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Tipsheet

POLITICO Makes a Curious Point About 'the Dobbs Effect'

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media, including and especially pollsters, have tried to push the "Dobbs effect" for months, referring to the Dobbs v. Jackson decision which overturned Roe v. Wade, focusing on abortion. Matt highlighted earlier how Democrats continue to double down on this tactic, despite how it's just not a top priority for voters. The mainstream media is finally coming around, though, some, in the final weeks before the election. Yet in other ways, they're still doubling down. 

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Monday morning's edition of POLITICO Playbook, for instance, addressed "Is the Dobbs effect fading?

The relevant part of the Monday edition begins by claiming making the election about "abortion vs. inflation" is "a tad too simplistic" when it comes to how "if you had to boil down the midterm fight between Democrats and Republicans to a single headline, that might be it."

There's some talk about Biden's approval ratings, with a reference to The Washington Post's David Byler, in that Democrats might be "at least momentarily, defy[ing] historical trends." Such defiance would be in terms of Democrats not losing seats in Congress, despite how President Joe Biden is in office and has been faring quite poorly in the polls. Historically, the president's party loses seats during his first midterm elections. 

It's also worth reminding, especially since Playbook fails to do so, that polls have underestimated Republican performance in midterm elections before. And, polls that have had Democrats ahead have been wrong

The playbook also claims that Georgia's Senate race between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Republican nominee Herschel Walker, "suggests abortion is more central to the midterms than ever," when it comes to The Daily Beast's report that Walker paid for the abortion of his then girlfriend in 2009.

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Another reminder worth offering is that the same was said when Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) last month introduced federal legislation to ban abortion past 15-weeks, with exceptions, based on how unborn children can feel pain at that stage. Polls continued to indicate that inflation was considered more of an issue than abortion, which was also not mentioned by POLITICO. 

The playbook did, however, admit in part that Dobbs may not have such of an effect after all, which was most effectively argued not so much by them, but by veteran Democratic strategist, James Carville. This is specifically within the context of the Nevada Senate race between Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Adam Laxalt, her Republican challenger who had served as the state's attorney general. 

As playbook highlights, with original emphasis:

The AP’s Steve Peoples’ headed to Nevada and kicked the tires of Democratic Sen. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO’s campaign to find out whether the vulnerable incumbent had placed too big a bet on Dobbs saving her candidacy. “Nevada Senate race tests potency of abortion focus for Dems” is the headline, and we imagine you will see several versions of this piece pegged to races around the country in the coming days.

The lede: “Democrats predicted abortion would be Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s saving grace. But inside Nevada’s crowded union halls, across its sun-scorched desert towns and on the buzzing Las Vegas strip, there are signs that outrage over the Supreme Court’s decision to dismantle abortion rights may not be enough to overcome intensifying economic concerns.

“That’s leaving Cortez Masto as the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrat in the final month of a volatile midterm election year. Her predicament is the starkest example of the challenge facing Democrats nationwide as they try to capitalize on anger over the abortion ruling while Republicans focus on crime and stubborn inflation. If Cortez Masto can’t turn things around, the GOP would be well on its way to netting the one seat they need to retake the Senate and blunt the final two years of President Joe Biden’s term.

“In an interview, Cortez Masto sidestepped questions about her fragile political standing. She acknowledged ‘there’s more work to be done’ on the economy in a working-class state in which gasoline remains over $5.40 per gallon, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average and spending at casinos has not kept pace with inflation.”

And don’t miss this quote from JAMES CARVILLE that will be widely circulated today among Dems:

“‘A lot of these consultants think if all we do is run abortion spots that will win for us. I don’t think so,’ said Carville, a vocal Cortez Masto ally who has sent dozens of fundraising emails on her behalf. ‘It’s a good issue. But if you just sit there and they’re pummeling you on crime and pummeling you on the cost of living, you’ve got to be more aggressive than just yelling abortion every other word.’”

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It's worth emphasizing that Cortez Masto is considered one of the most vulnerable--if not the most vulnerable Democrat in the body. Polls have Laxalt with a small edge, with a +2.1 lead, according to RealClearPolitics, and the race is considered a "toss-up," even and including by Decision Desk HQ, which places heavy emphasis on incumbency status. 

Despite numerous polls showing that abortion is a distant second place issue when motivating voters in Nevada--the first being economic issues like inflation--Cortez Masto has focused on abortion.

Also on Monday, the RNC sent out an email from their Director of Faith Communications Andrew Brennan, which began by highlighting how "Democrats spent the entire summer ignoring Americans’ everyday concerns so they could promote their extreme late-term abortion agenda. Now, it’s coming back to haunt them."

Citing polling from Monmouth University, Brennan's email continued by noting that "Despite Democrats’ abortion obsession, polling shows voters rank abortion as only their seventh-most important issue, well behind inflation, rising crime, and immigration."

The poll in question was conducted September 22-25, with 806 adults and a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Abortion comes in seventh place--out of 12--most important issues, with 56 percent saying it's "extremely" or "very important." The top issue is inflation, with 82 percent of respondents saying it's "extremely" or "very important."

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For the "bottom line," Brennan also notes that "Americans know that single-party Democrat rule has created one crisis after another. In just 29 days, voters will punish Democrats for being the out-of-touch extremists that they are."

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