What’s bad for abortion rights-supporting Democrats legally could be beneficial to them politically. At least that’s the thinking among Democratic strategists after the Supreme Court ruled today that closely-held corporations can’t be forced to provide contraception to their employees. A key part of the Democrats’ Senate strategy is to find ways to mobilize single women, one of their most reliably supportive constituencies, to the polls.
— A new national survey, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, helps explain the Democratic game plan. Only 54 percent of unmarried women who are likely to vote said they plan to support the Democratic candidate in the midterm. That’s lower than in the GOP wave of 2010 (60 percent), and significantly down from the last election (67 percent). Fewer than three-quarters of those who voted in 2012 are “almost certain” to do so again — a much lower proportion compared to GOP base voters.
— Pollster Stan Greenberg found that populist messaging targeted to the middle class, focused on equal pay for women, affordable college and child care, and raising the minimum wage, has the most potential to engage these voters. After testing those female-centric arguments, Democrats gained seven points on the generic ballot.
— Two Senate races where the strategy will be on display: Colorado and North Carolina. Sen. Mark Udall has aggressively attacked Rep. Cory Gardner‘s past position on the state’s “personhood” amendment, raising the specter of restricted abortion rights if Republicans win. In 2010, the state’s Senate race featured one of the largest gender gaps in the country, with self-inflicted wounds from GOP nominee Ken Buck on gay rights and abortion. Gardner praised the ruling, but quickly pivoted to his support for oral contraceptives to be available over-the-counter. Outside groups are hitting Republican Thom Tillis over education cuts, an issue that resonates with women in the state. A new Civitas poll showed Hagan with a whopping 25-point lead among women under 45, reversing a six-point deficit she held the previous month.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tested the economic end of the argument campaigning for Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes. Republicans were surprised to see such a polarizing liberal figure campaigning in a conservative state, but her core economic issues (on paper) poll well, according to Greenberg’s findings. Democrats need to exploit a gender gap to have a shot defeating Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but they may end up rallying more of the GOP base instead. —Josh Kraushaar
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First, it was Sean Spicer. Then Reince Priebus. Now, presidential adviser Steve Bannon, perhaps the administration's biggest lightning rod for criticism, is out. “White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Steve Bannon have mutually agreed today would be Steve’s last day,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement. “We are grateful for his service and wish him the best.” That's not to say the parting of ways isn't controversial. Bannon says he submitted his resignation on Aug. 7, but earlier today, "the president had told senior aides that he had decided to remove Mr. Bannon."
"The Trump administration has ended Operation Choke Point, the anti-fraud initiative started under the Obama administration that many Republicans argued was used to target gun retailers and other businesses that Democrats found objectionable. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told GOP representatives in a Wednesday letter that the long-running program had ended, bringing a conclusion to a chapter in the Obama years that long provoked and angered conservatives who saw Choke Point as an extra-legal crackdown on politically disfavored groups."
"Liberal groups are raising questions about a speaking appearance Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch plans to make next month at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. Gorsuch is scheduled to headline a luncheon celebrating the 50th anniversary of conservative group The Fund for American Studies on September 28, days before the next SCOTUS term begins October 2. Steve Slattery, a spokesman for The Fund for American Studies, said Gorsuch had nothing to do with venue choice, which was made long before the group asked Gorsuch to speak."
"The Trump administration has lost a handful of individuals serving in top cybersecurity roles across the federal government in recent weeks, even as it has struggled to fill high-ranking IT positions. The developments present hurdles for the new administration and speak to the longstanding challenge the federal government faces in competing with the private sector for top tech talent." Among those resigning is Richard Staropoli, "a former U.S. Secret Service agent who served as chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of Homeland Security for just three months," and Dave DeVries, the CIO at OPM. Separately, the White House announced today that President Trump has directed that United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations.