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House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth announces he won't seek re-election
WASHINGTON — Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, announced Tuesday that he won't seek re-election in 2022.
Yarmuth, whose district encompasses the vast majority of Louisville, is the only Democratic representative from the Republican-heavy state. He’s been a central broker in advancing President Joe Biden’s agenda, including authoring and shepherding the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 stimulus package through Congress.
In a video sent to supporters and donors and then posted on Twitter, Yarmuth called his work on that bill “his proudest moment.”
“I never expected to be in Congress this long. I always said I couldn’t imagine being here longer than 10 years,” Yarmuth says in the video. “This term will be my last.”
“The desire to have more control of my time in the years I have left has become a high priority. Candidly, I have found new and incomparable joy in spending time with my young grandson, and I’d like to spend more of my Golden Years with my family in Louisville.”
In a brief interview with NBC News, Yarmuth added that he’s not “not planning on disappearing from the public arena. I will stay involved and active. It’s just time.”
“It’s sad, it’s exciting, it’s relief.”
The announcement makes him the fourth Democratic House member to announce they’re retiring at the end of this term ahead of what’s already expected to be a challenging year for Democrats looking to maintain their narrow majority in the House (five additional members are leaving their post at the end of this term because they’re running for higher office).
The 73-year-old has served 16 years in Congress. Early in his political life, Yarmuth identified as a “Rockefeller Republican,” but has become an outspoken proponent of his party’s progressive agenda. He’s advocated scrapping the Senate's filibuster, writing a March op-ed calling to abolish the rule and “re-democratize the country.”
“Eliminate the minority veto, make voting easy for everyone, give statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Time is running out. Let’s make hay while the bright sun of democracy is shining,” he wrote.
He’s also pushed for campaign finance reform and been an advocate for new gun safety laws.
In his role as chairman, he’s played an integral part in helping to craft the party’s reconciliation bill. But in a Monday interview on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily,” Yarmuth admitted that Democrats lack a “total consensus” on what the most important priorities should be in that spending package.
The Democrat has also been a vocal critic of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken. The two men have known each other since the 1960s and Yarmuth ran alongside McConnell during his 1981 bid for county commissioner.
Yet that relationship has frayed — Yarmuth recently called McConnell “deceitful” about debt-ceiling negotiations and during a 2013 speech at a Jefferson County Democratic Party leader, the Democrat told attendees that “I can be really brief tonight and just say: Mitch McConnell sucks.”
Wisconsin Democrat drops over half a million on first round of TV ads
Milwaukee Bucks executive and Democratic Senate hopeful Alex Lasry has dropped about $660,000 on his first slate of TV ads, becoming the first candidate to hit the airwaves in the crowded Wisconsin Senate Democratic primary.
Lasry booked time on both cable and broadcast television from Wednesday through Nov. 7, per data from the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics.
He's so far running two new spots that tout how the Bucks treated workers while building their NBA arena and sourced 80 percent of their building materials from the state of Wisconsin. (The ads specifically touts a $15 wage for workers, a claim that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says needs more context because the arena opened in 2018, but the $15 minimum wage for workers didn't begin until 2020).
Much of the TV spending in the race has been attacking Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who hasn't officially announced whether he is running for re-election. Lasry is the only candidate to go up with TV ads, but MoveOn.org, the progressive group that's backed Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes' bid for Senate, has been running anti-Johnson ads too.
Lasry's been the top fundraiser by far of the Democratic candidates through June (the last time a campaign finance report was due), raising $2 million over that span. State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski raised $514,000 over that time, followed by Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, the former state Assembly Democratic leader who raised $504,000 through that time. Barnes announced in July, meaning he isn't required to disclose any information about his fundraising until next week.
Johnson, by comparison, had raised $3.3 million through June.
In 2022 Senate races, new candidates and new polling
It's not even Election Day of 2021, but there's new movement in the battle for the Senate in 2022.
Here are the latest developments:
Veteran jumps into North Carolina GOP Senate field
North Carolina's Senate race is already crowded on the Republican side — it includes North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd, endorsed by former President Donald Trump; Rep. Mark Walker; former Gov. Pat McCrory.
But on Tuesday, Army veteran and entrepreneur Marjorie Eastman jumped into the race with an announcement video released on YouTube, where she recounted how she decided to serve in the military after the 9/11 attacks and how she feels called to serve now (pledging to only serve two terms in office). Her announcement doesn't mention Trump, who still looms large in most Senate primaries even though he's out of office.
"Capitalism brings more people out of poverty than the creeping socialism that's being pushed right now in our Congress. Our government's dysfunctional — professional politicians see that serving is a paycheck and not a calling. I view this as a tour of duty," Eastman says.
Evan McMullin will run against GOP Utah Sen. Mike Lee
McMullin, a former GOP House aide who ran for president in 2016 as an independent, is trying his hand at political office again, this time running for Senate in Utah as an independent.
The former Republican and critic of Trump, who won 21 percent of the presidential vote in Utah in 2016, launched his bid with a video on social media that evokes a similar theme to Eastman's. McMullin also points to 9/11 as a reason why he joined the CIA as well as the House. He calls out to his 2016 bid by arguing that he's "led efforts to defeat extremist politicians in both parties," and criticized the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
"The extremes in Washington don't represent Utah, they prevent us from governing ourselves and jeopardize our democracy," he says. "I'm not running as a Republican or Democrat, but as a patriot committed to defending our nation."
Despite supporting efforts to undercut Trump ahead of the 2016 GOP convention, Lee became an ally of Trump's during his term in office, but faced criticism from Trump in recent weeks for not more fervently questioning the results of the 2020 election, which Trump lost.
As an independent, McMullin will try to draw support from both parties in a state that has elected Republican Senators in every election since the 1970s.
New polling in Nevada
Nevada could be one of the bigger races of the 2022 battleground. Democrats have had recent success there, winning key races in each of the last three cycles (president in 2020 and 2016, Senate in 2018 and 2016 and governor in 2018), but it hasn't been too long since the state had a GOP governor and a GOP senator as well.
Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is running for re-election, with former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt her highest-profile potential GOP opponent. A new poll from the Nevada Independent found Cortez Masto up 45 percent to 41 percent over Laxalt among likely voters, with a 4 percent margin of error.
Poll: GOP belief in climate change declined under Trump presidency
While a significant majority of Americans say they believe that the climate is changing and leading to extreme outcomes, the portion of Republicans who believe that has dropped 15 percentage points in just three years.
A new poll from Monmouth University finds that 76 percent of Americans agree with the idea that "the world's climate is undergoing a change that is causing more extreme weather patterns and the rise of sea levels." That's about in line with the university's previous polling on the issue. Virtually all Democrats (94 percent) agree with that statement, along with 81 percent of independents.
But only 48 percent of Republicans believe that is occurring, a bottoming out back to levels Monmouth found in 2015 after its 2018 poll found 64 percent who agreed with that perspective on climate change.
Patrick Murray, the Monmouth University Polling Institute's director, pointed to then-President Donald Trump's repudiation of a 2018 federal climate report as a possible explanation for the backslide.
"Republican acknowledgement of climate change was a major finding in the 2018 poll. However, that was conducted right before then-President Donald Trump disparaged a federal climate report. The GOP base’s views on hot button issues such as climate change have shifted to be more in line with this orthodoxy,” Murray said.
The Trump administration rolled back a handful of regulations aimed at curbing pollution and downplayed its own data on the link between climate change and migration, among other actions that frustrated climate activists.
The poll also found that the gaps between how seriously those in coastal and inland states are taking climate change has evaporated, and that a majority of people believe climate change is either a primary or major factor in recent wildfires and flooding across the country.
And two-thirds of Americans also say they support government interventions aimed at tackling both climate change and sea level rise."
That said, there remains a significant divide over how much human activity is contributing to the changing climate. Thirty-five percent of adults say human activity is the primary cause of climate change, with 32 percent saying both human activity and natural causes are working in tandem and 8 percent blaming natural causes as the main driver of climate change. A majority of Democrats, 57 percent, believe human activity is the primary driver of the changing climate, a view shared by just 8 percent of Republicans.
Monmouth polled 802 adults in America between Sept. 9 through 13. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
New Jersey governor's race remains heated even as Democrat holds clear lead in polling
While Virginia’s competitive gubernatorial race has drawn the lion’s share of media attention over the last few months, the race for New Jersey’s top office has recently seen its own fiery moments over the airwaves.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has looked to tie Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli to former President Donald Trump and the Jan. 6 attack, and recent restrictions on abortion and voting enacted by GOP-controlled states. Meanwhile, the Republican has hammered Murphy on crime and property taxes, bread-and-butter issues for GOP candidates.
Murphy, who is seeking a second term in office, currently holds a double-digit advantage over Ciattarelli according to the most recent polling numbers from Monmouth University. Since the state’s June 8 primary, both candidates have spent $2.8 million each on TV, radio and digital advertising, according to the ad-tracker AdImpact. An outside group affiliated with Murphy, Our NJ, has spent an additional $2 million boosting the Democrat.
In one of Murphy’s newest spots, the governor emphasizes voting and abortion rights, ending on a phrase he’s said repeatedly along the campaign trail: “We’re not going back.” Murphy has worked to draw comparisons between Ciattarelli and Republican governors like Greg Abbott of Texas, who recently signed highly controversial election and abortion bills into law.
Another pro-Murphy ad shows Ciattarelli speaking at a “Stop the Steal” rally in late November 2020, connecting that appearance to former President Trump and the January 6 insurrection (the Republican says he thought the rally's intent was more innocuous). Trump has not endorsed Ciattarelli in the race.
Meanwhile, one of Ciattarelli’s newest spots, “We Can Do Better,” targets Murphy for increased state spending, rising murder and gun violence rates and New Jersey’s nation-leading property taxes.
At the state’s first gubernatorial debate in Newark on Tuesday night, the two candidates continued to trade jabs, arguing over those same topics and others including mask and vaccination mandates, which Ciattarelli opposes.
Ciattarelli instead looked to shift the attention to the Garden State’s high rate of nursing home deaths, which he blamed on the governor. Murphy countered by noting that nursing homes were required to separate Covid-positive residents and said that there was no “playbook” at the start of the pandemic to curb cases, as opposed to the information about masking and vaccines available now.
To date, Murphy has raised nearly $7.7 million and spent almost $7.9 million, while Ciattarelli has raised almost $6.8 million and spent slightly over $7 million, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.
The candidates’ next debate is scheduled for Oct. 12.
New poll from Bolton PAC questions Trump's hold on GOP
Former National Security Adviser John Bolton's super PAC, is out with a new poll casting doubt on former President Trump's hold on the GOP electorate as the longtime fixture in the Republican national security world continues to try to undercut the standing of his former boss.
Now out of office, Trump has sought to flex his political muscle by raising tens of millions of dollars for future political efforts, and using endorsements to reward allies and challenge opponents. While he hasn't announced whether he's running for president in 2024, he's repeatedly teased a potential bid
But through a handful of poll releases, starting in April and the most recent on Wednesday, Bolton (through his John Bolton Super PAC) has argued that the results show Trump doesn't have such a dominating standing in the party. Bolton, who was fired by Trump from his post as national security adviser, has since become a vocal critic of his former boss.
The Bolton Super PAC's latest poll finds that 26 percent of likely 2024 Republican presidential primary voters say they'd support Trump in that primary out of a field that includes: Trump, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.
Trump is virtually tied with DeSantis in that poll, who sits at 25 percent. The rest of the field finished with single-digit support, with Christie at 7 percent, Haley at 6 percent and Cruz at about 5 percent. In a press release accompanying the poll, Bolton's PAC noted that Trump has lost ground by about 20 points among primary voters from its July poll of a similar field.
Back in April, when Bolton's PAC put out its first poll, Trump released a statement from his own pollster, John McLaughlin, refuting the findings that his influence was waning and criticizing Bolton as "out of touch with today's Republican Party."
"President Trump’s successful America First policies kept us safe. This is a big reason why Republicans want him to run again," he said.
Bolton's poll still found Trump viewed favorably by 81 percent of likely Republican general election voters and viewed unfavorably by 15 percent of them.
The Bolton poll also tested sentiment on the Afghanistan withdrawal, an issue that's close to the longtime foreign policy adviser and former United Nations ambassador.
Fifty-one percent of voters said they thought the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan would make the country less safe. The poll also found that the majority of voters said America should have left at least some troops in the region, while other surveys have found majority support for withdrawing.
Bolton's PAC polled 1,000 likely general election voters by telephone from Sept. 16-18 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.
Club for Growth targets Biden on jobs in Chicago ahead of visit
The conservative group Club for Growth is running television and digital ads in Chicago coinciding with President Joe Biden's trip there Wednesday, accusing him and Democrats there of damaging the economy.
The advertisement, provided exclusively to NBC News, criticizes Biden for "unsustainable debt" and the "constant threat of massive tax hikes forcing businesses to close."
It echoes themes from Republicans, who have sought to paint Biden and Democrats as engaged in reckless spending that is spurring inflation and harming consumers.
The ad also criticizes the state's governor J.B. Pritzker, who is up for re-election next year.
Democrats have countered that inflation is being caused by the pandemic and temporary supply chain problems that will eventually be ironed out.
The ads are running Wednesday on Chicago television networks, a $17,500 buy that spans four broadcast networks including during all four morning programs and evening newscasts. The digital ads will also target business and transportation hubs in Chicago, including in the two major city airports plus the ones in Waukegan, Ill. and Kenosha, Wisc. plus the Chicago train station.
“Nobody’s buying Biden’s claim that his administration and policies have been good for business," David McIntosh, president of Club for Growth, said in a statement. "He’s miserably underperformed on foreign policy, jobs, spending, inflation, regulations, and now he wants to impose a massive middle-class tax increase on hard-working Americans. While Biden ran as a moderate and claims to be a capitalist, it’s clear that he’s got more in common with many of the corrupt and incompetent liberal Illinois politicians.”
With Grassley running, just a handful of Senate incumbents are left to decide on 2022
Friday's decision by 88-year-old Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley to run for re-election brings major clarity to the state. With Grassley, in there are just a few more senators up for re-election in 2022 who haven't officially announced their plans yet.
Here's a look at the highest-profile senators who haven't yet explicitly confirmed whether they'll run next year, and what they've said:
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Representing a state that has repeatedly swung between Republicans and Democrats in recent statewide elections, the race for this seat is expected to be one of the most competitive of the election cycle regardless of whether or not Johnson runs.
He raised about $3.3 million over the first six months of 2021, ending June with $1.7 million in cash on hand. That's a lower number than many other vulnerable incumbents at this point, but enough to immediately hit the ground running if he decides to run.
Johnson's publicly admitted he's unsure if he'll run, saying in an interview with a conservative commentator that he wants to keep the seat red but "I may not be the best candidate" to do that. Nevertheless, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott, R-Fla., has said he believes Johnson will run (per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
But even amid the senator's wavering, a gaggle of Democrats have already announced they're running, including Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry and former Assembly Leader Tom Nelson.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska
Murkowski finds herself in a unique situation ahead of her 2022 re-election for a number of reasons. First, Alaska has overhauled its election system for top offices and replaced it with a non-partisan primary where the top four candidates advance to a general election, which will decided by ranked-choice voting. And secondly, former President Donald Trump is endorsing her GOP challenger.
The long-time fixture in Alaska politics is no stranger to odd circumstances surrounding a re-election, or overcoming trouble within her own party — she won her 2010 race as a write-in candidate after losing her primary. But the ranked-choice system, and Trump endorsing against her, could inject significant uncertainty into a 2022 race.
While she hasn't officially announced her intentions, she told Bloomberg this week she'd reveal them "when I have plans to announce."
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Thune's seat is not expected to be at any risk for Republicans in 2022, so unlike these other two senators, the decision is more about whether Thune wants to run again.
The member of Republican leadership is only 60 years old and could potentially succeed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell once the 79-year-old retires. But Thune has drawn the ire of Trump too, with the former president calling for a primary challenge for Thune after his critical comments about Trump's push to challenge the 2020 election. Thune told Politico in August that he's "not in any rush" to decide.
Progressives aren’t the only ones who have a beef with the bipartisan infrastructure bill
The $550 billion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate last month was one of the rare bipartisan achievements in the past decade, with 19 Republicans joining all 50 Democrats in support of the legislation.
Its fate in the House, however, has become more uncertain as Democratic progressives have threatened to vote against it ahead of next week’s scheduled vote unless their larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation package passes first.
But the bill also has attracted widespread criticism from city-planners and transit advocates.
Charles Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, a city planning advocacy group, argues that that the legislation doesn’t make a real dent in the U.S. transportation system’s disrepair, despite the bill’s $110 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion for high-speed internet access and $39 billion for public transit.
“The fact that we have just overbuilt our infrastructure and not made very good use of it means that even a generational size bill can't take care of everything,” Marohn said.
“As advertised, it is bold, but when it comes to spending on infrastructure that boldness lies in its size, not its vision,” Marohn wrote in a booklet published in response to the bill.
Jarred Johnson, the executive director of the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Transit Matters, contends that the bipartisan infrastructure bill doesn’t move far away enough from auto-centric transportation.
“There are things cities can do to build momentum for projects when the money does come,” Johnson said. “Dedicating street space for other road uses, like bike and bus lanes, and showing people that the world is not going to come to an end because you’ve taken out a car lane.”
Johnson also criticized the bill’s reliance on spending money to build and renovate transportation projects, but not on addressing operating costs.
“No American city is designed in a way that befits relying on fares. Providing operating costs would help low-income communities by encouraging agencies to alleviate some of the burden on them,” Johnson said.
And Salim Furth, a senior research fellow focusing on land use regulation and housing at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said he was disappointed that the infrastructure bill doesn’t address building additional housing near transit stops.
But Caron Whitaker, deputy executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, said that for her beloved and oft-ignored bike lanes, there is cause for optimism in this bill, with its allocated $6 billion to fix existing streets using safety standards that are good for bikers and pedestrians.
“This is the first time we’ve really seen Congress take the safety of people – biking, walking, using wheelchairs and scooters — seriously.”
“Is it a perfect bill? No,” Whitaker says. “But it is better than what we would get out of the next Congress, probably.”
Marohn of Strong Town is less convinced, however.
“We need an entirely new strategy for how we invest in infrastructure. It needs to start with maintenance, and it needs to start with getting better use of the stuff we have already built,” he said.
“Ten years from now, when we’re done with this spending, we will have more bridges in disrepair than we do now. We will have more lane miles in bad condition than we do now.”
Progressive non-profit attacks Sununu on abortion ahead of possible Senate bid
Amplify NH, a progressive non-profit, is launching a seven-figure television and digital ad buy attacking New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu by arguing the possible Republican Senate candidate is out of step with the state on abortion.
The spot, which began running Thursday morning, begins with the narrator saying the ad will include "no scary voices, no over the top music, just facts," before reading local headlines on the budget Sununu signed, which included a ban on abortion after 24 weeks, except for in the case when a "pregnant woman’s life or a major bodily function is threatened."
The ad notes that there's no carve out for victims of rape or incest, before directing views to read more online.
Amplify NH tells NBC News that it will put about $1.5 million behind the ad.
"The more Granite Staters learn about Governor Sununu’s abortion ban, the more they dislike it — and disapprove of the job he’s doing as governor,” Molly Kelly, an Amplify New Hampshire board member, said in a statement announcing the ad. “Health care professionals, patients, and activists have repeatedly called on Governor Sununu to repeal his abortion ban because it is wrong for New Hampshire. We plan to educate every Granite Stater about Governor Sununu’s extreme, far-right agenda that puts politics before women’s health care.”
According to NPR, Sununu addressed the issue at the time, arguing that while he considers himself a "pro-choice governor," the abortion restrictions wouldn't prompt him to veto the bill.
“So, look, I’m a pro-choice governor, but like most citizens of the state of New Hampshire, I do not think that we should be doing late-term or, you know, these at-the-very-last-minute type abortions,” Sununu told New Hampshire talk radio host Chris Ryan in June, according to NPR. “That’s all this really touches upon, and I think most people agree that that’s, that’s not appropriate. So, no, I wouldn’t necessarily veto a budget over that.”
Abortion is expected to be one key issue on the campaign trail if Sununu decides to run for Senate, as many Washington Republicans have been pushing for. Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, who Sununu would be running against if he decides to jump in, criticized Sununu for signing the legislation in an interview with the same talk radio show, arguing that "a pro-choice governor would never have allowed this attack on reproductive rights."
A new online poll from the University of New Hampshire found that 57 percent of state residents approve of Sununu's job performance and 37 percent do not. While those numbers are high, the University of New Hampshire notes in their poll release the disapproval number is the highest it has recorded since Sununu took office.
Conservative group launches $7.5 million ad buy criticizing Democratic spending plans
A top conservative outside group is dropping $7.5 million in new ad spending aimed at using the battle over the multi-trillion Democratic reconciliation bill to undercut the standing of vulnerable House Democrats.
The new spending campaign from American Action Network, one of the top GOP-aligned outside groups in House races, includes broadcast, cable and digital ads across 24 Democratic-held districts. The spots accuse Democrats of "overspending" which "benefits a few while working Americans suffer" and will lead to more inflation.
“The more we learn about this bill, the worse it gets. This bill is creating a world of problems for Members in 100 different directions,” AAN President Dan Conston said in a statement announcing the ad campaign. “Members should think long and hard before walking the plank for Pelosi when we’re only beginning to see just how toxic this bill will be back home.”
Democrats are struggling to balance competing wants within their party on infrastructure, new spending and the debt ceiling, so the final plan is far from completed. But there's already a race to define the new Democratic spending plans and win the war of public opinion on the airwaves. On top of the millions that AAN is spending now and has already spent, other Republican groups have spent millions on similar messaging aimed at influencing Congressional races. Democrats are spending millions too on boosting vulnerable Democrats by messaging the plan as a way to jumpstart the economy and help struggling Americans.
Youngkin drops round of new ads on crime, vaccines and education
Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin has released a flurry of new ads in recent days, just six weeks before Election Day, aimed at going on offense against Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe on crime and education, and defending himself against attacks on his stance on vaccine mandates.
A new spot, released Tuesday, centers on a police officer injured in the line of duty in 1984 who says she fears McAuliffe would release violent criminals back on the street. It comes after Youngkin criticized a McAuliffe parole board appointment during last week's debate (the Democrat said that he would punish anyone found to have committed wrongdoing but that he wants to invest in parole to "lift everybody up").
Another recent ad focuses on criticism of his stance on vaccines. At last week's debate, McAuliffe repeatedly criticized Youngkin for not supporting vaccine mandates, as Youngkin has said "individuals should be allowed to make that decision on their own." Youngkin's new spot includes a doctor saying that McAuliffe is playing politics on the issue and that he trusts the Republican to keep him safe.
Youngkin's other two ads are focused on education (including one spot with a Loudon County teacher arguing that the Republican will bring “real leadership” to the state’s education system), and another targeting Hampton Roads with his plan for the area.
The new spots come as McAuliffe's ads have been focusing on similar issues. He's leaned in heavily on the pandemic and his criticisms of Youngkin's policies on vaccines. He has a spot on education too, arguing that vaccines and masks are the way to keep schools open, and another criticizing Youngkin's work in private equity with typical attacks on things like layoffs.
Both candidates are gearing up for a sprint to the finish line — as of today, Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe has just shy of $2 million of ads booked through Election Day, compared with $1.2 million for Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin.
Former Nevada Sen. Heller is running for governor
Former Republican Sen. Dean Heller is running for Nevada governor, making him the highest-profile Republican to mount a challenge to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak.
Heller made his announcement, which had long been expected, in a social media video released Monday, where he recounted growing up stock car racing and went on to lament how he believes "mask-mandates, defunding the police, endless lockdowns" under Sisolak are hurting Nevada's workers.
"Look what's happened to Nevada. We have a governor more interested in locking us out of work than putting us back to work," Heller says.
"I'm sick of seeing abortion clinics open while churches and schools are closed, my grandkids playing soccer in masks. That's all on Gov. Sisolack. We can't go on like this, it's time Nevada had a conservative governor with a lick of common sense."
Heller served in Congress from 2007-2019, first for two terms in Congress and then one term as a senator. The Republican notably broke with former President Donald Trump during the 2016 election, saying that he "vehemently oppose[s]" Trump but was committed to "voting against Hillary Clinton." He subsequently said he did end up voting for Trump, but the relationship between the two men was a big story ahead of Heller's defeat (and Trump told reporters Heller lost because of his critical comments of the then-GOP nominee).
Heller joins a crowded field that includes North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, attorney Joey Gilbert and businessman Guy Nohra.
Sisolak is running for his second term in office after winning his 2018 race against then-Attorney General Adam Laxalt. (Laxalt is running for Senator this cycle against Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto.)
A July poll from OH Predictive Insights found the majority of Nevada voters view the Democratic governor favorably, and approve of his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy (pluralities approved of his handling of race relations and guns, while voters were virtually split on his handling of immigration).
Molly Forgey, a Sisolak campaign spokesperson, released a statement marking Heller's entry emphasizing the crowded primary.
"Republicans have found themselves in a crowded primary they will have to fight through for the next nine months. In the meantime, Governor Sisolak will be focused on Nevada’s recovery — getting more shots in arms, Nevadans back to work and businesses back open and thriving."
Abortion, crime, economy and Covid dominate the airwaves ahead of Thursday's Virginia governor debate
Virginia's first gubernatorial general election debate takes place Thursday evening, pitting former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe against Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin.
And looking at what ads have been running makes it clear what each candidate is centering their messages on as the campaign heads into its closing stretch.
McAuliffe's top ads since the start of the month largely center on the Covid pandemic and abortion. Per the ad-tracking firm AdImpact (which approximates how much campaigns spend on television ads on broadcast and national cable, but not local cable), McAuliffe's most frequent ad is one featuring a doctor speaking directly to camera to claim that Youngkin's "far-right agenda" on abortion "is just wrong and it would harm my patients."
It's no surprise that McAuliffe's ads are focusing so significantly on abortion, as Democrats have been pointing to the recent decision by the Supreme Court not to block strict abortion restrictions in Texas as proof that the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is at risk. And the issue gained particular salience in the state after a hidden camera video of Youngkin discussing how he would go "on offense" on the issue if elected became public. (Youngkin's campaign claims the video has been edited and says he supports some exceptions for abortions.)
McAullife's other top ad centers on two other key issues for his campaign — the pandemic and trying to tie Youngkin to former President Donald Trump. The spot argues that "like Donald Trump," Glenn Youngkin refuses to take coronavirus seriously," pointing to his opposition to vaccine mandates for teachers and mask requirements in schools.
Youngkin's top spots are right in the wheelhouse of a GOP politician — crime and the economy.
He has focused heavily on crime in the hopes of linking McAuliffe to the parts of the Democratic base that have called for cutting funding to police departments. In one of his top recent ads, Youngkin's campaign includes a group of sheriffs arguing that with crime on the rise in the state, "extreme Democrats supporting Terry McAuliffe want to defund the police." It's an argument the Democrat's campaign has pushed back on, arguing that the state was one of the safer in the nation under his tenure.
And the other top spot features Youngkin wandering a grocery store, promising to eliminate the state's grocery taxes to fight rising prices.
The two candidates will debate Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET, airing on local news stations and C-SPAN.
Abortion rights advocates gear up for re-match against moderate Texas Democrat
NARAL Pro-Choice America plans to announce its support Wednesday for Cisneros, the group told NBC News, hoping to send a message with its unusually early support for a primary challenger that there is no room for opposition to abortion rights in the party. The move comes a week after the Supreme Court opted not to block Texas' strict abortion law from going into effect, raising concerns among Democrats that the court may ultimately weaken the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
“There's room in the Democratic Party for folks with different opinions. You can identify as someone who is pro-life. But you can't impose your view on others and restrict the decisions of other people,” said NARAL's chief campaigns and advocacy officer Christian LoBue.
“The message that we're hoping to send with this endorsement is that reproductive freedom is a central and core tenet of the Democratic Party,” she added.
NARAL and other liberal groups that support abortion rights backed Cisneros’ failed attempt to oust Cuellar in a 2020 primary — the incumbent narrowly won by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent. But they’re starting earlier this time in the hopes of giving Cisneros more time to gather momentum.
They’re hoping for a repeat of what happened in Illinois last year, where now-Rep. Marie Newman ousted former anti-abortion Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski on her second attempt, after an unsuccessful bid in 2018.
Newman’s suburban Chicago district is bluer than Cuellar’s largely rural South Texas district that stretches along the border with Mexico, though both voted for President Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump, and LoBue said they expect Texas’ new abortion law to galvanize voters there.
“Mr. Cueller is the last anti-choice Democrat in the House, so it just couldn't be more important,” LoBue said.
Cuellar has long been criticized by the left. In a statement to NBC News ahead of his 2020 matchup against Cisneros, then-Cuellar campaign spokesman Colin Strother said that "we feel very strongly that the Congressman represents the values of his district very well and that he knows and understands the priorities for his constituents."
Covid a top closing message for Democrats ahead of California's recall
The voting to recall California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom — and potentially elect a replacement — comes to an end on Tuesday, and Democrats have leaned heavily into messaging on the Covid pandemic in the race's final days.
Since Sept. 1, the top Democratic ads on the TV airwaves have centered on Covid — Democrats have spent more than $1.5 million on one spot that attacks GOP frontrunner Larry Elder for his stance on Covid mandates, as well at least $1.2 million on a Covid-centric spot featuring former President Barack Obama (note: The creative-spending estimates are from the ad-tracking firm AdImpact and include ads captured on broadcast and national cable outlets, but *not* local cable, so there's more spending the tracker does not capture).
The top Democratic spot per AdImpact argues that recalling Newsom from office "elects an anti-vaccine, Trump Republican" instead of Newsom, who the narrator says is "fighting the pandemic based on science, compassion and common sense."
Democrats are also running spots on other issues, including one from Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders talking about the importance of keeping Newsom amid a push on climate change and "health care for all.
Unlike the unified Democratic effort, which gets to be singularly focused on Newsom's priorities, the Republican effort is fragmented by the reality on the ground — their candidates are running both against Newsom, but also each other. So each candidate has a different strategy, particularly on the airwaves.
The GOP ad with the most spending behind it in September (per AdImpact's tracker) is one from Republican businessman John Cox, where he says he may not be as "pretty" as Newsom or "an entertainer" like Elder, but he has the experience outside government to fix the "mismanaged mess" in the state. That spot has cost at least $475,000 this month.
Elder's top spots during that period include a Spanish-language spot with a woman who says she's a Democrat criticizing Newsom over school and church closures related to the pandemic, and another of Elder's typical direct-to-camera ads where he says "big changes" are on the horizon if he's elected like a repeal of the gas tax and supporting the police. There's been at least around $300,000 behind each of those Elder ads in September.
Recent California recall polling shows Newsom leading with just days to go
A new poll ahead of next week's recall vote of California Gov. Gavin Newsom shows the Democratic incumbent in a more comfortable position than he was weeks ago.
Only 38.5 percent of likely voters say they support the effort to dump Newsom, according to the new University of California at Berkeley IGS Poll, while 60 percent saying they would vote against the recall. Six weeks ago, likely voters were narrowly divided in the Berkeley Poll, with 47 percent supporting the recall and 50 percent opposing.
The pollsters say that an increase in Democratic enthusiasm is key to the shift.
In late July, the poll found that 87 percent of registered Republicans who expressed high interest or said they had already voted, compared to 58 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of those without a party preference.
In the latest survey, 91 percent of Republicans expressed high interest or said they had already voted, compared to 80 percent of Democrats and 70 percent without a party preference (a group which the poll shows leans toward opposing the recall).
The recall ballot has two questions on it. The first is an up or down vote on whether to recall Newsom. If a majority of voters say no, the recall is defeated. But if a majority say yes, then Newsom will be booted from office and replaced by the candidate with the most votes (based on the plurality, not a majority) on a second question of who should replace Newsom (the incumbent is not eligible for this part of the ballot).
Out of those candidates vying to replace Newsom, Republican commentator Larry Elder has a commanding lead among the field with likely voters, with 38 percent support. Democratic YoutTube financial star Kevin Paffrath finishes second with 10 percent, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer has 8 percent support and Republican businessman John Cox and GOP state Rep. Kevin Kiley each have support from 4 percent.
It's not the only poll that shows Newsom in solid shape. The 538 poll tracker shows the polling average now at 56 percent supporting keeping Newsom compared to 41 percent who want to remove him, bolstered by recent polls from places like Suffolk University and the Public Policy Institute of California, which show double-digit leads for keeping Newsom.
Rep. Spanberger meets Afghan refugees at Fort Pickett in Virginia
Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger toured Fort Pickett in Virginia on Thursday afternoon, meeting with some of the 5,000 Afghan refugees who are residing there after being evacuated.
Spanberger is the first member of Congress to tour the facility, which is located in her district. There has been minimal access to the facility by the public.
Spanberger's office exclusively provided photos to NBC News of her tour.
While visiting, Spanberger saw a food truck from the fried chicken chain Bojangles that was on site to serve refugees a taste of authentic American cooking.
Debate on Covid mandates takes center stage in new Virginia governor's race ads
Covid and vaccine mandates are looming large in the Virginia gubernatorial race, and now both Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin are taking the issue to the airwaves too.
McAuliffe has been hammering Youngkin for weeks on the issue in a variety of settings, including on the air. Last week, McAuliffe's campaign started running a spot that hit Youngkin on his opposition to maks and vaccine mandates, linking him to Trump in the process.
This week, McAuliffe criticized a new spot where a trauma surgeon speaks directly to camera, calling Youngkin's approach to the pandemic "dangerous."
Right around the same time, the Youngkin camp went on the air with a new ad (similar to previous digital ads they had been running) that emphasizes the Republican nominee has been vaccinated and believes "the numbers show the Covid vaccines save lives." Youngkin follows those comments by saying "it's your right to make your own choice, and I respect that. I do hope you'll join me in getting the vaccine."
Virginia's another race where Covid politics could prove to be an important issue on the minds of voters in the coming months.
Monmouth University's recent polling found that 67 percent of registered voters supported mask mandates in Virginia schools, 58 percent backed school vaccine mandates for children at least 12 years of age and 52 percent backed vaccine mandates for students under 12 if vaccines are ultimately authorized for that age group. Sixty-four percent backed general face-mask and social-distancing guidelines in the state, and voters were split on whether schools should be open for full, in-person instruction.
Republicans and Democrats set for ad-spending parity in final days of California recall
There are just five days until the California recall vote, and things continue to heat up.
Democrats are bringing in the cavalry — Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to her home state to campaign for Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Newsom effort is up on television with a new ad from former President Barack Obama that warns a vote for Republicans is a vote against “common-sense Covid-safety measures,” and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is telling her supporters the recall is “nightmare fuel.”
Not to be outdone, Republican Larry Elder is also up with a few new ad spots two. Among those is one where a purported young Democrat blasts Newsom and calls on his peers to “wake up,” and another where someone compares Newsom to “a guy in high school who took my girlfriend, then went onto the next girl.”
Democrats have enjoyed a massive spending advantage up to this point, spending $31.1 million to the GOP's $15.3 million on ads through Thursday, per AdImpact. But the two sides will be at basic parity for the home stretch — Democrats are spending $2.8 million from Thursday through Tuesday on ads, compared to $2.6 million for the GOP.
Newsom's committee is spending almost all the Democratic dollars, $2.78 million, with National Nurses United throwing in another $70,000. On the Republican side, Elder is spending almost $2.1 million, with John Cox's committee spending $480,000 and other Republicans chipping in the rest.
Biden’s drop in approval could be warning sign for Democrats on the ballot
How a president’s job rating goes is usually how his party’s prospects in the midterm elections go as well.
That’s the near-universal opinion of political scientists and longtime observers of American politics.
And that’s why President Joe Biden’s drop in the national polls over the past month — first below 50 percent, then below 45 percent — should at least raise a caution flag for Democrats looking ahead to the 2022 midterm elections, as well as this November’s competitive gubernatorial contest in Virginia.
Because the lower Biden’s job rating, the tougher the political climate for Democrats.
A new Monmouth University poll of Virginia also underscores this potential concern: While the poll shows Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Glenn Youngkin by 5 points among registered voters, 47 percent to 42 percent, it also has Biden’s job rating upside down in the blue-leaning state — at 46 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove.
Now outside of Biden’s underwhelming job rating, the same Monmouth poll also shows encouraging numbers for Democrats: In addition to McAuliffe leading the horserace by 5 points, the survey has incumbent Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam (who is barred from seeking consecutive terms) above water; it shows 59 percent of voters saying that Northam has done a good job handling the coronavirus; and it has majorities supporting mask and vaccine requirements.
And it’s also important to note that the Monmouth poll — conducted Aug. 24-29 – came during a rough news environment for Biden, when the chaos from the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan dominated the front pages and news broadcasts.
Still, it’s worth watching Biden’s job rating — both nationally and in key states — because they tell us how the political winds are blowing for upcoming contests.
Education union to launch multi-million dollar ad buy, organizing push on Covid relief and infrastructure
The National Education Association is kicking off the school year with a big investment around Covid-relief and infrastructure, applauding Democrats for backing those plans and needling Republicans who have not.
The push, according to an NEA memo shared with NBC News, includes two prongs. The first is a seven-figure digital advertising campaign (on social media and streaming) centered on the American Rescue Plan, the Covid-relief bill passed only with Democratic votes earlier this year, as well as both infrastructure bills (the bipartisan one and the forthcoming Democratic reconciliation bill). And the second is a $10 million organizing effort aimed at rallying support for the infrastructure bills and promoting directing Covid-relief cash to school priorities.
The American Rescue Plan included about a $170 billion federal investment in public education, the NEA memo says. And the group specifically calls out priorities in the forthcoming infrastructure bills, which are making their way through Congress, like electrifying school buses, expanding broadband access, universal pre-K, two years of free community college, and replacing lead pipes in schools.
In a statement to NBC News, NEA President Becky Pringle said the group wants to thank politicians for supporting the American Rescue Plan, which she believes helped ensure "that our public schools have the resources needed to keep our students safe and help them thrive as the COVID-19 pandemic continues disrupting communities."
"For too many students — Black and white, Native and newcomer, Hispanic and Asian alike — back to school means returning to crumbling buildings with inadequate ventilation, teacher shortages, and other problems that have been made worse from the pandemic. So Congress must act boldly by passing the Build Back Better agenda to modernize our school buildings, expand access to and lower the cost of preschool and higher-education, address the massive shortage of educators, and invest in our students’ futures.”
The ads will run in 28 House districts, as well as nine states with races for Senate and/or governor. The vast majority of the House districts are districts with vulnerable Democratic incumbents that the NEA will praise for backing the American Rescue Plan — like California Reps. Josh Harder, Katie Porter and Mike Levin; Georgia Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux; and Virginia Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger.
The Senate and gubernatorial states are home to Democrats facing re-election in 2022 — Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, as well as Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Laura Kelly of Kansas (since the legislation is about federal funding, the ads thank governors for how they're using that federal aid money).
The ad campaign also criticizes four Republicans for voting against the American Rescue Plan — Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, as well as California Republican Reps. Mike Garcia, Young Kim and Michelle Steel — accusing them of hampering attempts to get new funding for public schools.
The ad buy is the latest in the attempt to boost the Democratic Covid-relief bill as well as of the more recent attempts to define the infrastructure push. Democratic and Republican-leaning groups are spending millions of dollars messaging on the legislation.
The $10 million organizing campaign will run alongside the advertising effort, the NEA memo explains, aimed at helping to "ensure Rescue Plan dollars reach the schools, students, and programs that need them most," as well as "build support for President Biden's Build Back Better agenda — helping communities understand how this legislation is critical for America's students and public schools."
Texas activists roll out on-demand voter registration help
Texans in 10 counties can now summon volunteer voter registrars with a single phone call.
On Thursday, Powered by People, the voting rights group founded by former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, will announce a program deploying on-demand registrars who will meet prospective Texas voters wherever they need and help them register.
The announcement comes just two days after state Legislature passed a sweeping new election law, which activists fear will suppress votes. The mobilization effort is now active in 10 counties, but the group hopes to expand across the state, according to Powered By People senior adviser Cynthia Cano, who said she recently registered a military mom before school pickup. The group says it has signed up 1,100 volunteer registrars and plans to continue recruiting to facilitate the expansion.
Activists have long registered voters at events, but Texas law allows only these "volunteer deputy registrars," who are certified by the county where the voter lives, to help them get on the rolls. With 254 counties, this has posed an organizing challenge in the state.
“In the face of unrelenting attacks on our rights, Texas voters have made it be known time and time again that we will do whatever it takes to have our voices heard,” O’Rourke told NBC News. “You can’t out-register voter suppression but every little bit helps. That’s why I urge you, your friends, and your neighbors to call 915-209-7799 today and start the process of being heard in our democracy.”
O’Rourke plans to personally register voters through the system regularly; he is a certified volunteer deputy registrar in 16 counties.
First-time voters are increasingly online, poll finds
If you want to reach first-time voters, you need to do so online or on streaming services — because that's where these voters are.
That's the conclusion from a poll commissioned by the Democratic digital firm Rising Tide Interactive, which found:
- 51 percent of these first-time voters in the 2020 election use YouTube every day.
- 46 percent of them use Facebook every day.
- 38 percent use Instagram.
- 28 percent use Snapchat.
- 67 percent say they always or mainly watch TV on streaming services (like on smart TVs or Roku), versus 15 percent who always or mainly watch traditional TV.
“These folks aren’t spending their time reading the news or watching traditional TV. What they are doing is spending their time playing Candy Crush on their phones,” said Stephanie Grasmick, partner and CEO of Rising Tide Interactive.
“That’s where we need to be engaging them — more on their terms, not on our terms,” Grasmick added.
The poll was conducted by HIT Strategies from April 19-May 2 of 400 voters who voted for the first time in the 2020 election in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. It excluded strong Republican partisans (because those aren’t the voters Democratic firms like Rising Tide Interactive are looking to win over).
Roshni Nedungadi, a partner at the HIT Strategies polling firm which conducted this survey, said that because many of these first-time voters are disengaged from the political process, it’s essential for political candidates and advertisers to target both the message and content — if they want to win them over.
Also because there’s so much political disinformation online, Grasmick added, “We need to make sure they’re hearing from us as well.”
Trump adds two more candidate endorsements to 2022 list
Former President Donald Trump endorsed two Republican candidates for the 2022 midterm elections on Wednesday — one in the high-profile Pennsylvania Senate race and another who is challenging a Washington Republican congressman who voted for his impeachment.
Trump backed Pennsylvania Republican Sean Parnell in a statement where he praised Parnell's Army service and repeated unfounded claims of widespread election fraud. "He will make Pennsylvania very proud and will fight for Election Integrity, Strong Borders, our Second Amendment, Energy Jobs and so much more," Trump said in a statement from his political action committee, as he remains banned from major social media platforms. " Sean Parnell will always put America First. He has my Complete and Total Endorsement!"
Parnell, an author who co-founded a veterans' group after leaving the military, narrowly lost a bid against Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Penn., in 2020. And if he wins the GOP primary race — which includes former GOP Lt. Gov. nominee Jeff Bartos, political commentator Kathy Barnette and former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands (from Trump's administration — he may get a rematch against Lamb, who is running in his own crowded primary.
Trump also endorsed Joe Kent, a Republican running against Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., who voted to impeach the former president in January. Herrera Beutler said in a statement explaining her impeachment vote that Trump "incited a riot aiming to halt the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next." And in his statement, Trump criticized her for voting "despite the facts, against the Republican Party and for the Democrats' impeachment scam."
Kent has posted the strongest fundraising numbers out of the Republicans looking to challenge the incumbent. He's a retired Green Beret who Trump said he met in 2019 when the then-president traveled to Dover Air Force Base when the body of his deceased wife, who died in an ISIS attack in Syria while serving in the Navy, was brought back to America.
McAuliffe again holds narrow lead in Virginia governor poll
Former Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe leads Republican Glenn Youngkin in the newest poll of the state's governor's race, the latest in a string of recent surveys that show the Democrat on top.
McAuliffe is ahead with 47 percent of registered voters in the new Monmouth University poll, which had Youngkin trailing at 42 percent and 9 percent undecided. The Democrat has the edge with minority voters, college-graduates, women and younger voters, while the Republican leads among independents, men, whites, and those without college degrees.
The down-ballot races for lieutenant governor and attorney general were closer, with margins of 1 percentage point and 2 percentage points respectively in favor of the Democrat.
The favorability and unfavorability ratings for both candidates are extremely similar: 39/35 for McAuliffe and 37/35 for Youngkin.
The plurality of registered voters, 23 percent, believe the pandemic is the most important issue in the election, followed by 18 percent who say education/public schools and 16 percent who say the economy. McAuliffe receives higher marks from registered voters on education and the pandemic, with Youngkin receiving slightly higher trust from voters on the economy.
Fifty-seven percent say that former President Donald Trump, who McAuliffe has repeatedly linked to Youngkin in ads and his public statements, is not a factor in the election, while 41 say he is either a major or minor factor. Fifty-two percent say that President Joe Biden is not a factor, with 46 percent saying he is a factor (either major or minor).
Monmouth polled 802 registered voters from Aug. 24 to Aug. 29 and the poll has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points
As the two sides scramble for position with just months to go before November's election, both campaigns put out new ads in the last day.
Youngkin is up with a new TV ad hitting McAuliffe on crime, with McAuliffe's new ad knocking Youngkin on abortion.
Here’s Youngkin’s new ad, which features a county sheriff speaking directly to camera (there are three different versions with three different sheriffs): “It’s been a tough year, but it helps when elected officials have our back. Terry McAuliffe doesn’t,” this sheriff says. “As governor, McAuliffe’s handpicked parole board had one mission — cut ’em loose, releasing violent criminals early, including a cop-killer.”
The sheriff concludes, “The fact is, Terry McAuliffe won’t be safe with four more years of Terry McAuliffe’s policies.”
Here’s McAuliffe’s ad, which features a doctor speaking directly to camera: “I’ve been a doctor for 37 years and I’m committed to giving my patients the best care possible. So I know what it means to Virginia women when Glenn Youngkin says he wants to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood.”
NRSC, Demings top recent Facebook political ad spenders
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Florida Democratic Congresswoman (turned Senate hopeful) Val Demings lead the pack in political Facebook ad spending over the last month, the social media's ad-spending platform shows.
The NRSC spent $887,000 from July 29 through Aug. 27, the 30 most-recent days of spending released by the platform. Many of those ads were aimed at driving people to give their email or other information to the group, and possibly donate, and not about promoting/attacking a specific Senate candidate.
Among the ads that performed the strongest on the platform, according to Facebook, were a smattering of ads about reports that former President Donald Trump was slated to launch his own social media site. Other popular NRSC ads include one raffling off tickets to a Trump rally and one attacking President Joe Biden on immigration.
Demings, who is the Democratic Party's highest-profile candidate in the race against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, spent more over that time period than any other individual candidate for office, $767,000. Many of her top ads were aimed at introducing the electorate to her life story, as well as list-building/fundraising. Two of her most popular ads also leveraged Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's attacks on National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci for more list-building.
Other top political advertisers include the Republican National Committee ($737,000), the committee opposing California Gov. Gavin Newsom's recall ($545,000), Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker ($482,000) and California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Kevin Kiley ($400,000).
There have also been a few companies or interest groups spending big money over that time too, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ($1.33 million), The Climate Pledge ($1.2 million), Facebook ($1.2 million), and ExxonMobil ($800,000).
Facebook's ad spending figures are self-reported by the company and available online.
McAuliffe leads in new Virginia governor poll
A new poll shows former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Glenn Youngkin by 9 points among likely voters, less than three months before the pivotal general election.
McAuliffe hits 50 percent of the vote in a new poll by Christopher Newport University's Watson Center for Civic Leadership, with Youngkin at 41 percent and 6 percent undecided (3 percent say they're supporting Liberation Party nominee Princess Blanding). The Democratic lead is bolstered by strong support from women, younger voters, Black voters and those in Northern Virginia. Youngkin's largest bases of support include those in the south and southwest of the state, as well as white voters.
Independent voters are backing McAuliffe by a margin of 44 percent to 39 percent.
The poll also found the rest of the Democratic ticket with slightly larger leads — a 10-point Democratic lead in the lieutenant governor race and a 12-point Democratic lead in the attorney general race. And Democrats have a 7 point lead on the generic ballot for the upcoming House of Delegates elections.
“These numbers reflect a state that continues to trend blue in presidential and statewide elections as demographic shifts endure in the Commonwealth,” said Wason Center Research Director Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo. “While there is still room for movement in the race, Youngkin has a tightrope to walk between Trump supporters and more moderate voters across the suburbs of Virginia.”
CNU polled 800 registered likely Virginia voters on a mix of landlines and cell phones between August 15 and August 23. The margin of error is +/- 3.6 percent.
The poll shows McAuliffe's lead about the same as a recent Roanoke College poll, that found him up 8 points with 13 percent of likely voters undecided. But the Virginia Commonwealth University poll, also released this month, shows McAuliffe only up 3 points with 23 percent of voters undecided or saying they wouldn't vote for either.
Poll: Vaccine mandates unlikely to compel many, especially Republicans
Federal and state governments, businesses and health care experts across America are trying a smattering of ways to convince Covid vaccine holdouts to change their minds. But numbers from the new NBC News poll suggest that only a small portion are open to changing their minds, and Republicans are even less so.
Sixty-nine percent of all adults polled say they are vaccinated, 2 percent said they will get it as soon as they can, 10 percent say they are waiting a while to see if there are problems with the vaccine, 3 percent say they'll only get it if required, and 13 percent say they won't get the vaccine.
Eighty-eight percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and 55 percent of Republicans say they are vaccinated.
Thirty-one percent of Republicans who consider themselves primarily Trump supporters say they will not get the Covid vaccine, as do 32 percent of those who don't follow media and 27 percent of those who voted for Trump.
Some have been hopeful that the Food and Drug Administration's full authorization of the Pfizer vaccine would convince some skeptics to get vaccinated, but other health officials have thrown cold water on that idea. Note: the poll was conducted before the full Pfizer authorization.
So as employers, businesses and governments consider vaccine mandates, new polling shows that most of the unvaccinated won't budge.
An employer mandate appears to be the most likely to sway an unvaccinated person to get the Covid vaccine, with 19 percent of unvaccinated adults saying it would convince them. But there's an interesting breakdown on party lines — 29 percent of non-Republican, unvaccinated adults say they'd get vaccinated if their employer mandated it, while just 10 percent of Republican, unvaccinated adults say they would.
A federal government mandate, or a state/local government mandate appears to be less likely to move people. But again, it could have far more success with non-Republicans.
Fourteen percent of unvaccinated adults say a federal government mandate would compel them to get vaccinated (13 percent for state/local government mandates). Only 7 percent of Republicans say a government mandate at any level would compel them to get vaccinated, compared to 22 percent of non-Republicans for a federal mandate and 21 percent for a state/local mandate.
The NBC News poll was conducted Aug. 14-17 among 1,000 adults — 600 of whom are cellphone-only respondents — and the overall margin of error in the poll is plus-minus 3.1 percentage points. Of the 790 registered voters the poll measured, the margin of error is plus-minus 3.5 percentage points.
Conservative non-profit launches new ads hitting Kelly, Hassan on reconciliation
A new conservative non-profit is running television ads that target Sens. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., arguing that the forthcoming Democratic reconciliation package is a "Washington liberal $3.5 trillion power grab."
The new spots are from Common Sense Leadership Fund, a group being helmed by former National Republican Senatorial Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin.
Evoking a number of satirical images of Democrats — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, both of New York, next to a rainbow, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi riding a pink unicorn — the ad's narrator criticizes Democratic proposals and warns the bill will be filled with "pie-in-the-sky special interest kickbacks.
"Who will pay for all the unicorns and rainbows? You will. With a massive tax hike, you'll foot the bill for this liberal pipe dream," the narrator says, before directing viewers to urge the senator to vote against the bill.
Both Hassan and Kelly are expected to face tough battles for re-election. Colin Reed, the group's spokesman, said in a statement that "if Senator Hassan or Senator Kelly want to have any prayer of claiming the mantle of the common sense fiscal values, opposing this $3.5 trillion dollar boondoggle is a good place to start."
The new ads are airing in Boston and Phoenix on broadcast and cable television, and the group expects to target more states soon. Reed told NBC that the group ultimately expects to spend seven figures on the campaign.
More groups have been taking to the airwaves across the country in the race to define both the Democratic reconciliation bill, which includes much of President Joe Biden's top legislative priorities, as well as the bipartisan infrastructure deal that passed the Senate weeks ago. Groups on both sides of the aisle are spending millions battling over the legislation and its impact on House races, with more activity expected on the Senate side too as they begin work on drafting the specifics of the bill.
Progressive group launches ads on infrastructure, reconciliation bills ahead of midterms
House Majority Forward, the nonprofit outside Democratic-leaning group that focuses on the U.S. House of Representatives, this week begins a $2.5 million TV and digital ad campaign in 23 different congressional districts to promote the Democrats' work on Covid relief, infrastructure and climate legislation.
Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., worked "to pass a middle-class tax cut to help struggling Illinois families, helping to get people back to work and getting our economy back on its feet," one TV ad states in Underwood's 14th Congressional District.
The ad continues, "Next up is fighting to fix our aging infrastructure, rebuilding roads and bridges ... while investing in clean energy to give all our kids a better future."
And here's a digital ad in Rep. Tom O'Halleran's, D-Ariz., the state's First Congressional District: "We're getting back on our feet and back to work. And in Congress, Congressman Tom O'Halleran's working to keep it that way."
These ads come as a recent NBC News poll found that just a third of Americans (35 percent) believe the Covid relief legislation passed in March — which provided direct cash payments and jobless benefits — is helping the economy or will do so in the future.
Below are the 23 congressional districts where these ads will air.
Note: The decennial redistricting process will likely change what many of these districts look like next year.
Also note: Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, voted against the Covid relief bill, and so the ad touting his work will be different than the ones for Underwood and O'Halleran.
Ariz. 01 — Rep. Tom O'Halleran, D
Calif. 10 — Rep. Josh Harder, D
Colo. 07 — Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D
Ga. 07 — Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D
Iowa 03 — Rep. Cindy Axne, D
Illi. 14 — Rep. Lauren Underwood, D
Kan. 03 — Rep. Sharice Davids, D
Maine 02 — Rep. Jared Golden D
Mich. 08 — Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D
Mich. 11 — Rep. Haley Stevens, D
N.H. 01 — Rep. Chris Pappas, D
N.J. 03 — Rep. Andy Kim, D
N.J. 07 — Rep. Tom Malinowski, D
Nev. 03 — Rep. Susie Lee, D
N.Y. 19 — Rep. Antonio Delgado, D
Ore. 04 — Rep. Peter DeFazio, D
Pa. 08 — Rep. Matthew Cartright, D
Texas 07 — Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D
Texas 16 — Rep. Veronica Escobar, D
Va. 02 — Rep. Elaine Luria, D
Va. 07 — Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D
Wash. 08 — Rep. Kim Schrier, D
Wis. 04 — Rep. Gwen Moore, D
Arizona group boosts Mark Kelly with $1.5 million ad campaign on child tax credit
Advancing AZ, an Arizona-based progressive non-profit that's been boosting the Democrats' Covid relief plan, is launching a $1.5 million ad campaign aimed at promoting Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., for his support for the plan.
The new campaign, which includes television and radio ads beginning Monday and going through September, features two parents talking about how the new child tax credit, which is a piece of the broader American Rescue Plan signed into law in March with support from only Democrats, has helped their family deal with added expenses during the pandemic. Noting that all three of their children needed braces, they note that the child tax credit will help them pay off their childrens' medical expenses.
"We're relieved that Sen. Mark Kelly took the needs of Americans, working families into consideration," Angela Mesa, one of the parents featured in the ad says.
"It means a lot that Sen. Kelly is standing up to the big guy to help families like us," Angela's husband, Brian Mesa, adds.
"Senator Kelly is delivering for Arizona families and they need him to keep getting these kinds of results if we’re going to get Arizona fully past the pandemic and make sure working families can get by," said Niles Harris, the executive director of Advancing AZ, in a statement to NBC News announcing the ad campaign.
The American Rescue Plan both expanded the maximum child tax credit from $2,000 per child to $3,600. And instead of families having to wait for the credit as an annual tax refund, the bill changed the procedure to distribute the credit monthly.
It's not the only piece of the plan that Advancing AZ has been touting in recent weeks. Along with its affiliated Honest Arizona campaign, the group has boosted Kelly, Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., and President Biden in the state, touting the American Rescue Plan with billboards and a traveling ice cream truck aimed at raising awareness for the bill.
Kelly just won his Senate seat in 2020, but is on the ballot in 2022 because last year's election was only to fill out the final two years of the seat held by the late-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Now, his upcoming election is expected to be one of the highest-profile in the nation. Biden narrowly won the state by 0.3 percentage points last year, with Kelly winning by 2.4 percentage points.
Given the slim margins, Kelly's Senate race has already drawn more than $10 million in spending, per AdImpact ($6 million by Democrats and $4.3 million by Republicans).
Republicans have been attacking Kelly on a variety of fronts, including criticizing Democrats for plans on prescription drugs and pressuring Kelly about progressive calls to abolish the filibuster.
New Youngkin ad encourages Virginians to get vaccinated
After Democrat Terry McAuliffe this week called for a vaccine mandate for state educators in Virginia's gubernatorial race, Republican Glenn Youngkin is up with a new statewide digital ad saying that he's been vaccinated — and encouraging others to do the same.
"I’m a business guy who loves numbers. And the numbers show Covid vaccines save lives," Youngkin says to camera in the ad. "That’s why I chose to get the vaccine."
Youngkin continues, "It’s your right to make your own choice, and I respect that. I do hope you’ll choose to join me in getting the vaccine. We can protect lives and livelihoods here in Virginia, and together we can keep our communities, our schools, and our businesses open."
Another fault line in this competitive race: McAuliffe is mandating vaccines for state educators while Youngkin is instead encouraging them.
GOP nominee hits the airwaves in N.J. governor's race with polls showing him far behind
New Jersey Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli trails New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy by 16 points, according to a new Monmouth University poll of registered voters released Wednesday. The poll comes as Ciattarelli is hitting the airwaves in an attempt to close the gap.
Murphy secured support from 52 percent of registered voters, compared to Ciattarelli's 36 percent, per the Monmouth poll released Wednesday. Forty-eight percent of voters view Murphy favorably with 33 percent viewing him unfavorably. While Ciattarelli's favorability of 26 percent is significantly higher than his 12 percent unfavorability, 61 percent say they don't have an opinion on him yet.
The poll also found that a plurality of voters believe Covid is the top issue facing the state (41 percent), with taxes as a broader issue eclipsing that when combining property taxes (32 percent), income taxes (9 percent), sales tax (7 percent) and other taxes (4 percent).
The points about Ciattarelli lacking name ID in the state and taxes being a top issue in the state come as the Republican hops onto the airwaves this week with new general election ads. His first ad is centered right on the issue of taxes, quoting Murphy saying "if you're a one-issue voter and tax rate is your issue, we're probably not your state."
"Not your state? Who says that? Phil Murphy just doesn't get it, but I do," Ciattarelli says in the ad. "Taxes are an issue for a lot of New Jersey families. But Phil Murphy saying if you don't like it, you should leave, is an even bigger one."
On the economy, Murphy's campaign and his allies have argued that his stewardship has kept New Jersey in a solid financial situation despite the pandemic.
Rising stars tapped to chair Democratic training organization
The nation’s largest Democratic training organization announced Thursday that its first honorary co-chairs will be Reps. Katie Porter, D-Calif., Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., and Nikema Williams, D-Ga., signaling a commitment to training an ideologically, geographically, and demographically diverse pipeline of candidates up and down the ballot ahead of the 2022 midterms.
“The future of our party is about competing everywhere and lowering the barriers of intrigue for anyone who wants to make a difference,” Kelly Dietrich, who leads the National Democratic Training Committee, told NBC News, calling the co-chairs “pioneering women.” Both Porter and Underwood flipped their districts red to blue with their elections, while Williams is on the frontlines of Democratic efforts to keep Georgia blue from her seat, once held by the late Rep. John Lewis.
The NDTC will use the congresswomen to amplify their free training programs for Democrats across the country hoping to run for office themselves, or looking to work on campaigns.
Underwood herself actually participated in NDTC trainings before running and winning one of 2018’s tightest races. Her advice for could-be candidates and the politically-inclined, she told NBC, is “don’t be shy about what you don’t know.”
The NDTC has seen more than 130,000 people sign up for trainings since the summer of 2016, fueled in part by a backlash to the election of former President Donald Trump. But since Trump’s departure, interest has remained high, to the tune of 32,000-plus so far this year according to the committee. Overall, more than half — 53 percent — of trainees have been women. And geographically, rural and suburban areas not typically falling for Dems are seeing high degree of interest.
To Underwood, the numbers tell a larger story about who’s engaging and why — and what it could mean for a candidate pipeline that, only until recently, had been filled by a majority of white male contenders.
“We’re seeing the activations of these social networks that might have been built from PTAs, or church groups, or neighborhood associations,” Underwood said. “These women who now understand that our democracy won’t be fixed passively. We have to get in there and work for it and the ladies are bringing the same skills, dedication, and mindset that we do to everything else in our lives to our politics. And we’re not afraid to ask for help.”
Progressive group gives air cover to moderate Democrats on Biden's $3.5 trillion budget
The liberal group Future Forward USA Action is launching an ad campaign to protect moderate Democrats who are under fire from conservatives over President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion economic package.
The group said it will spend $1.4 million next week in seven key districts represented by Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., and Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev.
The ad buy, first reported here by NBC News, comes as a response to the conservative group American Action Network's TV ad campaign launched last week, which targets a similar group of House Democrats over the budget with the goal of turning Democratic lawmakers against it.
It is an attempt to bolster the prospects of passing the so-called reconciliation bill, which is a centerpiece of Biden's economic agenda, and will require the vote of nearly every House Democrat to pass. It would be a major expansion of the social safety net, paid for with tax hikes on corporations and Americans who earn over $400,000.
The AAN ad campaign torches the package of a "socialist agenda" that will exacerbate inflation and hurt the middle class. The Future Forward response says the package will close corporate tax loopholes and tax the rich to lower costs on health care, utility bills and child care for most Americans.
"President Biden and Democrats in Congress are working to lower everyday costs for working families Right on cue, the special interests are going to pour in money to try to stop it from happening but we won't let their lies go unanswered," said Chauncey McLean, the president of Future Forward USA Action.
McAuliffe responds to Youngkin’s crime ad
Well, that didn’t take long.
One day after Virginia Republican gubernatorial Glenn Youngkin’s campaign released a new TV ad hitting Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe on crime and linking him to Dem groups have called to “defund the police,” McAuliffe’s camp is out with this response ad.
The Democratic nominee's spot features testimonials from current and former Virginia law enforcement officials: “Our job is to keep Virginia safe,” says one law enforcement official to camera. “We know the truth about Terry McAuliffe’s record,” says another. “When McAuliffe was governor, Virginia was the fourth-safest state in America,” says a third.
And it goes on to try to turn Youngkin's argument around on the Republican, arguing that his comments on gun laws makes him a "threat to our safety."
As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported last month, while Youngkin has spoken about protecting Second Amendment rights, he did not get an endorsement from the National Rifle Associaton.
Youngkin plays the 'defund the police' card against McAuliffe in Virginia governor race
In Virginia’s gubernatorial contest, Republican Glenn Youngkin is out with a new TV ad linking Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe to “defund the police” advocates in his party.
The ad claims that "crime in Virginia is skyrocketing" and that "the murder rate is at a 20-year high."
“Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is running again, but how can he keep us safe? His record as governor — murder jumped 43 percent, and now he refuses to even meet with Virginia police officers. Instead, he's touting endorsements by extreme left-wing groups that want to defund the police, abolish ICE and close prisons," the ad's narrator says, pointing to calls within the Democratic Party for a smattering of police reform running the gamut from slashing police funding to diverting it reform how police interact with people.
It's a tactic the Youngkin campaign has been more vocal with in recent weeks, including in digital videos that echo similar points.
McAuliffe's team pushed back on the ad with a statement touting McAuliffe's record: "We know Glenn struggles with it, so here's the truth: As governor, Terry McAuliffe made Virginia the fourth safest state in the nation. He put in place one of the toughest laws in the country to combat domestic violence, and he has released a detailed plan to keep Virginians safe, including keeping guns out of dangerous hands. Glenn Youngkin's right-wing agenda would only make Virginia less safe — he's bragged about opposing any common-sense gun safety measures, and the Washington Post says his Trumpian economic plan would defund the police."
Former GOP Attorney General Laxalt is running for Senate in Nevada
Former Nevada Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced Tuesday he's running for Senate, giving Republicans their most formidable challenge to Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.
Laxalt revealed his decision on Tuesday morning in a social-media video, which leans heavily on the conservative culture war and argues that "right now, it seems like the wrong side is winning."
"The radical left, rich elites, woke corporations, academia, Hollywood and the media, they are taking over America. That’s your empire, right there, telling lie after lie; making excuses for chaos and violence; censoring truth that doesn’t fit their agenda; amplifying anger and envy, they demand control; ruthlessly enforcing conformity, canceling any who stand in their way," Laxalt says in the video.
"We must stand in their way because it's not just about us — we owe it to our kids and generations to come."
The video goes on to mention his Navy service, which he says was inspired by the attacks on 9/11, and his time as attorney general.
Laxalt is instantly the favorite in the GOP primary, and Republicans believe that a strong midterm environment could give them fertile ground in a battle for Senate control. With the Senate currently evenly divided, and Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote, the dynamics in every competitive race could help decide control of the Senate in 2022.
However, Democrats have had a string of recent successes in Nevada statewide elections — they've won every presidential election since 2004, flipped both Senate seats in 2016 and 2018, and flipped the governor's mansion in 2018 by defeating Laxalt, who was the GOP nominee.
And Democrats have pointed to Laxalt's unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial bid, as well as his repeated attempts to cast doubt on the 2020 election results in the state, to message against his candidacy.
"Failed politician Adam Laxalt has a history of corruption and consistently uses his public position to work against Nevadans. As Attorney General, he used his office to benefit his special interest donors, and he became Donald Trump’s main lackey in Nevada by orchestrating bogus lawsuits to prop up the Big Lie and overturn the 2020 election," Nevada Democratic Victory spokesman Andy Orellana said in a statement. "While Senator Cortez Masto is putting Nevadans first, Laxalt is only ever looking out for himself.”
Voters begin to get ballots as California gubernatorial recall heats up
Mail ballots are beginning to go out in California's recall election, and we've seen a flurry of activity in the race in recent days.
The stakes are high for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. A new online poll from CBS/YouGov found that 52 percent of likely voters plan to vote "no" and keep Newsom in office, compared to 48 percent who want to recall Newsom.
The Democrat's approval rating among adults is 57 percent and 60 percent view his handling of the coronavirus outbreak as "very good" or "somewhat good." But the story has been the same for months — the question comes down to turnout, and polling has shown Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting to recall Newsom than Democrats are about saving him.
More Republican voters in the poll (78 percent) say they definitely will vote, when compared to Democrats (73 percent), and 72 percent of Republicans say they are very motivated to vote, when compared to 61 percent of Democrats.
It's against that backdrop that we've seen a smattering of ad spending as of late. Since July 1, Democrats have outspent Republicans $11 million to $1.7 million, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact.
The Democratic efforts' ads include appeals by key spokespeople, including Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (who frames the recall as a costly attack by "Trump Republicans" on the results of the last gubernatorial election) and California Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla (who delivers a similar Spanish-language message).
The attacks on Elder come as he's gained traction recently. While 45 percent of voters said they were not sure who they'd vote for or would not vote for a candidate if Newsom was recalled, 23 percent said they'd support Elder, far-and-away the highest of any candidate on that question (Democratic YouTuber Kevin Paffrath scored 13 percent, while no other Republican eclipsed 3 percent. Republican Caitlyn Jenner captured just 2 percent).
He's spent about $966,000 on TV and digital ads since the start of July, significantly more than any other Republican candidate. His recent ads have attacked Newsom on a handful of different topics — school choice, his state's Covid restrictions and his record broadly.
Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego, is also up with a spot that highlights his record on crime, him standing up to a "defund police mob," and on balancing budgets.
All voters in California are going to be mailed ballots, which they must get postmarked by the day of the recall, Sept. 14. However, those ballots have until Sept. 21 to make it to county elections offices.
MTP Daily: What do the Census numbers mean for redistricting?
Thursday's Census data release revealed some major population trends that have shaped the American population growth over the last decade — America is becoming less white and more multi-cultural, with more and more people fleeing rural areas and moving to the cities and suburbs.
How these macro-level trends have played out in communities across the country will have a profound impact on how congressional lines are drawn during the forthcoming redistricting cycle, the unofficial start of which began Thursday with the release of this Census data.
Dave Wasserman — the House editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, and an NBC News contributor — joined Friday's MTP Daily to run down some of the biggest questions facing Republicans and Democrats ahead of redistricting. He also takes a look at how the GOP-controlled Texas, the Democratic-controlled New York, and Colorado, which uses an independent commission to draw congressional maps, may fare.
Cuomo joins list of scandal-plagued N.Y. resignations
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., officially exits office on Aug. 24, he will join a lengthy list of recent, high-ranking New York politicians who resigned thanks to scandal.
For Cuomo, the resignation follows the release of a devastating report by State Attorney General Letitia James, which found that he had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women.
But Cuomo is hardly the first N.Y. politician who left their position early amid scandal. Here are some of the other most prominent Empire State politicians to resign in disgrace over the last 15 years (not including those who simply chose not to run for re-election):
Gov. Eliot Spitzer — Resigned March 2008
The once-popular Democrat won the 2006 gubernatorial race with more than 65 percent of the vote and was widely viewed as a rising star in the party. But Spitzer departed the governor’s mansion just over one year into his first term after being implicated in a prostitution ring. The scandal became a global story as the one-time “Sheriff of Wall Street,” a nickname given to Spitzer during his tenure as the state’s attorney general, saw his political career come to a rapid end thanks to his own admitted lawbreaking.
Rep. Chris Lee — Resigned February 2011
Lee, a Republican, was first elected to Congress in 2008 to represent New York’s 26th Congressional District, which includes portions of both Erie and Niagara County. Shortly after winning reelection in 2010, the blog site Gawker revealed that the married Lee responded to a woman's dating ad on Craigslist by sending her a shirtless photo of himself. He resigned right after the article was released and was later replaced in a special election by none other than future New York Lt. Gov. (and soon to be governor) Kathy Hochul.
Rep. Anthony Weiner — Resigned June 2011
Perhaps more infamous for his scandals since resigning, Weiner, a Democrat, first ran for Congress in 1998 to fill the 9th Congressional District seat vacated by a Senate-bound Chuck Schumer.
Winning seven-consecutive elections in the district, Weiner served until the discovery that he’d used his public Twitter account to send a woman a link to a sexually explicit photo of himself. After initial denials, he soon admitted to exchanging sexually explicit photos with several women in the years prior and resigned. Weiner attempted to return to politics but was caught having more lewd conversations with women, despite being married. And Weiner eventually pleaded guilty after being charged with sending an explicit message to a teenager. He eventually served 15 months in prison and is now a convicted sex offender.
Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — Resigned February 2015
Silver, a Democrat, was a central power broker in New York politics for nearly 40 years. First elected to the New York State Assembly in 1977, he was elected speaker in 1994 and served in that role until he was arrested on federal corruption charges in 2015 related to bribery accusations and forced to resign. After a series of appeals in court, he was sentenced to over six years in prison last July.
Former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — Resigned May 2018
The one-time Democratic state senator was first elected as New York’s attorney general in 2010 and reelected in 2014. Following reporting in the New Yorker at the height of the Me Too movement in 2018, where at least four women accused Schneiderman of physical abuse between 2013 and 2016, Schneiderman resigned. Soon after, Governor Cuomo assigned Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas to look into criminal charges against him. Ultimately, Schneiderman was not prosecuted by Singas, who said “legal impediments” and statutes of limitations stood in the way.
Rep. Chris Collins — Resigned October 2019
Collins, a Republican, was first elected to the House in 2013 following the ousting of one-term incumbent Kathy Hochul. After serving for several years, he was arrested by the FBI in August 2018 along with his son for insider trading and lying to the bureau. After narrowly winning reelection later that year, he eventually resigned from Congress and changed his plea to guilty on conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements. Sentenced to 26 months in prison in January 2020, Collins, an ardent Trump supporter and a one-time member of his transition team in 2015, received a pardon from Trump in December of last year.
Republicans who voted against Electoral College certification see smaller fundraising gains
Six months after about 140 House Republicans voted against the 2020 Electoral College certification after the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, members who voted that way have seen smaller increases in their fundraising, on average, than their GOP colleagues who voted to certify the results.
That’s according to an analysis by NBC News, which examined the fundraising totals of 151 House Republican lawmakers through this June, versus their totals at this same point in 2019.
While Republicans as a whole are seeing promising fundraising signs in the race for the House majority on the whole, there appears to be a clear divide between the performance of those who objected to the Electoral College count and those who did not. Note: The period of time covered in the analysis coincides with pledges from many companies to re-evaluate and their political contributions in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, although some have since gone back to business as usual.
The 96 Republicans included in the analysis who voted against certification have seen their fundraising totals increase by an average of almost 6 percent from the previous cycle.
By contrast, the 55 Republicans who did not object have witnessed their fundraising increase by an average of about 30 percent.
Among all those who objected, Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., has seen the largest drop in fundraising, raking in just over $23,000 so far this year, compared with more than $230,000 Guest had raised in the same time period in 2019.
Reps. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., Jim Baird, R-Ind., and Jodey Arrington, R-Texas were among the other objectors who saw their fundraising totals decrease by more than 70 percent versus 2019.
But Republicans are proving, as a whole, to be strong fundraisers as they push to flip both the House and Senate. The 151 Republicans analyzed have increased their fundraising numbers overall cycle-to-cycle by an average of more than 14 percent. By comparison, the 196 Democrats analyzed have seen their numbers increase by an average of just 2 percent.
The fundraising analysis did not include any lawmaker who took office after 2019 for which there is no previous fundraising cycle to compare, including prolific fundraisers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. And it does not include retiring lawmakers, or those running for higher or state-level office.
Two of the highest-profile Republicans who didn’t object to the Electoral College and who have positioned themselves against former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims the election was stolen, Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., have seen among the largest fundraising increases.
But prominent objectors have seen big fundraising gains too — Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., are among the lawmakers who have at least doubled their fundraising from this point last cycle.
The objective was to compare incumbents’ fundraising before and after Electoral College certification of the 2020 presidential election. And certainly the debate over the certification of the election is not the only variable that could contribute to a change in fundraising.
Still, this analysis — coming in an atmosphere where there is increased attention on contributors after the Jan. 6 attack — suggests that GOP objectors have seen a decline in their fundraising even as some of those same companies who once swore off donating to objectors, including UPS and American Airlines, have since returned to that practice in the months since January 6.
Democratic group launches ad campaign to tout Biden agenda in key states
A nonprofit aligned with President Joe Biden is launching a new million-dollar ad campaign that aims to do double duty: promoting the president’s agenda, and backing some of the key lawmakers he hopes to keep in office beyond the 2022 midterm elections.
New ads from Building Back Together share a similar script touting Democrats’ Covid relief law and plans to spend trillions more on infrastructure, education, manufacturing and caregiving. But each is tailored to voters in the key states and congressional districts.
Spots airing in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and New Hampshire, for example, say Biden and their Democratic senators’ “pulled our economy back from the brink. And now they’re fighting to create millions of good paying jobs and lower the costs of healthcare, child care and prescription drugs.”
All four states have a pair of Democratic senators. But only one in each — Arizona’s Mark Kelly, Nevada’s Catherine Cortez-Masto, Georgia’s Rafael Warnock, and New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan — will face voters next November in contests critical to the party’s hopes of maintaining or growing a bare-minimum Senate majority.
The organization says the 30-second TV spots will air in each of the state’s biggest TV markets on broadcast and cable. Additional digital ads will run in more than 20 targeted House districts in 12 states. The seven-figure campaign is part of an effort by Biden’s outside political allies to sustain support for his agenda, aware of how Republicans and conservative groups began turning the tide against then-President Obama’s agenda in August 2009.
“Democratic Members of Congress have worked hand in glove with President Biden to bring our economy and our families back from the brink of crisis, and now they’re going to help the President deliver on the Build Back Better Agenda so that working families can finally get ahead,” Danielle Melfi, executive director of Building Back Together, said in a statement.
CORRECTION (Aug. 5, 2021, 11:40 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated Building Back Together's company status. It is a nonprofit advocacy organization, not a super PAC.
Pelosi PAC urges donors to prevent the 'steal' of House majority in 2022
A fundraising pitch from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is urging her donors to prevent the “steal” of Democratic control of the House.
“They just outspent us by $14 MILLION to steal our Majorities,” warns an email under Pelosi's name to donors sent from her political action committee. The message claims that polling shows Republicans leading Democrats by one percentage point. “If we don’t regain the lead — NOW — Republicans will steal the House and decimate our Democratic Majority.”
It’s a strange turn for Pelosi, who has set up a select House Committee to investigate the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, when loyalists to then-President Donald Trump tried to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. They acted on the premise that, as Trump falsely asserted, the election had been stolen from him.
Pelosi aides did not immediately reply to a request for comment about whether she is less concerned now than she has been about the perils of undermining the credibility of the electoral system.
High-profile special House primaries have made for busy airwaves in Ohio
Voters are voting in two special House primaries that are serving as great microcosms for the battles that both parties are fighting these days.
And those high-profile clashes have made for busy airwaves outside of Cleveland and Columbus.
In the Democrats’ 11th District contest, former state Rep. Nina Turner and Cuyahoga County Council Rep. Brown (plus their outside backers) have gone virtually punch-for-punch in the ad war. Turner has spent $2.3 million on TV, radio and digital advertising through Tuesday, per AdImpact, with her aligned Democratic Action PAC adding another $250,000. That’s matched by the Brown campaign’s $1.3 million on ads, plus an additional $1.1 million chipped in by the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC.
That race has gotten nasty, particularly on the airwaves. Brown and her allies are accusing Turner of stoking division and hitting her for criticizing President Joe Biden, while Turner's orbit is trying to frame Brown as corrupt.
Things are even more crowded among the Republicans in the 15th District contest. The top spenders are businessman Tom Hwang, a self-funder running as an outsider, and the Protect Freedom PAC, which is backing Ron Hood, the state representative backed by Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul. Both have spent just over $480,000 on advertisements.
Former Rep. Steve Stivers, who has endorsed Jeff LaRe, has actually spent more on ads than any other candidate besides Hwang, with $344,000 aimed at boosting LaRe.
State Sen. Bob Peterson has spent $265,000, the anti-Carey Conservative Outsider PAC has spent another $241,000, LaRe’s campaign has spent $180,000, and former Columbus NAACP President Ruth Edmonds has spent $107,000.
Majority of adults approve of Biden on Covid, but think health agencies have sent mixed messages
The majority of American adults still approve of President Joe Biden's approach to the coronavirus pandemic, even as those numbers have slipped in recent months.
Fifty-five percent of adults in Monmouth University's new poll say Biden has done a good job on the pandemic, compared to 38 percent who say he's done a bad job with it. Just 4 percent hold mixed opinions.
The vast majority of Democrats, 92 percent, think Biden is doing a good job. Independents are split, with 45 percent saying he's done a good job and 46 percent saying he's done a bad job. And 26 percent of Republicans believe Biden is doing a good job on handling the pandemic, compared to 68 percent who think he's doing a bad job.
Federal government health agencies also get strong marks in dealing with the pandemic, with 55 percent of adults saying they did a good job and 37 percent say they did a bad job.
But at the same time, 59 percent say that those federal health agencies, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically named, have been "giving mixed messages about Covid risks," including clear majorities of Republicans and Democrats. Thirty-nine percent say the agencies have been largely consistent, including a majority of Democrats.
The poll comes amid rising caseloads and hospitalizations attributed to the more virulent, delta, strain, which is spreading across the country. The country hit 35 million cases this week, with Florida hitting records in new, daily cases as well as what the Florida Hospital Association called a new record of Covid hospitalizations.
But while vaccination rates have slowed from their spring highs, the CDC reports that almost 50 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated against the virus. That includes 80 percent of those at least 65 years old, a group that has been particularly vulnerable to serious illness or death from the virus.
Fifty-three percent of adults say they are either very concerned or somewhat concerned that someone in their family could become seriously ill from the virus, up from 42 percent a month ago but well below the levels of concern seen before widespread vaccinations began.
Forty-eight percent are at least somewhat concerned about catching a new Covid variant, with those who have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine more likely to feel that way than someone who is not vaccinated, according to Monmouth.
With the CDC issuing new guidance that recommends more people wear masks, and some states issuing either new masking guidance or mandates themselves, 52 percent of American adults say they support either "instituting or reinstituting face mask and social distancing guidelines in their states," a sentiment that falls deeply on partisan lines.
Monmouth polled 804 adults in the United States from July 21 to July 26. The poll has an error margin of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Trump political operation banks more than $100 million in first six months of 2021
Former President Donald Trump amassed a war chest of more than $100 million over the first six months of 2022 across his four affiliated political committees as he repeatedly fundraised off of his false claims the election was stolen from him, and spent little from his political enterprise.
New fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Committee show that Trump has raised $62 million directly into his Save America leadership PAC, his primary fundraising vehicle for his post-presidential political life. That total includes money that may have been raised in 2020 by other affiliated committees but was transferred over to Trump's PAC this year — Save America closed June with $90 million in cash on hand, with his affiliated committees banking millions more.
As he publicly floats another bid for president, Trump can't use money raised to Save America for any presidential campaign. But he has broad leeway to spend the money he raises on other political activities (individual donors can donate a maximum of $5,000 a cycle to the group).
But over the first six months of 2021, Trump only spent $3.2 million, $1 million as a contribution to help fund the America First Policy Institute, a pro-Trump non-profit.
Other notable expenses include: hundreds of thousands of dollars on consulting (including $40,000 to the company run by his former campaign manager, Brad Parscale), $68,000 to the "Trump Hotel Collection," and $66,550 to his pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, whose polling Trump pointed to in April to rebut arguments that his power within the party was waning.
As the Washington Post reported last month, none of the money appears to have gone to directly fund any of the so-called "election audits" that pro-Trump politicians and political forces have pushed for in states like Arizona.
More than 100 state legislators to join Texas Democrats in D.C. to push for voting bill
Democratic state legislators from around the country will travel to Washington, D.C., this week to join Texas Democrats in a push for federal voting legislation, multiple participating state legislators told NBC News.
At least 104 legislator from 29 states and Puerto Rico are attending in person, a source familiar with the plans told NBC News.
They hope to secure meetings with senators, who are still in town to wrap work on a bipartisan infrastructure package ahead of a scheduled August recess, and are planning a march and rally for Tuesday, Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani said.
Speakers at the rally are expected to include Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Jeff Merkeley of Oregon, Ben Casey of Pennsylvania, and Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, according to Eskamani. The large delegation of state legislators will include Democrats from Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan, where Republicans have advanced or enacted sweeping voting restrictions.
An announcement of the plans is expected later Monday. The campaign comes after a group of Democratic senators began work on a slimmed-down bill they hope can garner more support.
Washington advocacy groups are footing the bill for lawmakers' travel and lodging, with funding coming from groups including Center for American Progress Action, End Citizens United, and Black Voters Matter Fund, the source familiar with the plans said. Eskamani said she is paying for her own flight, however.
The Orlando Democrat said she hoped the state legislators would be able to share the everyday reality of how the election changes affects voters and state legislatures.
“When you’re a U.S. senator you’re representing an entire state, you’re not thinking about the districts or specific polling sites,” she said. “But we are, we see it every day.”
Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives fled to D.C. last month to block passage of GOP-backed voting restrictions by denying the legislative chamber the quorum needed to conduct state business. Those state legislators have been lobbying for federal voting legislation with lobbying meetings and a steady stream of media events for weeks.
Still, there no clear path for federal voting legislation in the current Congress. At least two Democrats are unwilling to abolish or modify filibuster rules that require 60 votes — at least 10 Republicans in this Congress — to advance legislation. Republicans have largely remained opposed to any federal voting legislation.
Biden accepts posthumous Kosovo honor for late son's work
President Joe Biden is accepting one of Kosovo’s highest honors on behalf of his late son, saying the fledgling Balkan nation “is in the hearts of the entire Biden family.”
At a ceremony this weekend, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani will present a posthumous Presidential Medal on the Rule of Law to Beau Biden, who traveled to Kosovo in 2001 to help establish the country’s judicial institutions and the rule of law as it was establishing its independence from Yugoslavia.
“Beau’s work in Kosovo was heartfelt. He fell in love with the country,” Biden said in a video message that will air during the presentation Sunday. “At the time, Kosovo still bore the fresh wounds of war and a justice system hollowed out by decades of totalitarian rule. But Beau could see what you could do, Beau could see even then the future that was possible for your proud country.”
It’s the second time Kosovo has offered a major tribute to Beau Biden, who served as Delaware’s attorney general and was readying a campaign for governor when he lost his battle with brain cancer in 2015. A year later, during his last year as vice president, Biden visited the country with members of his family for the dedication of a roadway near Camp Bondsteel in Beau Biden’s name.
The president’s brand of diplomacy has always been grounded in personal connections. And because Kosovo’s independence is not universally recognized, it has worked to maintain its close ties with Washington. Kosovo’s capital city also includes major routes named for former Presidents Bush and Clinton.
In his remarks, Biden said his son was “just one of many” people dedicated to Kosovo’s independence, and said he accepted the honor on behalf of all who helped build its institutions over the past two decades. He also said he was pleased to ensure that Kosovo would be receiving American doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine “within weeks.”
The U.S. ambassador to Kosovo will receive the medal at Sunday’s ceremony, which also includes a popular Kosovo singer performing songs from one of Beau Biden’s favorite bands, Coldplay
Teachers' union leader Weingarten backs new masking guidance
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is throwing her support behind masking students in schools, saying Wednesday that while vaccines are the “number-one, gold standard” when it comes to keeping schools open, masking can fill an important role, too.
During an interview on MTP Daily, Weingarten framed masking in schools as a necessary strategy right now, even if it’s not a convenient one.
“I hate wearing a mask. Every time I wear a mask, I have a hard time breathing because I'm an asthmatic. But we figured out how to do it, and we figured out how to teach kids with it, and we figured out how to open schools with it,” Weingarten said.
“The bottom line is: If we want kids to be in school, and we want everybody to be safe, and we want to keep schools open, this is what the scientists, this is what the pediatricians are telling us we need to do because of Delta. And let's just all try to put the politics to the side and try to do this to keep, to get schools open.”
Her comments come one day after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced new guidance recommending that all children wear masks in classrooms as concerns rise about the transmissibility of the new Delta Covid variant. But debates over mask mandates have already been raging ahead of this coming year, with some states like Texas outlawing mask mandates in schools.
Some cities and states are requiring that employees, including public-school teachers, get vaccinated or be subjected to regular testing.
When asked about vaccine mandates for staff, Weingarten explained that while over 90 percent of the union’s members are vaccinated, members are split on whether they want a vaccine mandate for themselves or kids.
“You need to negotiate any kind of vaccine mandate,” Weingarten says. She added that she’s a “big proponent of vaccines,” but the issue is developing trust around public health guidelines because of the politicization of vaccines.
McConnell to launch radio ads calling for people to 'take advantage of this miracle and get vaccinated'
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will soon run radio ads in Kentucky to promote vaccination efforts, a source familiar with his plans confirmed to NBC News.
The new ads, paid for by McConnell's campaign account (he won reelection last year and doesn't face voters again until 2026), will connect McConnell's childhood polio diagnosis to the new fight against Covid, calling on Americans to "take advantage of this miracle and get vaccinated."
"As a young boy, I faced a different disease. I contracted polio. Back then, it took decades for us to develop a vaccine. This time, thanks to American investment and ingenuity — and especially thanks to the tireless work of our scientists, doctors and health care heroes— it took less than a year for us to develop three highly effective Covid vaccines," McConnell says in the to-be-released ad.
"This is not complicated. Ninety-seven percent of people hospitalized for Covid are not vaccinated. If you haven’t been vaccinated, do the right thing for you — for your family — and get vaccinated right now," he adds, directing listeners to the government vaccination website "Vaccines.gov."
The push from McConnell comes as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads across the United States. Spikes in cases and hospitalization, as well as new developments in understanding the variant's effects, have led to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that all people wear masks in areas with low vaccination rates, and that school children should too, regardless of vaccination status.
The spikes are particularly acute in states with low vaccination rates, many of which are in America's South. Covid-related hospitalizations in Louisiana increased by 169 between Monday and Tuesday, an increase the state's Department of Health called the largest since March 2020.
Many prominent Republicans have criticized vaccine mandates and some have questioned the vaccines themselves.
But as the virus rages, particularly in his home state, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy told NBC News that he's planning to release another public statement endorsing vaccines, and that he is listening to the recommendations of health care professionals when it comes to things like masking and vaccinations.
"When a booster is available, I’m gonna take it. My wife’s taking it, my son’s taking it. And frankly, I’m so confident in it that [if] they told me, 'Kennedy, with the booster, you gotta take a shot in your eyeball,' I’d probably do it,” he said.
"It scares the hell out of me, it’ll kill you dead as a doornail, I’ve seen it. And we’ve got a way to stop it. You don’t have to take it if you don’t want to — this is America — but it scares me to death."
Virginia governor ad watch: 'Election integrity' and puppies
It's a busy day on the airwaves in the Virginia gubernatorial race, with both candidates launching new ads in the race to define Republican Glenn Youngkin as the political newcomer seeks to upset former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
The new spot from the McAuliffe campaign plays into a strategy they've centered on in recent days — using Youngkin's comments during the primary to connect him to former President Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election, notably as the issue finds its way back into the headlines amid Congress' investigation into the attack on the Capitol.
The ad quotes Youngkin talking about the "election integrity" task force he launched "on week one" of his campaign in the GOP primary.
"Glenn, enough is enough. Stop embarrassing Virginia and stop promoting Trump’s dangerous lies. Withdraw from this event," McAullife said.
The Youngkin camp responded in a statement, criticizing McAuliffe for opposing "requiring a photo ID to vote, which undermines the integrity of our elections and makes it easier to cheat."
And as the hits keep coming from the McAuliffe camp and its allies, Youngkin is out with a new TV ad of his own that aims to make light of the attacks and soften his image.
In an ad reminiscent to the one Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock launched during his 2020 bid, the narrator castigates the Republican for a slew of tongue-in-cheek "crimes" like leaving dirty dishes in the sink before Youngkin says he's not focused on the negative campaigning.
"Here come the negative attack ads. Terry McAuliffe is going to try to scare you with lies about me, because he doesn't want to talk about his own extreme views. What's next? I hate dogs?" Youngkin says in the ad.
What the NBC/WSJ poll got wrong in 2020 — and what we are doing to fix it
Political polls of all stripes swung and missed in the 2020 presidential election.
In fact, according to a recent American Association for Public Opinion Research report, the cumulative error was the largest in 40 years.
That includes the performance of our national NBC News/Wall Street Journal, which showed Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 10 points in the final survey before the election, when Biden’s eventual popular-vote victory over Donald Trump was 4.5 points, 51.3percent to 46.8 percent.
In the months after the election, the bipartisan team of pollsters who conduct the national NBC News poll — the Wall Street Journal is no longer a partner — evaluated the poll and its 10,000 interviews in all of 2020 compared with actual voters from states’ voter files.
Some of the findings from the analysis:
- The actual electorate was whiter and older than our poll showed: In our October merged surveys, 18 percent of voters were 65+ (when actual senior voters were 26 percent, per the modeled voter file), and 72 percent were white-non Hispanic (when they were actually 74 percent).
- The poll overstated Biden’s support among seniors: One reason why is because of the percentage of Black seniors (versus white seniors) was higher than it turned out to be.
- The poll overstated Biden’s support in urban areas (and also slightly in rural areas) compared with the actual results: "Our analysis of county-based data shows our over-estimation of Biden's margin over Trump was primarily concentrated in urban areas across geographies," the pollsters said.
- The poll was slightly too Dem-leaning: The modeled party score from our voter file (D+9) and our October surveys (D+8) was more Democratic than the actual 2020 voters turned out to be (D+5).
The NBC pollsters found other complicating factors, including declining poll participation rates, the coronavirus pandemic (blue-collar voters made up 19 percent of registered voters for the poll in 2019 and 20 percent in the Jan. 2020 survey, but they were 17 percent for the rest of 2020), and Trump’s unique role (Biden was +10 on the ballot, but it was D+5 in congressional preference).
Going forward, here are the changes the pollsters are making:
- They are adjusting samples to be slightly older and keep white non-Hispanics above 70 percent of registered voters.
- They are incorporating additional quotas by age and ethnicity, and will use a geography-based sampling frame based on size and county type.
- They will ask undecided voters again for a final preference between the Republican or Democratic candidate if forced to make a decision today.
- And they will closely track the percentage of blue-collar workers in our surveys.
Tuesday marks election day in Texas House special election
Texans in the state's Sixth Congressional District will choose a new member of Congress Tuesday between two Republicans, Susan Wright and state Rep. Jake Ellzey.
Democrats have no candidate on the ballot after Wright and Ellzey finished in the top slots of the first round of voting in May. Now, both Republicans are running for the right to replace the late former GOP Rep. Ron Wright, Susan Wright's husband.
One major dynamic at play here has been the endorsement battle.
Wright has the backing of former President Trump (and a slew of other GOP voices like the Club for Growth, Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas, and Reps. Elise Stefanik, N.Y., Kay Granger, Texas, and Chip Roy, Texas.
And Ellzey is supported by former Energy Secretary and Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas.
While fundraising data from the race lags by a few weeks because of federal campaign finance deadlines, through July 7, Ellzey had a significant fundraising lead. He had raised $1.74 million up to that point, spending $1.25 million with $490,000 in cash on hand. By comparison, Wright had raised $740,000, spending $577,000 with $164,000 in cash on hand.
But Wright has had the advertising edge, thanks to air-cover from the Club for Growth, which has spent $420,000 on ads benefitting Wright, according to AdImpact (that's more than any other individual entity in the race).
Trump has repeatedly reiterated his endorsement over the race's final weeks, and recorded a robocall for the Wright campaign down the stretch. A pro-Trump super PAC reportedly linked to Trump's 2016 campaign manager, Cory Lewandowski, dropped $100,000 on last-minute TV-ads to boost Wright.
Progressive group buys $2 million in ads to push tax hikes on wealthy
The advocacy group Tax March is giving air cover to President Joe Biden’s push for higher taxes on wealthy Americans, buying $2 million worth of ads over the next three weeks in swing states and districts calling on upper earners to pay more.
“If you can afford to launch yourself in space, you can pay your fair share in taxes,” a narrator in the ad says, featuring footage of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, who have dabbled in space exploration.
The ads will run on TV and digital platforms in Washington, D.C., NBC News has learned, as well as in Wisconsin (targeting Republican Sen. Ron Johnson), New York’s 24th district (targeting GOP Rep. John Katko) and Iowa’s 1st district (targeting GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson), said Maura Quint, the executive director of Tax March.
The ads will begin Tuesday and last until Aug. 15, she said. They come as Democrats prepare to advance a $3.5 trillion budget measure that will serve as the vehicle for Biden’s proposed economic safety net expansions and tax hikes on corporations and those making above $400,000.
“Increasing taxes on the wealthy is a beneficial thing across the board,” Quint said in an interview, describing it as a means to bridge income inequality, pay for Biden’s economic spending proposals and prevent billionaires from attempting to buy politics.
Quint cited the popularity of tax hikes on high earners in surveys and said it “will be very disappointing” if Democrats cannot achieve that while they control the White House and Congress. “We’re going to be fighting very, very hard to push these policies.”
The group also said it's planning to buy a billboard to promote the cause in Times Square, the home of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.
Trump records robocall for Texas' Wright ahead of special election runoff
Former President Donald Trump has recorded a robocall for Republican Susan Wright ahead of her face-off against GOP state Rep. Jake Ellzey in Tuesday's runoff election.
Wright tweeted audio of the robocall this past weekend, with Trump reiterating his endorsement of Wright and calling on supporters to vote for her.
"I'm asking you to go out and vote for a great Republican, a great woman, Susan Wright," Trump says in the robocall.
"She's outstanding. Like me, she's strong on immigration, she's tough on crime, and she's going to cut your taxes."
Wright and Ellzey are running in the Texas Sixth District runoff after both were the top vote-getters in the May election to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright, who died earlier this year. Texas election laws have the top-two candidates in a special election move onto a general election unless one wins a majority of the vote on the first ballot.
Trump went on to praise the former congressman in the robocall, saying that his wife will "carry on Ron's legacy." The call notes that its distribution will be paid for by the Wright campaign.
The news of the robocall wasn't the only Trump-related development in the race over the weekend. Make America Great Again Action Inc, a super PAC reportedly helmed by former 2016 Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski, reported a last-minute, $100,000 TV-ad expenditure aimed at boosting Wright.
McAuliffe launches first TV ad of general election
Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin has blanketed Virginia’s airwaves for months, and now his opponent, former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is up with his first TV ad since clinching the Democratic nomination.
The ad touts McAuliffe’s record as Virginia governor from 2014-2017, and it also ties Youngkin to former President Donald Trump.
“When I was governor last time, I worked with reasonable Republicans to get things done,” McAuliffe says in the ad. “We created thousands of new jobs, put billions into our infrastructure projects and a billion dollars into education.”
“But let me be clear, Glenn Youngkin is not a reasonable Republican. He is a loyalist to Donald Trump.”
It's no surprise that Trump is a central figure in the ad — McAuliffe has, from even before he won the primary election, made Trump a centerpiece of his own bid, criticizing Youngkin and trying to tie him to the former president who lost the state in 2020 by 10 points.
Youngkin even sought to push back at that messaging in a recent digital ad where he linked the Democrat to Trump. And on Wednesday night, Youngkin tried to frame McAuliffe as the partisan.
The Republican nominee has had the airwaves largely to himself, at least in the general election, until today. From the day McAuliffe clinched the Democratic nomination (June 8), Youngkin has spent $3.6 million on TV and digital ads, according to AdImpact, compared to less than $300,000 in ad spending by McAuliffe, all on digital. But McAuliffe, a strong fundraiser, is expected to ramp up the TV spending in the months to come in the highest-profile race of 2021.
Former Democratic Rep. Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa
Former Iowa Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer is running for Senate, looking to win the seat currently held by longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Finkenauer, 32, served one term in Congress after winning Iowa's First District in the 2018 midterms, but lost to now GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson in one of the top congressional races of 2020. An early endorser of President Joe Biden, Finkenauer emphasized the working class and those being "left behind" in her announcement video. She also includes a significant focus on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, laying blame at the feet of Republicans like Grassley for not protecting democracy.
"The politicians who have been there for decades don’t really want people like us there. They think they own democracy and they were silent when it was attacked. It’s politicians like Sen. Grassley and Mitch McConnell who should know better, but are so obsessed with power they oppose anything that moves us forward. Since the Capitol was attacked, they’ve turned their backs on democracy and on us," she said.
Grassley hasn't said whether he'd run or not, but if the 87-year-old seeks re-election, he'd be the heavy favorite in a state former President Trump won twice and where he's been the senator for more than 40 years.
In a statement, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Katharine Cooksey framed Finkenauer as too liberal for the state.
“Abby Finkenauer and her far-Left positions are indistinguishable from those of Bernie Sanders, AOC, and the socialist squad, so it’s not surprising Iowans fired her just last year," she said.
Right now, Finkenauer is the highest-profile Democrat in the race. Rep. Cindy Axne hasn't ruled out a bid and former county supervisor Dave Muhlbauer is the other Democrat running right now.
New fundraising totals show how party committees are gearing up for crucial midterms
The Democratic National Committee edged out the Republican National Committee in fundraising over the first six months of the year, even as Republican congressional committees edged out their Democratic rivals over the same time period.
The DNC raised $87.1 million through June, with $63.1 million left in the bank, new Federal Election Commission reports show. By comparison, the RNC raised $85 million but ended June with significantly more money, $81.7 million, in the bank, than the DNC. National party committees
At the congressional-committee level, both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Congressional Campaign Committee outraised their Democratic counterparts, with both parties flush with cash as the battle for control of Congress begins.
The NRCC closed its June books having raised $79.3 million this year and with $55 million in the bank. The DCCC finished with $70.7 million and $44.3 million in cash on hand.
The NRSC raised $51.2 million through June and banked $25.1 million, with the DSCC raising $46.6 million and banking away $11.6 million.
The congressional committees are largely more flush with cash than they were ahead of the 2018 midterms, as Democrats' narrow majorities in the House and Senate mean that both chambers will be up for grabs in the 2022 midterms
Early voting begins in Texas House special election
Monday marks the beginning of early voting in Texas’ 6th Congressional District special election runoff, as voters get ready to choose the Republican who will fill the empty seat.
The seat’s been vacant since January, when GOP Rep. Ron Wright passed away. His widow, Susan Wright, and state Rep. Jake Ellzey are running against each other in a runoff because they were the two highest vote-getters in the first round of voting in May, but neither was able to win the race outright with the majority of the vote.
Susan Wright is running with the backing of former President Donald Trump, Reps. Stefanik, Granger, Roy, Gohmert, Sen. Ted Cruz and more. She’s raised $740,000 for her bid, but has spent a little more than $576,000.
While he lacks the marquee national endorsements, Ellzey is backed by former Texas Republican Gov. (and former Energy Secretary) Rick Perry, Texas GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw and the Dallas Morning News’ Editorial Board. Plus, he’s the leading fundraiser in the race, having raised $1.7 million and spent almost $1.3 million.
While Wright has been significantly outspent on the airwaves by Ellzey, she has received some significant air cover from a powerful ally: the conservative Club for Growth Action. The Club has spent almost $350,000 on ads for Wright, making the group the largest ad spender in the race, according to AdImpact, and pushing the combined pro-Wright spending above that of pro-Ellzey forces.
What we learned from the second campaign fundraising deadline of 2021
Thursday marked the Federal Election Commission's 2nd Quarter deadline, covering fundraising for federal candidates largely from April through June (political action committees either file monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually and not included in this deadline).
While it’s still early in the 2022 election cycle, the reports are an important gauge as to how these key contests are shaping up. And that’s particularly important ahead of this cycle, where both the House and the Senate majorities are in play.
Here’s a look at some of what we learned from the 2nd Quarter FEC reports.
The battle for the Senate is drawing big money
With the balance of power in Congress up for grabs in 2022, Senate incumbents and top challengers are already hauling in eye-popping amounts of money.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., leads the pack among incumbents raising money for their re-election — he raised $9.6 million in the second quarter, ending June with a $14.4 million warchest. Scott isn’t seen as particularly vulnerable, as the state hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1998 and Democrat Jaime Harrison ended up losing his 2020 Senate challenge to Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham by about 10 points.
Ohio Republican Mike Gibbons raised more than any other challenger with $6.2 million, but almost $5.7 million of that was in loans.
Not including personal loans, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., raised the most of any Senate challenger with $4.7 million raised and $3.1 million in cash on hand. Her would-be GOP opponent (assuming she wins the primary, in which she’s heavily favored), Sen. Marco Rubio, also had a strong quarter and raised $4 million to leave his cash on hand at $6.3 million.
Ten other incumbents facing re-election raised more than $2 million this past quarter:
- Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., ($7.2 million)
- Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., ($6 million)
- Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., ($3.3 million)
- Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., ($3 million)
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-N.M., ($2.8 million)
- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., ($2.7 million)
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., ($2.4 million)
- Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., ($2.2 million)
- Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., ($2 million)
- Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., ($2 million).
Other incumbent senators to note include:
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., hasn’t announced whether or not he’s seeking re-election, but he raised $1.2 million last quarter should he opt to run again in this battleground state.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who former president Donald Trump has publicly pledged to defeat, raised $1.1 million and is running in a field that includes a Trump-backed Republican challenger.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. who is facing a primary challenger, raised under $800,000
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who just drew a primary challenger, raised less than $900,000.
Senate challengers who raised over $1 million include: Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, ($3.1 million); Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman ($2.5 million); Ohio Republican Bernie Moreno ($2.3 million); Arizona Republican Jim Lamon ($2.2 million); North Carolina Democrat Cheri Beasley ($1.3 million); former North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory ($1.2 million); Pennsylvania Democrat Val Arkoosh ($1 million); and Pennsylvania Republican Jeff Bartos ($1 million).
Corporate spigot beginning to turn on again, even among those who paused donations after Jan. 6
Many corporations that decided to re-evaluate their political donation policies after the vote on certifying the Electoral College results, as well as the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, are still sitting on the sidelines. But others have re-started their giving.
Toyota has become one of the most prominent companies in this saga — after initially saying they would reassess their giving and then returning to donate to Republicans who voted against the certification, they reversed course and announced they’d no longer donate to lawmakers who objected to that Electoral College count.
Cigna, American Airlines, Bloomin Brands, Boeing, and UPS are among the companies who expressed concerns about their political donations after Jan. 6 and have since begun donating to those who objected to the Electoral College count again.
Even so, many of the Republican lawmakers who objected reported little to no corporate donations in the second quarter of 2021.
Anti-Trump Republicans can still raise good money, but so can Trump’s biggest allies
For the handful of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January, their vote may have frustrated many within their party. But it hasn’t necessarily made a dent in their fundraising capacity.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., raised $1.9 million last quarter, more than all but six members of Congress. And Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., raised more than $800,000, a significant uptick from his previous fundraising.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, facing a primary challenger blessed by Trump himself, raised over $600,000 last quarter, more than double what he raised during the same three-month stretch in 2020, months before an election.
But tying yourself to Trump is still lucrative for a Republican. Rep. Jim Jordan’s, R-Ohio, $1.6 million raised was more than all but seven members of Congress. And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., finished one just behind Jordan with almost $1.6 million raised, followed by Rep. Matt Gaetz’s, R-Fla., $1.4 million and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who raised $1.2 million as she successfully ran to take over Cheney’s spot in GOP House leadership.
Other odds and ends
A handful of senators with presidential ambitions are filling their campaign coffers despite not having to worry about a race in 2022. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, raised almost $4.7 million last quarter, more than any incumbent senator besides Scott, despite not having to run again until 2024. And Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., raised $2.1 million last quarter and won’t face re-election until 2024 as well.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, also had a huge quarter for a House incumbent, raising more than $3 million, the most of any House member who isn't in leadership or running for Senate.
In North Carolina, Democratic candidates open up in order to stand out
The Democratic candidates running for North Carolina’s soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat have held the traditional town halls and embarked on the usual county-by-county tours across the state — all to introduce themselves to voters before next year’s competitive primary.
And when it comes to digital space, several candidates have sought to differentiate themselves from a competitive field in unique ways: Using social media to discuss their personal finances on TikTok, capturing themselves at a progressive climate rally and providing a history lesson on Juneteenth.
The three top Democrats vying for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., are former North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, former state Sen. Erica Smith and state Sen. Jeff Jackson. The eventual nominee will face off against the winner of an equally competitive GOP primary in a state where Democrats narrowly lost both the presidential contest and a key Senate race last year.
For Jackson, social media has allowed him to give voters a window into his daily life, which he says supports one of his campaign’s core goals of transparency. On TikTok, Jackson has posted videos breaking down his family’s finances and calling out lawmakers in the North Carolina Senate. On Twitter and Facebook, he’s regularly posted his answers to town hall questions and shared family moments with his kids.
“In this cycle, playing it safe is just too risky,” Jackson said in an interview with NBC News. “You've got to be willing to hold yourself out there and let people get to know who you are. You have to be willing to take an energetic or a transparent approach, or we're just going to lose.”
For Smith, social media has given her the chance to showcase her progressive platform, her background growing up in rural North Carolina and her experience as a minister. On Twitter, she’s posted videos including her attendance at a Sunrise Movement climate protest in Washington D.C. last month as well as her North Carolina campaign stops with fellow progressive Gary Chambers of Louisiana. On TikTok, she’s advocated abolishing private prisons and releasing the body camera footage relating to the killing of Andrew Brown Jr. by North Carolina sheriff’s deputies in April.
“If you can scroll through 15 posts on someone's Twitter, and you don't know what they stand for or what they're fighting for, then they're hiding something from you,” Morris Katz, Smith’s communications director, said in an interview with NBC News.
For Beasley, she’s used social media to highlight her historic tenure as the state’s first Black chief justice and previous statewide wins in North Carolina, along with sharing the stories of those she’s met while touring the state. She’s also shared informational videos to Twitter, including one on the significance of Juneteenth.
“Our campaign is reaching North Carolinians in creative and diverse ways, including on social media through photos that tell the story of her visits with people all around the state, videos that allow her to speak directly to voters, and relevant and informational news clips and graphics,” Dory MacMillan, Beasley’s communications director, said in a statement to NBC News.
But with an increasingly fractured media environment and many voters who also aren’t online, the campaigns noted that this time around, efforts to reach voters across North Carolina need to be all-encompassing.
“It's increasingly hard to reach voters through any single avenue,” Katz said. “So you need to be doing everything. You need to be going to 100 different counties in North Carolina; you need to be talking to local papers; you need to be talking to national papers; you need to be talking through different social media channels.”
House Republican campaign arm bests Democrats in latest fundraising haul
The National Republican Congressional Committee raised more than $45.4 million in the second quarter of 2021, besting its Democratic counterparts by nearly $9 million as the battle for control of the House heats up, according to numbers shared by the GOP group.
The NRCC said it raised over $20 million in June, which is $5.6 million more than the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brought in last month.
"We will take back the majority next fall and voters are doing everything they can to help us accomplish that goal," Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., chair of the NRCC, said in a statement, adding, "Every vulnerable House Democrat should be eyeing the exits because if they choose to run, they will lose."
The NRCC said it raised nearly twice as much in the first half of 2021 as it did in the first half of 2019 — or the same timeframe from the previous cycle. It said the haul was its best first-half total in committee history while June saw the committee set a record for most cash brought in during an off-year month. It ended the quarter with $55 million in cash on hand.
The NRCC totals come after the DCCC announced its haul of $36.5 million for the second quarter earlier this month. Its June total was the second-best of any month this year, trailing March. It concluded the first half of 2021 with more than $44 million in the bank, about $19 million more than it held at this point in 2019, the organization said.
"While Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans prioritize extremism and lies, Democrats in Congress are working each day to continue uplifting the American people," Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., chair of the DCCC, said in a statement. "Our strong fundraising success shows American voters are rejecting Republican extremism and know just how critical a Democratic House Majority is to protecting our democracy and delivering for American families."
July fundraising reports are not due to the Federal Election Commission until Tuesday. The two groups have traded fundraising leads throughout the year with the NRCC topping the DCCC in January, March and May as the DCCC edging out its counterpart in February and April.
GOP groups take to the All-Star Game airwaves
Baseball may be America's pastime, but during Tuesday's Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the airwaves will be inundated with another national hobby — political disagreement.
This year's showcase of the league's top players has been wrapped up in politics since the MLB moved it to Denver amid protests of recent voting laws passed in Georgia. And now, several Republican groups are planning to run television ads during the game to highlight the controversy.
The Republican National Committee announced Monday it is spending seven figures to run a new ad during the game on FOX, as well as on other channels, an ad that argues "Democrats stole our All-Star Game to push their divisive political agenda" and in the process harmed businesses in the Atlanta area. The ad goes on to tout popular voter ID policies, sharing party polling on the issue, amid a broad fight playing out across the country over voting laws and on the implications of former President Donald Trump's false claims he won the 2020 election.
Democrats and voting rights activists have blasted Georgia's new voting laws, particularly highlighting new measures like identification requirements for mail-in voting and restrictions on giving voters waiting in line food and water. In a statement addressing the new GOP ads, the Georgia Democratic Party accused Republicans of waging a "misinformation campaign" in order to "deflect blame from their bad, divisive policy."
“The MLB All-Star Game would be played in Georgia today were it not for Brian Kemp and Georgia Republicans’ divisive, racist attack on voting rights – plain and simple. The GOP chose voter suppression and partisan politics over Georgia’s economy when it passed SB 202, driving investments like the All-Star Game out of our state in the process,” Scott Hogan, the state Democratic Party's executive director, said in a statement.
Republicans have argued those concerns are overblown and that the changes were needed to shore up election security.
The GOP's Senate campaign arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is getting in on the mix too with a spot (which ran during the Home Run Derby on Monday and will run again during the Tuesday game) that links Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., to the decision to move the game.
"Baseball's midsummer classic, the All-Star Game, a $100 million boost to Georgia's economy until the radical left, woke crowd took it all away," the ad's narrator says, claiming Warnock "refused to oppose it."
Before the MLB made the decision to move the game, Warnock told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow "we need Georgia businesses to stand up ... stand up against voter suppression," but did not explicitly support the idea of moving the game. After the MLB picked up and left, Warnock said in a statement that the "decision by MLB is the unfortunate consequence of these politicians’ actions" and that he hopes businesses "can protest this law not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on."
The Heritage Foundation is also running a six-figure ad campaign promoting the new Georgia law by boosting the GOP's arguments in favor of it while criticizing those who oppose it.
And. at least one candidate is getting in on the fray — Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., who is seen as a possible Senate candidate. In it, Carter sits at a baseball park lamenting the decision to move the game and highlighting how he's not "afraid to go toe-to-toe against the leftist Democrats to save America," touting his work with Trump in Congress.
Youngkin drops new digital ad that tries to tie Democrat McAuliffe to Trump
Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin is trying to flip the script on his Democratic rival by trying to link former Gov. Terry McAuliffe to former President Donald Trump.
Trump has endorsed Youngkin. And McAuliffe has spent much of his campaign trying to tie the two Republicans together after Trump lost the state by 10 percentage points.
But in a new digital ad, the Youngkin campaign tries to push back on that frame by arguing that while McAuliffe "spends all his time attacking Donald Trump," he solicited money from Trump during his own political career.
The ad points to a $25,000 donation from Trump to McAuliffe during his 2009 gubernatorial campaign (when Trump regularly donated to politicians of both parties, and well before his attacks on then-President Barack Obama's nationality). And it features comments both Trump and McAuliffe made during the 2017 National Governors Association dinner. At the time, McAuliffe helmed the NGA and attended the dinner at the White House, where Trump called him a "friend" and the Democrat toasted Trump as he called for governors to work together to make America stronger.
"Come on, McAuliffe. Stop talking out of both sides of your mouth," the ad's narrator says.
Christina Freundlich, a McAuliffe spokesperson, brushed aside the spot in a statement that needled the Republican over the ongoing debate negotiations in the race.
"No amount of bogus advertising will hide Virginians from Glenn Youngkin's own words: that he is 'honored' to have Donald Trump's endorsement and 'Donald Trump represents so much' of why he's running. Glenn needs to buck up and face Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia Bar Association debate so they can hear him once again give praise to Donald Trump right from his own mouth," Freundlich said.
McAuliffe's campaign has run digital ads amplifying Youngkin's comments about Trump as well as the former president's endorsement.
Trump also recently put out another statement praising Youngkin that included similar arguments to the one the Republican is making now.
Kelly, Fetterman and Britt raise big money as 2022 Senate fundraising totals trickle in
Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, is out Thursday with his second-quarter fundraising total: $2.5 million.
The Federal Election Commission’s second quarter ended in June, but campaigns have until July 15 to file their full fundraising reports. That means that any information about fundraising that trickles out before then comes from the campaigns themselves.
One of Fetterman’s opponents, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, says she raised $1 million last quarter, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Other Democratic primary hopefuls, notably state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, have not yet released their fundraising totals.
Ahead of that deadline, here’s what we know so far from some of the 2022 Senate campaigns themselves (note: Unless they publicly volunteer the information, there’s no way to know if a candidate is relying on any form of self-funding until seeing the FEC filings).
Incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly raised an eye-popping sum in the second quarter, almost $6 million according to the campaign, which it says leaves Kelly with more than $7 million in the bank. Kelly is running in what could be one of the more competitive races of the cycle, but has been a prolific fundraiser as both a candidate and as a senator.
Two of Ohio’s top GOP Senate candidates have already released their fundraising figures, and they’re quite similar.
Josh Mandel, the former Ohio state treasurer, says he raised $1.5 million over the quarter, just above the $1.4 million raised by former state GOP chairwoman Jane Timken.
Businessman Mike Gibbons, who has loaned significant amounts of his own money to his political career, says he raised $6 million over the quarter. But the campaign also says it had about 1,500 donors over the quarter, which suggests he loaned millions more to his campaign as well.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Tim Ryan says he raised almost $2.3 million last quarter for his Senate bid.
Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley reported raising almost $1.3 million in the second quarter in her bid to win the Democratic Senate nomination, despite her launching her campaign almost a month into the quarter.
State Sen. Jeff Jackson’s campaign announced he raised $700,000 over the second quarter, according to the Charlotte News and Observer.
Katie Britt, the former chief of staff to the retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, says she has raised $2.2 million since she announced her campaign less than a month before the end of the fundraising quarter.
One of Britt’s primary opponents, former Ambassador Lynda Blanchard, has loaned her campaign millions of dollars but hasn’t yet released new fundraising figures. Neither has GOP Rep. Mo Brooks, who is also running and has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
The Florida Senate race is also shaping up to be expensive. Democratic Rep. Val Demings' campaign announced Thursday it raised $4.6 million, while Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News he raised $4 million.
Early voting begins in two Ohio special House elections
Voters can begin voting today in two special House elections in Ohio to fill seats vacated by former Reps. Steve Stivers and Marcia Fudge, a Republican and a Democrat respectively.
Neither district is expected to be competitive in the general election, making the primaries the biggest game in town. And early voting ahead of the Aug. 3 primaries begins Wednesday.
Here's a glimpse of the state of play in both districts, Ohio's 11th (formerly held by the Democrat Fudge) and 15th (formerly held by the Republican Stivers):
Ohio's 11th Congressional District
The Cleveland-area district has turned into a two-candidate race between Democrats Nina Turner and Shontel Brown.
Turner is a former state senator who made headlines when she shifted allegiances in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders. Turner emerged as one of Sanders' most vocal surrogates, helming his allied political group Our Revolution and serving as his 2020 campaign co-chair.
She's won the backing of national progressives like Sanders, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, the four members of "The Squad," and the co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus, Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan. But Turner has also won over prominent local endorsements from politicians like Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, former state party chairman David Pepper and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Turner has already spent about $1.2 million on television and digital ads, according to data from AdImpact, and through March (the most recent campaign fundraising deadline) had raised almost $1.6 million.
Brown, a Cuyahoga County Council representative who lead's the county's branch of the Democratic Party, has won the backing of people including Clinton, Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty (who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, whose PAC has also endorsed Brown), California Rep. Pete Aguilar (a member of House leadership), and Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan.
She's spent about $500,000 in digital and television ads, per AdImpact, with the allied Democratic Majority for Israel spending another $180,000. She had raised $640,000 through March
No other candidate had raised over $25,000 through March, and the winner of the primary will be a heavy favorite in a district President Joe Biden won with 80 percent of the vote (according to DailyKos' data).
Ohio's 15th Congressional District
The field is a bit wider in the Republican-leaning 15th district. Because Stivers announced his retirement in April, after the first campaign fundraising deadline of 2021, there's no current information on how much money candidates are raising.
So far, businessman Thomas Hwang has spent the most of any candidate on television ads, just under $150,000 per Advertising Analytics. Mike Carey, the coal executive backed by former President Donald Trump, has spent the second most, just under $100,000.
While Jeff LaRe, the state representative endorsed by Stivers, has barely spent on the airwaves, Stivers has spent almost $290,000 with an ad asking voters to support LaRe.
This is another race where the primary winner will be heavily favored — Trump won the district in 2020 with 56 percent of the vote.
Fauci says uneven vaccination rates could lead to regional Covid spikes
Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost infectious disease experts, told “Meet the Press” that while he's not expecting a new, more transmissible Covid-19 variant to lead to another nationwide spike, he worries that uneven vaccination rates could mean regional spikes in infections.
"I don't think you're going to be seeing anything nationwide because, fortunately, we have a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated. So it's going to be regional," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview for a special edition of "Meet the Press" airing Sunday.
"We're going to see, and I've said, almost two types of America. You know, those regions of America which are highly vaccinated and we have a low level of dynamics of infection. And in some places, some states, some cities, some areas, where the level of vaccination is low and the level of virus dissemination is high. That's where you're going to see the spikes."
The World Health Organization has warned that the new delta variant of Covid-19 is "the most transmissible" yet, leading Fauci to warn previously it's the "greatest threat" to America's attempts to stamp out the virus. Health officials are particularly concerned that the delta variant could wreak havoc on communities where vaccination rates are low.
Two Senate hopefuls take the plunge
Two Senate hopefuls are taking the plunge on Thursday, announcing their candidacies in the hopes of winning a spot in the U.S. Senate next year.
Charles Booker, the former Kentucky state lawmaker who narrowly lost Kentucky's Democratic Senate primary in 2020, is running again this cycle in the hopes of dethroning Republican Sen. Rand Paul.
Booker had previously announced he was exploring a bid, but he made his campaign official in a new video released Thursday.
"For so many people across Kentucky and across the country, freedom hasn't been freedom for us," Booker says in the video, before evoking Breonna Taylor, the Kentucky woman who was killed in a police raid on her house last year.
"We can make freedom ring true, we could make it ring for everybody. We can build a future where Breonna's door isn't kicked in."
If Booker wins the Democratic nomination, he'll face Paul in an uphill battle. Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell won his re-election last year by almost 20 points, and Kentucky hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992. That said, Democrat Andy Beshear won the governor's race in 2019.
There's also another candidate expected to jump into a Senate field today — author J.D. Vance, who has been eying a run for Senate in Ohio.
Vance is hosting a Thursday evening rally where he's promised a "special announcement," and filed documentation with Federal Election Commission to ready for a Senate bid.
Assuming he runs, the Republican will join a crowded field that's looking to replace the retiring Sen. Rob Portman. On the right, former state GOP treasurer Jane Timken, former secretary of state Josh Mandel and businessmen Bernie Moreno and Mike Gibbons are among the candidates looking for the GOP nomination, while Rep. Tim Ryan is the frontrunner among Democrats.
Garcia defends ranked-choice voting after NYC errors mar mayoral primary vote count
Kathryn Garcia, the New York City Democratic mayoral hopeful, defended the ranked-choice voting process the city is using for its mayoral primaries after a Board of Elections error threw the vote count into chaos.
During an interview on Wednesday's "MTP Daily," Garcia said that "ranked choice isn't that complicated to do once you have the data."
"The challenges we had yesterday were not related to rank choice voting, that was a human error, but ranked-choice voting does allow you to really be able to have a positive campaign, and to talk about issues rather than trying to tear down your opponent," she said.
"And so I was very pleased to have ranked-choice voting be part of this, because it's the campaign I wanted to run, was one where I got to talk about the things that were impacting New Yorkers, because we’ve got a lot of work to do."
A look at Texas' border counties as immigration fights heat up
As Republican lawmakers and governors repeatedly attack President Joe Biden's border policies, former President Donald Trump travels to the Texas-Mexico border with Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, on Wednesday.
Texas' heavily Hispanic border counties (as designated by the state) have seen some strong political shifts over the last decade and are home to some interesting demographic trends. Here's a look at some of the dynamics on the ground in these counties, which are at the center of the immigration debate.
GOP gains serious ground from 2008 to 2020
Republicans improved their vote share at the presidential level in 20 out of the 32 Texas border counties between 2008 and 2020. The largest gains (of at least 10 percentage points) came in McMullen, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kenedy, Dimmit and Jim Hogg counties. Those counties are all relatively small, with less than 10,000 people (two, Kenedy and McMullen, are among the 10 smallest counties in the state).
While McMullen saw the largest shift toward the GOP over that period — an almost 19-percentage-point improvement of vote share — the few Democratic gains were significantly smaller. In Sutton, the border county with the largest Democratic-vote-share improvement, Democrats gained just 5 percentage points.
The largest counties in the state — Hidalgo, El Paso, Cameron and Webb all saw single-digit vote-share gains for Republicans over that period.
Border counties are largely Hispanic, have lower rates of higher education
These counties are also heavily Hispanic — according to 2019 data from the Census' American Community Survey, 28 of the 32 are majority Hispanic, and the majority of households speak Spanish in 25 of the counties.
In fact, 13 of these counties have among the largest share of Hispanics in America compared to any county.
These counties also have other demographic trends in common too. In all 32 counties, less than half the population has a Bachelor's degree or higher, but the majority has graduated high school in all but one of the border counties.
In all but five counties, the majority of the population are not U.S. citizens.
And 23 counties, the population increased between 2010 and 2019, compared to nine counties that saw a decrease in population.
Median household income in all 32 counties in 2019 ranges from $25,000 (Presidio County) to $62,000 (McMullen County). The median household income in the state is just under $62,000.
Covid-19 hits border counties hard, but they have high vaccination rates
Western Texas, especially many counties along the border, was hit hard by the coronavirus. According to data from the New York Times, 25 percent of all Dimmit County residents had the virus; and 1 in 163 residents of Maverick County died because of it, for example.
But many of these counties also have among the highest rates of people vaccinated for the coronavirus in the state. For example, 85 percent of those at least 12 years old in Presidio County are fully vaccinated; 71 percent are fully vaccinated in Starr County; 70 percent are fully vaccinated in Webb County; and 65 percent are fully vaccinated in El Paso County.
Newsom sues California secretary of state to have his party ID included on recall ballot
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is favored to defeat the eventual recall election against him.
But he might have to deal with this hurdle: His political party — as of now — won’t be listed on the recall ballot thanks to what amounts to a small paperwork error back in 2020, when organizers were beginning the latest effort to recall him.
According to Courthouse News, which first reported on the lawsuit, Newsom is suing California's secretary of state to argue he should be able to amend that paperwork, and that California voters have a right "to be accurately and fully informed about the recall election," which his legal team claims includes noting the governor's political party on the ballot.
The Newsom recall is a two-question ballot: The first asks voters if they want to recall the governor, and the second asks them to choose from a (likely lengthy) list of replacement candidates if the governor is in fact recalled by a majority vote on the first question.
While the party preference of the incumbent facing recall hadn't always been listed on ballots (it wasn't during the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis, who was a Democrat), the law has since been changed to include it.
There's no set date for the recall election, but the secretary of state confirmed last week that there are enough valid signatures to move forward with scheduling one.
Youngkin begins Virginia general election with big spending advantage
Three weeks after the Democratic primary and the start of Virginia’s gubernatorial general election, Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin has jumped out to a 40-to-1 ad-spending advantage over Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, according to data from Adimpact.
Youngkin has spent more than $2.2 million in ads from June 9 (the day after McAuliffe’s primary win) through Monday, June 28, including more than $1.5 million over the Washington, D.C. area’s pricey airwaves to target Northern Virginia voters. (Here’s one of the new TV ads Youngkin has been airing.)
By comparison, McAuliffe has spent just $55,000 on ads during that same time period — all of the amount on digital ads.
The wealthy Youngkin, the former executive of the Carlyle Group, has promised to raise and spend $75 million for his campaign, which the Washington Post says is more than the $66 million the Democratic and GOP campaigns spent, combined, four years ago in this race.
As the fall general election gets closer, the traditionally well-financed McAuliffe will certainly narrow this spending gap and the former governor spent $5.9 million on ads during the Democratic primary.
But money is going to be one advantage Youngkin will enjoy throughout the course of this campaign.
Nearly 9-in-10 Americans say U.S. is more divided now than before pandemic outbreak
An overwhelming 88 percent of Americans believe the country is more divided now than it was before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which is up 11 points from a year ago, according to newly released results from a Pew Research Center poll.
Americans believe their country is more divided now than residents of every other advanced nation where Pew asked this question, including in the Netherlands (where 83 percent said their country was more divided than before the pandemic), Germany (77 percent), Spain (77 percent), France (68 percent), Italy (63 percent) and the United Kingdom (54 percent).
The online poll was conducted Feb. 1-7 of nearly 2,600 U.S. adults — a month after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — and has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.7 percentage points.The Pew polls for the other nations were conducted this spring.
To underscore the U.S. political divide over the pandemic, the survey found just 7 percent of liberals thinking there should have been fewer restrictions on public activity during the pandemic, compared with 52 percent of conservatives who said that. Overall, 56 percent of all Americans surveyed said there should have been more restrictions on public activity during the pandemic over the course of the pandemic.
Braun: Moment of 'Euphoria,' but long way to go on bipartisan infrastructure deal
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., celebrated the new, bipartisan infrastructure deal on Thursday's "MTP Daily" even as he warned that lawmakers will still need to do a lot of work to get the bill passed with 60 votes.
"Clearly, our roads and bridges, and even when you expand infrastructure further to include rural broadband, water, sewer treatment plans, it's a big need for investment," Braun said.
"What we saw a moment ago was a moment of euphoria before a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I've never seen so many senators laughing in the same spot since I've been here."
Braun, who was not one of the five Republican and five Democratic senators who decamped to the White House Thursday for negotiations, added that he thinks the deal has a "shot of making it through" if the bill has clear ways to pay for the new spending. But he questioned whether Republicans may balk at the deal because of Democratic promises to seek a second bill, which could be passed only with Democratic support, that includes costly Democratic wish-list issues that were left out of the agreement, like climate change mitigation.
"It will beg the question: Is this just a way to get our attention by separating the stuff we like out of the bigger reconciliation? Believe me, you'll have many on my side of the aisle that may not be for the hard infrastructure part of it if they think it's just a gimmick to get, in two steps, what we probably would have been against if it had been its entirety," he said.
"I want to give it the benefit of the doubt. I'm a fiscal hawk. As long as there are hard pay-fors, we need the infrastructure investment.
Election Day was Tuesday in NYC's mayoral primaries. What happens next?
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams took an early lead by Tuesday night in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary — emphasis on "early."
While the Associated Press projected that Republican Curtis Sliwa will be the Republican nominee (he ran against just one other candidate and is ahead by more than 40 points with votes still trickling in), it's unlikely Democrats will know their nominee for weeks, thanks to the massive field, late-arriving absentee ballots and the implementation of ranked-choice voting.
Adams had won 32 percent of the votes counted by midday Wednesday, with former city lawyer Maya Wiley at 22 percent, former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia at 19.5 percent and former Democrat Andrew Yang (who conceded) at 12 percent.
According to the city, those votes are all first-choice votes from both early and election-day voting, with absentee and affidavit votes to be counted next week. And since no candidate won a majority of the vote, under the ranked-choice system, votes will be re-allocated from the lowest-finishing candidates according to the preference a voter listed on their ballot.
The city will ultimately release the first round of ranked-choice results on June 29, the next round on July 6, and again on subsequent Tuesdays until the city certifies the election after counting all the votes.
So while Adams' lead is significant right now, it will take weeks for New Yorkers to know for sure whose likely to be their next mayor (considering how Democratic-leaning the city is).
GOP outside group spending $1 million in digital ads pressuring Mark Kelly to support keeping filibuster
A GOP outside group announced it is launching a one-million-dollar digital ad campaign pressuring Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., to support keeping the Senate filibuster, using Kelly's Arizona Senate colleague's words to up the heat on the Democrat.
The new digital ad from One Nation, a GOP group aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, uses recent comments by Sen. Krysten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who has repeatedly offered support for maintaining the filibuster, the Senate rule that effectively makes it so 60 senators must vote to debate on a piece of legislation.
"Radical liberals want to change the rules of the Senate so they can ram through their extreme agenda on partisan lines," the ad's narrator says in the ad.
"Sen. Kyrsten Sinema says no way. But Sen. Mark Kelly won't say where he stands."
The Hill first reported the details of the ad campaign.
Arizona's senators are getting pressed from both sides on the issue. One day before the GOP group announced it would go after Kelly on the filibuster from the right, a progressive group announced it would spend $1.2 million on TV and $200,000 on digital ads hitting Sinema from the left on the same issue.
Kelly hasn't come down on either side of the debate, recently telling NBC News he is open to "considering and looking at any proposed changes in the rules.
"I will ultimately make a decision based on: Do I feel — is this in the best interest of the state of Arizona and the country?" he said. "And I'm not looking for something that is in the best interest of just Democrats."
NYC mayoral primary latest experiment in ranked-choice voting
Voters are voting in New York City's mayoral primary, the most prominent election held under ranked-choice voting in modern American history.
Unlike in other kinds of elections, ranked-choice voting allows voters to fill out a list of preferences (first choice, second choice, etc.) on their ballots. If no candidate wins a majority of first-choice votes, the votes from lower-finishing candidates are re-allocated by their voters' preferences until one candidate has the majority of re-allocated votes. But that process takes time, which means final results may take days or even weeks.
Today's vote in New York City is not the first experiment with the unique voting style. Here's a look at some recent examples of ranked-choice elections, as well as where to look out for them next.
Maine 2018 and 2020 elections
Two of the highest-profile ranked-choice elections in recent memory were in Maine during the last two election cycles.
The state's 2020 Senate election, in which Republican Sen. Susan Collins ultimately won another term over a challenge by former Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon (as well as two other independent candidates), had been expected to be one of the closest in the nation that year. That had many political analysts opining on how ranked-choice could affect the ultimate result, speculating that Collins might lead in the first round but lose if Gideon consolidates the anti-Collins vote on the subsequent re-alignment.
But Collins won the majority of the votes on the first ballot, rendering the ranked-choice scenarios moot.
The more prominent example of ranked-choice in action came two years prior in the same state, when then-Rep. Bruce Poliquin ultimately lost to Democrat Jared Golden. Poliquin had the most votes after the first round, but because he didn't have the majority, Golden was able to secure the victory after re-allocating the votes from the bottom two candidates. While Poliquin sued over the result, a federal judge tossed the complaint and Golden was ultimately sworn in.
Alaska elections for 2022 and beyond
After voters passed a ballot initiative in 2020, the state's future state and federal elections will proceed with a modified version of ranked-choice. Instead of partisan primaries, candidates will compete in one blanket primary with all candidates of any party on one ballot. The top four candidates move onto a general election in the fall, regardless of party, and that election will be conducted under ranked-choice.
This could be an interesting dynamic particularly in the state's Senate race, where Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is being challenged by a field that includes Kelly Tshibaka, an Alaska Republican backed by former President Donald Trump after Murkowski backed Trump's impeachment earlier this year.
Markey on infrastructure: "No climate, no deal"
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., told "MTP Daily" on Monday that he would not support an infrastructure deal unless it either included robust commitments on addressing the climate, or he received assurances that Democrats would pass a climate-centered bill after a bipartisan compromise was reached.
As Democrats weigh a two-track path — bringing a bipartisan compromise across the finish line while also setting up a vehicle to pass a more robust bill with only Democratic support — Markey said that his vote will hinge on whether the Senate guarantees it will tackle climate in an infrastructure bill.
"I cannot support a deal that does not have a climate added center. No climate, no deal," he said.
"There has to be an absolute guarantee that climate is dealt with, that the votes are going to be there to deal with the climate issues that are central to our generation's response to this crisis."
The framework of the bipartisan deal leaves out climate and focuses on things like roads and bridges, unlike broader proposals from Democrats. Markey's stance on climate is just one of a growing number of lines progressives are drawing for opposing the compromise.
On Sunday's "Meet the Press, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said he wouldn't support a proposal that included a gas tax, electric vehicle fees or the privatization of infrastructure.
Poll finds broad supports for expanded early voting and photo ID requirement
A new survey from Monmouth University shows broad national support for boosting access to early in-person voting and for requiring photo ID to vote — two voting rules that have been vocally embraced by Democrats and Republicans, respectively.
But the survey also shows that making it easier to vote by mail —a key Democratic proposal — is more controversial and faces a deep partisan divide.
The survey, which was conducted June 9 to 14, 2021 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points, comes as Democrats brace for their sweeping federal voting rights legislation to be blocked by a Senate filibuster. Republicans have vowed to stop the For the People Act, and a compromise bill put forward by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, still lacks enough votes to overcome a 60-vote threshold.
Manchin's compromise seeks to marry some policies from both sides of the aisle. From the left, his outline tells states to offer 15 consecutive early-voting days in federal elections and state departments of motor vehicles to automatically register voters. From the right, it calls for mandatory voter identification at the polls with an expanded list of eligible documentation.
In some encouraging news for Democrats, Monmouth found that 71 percent of American adults, including 89 percent of Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans, back making it easier to vote in person.
But Republicans will likely point to the poll’s result showing eight-in-10 Americans – including 62 percent of Democrats — also back the requirement that voters showing a photo ID, a top GOP priority.
And about half of the public — 50 percent — say it should be easier to vote by mail. Eighty-four percent of Democrats but just 26 percent of Republicans want to see increased access to mail balloting, which former president Donald Trump has baselessly derided as fraught with fraud.
The survey did show an appetite for federal legislation about voting generally, with 69 percent of adults supporting “establishing national guidelines to allow vote by mail and in-person early voting in federal elections in every state.” But it’s worth noting that the proposed Democratic legislation also contains provisions that go much further than that.
Overall, the public appears more sympathetic to the default Democratic position on voting rights — that disenfranchisement is a more urgent issue than potential fraud. Half of Americans say disenfranchisement is a major problem in the country, while 37 percent say voter fraud is a major problem. Sixty-one percent say voter fraud is either a minor problem or not a problem.
To that end, just a third of all Americans — but two-thirds of Republicans — believe ongoing audits of the 2020 election results in states like Arizona are legitimate exercises rather than partisan posturing.
And 32 percent of adults say President Joe Biden’s election was due to fraud, a number that has not changed since November.
— Ben Kamisar contributed
EMILY's List endorses in PA Senate race
EMILY's List is backing a candidate in the crowded Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary — Montgomery County Commission Chair Val Arkoosh.
The Democratic group backs pro-choice women candidates by marshalling direct fundraising and supporting them with independent expenditures. It announced the move Monday morning in a statement.
“Pennsylvania, like much of the country, is at a critical moment — from the continued health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to national debates on how best to address systemic racism and climate change. If we want to continue making progress, we must expand our Democratic majority in the Senate with strong women leaders like Val, who will fight every day to improve the lives of all Pennsylvanians, and EMILY’s List is proud to stand with her," EMILY's List executive director Emily Cain said in a statement, pointing to Arkoosh's work as both a doctor and on the county commission.
Arkoosh is the only female candidate in the field — Reps. Madeleine Dean and Chrissy Houlahan both decided not to run, so the field includes Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, with Rep. Conor Lamb eying a potential bid too.
The winner will face off against an open field of Republicans looking to win the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey, who is retiring at the end of this term.
GOP Sen. Young predicts bipartisan infrastructure framework will lead to law
Sen. Todd Young, the Indiana Republican who is one of the 11 GOP Senators backing a bipartisan framework for an infrastructure bill, predicted on Thursday's "MTP Daily" that the deal would ultimately lead to legislation that will be passed into law.
"It's a historic investment under the framework, without raising taxes, in core infrastructure," Young said about the agreement, which is supported by 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats in the Senate.
"I think we get the votes to pass it out of the Senate, and I think with presidential leadership it passes out of the house and is signed into law."
While the agreement lacks many specifics that will need to be ironed out to craft actual legislation, it amounts to the most bipartisan support an infrastructure plan has received in the Senate. Even so, some Democrats have said they would vote against the package unless it addresses issues like climate change, which they have argued should be considered addressed by an infrastructure package.
Young went onto argue that other pieces of the Democrats' infrastructure push, including "human infrastructure" and "the care economy" should be taken up separately.
Also on "MTP Daily," Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said she wanted to "fight for a big and bold package" nonetheless.
"When you look at the fact that the president and the Democrats in the Senate have been negotiating trying to get a bipartisan package, yes, that’s the ideal, but at this point, I think we have to go big, we have to go bold," she said, noting unified Democratic control of Congress and the White House.
"We can’t forget we have the care economy that we must focus on, our elder care, child care, we have climate issues, we have health care issues. All of this should be in one package, because all of this speaks to the needs and the aspirations of the American people."
Former GOP congressman launches Arizona gubernatorial bid
Former Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., is running for governor of his home state in an attempt to return to elected office after a decade in Congress and multiple flirtations with higher office.
Salmon, who announced his retirement from Congress in 2016, jumped in with an announcement video released on YouTube and on social media. Without mentioning former President Donald Trump by name, he called for an "Arizona first agenda," ticking off a laundry list of conservative grievances and criticizing what he called a liberal push to "turn Arizona into California."
"In the coming months, I'll be listening and learning from you, securing our border and enforcing our immigration laws, and stopping the flow of drugs and criminals into our neighborhoods; building on Arizona's strong economic foundation, cutting taxes and attracting new industries and jobs," Salmon says.
"Banning critical race theory, expanding school choice and hiring more math and science teachers to prepare our kids for the workforce; protecting the integrity of our elections, strengthening voter ID and banning ballot harvesting."
Salmon's mention of election integrity comes amid a GOP-led audit of Maricopa County. While many Trump-backers across the country are visiting the audit site to show their support amid Trump's unfounded claims of widespread electoral fraud, the audit has exposed deep divisions within the party and prompted criticism from Democrats and others.
The national conservative group Club for Growth quickly endorsed Salmon's bid, calling him "a conservative star."
Salmon becomes the first federal officeholder to jump into the GOP primary for the seat — incumbent Gov. Doug Doucey, R, is term-limited. The field of GOP opponents include state treasurer Kimberly Lee. On the Democratic side, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and former U.S. Customs and Border Protection official Marco López Jr. are running.
New poll shows Biden approval rating lower amid inflation concerns
President Joe Biden's approval rating has dipped under 50 percent in a new poll that also shows his policy proposals winning high marks from Americans despite concerns about inflation.
Forty-eight percent of adults surveyed in the new Monmouth University poll approve of Biden's job performance, down from 54 percent in Monmouth's April poll. While Biden lost some ground with Democrats and independents, he gained approval from Republicans since the April survey. Forty-three percent of Americans say they disapprove of his job.
Majorities of adults support the Covid-19 stimulus package passed by Congress and championed by Biden (60 percent); Biden's infrastructure plan that includes spending on "clean energy" (68 percent); and plans to expand health care, child care, paid leave and college tuition support (61 percent).
But they're divided on how Congress and Biden should handle passing those plans — 46 percent say Democrats should pass them "as is" regardless of a lack of bipartisan support, while the same percentage believe legislation should be "significantly cut" to win more support from Republicans or shelved entirely.
While Democrats are overwhelmingly in favor of passing those plans as is, independents and Republicans are significantly more divided on a path forward.
Forty percent of Republicans want Congress to not pass the new spending plans at all, while 34 percent are looking for significant concessions to win bipartisan support and 18 percent say Congress should pass the plans as is. Thirty-six percent of independents want Congress to pass the plans as is, 27 percent want significant cuts, and 26 percent want Congress to give up on them entirely.
A clear majority, 71 percent of adults, say that they are at least "somewhat" concerned that Biden's plans could lead to inflation in the future.
The new poll also shows some regression on the question of whether the country is heading in the right direction, as well as significant concerns about inflation.
Fifty-seven percent say the country is on the wrong track while 37 percent say the country is on the right track. While that's close to the most pessimistic adults have been in Monmouth polls since Biden took office, the public remains more optimistic now than they were at any point of the Trump administration since the beginning of the pandemic.
Monmouth University polled 810 adults between June 9 and 14th, by landline and cellular telephone. The error margin is +/- 3.5 percent.
New York City mayoral fundraising reports show last-minute momentum, stalls
It's one week from when New York Democrats will head to the polls for the city's mayoral primary, and the most recent campaign fundraising figures provide another glimpse into who is gaining and losing momentum down the stretch.
Kathryn Garcia, the former city sanitation commissioner who received recent endorsements from the New York Times and the New York Daily News, raised more this fundraising period (May 18 through June 7) than any other candidate, $700,000. That amounts to her tripling her fundraising clip from the previous fundraising period, which largely took place before those key endorsements. Garcia spent $2.8 million during the recent, three-week period.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams raised $620,000 in the most recent period, doubling his previous fundraising rate. That increase comes as Adams has topped a handful of recent polls in the race, including one the WNBC/Marist/Politico/Telemundo 47 poll released Tuesday. Adams spent $5.9 million over that three-week stretch too, more than any other candidate in the race.
Former city lawyer Maya Wiley also saw a significant uptick in her fundraising rate too — she raised amost $290,000 during this period, during the end of which she was endorsed by prominent progressives like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and spent $2.3 million.
And then there's Andrew Yang, the former Democratic presidential nominee who had been seen as an early frontrunner. While other candidates increased their fundraising rates, Yang's stayed stable, which still allowed him to raise $440,000 during the most recent fundraising period but meant he didn't see the same fundraising improvements that his opponents did. Yang spent $3.4 million over this period.
The new campaign finance reports include some other nuggets on lower-polling candidates too. Comptroller Scott Stringer, who has been accused twice of sexual misconduct, has seen his fundraising all but dry up — he raised under $50,000 over the three weeks, but still spent $2.9 million. Ray McGuire, the former Citigroup executive who has been spending big despite finishing with just 3 percent in the recent WNBC poll, raised $210,000 and spent $1 million. And Dianne Morales, whose campaign has been roiled by tumult among her staff, raised just $31,000 but spent $430,000.
New York City also provides candidates who hit certain fundraising requirements additional matching funds.
Early voting has already begun ahead of the final debate on Wednesday. And the race will be decided by ranked-choice voting, where the votes cast for low-finishing candidates will be reallocated along the voters' preferences until one candidate reaches a majority.
Eric Adams has edge in new WNBC poll of New York City Democratic mayoral primary
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams leads the Democratic field in the New York City mayoral primary with a little more than a week to go before voters head to the polls to choose their nominee, according to a new WNBC/Telemundo 47/POLITICO/Marist poll.
Adams wins 24 percent support in the poll, ahead of former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia's 17 percent, former city attorney Maya Wiley's 15 percent and former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang's 13 percent.
And Adams holds the edge in the poll's modeling of what will happen on primary day, when the new ranked-choice system means that the bottom candidates' votes will be reallocated to voters' preferences for second, third, fourth and fifth choices, depending on whether those candidates are still viable.
Click here to read more from WNBC.
The poll was conducted between June 3 and June 9 with 876 interviews. The margin of error is +/- 3.8 percentage points.
Hartzler jumps into crowded Missouri Senate race
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., officially jumped into her state's Senate race, making her the first woman to join what's already become a crowded field.
Speaking in Lee's Summit, outside of Kansas City, Hartzler said that Democrats are "destroying the country you and I love, and they must be stopped," criticized government regulations meant to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, pointed to her work on the Armed Services Committee as proof she supports the military, and touted her work to help her district respond to natural disasters.
"Our nation is at crisis. The socialist Democrats are endangering our security, bankrupting our nation, killing our jobs, fueling inflation, harming our children, defunding our police and rewriting our history," she said.
"We must stand strong for what is right. We must not give up or back down. And we in Missouri must lead the charge, that's why, today, I am announcing I am running for the U.S. Senate to protect our freedoms and preserve out greatness."
Hartzler is the first member of the state's congressional delegation to enter the race to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. But she may not be the only one. Missouri Republican Reps. Ann Wagner, Billy Long and Jason Smith haven't ruled out bids either.
But even if no one else decides to run on the GOP side, the field is already large. It includes embattled former Gov. Eric Greitens, controversial attorney Mark McCloskey and state Attorney General Eric Schmitt.
The Democratic field currently includes former state Sen. Scott Sifton, activist Tim Shepard and Marine veteran Lucas Kunce.
Virginia nominees for governor go on the offensive with field set
Now that the Virginia governor's election is set, Republican Glenn Youngkin and former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe are trying to define the stakes for their high-profile clash this fall — with the Democrat seeking to paint Youngkin as a near clone of former President Donald Trump and the Republican dismissing McAuliffe as old news.
The far-and-away favorite for the Democratic nomination, McAuliffee had been focusing most of his campaign on the general election already. But now that he's officially the nominee, he's stepped up the attacks on Youngkin and Trump in a new digital spot, as well as during a Wednesday interview with "MTP Daily."
"Donald Trump is still around. Glenn Youngkin, my opponent, has said he is in the race because of Donald Trump. Trump came out the next day and gave him his 'total endorsement.' I'm not sure if Donald Trump has the courage to come to Virginia," McAuliffe said Wednesday, goading the former president in a state that he lost by 10 percentage points.
With McAuliffe focused on lumping Youngkin in with Trump, as well as arguing his record as governor means he deserves another term, Youngkin has argued he represents a new direction for the state, criticizing McAuliffe as the past.
One of the GOP spots uses a McAuliffe primary opponent, former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (who has since endorsed McAuliffe), to make that point. After a super-cut of Carroll Foy criticizing McAuliffe as a politician of "the past," Youngkin appears to briefly call for a "new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia. A second spot shows Youngkin walking against the flow of a group of men in suits as he says he'll be the antidote to politicians "taking us in the wrong direction."
New Democratic super PAC aims to stop Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Ark. governor’s race
Democrats don't know who they will nominate for governor in Arkansas next year, but they're certain who they want to keep out of the office: Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
A new super PAC called Liberty and Justice for Arkansas is announcing its formation Wednesday with a new digital ad imploring state voters to "stop Sarah Sanders," the onetime communications director in former President Donald Trump's White House and daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, NBC has exclusively learned.
The ad, produced by former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee aide Martha McKenna, begins with images of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and members of Trump's family, including Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, who have been reported to have interest in possible future bids for office.
"Stopping Trump's power means stopping Sarah Sanders now," a narrator says. "Stop Sarah Sanders. Stop them all."
“Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ announcement to run for governor of Arkansas was the starting line of Trump’s plan to consolidate power and continue his legacy of divisiveness and hate” Celeste Williams, Liberty and Justice for Arkansas spokesperson, said in a statement provided to NBC News. “Her run for governor is part of Trump and his supporters’ broader strategy to infiltrate all levels of government across the country. Stopping Trump means stopping Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Arkansas is just the beginning.”
Leah Garrett, the group’s director, said one Arkansas donor gave $100,000 to get the super PAC's operations up and running but declined to name that individual.
Sanders faces at least one opponent for the GOP nomination in state Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, while multiple Democrats, including 2018 lieutenant governor candidate Anthony Bland and businesswoman Supha Xayprasith-Mays, have announced bids.
Trump, who has endorsed Sanders, won Arkansas 62 percent to 35 percent in 2020 and 61 percent to 34 percent in 2016.
Eric Adams leads in new NY1/Ipsos poll of NYC Democratic mayoral primary
Eric Adams, the former police officer and current Brooklyn Borough President, leads a new poll of the New York City Democratic mayoral primary with weeks to go before the vote.
The new NY1/Ipsos poll shows Adams with support from 22 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, an increase of 9 percentage points since the news outlet's last poll in April. Former Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang sits behind Adams with 16 percent, 6 points lower than he sat in April.
The big mover in the June poll is Kathryn Garcia, the city's former sanitation commissioner who has received endorsements from the editorial boards at both the New York Times and the New York Daily News. She has support from 15 percent of likely voters, up 11 points since April.
Rounding out the top five are Comptroller Scott Stringer at 10 percent (down 1 point from April) and former city counsel Maya Wiley (up 2 points from April). Sixteen percent of likely voters say they're undecided, down from 26 percent in April, as voters begin to make up their minds before the election.
Yang's drop from first place comes as voters say they're far more familiar with the Democratic field than they were back in April.
But while the top-line of the poll shows who voters may prefer as their first choice, this race will be especially difficult to poll because it's being done through ranked-choice voting (here's the city's primer on ranked-choice, which allows a voter to rank up to five candidates in order of preference and redistributes votes from low-finishing candidates until one candidate wins the majority).
When voters' first and second choices are combined, Adams leads with 36 percentage points, followed by Yang's 26, Stringer's 25, Garcia's 24 and Wiley's 21 percentage points.
NY1 and Ipsos polled 906 likely Democratic primary voters through an online panel from May 17 through May 31. The poll has a credibility interval of +/- 2.4 percentage points.
Since the poll only stretched through the end of May, the results don't include any potential movement generated by more recent flashpoints in the race, like Wiley winning the endorsement of progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Stringer being accused of sexual misconduct by a second woman.
Former Rep. Stivers goes up on airwaves to endorse his pick for successor
Former Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, launched a new television ad Thursday where he backed state Rep. Jeff LaRe to replace him in this fall's special election to fill the seat he vacated.
In the new spot paid for by his former campaign, Stivers speaks directly to camera as he asks Republicans to back LaRe in the August primary election.
"I'm proud to support Jeff LaRe for Congress. Jeff LaRe is a former law enforcement officer and a strong conservative leader who has fought to make our communities safer," Stivers says, adding LaRe will "protect our conservative values."
Stivers abruptly announced in April that he would step down the following month to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, leaving his seat vacant. Per Ohio special election laws, the primary is scheduled for August and the special general election will be on Election Day 2021.
LaRe is running in a crowded field in a seat that Republicans have had little trouble holding since the last round of redistricting. Stivers won re-election in 2020 with 63 percent of the vote, and former President Donald Trump won the seat by double digits during his two presidential elections, although 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney won it by single digits, per the Daily Kos.
South Carolina state lawmaker aims to be state's first Black governor
South Carolina Democratic state Sen. Mia McLeod announced her bid for governor on Thursday as she hopes to make history as the state's first Black governor.
McLeod announced her bid with a social-media launch video where she criticized the politicians of the Republican-dominated state for having "forgotten about all but those who agree with them or fund their campaigns."
"Fixing what's broken is all of our responsibilities," she says in the video.
"I'm running for governor to build a South Carolina that can work for all of us, to bring new jobs to our state, and to support the people and industries that are the backbone of our economy."
Having served in the state legislature for a decade, McLeod is one of the handful of Black women across the country running to be the first Black, female governor in American history.
In an interview with The Associated Press, she said that she wants "to be the person that is running not because I’m a woman, and not because I’m Black, but because I am so connected to and so much like the people that I represent."
“It’s a tremendous responsibility, but it’s one that I’m excited about.”
Before she can take on the GOP's nominee, likely to be Gov. Henry McMaster, she'll face off against former Rep. Joe Cunningham, who served one term in Congress before losing his re-election last year.
In Va. governor's race, Youngkin aided by his deep pockets; McAuliffe outraises Dem field
The Virginia Republican Party's nominee for governor, Glenn Youngkin, has raised more money this election cycle than any of his potential Democratic rivals, thanks in large part to significant personal loans to the campaign.
Youngkin's new financial report, filed Tuesday, show he's raised almost $16 million this cycle — $12 million from personal loans. He ended the last fundraising period, which ended on May 27, with about $4.4 million left in the bank. The GOP nominee is a former CEO of a private equity firm.
On the Democratic side, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe continues to hold a big money lead over his primary rivals. Since Aug. 12 of last year, McAuliffe has raised almost $13 million to his campaign account, including $2.8 million between April 1 and May 27. He closed that period with just under $3.3 million in cash on hand.
Former State Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy has been the strongest Democratic fundraiser besides McAuliffe, but the entire field sits far behind the former governor. Since April 3, 2020, she's raised more than $4.7 million, about a million dollars coming in the most recent fundraising period. She ended that period with just $280,000 left over.
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan stepped up her fundraising this past reporting period, raising $1 million of the $2.7 million she's raised this cycle from April 1 through May 27. She ended that period with just $60,000 for the final stretch.
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and state Del. Lee Carter have been relative non-factors in the Democratic fundraising race, each raising under $400,000 since they announced their candidacies.
O'Rourke to travel Texas for voting-rights tour amid possible gubernatorial bid
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, will hit the road this month for a series of events on voting rights against the backdrop of both the state Republican Party's push to enact new restrictions on elections as well as reports the Democrat could run for governor in 2022.
Powered by People, the PAC O'Rourke founded after he dropped out of the 2020 presidential race, is holding events across the state featuring the former congressman in the hopes of rallying support for the For the People Act. That's the comprehensive voting and elections overhaul Democrats are trying to pass through Congress.
The early schedule on the Powered by People website shows O'Rourke scheduled for trips to Midland, Lubbock, Abilene, Wichita Falls and Denton, Texas over the next week, with more stops promised to be announced soon.
The trip comes as the Republican-controlled legislature in Texas is pushing a sweeping new bill that would enact sweeping new election restrictions in the state, including limits on voting hours, a ban on drive-through voting and new restrictions on mail ballots. House Democrats successfully blocked the bill from being passed before the end of the state's bi-annual legislative session, but Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to bring the bill up during a special session.
In criticizing the push by Texas Republicans, people like President Joe Biden pointed to their hope that Congress would pass federal legislation concerning voting rights.
O'Rourke's trip also comes days after the Associated Press reported he hasn't ruled out a bid for governor against Abbott.
Nina Turner's campaign touts internal poll showing large lead in special Ohio House primary
CLEVELAND — Former Ohio Democratic state Sen. Nina Turner is far outpacing her rivals in the special election for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, according to an internal poll released Tuesday by the campaign of Turner, the high-profile ally of Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Turner led an eight-candidate field with 50 percent among 600 Democrats likely to vote in the Aug. 3 primary. Her closest competitor, Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, had 15 percent, with 21 percent of respondents undecided.
The poll, conducted by Tulchin Research, has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Voters were reached by phone calls to both landlines and cell phones, as well as by email and text message, from May 20-26.
“I am proud to be known as a leader who will partner with anyone who puts the interest of the people first, has the courage to ask for more and the unique ability to build a broad coalition to get things done on their behalf," Turner said in a statement issued by her campaign.
The poll also found Turner with wide leads among both Black and white Democratic voters. The Ohio 11th encompasses a historically majority-minority district.
The race to succeed Housing Secretary Marcia Fudge is seen nationally as an early test of the progressive left’s energy and strength in a party led by President Joe Biden. Turner has been endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and other members of The Squad, the group of liberal lawmakers of color who often push back on the Democratic Party's establishment.
Brown, who chairs the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, has called attention to Turner’s past criticism of Biden and pledged to be an unflinching White House loyalist. Turner, though, is a former top Ohio Democratic Party official with a deep reservoir of support among Cleveland-area Democrats, including Mayor Frank Jackson and former colleagues in the Legislature.
Thirteen Democrats have qualified for the Aug. 3 primary, but Turner's poll shows most lacking significant support from voters. Jeff Johnson, a former Cleveland City Council member and state lawmaker, was at 4 percent, former state Sen. Shirley Smith at 3 percent, and former state Rep. John Barnes and Navy veteran Tariq Shabazz each at 2 percent. Pollster Ben Tulchin told NBC News that the Turner campaign opted to offer respondents eight choices to make the ballot more manageable. The other seven candidates included in the poll, not including Turner, accounted for a combined 31 percent.
Two Republicans also are seeking the Ohio 11th seat, though the district is drawn overwhelmingly to favor Democrats. The special election between the partisan primary winners is set for Nov. 2.
Analysis: Where's the deal on infrastructure?
Infrastructure talks are still up in the air, despite pessimism from Democrats and Republicans alike that the two sides are at an impasse after the White House put out a $1.7 trillion offer that included both physical infrastructure and funding for the “care economy.”
A GOP working group led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., said they would present a new offer of up to $1 trillion in spending on Thursday. Meanwhile, a second bipartisan group that includes Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., is working on another plan. Both would stay limited to what Manchin calls “traditional” infrastructure items like transportation and broadband.
The big obstacle so far is how to pay for it. Capito’s group has said undoing any of the 2017 Trump tax cuts is a nonstarter, and has called for repurposing Covid-19 relief funding that’s already been approved. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the bipartisan working group is considering a mix of existing COVID-19 funding, raising gas taxes in line with inflation, imposing new fees on electric vehicles and increasing tax enforcement (an idea Biden has endorsed).
“We’ll work on the pay-fors as we need to. There’s a reasonable path forward, but you got to pay for it,” Manchin told reporters on Tuesday.
Repurposing pandemic aid money seemed like a nonstarter earlier this year, and so far the White House has not warmed to the idea. But with state budgets looking stronger than expected, coronavirus cases plummeting, and more than 60 percent of adults at least partially vaccinated, there may be at least some flexibility.
In theory, there’s upside to Democrats working out a bipartisan deal on what Manchin called “traditional” infrastructure, leaving them free to potentially pass Biden’s proposals on things like electric vehicles, caregiving, and schools separately. For one, it could make it easier to pay for the rest of his agenda, where Democrats appear divided on some of Biden’s plans to tax wealthy investors, heirs, and corporations and could water down the available revenue.
But Democrats are nervous about getting bogged down in long negotiations, especially with a fragile minority in both chambers. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., set a goal early on of passing a bill by July 4. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also named a July target on Tuesday “regardless of the vehicle” used to pass a bill. He may not have a choice, though. So long as the White House and especially moderate Democrats like Manchin want to keep talking, it will be difficult to move forward.
New poll shows a majority of likely California voters remain opposed to recalling Newsom
A new poll shows that 57 percent of likely California voters are against recalling Gov. Gavin Newsom from office, numbers that come as the Democrat is expected to face his state's voters in a recall election later this year.
The new data from the Public Policy Institute of California shows that 40 percent of likely voters back removing Newsom from office, the same portion that held that sentiment during the last PPIC poll in March. The vast majority of Republicans, 78 percent, back a Newsom recall, compared to a fraction of Democrats, 11 percent. Of independents, 47 percent support the recall.
Newsom's 54 percent approval rating among likely voters is also virtually the same as it was in PPIC's March and January polling. And 61 percent of likely voters support his approval of the pandemic.
PPRI data shows Californians' views on the state's work at distributing the Covid-19 vaccine have improved significantly since January, 86 percent say the worst of the pandemic has already passed, and 28 percent are concerned they will contract the virus and need to be hospitalized (down 19 percentage points since March).
Even so, economic worries are still commonplace as the country and the state tries to claw out from the virus's negative effects on the economy, and as concerns about things like inflation still rage. Fifty-three percent of Californians believe the state is in a recession. But while the majority of Californians say they are in a similar financial place to where they were a year ago, 29 percent of those making under $40,000 say they are in a worse financial place.
Seventy percent of adults, and 61 percent of likely voters, support Newsom's proposal to dole out more stimulus checks, with significant majorities of both adults and likely voters backing Newsom's rent-relief plan.
Newsom is expected to face a runoff election later this year after opponents appeared to secure enough signatures to force an election — while those opponents have tried for years to recall Newsom, their movement gained new momentum amid the pandemic, particularly when Newsom was caught dining maskless at a posh restaurant while calling on Californians to stay home.
Voters will be asked two questions — first if Newsom should be kicked out of office, and if so, who should replace him. If a majority of voters support removing him, they'll choose from what's expected to be a long list of replacements, a list Newsom cannot be on.
The most prominent Republican candidates looking to replace him are former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, former gubernatorial hopeful John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former Rep. Doug Ose. So far, no prominent Democrats are running.
New York City Democratic mayoral debate will now be live as Covid-19 restrictions ease
New York City will hold its next debate for the Democratic mayoral nomination in person next week, the first officially sanctioned debate of the race that will put candidates on the same stage amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Amy Loprest, the executive director of the New York City Campaign Finance Board, which oversees the debates, announced the change in a statement Monday.
"The Board is thrilled that WABC will be able to hold the debate on June 2 in-person. We appreciate all of the work that will go into making this debate compelling for the voters and safe for the candidates, moderators, and WABC personnel," she said, referencing the local news station carrying the debate.
The race's first official debate was held virtually on May 13. But as vaccination rates have improved and case-loads have decreased, the board made the decision to move to an in-person debate.
Eight Democrats have qualified for the debate, according to WABC — Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, former OMB Director Shaun Donovan, former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, former Citi exec Ray McGuire, former nonprofit CEO Dianne Morales, Comptroller Scott Stringer, former MSNBC contributor and Civilian Complaint Review Board chair Maya Wiley, and former 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang.
Florida Democrat Murphy won't run for Senate against Rubio
Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., announced Monday that she will not run for Senate, less than a week after fellow Democratic Rep. Val Demings signaled her intention to challenge incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.
In a tweeted video, Murphy says “We’ve had too many close losses in Florida, and so I wanted to use my experience from winning tough races to help the party prepare itself.”
“The reality is that Marco Rubio will not be an easy opponent especially if it’s on the heels of a bruising primary where Democrats spend millions attacking each other instead of using those millions to build the infrastructure we desperately need to win. So I have decided instead of running for the U.S. Senate, I will devote my energy to helping make our party stronger.
POLITICO first reported her decision.
Murphy told NBC News in February she was "seriously considering" a Senate bid in 2022 or 2024, when GOP Sen. Rick Scott's term is up. She also told NBC at the time she was launching a virtual listening tour.
A Murphy/Demings primary would have pitted two of the Florida Democrats' rising stars against each other — Demings was on President Biden's shortlist for vice president and Murphy co-chairs the Blue Dog Coalition — so Murphy's decision to skip a Senate bid leaves Demings as the clear favorite.
You can read more about the Florida race from our First Read analysis last week here.
Democrat heads toward New Mexico special House election with cash advantage over GOP opponent
New Mexico Democratic state Rep. Melanie Stansbury leads her GOP opponent, state Sen. Mark Moores, in fundraising ahead of next month's special House election, new campaign finance documents show.
Stansbury raised about $1.2 million between April 1 and May 12 and closed the period with $525,000 in the bank, according to a Thursday filing with the Federal Election Commission, the last fundraising glimpse candidates must provide before the June 1 election. Moores raised $344,000 over that same period and had $126,000 cash on hand.
The Democrat received cash from dozens of her would-be House colleagues (or their political groups) including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif; Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa.; Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif.; Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.; Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.; Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, D-N.M.; and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.
She also received donations from both of her state's Democratic senators, Sen. Ben Ray Luján and Sen. Martin Heinrich, as well as groups like EMILY's List, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence's political group, Giffords' PAC and labor unions.
Moores didn't receive nearly as much support from House Republicans, securing donations from the National Republican Congressional Committee and Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-N.M. Other financial supporters include New Mexico politicians and political parties, as well as the National Rifle Association's political group.
That fundraising edge for Stansbury translated into a spending edge too — she spent $772,000 over that period to Moores' $470,000.
The two will face off at the ballot box on June 1 for the right to replace former Rep. Deb Haaland, who is now the Interior Secretary. Haaland won each of her congressional elections by double-digits before leaving the House, and the Democratic presidential nominee won the district in each of the last three presidential elections (the three presidential elections since the last round of redistricting) by double digits too.
The election comes as Democrats have a slim majority, 219-211, in the House with five vacant seats (three previously held by Democrats and two previously held by Republicans), and ahead of next year's pivotal midterm elections that will decide which party controls the House.
Fetterman poll shows him with a large lead in Democratic Pennsylvania Senate primary
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman holds the lead in a rare early poll of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary, winning 40 percent of likely Democratic voters, with Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa. — who is weighing a bid but isn't officially a candidate — in second place with 21 percent.
The survey was conducted by Data For Progress, a progressive firm tapped by the Fetterman campaign, and first reported here by NBC News. It's based on a weighted sample of 302 likely Democratic primary voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.
The poll shows the other prospects in single digits: State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta has 9 percent, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., has 8 percent, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh has 5 percent and State Sen. Sharif Street has 2 percent. Fourteen percent say they aren’t sure who they’ll vote for in the primary.
A larger sample of 651 likely voters surveyed by Data For Progress found that in hypothetical general election races, Fetterman leads Republican businessman Jeff Bartos by 48 percent to 38 percent, and leads former GOP House candidate Sean Parnell by 48 percent to 40 percent. Both are outside the margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Sean McElwee, the executive director of Data For Progress, said the results show that "John has unrivaled support amongst Democrats and independents across the state."
In Virginia governor's race, Democrats take their pitches to the airwaves
Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls are taking to the airwaves weeks before their party's voters choose a nominee to take on Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin in November. And the messages they're choosing say a lot about what their respective campaigns are pitching to voters.
Take one of the ads from former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who has made his prior experience as the state's governor the centerpiece of his bid.
One recent ad centers on the story of a son whose father left jail to build a life for him and his family, but lost the right to vote until McAuliffe restored it as part of his broad push to restore voting rights to felons who served their sentences.
"Terry McAuliffe believed in my dad. He believes in all of us," the son says in the ad.
Two other candidates are also up on the air, former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, are using their ads to play up similar strategies: Upping their name recognition with the electorate while arguing for new leadership in the state.
McClellan's new ad makes that call for new leadership quite explicit with a direct dig at McAuliffe. After running through her experience, she adds that "for 245 years, the perspectives of Virginia's governors, while different in some ways, have had more in common than not," as the ad ticks through photos of Virginia's governors, all white men except former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the state's only black governor.
"The time for a new perspective is now," McClellan says.
Carroll Foy uses a similar strategy in one of her recent ads, which points to her work in the legislature as well as being a foster mom and public defender to argue "I've spent my life helping people beat the odds."
"We can do so much better than the status quo to lift up every last one of us," she tells supporters.
So as the airwaves break down between the arguments of experience and a new direction, there's also the big question of cost. While McAuliffe is vastly outspending his rivals, according to ad-tracking firm Medium Buying, Carroll Foy is the only other candidate with more than $1 million in TV/radio spending.
By comparison, McClellan is at just $51,000, which means she's had far less saturation on the airwaves (she released her first television ad today) than either McAuliffe or Carroll Foy.
Georgia Lt. Gov. says he won't run again after bucking Trump on election
Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, R-Ga., announced Monday he would not see re-election in 2022 and will instead work to "heal and rebuild" the Republican Party, which he has said has been damaged by former President Donald Trump's unfounded claims the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
Duncan revealed his decision during an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, calling his final year-and-a-half in office "an opportunity — a moment in time we can change the trajectory of the Republican Party that can last a generation."
"Any narrative from a Republican that the election was stolen, that it was a rigged election, is wasted energy. And it only continues to make the pathway to winning for Democrats even easier,” he told the paper.
“It may be only a bold few to start with who join me, but I believe an overwhelming majority will eventually get there and get this party back on track.”
Shortly after the interview published, he released a statement on Twitter.
Duncan joined "Meet the Press" earlier this year, where he preached a similar message about rebuilding the "GOP 2.0," and adding that Trump's "divisive" tone and unfounded allegations lost the GOP "credibility" and is a path that's "unwinnable in forward-looking elections."
Watch the full "Meet the Press" interview with Duncan below.
This week on the campaign trail: Gov and Senate races heat up
Six months since Election Day of 2020, the pace is already picking up on the campaign trail ahead of elections this fall as well as next year's midterm elections.
Here are some top headlines you may have missed:
Sean Parnell jumps into open Pennsylvania Senate race
The former Republican congressional hopeful and Army veteran launched his Senate campaign this week in the hopes of filling the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
He'll be running in a crowded field that includes businessman and former Republican lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos, and a field that could get bigger as a handful of others consider running too.
Trump's former campaign manager advising on a possible primary bid against DeWine
NBC reported on Wednesday that Brad Parscale, who previously served as former President Donald Trump's campaign manager for much of his re-election campaign, is advising former Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, on a potential primary bid against Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.
Renacci lost a bid to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, in 2018, but is considering whether to run against DeWine. Last year, Trump mused on Twitter about who may run for governor in Ohio in 2022, a message many believed was a tacit call for a primary challenge to DeWine.
Virginia governor's race heats up
The biggest development in Virginia's gubernatorial race, 2021's marquee election? Republicans have a nominee, businessman Glenn Youngkin, after a complicated but relatively smooth primary process. Youngkin's challenge was made even more clear right after his victory — Trump immediately endorsed him in a move Republicans hope will keep the party together, but Democrats immediately used the endorsement to argue Youngkin is not the right fit for a state Trump lost by double-digits in 2020.
Democrats still have a month before they choose their nominee, with the field looking to break out and cut into former Gov. Terry McAuliffe's lead. Former Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy's campaign announced Thursday she's been backed by feminist leader Gloria Steinem.
Two Texas-sized developments
Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, was involved in two new developments on the elections front this week. First, he set the runoff election date for the 6th Congressional District (vacated by the death of the late Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas) for July 27. Both candidates who advanced to the runoff are Republicans, meaning voters will choose between Wright's widow, Susan Wright, and state Rep. Jake Ellzey.
And Abbott drew a primary challenger this week too — former state Sen. Don Huffines, who appears to be trying to hit the governor from the right, even as polling shows Abbott has a solid favorable rating in the state.
Trump endorses VA GOP gov. nominee Youngkin
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Glen Youngkin, the GOP nominee for Virginia's gubernatorial race, on Tuesday in a statement released by his political action committee.
The quick endorsement came the morning after Youngkin was named the party's nominee in a protracted, ranked-choice drive-in convention. It gives the GOP hope the party can unify around Youngkin after a contentious convention that prompted frustration about the complicated process, but it also could play into the hands of Democrats who want to tie Youngkin to Trump in a state the former president lost by double-digits in 2020.
"Congratulations to Glenn Youngkin for winning the Republican nomination for Governor of Virginia. Glenn is pro-Business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Veterans, pro-America, he knows how to make Virginia’s economy rip-roaring, and he has my Complete and Total Endorsement!" Trump said.
The rest of Trump's statement ripped former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, his party's frontrunner in their gubernatorial primary. But McAuliffe hasn't won the nomination, he's running against four other candidates in a primary that Democratic voters will decide on June 8.
McConnell says 'proper price tag' for infrastructure bill is $600-$800 billion
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a new interview that the "the proper price tag for what most of us think of is infrastructure is about six to $800 billion," a shift from McConnell saying on May 3rd that "we're open to doing a roughly $600 billion package."
The top Senate Republican made the comments in an interview with Renee Shaw on Kentucky PBS station KET. President Joe Biden is calling for a $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan while the GOP proposal, led by Sen Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., clocks in at just under $600 billion.
McConnell predicted "I think they'll see if they can pass this thing by getting everybody in line, if they can't, then we're open to talk about infrastructure and how to pay for it."
Biden will meet with McConnell and the rest of the two parties' leaders in the House and Senate this week, a meeting where infrastructure is likely to come up. He's also planning to meet with Republican senators Thursday on the issue.
Analysis: Trump’s hold on the GOP is more than primary threats
The expected purge of Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. from her position in House GOP leadership has some asking: Why are Republicans looking to recover from a loss in 2020 by rallying around President Trump, who just months earlier lost them the White House, Congress, and the Senate?
One reason is that he commands the loyalty of many base voters, who can potentially primary his opponents. But just as important, he can credibly threaten to take those voters away from the GOP entirely, dragging down Republicans of all stripes.
This reality undergirds a political argument Senator Lindsey Graham, R-.S.C. made for standing by Trump after criticizing him over the insurrection in January.
“I would just say to my Republican colleagues: 'Can we move forward without President Trump?' The answer is no,” Graham said on Hannity on Thursday. “I've always liked Liz Cheney, but she's made a determination that the Republican Party can't grow with President Trump. I've determined we can't grow without him.”
Graham has little to fear from a primary; he won re-election in November. But he does care a lot about the overall state of the GOP and he’s concerned that Trump’s economic populism brought in millions of new voters who might leave without him.
But why can’t Republicans like Graham just run on economic populism without entertaining Trump and his election lies, which are currently tearing their party apart and rallying the Democratic base in opposition? One problem is that Trump can take the party down with him in response.
In 2015, Republicans leaders resisted calls to expel Trump, who was seen as dragging down the party’s brand, in part because he was threatening to run as an Independent — and they believed him. Unlike other Republicans, he’s never made a pretense of putting the party’s health over his own ambitions.
This dynamic returned earlier this year as the party momentarily wavered on whether to abandon him over the Capitol attack. While they deliberated, reports suddenly emerged that Trump was considering a new third party. He ruled it out shortly after his acquittal in the impeachment trial.
It’s important to note Cheney’s argument is being made primarily as a defense of truth and American democracy, not as a political feint justified by raw vote totals.
But if Trump were to withdraw his support for Republicans in 2022 or declare the elections fatally compromised, the results could be devastating. His campaign to delegitimize the vote in Georgia may have cost Republicans the Senate by depressing conservative turnout, prompting statehouses around the country to pass new voting restrictions aimed in part at reassuring Trump voters who believe his false claims.
President Lyndon B. Johnson reportedly said he would prefer to keep a party rival “inside the tent peeing out, then outside the tent peeing in." This isn’t quite the same thing: There’s nothing Republicans can do to keep Trump from making a mess. But the alternative might be Trump taking out the tent poles and crashing the entire structure.
Charlie Crist announces Florida gubernatorial bid
Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., is running for governor, he announced Tuesday, an attempt to return to the state's executive mansion — this time, as a member of the other party.
Crist governed the state from 2007-2011 — while elected as a Republican, he finished out his term without any party affiliation after a failed 2010 Senate bid. He later joined the Democratic Party (after an unsuccessful 2014 gubernatorial bid) and is in his third term in Congress.
Now he wants to take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been seen as a rising star on the right and has been trumpeting his state's response to the pandemic.
Crist's announcement video tries to make a contrast with DeSantis as it runs through Crist and supposed Floridians looking back fondly on his time in the governor's mansion, as well as his work in Congress during the pandemic.
"Today, Florida has a governor that's only focused on his future, not yours. While COVID took the lives of 35,000 Floridians, DeSantis attacked doctors and scientists," Crist says.
"DeSantis is stripping away your voting rights, he's against a $15 minimum wage, he doesn't believe in background checks for guns, doesn't believe in a woman's right to choose, doesn't listen, doesn't care, and unless you can write him a campaign check, you don't exist."
And for the eagle-eyed political junkie, the video also includes praise from former President Barack Obama during a 2009 event on the Great Recession, an event where the then-Republican embraced the Democratic president in an image that helped to sink his career within the GOP.
The announcement makes him the first major Democrat to throw their hat into the ring, but he's not expected to be alone. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has repeatedly nodded at the prospect of running, and has been a vocal critic of DeSantis. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., released a social-media bio spot produced by her congressional campaign on Tuesday, shortly after she retweeted a call for Florida's next governor to be a woman.
DeSantis has become one of the more visible governors during the pandemic, often clashing with reporters and Biden administration public health officials about things like vaccine mandates and public-health restrictions.
During a press conference on Monday where he signed a bill that prohibited businesses from requiring customers to certify they've been vaccinated for Covid-19 before entering, the Republican took a victory lap on his handling of the pandemic.
"We focused on lifting people up. We wanted people going back to work, we wanted our kids to be in school," DeSantis said, criticizing liberal cities across the country for implementing new Covid-19 related restrictions.
"We wanted our economy to be healthy, we wanted our society to be healthy, we wanted people to be happy living in Florida. That was the path that we trodded, it was the road less traveled at the time, but. think we're sitting here now seeing the state is much more prosperous as a result of that."
Liberal group launches $12 million TV ad buy to boost Democrats' sweeping elections bill
The liberal group End Citizens United is launching a $12 million TV ad campaign nationally and in key states Tuesday, aimed at getting the Democrats’ sweeping election overhaul bill over the finish line.
The House has passed the bill and a Senate committee plans to mark up S.1, titled the “For The People Act” on May 11. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has indicated the full chamber will consider the bill.
West Virginia will be a focal point because Sen. Joe Manchin is the only Democrat in the 50-member caucus who hasn’t cosponsored the bill. He said Friday on WV MetroNews Talkline that it is “a far-reaching, 800-page bill which I do not support in its totality,” and has called for bipartisan policies to protect trust in elections.
The group's West Virginia ad doesn’t mention Manchin by name and appears aimed at creating political space for the centrist Democrat to support the bill. “Now's our moment,” a narrator says. “Together we can give power back to people, limit the influence of corporate special interests, get big money out of our politics.”
Manchin “has talked about how important it is to protect free and fair elections and reduce the influence of money in politics. He has a record of supporting many of the proposals in this bill, which have broad bipartisan support,” said Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United and Let America Vote Action Fund.
The other four states are home to Democratic senators who face re-election and are top Republican targets. In Arizona, there are English and Spanish-language ads giving air cover to Sen. Mark Kelly, who comes before voters next fall; and thanking Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a moderate Democrat who sometimes breaks with her party, for backing the bill.
"End Citizens United/Let America Vote is ramping up all aspects of our campaign as the bill continues to move closer to a vote on the Senate floor, where we expect it to pass,” Muller said.
“This bill will stop billionaires from buying elections, counteract the wave of voter suppression being carried out across the country, and put in place ironclad ethics laws to make Washington work for everyone.”
Democrats have a slim 50-50 majority in the Senate and no support for the bill among Republicans, who have blasted it as a partisan-power grab. Even if Democrats were to unify their caucus and secure a majority, they would need to eliminate or get around the 60-vote threshold to pass the legislation.
Conservative groups have been vocal about their opposition to the legislation, too. The American Action Network launched digital ads against it in key swing districts back in March, and the Heritage Action announced that month it would spend $10 million on what it dubbed an "election integrity campaign," which includes opposing the Democratic plan.
Ossoff is latest tapped for commission on China
WASHINGTON – Amid growing momentum in Congress for comprehensive legislation to confront China, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., appointed freshman Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., to a bipartisan commission focused on human rights abuses in the region.
The Congressional Executive Commission on China, created in 2000, is tasked with “monitoring human rights and development of the rule of law in China” and is required to submit an annual report to the president.
This past January, the commission on China revealed new evidence in a report accusing China of possibly committing “genocide” in its treatment of minority Muslims, like Uighurs, in the Western province of Xinjiang.
“The whole world faces a stark choice between government based on the consent of the governed, rule of law, and universal human rights, or totalitarianism and oppression,” Ossoff said in a statement provided to NBC. “I will apply my experience investigating human rights abuses and war crimes to expose and demand accountability for political repression and human rights abuses in China or anywhere on Earth.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., will serve as the chairman of the commission on China, while Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., will be the co-chairman.
Congressional leaders are responsible for naming the remaining 16 members, with Schumer expected to announce that Sens. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Angus King, I-Maine., will be joining the commission, according to multiple people familiar with the process. Reps Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Chris Smith, R-N.J., and Brian Mast, R-Fla., are also expected to be among the members named, according to those familiar with the commission.
Poll: Americans divided over the future of filibuster
As some frustrated Democrats advocate for an end to the Senate filibuster, a new poll from Monmouth University shows the American public divided over the rule — with a significant share still unsure about what it is at all.
The survey, which was conducted April 8-12, found that Americans are about evenly divided over approval of the filibuster, which the poll defines to respondents as “a procedure used in the Senate to block a bill from being put to a vote until a supermajority of 60 senators agree to end debate on it.” About a third approve (34 percent), a third disapprove (34 percent) and a third have no opinion (33 percent)
But most people may be a little fuzzy on the facts.
Just one in five Americans (19 percent) say they’re very familiar with the filibuster, while 40 percent say they’re only somewhat familiar. An additional 12 percent say they’re not too familiar or not familiar at all with it, and about one in three Americans — 29 percent — say they have never heard of the Senate filibuster.
The poll also shows little enthusiasm nationally for throwing out the filibuster wholesale, although reforms to it are more popular. Only about one in five Americans (19 percent) say they support completely eliminating the filibuster, while 38 percent say it should be kept but with reforms. Another 38 percent say the filibuster should be kept in place as it is.
The data also show a partisan gap, reflecting Democrats’ recent frustrations with their inability to pass what they believe are popular agenda items — like gun ownership reforms — because a sufficient number of Republicans don’t cross the aisle to support them.
Two-thirds of Republicans (64 percent) want to keep the filibuster as it is. But despite a push among some progressives to ditch it entirely, the critical mass among Democrats appears to be around reform rather than a wholesale elimination of the filibuster. A third of Democrats (30 percent) want to kill it entirely, while 49 percent support keeping it with changes.
The survey was conducted April 8-12 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
GOP Rep. Budd jumps into North Carolina Senate race with Club for Growth endorsement
Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C., announced Wednesday that he's running for Senate in 2022 to fill the seat that will be vacated by the retiring incumbent Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.
The third-term congressman launched his bid with a three-minute video where he pokes fun at the extravagance of some announcement video, evokes former President Trump with video of Trump praising him at a campaign rally, echoes conservative frustrations about cancel culture and accuses congressional Democrats of "shredding our Constitution."
"I'm a small businessman who was so fed up by the liberals' attacks on our faith, our family and our way of life that I ran for Congress to stand and fight alongside Donald Trump, drain the swamp and take our country back," Budd says.
"We all know that Joe Biden is a weak leader who won't stand up to the radical left. Today, the U.S. Senate is the last line of defense against having a woke socialist wasteland, and I'm running to stop that, period."
Budd joins a Republican primary field that includes fellow Congressman Mark Walker and former Gov. Pat McCrory. Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, has also said she's interested in running but hasn't decided yet.
Shortly after Budd's announcement, the conservative Club for Growth PAC backed Budd in statement from its president, former Rep. David McIntosh, R-Ind.
Trump backs Susan Wright, widow of former congressman, in special election
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Texas Republican Susan Wright in the special election to replace her late husband, former Republican Rep. Ron Wright.
Trump made the endorsement through an emailed press release — he remains banned from virtually all social media platforms in the wake of the January attack on the Capitol by his supporters — hewing very closely to the boilerplate language he typically uses while backing a candidate.
"Susan Wright will be a terrific Congresswoman (TX-06) for the Great State of Texas. She is the wife of the late Congressman Ron Wright, who has always been supportive of our America First Policies," Trump said.
"Susan will be strong on the Border, Crime, Pro-Life, our brave Military and Vets, and will ALWAYS protect your Second Amendment."
Wright is running in a crowded race to fill the seat vacated by the death of her husband, who served one term before passing away in February. There are 23 candidates in the special election, which pits every candidate on the same ballot, regardless of party. If no candidate wins a majority on the first ballot, the top two move onto a runoff.
Loyalty to Trump has been a big theme on the Republican side of the race. One candidate, Michael Wood, has spoken out against Trump. But many of the other Republicans, in a field that includes multiple former Trump administration officials, have tried to hug him tight. One candidate, former WWE wrestler Dan Rodimer, has pointed to his 2020 congressional endorsement from Trump to argue he's "the only one that has ever been endorsed by President Trump." That comment prompted Trump adviser Jason Miller to tweet last week clarifying that Trump hadn't yet weighed on the special election.
Former Democratic Rep. Cunningham running for governor of South Carolina
Former Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., is running for governor in an underdog bid to become the first Democrat elected governor of South Carolina since 1998.
After weeks of speculation, the Democrat broke the news on social media, tweeting out a video announcement focused primarily on his family and his own biography. He criticized the South Carolina state government as too extreme for the state, pointing to new restrictions on abortion and voting, as well as the decision to loosen restrictions on the open carry of firearms.
Cunningham then turned his criticism to Gov. Henry McMaster, the Republican he hopes to defeat next November.
"Gov. McMaster has been cheering them on every step of the way. It's embarrassing. The challenges we face aren't because of our people, they're because of our politicians," he said.
"After 20 years of trying the same thing, it's time for something different, something new, which is why I'm announcing that I'm running for governor of SOuth Carolina because my son, and your kids, deserve something better. We all do."
Cunningham is a one-term congressman who served in Congress from 2019 to 2020 after winning the Charleston-area seat once represented by the state's former GOP Gov. Mark Sanford. Sanford lost his primary in 2018 to Republican Katie Arrington, who Cunningham narrowly beat. He lost two years later to Republican Nancy Mace, who now represents the district in Congress.
The Democrat has experience winning over a Republican-leaning area — he pointed to his 2018 victory, where he won in a district that voted for then-President Donald Trump by double-digits just two years prior, in his announcement video. But no Democrat has won statewide there since the 2006 election for superintendent of education, according to The Post and Courier.
NRA will spend $2 million on ads opposing Biden's gun policy and ATF nominee
The National Rifle Association is pledging to spend $2 million in digital and television ads, as well as supporter outreach as it looks to rally opposition to President Joe Biden's gun policies and his pick to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The efforts include $600,000 in digital advertising across seven states (Maine, Arizona, Montana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania), $400,000 in television ads in Maine, West Virginia and Montana, and $500,000 in mail pieces sent to supporters in 12 states (Maine, Arizona, Montana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Pennsylvania, Utah, Alaska, Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana).
Examples of the digital and television ads shared by the NRA show the opposition centered on Biden's nomination of David Chipman to lead ATF as well as a broad claim that Biden wants to ban "commonly owned firearms and magazines," calling on senators to oppose both Biden and Chipman.
After a mass shooting in Colorado last month, Biden reiterated his call to ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as to expand the use of background checks.
Last week, Biden took executive action aimed at limiting homemade firearms that don't have traceable serial numbers and to call on the Justice Department to lay out model "red flag" laws for states. These laws allow courts to temporarily block someone from having a firearm if family members believe they are a danger to themself or to others. He also announced Chipman's nomination alongside those actions.
"Americans should not be forced to live in fear in a political climate in which government leaders are outrightly hostile to a fundamental and guaranteed freedom enshrined in our Bill of Rights," Amy Hunter, an NRA spokeswoman, told NBC.
“We will fight Chipman’s nomination and the bad bills that now are in the Senate. And, this is just the beginning.”
The NRA has recently been marred by accusations of mismanagement and is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings.
Everytown for Gun Safety, a group that has organized as a counterweight to the NRA's institutional power in the gun arena, launched a seven-figure ad campaign of its own last monthaimed at convincing Congress to pass new background check expansions.
EMILY's List endorses Democrat Carroll Foy in VA Gov race
In the crowded Democratic primary for Virginia governor, Jennifer Carroll Foy’s campaign has been adamant that the race has turned into a two-person contest — between her and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Now, EMILY’s List has decided to endorse the former state delegate over state Sen. Jennifer McClellan this morning.
Both Carroll Foy and McClellan are vying to be the state’s first woman — and first Black woman — governor. And Carroll Foy has edged out McClellan in fundraising so far, even as McAuliffe has far more resources.
But McClellan got a boost of her own this morning as she attempts to frame herself as the non-McAuliffe alternative — CNN is reporting that two prominent Democratic donors in California are asking their network to send money to her.
Polling in the race has shown McAuliffe with a huge lead over the field ahead of the June 8 primary, with the rest of the field, that also includes Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and state Del. Lee Carter, in a pile-up far behind him.
—Ben Kamisar contributed
Biden administration kicks off social media push on vaccines with celebrity help
The Biden administration on Thursday plans to kick off the next phase of its campaign to combat vaccine hesitancy with a new effort that targets young people through celebrities and their social media platforms, according to administration officials.
The idea is for doctors, scientists and other health officials to take over the social media platforms of famous people, including Olivia Holt, Eva Longoria, Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest, for live events about the vaccine aimed at their millions of followers, according to a release detailing the effort. The initiative, called “We Can Do This: Live,” will include Instagram Live questions and answers and other virtual events where followers can ask questions and get information about the vaccine.
The NBA, WNBA, NASCAR, the Recording Academy and others such as Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, political strategist Ana Navarro, Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban are also participating in the events.
The timing of the new phase comes as availability for the vaccine has been expanded to all adults, and the administration is trying to reach some of the core groups that are still hesitant to get vaccinated. “It’s time to pull all the levers we have,” one administration official said.
The goal, according to the release, is to reach Americans, particularly young people, “directly in the places where they already consume content online, including social media, podcasts, YouTube, and more.”
John Bolton-sponsored poll suggests Trump's grip on GOP is losing steam
A new poll of likely Republican voters commissioned by former President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, suggests the intensity of support for Trump within the GOP has been slipping, even as he remains a popular and influential figure within the party.
The poll, commissioned by Bolton's super PAC, finds that 85 percent of likely Republican general election voters view Trump favorably, compared to 13 percent who view him unfavorably. But under the surface, Bolton argued that enthusiasm for Trump is beginning to wane, pointing to the fact that 58 percent of respondents say they have a “very favorable” view of Trump while 27 percent say they just view him “somewhat” favorably.
Bolton and his pollster, veteran North Carolina political operative Carter Wrenn, compared the data to polls taken before Election Day in 2020 that found significantly higher numbers of Republicans who viewed Trump strongly or very favorably.
“I was motivated on this poll in part because in the commentariat and among some politicians, there didn’t seem to be a recognition that things changed on Jan. 20th, when Trump had gone from sitting in the most powerful office in the world to sitting by a swimming pool at Mar-a-Lago. That’s going to have an effect over time as it is for any incumbent president,” Bolton said in a call with reporters discussing the poll's findings.
“I hoped and believed, as somebody who had been in Republican politics for a long time that we had not become a cult of personality,” he added, saying he’s encouraged by the poll’s finding that 82 percent of Republicans say they care more about a candidate’s stance on issues than whether they’re loyal to Trump.
Bolton’s super PAC polled 1,000 likely midterm general election voters by phone (with an oversample of 600 likely Republican general election voters in that larger total) from April 3-7. The Republican section has a margin of error of 4 percent.
Bolton, who has long been a fixture in GOP politics, joined the Trump administration for a little over a year. He left the administration amid a disagreement whether he resigned or was fired, and both Trump and Bolton have repeatedly criticized each other publicly since.
Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign aide who continues to advise him, tweeted a criticism of Bolton Tuesday in response to the polling.
"John Bolton has never recovered from being fired. President Trump used Bolton’s idiocy to the benefit of Americans in negotiating deals with other countries because they knew Bolton was a crazed lunatic," Miller said.
Trump won a significant plurality in a hypothetical 2024 GOP presidential primary matchup against six other potential Republican hopefuls — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.
Forty-four percent of those GOP primary voters backed Trump, but 56 percent were either undecided or backing another candidate. Among those who have a “very favorable” view of Trump, 70 percent said they’d back him in 2024, while 30 percent said they were undecided or backing another candidate.
Behind Trump in the hypothetical GOP presidential primary matchup were: DeSantis and Haley at 9 percent each; Cruz at 7 percent; Pence at 6 percent; Rubio at 2 percent; Noem at 1 percent; and 21 percent who were undecided.
Views on Trump’s policies and personality also served as a strong proxy for voters’ choice in 2024 — 71 percent of voters who like both Trump’s policies and personality backed him, while 64 percent who liked his policy but disliked his personality were not supporting him.
And the poll found that for a majority of Republicans, 52 percent, whether Trump personally opposed a candidate made no difference as to a voter’s decision on that candidate (29 percent said they’d be more likely to vote against that candidate while 19 percent it would make them more likely to vote for that candidate).
Wrenn pointed to those numbers specifically to argue that part of the GOP softening on Trump is related to his personality, and that Trump’s hold on the 2024 field, and the party at large, may not be as strong as some may think.
“Among Washington consultants, it’s a mantra: If Trump runs, you can’t win. I think that’s a fiction,” he said.
The poll is not the first to examine the future of the GOP, and not the only one from a principal with a personal connection to the administration. As Axios first reported last month, Fabrizio, Lee & Associates(which polled for Trump’s presidential campaign) found that the plurality of GOP voters, 23 percent, were most concerned about fiscal issues, with 19 percent considered “extremely conservative” and 17 percent focused on individual freedom.
Here are some initial takeaways from the most recent FEC reports
Friday's first-quarter fundraising deadline gave reporters and the public the first glance at the state of 2021 campaign fundraising during a hectic three months that included the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, objections to the Electoral College, an impeachment vote, serious jockeying for higher office and many other flashpoints.
Here are some key things we've learned from those filings so far:
Most corporate PACs appear to have followed through on donation pauses
After the Electoral College objections and the Capitol attack, dozens of corporations put out statements ranging from condemnations to calls to re-evaluate their giving or blanket bans on donations to those who objected to President Joe Biden's victory. And this first, preliminary look, makes clear that most followed through.
The majority of Republicans who objected to the Electoral College certification saw a decrease in political action committee donations in the first quarter of 2021 when compared to the first quarter of 2019 (only counting those who were in Congress during both eras).
And most of the organizations that spoke out in the wake of the attack didn't donate to these members (note: Many of these corporate PACs file semi-annually, while federal candidates file quarterly).
Only a small group, including companies like Toyota, the National Association of Realtors, JetBlue and Cigna did, giving to a handful of lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election. But those groups issued more broad statements after the Congressional vote, not specifically promising the end to donations to those who objected to the Electoral College.
Toyota is one good example of how some of those companies are handling the issue. In January, Toyota told E&E that "given recent events and the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, we are assessing our future PAC criteria." But when asked by NBC News about its donations, a Toyota spokesman said its donations are "based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company."
"We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification. Based on our thorough review, we decided against giving to some members who, through their statements and actions, undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions," the spokesperson added, noting that the company generally gives to lawmakers who represent areas where Toyota has operations and that the company gave both to Democrats this quarter, as well as four of the 10 House Republicans who backed former President Donald Trump's impeachment
But many of those who objected raised a lot of small-dollar money
If the money isn't coming in from corporations, then a candidate has to find new revenue sources. Many of those who objected to the Electoral College got a bump from small-dollar donors (per Politico, a majority of them), particularly some of the most outspoken objectors.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who vocally helped to lead the opposition to the Electoral College vote, raised an eye-popping $3 million over the single quarter, almost two-thirds from donations of under $200. In the first quarter of 2019, Hawley raised just $44,000. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., also raised about $3 million, a massive sum for a House member and more than all but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.
And Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., another GOP lawmaker who repeatedly cast doubt on the veracity of the Electoral College (and more recently is facing investigations into sexual misconduct allegations) raised $1.8 million that quarter, more than three-quarters in donations under $200.
The GOP spent the Trump years trying to leverage Trump's success with small-dollar donors into helping the party as a whole. And it remains clear that if big donors will be slow to donate to those who objected to the Electoral College, these small-dollar donors will only become more important to these members as they look toward re-election or higher office.
Trump critics raised significant money, some spending big on security
We didn't just see big quarters from those who backed Trump's attempts to throw out the Electoral College — some of the former president's most vocal Republican critics raked in cash too. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., raised $1.5 million, more than all but 12 House members. And the $1.2 million haul from Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., was good enough to get him into the top 20 of all members last quarter.
But some of those seen as major Trump critics, either who supported his impeachment or have otherwise spoken out against him, have spent big money on security during the first quarter. Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., spent $69,000 of the $112,000 spent by his campaign all quarter on security services or consulting (Toomey is retiring at the end of 2022). His campaign had previously reported spending a total of $6,600 on security over the last decade.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who joined with Toomey to vote to impeach Trump, spent almost $44,000 on security expenses in February — he had spent about $2,000 on security previously out of his campaign account.
Race for the Senate begins to come into focus
It's still early, but these reports also provided the first glimpse of what resources notable Senate candidates are beginning to amass.
In the heated Ohio Senate GOP primary, former state GOP chairwoman Jane Timken loaned her campaign $1 million and raised another $1.1 million. Her primary opponent at this point, former state treasurer Josh Mandel, actually lost money in his primary campaign account apparently because his investments took a $130,000 hit. But a spokesman told Cleveland.com his campaign will net about $700,000 through fundraising in his joint fudraising committee.
On the other side of the aisle, Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democrat seen to be eying a bid, posted a $1.2 million quarter with nothing from his own personal funds.
Some incumbents likely to face serious challenges raised big money — for example, Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., raised almost $4.4 million; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., raised more than $1.6 million; Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., raised $4.6 million from Jan. 26 through March; Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., raised $2.9 million; and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto raised $2.3 million.
Others, like Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., raised less as they continue to weigh whether they'll run again.