On this last day of September, I have a lot of thoughts as the midterm heads into its final weeks. Here in North Carolina, the Senate race should be getting far more attention than it is. Nationally, after Democrats won the summer, Republicans’ fortunes improve significantly in September. The election looks to be settling into a more “normal” midterm than a wave for either side. 

First, The Hill wrote an article earlier this week titled “Are Democrats squandering their Senate chances in North Carolina?” Well, if they don’t get in soon they are. Cheri Beasley has done her job. She’s kept the race close and run a solid campaign, both reaching voters and raising money. 

Yesterday, the conservative Civitas Poll showed Beasley and Ted Budd in a dead heat. According to the write up, Budd has the support of 60% of the men and Beasley has the support of 59% of the women. Beasley’s path to victory is clear. Women make up a solid majority of voters. She needs to hold or increase that margin without losing a much larger percentage of men and she could get across the finish line. 

The Real Clear Politics average has Budd with a 1.6% margin. The 538 average has the race tied. However, national Democrats have lagged behind Republicans in coming to Beasley’s aid. Democrats and their allies should step it up to keep Beasley close down the stretch. She needs to be in position to take advantage of opportunities when they arise in the final weeks of the campaign and, nationally, Democrats need to keep it close so they can shift even more resources toward her if some of their more targeted campaigns falter.  

At the national level, the momentum Democrats had coming into September has cooled. The attention has shifted a bit away from abortion and more toward the economy. The Fed raised interest rates because of their fear of inflation and the plummeting gas prices seem to have stalled. The death of Queen Elizabeth and Hurricane Ian have dominated the news for most of the past few weeks, leaving time for Republicans to regroup.

The GOP has also made some strategic moves. They’ve cut loose some of their more extreme candidates like Blake Masters and Pennsylvania Republican Governor candidate Doug Mastriano and somebody seems to have gotten Dr. Oz to quit making headlines for his stupid statements. The party is sounding less extreme than it was during the primary season when Donald Trump was trying to make the races about him.

The year is starting to look like one of the few non-wave midterm elections over the past 20 years. Waves generally happen when one side has high turnout, the other side has depressed turnout, and the middle breaks heavily for the side that’s motivated. Both sides seem to be coming out to vote this year. Republicans are motivated to vote against the Biden agenda and Democrats are motivated to protect abortion rights. At this point, the swing voters are likely to be swayed more by economic issues, favoring Republicans. 

For Democrats to win, they need to see a massive mobilization of women and young people. Michael Moore predicted that’s happening. It’s hard to know, but women have been registering to vote at much higher numbers than men. It’s at least enough to give Democrats energy .

In North Carolina, Beasley needs young people, women, and African Americans to turnout in large numbers. She has the issues and profile to drive turnout. Ted Budd would almost certainly vote to ban abortion nationally. Beasley would be the first African American woman from North Carolina, and only the third ever, to serve in the US Senate. The national Democrats need to get on board to help with the mobilization that could determine the outcome. 

October will be a deciding month. We’ll see if the environment shifts or continues its slow drift toward the GOP with economic matters driving the debate. Democrats need to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they arise and they should be broadening the playing field in the coming weeks. They need to keep younger voters keenly aware of the threat to their rights. The stakes of the election are high. Buckle your seat belts.

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