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Democrats Fret Over Polls Showing Once-Solidly Blue States at Risk of Flipping to GOP

CC BY 2.0 / WTF Colorado / Ballot Box
Ballot Box - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.10.2022
With the 2022 midterm elections just a few weeks away, Democratic strategists are worried that several states where their victory could once have been taken for granted are at risk of being taken by Republicans, especially in New England. Many politicos feel US President Joe Biden’s lackluster performance is a drag on the Democrats’ popularity.
New polls in Oregon, New York and Rhode Island show GOP candidates gaining ground in congressional and gubernatorial races, with several showing the two parties’ candidates support within the poll’s margin of error.

New York

New York Governor Katy Hochul, a Democrat who was appointed to replace Andrew Cuomo after he resigned in disgrace last year, is leading her Republican challenger Lee Zeldin by just 4% in a Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday. That poll showed 50% of polled voters saying they would vote for the incumbent, while 46% said they would vote for Zeldin.
“In the blue state of New York, the race for governor is competitive,” Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Mary Snow said in a statement. “Democrats have cruised to victory in gubernatorial races since 2006, but Governor Hochul’s narrow edge puts Republican Lee Zeldin well within striking distance of her.”
Polled voters ranked crime, inflation, and the nebulous concept of “protecting democracy” as their most important issues in the election. All three are issues the GOP has hammered Democrats on, claiming their policies have encouraged a spike in crime, diluted the value of the US dollar with government spending and a boycott of Russian energy exports, and allowed election fraud to spread through heavy use of mail-in ballots.
US Sen. Chuck Schumer, who leads the Democrats in the Senate, led his challenger Joe Pinion by 12 percentage points in the Quinnipiac poll.

Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, a small but typically strongly liberal state, one of its two House seats is in danger of being seized by a Republican candidate.
A poll released last week by Suffolk University and the Boston Globe put Republican candidate Allan Fung, the former mayor of Cranston, ahead of Democrat Seth Magaziner, the state treasurer by 45% to 37%. The two men are running to replace Rep. James Langevin, a Democrat who has held the seat since 2000.
“There’s plenty of awareness that this was going to be a close race,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), told Politico on Tuesday. “It could go either way at this point. At the end of the day if we’re at all effective at helping people understand the difference between a mayor and a member of Congress, we make the connection with voters and we win this seat.”
The paper noted that the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC has poured some $2 million into Fung’s campaign.


Across the country in Oregon, Democratic Governor Kate Brown is leaving office as the most unpopular governor in the country. Three women are racing to replace her. A poll conducted by Portland daily paper The Oregonian and published on Thursday showed Democrat Tina Kotek and Republican Christine Drazan “neck-and-neck” with 40% of polled voters supporting Kotek and 38% supporting Drazan - within the poll’s margin of error.
Betsy Johnson, an independent who left the Democratic Party, was polling at 14%. Kotek’s campaign has accused her of sapping liberal voters away, according to The Hill.
Another poll by Emerson College published at the beginning of the month showed the same 2% gap between Kotek and Drazan, giving Kotek 36% and Drazan 34% support. It has also not elected a Republican governor since 1982. A third poll, released on Wednesday by the Hoffman Research Group, put Drazan ahead at 37% and Kotek trailing at 35% - again, a 2% difference.
Oregon has long been a Democratic stronghold, with Biden beating then-US President Donald Trump by 16% in the 2020 presidential election.
The outcome of congressional races is highly anticipated and very close, with projections shifting regularly between a Republican and a Democratic victory. Historically, the president’s party performs worse in midterm elections, which happen two years after presidential elections.
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