Cameron_joseph_profile2

Cameron Joseph

Cameron Joseph is Talking Points Memo's senior political correspondent based in Washington, D.C. He covers Capitol Hill, the White House and the permanent campaign. Previous publications include the New York Daily News, Mashable, The Hill and National Journal. He grew up near Chicago and is an irrationally passionate Cubs fan.

Articles by Cameron

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is choosing sides in his state’s hotly contested GOP Senate primary.

Ryan and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) made a joint endorsement of Wisconsin state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R) Monday morning, backing her over former Marine Kevin Nicholson (R).

“Leah is a longtime friend of ours and she has been a conservative partner among grassroots Republicans for years. She has proven that in the face of opposition, she will never waver and will work relentlessly for the causes that she believes in,” the pair wrote in an op-ed on RightWisconsin, saying she “stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Governor Scott Walker to advance critical reforms that would create jobs and improve our overall economy.”

The duo join much of Wisconsin’s Republican establishment in backing Vukmir over Nicholson, a former Democrat who has re-emerged as a hardline conservative in the race. The state Republican Party has officially endorsed Vukmir. She also has the tacit support of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who pledged to stay neutral in the race but whose son is working for Vukmir and whose wife has endorsed her.

But Nicholson has the backing of deep-pocketed conservative donor Dick Uihlein, a powerful figure in the state. A recent Marquette University found him with a 37 percent to 32 percent lead in race.

Whoever wins the late summer primary is expected to face an uphill battle against Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Republicans had initially seen this race as a tossup, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) didn’t even mention it when listing this year’s top competitive races in a recent interview, and recent polling has found Baldwin with a lead in the high single digits. Most GOP strategists believe Vukmir would stand a better chance, but there’s not full consensus on that point.

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Hardline conservative Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) summed things up pretty neatly when asked if the GOP’s big immigration bills were likely to pass on Thursday: “No.”

That’s the consensus from most Republican lawmakers, who have been whipsawed by President Trump’s erratic behavior on immigration and stymied by their own inability to land on a compromise bill that can get 218 votes in the House.

Much of that internal House GOP failure has been driven by the normal incalcitrance from Davidson and other members of the Freedom Caucus, the right-wing tail that wags the dog of House Republicans, as well as more moderate Republicans’ failure to force the issue with GOP leadership.

The House plans to vote on two immigration bills on Thursday. One conservative bill that would give President Trump almost all he has asked for on border security and changes to visas while offering an more onerous process for undocumented immigrants brought here as children to stay in the country legally. The other, a compromise bill that was still a moving target just hours before the vote itself, would offer much of what Trump wants as well as a more permanent fix for the DREAMers.

The conservatives made it clear Thursday morning that they weren’t thrilled with the compromise legislation, both due to the chaotic process and the actual content of the bill.

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) had a blow-up on the House floor with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) Wednesday afternoon. And he made it clear that he still was far from pleased with the legislation as it stands late Thursday morning.

“I fully anticipate that the [immigration compromise] bill still needs work in order to get to 218,” Meadows said Thursday. “I don’t know that there’s time to work it out before a vote today.”

Meadows also slammed the rushed and sloppy process. The House GOP bill had to be amended last-minute because its original language gave Trump five times the planned $25 billion for his wall.

“There were enough technical drafting errors yesterday that gave me great pause, and some of those drafting errors were substantial,” he griped. “You don’t pass a major piece of legislation with there being errors in it, and so I don’t know there’s enough time between now and this afternoon.”

But House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX), whose committee had to fix the draft legislation, dismissed the change as “two words that needed to be changed,” while suggesting anyone claiming that was the reason they opposed the bill wasn’t being honest.

And Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), another Freedom Caucus leader, was blunt that he and others weren’t happy they didn’t get their way on everything.

“The reason it’s going to fail is not enough members are willing to do what we said, plain and simple,” he said.

Even as conservatives made it clear the bill wasn’t going to get the support from the right that’s needed, some of the more centrist members also began to peel off, further dooming the bills.

“I have long advocated for securing our nation’s borders and providing a permanent legislative fix for DACA recipients, but this proposal does not accomplish either goal,” Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), a leader of the pro-immigration Republicans, said in a statement.

The GOP members abandoning ship from both sides of the conference show that this last-gasp effort to provide help for DREAMers including those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is all but done.

“We’re running out of time. This is probably the last chance,” Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a pro-immigration Republican, conceded to TPM.

“No man, c’mon! You’ve got to keep working at it,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), a Freedom Caucus member, interjected.

But Diaz-Balart wasn’t optimistic, calling the possibility of failure “a huge blow to both border security and the DREAMers.”

And the finger-pointing had begun even before the vote. A number of Republicans including Trump sought to blame Democrats for refusing to back their legislation (even though Republicans have been completely unwilling to embrace bipartisan legislation). But some were honest about whose fault this was: Trump’s and the conservatives’.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a retiring Freedom Caucus member and immigration expert, made it clear that Trump has not been helpful in the process, saying his attacks against Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) during his Tuesday meeting that was supposed to be a rally for the immigration bills had done the opposite, calling it “unfortunate.”

“The president needs to understand that that may have actually lost him votes at this meeting,” he said. “The reason he was there was to emphasize he had our backs and I think a different message was sent that day.”

And moderate Rep. Pete King (R-NY) took a whack at his more conservative colleagues.

“The Freedom Caucus, it seems to me, got 80 to 90 percent of what they what. That should be enough. This is probably one of the most consensus-type bill on such a controversial issue within our party. Because of them, the only way we could get a bill to pass is to reach out to Democrats and make the bill more liberal. It’s hard to see what their agenda is,” King groused. “It’s their way or the highway, I guess.”

This story was updated at 1:45 p.m.

Alice Ollstein contributed to this story.

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President Trump dumped cold water all over House Republicans’ flickering efforts to pass a major immigration bill on Thursday, undercutting their already-unsteady push with just hours to go before scheduled votes with a tweet.

“What is the purpose of the House doing good immigration bills when you need 9 votes by Democrats in the Senate, and the Dems are only looking to Obstruct,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning, complaining about the Senate’s filibuster while further destabilizing House Republicans’ increasingly desperate attempts to pass a comprehensive immigration bill later that day.

The tweet is the latest sign of Trump’s ambivalence towards a pair of competing House GOP bills that would hand him much of what he’s asked for on immigration: money for his border wall and more restrictions on visas for immigrants entering the country in exchange for protections for undocumented immigrants brought here as children.

And it’s his latest move to undercut the tense House negotiations, which have already been thoroughly upended by the Trump administration’s move to separate migrant families at the border (one Trump partially walked back with an executive order on Wednesday after saying that wasn’t within his power). Trump also didn’t give the ringing endorsement House leaders had hoped for on the bills during a meeting with House members on Tuesday, instead delivering a rambling stem-winder that confused many in the room.

The House immigration fight is as much about politics as policy. Moderate House Republicans in more diverse and suburban districts facing tough reelection fights are desperate to protect DREAMers who are facing the loss of their legal status after Trump’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

That group came up just short in its push to partner with House Democrats to get a majority of members on a discharge petition, a mechanism to force a House vote over the objections of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). After they failed they settled on a compromise bill with hardline conservatives that made many concessions to the right-wingers.

But that group of Freedom Caucus hardliners have continued to balk over the compromise bill, and both it and their preferred version were already looking like they were going to go down in defeat on Thursday. The slapdash efforts on a compromise hit peak tension Wednesday evening, with Freedom Caucus head and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) getting into a heated argument on the House floor with Ryan over the bill. And in their rush to get the bill done, House Republicans are having to clean up some bone-headed errors — including a Rules Committee vote to fix language that would have accidentally increased the money for Trump’s border wall by a factor of five.

The House votes are still scheduled for Thursday afternoon, though they could get pushed back. But the president’s tweet makes their chances look even more doubtful.

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Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) pushed back hard on the idea that keeping border-crossing children in chain-link cages was inhumane, defending the practice in two local radio shows on Wednesday.

Cramer, who’s running against Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) in a top-tier Senate race, called the facilities “humane” during a Wednesday appearance on KTGO, a local radio station that broadcasts in the Bakken Oil Fields.

“By the way, chain link fences are around playgrounds all over America, all over North Dakota. And chain link fences allow line-of-sight visual connectivity with children and families,” he said as he discussed reversing President Trump’s policy to let families stay together at the border. “You know, there’s nothing inhumane about a chain link fence. If it is, then every ballpark in America is inhumane.”

Cramer then went on to say he supported changing the law to allow families to stay together when they enter the country illegally, and supported House Republicans’ dueling pieces of immigration legislation that are expected to receive a vote this week that would address this issue.

The comments came before Trump announced he’d reverse his recently implemented strategy of separating children and parents at the border with an executive order, reversing his previously held false position that only Congress could act to stop it.

Cramer doubled down on his comments when asked about them later in the day on WDAY, another local radio station, calling the focus on the cages “hoopla.”

“I think [chain] linked fences is irrelevant to the crying of children. My commentary is on the chain-link fence,” he said when asked about the comments and whether he’d heard the audio of children wailing after being separated from their parents. “There’s all this hoopla, because I think there are people on the left that clearly want the country to fail at this. And they would like the chain-link fence, they called it ‘dog cages.’ Well, chain-link fences have been used to protect children from predators on playgrounds, baseball diamonds, all sorts of sports courts and what-not. To me it’s not the chain-link fence, that’s not the issue. That’s a ruse by some on the left to try to create an image that’s far worse in description than it is in reality,” he said.

“The actual value of the chain-link fence is you could see through it, that’s the value of the chain link. If they put up a sheet rock wall between the children and the workers, the people there to protect them, to me that would be far worse,” Cramer continued. “The chain link fence, let’s not use that as some sort of a weapon. There’s a broader conversation about the separation of families in general, but as I’ve said before, that happens throughout the country many times. Kris [his wife] and I have been foster parents. We know all about the separation of children from their parents who do the illegal things, it happens in every city of the country every day.”

Senate Republicans initially had opposed having Cramer, a close ally of Trump’s, as their candidate for Senate precisely because of his penchant for controversial comments. After failing to find a better alternative they circled back to him. Cramer initially said he wouldn’t run, but changed his mind after Trump pushed him to jump into the race.

Cramer has since stirred up some controversies, including comments that Trump wasn’t campaigning as hard against Heitkamp as some other vulnerable Senate Democrats because “she’s a woman,” and sought and received an endorsement from a virulently anti-gay group that compares transgender people to pedophiles.

This is the latest instance of a remark that may generate some backlash.

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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to spend $80 million in the upcoming midterm elections, with most of it aimed at helping Democrats seize control of the House, a massive investment that could reshape the House battlefield this fall.

That type of investment from Bloomberg, a political independent who has long supported candidates of both parties, could put Democrats in a position to have spending parity with Republicans for the first time since the advent of super PACs nearly a decade ago.

That money, which a Bloomberg adviser confirmed to TPM, will help them compete with huge funds from GOP billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, who has pledged $30 million to bolster House Republicans.

Bloomberg has gotten increasingly involved in national campaigns in recent years, but has backed candidates in both parties who agree with him on gun control, helping reelect Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in 2016. He endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016.

And while Bloomberg said he plans to support some GOP gubernatorial candidates, this massive investment is as partisan as he’s been since he left the GOP more than a decade ago — driven by what he sees is an “absolutely feckless” attitude towards Trump from House GOP leadership.

“Republicans in Congress have had almost two years to prove they could govern responsibly. They failed. As we approach the 2018 midterms, it’s critical that we elect people who will lead in ways that this Congress won’t – both by seeking to legislate in a bipartisan way, and by upholding the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers set up to safeguard ethics, prevent the abuse of power, and preserve the rule of law,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “And so this fall, I’m going to support Democrats in their efforts to win control of the House.”

The New York Times first reported the investment.

Bloomberg plans to mostly target suburban House races where his vocal gun rights support and New York City links won’t backfire on the candidates he’s supporting — the type of expensive districts in major media markets that House Democrats have been outspent in recent cycles.

Democrats have at least a 50-50 shot at retaking the House, according to strategists in both parties. This major investment could further bolster their prospects.

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Hello again, readers! Prime member Dave Ricksicker’s third question in his series (first here, second here) was on Mississippi, which I always spell correctly even as I struggle with Pennsylvania. Keep the questions coming! Here’s what he wants to know:

3) Is there any chance [of a Democratic victory] in Mississippi Special?

There’s a chance — but not a great one, especially if the race proves to be the deciding factor for Senate control.

Democrats landed a strong candidate in former U.S. Agriculture Commissioner Mike Espy (D), who was the first black congressman from Mississippi since reconstruction. And establishment Republicans’ most-hated candidate, former state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), has a real opening against appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) given her recent past as a Democrat.

If McDaniel beats Hyde-Smith in the race’s all-party November election and faces Espy in the general election runoff a month later, Democrats have some hopes they can win the state given how toxic McDaniel is with the state’s huge population of African Americans and its few moderate voters.

But that’s a big if: Early polls suggest Hyde-Smith starts out with a big lead over McDaniel.

Even if McDaniel does manage to sneak by her, the runoff would occur after November. That means the election could be the pivotal one to decide Senate control, which would instantly nationalize the race, making it much more about which party controls the Senate rather than which candidate voters would prefer. Democrats admit that makes it even harder to win in the heavily Republican, deeply racially polarized state.

Remember, Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) barely won his race against Roy Moore even with all of Moore’s horrific political baggage. While Mississippi is slightly less Republican and has a much larger percentage of African Americans than Alabama, its white voters are even less likely to be willing to back Democrats for federal office. Never say never — Jones is senator — but a Sen. Espy is highly unlikely to happen.

 


 

Have a question about the 2018 midterms you’d like our senior political correspondent Cameron Joseph to answer? Send it our way through email, or post it in the Hive.

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President Trump visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with anxious Republicans who hoped he’d help them put out the firestorm he started with his decision to separate parents and children. Instead, he delivered a vintage meandering and bullying speech that offered little concrete guidance to desperate House Republicans about what to do on immigration.

Trump spent 45 minutes ranting to House Republicans on everything from taxes to his pending lawsuits Tuesday evening, according to members in the meeting, while offering barely any info about whether he’d support the specifics of a pair of bills that closely follow the President’s own policy goals on immigration.

The President did not specifically endorse compromise legislation crafted by Republicans in the House or spend much time laying out his directives on what he needs to end his self-created crisis of family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, he delivered a rambling and, according to some members, barely coherent tirade that was short on specifics, even as he said he was “one thousand percent” behind the House GOP efforts on immigration.

“He said a lot of things. He said he supported the bill, I guess. It was very rambling, he talked about everything from the lawsuit to tax bills,” said Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). “It was kind of hard to follow everything he says — it was like a bouncing ball.”

The president even took aim at Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who just lost a primary largely due to his past criticism of the president. After asking if Sanford was in the room, according to multiple members, Trump called him “nasty.”

“He was very ugly,” said Jones.

Republican members have been whipsawed by the President’s latest tantrum-driven policies on immigration and were hoping he’d give them more specific policy guidance — especially those facing tough re-election who are panicked at the backlash against his newfound policy of tearing children from their asylum-seeking parents. Yet the classic rambling stem-winder delivered by Trump left members grasping for a clear sense of whether he supports both of the GOP immigration bills they plan to vote on later this week.

“No. He did say he supported ‘the bill.’ He just doesn’t — he’s not specific, you know, he does things his own way,” retiring Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) said with a laugh when TPM asked if he’d explicitly endorsed the compromise bill hammered out by House GOP moderates and conservatives.

That left members grasping for a happy message of unity afterwards — especially since Trump has been known to change his mind and publicly attack congressional Republicans over legislation.

“He alluded to both [bills] at the beginning. But it was unambiguous, his support was we need to move this compromise bill,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) said.

“We finally have a president willing to work with Congress to solve this, and that’s what this bill does,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said.

House Republicans, like those in the Senate, say they’re hoping to end the policy of tearing apart families — “It is not good for anyone when children get separated from their parents,” moderate Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) said.

One of the bills offers an eventual pathway to citizenship for the approximately 1.8 million undocumented immigrants brought here as children, and House Republicans are trying to hammer out legislative language to end Trump’s current policy of separating families. The second, more conservative bill, is much more onerous for immigrants who want to stay legally in the U.S.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), a leading pro-immigration Republican, told TPM that House members were “still massaging” the legislative language to end family separation.

The White House claimed that Trump offered his clear support of their plans.

“The President spoke to the House Republican conference on a range of issues. In his remarks, he endorsed both House immigration bills that build the wall, close legal loopholes, cancel the visa lottery, curb chain migration, and solve the border crisis and family separation issue by allowing for family detention and removal. He told the members, ‘I’m with you 100 percent,'” White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said.

But he wasn’t that clear. And that isn’t a good sign for what Diaz-Balart called the “last shot” for Congress to improve the current immigration system before this fall’s elections.

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Hey there, readers! Today I’m answering the second in a trio of questions sent in by reader Dave Ricksicker, dealing with some of the more overlooked Senate races: New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi. You can read the first here.

Dave asks:

2) Who has a better shot, Bredesen in Tenn. or Beto in TX? 

Things could change, but right now I’d much rather be former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) than Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) — and so would every Democratic strategist I’ve talked to this year.

For starters, while both states are incredibly tough for Democrats, Bredesen has shown he can win in Tennessee. On the other hand, as evidenced by his surprisingly weak primary showing, O’Rourke has a ton of work to do to introduce himself around the massive (and massively expensive) state of Texas.

On top of that, the polls show that Bredesen is clearly better-positioned right now. He’s led in all public polling of the race, albeit by narrow margins, against Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). O’Rourke has trailed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in every reputable public poll — including by a double-digit margin in the most recent one.

Finally, while Cruz is a deeply polarizing figure (and has some work to do both to woo back President Trump’s loyalists and to convince the state’s moderate Republicans to back him), he’s a battle-tested nationally vetted candidate who is careful on the stump and unlikely to make major unforced errors. Blackburn, on the other hand, has never had a serious spotlight shown on her, and has a penchant for making wild comments.

Democrats are very bullish about Bredesen. One top Senate Democratic staffer even told me recently that he felt better about Bredesen chances than the party’s hopes in Arizona, where the consensus is a tossup race to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ). The party is already reserving ad time in Tennessee for the fall, while they haven’t plunked down a dime on the Lone Star State. Republicans agree — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listed Tennessee as one of the nine that will determine Senate control, while declining to mention Texas. It doesn’t help that Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) has heaped praise on Bredesen while tepidly endorsing Blackburn.

On top of that, judging from polling and early results, it looks like Hispanic voters aren’t as engaged to turn out as other parts of the Democratic coalition, making a state like Texas harder to flip.

O’Rourke is raising massive campaign cash and will be able to force Cruz to run a real race, and Bredesen could prove to be a paper tiger past his prime like former Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) was last election cycle. Tennessee is also trending Republicans’ way, while Texas is trending (slowly, especially during non-presidential years) towards Democrats. Things could always change. But right now Democrats see Bredesen as a key part of their battle for the Senate — and O’Rourke as a nice candidate to have to force Cruz to spend money.

 


 

Have a question about the 2018 midterms you’d like our senior political correspondent Cameron Joseph to answer? Send it our way through email, or post it in the Hive.

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The top Republican on the House subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Homeland Security demanded that the Trump administration end its forced separation of parents and children at the U.S. border, going further than many of his congressional colleagues in his demands.

Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling for him to end the controversial policy.

“I ask that you take immediate action to end the practice of separating children from families at the border,” Yoder says in the letter. “Separating children from their parents should not be used as a deterrent.”

The letter is the latest but far from the only plea from congressional Republicans for President Trump and his administration to end this policy, which by the Department of Homeland Security’s own numbers say have separated 2,000 families in recent weeks.

But while Yoder highlights areas of agreement with Trump about other immigration concerns, his language is less mealy-mouthed blaming both sides than other rank-and-file Republicans’ (like this from Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R)).

The letter comes just hours after a Quinnipiac University poll found that fully 66 percent of voters oppose the policy, with just 27 percent in favor, though a majority of Republicans supported the policy in the survey.

Notably, Yoder is facing a tough reelection fight in his swingy suburban Kansas City district.

And he’s not the only campaign-minded Republican who bucked Trump on the policy Monday: National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers (R-OH) also called on the administration to “stop needlessly separating” families on Thursday:

Trump’s deeply controversial plan has earned criticism from other Republicans as well — but most of the elected officials until Monday afternoon had been the Republicans who’d already shown a willingness to criticize Trump in the past, like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), or those out of office, like former First Lady Laura Bush.

That’s begun to change, as Yoder’s letter indicates. And others are beginning to split off as well, like Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), another member facing a tough reelection fight, who called the policy “ugly and inhumane” in a statement. And even some rank-and-file Republicans who aren’t facing a tough reelection began to speak out:

While DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen continued to falsely insist the new policy was not new policy on Monday afternoon, Republicans increasingly sounded increasingly skeptical of her misleading claims.

It remains to be seen whether enough Republicans break with the administration to actually force change, however, as they don’t yet appear to have a serious legislative response even as they ready a House vote on other immigration measures later this week.

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The scandal that forced former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) from office did some collateral damage to Republicans’ hopes of flipping a key Senate seat, according to a new survey conducted for Democrats’ main Senate super PAC.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) leads Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) by 47 percent to 41 percent in the poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group and released by Senate Majority PAC. That’s up from a 46 percent to 44 percent lead in April, when the Greitens affair was just starting to boil over.

In the poll, McCaskill’s job favorability numbers have held steady, with slightly more voters approving than disapproving of her. But Hawley’s have slipped. In April, 30 percent of voters approved to 22 percent who disapproved. Now those have reversed, with 21 percent of voters approving and 29 percent disapproving.

It appears that’s mostly a factor of Greitens’ implosion. In mid-April, he was at 39 percent approval and 44 percent disapproval. By mid-June, weeks after he was forced to resign, he had sunk to 24 percent approval and 56 percent disapproval.

Hawley is caught in a bit of a vice on this issue. Democrats slam him for failing to investigate Greitens’ use of lists from his private charity to boost his gubernatorial campaign until he was under glaring scrutiny for his messy sex scandal, while Greitens’ core supporters are furious at Hawley for abandoning the governor during the scandal and contributing to his being forced from office.

The scandal figures to be a major factor in one of the Senate’s top Senate races, as McCaskill tries to once again pull a rabbit out of her hat in the Republican-leaning state.

Global Strategy Group’s live-caller survey of 804 likely Missouri midterm voters was conducted from June 11-13 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Partisan polls should always be taken with a grain of salt. These numbers still show a tight race, and there’s a good chance Hawley will be able to move past this issue as it fades from the headlines. But right now it appears that she has an edge heading into the home stretch of the campaign.

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