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‘Tea leaves’: This bellwether special election could preview Democrats’ midterm prospects

‘Tea leaves’: This bellwether special election could preview Democrats’ midterm prospects
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‘Tea leaves’: This bellwether special election could preview Democrats’ midterm prospects

When Republican Glenn Youngkin pulled off a narrow victory in Virginia’s gubernatorial election in 2021, countless pundits described it as a very bad omen for Democrats — as Virginia was a state where the Democratic Party had been making considerable gains. And Democratic anxiety continued in 2022 when poll after poll showed President Joe Biden with low approval ratings, fueling fears that the 2022 midterms will bring a massive red wave like the red waves of 1994 and 2010. But with the U.S. Supreme Court having overturned Roe v. Wade with its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, many pundits who were predicting doom for Democrats in November are now wondering if the midterms outlook for Democrats is improving.

There are some hopeful signs for Democrats. In Pennsylvania’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, for example, some polls are showing Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee, with double-digit leads over Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Donald Trump-backed Republican nominee. Polls are also showing Democratic candidates to be quite competitive in the U.S. Senate races in Ohio, Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin. And the Dobbs ruling infuriated millions of abortion rights supporters, giving Democrats in swing states and swing districts something to campaign on aggressively.

In an article published by Politico on August 19, journalists Ally Mutnick and Sarah Ferris describe a special U.S. House election in Upstate New York’s Hudson Valley as a bellwether that could give Democrats some idea on what awaits them in November. The main candidates in that race are Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Marc Molinaro, who are competing in New York’s 19th Congressional District — which Biden carried by single digits in 2020.

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“A special election here next week could offer Democrats a preview of the pain coming their way in November,” Mutnick and Ferris explain. “Or it could provide powerful evidence that a Republican wave election is not in the offing. Both parties are dumping money into this Hudson Valley district to notch a short-lived but symbolic victory in the last competitive race before the midterms. The winner will succeed Democrat Antonio Delgado for just a few months. But the messaging, turnout and margin of the contest will offer tea leaves into what lies ahead this fall in the battle for control of the House.”

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