The Sweep: What to Look for in the Senate Midterms
Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada have moved from ‘lean Democrat’ to ‘toss-up.’
Breaking: Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Monday that the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Texas, alleging that the state’s redistricting maps violate the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against black and Latino voters. This will be an uphill battle for DOJ. In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld Texas’ post-2010 census maps against similar arguments.
Christie’s Got Jokes: This past weekend, the Gridiron Club held a dinner for its members and spouses. Former Gov. Chris Christie and Rep. Jamie Raskin were part of the evening’s entertainment. “When [President Joe Biden] couldn’t make it, he did think about inviting Vice President [KAMALA] HARRIS to share the stage with you,” Christie quipped, ‘But he decided that it would be redundant, given that Jamie and I are here, to have three people who are never going to be president speak.”
The Senate Primary in Ohio Gets Trumped: The GOP Senate primary in Ohio has been nasty for months. Trump won the state by 8 points in 2020, and the GOP primary has been like watching a very unpleasant reality show based on the Monica and Brandy hit, “The Boy is Mine,” in which each candidate tries to tie himself more closely to Trump.
The Club for Growth, which is supporting Josh Mandel in the primary, spent $1 million running ads attacking J.D. Vance, using footage of Vance describing himself as a “NeverTrump guy” and calling Trump an “reprehensible,” “noxious” and “offensive.” At one point, it shows a screenshot of a Vance tweet about Trump that says, “My God, what an idiot.” Vance has said that he regrets his past comments. “I ask folks not to judge me based on what I said in 2016,” he told Fox News, “because I’ve been very open that I did say those critical things and I regret them, and I regret being wrong about the guy.” Vance’s team has also responded by saying that the Club for Growth is “‘desperate to stop J.D.,’ because he doesn’t share the group’s ‘globalist pro-China trade agenda,’” while noting that the Club for Growth also worked against Trump in the 2016 presidential primaries. Burn.
Trump, however, had stayed out of the fight over who was his true bestie. Until now. Well, kind of. Last month, according to Politico, Trump called Club for Growth’s president and told him to take down the ads, fearing that they could potentially drive down the former president’s popularity in the state. The group responded by sending Trump a polling memo with “the results of surveys conducted in four media markets across the state and compared Trump’s numbers before and after the commercials aired … [finding] that there was no significant change in Trump’s popularity in any of the four markets.” And then they sunk another $500,000 into airing more of the ads.
And we all found out who Trump loves most: Trump.
Gen Z Isn’t Vibing With Biden: For the first time in his presidency, a majority of young voters disapprove of Biden, according to the latest Harvard Youth Poll. Biden has seen a 13-point drop in his job approval with this youngest cohort of voters since March when he was at 59 percent.
Young voters' top issues probably aren't what you think. The stereotype of a young voter today is someone who is Very Online and hyper-focused on social justice clashes, inequality, climate change. Harvard's polling does not show these issues popping into the top three. Instead, their top three issues are: strengthening the economy, bringing the country together, and health care. If I asked the same question of a sample of registered voters of all ages, I probably would find a similar top three. Just a reminder that young voters are not always so different from older voters in what they care about - and that the high-profile dustups that happen online or on college campuses involving student activists are not necessarily representative of the median young voter.
Fun Christmas Cocktail Party Fact: According to that Harvard poll from earlier, the most popular politician among Americans under 30 continues to be an 80-year-old white guy, Sen. Bernie Sanders.
More Senate Toss-Ups
The Cook Political Report moved Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada from “lean Democrat” to “toss-up.” This is particularly unusual because these are all states with incumbent Democratic senators running for reelection and are states that Biden won a year ago.*
Nevada is proving particularly interesting for Democrats. For the past 20 years, some Democrat strategists have just been biding their time. As demographics shift, so too will the electorate. But while the share of the electorate that was white in Nevada declined from 72 percent in 2008 to 64 percent in 2020, Biden’s share of the vote didn’t shift from 2016 at all. In fact, a recent report from Democratic data group Catalyst found that in Nevada “the likeliest Latino voters to swing away from Democrats from 2016 to 2020 were younger, female and those without a college degree—subsets that usually trend bluer.” Of course, something similar has been happening in Florida and Texas, too.
Add that to the president’s abysmal job approval ratings, and it sounds like we’re in for a GOP sweep. Republicans, after all, need only one pickup to win control of the Senate. But it’s worth remembering that they have at least three open seats to defend, with no incumbent in Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. And we still haven’t heard from Cheesehead Hamlet, err, Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson about whether he’s running—another state Biden won. And speaking of interesting data, the same report that had those Nevada numbers also showed that Biden carried Wisconsin narrowly because he did better with college-educated whites than Clinton did in 2016 and they were a larger share of the electorate in 2020.
So Republicans need to win all of their states, AND pick up a seat in New Hampshire, Arizona, Georgia, or Nevada. Not impossible by any means but Senate races aren’t as easily swept up in wave elections either.
*Correction, December 8: We originally implied that Biden won only Nevada and Arizona in the 2020 presidential election. He also won Georgia.