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Election Day 2024 is a year away, and votes on this second Tuesday in November will set the stage and provide clues about the national mood ahead of the major contest next year.
Voters across the country will be heading to the polls tomorrow to weigh in on a slew of statewide and local races; in Kentucky and Mississippi, voters will decide whether to give Govs. Andy Beshear (D) and Tate Reeves (R) a second term, while voters in Virginia and New Jersey will be determining partisan control of their state legislatures. Meanwhile in Ohio, Democrats and abortion rights advocates are looking to enshrine abortion protections into the state constitution — the first attempt of its kind in a state that’s trended increasingly red over the years. The Hill’s Caroline Vakil breaks down five key races to watch on Tuesday.
Democrats are hoping to gain full control of Virginia’s state house, The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports, as party members in and out of the commonwealth have poured money into the off-year elections, focusing particularly on the issue of abortion access. Republicans, on the other hand, have zeroed in on crime and the economy as key issues. Democrats lost their trifecta status in Richmond two years ago when Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) was elected and the GOP won back control of the House of Delegates. However, Democrats say they are feeling optimistic this November following a better-than-expected performance in the Midterm Elections last year.
The Washington Post: Time will be a hurdle if Youngkin runs for president.
Democrats are also working toward an upset in Mississippi, where a surprisingly competitive Democratic challenger, Brandon Presley, is seeking to unseat incumbent Reeves despite Mississippi’s status as a conservative stronghold. The Hill’s Julia Mueller reports that in their hopes, Democrats are pointing to Reeves’ low approval ratings and concerns about a long-running welfare scandal in the state.
Adding to the odds: the nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report shifted its assessment of the Mississippi race last week from “likely” to “lean” Republican.
“Mississippi voters could feel emboldened to show up and participate in a way that was more like a pipe dream in the past,” said Carrie Archie Russell, a principal senior lecturer and an expert on Southern politics at Vanderbilt University. “You can see why pundits and candidates who had taken for granted the fact that Mississippi would remain a ruby-red bastion at all levels of government forever might have to take a deep breath.”
Republicans in New Jersey see Tuesday’s legislative elections as the best opportunity in years to win control of either house. Democrats have had control of the state Senate and state General Assembly for almost 20 years, writes The Hill’s Jared Gans, and the party has a significant voter registration advantage. This presents an uphill battle for Republicans trying to win back a majority in the comfortably blue state. But the GOP is more optimistic this year about their chances given the state and national political environment — as well as recent close local races.
REPUBLICAN SENATORS hoping to win back the upper chamberare warning new Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), an outspoken Christian conservative, from moving any national abortion legislation this Congress. Johnson has cosponsored legislation to grant a fetus human rights at conception and told Sean Hannity that his political principles are guided by the Bible. But Republican senators warn that it would be a major political mistake for Johnson to attempt to restrict abortion on the national level before the 2024 election, urging him to leave the issue entirely to the states (The Hill).
“I’m still trying to figure out what his real priorities are. Obviously, we know he is [a] strong right-to-life supporter, but whether or not he would work to advance” abortion restrictions “remains to be seen,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who supports abortion rights. “Based on some of the conversations we’ve had in our conference, there’s been a lot of discussion about the political implications of a vote on abortion that would basically federalize, outlaw abortions. It would be viewed as not politically helpful.”
3 THINGS TO KNOW TODAY
▪ Former President Trump is set to testify today in the New York civil fraud trial that puts his business empire at stake. His testimony marks an unprecedented turn in U.S. history.
▪ The abortion rights movement is on a winning streak. Will Ohio stop it? Tuesday’s elections will test whether Democrats can keep benefiting from the issue in 2024.
▪ Eyes will be on actors’ union SAG-AFTRA this week as union leaders decide whether Hollywood studios’ “last, best and final” offer, made Saturday, will be enough to end their 116-day strike.
LEADING THE DAY
© The Associated Press / Andrew Harnik | President Biden at the inaugural Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity Leaders’ Summit at the White House on Friday.
MORE IN POLITICS
📉 A year ahead of Election Day, Biden faces seriously bad poll numbers in five battleground states and some Democrats let their panicky reactions show Sunday.
Former Obama-Biden White House adviser David Axelrod took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to call on the president to drop out of the 2024 race, something he knows Biden is not going to do in the current circumstances.
DROP OUT, CAMPAIGN DIFFERENTLY, CHANGE MINDS?: “Only @JoeBiden can make this decision,” Axelrod wrote. “If he continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it’s in HIS best interest or the country’s?”
Axelrod’s assessment, not unlike others in the Democratic Party, is that Biden’s electoral odds as the incumbent against likely GOP nomineeTrump are headed in the wrong direction, according to voters.
“Trump is a dangerous, unhinged demagogue whose brazen disdain for the rules, [norms], laws and institutions or democracy should be disqualifying,” Axelrod wrote in a separate post. “But the stakes of miscalculation here are too dramatic to ignore.”
Axelrod reacted to polling by The New York Times and Siena College, in which Trump leads Biden in five of six critical states. Voters said they have doubts about the president’s age at 80 and have more trust in Trump, 77, on the economy, foreign policy and immigration. The poll results show Biden losing to Trump, his likeliest Republican rival, by margins of three to 10 percentage points among registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The president is ahead only in Wisconsin, by two percentage points, The New York Times reported. (Estimations among likely voters illustrated Biden’s problems.)
Dan Pfeiffer, also a former political adviser to Obama during his campaigns and in the West Wing, took a different tack, arguing on X and The Message Box on Sunday that “instead of panicking,” Democrats need to focus on voters who say they’re underwhelmed by both Biden and Trump (“double haters”) — and mobilize to try to shift them into Biden’s column.
Bottom line: Democratic Party angst about its 2024 ticket is real and publicly palpable. And polling history is ominous: Biden’s job approval at this point is lower than his six immediate predecessors who ran for reelection. Two lost. As measured by Gallup, his approval is on par with that of former President Jimmy Carter, who lost in a landslide. For all these reasons, Tuesday’s off-year election results will be under a microscope as a bellwether.
DISSATISFIED ELECTORATE: The Times’ analysis pointed out the obvious: the presidential race in the next 12 months will change. How it will change is the question. In contrast with four years ago, the surveys find a disengaged, disaffected and dissatisfied electorate, suggesting a potentially volatile campaign. Many undecided voters will remain on the fence until holding their nose to cast ballots, analysts predict. Some may not vote. Long-festering vulnerabilities tied to Biden’s age, economic stewardship, and appeal among young, Black and Hispanic voters have grown severe enough to imperil his reelection chances, the Times notes.
The Hill: Disillusioned Muslim voters angered by the White House’s position on Israel are facing difficult choices in how they cast their ballots in 2024, with many saying they would withhold a vote for Biden, but also see no option in Trump.
GOP PRIMARY INTRIGUE: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds plans to endorse Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis for president tonight in Des Moines. Trump’s reaction? Unhappy. Reynolds’ thinking: She was a Trump ally while he was in the White House, but she withheld any endorsement of him early in the 2024 race. She will help raise campaign cash for the Florida governor, who lags well behind the former president in Iowa polls and could be overtaken there by rival Nikki Haley.
WHERE AND WHEN
The House meets at noon.
The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. to resume consideration of the nomination of Monica Bertagnolli to be director of the National Institutes of Health.
The president will travel from Rehoboth Beach, Del., toNew Castle County, Del., for an event that begins at 12:25 p.m. to tout a $66 billion total investment in Amtrak, which was part of the 2022 infrastructure law. He will announce at 1:15 p.m. $16.4 billion in new funding for 25 passenger rail projects on Amtrak’s northeast corridor. He will be back at the White House at 3:20 p.m.
Vice President Harris this afternoon will speak by phone with unnamed international leaders in an effort to enlist support for an increased flow of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas war.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will speak at 11:45 a.m. about health and well-being during an all-day White House Tribal Youth Forum in Washington in collaboration with the Center for Native American Youth.
© The Associated Press / Jonathan Ernst | Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank Sunday.
Israeli forces early Monday surrounded Gaza City. They expect to enter the city Monday or Tuesday to root out Hamas fighters in street-by-street combat, often with little clear distinction possible between militants and civilians. Israeli troops have cut off the northern part of the Palestinian territory as air strikes continue. About 1.5 million people, or about 70 percent of the population in Gaza, have fled or were driven from their homes.
Jordan on Monday made the first air drop of medical aid by military cargo plane, raising the possibility of another avenue to funnel assistance into Gaza aside from small truck convoys through Egypt’s Rafah crossing.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken spent three days through Sunday on a high-security diplomatic mission shuttling through Israel and Amman and to the occupied West Bank, and then to Iraq, working to gain temporary humanitarian pauses in a war between Israel and Hamas that the U.S. fears could spread.
It was unclear that Blinken made tangible inroads. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday rebuffed the U.S. pressure, saying there would be no temporary cease-fire until Hamas releases some 240 foreign hostages it is holding.
“I think everyone would welcome humanitarian pauses. There’s no doubt about that. There are obviously different views, including on the question of a cease-fire,” Bllinken told reporters while in Baghdad.
Blinken’s message to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was that the U.S. was working to ease the plight of civilians in Gaza. Abbas in Ramallah pressed the secretary for an immediate Israeli cease-fire. Blinken has rebuffed those calls. Neither man spoke as they greeted each other in front of cameras and their meeting ended without any public comment.
“This is a process,” Blinken said Sunday. “Israel has raised important questions about how humanitarian pauses would work. We’ve got to answer those questions,” including how pauses would affect Hamas hostages. “We’re working on exactly that.’’
Gaza evacuations of the injured and foreign passport holders have been suspended since Saturday after an ambulance was targeted, according to Egyptian sources speaking to Reuters. The U.S. says more than 300 Americans have been able to exit Gaza with their families through Egypt.
Two weeks out from a possible government shutdown, House Republicans are approaching their impeachment inquiry with renewed vigor following Johnson’s election as Speaker. While the Louisiana Republican has stressed a reserved approach to impeachment, invoking the founders in calling it the “heaviest power that we have,” while saying he has no predetermined outcome.
But, The Hill’s Rebecca Beitsch reports that as a prominent voice of the House Judiciary Committee, he was vocal in criticizing the president. House Republicans have failed to demonstrate that Biden took a bribe, but as Johnson takes the helm from a former Speaker who at times seemed reluctant to pursue the matter, he said last week the House would soon have to determine how to move forward with an investigation shared across three committees.
“I do believe that very soon we are coming to a point of decision on it,” Johnson said Thursday. “I have been very consistent, intellectually consistent in this, and persistent that we have to follow due process and we have to follow the law.”
JEWISH DEMOCRATS ARE RAGING AT JOHNSON over legislation providing aid to Israel, accusing the newly installed Speaker of choosing a partisan track that will only delay emergency assistance to America’s closest Middle Eastern ally. All but 12 Democrats voted against Johnson’s $14.3 billion proposal on Thursday night, with most citing the Speaker’s decision to include cuts in equal amounts to IRS funding. The legislation is opposed by leaders of both parties in the Senate who want a broader package, to include aid to Ukraine, leaving the fate of the Israel funds up in the air. Jewish Democrats minced no words in lashing out at the newly minted Speaker (The Hill).
“To play politics with Israel in their greatest time of need, our number one ally, the largest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust, that’s who Mike Johnson decided he wanted to be,” Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), who is Jewish, said after Thursday’s vote. “It’s just disappointing for a guy who says, you know, he lives by the Bible but he wants to cause problems in the Holy Land.”
TENSION ARE ALSO HIGH in the Senate,where Republican members with backgrounds in the armed forces are taking on Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) over his hold on military promotions. The group of Republicans, led by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), pushed the intraparty disagreement over how to resolve Tuberville’s holds into the public sphere last week with a floor effort to move forward on 61 promotions. Tuberville blocked each one.
At present, Tuberville is holding up more than 370 promotions to protest a Pentagon abortion policy. The holds are in their eighth month and Senate Republicans are getting increasingly frustrated. Wednesday’s attempts to move nominees — which Democrats have repeatedly attempted, but Republicans had not before last week — was a clear example.
“It’s come to a head,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) told The Hill. “We’ve done our best to try to work through the issues, but with everything going on in the world, it’s time to address the concern.”
▪ The Hill: Congress appears unlikely to pass a new farm bill by the end of this year amid standoffs over Republicans’ push to extend subsidies to three specific Southern crops — at the potential cost of billions in both food aid and popular farm conservation programs.
▪ Politico: “I care about it”: Sen. Chris Murphy’s (D-Conn.) battle against loneliness. The Connecticut Democrat leads an unlikely coalition seeking to alleviate loneliness and the health ills that come with it.
© The Associated Press / Ng Han Guan | California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) at the Great Wall Climate Dialogue near Beijing on Oct. 26.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) recent trip to China could become a catalyst for advances in critical climate change research, while also elevating the governor’s stature on the national political stage, public policy experts agreed. “It’s a very surprising move that he went so engagement-oriented, at a time when engagement is seen as a dirty word by some people,” Alex Wang, a law professor at the University of California Los Angeles, told The Hill. Wang, who also co-directs UCLA’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, characterized Newsom’s weeklong visit as “a green light for more collaboration.”
The trip, according to Newsom’s team, prioritized three goals: advancing climate action, promoting economic development and tourism, and strengthening cultural bonds. It also involved meetings with high-level officials, including President Xi Jinping. Newsom, who is widely believed to harbor presidential ambitions, refrained from addressing whether the trip has bolstered his image on the national stage. But from an outsider’s perspective, Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the University of California San Diego, told The Hill he believes the trip offered Newsom the opportunity “to be taken seriously as a presidential contender.”
On Tuesday, Texas voters will decide whether to open up a loan fund supporting new gas-powered plants. The Hill’s Rachel Frazin reports that proponents of the measure tout it as a way to improve the state’s electric grid — which infamously failed in 2021, killing hundreds of people. Opponents argue that it’s a taxpayer giveaway to the polluting fossil fuel industry and they raise doubts about whether it will actually benefit reliability.
■ The winning 2020 Biden coalition is at risk of fracturing, by John Della Volpe, guest essayist and 2020 pollster for Biden, The New York Times.
■ Here’s how to think about a cease-fire in Gaza, by The Washington Post editorial board.
© The Associated Press / David Zalubowski | The three-point line was initially incorrectly painted on the floor during the second half of an NBA game between the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets in Denver on Friday.
And finally … 🏀 Measure twice, paint once, check your math.
A wrongly measured 3-point line on the Denver Nuggets court — the much-ballyhooed blue-and-yellow floor that made its debut Friday night and will be used by Denver for the NBA’s in-season tournament — had to be repainted in a hurry ahead of a game between the Dallas Mavericks and Nuggets because it was too far back. Ooops.
“I knew right away this wasn’t right,” Dallas forward Grant Williams said after practice.
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