AZ, CO, GA, MI, NC, SC, TX-Sen: Morning Consult Poll Has Dems Winning 4 Seats, 3 Remain Competitive

Some very encouraging news today courtesy of Morning Consult’s latest poll:

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And in the presidential election:

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— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) October 13, 2020

And in these Senate races:

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— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) October 13, 2020

Here’s some more info:

Democrats have hoped to use the Supreme Court fight to fire up opposition to a number of Republican incumbents. While the issue has been a fundraising boon in the party’s effort to take back the Senate majority, polling shows it also appears to be aiding incumbent Republicans in states viewed as a reach for the Democratic Party.

In Georgia, for example, Republican Sen. David Perdue, who previously faced a tied contest against Democrat Jon Ossoff in the days prior to Ginsburg’s Sept. 18 death, now leads his opponent, 46 percent to 42 percent. And Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a senior Republican and member of the Judiciary Committee, holds a 9-point lead against his Democratic challenger MJ Hegar, 47 percent to 38 percent, a slight improvement from his 7-point advantage in the September polling.

But those three states are not must-wins for Democrats seeking to secure a Senate majority, and polling continues to show the party on decent footing in more reachable races.

In Colorado, the latest poll found Sen. Cory Gardner — the chamber’s most vulnerable Republican — trails former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) by 10 points, 40 percent to 50 percent, compared to a 2-point deficit last month.

Democrats also continue to lead in Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina, though they’re on the strongest footing in the matchup between Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Republican John James. In North Carolina, Democrat Cal Cunningham leads incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis by 6 points in polling conducted amid reverberations from a scandal in which Cunningham admitted to exchanging romantic text messages with a woman other than his wife.

 

Keep in mind that Perdue needs to get to 50% to avoid a runoff and other polling shows this race tighter:

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— Political Polls (@Politics_Polls) October 12, 2020

In South Carolina, multiple polls before this showed the race tied making Cook Political Report to downgrade the race as a toss up. Not to mention, Harrison certainly has the resources going into the general election to pull this off:

Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, raised an astonishing $57 million from July through September, the highest quarterly fund-raising total for any Senate candidate in U.S. history and part of a flood of Democratic money remaking the battle for control of the Senate.

From South Carolina to Maine to Arizona, anger at President Trump and his Republican allies has fueled a steady flow of cash to Democratic challengers all year. But Senate Republicans’ pledge to quickly replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, despite their blockade of President Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016, has enraged the Democratic base, and donations have surged to extraordinary levels.

Mr. Harrison’s fund-raising haul heightens the stakes of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings that Mr. Graham will begin overseeing on Monday as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as Republicans rush to seat Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Mr. Trump’s nominee, before the election.

With that money, Harrison could use it to change the narrative from the Supreme Court to this:

As the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett entered its second day on Tuesday morning, Senate Judiciary Chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) decided to dedicate his opening statements to a takedown of the Affordable Care Act and his tough reelection fight against Jaime Harrison, his Democratic challenger.

“Obamacare has been a disaster for the state of South Carolina,” Graham said. He argued that premiums have risen among those who receive their health care through the federal exchanges and blamed the closure of rural hospitals in South Carolina on the program. He then launched into a description of his own health care plan, which would involve bloc grants to states. “We want South Carolina Care, not Obamacare,” Graham snarled.

The Affordable Care Act, it turns out, has not quite been the “disaster” Graham suggests. The uninsured rate has dropped in South Carolina since Obamacare’s rollout, according to census data. Before coverage was available for purchase in the federal health insurance marketplace in 2013, 15.8 percent of South Carolinians were uninsured. By 2016, that rate had fallen to 10 percent, though it has since crept back up to 12.7 percent as President Trump has whittled away at the law. Over 190,000 people in the state buy insurance through the ACA’s exchange, and 93 percent of them receive federal subsidies to offset costs thanks to the law. As of 2018, 30 percent of the state’s adults have preexisting conditions that would preclude them from insurance coverage if Obamacare is wiped out by the Supreme Court, which is set to hear a case on the subject one week after Election Day, with Barrett potentially casting the ninth vote.

Some more context here from Steve Benen at MSNBC:

First, the idea that “Obamacare” has been a “disaster” for South Carolina is a curious assessment. Within the first three years of the ACA's existence, the uninsured rate in the state dropped by more than a third. If Graham and his party succeeds in tearing down the nation's existing system, hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians would lose their subsidized coverage, and many more would suddenly be without benefits and protections they've come to rely on.

Second, it's true that South Carolina has received less money than several “blue” states, but that's because South Carolina is one of the states that still refuses to embrace Medicaid expansion. In other words, Graham's complaining about his home state getting fewer federal funds under the ACA, because he's failing to note that it's because South Carolina has effectively declared, “Give us less money; we don't want to cover more low-income families.”

If Graham wants to remedy the financial imbalance, he probably ought to encourage South Carolina's Republican-led state government to do the smart thing.

Third, to pretend the future of the ACA “has got nothing to do with this hearing” is backwards: the Supreme Court will soon decide the fate of the existing health care system, and according to Donald Trump, Republicans are counting on conservative justices — including Amy Coney Barrett — to destroy the status quo.

Also:

Graham knows he is in a toss-up race against former state Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison in the Palmetto State. He knows that he is being absolutely crushed in fundraising — Harrison raised $57 million in the last three months alone — and that has translated into Graham's being buried under an avalanche of Harrison ads. (Graham said in his questions speech that he was newly interested in campaign finance reform because 'there's a lot of money being raised in this campaign. I'd like to know where the hell some of it's coming from.”) And he also knows that he continues to underperform among Republicans in the state — and that these hearings represent his last, best chance to turn that around.
“There is one remaining Hail Mary for Graham — the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett that begin next week, in which he'll have the starring role as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Republicans certainly hope that heavy coverage can help consolidate Republican votes and remind them why they want to vote for a GOP majority on judges, with Graham being the only way to get that.”
That Graham would have no problem in using his position as chairman of the committee that holds confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court to deliver a purely political speech aimed at saving his own bacon back in South Carolina speaks to how desperate he believes his current situation to be. And how few tools he seems to have left at his disposal to change the arc of the contest.

Throw this in the mix:

The National Action Network (NAN) is calling on Sen. Lindsey Graham to apologize and retract his comments regarding African Americans and immigrants in South Carolina during a recent debate forum.
On Oct. 9, Graham was asked about the civil unrest across the nation, and in South Carolina, surrounding police reform and systemic racism.
Toward the end of his response he said, “I care about everybody. If you’re a young African American, an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state — you just need to be conservative, not liberal.”

FYI:

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— Steve Morris (@stevemorris__) October 9, 2020

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A 10-second video of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham from Friday’s candidate forum saying African Americans can go anywhere in the state but they need to be conservative went viral, causing backlash and accusations of racism to fly against the Republican.

But a fuller context of what Graham said reveals he was talking about what political leanings a candidate needs to be successful in a statewide election, his campaign said.

A viral clip of the statement had been viewed on Twitter 6.3 million times by Monday and retweeted or quote-tweeted more than 31,000 times.

By the way, according to Salon, Graham and McSally having something else in common:

In recent weeks, a number of political campaigns and committees have received letters from the Federal Election Commission notifying them that they may have violated federal rules and regulations governing campaign finance, such as inaccurately reporting expenditures or accepting campaign donations in excess of the legal limit from dozens of people.

These letters are not uncommon, and not necessarily indicative of wrongdoing — the assumption is that campaigns want to follow the rules but may have made mistakes in the heat of the contest. When the FEC notifies a campaign that it has taken too much money from donors, for instance, the letter lists the names and donation histories of the supporters who gave too much, so the campaign can isolate the over-limit amounts and refund, reattribute or redesignate that money. They have 60 days to do this before they must report back to the FEC.

Some of those lists this year, however, have been exceptionally long — a phenomenon that election experts attribute to automated recurring donations over a long and particularly intense campaign season.

For instance, Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., received two separate notices last week, one of them 38 pages long and the other 41 pages. Each flagged excessive contributions from around 60 donors, for adjacent reporting periods. Her colleague, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, received a nine-page list that alone flags a total well above $150,000 in excessive donations that the campaign must explain to the FEC.

Also, as Joan Walsh at The Nation points out, Graham is risking his on re-election bid and health and his colleagues health for refusing to take a COVID-19 test:

Which raises two questions: Is Graham just so sure a Black Democrat can’t be elected to the US Senate from South Carolina, and/or confident in a last-minute cash infusion from party leaders and his corporate backers, that he can afford to crater in fundraising and stay in Washington, D.C., until barely a week before Election Day? Or is Graham, exhausted by what it takes to sell his soul, almost daily, to a man he once mocked as a “kook,” “crazy” and “unfit for office,” finally giving up, and claiming Barrett as his final shot at a conservative legacy?

I’m at least beginning to wonder if it’s the latter. Republicans have South Carolina wired, so it’s too soon to declare Graham dead politically—though not spiritually.

Of course, Graham is risking not just his own health (and political career) but also that of his Senate colleagues—including Republicans—and staffers. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, who recently boasted that he hadn’t visited the White House since August because he was dismayed by its cavalier attitude toward Covid, could require all Judiciary Committee members to get tested—Republicans Thom Tillis and Mike Lee have already tested positive—but, of course, he hasn’t. On Sunday, a clip resurfaced of McConnell on Fox News, cackling like a caricature of Satan about his role in blocking so many of Barack Obama’s court nominees; he wants this confirmation as much as Graham. The Kentucky senator is unlikely to lose his race for reelection, but let’s hope he loses his position as Senate majority leader, in part because of his handling of this debacle.

As for Hegar, Morning Consult points out that she has a shot at this race:

Across the Senate battleground, several Republican senators have underperformed President Donald Trump’s standing against Democratic nominee Joe Biden, fueling Democrats’ hopes of knocking off incumbents in states like North Carolina and Arizona, where the top of the ticket contest is razor thin.

In Texas, that dynamic is flipped: As she faces off against Sen. John Cornyn, Democrat MJ Hegar has consistently underperformed Biden in the Lone Star State, driven by her relative weakness among Democrats and voters of color, according to Morning Consult Political Intelligence tracking.

The latest polling — conducted Oct. 2-11 among 3,455 likely voters in Texas — found Hegar trails Biden’s support among Democrats by 11 percentage points (84 percent to 95 percent), Black voters by 15 points (68 percent to 83 percent) and Hispanic voters by 13 points (46 percent to 59 percent), while Cornyn roughly matches Trump’s standing with voters of color and the GOP base.

With just three weeks until Election Day and early voting now underway, Keir Murray, a Houston-based Democratic strategist, said Hegar has “got to introduce herself to a lot of base Democratic voters, particularly Black and Latino voters who don’t know her and who didn’t vote in the primary or voted for someone else.”

Despite the late timing, Hegar has the money to do it: In the third quarter, she raised $13.5 million and had more than $8 million in the bank, helping her recently outpace the Republican incumbent on television as the Biden campaign has begun to invest more resources there. And Morning Consult polling suggests many of those voters are up for grabs, with roughly 1 in 5 Black and Hispanic voters saying they’re still undecided.

I’m going to have a separate TX-Sen diary out today but I wanted to point this out:

Today, the MJ For Texas campaign is launching an aggressive seven-figure statewide outreach effort to mobilize Black voters across Texas. The effort will utilize Black radio, Black newspapers, mail, and digital to reach Black voters across the state and encourage them to vote for MJ Hegar on November 3rd.
“Our campaign is excited to announce an aggressive seven-figure investment to reach out and mobilize Black voters across Texas, and are thrilled to have brought on two Texas-based Black owned firms to spearhead our efforts. This investment will build on the work the campaign has been doing for many months to lay out the clear choice Texans face in this election between MJ Hegar, a decorated combat veteran and working mom, and Senator John Cornyn, a career politician who has been failing Black Texans,” said Preston Elliott, MJ For Texas Campaign Manager.

Judy Foston Stanford and Dr. John Stanford, Jr. of Foston International Communications Inc., who worked for Beto O’Rourke in his 2018 Senate campaign and have extensive experience with statewide Black media programs, will be spearheading the Black radio effort.

Linda K. Brown of Advantage Communications Group, LLC, brings extensive experience with Texas politics and Black media having worked with the Bloomberg for President Campaign in 2020, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, as well as numerous others, and will be spearheading the effort with Black newspapers.

So let’s keep up the momentum to win all of these Senate seats. Click below to donate and get involved with Biden and these Senate Democrats campaigns:

Biden-Harris

Mark Kelly

John Hickenlooper

Jon Ossoff

Gary Peters

Cal Cunningham

Jaime Harrison

MJ Hegar