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The post-Hobbs political landscape


Recent election results have been surprisingly good indicators for the in-party:

The result in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District, where Republican Brad Finstad defeated Democrat Jeff Ettinger, caught the attention of party strategists and nonpartisan analysts looking for clues about the mood of the electorate. Finstad led Ettinger by four points with 99 percent of the vote tallied Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. Donald Trump won the district by about 10 points in 2020.

In Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District, which held a special election in June, the change was even more pronounced. While Trump won the district by about 15 percentage points in 2020, the Republican congressional candidate, Mike Flood, beat his Democratic opponent, Patty Pansing Brooks, by around six points.

Both elections took place in the aftermath of the Supreme Court striking down Roe, which established a constitutional right to end a pregnancy. Democrats have been working to translate anger with the decision into support for their candidates. They said they were encouraged when conservative-leaning Kansas voted overwhelmingly in a high-turnout election this month to protect abortion rights.

Those three events, along with some other factors, could suggest the political climate for Democrats is not as apocalyptic as it seemed a few months ago, when Biden’s low approval numbers (which remain in negative territory) and high gas prices coupled with historic trends pointed to a Republican wave election, some analysts said.

David Wasserman, who analyzes House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said falling gas prices, an uptick in Democratic enthusiasm after Roe and GOP candidates being pulled to the far right in their primaries have helped level the playing field. “Overall, Republicans are still clear favorites for the House majority, but they may not be in line for the large gains they expected,” Wasserman said.

Thermostatic public opinion is a very difficult thing to overcome, but Republicans throwing “moderates” (i.e. people who don’t think Trump should have been installed as a dictator in 2021) out of the party and going all-in on total abortion bans should at least mitigate the damage. And even holding the Senate would be a pretty big deal.

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