Kobach, but the night is still young.

6:29 p.m. With 75 percent of precincts reporting in Ohio, O’Connor has taken a razor-thin 593-vote lead.

6:38 p.m. Quick take from Columbus Dispatch political reporter Jim Siegel:

 

6:39 p.m. With 84 percent of precincts reporting, O’Connor has expanded his lead to 1,338 votes. According to the Secretary of State’s office, 90 precincts are still outstanding.

6:46 p.m. 84 percent of precincts reporting and O’Connor’s lead has shrunk to 155 votes.

7:00 p.m. 90 percent of precincts reporting and O’Connor has retaken the lead by 201 votes.  55 precincts are still outstanding.

7:17 p.m. 98 percent of precincts reporting and Balderson has taken a 1,685 vote lead. Barring any dramatic surprises in the final two precincts and provisional ballots, it looks like Balderson has it in the bag. Keep in mind, this battle is not over. Balderson and O’Connor will face off AGAIN in the November general election for a full two-year term.

7:25 p.m. Per CNN, GOP outside groups outspent their Democratic counterparts in this race by a 5:1 margin.

7:42 p.m. CNN still lists the Ohio 12th district race as too close to call.  Per Danny O’Connor’s pollster, it looks like they’re going to a recount (i.e. call the lawyers):

7:46 p.m. In Missouri, Proposition A (Right to Work) is losing badly, 62-37.

8:01 p.m. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Proposition A is losing 63-37 with 50 percent of precincts reporting.  Votes are still being counted, but the Missouri Democratic Party has already declared victory.

Special Election Preview in Ohio’s 12th Congressional District

Today is the last special election of 2018 before the general election. Being an R+7 district, it should be a safely Republican seat, but as has been the case nationwide in other elections, Democrats are more enthusiastic and Democratic candidates are overperforming in districts and states where they haven’t, historically.  This district, which includes many of the state capital’s suburbs, hasn’t elected a Democrat to the House of Representatives since 1980. Donald Trump came to campaign on behalf of Republican Troy Balderson, though Ohio governor John Kasich – a longtime foil and critic – raised questions as to whether the President was invited or if he invited himself.

The final poll of the race before Election Day had Democrat Danny O’Connor up by one point, with seven percent undecided. One finding from this poll to keep an eye on: independents support O’Connor 56-28, a 2-to-1 margin.  O’Connor also leads among voters who are more excited and paying more attention to the election.  If these poll numbers are correct, it means he is surging at just the right time as the race is winding down. However, one caveat worth noting that was first pointed out by NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald: this poll does not include Green Party candidate Joe Manchik, who got 3.6 percent of the vote in 2016.

Democrat heavy hitters are coming into the district for a last-minute push on O’Connor’s behalf.  Former vice president Joe Biden recorded a robocall, while Alabama senator Doug Jones sent out an email to his supporters urging them to make last-minute donations to the O’Connor campaign.

The  early vote numbers for Democratic-heavy Franklin County are in. Without making any formal conclusions yet until other ballots are counted, the numbers are looking good for O’Connor:

And as if all that isn’t enough to make Election Day interesting, Balderson made what can only be described as a last-minute gaffe that Democrats are aggressively pushing:

Ohio Dems email

Why does this matter? The district, which is mostly rural, includes a geographically small part of Franklin County – home of the state capital and Ohio State University – within its boundaries, which is the suburbs north of Columbus. According to the Washington Post, “a bit less than a third of the vote” in today’s election is expected to come from Franklin County.

No political strategist in his or her right mind would tell a candidate that writing off or dismissing any part of the district the candidate is seeking to represent, let alone one that could account for as much as one third of potential voters, is a winning message.

Conventional wisdom on this race is that it is unnecessarily close for a historically safe Republican district in congressional and presidential races. If O’Connor wins tonight, it will be considered another sign of a potential blue tsunami on Election Day, in addition to cutting by one the number of seats needed to flip the House of Representatives. If Balderson manages a narrow single-digit victory, Republicans will breathe a sigh of relief while Democrats will feel pretty good for coming close, but it will be another moral victory in a string of special election losses since 2017. (For the record, Democrats have won two out of ten special elections in that period – the two victories being Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race and Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district)

Polls close at 7:30 EST/6:30 CST.