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Monday, December 09, 2019

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When the GOP-packed Supreme Court first overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Republican politicians and operatives developed a standard talking point: By November, the economy will be the overriding issue in the midterms.

After beating that drum for months, sure enough, it crept into conventional wisdom. For the last month, a wide swath of pundits and analysts alike—mostly male—have taken the GOP talking point as gospel. Their proof often starts with a certain bias which is then confirmed by issue polling in which economy/inflation usually rises to the top.

But just because most people often flag the economy as a top issue, it does not mean abortion and reproductive freedom have lost resonance for a wide swath of the electorate.

In Michigan, a Detroit News/Glengariff poll conducted October 26-28 found that while more independent voters said inflation was the most important issue facing Michigan, slightly more independents also tagged abortion as the issue most motivating them to vote.

Independent Voters

What is the most important issue facing Michigan?

  • 40 percent Inflation
  • 31 percent abortion

Which issue is most motivating you to go to the polls?

  • 35 percent abortion
  • 34 percent inflation

Among all female voters, abortion was the primary driver motivating them to vote, reported ClickonDetroit.com. Overall, 43.5 percent of female voters said they care most about abortion and women’s rights issues, while just 24.6 percent of male voters did.

In Pennsylvania, the latest Fox News poll found that, far from fading, intensity around abortion had actually increased more than on any other issue in the state's critical Senate race.

WHICH ISSUE IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOUR SENATE VOTE

OCT. 26-30JULY 22-26
INFLATION33%27%
ABORTION 24%14%
ELECTION INTEGRITY/VOTING RIGHTS11%11%
CRIME6%4%

The final pre-election poll from Daily Kos/Civiqs showed that abortion remained the top motivating issue for Democratic voters across the country, with 52% of Democrats saying it would be the most important issue driving their vote.

VOTERS TOP FOUR ISSUES (DAILY KOS/CIVIQS POLL)

TOTALDEMOCRATREPUBLICANINDEPENDENT
ECONOMY/JOBS/INFLATION58%38%83%60%
FAIR ELECTIONS/DEMOCRACY34%43%26%31%
IMMIGRATION32%19%60%30%
ABORTION31%52%14%24%

All of these data points back up early October findings from the Kaiser health tracking poll indicating that fully 50 percent of voters now say the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe has made them more motivated to vote—up from 43 percent who said the same in July and a 13-point bump since news of the opinion first leaked in May.

Plenty of recent polling has indicated that reports of the abortion issue’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Perhaps the pundits claiming abortion has faded just aren’t that good at reading the polls.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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Lt. Gov. John Fetterman

As former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway once suggested, if you don't like the facts, just create alternative facts.

That's exactly what Republicans and their pollsters are doing in several of this cycle's most hotly contested races.

Take Georgia, for instance—until about October 21 or 22, Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock had been holding a pretty steady three to four-point lead during October over his GOP rival Herschel Walker in FiveThirtyEight's aggregate. Then the gap suddenly narrowed to about one point in the final week of October, Warnock 46.7 percent - Walker 45.4 percent.

FiveThirtyEight.com/screenshot


What exactly happened to nudge Walker into contention to take the lead? A whole bunch of GOP-slanted polls, that's what.

Of the seven aggregate polls taken since October 21, five of them were conducted by either GOP-aligned groups or pollsters that use friendly GOP modeling: Trafalgar Group, Rasmussen Reports, Moore Information (Walker poll), co/efficient, and InsiderAdvantage. All of them put Walker in the lead by anywhere from two to five points.

The two other polls—one conducted by The New York Times/Siena College and the other for the Atlanta-Journal Constitution—found that Warnock had a three-point advantage and the two candidates were tied, respectively.

Perhaps the most deceptive polling outfit is InsiderAdvantage, which polls for Fox affiliates across the country, giving the surveys the veneer of being even-handed media-sponsored polls. But a quick google search of the pollster finds their handiwork generating GOP-friendly headlines in several of the key contests they have polled:

  • FOX 5 Atlanta: Kemp, Walker hold leads in major Georgia races in new InsiderAdvantage/Fox 5 poll
  • FOX 29 Philadelphia: InsiderAdvantage/FOX 29 poll: Fetterman, Oz neck and neck as Shapiro’s lead over Mastriano narrows
  • FOX 10 Phoenix: 2022 Arizona Election Poll: Lake leads governor's race, Senate race tightens

Wow, Republican prospects are really improving across the board. Amazing.

The red mirage, as it were, is also evident in Pennsylvania's Senate race: Three of the five aggregate polls taken since October 20 are from GOP-friendly groups, all of which give Republican nominee Mehmet Oz a two to three-point advantage over Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

The other two surveys show Fetterman maintaining a lead. NewYork Times/Siena put Fetterman up 5 points, 49 percent -- 44 percent, and CBS News/YouGov gave Fetterman a slimmer 2-point edge, 51 percent -- 49 percent.

As TargetSmart CEO and data analyst Tom Bonier, noted, "After a flood of GOP outlier polls in all of these races designed to create stories about an impending red wave and digging into why Dems are losing ("is it crime/inflation?"), New York Times/Siena suggests not much has changed in these races in the past two weeks."

Here are the top lines of the New York Times/Siena polling from four key Senate contests released Monday:

Arizona: D+6
Sen. Mark Kelly (D), 51 percent
Blake Masters 45 percent

Georgia: D+3
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), 49 percent
Herschel Walker, 46 percent

Nevada: Even
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D), 47 percent
Adam Laxalt, 47 percent

Pennsylvania: D+6
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), 49 percent
Mehmet Oz, 44 percent

Pro-GOP polls have also made their mark on FiveThirtyEight's congressional generic ballot aggregate, as I noted last week.

As demonstrated above by the FOX affiliate coverage, the GOP-aligned polls have become part of a Republican feedback loop that is inspiring a disproportional amount of pro-Republican horse-race stories both locally and at the national level.

And yet, the latest round of New York Times/Siena surveys in individual races suggests Democrats are very much both holding their own and even beating expectations in some cases in both the House and the Senate.

The coverage hyping a GOP surge this cycle isn’t only misleading, it’s dangerous—particularly since it exists in an amped-up environment where most MAGA Republicans already believe they were cheated in the last cycle. Sure, Republicans might have a good night next week—that’s completely plausible. But most surveys taken by legitimate outfits suggest a very competitive landscape where Democrats could just as easily outperform expectations.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos