New polls see GOP leads in key races to decide control of North Carolina’s top court

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A victory for Republicans in either race would be enough to overturn the 4-3 majority that Democrats currently hold on the bench, and these contests are thus likely to have major consequences for the future of fair elections, abortion access, and many other important civil rights matters. Redistricting and voting rights have played a particularly large role in the battle over the high court after it ruled 4-3 along party lines earlier this year to block the GOP’s congressional gerrymander and allow a much fairer map drawn by a lower court to take its place.

That court-drawn map is only in effect for the 2022 cycle, though, and a potential GOP court majority could allow Republican lawmakers to once again gerrymander without restraint ahead of the 2024 election cycle. Likewise, Republicans at the congressional or state legislative levels could try to pass a ban on abortion in North Carolina should they win enough seats in the 2022 or 2024 elections, but a progressive-minded court could protect abortion rights under the state constitution.

Senate

UT-Sen: Conservative independent Evan McMullin’s latest ad hammers Republican Sen. Mike Lee over a recent spot from his allies at the Club for Growth that had heavily edited statements from McMullin and taken them out of context to misrepresent his message. Without repeating the substance of the deceptive attack, McMullin’s spot includes clips of local news coverage such as one from the Salt Lake Tribune calling the Club ad one of the “Most Dishonest … Ever.” McMullin then bashes Lee for his support from special interest groups, whom McMullin says are lying about him because he won’t take their money.

The Club ad in question had recently gotten pulled off the air by a local TV station after it presented the edited footage to falsely portray McMullin as having called the entire GOP base racist. In reality, he was condemning a segment of the far-right in response to the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and had specifically said, “Not all Republicans, of course, are racist,” which the Club, of course, had omitted.

Polls:

AZ-Sen: YouGov for CBS News: Mark Kelly (D-inc): 51, Blake Masters (R): 48

GA-Sen: Insider Advantage (R) for Fox 5: Raphael Warnock (D-inc): 47, Herschel Walker (R): 44, Chase Oliver (L): 3 (Sept.: 47-44 Walker)

GA-Sen: SurveyUSA for 11Alive News: Raphael Warnock (D-Inc): 50, Herschel Walker (R): 38 (July: 48-39 Warnock)

NH-Sen: Saint Anselm College: Maggie Hassan (D-inc): 49, Don Bolduc (R): 43 (March: 44-39 Hassan)

OH-Sen: Momentive/SurveyMonkey for Center Street PAC: Tim Ryan (D): 49, J.D. Vance (R): 38 (Sept.: 48-39 Ryan)

PA-Sen: Momentive/SurveyMonkey for Center Street PAC: John Fetterman (D): 55, Mehmet Oz (R): 36 (Early Sept.: 55-36 Fetterman)

AZ-Sen: Notably, YouGov excluded Libertarian Marc Victor and only asked about an unnamed “someone else,” which could affect the result here given their close spread between Kelly and Masters.

GA-Sen: SurveyUSA’s latest poll, just like its previous outing here, represents one of the best polls Warnock has seen all cycle, and most recent polls have given the incumbent a more modest lead.

OH-Sen, PA-Sen: Center Street PAC’s polls from Momentive/SurveyMonkey have repeatedly been among the most bullish polls for Democrats in both of these contests this cycle, and recent polls from other outfits in FiveThirtyEight’s database have typically shown Ryan with a very slim edge in Ohio while Fetterman has held a modest single-digit advantage in the Keystone State.

Governors

LA-Gov: On Wednesday, state Attorney General Jeff Landry made his long-anticipated campaign official when he announced that he would run for governor next year, making him the first heavyweight Republican to join the contest to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

Landry first came to prominence in 2010 when he flipped a Democratic-held House seat in southeastern Louisiana, and he quickly acquired a reputation as a Tea Party hardliner. However, the loss of a House seat in reapportionment the following cycle meant Landry was redistricted into the same district as longtime GOP Rep. Charles Boustany, and Landry lost the intra-party general election runoff by a wide margin in 2012. However, Landry made a comeback in 2015 when he won the race for attorney general in the November runoff by ousting two-term incumbent Buddy Caldwell, who had switched from Democratic to Republican four years prior, and Landry was re-elected in 2019.

Landry is likely to face major competition in the GOP lane for governor, though, as Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser has previously said he is “planning on running” with an expected decision in January 2023. Several other potential contenders have said they’re considering the race, including Sen. Bill Cassidy, Rep. Garret Graves, state Treasurer John Schroder, state Sen. Rick Ward, and state Rep. Richard Nelson.

Under Louisiana’s all-party primary system, every candidate will run on the same ballot in the October 2023 primary, and if no candidate takes the majority needed to win outright, there would be a November runoff between the top two candidates regardless of party.

MI-Gov: With Republican nominee Tudor Dixon still not having run any TV ads since she won the August primary, her allies at Michigan Families United, which is partly funded by the wealthy and influential DeVos family, have ponied up $650,000 over the last two weeks for TV ads supporting Dixon. However, that amount pales in comparison to what Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her allies have spent over that same time frame, with Democrats having collectively outspent Republicans $6 million to $700,000.

OR-Gov: Nike co-founder Phil Knight has donated an additional $2 million to independent Betsy Johnson, which is the largest individual donation to any candidate on record in Oregon and brings his total support for her up to $3.75 million this cycle. Knight’s support makes up a hefty part of the $14 million Johnson has raised since January 2021, and she finished September with $3.7 million on hand. During the 2018 cycle, Knight had previously been the biggest donor to Republican nominee Knute Buehler, who is also backing Johnson this time.

Since the beginning of 2021, Democrat Tina Kotek brought in $11.9 million and had $1.6 million in the bank in late September, while Republican Christine Drazan raised $11.1 million and had $500,000 on hand.

Thanks in part to her unusually well-funded campaign, polls this cycle have found Johnson, who was a longtime conservative Democratic state senator until she resigned last year, with significant support for an independent. However, recent surveys still have her in a distant third place and indicate she could play spoiler for Kotek by helping Drazan win with less than 40% of the vote.

Polls:

AZ-Gov: YouGov for CBS News: Katie Hobbs (D): 49, Kari Lake (R): 49

FL-Gov: Mason-Dixon: Ron DeSantis (R-inc): 52, Charlie Crist (D): 41 (Feb.: 51-43 DeSantis)

GA-Gov: Insider Advantage (R) for Fox 5: Brian Kemp (R-inc): 50, Stacey Abrams (D): 45, Shane Hazel (L): 2 (Sept.: 50-42 Kemp)

GA-Gov: SurveyUSA for 11Alive News: Brian Kemp (R-inc): 47, Stacey Abrams (D): 45 (July: 45-44 Kemp)

NH-Gov: Saint Anselm College: Chris Sununu (R-inc): 50, Tom Sherman (D): 34 (Aug.: 48-29 Sununu)

NM-Gov: Cygnal (R) for attorney general candidate Jeremy Gay (R): Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-inc): 46, Mark Ronchetti (R): 44, Karen Bedonie (L): 5

VT-Gov: University of New Hampshire: Phil Scott (R-inc): 48, Brenda Siegel (D): 31 (July: 60-16 Scott)

AZ-Gov: Just as they did in the Senate portion of their new Arizona poll, YouGov excluded Libertarian nominee Barry Hess in the gubernatorial portion and instead asked about an unnamed “someone else,” which could have changed the overall outcome given the tie they found between Hobbs and Lake.

House

IL-13: The DCCC on Wednesday indicated that it was canceling its reserved ad time for Oct. 11-24 in central Illinois’ 13th District, which a spokesperson said was because the D-trip was confident in Democrat Nikki Budzinski’s chances against Republican Regan Deering in this 54-43 Biden seat. The DCCC had previously reserved $420,000 here, but the only one of the big four party committees to actually spend here as of Oct. 3 has been their allies at House Majority PAC, who have dropped a modest $200,000 on Budzinski’s behalf.

MN-02: Legal Marijuana Now Party nominee Paula Overby died unexpectedly on Wednesday with just five weeks until Election Day, which in a bizarre turn of events means this is now the second cycle in a row where the candidate for the pro-pot minor party in this swingy seat has died just weeks before Election Day following the death of 2020 nominee Adam Weeks last cycle.

The presence of a left-leaning minor party candidate on the ballot in this seat is particularly notable because they could potentially take enough voters from Democrats to play spoiler for Democratic Rep. Angie Craig, who faces a heavily contested rematch against Republican Tyler Kistner in a Twin Cities suburbs district that would have backed Biden 53-45.

Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon announced in response to the news that the election will proceed as scheduled (early voting has already begun) with Overby’s name remaining on the ballot unless a federal court order says otherwise. Back in 2020, Simon had ordered the election be postponed as required under state law when a nominee from a party with guaranteed ballot access dies within 79 days of Election Day. However, a federal court overturned his decision on the grounds that it conflicted with federal law requiring federal elections to take place on the the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, and the Supreme Court refused to take up Kistner’s appeal to delay the election.

Republicans may indeed have been counting on Overby to draw enough support from Craig to help Kistner win this time after Craig won their prior bout just 48-46 last cycle with the deceased Weeks taking 6% as Biden was winning the previous version of this district by a larger 52-46. Shortly before Election Day, it had come to light that Weeks had told a close friend in a voicemail four months before his death that Republicans had recruited him to run to “pull votes” from Craig.

Publicly available polling has been very limited this cycle, and the most recent survey we’ve seen was a July poll by RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits that found Craig up just 47-46 over Kistner. Ironically, though, that poll problematically did not include Overby and instead only asked about an unnamed “someone else” as a third option.

NY-19: Democrat Josh Riley uses his latest ad to try to portray Republican Marc Molinaro as a corrupt opportunist who is trying to get elected in Upstate New York after being “a downstate politician for 30 years” (Molinaro serves as the Dutchess County executive in the middle Hudson Valley just north of the New York City area). The ad hits Molinaro for using taxpayer funds to raise his own pay and drive a luxury car that costs thousands a month, noting that his car usage was “part of a countywide audit” into potentially excessive spending.

PA-08: Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright’s newest ad features a testimonial from a man identified as Kevin whom it says worked for months to clear the rubble at ground zero after 9/11. Kevin praises Cartwright and his wife for representing the victims’ families free of charge, then he excoriates Republican Jim Bognet for how his lobbying firm took in $1.3 million in “Saudi oil money” and worked to fight compensation for the families of 9/11 victims.

Polls:

MI-08: Cygnal (R) for Paul Junge: Paul Junge (R): 45, Dan Kildee (D-inc): 44

NH-01: Saint Anselm College: Chris Pappas (D-inc): 49, Karoline Leavitt (R): 41

NH-02: Saint Anselm College: Annie Kuster (D-inc): 49, Robert Burns (R): 35

Attorneys General and Secretaries of State

Polls:

FL-AG: Mason-Dixon: Ashley Moody (R-inc): 50, Aramis Ayala (D): 37

GA-AG: SurveyUSA for 11Alive News: Chris Carr (R-inc): 40, Jen Jordan (D): 36

GA-SoS: SurveyUSA for 11Alive News: Brad Raffensperger (R-inc): 39, Bee Nguyen (D): 36

NM-AG: Cygnal (R) for Jeremy Gay: Raúl Torrez (D): 42, Jeremy Gay (R): 41

Ballot Measures

MI Ballot: The Glengariff Group’s recent statewide election poll for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV also looked at multiple measures on the ballot this November and found that the one that would enshrine reproductive healthcare rights including abortion access in the state constitution is passing 62-24, while another that would expand voting rights is winning 70-14.

Ad Roundup

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