We are five days away from the 8 November midterm elections, and last night Joe Biden gave a primetime speech in which he sought to remind Americans that many Republican candidates hold views that could threaten the country’s democracy. Meanwhile, the top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer struck an optimistic note about his party’s chances of keeping hold of the chamber. We may soon find out if he’s right.
Here’s a look at what else happened today:
Republicans rolled their eyes at Biden’s speech, with the Senate’s GOP leader calling it a distraction from crime and inflation. He was echoed by the party’s candidate for governor in Michigan.
A noted domestic violence researcher agreed with Biden’s warnings about democracy, saying that research indicates only a minority of Americans support violence in politics – though that still may be as many as 13 mn people.
A top aide to Donald Trump said she has advised the former president to announce his 2024 run for office after the midterms. Some Democrats hoped Trump’s return to the presidential campaign trail before the election would rally their voters.
The Inflation Reduction Act was a major legislative accomplishment for Biden, but many people aren’t even aware it passed, a progressive polling firm found.
Across the country, vest-wearing canvassers are knocking on doors in neighborhoods and asking people about their voting history and who they live with, Reuters reports.
The canvassers aren’t affiliated with any government, but rather with groups aligned with Donald Trump that are trying to use information gathered from their visits to prove voter fraud, according to Reuters’ investigation. Officials worry the groups are impersonating government employees and intimidating voters. In Michigan, Reuters reports that one organization already has plans to use alleged irregularities they found to challenge voters in the swing state’s elections on Tuesday.
Here’s more from the report:
The activists often seem more interested in undermining confidence in U.S. democracy than trying to improve it, said Arizona’s Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, a Republican. “They’re hoping that we fail. They’re hoping that mistakes occur and they’re even trying to do things to disrupt the system,” he said.
In Shasta County, a rugged, mountainous region of more than 180,000 people where pro-Trump Republicans dominate the local government, clerk Cathy Darling Allen said she noticed problems in the middle of September when three residents complained about canvassers on Facebook.
When Allen contacted the voters, they all asked whether the county had sent the canvassers. Allen replied that the visitors had nothing to do with her office.
A week later, a fourth resident called police when canvassers showed up at his door and demanded voting information that made him suspicious, according to a report by the Redding Police Department.
In a public statement issued Sept. 26, Allen warned that canvassers’ actions amounted to intimidation and violations of election laws. “I was very concerned that it would have a chilling effect on people’s willingness to be registered to vote, and that’s not OK,” she said in an interview.
Reuters identified at least 23 state-wide or local efforts where canvassers may have crossed the line into intimidation, according to election officials and voting rights lawyers. Some carried weapons, wore badges, asked people who they’d voted for or demanded personal information, election officials said.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 civil rights groups, said it has received more such reports than in previous elections. “These tactics are very concerning,” said YT Bell, an election adviser for the coalition.
What’s deciding your vote in next week’s midterm election? The Guardian would like to hear from voters across the United States about the issues that are swaying their choices for House representative, Senator or governor when they head to the polls Tuesday. Details of how to reach us are at the link below:
The Inflation Reduction Act is one of Joe Biden’s biggest legislative achievements, and was passed only after months of stop-and-start negotiations that at times looked like they would lead to nothing.
But for all the drama that preceded its August signing, progressive think tank Data for Progress finds comparatively few Americans are aware of its passage:
Look closely at the numbers and many voters express ignorance about what it would do. The most known aspect of the law is that it allows Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, which 44% of those surveyed are aware of. But only about a third of those surveyed know it pays for the hiring of more agents at the Internal Revenue Service, raised the minimum tax on large corporations, or offers credits for clean energy production.
“With the economy top of mind for voters as they prepare to cast their ballots in the midterm elections, it is clear that Democratic messaging on the key economic provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act is failing to reach voters,” Data for Progress concludes. “As Democrats work to keep their majority in Congress, it’s crucial that voters are aware of what Democrats have accomplished in the past two years.”
As Andrew Lawrence writes, if a Republican wins the race for Oregon governor, it will be largely thanks to one man: a co-founder of the sportswear giant Nike.
Phil Knight is the 84-year-old co-founder and chair emeritus of Nike, the house that Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods built.
In the race to govern Oregon, a bastion of west coast liberalism, Knight has thrown full support behind the Republican Christine Drazan, an anti-abortion, tough-on-crime former lobbyist pushing “election integrity”. In a rare interview with the New York Times, Knight made his motive clear: Oregon’s next governor can be anyone but the Democratic nominee, Tina Kotek.
Knight’s lavish support of the right would seem to betray Nike’s pursuit of social equality and environmental protection. After all, this is the “Just Do It” brand that champions Serena Williams, that kneels with Colin Kaepernick, that featured Argentina’s first trans female soccer player in a recent ad.
Over the years, the company has pledged millions to organizations dedicated to leveling the playing field in all spheres of life. But it has also come under fire for crafting a progressive PR image as cover while manufacturing products in Asian sweatshops with forced labor practices …
Top Senate Democrat insists party still has shot at keeping majority
The Senate’s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer believes the party can keep or even expand its majority in Congress’s upper chamber in Tuesday’s midterm elections, despite polls showing its candidates losing their leads in crucial races.
“I believe Democrats will hold the Senate and maybe even pick up seats,” Schumer said in an interview with the Associated Press published today, while acknowledging that the race is “tight.”
Over the summer, Democrats appeared to have a clear path to preserving their majority in the Senate as legislative victories and the shock over the supreme court’s decision to overturn abortion rights rallied their supporters. But polls have indicated that enthusiasm ebbed as the 8 November election grows closer, and earlier this week, a survey from the New York Times and Siena College found Democrats have only slight advantages in several crucial races.
Schumer told the AP he “doesn’t want to give the illusion that these are all slam dunks,” but said voters “are seeing how extreme these Republican candidates are and they don’t like it. And second, they’re seeing the Democrats are talking to them on issues they care about, and that we’ve accomplished a great deal on things.”
As the midterm elections loom in the US and Republican hopes of retaking Congress rise, it appears it is now a matter of when, not if, Donald Trump will announce his third White House run. Martin Pengelly reports…
Donald Trump has trailed another White House campaign ever since his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden, a contest Trump refused to concede, pursuing the lie about electoral fraud which fueled the deadly attack on Congress and his second impeachment.
In Texas last month, Trump said: “In order to make our country successful, safe and glorious again, I will probably have to do it again.”
Now, a flurry of reports say Trump will move swiftly after the midterms, seeking to capitalise on likely Republican wins fueled by focusing on economic anxieties and law and order.
“I’m like 95% he’s going to run,” Reince Priebus, the former Republican chairman who became Trump’s first White House chief of staff, told the Associated Press this week.
“The real question is are other big challengers going to run? If President Trump runs, he will be very difficult for any Republican to defeat.”
More from Hillary Clinton’s interview with CNN earlier, in which she discussed Republican midterms messaging that seems set for success next Tuesday.
The former first lady, senator, secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee focused on “this emphasis on crime that we’ve seen in every ad that I run across from the Republicans.
“I find it ironic and frankly disturbing that when Paul Pelosi is attacked by an intruder in his own home with a hammer, the Republicans go silent about that crime.
“They’re not concerned about voter safety, they just want to keep voters scared because they feel that if voters are scared, if they’re responding to negative messages, they’ll have a better chance and that’s really regrettable. Unfortunately, sometimes it works, and we can’t let people just hear that and believe it.”
Pelosi, the 82-year-old husband of the Democratic House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was attacked in San Francisco last week. Clinton referred to comments about the attack by Republicans including Kari Lake, the Trump-aligned candidate for governor in Arizona.
“It was a horrifying incident,” Clinton said, “but sadly a real indicator of where we are in our country right now that you would have people on the Republican ticket, like the woman running in Arizona, laughing about an attack on anyone, let alone an 82-year-old man whose wife happens to be the second-in-line to the presidency.
“I am rarely shocked anymore, but the reaction I’ve seen from a number of Republicans, both in person and online making fun of that attack, somehow trying to turn it into a joke, the same party that wants us to be worried about crime. The hypocrisy is incredibly obvious.”
Clinton also discussed threats to democracy around the world – and linked them to what she said was the Republican threat at home.
She said: “This is a time of great ferment, and it is a time when the United States should be standing strongly on behalf of our values of democracy and freedom, of opportunity and equality, instead of being engaged in this culture war driven by the political opportunism of people on the Republican side of the ledger.
“… The best thing we can do to lead the world in this struggle between democracy and autocracy is to get our own house in order and I hope that we’ll do that starting Tuesday.”
Hillary Clinton has been talking about the economy – which is top of many people’s minds as the midterm elections roar towards us and voting is underway.
She acknowledged in talking to CNN earlier today that the economy was of course something that needed to be talked about this election cycle. Democrats’ prospects are blighted by record inflation and a cost of living crunch and Clinton wants them to talk up their record and put current economic challenges into the wider context.
“What I wish we could convey more effectively, if you look at what has been accomplished in the first two years of the Biden presidency, with Congress working hand in hand, there has been an enormous amount of commitment of new building, new infrastructure, new investments in manufacturing, new ways to lower healthcare costs,” she said.
The former first lady and secretary of state added: “In fact the work that’s been done by the Democrats in helping the economy and helping people deal with what is global inflation, not just American inflation, is truly impressive, and we’ve got to get that message across more effectively.”
Tonight, Clinton is one of the headliners at a Get Out The Vote event in New York City to bolster New York state’s Democratic governor Kathy Hochul, who is not home and dry against her Republican challenger Lee Zeldin.
State attorney general Letitia James will be there as well as other grandees and the top headliner will be US vice president Kamala Harris.
US government representatives visit jailed basketball star Brittney Griner in Russia
The White House has announced that US representatives today visited US basketball player Brittney Griner in Russia, where she has been imprisoned since the early days of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Reuters reports.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist was arrested on 17 February at a Moscow airport with vape cartridges containing cannabis oil, which is banned in Russia.
She was sentenced on 4 August to nine years in a penal colony. Last month her appeal against that harsh sentence failed and there are fears Griner could be moved to one of Russia’s far-flung prison colonies within weeks.
Although at that time, Griner’s legal team said she was not “expecting any miracles” from the appeals process, the decision nonetheless would be a blow to the sports star, who pleaded guilty to the drug charges in July and has thrown herself several times on the mercy of the Russian court only to be given an unusually harsh sentence, even for Russia.
“We are told she is doing as well as can be expected under the circumstances,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters today aboard Air Force One as she accompanied US president Joe Biden on an election campaign trip to New Mexico, followed by California.
Earlier in October, Brittney Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner told CBS Mornings that Brittney, who was on her way to play in Russia during the WNBA offseason when she was arrested, is afraid of being abandoned by the United States.
“She’s very afraid about being left and forgotten in Russia,” Cherelle Griner said.
She said Brittney told her in a phone call that she felt “like my life just doesn’t matter.”
Democrats in deep trouble on crime messaging, veteran pollster argues
It’s clear that the spike in voter support Democrats experienced over the summer has worn off in the final weeks before the midterms, raising the possibility of a disastrous Tuesday for the party as it tries to defend its slim hold on both chambers of Congress.
Longtime Democratic strategist Stanley B. Greenberg has published an explanation of one reason why Democrats failed to keep their momentum: their own voters lost faith in their ability to tackle crime.
Writing in The American Prospect, Greenberg argues that Republicans effectively used increasing fears of violence nationwide to tar Democrats as soft on the issue, and the strategy was so potent even some racial groups that traditionally vote for Joe Biden’s allies saw the GOP as better able to tackle the problem.
Greenberg based his conclusions on a polling effort he oversaw:
New York City has seen citywide shooting incidents increase by 13 percent compared to July 2021, and the number of murders increased for the month by 34 percent compared to this time last year. Philadelphia and Chicago experienced prominent shoot-outs on the subway, and in Philadelphia overall shootings have increased by 3 percent and violent crimes are up 7 percent.
As a result, crime was a top-tier issue in the midterm election, and that included Blacks, who ranked it almost as high as the cost of living in poll after poll. For Hispanics and Asian Americans, crime came just below the cost of living as a priority. And Republicans continued to remind voters that Democrats continued to support “defunding the police,” even by linking candidates to organizations they took money from, like Planned Parenthood, which back in 2020 called for defunding.
The Democrats had so little credibility on crime that any message I tested this year against the Republicans ended up losing us votes, even messages that voters previously liked.
The only message that worked with voters was one in which Democrats promised to greatly expand police forces and publicly called out members seen as not doing enough to fight crime, Greenberg writes. He adds that it’s a far cry from much of the party’s messaging since the racial justice protests that began in the summer of 2020, after which many Democrats focused more on police abuses than on communities’ fears of violence:
In a mid-October poll, I was able to test a crime message that got heard. It got heard because it dramatized more police, said Democrats heard our communities on violent crime, and also called out the small minority of Democrats who failed to address violent crime, and said, “Democrats in Congress are mainstream” and support our “first responders.”
To be honest, I didn’t want to open up this debate during the campaign when Democrats could do little to address it. That is why I am writing this article now, being published right before the election.
Our effective crime message began with respect for police, but this time, the Democrat proposes to add 100,000 more police. That is a pretty dramatic offer that says, my crime plan begins with many more police. The message includes the same urgent reforms, but also adds, “those very communities want us to get behind law enforcement” and “fight violent crime as a top priority.”
This crime message defeats by 11 points a Republican crime message that hits Democrats for defunding the police, being with Biden who is soft on crime, and presiding over Democratic cities with record homicide rates. Democrats are in so much trouble on crime, yet this message wins dramatically in the base and competes with working-class targets.
The day so far
We are five days away from the 8 November midterm elections, and Joe Biden last night gave a primetime speech in which he sought to remind Americans that many Republicans on ballots this year hold views that could threaten the country’s democracy. We’ll soon find out if voters believed him.
Here’s a look at what has happened today so far:
Republicans rolled their eyes at Biden’s speech, with the Senate’s GOP leader calling it a distraction from crime and inflation, which was echoed by the party’s candidate for governor in Michigan.
A noted domestic violence researcher agreed with Biden’s warnings about democracy, saying that research indicates only a minority of Americans support violence in politics – though that still may be as many as 13 mn people.
A top aide to Donald Trump said she has advised the former president to announce his 2024 run for office after the midterms. Some Democrats hoped Trump’s return to the presidential campaign trail before the vote would be positive for democratic turnout.
One of Donald Trump’s top advisors Kellyanne Conway held forth with reporters today about what she advised the former president when it comes to announcing his next run for office, Semafor reports.
Trump is widely expected to run for president again in 2024, but the bigger question is when he will announce. Some Democrats hoped he would so before the midterms, so they can steer voters’ attention back to the divisive former leader.
Here’s what Conway, one of his best known aides, told reporters:
While Joe Biden argued democracy is on the ballot on Tuesday, Amy Westervelt reports that outcome could also have a major impact on climate change:
Climate is on the ballot in a big way this November, despite the fact that it is not front and center in any of the campaigns. Even when it comes to voter turnout, the mood of climate voters has been a topic of conversation among political consultants for months.
“Several months ago I was very concerned about the apathy we were seeing in young climate voters because of Democrats’ failure to even talk about the successes they have had,” Rania Batrice, political strategist and founder of Batrice & Associates, says. “But I do feel like there’s been a little bit of a renewed sense of urgency. In Georgia, for example, early voting just started and it’s already breaking all kinds of records.”
Batrice says the fallout from the supreme court decision in Dobbs, which overturned the Roe v Wade precedent on abortion, is a big part of that urgency, but that the Biden administration’s increased action on climate this year plays a role too.
For the campaigns she’s working on this midterm cycle – Beto O’Rourke for governor of Texas, John Fetterman for Senate in Pennsylvania, Charles Booker for Senate in Kentucky and Mandela Barnes for Senate in Wisconsin – Batrice says her advice on climate is simple: “Meet people where they’re at, and talk about climate in ways that relate to people’s daily lives.”
In Pennsylvania, Chris McGreal reports that a major pro-Israel group is facing criticism for backing Republicans who denied the 2020 election, but not a Democratic candidate who would make history if elected:
More than 240 Jewish American voters in Pittsburgh have signed a letter denouncing the US’s largest pro-Israel group for backing extremist Republican election candidates while spending millions of dollars to oppose a Democrat who would be Pennsylvania’s first Black female member of Congress.
The letter condemned the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) for its attempts to defeat Summer Lee, a candidate for the district that includes Pittsburgh, after failing to block her during the Democratic primaries earlier this year because of her criticisms of Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.
The signatories said they were “outraged that at this critical moment in American history, Aipac has chosen to cast Democrats like Lee as extremists” while endorsing more than 100 Republican candidates who voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The letter suggested that Aipac does not represent the views of the majority of American Jews and is working against their interests by also endorsing Republicans who promote white supremacy, a particularly sensitive issue in a city where 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogues were murdered in an antisemitic attack four years ago.
“We also condemn AIPAC’s endorsement of lawmakers who have promoted the antisemitic ‘Great Replacement’ conspiracy theory that helped inspire the murder of eleven members of the three synagogues housed at Tree of Life,” the letter said.
Georgia is home of one of the country’s tightest Senate races, and yesterday, Republican candidate and former NFL star Herschel Walker attempted to contrast himself with Barack Obama, Martin Pengelly reports:
Hitting back after Barack Obama questioned his fitness for a US Senate seat, Herschel Walker said: “Put my résumé against his résumé.”
Obama, 61, was a civil rights attorney and community organiser in Chicago, an Illinois state politician, a US senator from 2005 to 2008, then 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017.
Walker, 60, won the Heisman Trophy, the top honor in college football. He had a stellar NFL career, mostly with the Dallas Cowboys, then went into business.
His entry into politics, endorsed by Donald Trump and seeking to unseat the Democrat Raphael Warnock in Georgia, has been anything but smooth. Less than a week from election day, however, the two men are locked in a close race.
How big of a deal are Tuesday’s midterms? So big that spending on advertisements has exceeded the 2020 presidential elections. Adam Gabbatt takes a look at the messages Americans are seeing on TV, the web and elsewhere:
As the US midterm elections loom, Republicans and Democrats have spent almost $10bn (£8.6bn) so far on ads. It’s a staggering figure, one that exceeds even the spending on the 2020 presidential election, and is almost triple the amount spent during the last midterms.
Both parties – and their dark money backers – have splashed exorbitant amounts on TV, digital and print advertising, but their focus has been very different.
For Democrats, abortion has been a key issue. The party has spent almost 20 times more than it did on abortion-related ads in the 2018 midterms, NPR reported. For Republicans, there have been different messages: that inflation, crime and taxes are out of control.
The result has been a whirling atmosphere for the average American, where to turn on the TV is frequently to see the two parties, and their candidates, talking straight past one another about different things.
In Arizona, Kari Lake is running for governor on a platform of refusing to accept Joe Biden’s election, or even her own potential defeat. The Guardian’s Maanvi Singh reports on how Lake has embraced Donald Trump’s Maga ideology in her quest for the state’s top office:
Local news anchor Kari Lake refused to announce that Joe Biden had won Arizona on election night two years ago. Now, she’s the telegenic new face of Maga Republicanism, poised to possibly become the state’s next governor.
With early voting underway, polls show Lake in a dead heat with her opponent Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state. The contest will test the strength of Donald Trump’s enduring influence on the Republican party and its supporters. And the entire enterprise of free elections in Arizona hangs in the balance.
If Lake wins, her administration will oversee the 2024 elections in a key state that could help determine who wins the presidency. She could work with the likes of Mark Finchem, the far-right Oath Keeper who is running to become the state’s top election official. Already, she has said she’ll only accept the 2022 election results if “fair, honest and transparent” by her standards, declining to say whether she’d accept defeat.
When Biden warned about Republican extremists last night, just who did he mean? The Guardian’s Sam Levine and Rachel Leingang report on the candidates who present a direct threat to democracy and are on the ballot in Tuesday’s vote:
There are several races on the ballot this fall that will have profound consequences for American democracy. In several states, Republican candidates who doubt the 2020 election results, or in some cases actively worked to overturn them, are running for positions in which they would have tremendous influence over how votes are cast and counted. If these candidates win, there is deep concern they could use their offices to spread baseless information about election fraud and try to prevent the rightful winners of elections from being seated.
In total, 291 Republicans – a majority of the party’s nominees this cycle, have questioned the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, according to a Washington Post tally.
Election deniers are running for offices up and down the ballot that could play a critical role in future elections.
They’re running to be governors, who play a role in enacting election rules. They’re running to be secretaries of state, who oversee voting and ballot counting. They’re running attorneys general, who are responsible for investigating allegations of fraud handling litigation in high-stakes election suits. They’re running to be members of Congress, who vote to certify the presidential vote every four years. They’re running to be state lawmakers, who can pass voting laws, launch investigations, and, according to some fringe legal theories, try and block the certification of presidential electors.
In Michigan, the state’s Republican candidate for governor Tudor Dixon brought up Biden’s speech as she campaigned today:
Polls indicate Dixon is trailing incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer in the state.
In his response to Biden’s speech last night, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell sought to refocus the attention to crime, the economy and immigration, issues the GOP has campaigned on nationwide:
Stepping away for a minute from its context in relation to the midterms, here’s what University of Chicago political violence expert Robert A. Pape had to say about the substance of Biden’s speech last night:
The data shows that President Biden is right: The violent threat to our democracy comes from an extreme minority— not just a minority of all Americans but a minority of even pro-Trump Republicans. Our national survey from September shows that an estimated 13 million adults support the use of force for Trump. That means well over 80% of Americans, both Democrats and most Republicans, reject violence for political reasons. Bipartisan majority opposes political violence. Now it is crucial to turn that democratic majority into a bipartisan coalition against political violence.
Here’s the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats’s latest study on political violence, which indicates only a small minority would support restoring Donald Trump to office through violent means. But as the data makes clear, that group may be five percent of those surveyed, but it’s still representative of about 13 mn people.
Last night, Joe Biden gave an address warning of dire consequences if voters elect Republican extremists to office next Tuesday. Today, he’s heading west to campaign not in the tightest contests or those considered the best chances to oust sitting Republicans, but rather for incumbent Democrats trying to hang on to their seats.
It’s the perfect illustration of the dynamic for Biden, more than a year after his approval ratings tanked and stayed there. His presidential bully pulpit allowed him to make a speech where he warned, “Make no mistake, democracy is on the ballot for all of us.” But his unpopularity had forced him into a cautious approach to campaigning – almost a tacit admission that when it comes to the races that could define the next two years of his presidency, his ability to help is limited.
The Associated Press today published a piece looking at what today’s travel itinerary says about the dynamic. Here’s how they put it:
His itinerary illustrates the limited political clout of a president who has been held at arm’s length by most Democrats in tough races this cycle. It also suggests that the president, whose approval rating remains underwater, has concluded that he can be most effective using the waning days before polls close to shore up support for Democratic candidates in areas that he easily won in 2020.
'We’re facing a defining moment', Biden argued. Will voters agree?
Good morning, US politics blog readers. Last night, Joe Biden made a primetime address to warn Americans about the threats to democracy posed by political violence and Republicans who deny the outcome of the 2020 election. It’s a salient message, given that many GOP candidates nationwide have embraced baseless conspiracy theories about the election that brought Biden to power, but there’s a problem: poll after poll has shown most Americans have a sour view of Biden’s time in office, to the point that the president is avoiding many swing states in the final days before the 8 November midterms. Last night’s speech was meant as a reminder to voters of what the stakes are in next week’s elections. We’ll see if they care.
Here’s what else is happening today:
Biden heads out west, first to deliver remarks on student debt relief at a community college in Albuquerque, New Mexico, then to rally with democratic candidates. After that, he’s in San Diego, California, where he will appear at an event for democratic congressman Mike Levin.
Vice-president Kamala Harris will go to New York to rally Democrats.
Midterm countdown: we are five days away from Tuesday’s election.