Today on The BradCast: Our cruel climate crisis Summer continues, as we head toward a more hopeful Fall...maybe... [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
First up, Hurricane Ian crashed ashore on the southwestern coast of Florida shortly before air time on Wednesday, as a Category 4 storm. It had intensified in record time, falling just shy of a Cat 5, after knocking out power overnight to the entire island of Cuba and its more than 11 million residents. As we went to air, more than a million Florida residents were already without power.
Given Ian's landfall near Fort Myers, it is hoped that a "worst case scenario", had there been a direct hit on Tampa, may have been averted. But that's small comfort right now. It is feared Ian may result in catastrophic damage. Not just from its wind speeds, but from a record storm surge as high as 18 feet and rainfall that the National Hurricane Center warns could be as high as 24 inches in some locations over the next day or two. The storm is now set to crawl up Florida in a north-easterly direction. On its current track, Ian will emerge as a Tropical Storm in the Atlantic after crossing the state and potentially make a second landfall in Georgia and/or the Carolinas toward week's end. Desi Doyen joins us for the latest available details and the potentially devastating climate change-related impacts for the Sunshine State.
Next, new polling finds that while Democrats are still favored to lose their current slim majority in the U.S. House this November, their margin of loss continues to decrease with each passing month. The latest midterm elections forecast from CBS/YouGov suggests Dems would fall short of a House majority by just 6 seats if the elections were held today. But, that's half the size of the margin predicted by the same polling outfit in July.
The U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs decision to overturn Roe v. Wade's well-established privacy and reproductive rights is, of course, still seen as the primer mover in this and other recent polling. That ruling has also been cited as the reason that Democrats have either won or increased their percentage versus Joe Biden's 2020 numbers in every single special election for the U.S. House since Dobbs. All of that in contrast to so-called Conventional Wisdom earlier this year that Dems were set to face a shellacking in the midterms.
Beyond snap-shot best-guesses from pre-election polling, however, we now have some hard election data to help us better understand the post-Dobbs electorate, as our guest today, TOM BONIER of TargetSmart, a Democratic data analysis firm, joins us to detail today.
Last month, Bonier was here to discuss what he had found at the time to be "jaw dropping" spike in new voter registration numbers following the High Court's controversial late-June ruling on abortion rights. He cited was he described as an unprecedented gender gap favoring new voter registration for woman in dozens of state after Roe was overturned. Moreover, as Bonier reported at the time, the increase in newly registered voters was not only for women, but for young, Democratic women. Nowhere was the spike more striking than in the Republican-leaning state of Kansas. There, in August, voters thoroughly rejected a state Constitutional referendum --- by landslide numbers of 59% to 41% --- which would have allowed GOP lawmakers to institute restrictions on reproductive freedoms and even an outright ban on abortions in the state.
Today, we're joined again by Bonier with new, similarly striking data based on how voters actually voted in that KS referendum, where, he notes, women accounted for 56% of all ballots cast. "Usually women account for maybe 51, maybe 52% of ballots cast in these elections," he tells us today. "Women accounted for 56%! That's a huge difference. That just doesn't happen in elections. I haven't found an election in Kansas where women have accounted for this high of a share of the vote."
Based on the KS data, he estimates that as much as 20% of Republicans there turned out to vote against the measure. "It wasn't that men stayed home. It's just that women surged in turnout so far above and beyond what we've seen in prior elections, that they accounted for such a large share of the votes cast."
His research suggests "we've been underestimating the extent to which this issue has engaged women in this election. Especially younger women." Moreover, he does not believe that this surge is being accounted for in models currently used by most of the major polling outfits.
"One of the biggest difficulties for a pollster is figuring out who is going to vote. Because if you don't have an accurate prediction of turnout, then you can't have an accurate poll," says Bonier. "But, when you have what we call an outlier election like in Kansas, where you just don't have a precedent for it, you're not going to find many pollsters who will do what they feel is going out on a limb by predicting turnout that defies past precedent."
He cites, by way of just one example, a recent poll out of Georgia where just 49% of respondents included in the poll were women, even though "in Georgia, on average, women account for 55% of votes cast. Women account for a larger share of the electorate in Georgia than any other state." Why would this pollster be so off the mark? And what does all of this mean for so much of the polling that many are following closely in advance of midterms just six weeks away? Tune in for his answers. We cover a lot of ground.
Bonier cautions, however: "All the different factors that were in place that would have led to a Republican 'red wave' election --- them being the party out of power, the gerrymandering, the voter suppression, the historical precedent for midterm elections --- none of that has gone away." He emphasizes that we are likely to see "two waves side-by-side." The question is how big each "wave" will ultimately be. Either way, he predicts, one or the other is likely to win by very narrow margins.
"I certainly hope no one is seeing this data and thinking that it means Democrats have it wrapped up and can sit this one out, because that is certainly not the case," Bonier warns.
Finally, as you may recall, last month Donald Trump was reportedly having trouble finding any legitimate attorneys willing to represent him in the DoJ's criminal investigation into the thousands of documents he stole from the White House. He finally found who reportedly cost him $3 million to be paid up front. But now, according to CNN anyway, that attorney, Chris Kise, has already been "sidelined" by the disgraced former President. Who could have predicted it?...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)