TOMORROW is election day and both parties are sprinting to the finish line. Chuck Schumer says it’s ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌  ͏‌ 


sunny Washingtoncloudy Parissunny Virginia Beach

TOMORROW is election day and both parties are sprinting to the finish line. Chuck Schumer says it’s neck and neck in the Senate and the latest polls agree. But Republicans are still confident a big red wave is breaking late in their direction.

ALSO: Kadia Goba reports that the Senate will likely codify same-sex marriage before year’s end, even as culture wars around LGBT rights are all over the campaign trail. Shelby Talcott breaks down Donald Trump’s “Ron De-Sanctimonious” insult, which made some MAGA allies cringe.

PLUS: I exchange texts with US Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark on what their members care about going into the election.

Have a great day – tomorrow will be here soon enough.

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White House: Biden is spending Election Day eve participating in virtual DNC receptions and rallying in Maryland with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, who seems to be on a glide path to election. A pre-taped interview in which Biden talks about his accomplishments for Black Americans will also air on Al Sharpton’s MSNBC show this evening.

Chuck Schumer: Schumer believes Democrats have a fighting chance in the midterms and the party’s policy record will stand for itself. “The fact that we got these things done means we’re in the ballgame now. And it’s neck and neck,” he told the New Yorker in an interview published Saturday.

Mitch McConnell: The McConnell-aligned super PAC Senate Leadership Fund is now the highest-spending advertiser ever tracked by AdImpact. SLF has poured $234 million into 9 states this cycle.

Nancy Pelosi: The Speaker made her first public appearance since her husband was violently attacked with a hammer. In a call, she delivered a 28-minute public address and touted Democrats’ accomplishments during the 117th Congress.

Kevin McCarthy: After traveling throughout the country, the Republican leader will spend Election Day closer to Washington, D.C. as he joins House candidate Jen Kiggans at a “get out the vote” rally at a Virginia Beach restaurant. Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears and Newt Gringrich are among the special guests.

The Map

New York: Biden campaigned for Gov. Kathy Hochul in Yonkers on Sunday evening, following in the footsteps of Vice President Harris and Hillary Clinton. He touted semiconductor investments in New York and criticized Hochul’s GOP challenger Lee Zeldin. Zeldin “talks a good game on crime, but it’s all talk,” Biden told a crowd at Sarah Lawrence College.

Pennsylvania: Just a day after appearing at a Trump rally, Republican Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz spent Sunday campaigning in Bucks County with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate who supported Trump’s second impeachment.

Nevada: Jon Ralston, the Nevada Independent reporter known for his in-depth analysis of the state’s early vote, predicted Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto would defeat Republican challenger Adam Laxalt. He picked Republican Joe Lombardo to unseat incumbent Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak, however.

Virginia: First lady Jill Biden is campaigning for Rep. Jennifer Wexton, who’s facing a challenge from Republican Hung Cao in Virginia’s 10th congressional district. The area is friendly Biden territory but the race is unexpectedly tight. “As a mom and a teacher, Jill Biden has a unique background to talk about issues important to kids and families–these are the kinds of issues that Wexton has been proudest to champion and what drove her to run for Congress in the first place,” a Democratic operative in Virginia told Semafor.

Michigan: Despite a tough year, Michigan Democrats are favored to win the governor’s race and pass an amendment codifying abortion rights. Conservatives are betting that debates over transgender issues could give them an upset, our own Dave Weigel reports.

New Hampshire: Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan’s lead over GOP challenger Don Bolduc has shrunk to two points, according to a new University of New Hampshire poll, a result within the margin of error. The survey also found Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas and Republican Karoline Leavitt running neck-and-neck.

California: Vice President Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, will be in Los Angeles today for a GOTV event with California Democrats.

Need To Know

Two major national polls over the weekend did little to settle questions about what to expect on Tuesday. The final NBC News poll found that likely voters favored Democrats over Republicans by a statistically insignificant 48-47 margin. Notably, it found equal enthusiasm among both parties’ voters. Meanwhile, the Washington Post-ABC News poll gave Republicans a slight edge, 50-48, among likely voters based on a small GOP edge in turnout.

Even as many Democrats are bracing for a “red wave,” their candidates have remained competitive in a number of recent polls, especially in the Senate. “It’s possible Tuesday could be a big GOP wave in both chambers,” Cook Report analyst Dave Wasserman said on Twitter. “But [to be honest] there’s not much high-quality data to support the narrative that the ‘bottom has fallen out’ for House Ds.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., has decided against mounting a 2024 presidential campaign, Politico first reported. A person familiar with his decision confirmed it to Semafor and said Cotton made the decision upon realizing it would mean time away from his kids. The person said that the door is “not closed for the future,” noting Cotton’s young age relative to other politicians (45 years old). The news came shortly after former President Trump made his most explicit nod yet to another presidential run, but the Cotton source said Trump running did not drive his decision.

Elon Musk is said to be delaying his rollout of a new $8 verification subscription service until after the midterm elections. Biden did not sound too confident in Musk’s stewardship over the weekend. “What are we all worried about? Elon Musk goes out and buys an outfit that sends and spews lies all across the world,” the president said at a fundraiser.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan held undisclosed conversations with Russian officials to warn Moscow against using nuclear weapons, the Wall Street Journal reported. The White House – which usually sends readouts of conversations between high-level officials and foreign counterparts – isn’t acknowledging the conversations.

— Morgan Chalfant

Beltway Newsletters

Punchbowl News: Donald Trump Jr. is reaching out to some House Republicans and asking them to support Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., in a race for majority whip.

Playbook: Politico’s final election forecast sees Republicans winning the House but rates the Senate battle a “toss up.”

Axios: Third Way, a centrist Democratic think tank, warns in a new polling memo that Democrats are seen as out-of-touch by voters and not concerned about the issues that most worry the public.

Kadia Goba

The Senate is expected to codify same-sex marriage before year’s end

Supporters of gay marriage rally in front of the Supreme Court. June 25, 2015.
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts


The Senate is expected to pass the Respect for Marriage Act before the end of the year, which would require states to recognize same-sex unions if the Supreme Court strikes down marriage rights.

“We're confident that we'll have the votes when it comes to the floor,” a person close to negotiations told Semafor. “We've been guaranteed that this is going to come up before January.”

Democrats had the opportunity to bring the bill to the floor before the August recess but delayed it, giving bipartisan negotiations an opportunity to continue instead of taking it directly to voters, who polls show strongly support marriage equality. The latest version of the bill clarifies religious liberties and includes language that reaffirms the bill does not validate polygamy, which some Republican members had expressed concerns about.

The bill has bipartisan appeal and passed the House in July with the support of 47 Republicans. It’s unclear how it would be put forth for final passage, either as a standalone or attached to a larger must-pass bill. Supporters are reluctant to draw too much attention to talks with the midterms still raging, but expectations are high that it has the votes to pass.

Sources tell Semafor midterm elections will determine the timing and the vehicle. If Democrats lose the House and Senate, expect a last minute dash to get their legislative agenda done by the end of the year. In roughly seven weeks they’ll have to potentially address the debt ceiling, pass the National Defense Authorization Act, and fund the government, leaving little time for a floor vote to codify same-sex marriage.


Republicans have been fighting more culture wars over LGBT issues this election cycle than at any period since George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, but same-sex marriage has had little to do with any of them.

A number of Republican-led states passed laws banning gender-affirming treatment for minors, an issue that also features in numerous campaign ads, and Republican lawmakers in Congress have introduced similar bills as well. Florida Republicans and Disney are in an extended fight over the Parental Rights in Education Act – the “Don’t Say Gay” law, to critics — and social conservatives have also pushed back against LGBT characters gaining more prominence in popular entertainment. “Groomer” has returned as an epithet, echoing homophobic slurs used decades ago to try to ban LGBT teachers from public schools.

For now, though, more Republican lawmakers and voters than ever support same-sex marriage and it seems like many conservatives would prefer to keep debates centered on transgender issues. It’s not lost on them that 71% of Americans approve of same-sex marriage and voting a bill down could expose Republicans to a full election cycle of tough questions about their position.


Senators opposed to the Respect for Marriage Act have typically argued it’s unnecessary because they doubt the Supreme Court would overturn marriage equality. Few seem willing to revisit direct criticism of same-sex marriage itself. But National Review’s editors argue that it’s a mistake to separate it from more recent fights over LGBT issues. “The bullying, unfairness, and sheer illogic of the trans movement have all drawn strength from same-sex marriage,” they wrote in July.

Trump Beat

Donald Trump's ‘Ron De-Sanctimonious’ trial balloon sinks

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends a pre-election rally to support Republican candidates in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, U.S., November 5, 2022.
REUTERS/Mike Segar

In a preview of a likely 2024 matchup, former President Donald Trump dubbed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis “Ron De-Sanctimonious” during a Saturday rally in Pennsylvania – a continuation of the former president’s now well-known penchant for giving foes insulting nicknames.

But Trump’s swipe at DeSantis may not have had the intended effect. One person familiar with Trump’s team told Semafor that there was “lots of opposition to” his Saturday remark among his aides, though it’s unclear whether they relayed it to him directly.

National Republicans have tried to steer the president towards boosting GOP candidates in the midterms rather than litigating party rivalries, and the timing of the comments prompted significant public and private pushback.

“I just think it was not necessary,” one GOP donor told Semafor. “Right now we need to unite. We don’t need more division and I think that’s exactly the kind of rhetoric that gets Trump in trouble. It’s unnecessary. Also how unaware of oneself…who is the sanctimonious one?”

This sentiment appeared widespread within the conservative movement. Fox News even compiled a list of commentators on the right “who are typically Donald Trump's allies,” but turned on Trump over his DeSantis remark. It was a rare early test of how conservative media might respond in a primary, and it’s clear DeSantis has plenty of friends.

By the next day, the former president appeared to do an about-turn at another rally in Miami.

“The people of Florida are going to re-elect the wonderful, the great friend of mine, Marco Rubio … and you’re going to re-elect Ron DeSantis as your governor,” he said, drawing thunderous applause.

— Shelby Talcott

2024 Watch
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy speaks at an event. November 17, 2020.
Flickr/Phil Murphy

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s political groups gave $300,000 to Democratic candidates this cycle, focusing on his fellow governors and down-ballot offices that manage state elections. Murphy’s wife Tammy, who chairs the PAC, said in a statement that the donations were “only the beginning” of their political work.

The term-limited governor is seen as a potential 2024 Democratic presidential candidate if Joe Biden does not seek re-election, making his political activities something to watch.

Murphy’s 501(c)4 Stronger Fairer Forward, and his PAC of the same name, gave $100,000 to the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, with more for individual Secretary of State candidates in Nevada, Georgia, and Colorado. It spread more cash around to Murphy’s fellow Democratic governors in Nevada, Kansas, New Mexico, and Michigan, as well as Rep. Charlie Crist, who’s challenging Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in his second attempt to win that job back.

His allied PAC also donated to four state parties – including New Hampshire, which traditionally holds the first presidential primary, and Michigan, which might be moved up in the calendar after a post-election DNC meeting on reforming the primary process.

— David Weigel


One Good Text With... Suzanne Clark


WHAT THE LEFT ISN’T READING: A Lee Zeldin supporter was allegedly assaulted at a rally for Kathy Hochul over the weekend.

WHAT THE RIGHT ISN’T READING: California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) posthumously pardoned Laura Miner, an abortion activist from the 1930s and 1940s.

with our partners at Ground News

Staff Picks
  • Votes have yet to be counted, but the Republican midterm victory lap on the crime issue already has begun. Progressives turned their backs on the winning formula of the Clinton/Gore years, Matthew Continetti writes for National Review, when handing out harsher sentences and building more prisons were key talking points. “Progressives continued to pursue their false notion of social justice even as the body count went up. They ignored the voters yelling stop.”
  • When Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was confirmed in 2005, he saw himself as a unifier who would help move a fractious high court away from partisanship and toward consensus. Instead, he’s now seen as totally overshadowed by the court’s conservative majority, the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus writes — a tragic figure who both liberals and conservatives see as largely irrelevant.
  • Fears that incumbent Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro would refuse to leave office if he lost his re-election bid seem to have largely been unfounded. Can the U.S, as election denialism grows on the right, learn from Brazil’s example? The New York Times reports that key strategies adopted by Brazilian officials included standardizing poll hours so returns would arrive quickly and convincing senior leaders to present a united front once a winner was declared.
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— Steve Clemons