Threats, disinformation, conspiracies hit US midterms
Election officials brace for confrontational poll watchers fueled by lies over the 2020 election spread by former President Donald Trump. Federal agencies are also warning that domestic extremists “pose a heightened threat,” to the U.S. midterms (Oct. 31)
Candidates are making last-ditch efforts to sway undecided voters in the last few days before the Nov. 8 election, with the current and former presidents lending their voices to campaign rallies.
Democratic President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama, along with former Republican President Donald Trump were all in Pennsylvania on Saturday, backing their candidate in the U.S. Senate race there.
On Sunday, Biden heads to Westchester County, N.Y., where he’ll campaign with Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. She is in a tightening race against Republican challenger Lee Zeldin.
A handful of races will determine which party controls both congressional chambers. While Republicans are expected to take over the House of Representatives, the Senate is a toss-up.
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While the issues of the economy, inflation and abortion rights have been driving voters to the polls across both parties, inflation could cost the Democrats the midterms – including losing both the House and Senate to the GOP.
Commenting on the recent attack on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi and rising political violence in the United States, New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said “the heat is too high all across America.”
Sununu, who had to cancel his own inauguration ceremony in 2021 due to armed protestors, told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan that “good leadership brings that down.”
“We’ve got to, as leaders, bring the temperature down. It’s okay to disagree but at the end of the day you’ve gotta be able to move forward,” said Sununu.
– Ken Tran
Disinformation is spreading rapidly through America, disseminating intentional lies disguised as truth. Sometimes the lies are designed to prevent people from voting by confusing them on how, when and where to vote. Sometimes the lies play on fears to try to make them vote a certain way.
“It’s becoming endemic,” said Sam Woolley, program director of the Propaganda Research Team at the University of Texas. “It’s becoming something that we’re just accepting in our society. It’s becoming part of day-to-day life. That we’re inured to it almost.”
Efforts to disseminate disinformation is difficult to trace, but often target communities of color.
– Candy Woodall, Ken Tran
As Election Day approaches, observers continue to wonder about the future of a politician who isn’t on the ballot: Liz Cheney.
Cheney, the Republican congresswoman from Wyoming who lost her primary to a Donald Trump-backed challenger, has formally endorsed Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., for reelection – the third congressional Democrat she has backed in various races this fall.
While Cheney said she doesn’t agree with Spanberger on many political issues, her Republican opponent Yesli Vega is a pro-Trump election denier and conspiracy theorist.
“I have worked closely with her in Congress, and I know that she is dedicated to working across the aisle to find solutions. We don’t agree on every policy, but I am absolutely certain that Abigail is dedicated to serving this country and her constituents and defending our Constitution,” Cheney said.
The support is fueling speculation that Cheney may seek the presidency, or some other office, as either an anti-Trump Republican, an independent, or possibly a Democrat.
– David Jackson
Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm, told said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he will “absolutely” accept the midterm results.
Scott added, “But what we’re also going to do is do everything we can to make sure that they’re free and fair.”
Control of the Senate is completely up in the air, dependent on a few tight races where it could take days to determine a winner.
– Ken Tran
With just two days left before voters head to the polls, Democrats have caught up to Republicans when it comes to voter enthusiasm, an NBC News poll found. The poll was taken Nov. 3-5.
The parties are evenly matched – 73% of both Democrats and Republicans expressed “high interest” in the election according to the poll. In October, Republicans had a 9 percentage point lead at 78%-69%. One thousand likely voters were surveyed; the margin of error is +/- 3.1%.
And when it comes to who should control Congress, voters are evenly split: 48% of respondents said they preferred a Democratic-controlled Congress while 47% said they preferred a GOP-led Congress. The poll was among 786 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.
– Ken Tran
Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said that all Republican candidates, no matter what happens on election night, will accept the results.
“We want to make sure it’s run fair and transparently and then we’ll let the process play out and then we’ll accept the results,” McDaniel told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday. When pressed further by Bash, McDaniel reiterated that all Republicans will accept their results even in defeat.
“They will (accept the results),” said McDaniel.
– Ken Tran
The emerging Republican battle between former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hit a turning point this weekend – a denigrating Trump nickname.
During a Saturday night rally in Latrobe, Pa., Trump touted leads in early nomination polls over potential opponents, including one he labeled “Ron DeSanctimonious.” (Never mind that Trump was supposed to be promoting Republican midterm candidates in Pennsylvania.)
Trump is expected to formally announce his candidacy later this month; DeSantis has not commented publicly on Trump and 2024, focusing on his reelection race against Democrat Charlie Crist.
In a national Morning Consult/Politico poll in mid-September, Trump led DeSantis 52%-19% when those surveyed were asked for whom they would vote if the 2024 GOP primary “were held today.” That was good enough for second place among 15 possible candidates. By a late October poll, that race tightened: 49% for Trump, 24% for DeSantis.
In an October poll by YouGov for Claremont McKenna College Rose Institute, Trump held a 10-point lead, 55% to 45%, over DeSantis.
In a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll in September, DeSantis led Trump 48%-40% in a hypothetical 2024 Florida presidential primary.
Meanwhile, Trump and DeSantis hold competing campaign rallies Sunday in their home state of Florida.Trump headlines a rally in Miami for reelection-seeking Sen. Marco Rubio; DeSantis holds events in three counties on Florida’s west coast.
– David Jackson
Tuesday’s election will determine control of the Senate and eight races are particularly contentious, as each party controls 50 seats in the Senate.Ties are broken by Vice President Kamala Harris.
While 34 Senate seats are up for election in 2022, a handful are critical for both parties. Which races are key? Look to Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona. Also key: Ohio, Georgia, New Hampshire.
— Sarah Elbeshbishi, Ken Tran
Iowa’s likely voters and those who already have cast ballots prefer Republican candidates in all four of the state’s congressional districts, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll found.
Republicans hold a significant advantage among voters in the newly drawn 1st and 4th districts. They hold a slight edge in the 2nd and 3rd districts.
The Iowa Poll, conducted by Selzer & Co. from Oct. 31 to Nov. 3, asked 801 likely voters or those who have already cast ballots whether they favor the Democratic or Republican candidate for the U.S. House.
– Katie Akin, Des Moines Register
Three men who have been in the White House fanned out across Pennsylvania on Saturday to give a push to Senate candidates in one of the nation’s hottest races.
President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama appeared in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to campaign for fellow Democrat John Fetterman, while former President Donald Trump held a rally to boost Republican Mehmet Oz in Latrobe.
Trump told the crowd they need to elect Oz as part of a “giant red wave” on Election Day.
The Oz-Fetterman race could decide whether Republicans or Democrats control the U.S. Senate; Pennsylvania will also go a long way toward determining the presidential winner in 2024, just as it fueled the victories of Obama, Trump, and Biden.
– David Jackson, Francesca Chambers, Kim Strong
What are the midterms, anyway? The midterms are halfway through a president’s four-year term. Although the presidency is not on the ballot, control of the House and Senate will determine if President Joe Biden will be effective in progressing his agenda during the remaining two years.
Looking for answers on how to vote or the top issues in the midterm elections for 2022? Here are some resources:
Questions on voting?: Last-minute voting guide for Nov. 8: How to vote and what’s on the ballot
– Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen
Despite an unprecedented U.S. focus on preventing hackers from targeting the midterm elections Tuesday, there are still concerns that malicious cyber operatives could disrupt or influence the vote by penetrating polling stations, voter registration rolls, ballot-counting efforts and even the news reports that tell Americans who’s winning state, local and federal elections.
But here’s what really concerns public and private sector security analysts: malicious cyber actors who claim that the election was hacked or stolen, even when nothing of the sort occurred. Such false claims, building on years of bogus election fraud narratives that began well before the 2020 presidential election, they say, could plunge the country into an unprecedented environment of political chaos and violence even worse than that which spawned the Jan. 6, 2021 attack at the U.S. Capitol.
– Josh Meyer
In the week before the Nov. 8 midterm election, candidates in battleground states faced off in their final debates and, possibly, their final opportunities to sway undecided voters.
Key issues including abortion and inflation took center stage. And despite efforts by moderators and citizen questioners to get candidates to explain their positions in detail or elaborate on under-the-radar issues, Republicans and Democrats largely stuck to their well-rehearsed talking points.
Georgia gubernatorial candidates Gov. Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams and New Hampshire Senate candidates Sen. Maggie Hassan and Don Bolduc were among the candidate that faced off a final time before Election Day.
Final debate moments recap: Top moments from the last debates leading up to election night
– Savannah Kuchar