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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Political Strategy Notes

“The coronavirus pandemic was the most important issue among California voters in Tuesday’s failed recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), according to exit polling,” Mychael Schnell reports at The Hill. “Roughly one-third of California voters, who overwhelmingly rejected the recall effort, said COVID-19 is the biggest issue for the state, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research cited by CNN….A little more than one-fifth of voters polled said they were most concerned about homelessness, followed by 1 in 6 for both the economy and wildfires and just under a tenth pointing to crime….More than 4 in 10 Democrats said the coronavirus was the most important issue to them, while only about one-fifth of Republicans agreed….Republicans were more than three times as likely as Democrats to cite the economy as their chief concern….When reflecting on the current state of California, roughly 4 in 10 respondents said the situation is improving; 3 in 10 said it remains about the same and just under one-fourth said matters are getting worse….The exit polls also looked at voters’ outlook on the policies Newsom implemented amid the pandemic, which a number of pro-recall individuals pointed to as reasons why they wanted to oust him….Roughly 45 percent of voters polled said the governor’s COVID-19 policies have been about right, while one-third said the regulations were too strict. The rest of the electorate said the rules are not strict enough….Overall, more than 6 in 10 voters said getting inoculated is more of a public health responsibility than a personal choice.”

Amy Walter and Jessica Taylor saw it a little differently at The Cook Political Report: “What helped get Democrats motivated? Elder is likely the biggest reason as his controversial and conservative views on several issues already put him out of step with this deep blue state. But, it was his opposition to vaccine and masking mandates that allowed Newsom to change the narrative — focus more on what Elder was doing wrong than on the terrible Delta summer and the French Laundry incident. Plus, Edler gave Newsom huge gifts in showing exactly how he’d govern differently from the Democratic incumbent — and out of step with the vast majority of the state. None such incident seemed worse than just over a week ago when Elder said on Mark Levin’s radio show that the state’s 88-year-old senior Senator Dianne Feinsten was in “even worse mental condition than Joe Biden and that “they’re afraid I’m going to replace her with a Republican — which I most certainly would do. And that would be an earthquake in Washington, D.C.”….It wouldn’t just be an earthquake if something happened to Feinstein and Elder replaced her with a Republican — it would quite literally tip the balance of power back to the GOP in the Senate. Elder’s also suggested he’d seek to limit legal abortion in the state, which has also ginned up once complacent voters on the heels of the Texas law. Elder has also faced allegations of past sexual harassment (which he denied but then said one woman was not attractive enough to have been harassed).”

Nathaniel Rakich brings the mostly good news at FiveThirtyEight: “As it is every two years, control of the House and Senate will once again be at stake in the November 2022 midterm elections, and one of the best tools we have for predicting those election results is polling of the generic congressional ballot. The generic congressional ballot question typically asks respondents which party they intend to vote for in the upcoming congressional election, without naming specific candidates1 — allowing the question to be asked nationally to gauge the overall political environment. And for several years now, we at FiveThirtyEight have been collecting these polls and calculating a weighted average for them, and we’re excited today to publish our generic ballot average for the 2022 election cycle….As of Thursday, Sept. 16, Democrats lead Republicans in our polling average by 2.7 percentage points (43.8 percent to 41.1 percent). This average is calculated much the same way as our presidential approval-rating average, with a couple of differences. First, the lines we draw for the generic-ballot averages are more aggressively smoothed;2 in other words, they are slower to respond to new data. (Because generic-ballot polls are less common than presidential-approval polls, we’ve found that, to filter out noise, the generic-ballot average needs to incorporate a larger sample of polls stretching further back in time than the presidential-approval average.) Second, while our presidential-approval average prefers the versions of polls that survey the widest universe (i.e., all adults over registered voters, and registered voters over likely voters), our generic-ballot average does the opposite. This is because, while we’re interested in knowing what all Americans think about the president, generic-ballot polls are fundamentally election polls — and we’re interested only in how actual voters are going to vote in the midterms.”

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