Senate polls tighten as border, crime grow as issues: The Note
Fresh signs of the political climate shifting yet again ahead of the midterms.
The TAKE with Rick Klein
The governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has been dominating the politics of the week, as flight trackers, the White House, a Texas sheriff and his political opponents try to figure out what he has already done -- and what he might do next.
But there are fresh signs of the political climate shifting yet again ahead of the midterms, in races far from Florida and from the U.S.-Mexico border.
A new Spectrum News/Siena College poll out of Wisconsin shows a virtual tie in the Senate race, with Democrat Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes at 48% and GOP Sen. Ron Johnson at 47%. That comes after Barnes and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers have been hammered by TV advertisements focusing on crime.
In Georgia, two new polls out Tuesday had Sen. Raphael Warnock now leading inside the margin of error against Republican Herschel Walker. Warnock has been criticized by his rival over urban crime rates and his support for the Biden administration's economic and immigration policies.
Races in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Nevada are also showing signs of getting tighter, with a range of Democrats forced onto the air playing defense on issues surrounding crime.
The recent burst of Democratic optimism -- enough to shift conventional wisdom about their prospects of holding the Senate -- appears to be dissipating. It comes as moves to transport migrants have put a new spotlight on the situation at the border.
Candidates aren't necessarily embracing what the governors are doing, but they are leaning in on the kinds of issues raised by the focus on the border -- including attempts to enter the U.S. illegally, fentanyl and drug smuggling, as well as crime in general.
It contributes to an issue set that Republicans like far better than the focus on abortion rights -- and suggests that voters aren't settled on what might determine their choices in November.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is leaving the door open to more chartered trips for migrants to Democrat-led cities despite a lawsuit filed by migrants flown to Martha's Vineyard, an investigation launched by a Texas sheriff and a letter from some Florida state lawmakers questioning if taxpayer money for the flights is being used appropriately.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that DeSantis and other Florida officials were "exploiting [the migrants'] most basic needs" such as food and "made false representations and to make them willing to board planes."
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar has opened an investigation into how migrants were taken from the San Antonio area to Massachusetts. In an interview, Salazar told ABC News that interviews with migrants and witnesses would help determine if the transport of migrants constitutes human trafficking.
"If we can prove that they were taken from our county under false pretenses that may be criminal activity, it could be a fraud type offense," Salazar said during an interview with ABC News. "It could be as strong as, and these are strong words to throw around, I don't use them lightly, it could be a human trafficking case."
Two Democratic leaders in Florida, Evan Jenne and Fentrice Driskell, wrote a letter to their Republican counterparts calling the migrant transport an "inappropriate" use of that money. The pair wrote that it was "not intended to use state funds to transport migrants into the state solely so they could be deported to Massachusetts."
The Martha's Vineyard flight and the threat of others to land in cities led by Democrats have widely been interpreted as political theater. The continued backlash in Democratic circles gives DeSantis a win with conservatives in this deeply polarized political climate that values "owning" the other party over finding reasonable solutions to big problems.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
In Ohio, Secretary of State Frank LaRose celebrated National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday at a local brewery, where he backed the use of mail-in ballots in his state's elections -- something his most high-profile supporter, former President Donald Trump, has falsely claimed to have caused election fraud.
The state's top elections officer was asked to account for the discrepancy between his and the former president's positions on the voting method, ABC News' Paulina Tam reports.
"I don't speak for President Trump. He speaks for himself and does so very well. But that doesn't mean we agree on everything. I can tell you that Ohio runs secure elections. In many ways, we're really the example for the rest of the country. And President Trump himself has said that Ohio runs clean elections," LaRose said.
LaRose is faced with walking the fine line of touting his administration's efforts in Ohio's election administration, while doing so on the periphery of Trump's continuous railing against the outcome of the last election. In November 2020, LaRose stood in opposition to false election fraud claims spread by members of his own party, even telling the Cleveland Plain Dealer at the time that it's "irresponsible when Republicans say an election was stolen and don't have evidence. If anyone has evidence, they need to show it."
The ongoing spread of false election denial claims is something voting rights advocates and legal organizations are carefully monitoring as officials prepare to administer this year's elections. Janai Nelson, who serves as president and director of counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, told reporters the added issue of some candidates for critical positions being election deniers themselves adds another layer of national concern.
"We have election deniers who are actively gaining ground in states across the country as candidates for secretary of state as candidates for governor. These are positions that hold tremendous power, particularly when it comes to our elections. They not only hold power within that state and their election outcomes but, as we know, in federal elections and especially in presidential elections," Nelson said.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Wednesday morning with a look at the immigration debate and the legality of Republican governors transporting migrants to blue cities. ABC's Mireya Villarreal leads us off. Then, ABC's Tom Soufi Burridge reports from Kyiv as Ukraine continues to push Russia out of some of its strongholds. And, ABC's Ginger Zee talks about her climate reporting on the ABC News Live special, "Lit: America's Future." http://apple.co/2HPocUL
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY
- President Joe Biden will address the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City at 10:35 a.m. ET.
- The president will meet with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres at 11:45 a.m. ET.
- The president will meet with U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss at 1:15 p.m. ET.
- The president delivers remarks at the Global Fund’s Seventh Replenishment Conference at 4 p.m. ET.
- The president and Dr. Jill Biden host a Leader's Reception for the U.N. General Assembly at the American Museum of Natural History at 7 p.m.
- The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations holds a hearing to examine women leaders countering authoritarianism at 2:15 p.m. ET.
- The House Armed Services Committee holds a hearing to hear testimony on how the recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military have been implemented at 2 p.m. ET.
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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back Thursday for the latest.