Democrats just got their report card

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In mid-February, we at Palmer Report told you that Democrats would be getting their report card – an event you don’t get nearly as often in politics as teams do in sports, when Tom Suozzi won the special election in NY-3. As it turned out, we passed with flying colors – and the former rep won back his old seat by a decisive margin, despite polls showing the race as a dead heat. Things have changed a bit since we won that race, with a court in Alabama declaring that IVF clinics are unconstitutional, citing a provision of the SCOTUS Dobbs decision to do so. This was so catastrophic, Republicans immediately started talking out of both sides of their mouths (as a number of conservatives have sought to become parents through IVF methods), vowing to protect IVF while also advocating abortion bans.

The question was whether voters would associate Republicans with the IVF ban if they muddied the waters, and on Tuesday night, in a local state house race special election, we got our answer. The district in question is located in the Huntsville area of the state, a suburban district that voted for Trump by one point in 2020. In the 2022 midterm election, the Democratic candidate lost by seven points. While this doesn’t mean that the very red state of Alabama is in play in November, it shows that the Dobbs decision is deeply unpopular and running on it is a winning issue for Democrats. It also shows that they can still increase their numbers in the suburbs and that they’ll likely outperform their polls in metropolitan areas like Atlanta, which is pivotal to President Biden winning Georgia a second time.

In 2022, a lot of the Democratic surprise wins were attributed to unhinged right-wingers running in otherwise winnable races, but Marilyn Lands who won the seat ran against a fairly normal and well-known former Republican councilman Teddy Powell, and even discussed making exceptions in the event of a statewide abortion ban. Lands won the race overwhelmingly by 25 points – beating out expectations and doing even better than Doug Jones did when he won this district in a landslide during the special US Senate race in 2017. We’re off to the races – on track to not just win back the House and keep the White House and Senate, but we could even flip a few statehouses as well on Nov 5.

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