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Tag: 2022 midterm elections

Abortion May Help Democrats To Oust Ron Johnson From Senate

By James Oliphant

GREEN BAY, Wis. (Reuters) - Nicole Slavin was a reliable Democratic voter in a conservative region of Wisconsin, but she realized casting a ballot was no longer enough after the state's abortion access vanished almost overnight.

Slavin, a business development director, called upon her network of contacts to mobilize a group of women across party lines in support of U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes, a Democrat who backs abortion rights. She knocked on doors for Barnes and organized an event for him last week that drew more than 100 women to a Green Bay brewery.

"There's no option of staying quiet and sitting down anymore," said Slavin, 48.

Evidence is building that a wave of women voters might make the difference if Democrats are to keep their Senate majority and stem their expected losses in the House of Representatives in the November 8 midterm elections.

Wisconsin is one of several states where voter registrations among women have surged since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. That decision gutted national protections for abortion and left an 1849 law outlawing most abortions in Wisconsin on the books, prompting the state's four abortion clinics to end the procedure.

Women have outpaced men in new registrations in Wisconsin by almost 10 percent, according to an analysis by the Democratic data firm TargetSmart. Women vote at a greater rate than men in presidential elections, but that gap usually narrows in midterms.

The battleground state is critical to Democrats' hopes of holding onto their slim majority in the Senate. If Barnes can defeat incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson, it would provide a cushion should the party lose a seat in a state such as Nevada or Georgia.

The Senate Majority PAC, an outside group that supports Democratic candidates, made Johnson the target of the first abortion-centered TV ad it aired after the Supreme Court's ruling. On Friday, the group launched a new abortion ad aimed at Johnson as part of a $1.6 million buy. The ad will run in Green Bay, among other markets.

Tom Bonier, chief executive officer of TargetSmart, theorizes many new registrants are young women who took abortion rights for granted.

"We are seeing these voters now pivoting to some level of action," Bonier said.

Adrianna Pokela, 23, said she cried after Roe's overturn. She will vote in her first midterm election this November and is trying to convince others of her generation to do the same.

In July, she helped plan a protest march in Green Bay that drew several hundred people.

"I am working my butt off to find ways to express the importance of this election," Pokela said.

Motivated Voters

Opinion surveys show the issue of abortion is rising in importance for Democratic voters in an election cycle dominated by concerns over inflation.

A Wall Street Journal poll released last week found support for legal abortion had grown nationwide since the court's decision and that more than half of voters surveyed said the issue had made them more motivated to vote in November.

After voters in Kansas last month defeated Republican efforts to ban abortion in that state, Democrats have zeroed in on women as the voters most likely to help prevent a Republican takeover of Congress.

The advocacy group Galvanize Action released nine digital ads about abortion rights in Wisconsin aimed at moderate white women, one of the state's largest voting blocs. The group has survey data that says those women, many of whom are not traditional Democratic voters, can be persuaded to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights.

Jackie Payne, the group's executive director, said the ads' messages revolve around compassion for women and keeping government out of personal healthcare decisions.

"You have to connect to voters at their values," Payne said. "And then get them to turn out."

Another group, Democratic Messaging Project, has posted a billboard off a major highway in downtown Milwaukee that reads, "ABORTION GONE, IS BIRTH CONTROL NEXT?," one of 10 billboards the group will have in the state by week's end.

Nationally, Priorities USA Action, which targets swing voters in battleground states, said half the ads it's running in states such as Arizona and Pennsylvania mention abortion rights.

'Fired Up'

Barnes, Wisconsin's lieutenant governor, released a TV ad in which his mother spoke of having an abortion due to medical complications that put her health at risk.

"It's about personal freedom that has been taken away by the Supreme Court," Barnes said in an interview. "People are fired up."

His campaign believes Johnson, a two-term incumbent, is vulnerable on the issue.

Johnson has said he supports making abortion illegal, with exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the mother's health. He has said he does not favor a federal abortion ban.

But Johnson's campaign rarely talks about abortion. Instead, it has tried to pin Barnes to the high crime rate in Milwaukee, branding him a supporter of liberal criminal justice policies.

Analysts say Johnson may be more in danger than in past years because of his support for former President Donald Trump's bogus election fraud claims, which could alienate moderate voters. Polls show a tight race.

Peggy Phillips, 66, who came out to see Barnes in Green Bay and described herself as an independent, said she was leaning toward backing the Democratic candidate. The main reason, she said, was abortion.

"I believe very strongly that it's an individual issue," Phillips said.

(Reporting by James Oliphant; editing by Colleen Jenkins and Daniel Wallis)


Trump-Backed Arizona Republican Boasted About Committing Vote Fraud

The Trump-backed GOP candidate for Arizona attorney general has in the past disseminated anti-Semitic tropes, called for cutting U.S. funding to Isreal, and seemingly admitted to voter fraud, the Phoenix New Times reported Tuesday.

Abraham Hamadeh, a 31-year-old first-timer in the political sphere, emerged victorious in Arizona’s crowded GOP primary after his advocacy for the Big Lie — that widespread voter fraud derailed former President Trump’s “victory” in the 2020 election — won him Trump’s “complete and total” endorsement.

Hamadeh embraced many of Trump’s baseless allegations about the 2020 election and said, were it up to him, he would not have certified Arizona's 2020 general election results. Hamadeh vowed during his campaign that he would use the attorney general's office to “prosecute crimes of the rigged 2020 election.”

“Abe Hamadeh knows what happened in the 2020 election, and will enforce voting laws so that our elections are free and fair again,” Trump said in his endorsement.

According to the Phoenix New Times, in a slate of posts starting in October 2008, Hamadeh, then a 17-year-old aspiring WWE wrestler, allegedly admitted that he illegally voted and altered his mother’s vote on her absentee ballot for then-Senator Barack Obama for President.

“Obama is getting all of this crap simply cause hes black, he has an Arab name, hes the only senator who is black in the Senate, he is successful, and he is a Harvard Law graduate, they're scared they might have a smart man in the white house,” Hamadeh wrote.

In a follow-up post, he admitted, “No, I cannot vote. I just submitted my mother’s absentee ballot, she votes who I vote for, she voted for Ron Paul, and I’m saddened that I had to vote for Barack Obama, but it was the right thing I had to do.”

“Under Arizona law, it's a felony for a person to knowingly mark a ballot "with the intent to fix an election for that person's own benefit or for that of another person" or to possess anyone’s early ballot other than your own. It's also illegal for anyone younger than 18 to cast a ballot,” the New Times noted in its report

Hamadeh also proposed radical, eugenics-like ideas for election reform: that only educated Americans who passed an intelligence test be allowed to vote, “not people who just go to a DMV and sign up to vote,” per the New Times.

“Based on Barack Obama's intelligence I casted my vote for him yesterday through absentee,” Hamadeh wrote, seemingly admitting to underage voting.

Besides calling John McCain a “radical fascist,” Hamadeh peddled anti-Semitic talking points in 2007 and advocated for the United States to stop funding Israel a year later.

"If you think Jews arent big in america (2%) how come 56% of them are CEO'S ... Jews are influential and for the most part rich," Hamadeh wrote in a post. "its good we're targetting Arabs now, next will target Jews."

Hamadeh’s campaign did not deny the substance of the New Times’ allegations but said that Hamadeh made the comments at issue in his youth, “well before their minds were even fully developed,” so it should not be an issue in 2022.

“Abe Hamadeh is the youngest statewide candidate in the country, and one of the first to be scrutinized on his digital footprint dating back to a time when he was 16 years old, the same time he thought he would grow up to become a wrestler in the WWE," said Erica Knight, a spokesperson for Hamadeh’s campaign told the New Times.

“We are entering a new era of political opposition where candidates who have lived through their adolescent years on the internet are being judged and criticized based on comments they made well before their minds were even fully developed. It is now our responsibility to be careful where we draw the line," Knight added.

When HuffPost asked the Hamadeh campaign to clarify whether its candidate actually altered his mother’s vote, the campaign deflected by referring the paper to the candidate’s Wednesday tweet.


Hamadeh’s challenger, Kris Mayes, the Democratic candidate for Arizona attorney general, slammed him for his hypocrisy, anti-Semitic views, and radical utterances.

“It’s shocking that the Republican candidate for attorney general in Arizona admitted to engaging in voter fraud, and it’s equally offensive that he made so many anti-Semitic and sexist remarks,” Mayes said on Wednesday in an interview with HuffPost. “It’s just inexcusable and disqualifying.”

The Sudden And Remarkable Resurgence Of 'Sleepy Joe' Biden

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

To readers of a certain age who grew up watching cowboy movies on TV, that timeless phrase signals a major plot development. Maybe the scheming rancher with the mustache is ordering his henchmen to saddle up. Alternately, a hero in a white hat may be entering the fray.

Either way, somebody’s about to get a surprise.

Sometimes politics works that way too.

One year ago, I posted the following on my Facebook page: “Regarding Biden's speech about the Afghan collapse: I haven't seen such passionate unanimity among the DC commentariat since they went all-in on the absolute necessity of invading Iraq.”

Pretty much from that day, Joe Biden has been depicted in the national political press as the proverbial Dead Man Walking. “Sleepy Joe” as Donald Trump dubbed him, was headed for a mid-term shellacking.

Come November 8, 2022, resurgent Republicans would take over both houses of Congress and spend the remaining two years of Biden’s futile presidency investigating his troubled son, Hunter. Maybe Hillary Clinton too.

In retrospect, the Afghan retreat wasn’t such a catastrophe after all. After Trump surrendered to the Taliban, agreeing to leave Afghanistan without consulting its U.S.-backed government, the die was cast. Biden either needed to re-escalate or get out fast. One thing you won’t hear today is anybody keen to go back in. It’s both unthinkable and un-thought.

Then came sky-high gas prices and commodity inflation, making the president’s political future look dim. No matter which channel you watched, every TV news broadcast featured somebody griping at a gas pump or bitching about expensive eggs. On supposedly liberal CNN, Wolf Blitzer practically snarled “inflation” at every Democrat he interviewed.

And it was all Biden’s fault, particularly the parts he had absolutely no control over, such as the worldwide price of crude oil.

Let’s Go, Brandon.

Back at the ranch, however, Brandon got going. Or something. Due to additional circumstances beyond the U.S. president’s control, such as China’s sputtering economy, oil prices --and with them the cost of gasoline -- began to drop. And largely due to actions by the Federal Reserve, also outside Biden’s jurisdiction, inflation began to level off.

Syndicated columnist Froma Harrop noticed the supposedly liberal New York Times—sometimes I think that should be the newspaper’s official name—giving the president grudging praise: “Slowing inflation gave Biden a reprieve but high prices remain a political problem."

Still high, yes, but moving in the right direction.

Job growth, meanwhile, remained strong. Fully 500,000 Americans found new jobs last month. The news media started to notice that the national unemployment rate had reached a 50-year low. With gas prices dropping, how long before Americans noticed that the U.S. economy is actually quite strong? In politics, momentum counts.

And then came the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, essentially ruling that citizens in different states have different constitutional rights, and that women have fewer of them than men. Kansas voters turned out in record numbers to show what middle America thought of that—an electoral thunderbolt that imperils far-right Republicans.

“The situation has changed with astonishing speed," wrote New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait. “In the span of a few weeks, Biden’s presidency is back from the dead and looking something close to triumphant.”

Even before the Democrats’ recent extraordinary legislative achievements —the Inflation Reduction Act, enacting higher taxes on profitable corporations, enabling Medicare to bargain down drug prices, giving the IRS resources to pursue wealthy tax cheats, and boosting green energy while supporting fossil fuel production in the meantime—polls had begun to show a marked shift in the Democrats’ direction.

Yes, a lot of it’s due to Sen. Joe Manchin’s extraordinary change of heart, but it was old Sleepy Joe who urged Democrats to understand where the West Virginian was coming from. Many progressive Democrats wanted to purge him. Fat lot of good that would have done.

Democrats have even gained a lead over Republicans nationwide in the so-called “generic ballot” asking voters which party they’re inclined to support in congressional elections. As the Washington Post’s Dana Millbank points out, it’s “the first time in the modern era" that “momentum has shifted toward an incumbent president’s party at this point in a midterm election year.”

Of course, polls are only polls, and anything can happen between now and November. The Biden administration has also gotten a lot of help from Republicans. Whatever possessed GOP Senators to vote against health care for veterans sickened by military “burn pits?” Or to kill legislation capping the price of insulin for diabetics?

Then there’s Old Unreliable, Donald J. Trump forcing himself into the spotlight again, the spittle-flecked face of Republican rage. So, what’ll it be, America? Steady Old Good-Government Joe or the Sideshow Ape Man, hooting and flinging feces?

America made this choice once, and decisively.

Must we really do it again?

Flush With Cash, Democrats Set 'Inflation Reduction Act' Ad Blitz

By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Buoyed by a string of legislative victories, Democrats and their allies are throwing money at key congressional races hoping to overcome President Joe Biden's poor approval ratings, high inflation, and historical precedent in the November midterm elections.

In the coming days, millions of dollars will flow into congressional races from groups outside the Democratic Party to tout Biden's $430 billion climate, healthcare and tax bill called the "Inflation Reduction Act," aides and allies to Biden tell Reuters.

Climate, health and pro-Biden groups will target voters in swing districts with television, radio, and internet ads, rallies, and bus tours. Some will even knock on doors.

Midterms are difficult for the party holding power even in normal years, but through history inflation has been especially damaging for incumbents. It hit 40-year highs under Biden and voters say the economy is their top concern.

Still, Biden advisers are increasingly optimistic voters will punish Republicans for opposing the inflation bill, which Biden will sign on Tuesday, and for their party's attacks on abortion rights.

Already, the Democratic Party has spent $535 million in ads for the general election, while Republicans have spent $423 million, AdImpact research showed last month. While funding for outside groups is opaque, top party contributors include several billionaires, such as hedge fund creator David Shaw, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and venture capitalist John Doerr, federal filings show.

Outside campaigns will be bolstered by Democratic Party spending and 35 trips to 23 states by Biden and his Cabinet through the end of August to tout the bill.

'Momentum Shifting'

"This is as strong an August environment for an incumbent president and his party as you can imagine in terms of getting things done and the momentum shifting," said senior Biden adviser Steve Ricchetti.

Polling and forecasts are not on their side.

Six in ten voters either have never heard of the latest bill or know next to nothing about it, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted earlier this month. Only 40 percent of Americans approve of Biden's performance, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed last Tuesday.

All 435 House seats and a third of the 100-member Senate are up for grabs in November. Both chambers are narrowly controlled by Democrats, and traditionally midterms favor the party not in the White House. Most forecasters give Republicans a strong chance of taking the House and see the Senate as up for grabs.

Republicans say the Democrats' strategy is delusional given Biden's poll numbers and predictions that the inflation bill will have only modest short-term impact on prices.

But Democrats say they're not seeing blistering voter opposition to the inflation bill, compared to Obamacare in 2010, which ushered in a Republican landslide.

"Every single Democrat who's running for Congress is going to run ads on this and talk about this," said Anne Shoup, a spokesperson for Protect Our Care, a healthcare advocacy group targeting Republicans who oppose the inflation bill.

'Pro-Polluter' Republicans Targeted

Building Back Together, a non-profit run by former Biden campaign advisers, has a television, digital and radio ads plan as does the Democratic National Committee, which is focusing on Black, Latino and Asian voters.

The League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy, launched a $2.2 million advertising campaign to thank Democratic supporters of the inflation bill; Climate Action Campaign plans digital ads thanking 24 lawmakers who voted for the bill.

League-affiliated organizers will also spend $13 million on a door-to-door campaign about the bill and how candidates voted in seven political battleground states. Ads in the coming weeks will cast Republicans who opposed the bill as "pro-polluter," said spokesperson Emily Samsel.

The Hub Project, an outside group focused on populist economic messaging, is targeting four Republicans who opposed the bill: Representative David Valadao of California, Ashley Hinson of Iowa, Don Bacon of Nebraska, and Nicole Malliotakis of New York.

Cook Political Report earlier this month downgraded the chances of victory for Bacon and Malliotakis but the targeted campaigns expressed no concern.

"The only thing that will give Iowa families relief from Democrat induced runaway inflation, tax increases and back breaking increases on gas and groceries is a Republican Majority in Congress," said Sophie Crowell, Hinson's campaign manager.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; editing by Heather Timmons and Josie Kao)

Poll: Public Distrust Of Supreme Court Now Matches Disapproval Of Congress

By Jason Lange

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A majority of Americans hold a negative opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court following its decision last week to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that recognized a right to abortion, says a Reuters/Ipsos survey completed on Tuesday.

The two-day public opinion poll found 57 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view of the U.S. top court, while 43 percent viewed it favorably. That puts approval of the court, which is meant to be a nonpartisan entity, on a par with Americans' views of Congress, which has long been viewed negatively.

It also marks a significant shift from a June 6-7 Reuters/Ipsos poll that showed 48 percent had an unfavorable view and 52 percent a favorable view.

Some 27 percent of respondents had a very unfavorable view of the court, up from 14 percent who held that view earlier in the month.

The reversal was almost entirely because of increasingly dismal views of the court among Democrats, often more supportive of abortion rights than Republicans are.

Sixty percent of Democrats said they had a less favorable view of the Supreme Court than they had six months ago, compared to 23 percent of Republicans.

The conservative-dominated Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling recognizing women's constitutional right to abortion. The decision, hailed by conservative activists as a great victory, will dramatically change life for millions of women in America.

In a concurring opinion on Friday, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas, an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush, suggested that the same reasoning that led the court to overturn Roe could be used to rethink other rights, such as same-sex marriage and access to birth control.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has condemned the ruling. Democratic lawmakers hope the abortion rights setback will help drive Democrats to the polls in the November 8 midterm elections, when Republicans have good odds of winning control of one or both congressional chambers.

Some 55 percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a separate Ipsos poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday.

Both polls were conducted online in English throughout the United States. Each gathered responses from 1,005 adults and had a credibility interval - a measure of precision - of four percentage points.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; editing by Scott Malone and Howard Goller)

Republicans, The Beltway Press, And The 'Education' Charade

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

Within hours of Republican Glenn Youngkin's victory in the Virginia governor's race, the political press began churning out analysis about how the GOP had seized upon education as a savvy "wedge issue" as the New York Times put it. Compounded with frustration over the pandemic, the press was sure that Republicans had taken hold of a potent issue, swiped it away from clueless Democrats, and produced a "roadmap" for 2022, according to CNN.

"School closures, not Critical Race Theory, paved the way for Glenn Youngkin's victory in Virginia," Yahoo News announced. "And if Democrats don't grasp the deep reserves of anger parents feel over Zoom school, they face much more severe losses in 2022." CNN breathlessly claimed that Youngkin's win "raises questions about whether Democrats have taken seriously enough parents' concerns on a range of issues about education."

But the storyline is a charade. Not only haven't Republicans mapped out a new pro-education blueprint to win over suburban and swing voters nationwide, Republicans and conservatives have become even more proudly anti-education during the pandemic. They've voted against nutrition programs, universal pre-K, they've disrupted school board meetings, and this week Big Bird emerged as GOP Public Enemy No. 1.

As for frustration over "Zoom school," that's been over for most American students for months because classrooms coast-to-coast that had been closed under the Trump administration have reopened under the Biden administration.

The current analysis among the Beltway media makes no sense. That might be because it's being crafted and told almost exclusively by Republican operatives, not educational professionals. Schools opened up under Democrats — they've returned to "normal" —but parents are mad at Democrats for last year's school closures?

Note that the Yahoo article that hit Democrats for being out of touch with angry parents lead off with an anecdote of a screaming father at a school board meeting in Virginia berating members about pandemic-era Zoom classes. But that specific outburst took place ten months ago, back in January, before Virginia schools re-opened September and Zoom classes ended.

Yahoo insisted, "Even as schools stay open, a new round of closures remains an all-too-real possibility," which is news to me. Are there any major public school systems seriously considering closing down in-person learning anytime soon, at a time when Covid cases in the U.S. are falling and children can now get vaccinated? There are just a handful of schools in the entire country today that have temporarily shifted to remote learning. (Context: There are nearly 100,000 public schools in the U.S.)

Still, the Beltway press has coalesced around the idea that Democrats paid a political price for school closures even though schools are no longer closed. When they were shuttered, Republicans ran the federal government most of that time and offered up an incompetent response to the public health crisis.

I think the press rallied around the "education" angle in Virginia, and specifically the issue of school closures, because journalists did not want to tell the truth about how Youngkin spent the entire campaign lying about critical race theory being taught in Commonwealth schools. The press certainly didn't want to linger on the notion that his race-baiting tactics are why he won. (The campaign "wasn't really about critical race theory," The Atlantic assured readers.) Instead, the media narrative emerged that Democrats misread the mood of parents.

When CNN recently held Youngkin up as a new breed of Education Republican, aside from his made-up claims about critical race theory, they couldn't point to a single serious education initiative he had championed during the campaign or would focus on as governor. For the record, a new CNN poll this week shows just three percent of Americans select education as the most important issue facing the country today. (The economy is first, at 36 percent.) Nationwide, there's very little backlash to how schools handled Covid, according to a new Axios poll.

Still, the illogical coverage gets worse. The first legislative act Biden undertook as president was to sign into law the $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, and he did so over the objection of every single Republican member of the House and the Senate. The Covid relief bill allocated $120 billion dollars for schools to help them reopen and to help students catch-up on lost learning.

The new money came to nearly $2,500 per student nationwide and lots of it went to purchasing PPE, hiring additional school personnel like nurses, counselors, custodial staff, as well as improving ventilation and pay for small-group tutoring program. Republicans, now campaigning on school closures, opposed all of it. But that's being left out of the current education coverage.

CNN's pro-Youngkin report last week referenced the "flood of pandemic-related education funding from the Covid-related stimulus bills," but failed to acknowledge that everyone from Youngkin's party voted against the historic funding. When CNN interviewed four pro-Youngkin suburban moms who championed Republicans as being pro-education and who said the pandemic school closures had changed their views on politics, the fact that Republicans uniformly voted down the single largest federal outlay on education spending to help reopen schools was politely ignored.

Today, Biden is trying to shepherd into law the Build Back Better bill, which would pay for universal pre-K, contains billions to help families cover the costs of child care, and would transform early education in America — and every Republican member of the House and Senate opposes it.

So much for the GOP being the "education" party.

Democrats Can Win Next Year The Same Way They Won Last Year

Many Democrats are leery about the party's ability to retain control of Congress in 2022. The president's party normally loses ground in mid-term elections, and Democrats have little margin for error. Lose a half-dozen House seats and the Biden administration will find itself stymied; lose the Senate, and total paralysis would set in: zombie government personified by Sen. Mitch McConnell.

It's been reported that President Biden believes that when people understand all that Democrats have done for them—bringing the Covid pandemic under control, restoring the U.S. economy, bringing unemployment down, passing long-delayed, badly-needed infrastructure repair—things will take care of themselves at the polls.

With all respect, if Biden thinks that, he's dreaming.

What got Biden elected, what drove the voter turnout that won him an extraordinary 81 million votes, was the majority's revulsion and fear regarding Donald Trump. If Democrats want to prevail in 2022, good government won't be enough. They need to turn the mid-term elections into a referendum on the Trump cult and GOP sycophancy toward his alarming assault on democracy.

"Here in the US, there's a growing recognition that this is a bit like WWF—that it's entertaining, but it's not real," Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said recently. "I think people recognize it's a lot of show and bombast, but it's going nowhere. The election is over. It was fair."

Would that it were so.

Anyway, only a bit like the World Wrestling Federation? Not for nothing is Trump a member of the pro-wrestling Hall of Fame. As I pointed out in 2016, he basically stole his whole act from Dr. Jerry Graham, the bleach-blonde super-villain of 1950s TV rasslin' at Sunnyside Gardens in Trump's native Queens. The swaggering, the boasting, the pompadour hairdo — "I have the body that men fear and women adore," Graham used to say — it's all the same.

Asked the subject of Graham's doctorate, his manager once confided, "He's a tree surgeon." Smashing rivals with balsa wood chairs, bleeding copiously from chicken blood capsules, the Graham Brothers drew 20,000 fans to grudge matches in Madison Square Garden. Riots broke out among those naïve enough to believe the mayhem was real.

But few confused pro-wrestling with a real sport. In the eighth grade, I thought it was the funniest thing on TV. Trump appears to have drawn a different lesson: the bigger the lie and the more flamboyant the liar, the more some people will believe it. Hence his "Stop the Steal" rallies in the summer of 2021. And, yes, most of the costumed bumpkins in the red MAGA hats believe Trump's preposterous falsehoods about his landslide victory.

He's turning the GOP into an anti-democratic cult of personality. Precious few Republicans have the political courage of a Mitt Romney, a Rep Liz Cheney (R-WY), or a Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). Trump's doing his best to purge any Republican who's ever crossed him. This is providing Democrats with a political opportunity not to be missed

Polls show that upwards of half of GOP voters believe that "audits" like the farcical spectacle under way in Arizona will reverse the 2020 election; fully three in ten expect that Trump will somehow be "reinstated" as president this summer. It's beginning to appear that the Big Man with the bouffant and the diseased ego may actually believe this fantasy too.

Two thoughts: America being America, some form of ritual violence will almost surely result. Something like January 6, except with guns. Second, three in ten Republicans amounts to maybe ten percent, give or take, of the national electorate. (The party's been shrinking since Trump took over.) That's roughly the same proportion that pollsters say subscribes to the QAnon delusion that Satan-worshipping pedophiles control the Democratic Party.

No doubt there's significant overlap.

So they say they want a culture war? Democrats should give them one. Have you noticed that for all the determination of Georgia Republicans to suppress voter turnout, nobody has seriously challenged the accuracy of that state's two 2020 US Senate races?

That's because once the Big Loser and his surrogate candidates turned the runoff into a referendum on Trumpism, Democrats and Independents turned out in record numbers to defeat them. Fear and anger drove them.

If that can happen in a Deep South state like Georgia, what's apt to happen in swing districts across the country? So run on good government bread and butter issues, by all means. Remind people of the good things the Biden administration has done for them.

But also nationalize the election: blanket the airwaves with TV ads showing before and after footage of GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Mitch McConnell first condemning then making weasel-worded alibis for Trump's role in the January 6 insurrection. Tie bizarre figures like Marjory Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, and Matt Gaetz around their necks like anvils.

Give voters a clear choice: Trumpism, or democracy?