LOS ANGELES - It’s the homestretch, just hours left in the 2022 midterm campaign.
Control of Congress hangs in the balance, as momentum shifts, and a number of California Congressional races now appear to be up-for-grabs.
Two of those toss-up races include California’s 47th district, where Republican Scott Baugh is challenging incumbent Democrat Katie Porter, and California’s 49th, where Democratic incumbent Mike Levin is being opposed by Brian Maryott.
This week on The Issue Is, Elex Michaelson hits the road to speak with all four of those candidates as they make their final pitch to voters in races that could determine the balance of power in Washington D.C..
Back in studio, Michaelson speaks with U.C. Berkeley professor Dan Schnur about those Congressional races, President Biden’s campaign strategy, and the top issues for California voters, and with Ben Oreskes of The L.A. Times about new polling in the race for L.A. Mayor, where Rick Caruso appears to be gaining on front-runner Karen Bass.
THE ISSUE IS: SHIFTING MOMENTUM IN THE RACE TO CONTROL CONGRESS
SCHNUR’S CENTRAL TAKE: "When you and I were talking two or three months ago, the Congressional races on which most of the nation was focusing were Mike Garcia's campaign against Christy Smith up at the Ventura/L.A. border, or Michelle Steele and Young Kim'S races down in Orange County. Now we're talking about Democratic incumbents and we're talking about Democratic incumbents in Congressional districts that Joe Biden carried by a fairly safe margin just two years ago. That's not to say that Democrats can't win these races and maintain their majority, but they're clearly playing defense and they're going to have to win an overwhelming majority of the toss-up races in order to keep that House majority…"
THE ISSUE IS: THE TOP ISSUES FOR CALIFORNIA VOTERS
SCHNUR’S CENTRAL TAKE: "The numbers on homelessness and climate change here in California, not surprisingly, are higher than in the rest of the nation. But the absence of abortion rights in a deep blue state like California is astounding. The Democrats made a bet after the Dobbs decision this last summer when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. They believed that angry, and perhaps frightened, pro-choice voters would motivate their base to turn out in a way that normally doesn't happen in midterm elections. We're not seeing that here in California and even nationally The New York Times poll showed last week that only 5% of Americans rank abortion as the issue on which they're most likely to vote…"
THE ISSUE IS: BIDEN’S MIDTERM CAMPAIGN STRATEGY
SCHNUR’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Once again, the Democrats are clearly on defense, and Biden's travel schedule, as well as Kamala Harris's travel schedule, are perfect examples of that. With the exception of Pennsylvania, which is essentially Biden's second home state, if you look at his schedule over the last several days, he's been campaigning in deep blue California, deep blue Illinois, and very progressive areas of Florida. He's trying to motivate the base to protect against potential Democratic losses as opposed to looking for Democratic gains. Again, it doesn't mean the Democrats are going to lose, but the body language tells you that that's their greatest fear right now…"
THE ISSUE IS: WILL A REPUBLICAN EVER WIN STATEWIDE IN CALIFORNIA AGAIN?
SCHNUR’S CENTRAL TAKE: "It has taken Republicans, it has taken California Republicans, many, many years to dig themselves into this hole. They're not going to get out of it overnight or not even in one or two election cycles. It's possible, it's worth remembering, it is possible for Republicans to win in deep blue states. There were Republican governors in the state of Massachusetts, in the state of Maryland, not too long ago, in the state of Illinois, but in those states, the Republican Party has decided to run candidates more in tune with the electorate in that state as opposed to the national party. California Republicans haven't been willing to make that adjustment. And what you end up with is a party that focuses almost all of its attention on national candidates and on local campaigns and pays almost no attention to statewide politics…"
THE ISSUE IS: GOVERNOR NEWSOM’S MIDTERM STRATEGY AND POLITICAL FUTURE
SCHNUR’S CENTRAL TAKE: "So I guess a cardinal rule of politics is when you're very close to a critical midterm election, the phrase 'my damn party' is probably not one that you ought to be using on national television. Newsom is reflecting the concerns and the frustrations of a lot of Democrats, they'd like to see Biden, they'd like to see the national party, being much more aggressive and combative in taking on the Republican Party. What's interesting about Newsom is that most of the most strident voices in the national Democratic debate - Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - all speak from the far-left wing of the party, from its progressive base, Newsom is trying to establish himself as the center-left alternative to that far-left anger. His beef with Biden, if you listen closely, isn't ideology, it's temperament…."
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.