Pelosi raises stakes as Democrats confront stark new polls: The Note

Pelosi raises stakes as Democrats confront stark new polls: The Note

Published September 26, 2022
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The TAKE with Rick Klein

She’s been here before — on both sides of elections she’s wanted framed as either choices or referendums, in years that saw Democrats winning and losing and winning again before this fateful cycle began.

This time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is helping message on what she hopes will be a “choice” election around a series of issues that are specific and tangible but, taken together, are almost unimaginably broad.

“The planet, the democracy, the future for our children is on the ballot,” Pelosi told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an interview for the inaugural episode of the Hulu series “Power Trip.”

That argument comes as Pelosi’s Democrats confront polls that speak to a specific political predicament. The latest ABC News/Washington Post survey shows President Joe Biden’s approval rating stuck below 40%, with Republicans clinging to a very narrow edge in the generic congressional ballot.

More worrisome to Democrats is that the issues they have the most voter trust on are among the least likely to be ranked as top concerns. Republicans have big backing on handling inflation, the economy and crime; 76% of those surveyed call inflation a top issue, 84% say that about the economy and 69% say the same about crime, according to the ABC/Post poll.

Democrats have a wide advantage in handling abortion rights, but that’s ranked as a top issue by 62% in the poll. Climate change is another area of lopsided trust for the party, but it’s a highly important issue to only 50%.

“We know that the public is with us. It’s just a question of turning out the vote,” Pelosi told Stephanopoulos.

Polling suggests that she has a strong point in some areas — but Republicans also have arguments of their own that could dominate the next six weeks.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

Tropical Storm Ian is barreling toward Florida and an active hurricane season is underway. Storms and storm response could shake up some of the state’s key political races.

Over the weekend, Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, visited storm-battered Puerto Rico to see the damage from Hurricane Fiona. Rep. Demings, who is the chair of a congressional subcommittee focused on emergency preparedness and response, called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover the costs of response on the island after Fiona hit last weekend.

“We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past,” Demings said in a statement. She added, “We must make families and communities whole. Five years since Hurricane Maria, I am committed to make sure that Puerto Rico has everything they need to rebuild.”

Rep. Charlie Crist, who is the Democratic nominee for governor against Republican incumbent Ron DeSantis, was also a part of the delegation to Puerto Rico.

After Maria in 2017, thousands of Puerto Ricans fled to Florida. This very public commitment to the island could give both Demings and Crist a boost with Florida’s Puerto Rican voters, who tend to lean more Democratic than more conservative Latino communities in the state.

For DeSantis, hurricane season presents risk and reward. A bungled response close to an election could hurt him while a successful response could be a boon right as voters begin to cast ballots.

Biden, who has been in touch with Puerto Rico’s leaders related to the storms, was slated to attend a rally in Orlando hosted by the Democratic National Committee, but the White House announced Saturday night that the trip would be postponed due to the impending weather.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

As candidates head into the last month of campaigning, abortion continues to be a galvanizing issue on the trail. Sentiments surrounding the topic were amplified this week in Arizona, a key political battleground, after a judge on Friday upheld a 121-year-old law which reinstated a near-total ban on the procedure across the state.

ABC News’ Libby Cathey reports that the ruling — which came just weeks before the first ballots of the general election are cast — backs a 1901 law prohibiting all abortions other than those necessary to save the life of the mother. The statute, which has language dating back to 1864, also mandates sentences of two-to-five years in prison for anyone who provides an abortion.

“The overwhelming majority of Arizonans support access to safe and legal abortion. This decision is a direct affront to what we the people, the voters, Arizonans, want,” said secretary of state and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs during a protest over the weekend.

Hobbs’ Republican opponent, Kari Lake, did not voice opposition to the law in an interview on Sunday but rather took a swipe across the aisle by claiming “Democrats have tried to politicize this issue in such a disturbing way.”

Lake also jabbed at Stacey Abrams, the Democrat running for governor in Georgia, who recently stated “there is no such thing as a heartbeat at six weeks” in reference to language about fetal cardiac activity that is used in some anti-abortion bills.

The ruling in Arizona drew a sharp rebuke from the White House, as President Biden made a public promise on Friday to codify abortion access if Democrats win two more Senate seats this fall.

“While we await next steps on any implementation of the law, the potential consequences of this ruling are catastrophic, dangerous, and unacceptable,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News’ “Start Here” Podcast. “Start Here” begins Monday morning with ABC’s Libby Cathey on an Arizona ruling allowing a near-total abortion ban to be enforced. Then ABC’s Lama Hasan explains the latest from Iran as protests heighten and officials shut down the internet. And, ABC’s Trevor Ault breaks down a school shooter’s plea for parole in Kentucky after spending 25 years in prison. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day’s top stories in politics. Please check back Tuesday for the latest.