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    The Lost DeSantis Moment

    For months, he routinely led Donald Trump in head-to-head polls and gave a possible glimpse at a post-Trump Republican future.Ron DeSantis after winning re-election as Florida governor in 2022. Scott McIntyre for The New York TimesRon DeSantis began the 2024 campaign as a formidable candidate, with early poll numbers that rivaled or even exceeded the likes of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.In the end, that early strength meant only that he had more room to fall.There are countless reasons Mr. DeSantis fell apart and ultimately ended his campaign Sunday — including that his opponent proved once again to be a juggernaut. Perhaps Mr. DeSantis might have won the nomination in most other years, if he hadn’t been going against a former president.But rather than dwell on his losing campaign, it’s worth returning to his apparent strength at the outset — that brief moment when Mr. DeSantis, or at least the idea of Mr. DeSantis, routinely led Mr. Trump in high-quality head-to-head polls.In the eight years since Donald J. Trump won the Republican nomination, this was the only moment when Republican voters appeared willing to go a different direction. Mr. DeSantis didn’t capitalize on the moment, but nonetheless it’s the only glimpse we’ve had into the post-Trump Republican Party. We saw something that might bring it about, and we saw what it might look like.What brought it about: the midtermsOver the last eight years, Mr. Trump has said and done countless things that might have doomed any other politician. He’s been impeached twice. He encouraged what turned into the Jan. 6 riot. He’s been charged with multiple federal crimes. None of it really made any difference in his support.That is, until November 2022. The disappointing Republican showing in the midterms damaged Mr. Trump in the polls, and Mr. DeSantis surged to take a clear lead in head-to-head polls that lasted for months.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    How Russian and Chinese Interference Could Affect the 2024 Election

    The stakes for Russia in the presidential vote are large. Other adversaries also might try to deepen divisions among American voters.The U.S. government is preparing for its adversaries to intensify efforts to influence American voters next year. Russia has huge stakes in the presidential election. China seems poised to back a more aggressive campaign. Other countries, like Iran, might again try to sow division in the United States.As Washington looks ahead to the 2024 vote, U.S. intelligence agencies last week released a report on the 2022 midterm elections — a document that gives us some hints about what might be to come.Spy agencies concluded Russia favored Trump in 2016. What about in 2024?Russia appears to be paying close attention to the election, as its war in Ukraine is soon to enter a third year.Former President Donald J. Trump, the leading Republican candidate, has expressed skepticism about Ukraine funding. President Biden has argued that assisting Ukraine is in America’s interest.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    Biden Makes Focused Appeal to Black Voters in South Carolina

    The president’s campaign is putting money and staff into South Carolina ahead of its primary in an effort to energize Black voters, who are critical to his re-election effort.President Biden’s campaign and affiliated groups are amping up their efforts in South Carolina, pouring in money and staff ahead of the first Democratic primary in February in an effort to generate excitement for his campaign in the state.It seems, at first glance, to be a curious political strategy. Few incumbent presidents have invested so much in an early primary state — particularly one like South Carolina, where Mr. Biden faces no serious primary challenger, and where no Democratic presidential candidate has won in a general election since Jimmy Carter in 1976.But the Biden campaign sees the effort as more than just notching a big win in the state that helped revive his struggling campaign in 2020, putting him on the path to winning the nomination. It hopes to energize Black voters, who are crucial to Mr. Biden’s re-election bid nationally, at a moment when his standing with Black Americans is particularly fraught.“One of the things that we have not done a good job of doing is showing the successes of this administration,” said Marvin Pendarvis, a state representative from North Charleston. He added that the campaign will need to curate a message “so that Black voters understand that this administration has done some of the most transformational things as it relates to Black communities, to minority communities.”Four years after Mr. Biden vowed to have the backs of the voters he said helped deliver him the White House, Black Americans in polls and focus groups are expressing frustration with Democrats for what they perceive as a failure to deliver on campaign promises. They also say that they have seen few improvements to their well-being under Mr. Biden’s presidency. Some are unsure whether they will vote at all.To counter that pessimism and boost Black turnout, Democrats are hitting the Palmetto State with a six-figure cash infusion from the Democratic National Committee, a slew of campaign events and an army of staffers and surrogates.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber?  More

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    GOP Support Grows for Majewski, a Trump Ally With a Disputed Military Record

    J.R. Majewski, an ally of former President Donald J. Trump, is seeking to avenge his 13-point loss in the 2022 midterm elections in Ohio.J.R. Majewski, a Trump acolyte from Ohio whom House Republicans abandoned the first time he ran for Congress in the 2022 midterm elections after discrepancies in his military record emerged, is back as a candidate — and with some prominent G.O.P. names behind him.Mr. Majewski, an Air Force veteran, picked up endorsements on Monday from Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio and Frank LaRose, Ohio’s secretary of state, in his Republican primary as he seeks to challenge Representative Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat, for a second time in the Ninth District.The show of support contrasted sharply with the National Republican Congressional Committee’s canceling its ads for Mr. Majewski during the final six weeks of his 2022 race, which he lost by 13 percentage points to Ms. Kaptur, the longest-serving woman in congressional history.The committee pulled the plug after The Associated Press reported that the Air Force had no record of Mr. Majewski, 44, serving in Afghanistan, which he continues to claim that he did, and drew attention to a series of inconsistencies about his military record. Mr. Majewski has vehemently disputed the reporting.The endorsements came just days after the release of a secret recording of Craig Riedel, a rival G.O.P. candidate and a former state legislator, telling a Republican donor that he would not support former President Donald J. Trump and did not want his endorsement. It was obtained by Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a pro-Trump grass-roots group.Not long after, Mr. Riedel announced that he was endorsing Mr. Trump. But the damage appeared to have been done, with at least one prominent Republican in Ohio (Representative Max Miller, a former Trump adviser) saying that he no longer supported Mr. Riedel, who lost to Mr. Majewski in the 2022 Republican primary.Mr. Riedel accused one of Mr. Majewski’s top MAGA boosters, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, of setting him up.“Matt Gaetz and a social media trickster pulled a stunt yesterday to try and convince President Trump to get involved in my congressional primary for proven loser JR Majewski,” Mr. Riedel wrote on X.Mr. Trump, who endorsed Mr. Majewski in 2022, heralded him on Saturday while both attended a New York Young Republican Club gala, blaming the “deep state” for undermining Mr. Majewski during his last run.“We stuck by him,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “They played dirty pool, but you’ll get a second shot, right?”Erica Knight, a spokeswoman for Mr. Majewski, said in a text message that he was expecting to be endorsed by Mr. Trump again. A campaign spokesman for Mr. Trump did not respond to a request for comment.Mr. Riedel has received endorsements from Republicans considered more mainstream, including Representative Kevin McCarthy, before he was deposed as speaker of the House, and Americans for Prosperity Action, a political network founded by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch. The group has spent nearly $250,000 on Mr. Riedel’s behalf this election cycle, according to the Federal Election Commission.Mr. Riedel did not respond to a request for comment.In a statement to The New York Times on Tuesday, Mr. Gaetz denied orchestrating the secret recording.“Craig Riedel trashed Trump when he thought it would help him get a New Yorker to give him money,” he said. “We have enough people willing to say and do anything for campaign cash in Congress already. Craig Riedel exposed himself in his own words. I had nothing to do with it, though I wish I had.”Aidan Johnson, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a statement called the Republican primary contest an “ugly and expensive race to the bottom.” Steve Lankenau, a former mayor of Napoleon, Ohio, is also running in the Republican primary.While Mr. Majewski has frequently promoted himself as a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Air Force records obtained by The Times show that he deployed for six months in 2002 to Qatar, which is now home to the largest U.S. air base in the Middle East.According to military records, the Air Force demoted Mr. Majewski in September 2001 for driving drunk at Kadena Air Base in Japan, contradicting his earlier account that he could not re-enlist in the Air Force after his initial four years because of a “brawl.”The inconsistencies in Mr. Majewski’s public accounts of his military service brought renewed scrutiny during the last election cycle, when he was already facing questions about his presence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and sympathies for the QAnon conspiracy movement.In August 2023, more than nine months after Mr. Majewski’s defeat, the military updated his records to reflect that he had received a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for his service, an honor created in 2003 for Air Force members who deployed abroad after the Sept. 11 attacks.But Afghanistan is just one of several dozen countries, including Qatar, that count toward eligibility. That has not stopped Mr. Majewski and his allies, including Mr. Trump, from claiming that he was “totally exonerated.” More

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    Democrats Seize on Texas Case in Push for Abortion Rights

    Democratic candidates jumped on the story of a woman who left Texas for an abortion as a cautionary tale for voters, and Republicans were largely silent.The case of a Texas woman who sought a court-approved abortion but wound up leaving the state for the procedure is reigniting political arguments that have roiled elections for more than two years, placing Democrats on the offensive and illustrating Republicans’ continued lack of a unified policy response or clear strategy on how to talk about the issue.The Texas woman, Kate Cox, a Dallas-area mother of two, has emerged as the living embodiment of what Democrats say remains one of their strongest arguments heading into the 2024 election: that Republicans will ban all abortion. Ms. Cox was more than 20 weeks pregnant with a fetus that had a fatal genetic abnormality known as trisomy 18, and lawyers and doctors argued that carrying the pregnancy to term put her health and her future fertility at risk.Her lawsuit was one of the first attempts by an individual woman to challenge the enforcement of abortion bans put in place by Republican states after Roe v. Wade was overturned a year and a half ago. Hours before the Texas Supreme Court ruled against granting Ms. Cox a medical exemption to the state’s abortion bans, she had decided to travel to receive the procedure in a state where it remained legal.From top officials on President Biden’s campaign to candidates in battleground states, Democrats jumped on Ms. Cox’s plight as a cautionary tale for voters next year, highlighting her situation as they have done with the wrenching, deeply personal stories of other women and girls since Roe was overturned.Representative Colin Allred, the Texas Democrat running to unseat Senator Ted Cruz, cast the ruling as emblematic of the kind of abortion bans Republicans would enact across the country.“This is not an unintended consequence of these extreme policies — this is exactly what folks like Ted Cruz wanted and a pretty predictable outcome of their policies,” Mr. Allred said. “Unfortunately, Kate’s story is not going to be the last one we hear like this.”Representative Colin Allred, the Texas Democrat running to unseat Senator Ted Cruz, cast the ruling against Ms. Cox as emblematic of the kind of abortion bans Republicans would enact across the country.Mariam Zuhaib/Associated PressThe Biden campaign offered an even simpler message about the case: Blame Trump. Campaign aides connected the case directly to Mr. Trump’s legacy as president, pointing out that he appointed three of the Supreme Court justices who cast decisive votes in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the ruling that overturned Roe in 2022.“This is happening right here in the United States of America, and it’s happening because of Donald Trump,” Julie Chávez Rodríguez, Mr. Biden’s campaign manager, said on a call with reporters. “As the chaos and cruelty created by Trump’s work overturning Roe v. Wade continues to worsen all across the country, stories like Kate Cox’s in Texas have become all too common.”The party’s quick embrace of Ms. Cox underscores how Democrats plan to place abortion rights at the center of their political campaigns next year, part of an effort to replicate their playbook from the 2022 midterms and transform the 2024 elections into another referendum on abortion rights.Their attacks were largely met with silence from Republicans.At a town-hall meeting CNN hosted in Des Moines on Tuesday night, Ron DeSantis, the Florida governor running for the Republican presidential nomination, avoided giving a direct answer to a question about whether women in Ms. Cox’s position should be forced to carry their babies to term. Mr. DeSantis noted that a six-week abortion ban he signed in Florida this year contained exceptions for a fatal fetal abnormality or to save the life of the woman.“These things get a lot of press attention, I understand. But that’s a very small percentage that those exceptions cover,” he added. “There’s a lot of other situations where we have an opportunity to realize really good human potential, and we’ve worked to protect as many lives as we could in Florida.”Republican strategists working for the party’s Senate campaign committee and for other candidates have urged their politicians to state their support for “reasonable limits” on late-term abortions with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother, part of an effort to craft a more popular response on the issue. While majorities of Americans support abortion rights, they also back restrictions later in pregnancy, particularly as women move into the second trimester.Yet, as Ms. Cox’s situation shows, the messy medical realities of pregnancy can challenge those poll-tested stances. Ms. Cox was denied exactly the kind of medical exception that many Republicans now support. In Congress, Republicans have been trying to enact a federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks — a marker Ms. Cox had passed in her pregnancy — for about decade.“It used to be a good idea politically to talk about later abortion,” said Mary Ziegler, a law professor and historian of abortion at the University of California, Davis. “The claims just don’t land the same way when abortion bans are actually being enforced and when it is the patients themselves who are speaking.”Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and a Republican presidential candidate, deflected when asked whether she would support rulings similar to the one from the Texas Supreme Court that block an individual woman’s decisions on the matter. Ms. Haley has positioned herself as seeking “consensus” on the issue, arguing that she is both “unapologetically pro-life” and that decisions about whether to undergo the procedure are deeply personal.Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and a Republican presidential candidate, deflected when asked whether she would support rulings similar to the one from the Texas Supreme Court that block an individual woman’s decisions on the matter.Jordan Gale for The New York Times“You have to show compassion and humanize the situation,” Ms. Haley said, speaking after at a packed town-hall meeting in a ski area in Manchester, N.H. “We don’t want any women to sit there and deal with a rare situation and have to deliver a baby in that sort of circumstance any more than we want women getting an abortion at 37, 38, 39 weeks.”That kind of response is unlikely to satisfy the socially conservative flank of the party’s base. Tensions between anti-abortion activists and establishment Republicans, who are more willing to compromise on the issue for political gain, flared as the party debated Ms. Cox’s case.“The prolife movement has gone from compassion for the child to cruelty to the mother (and child),” Ann Coulter, the conservative commentator, posted on social media. “Trisomy 18 is not a condition that is compatible with life.”Rick Santorum, the socially conservative Republican former senator from Pennsylvania, shot back with a photo of his daughter Bella. “Meet my incompatible w life daughter,” he wrote. “Every kid deserves a shot at life, not be brutally dismembered for not being perfect.”Ardent anti-abortion advocates such as Mr. Santorum argue that just as the law would not permit the killing of a terminally ill adult, it should forbid the abortion of a fetus with a fatal diagnosis — like the one carried by Ms. Cox.“There are two patients involved, and targeting one of them for brutal abortion will never be the compassionate answer,” said Katie Daniel, the state policy director for SBA Pro-Life America, an anti-abortion political organization. “Texas law protects mothers who need lifesaving care in a medical emergency, which a doctor can provide without deliberately taking a patient’s life and without involving the court.”The argument that abortion is akin to murder, a foundational belief of the anti-abortion movement, is more difficult to make when it is no longer hypothetical. As conservative states have begun enforcing bans that all but completely forbid abortion, pregnant women have emerged as some of Democrats’ strongest messengers.In Ohio, the account of a girl who was raped at age 9 and had to travel to Indiana to end her pregnancy at age 10 became a national controversy after Republicans publicly questioned the veracity of the story. And in Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, spent nearly $2 million on startling ads for his re-election campaign that featured Hadley Duvall, a young woman who said she was raped by her stepfather as a girl.Eric Hyers, Mr. Beshear’s campaign manager, said those ads had the biggest impact among older men living in more rural and conservative parts of the state.“A lot of folks there had just never had to think about this in the terms that Hadley was describing,” Mr. Hyers said. “This is the road map for how Democrats should talk about this in tough states like Kentucky and specifically on how extreme these laws and bans are.”Across the country, activists have been pushing to introduce ballot measures that would enshrine abortion rights in state constitutions. Many Democrats believe those referendums could help energize their voters, increasing turnout in Arizona, Florida and other crucial states. In Florida, abortion-rights supporters said they were close to capturing the necessary number of signatures to put an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot.Some Democrats say such measures aren’t enough, particularly for women in conservative states such as Texas, where legislation had already banned abortion nearly completely even before the Supreme Court overturned Roe.“It is absolutely unacceptable that women have to ask permission to get lifesaving health care,” said Ashley All, who helped run a campaign for an abortion-rights ballot measure in Kansas and urges Democrats to push legislation codifying abortion rights in federal law. “The fact that we aren’t making some sort of effort nationally to fix that problem is frustrating.”Nicholas Nehamas More

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    Political Debate Is Rife on TikTok. Politicians? Not So Much.

    President Biden and the White House regularly post to millions of followers on social media, talking about the economy on Facebook, sharing Christmas decorations on YouTube, showcasing pardoned turkeys on Instagram, posting about infrastructure on the X platform. They’re even on Threads.But they aren’t speaking directly to 150 million Americans on TikTok. There’s no official @POTUS, White House or Biden-Harris 2024 account. You’ll find only one of the Republican presidential candidates there — and just 37 sitting Congress members, according to a New York Times review of accounts.Some pundits call next year the “TikTok election” because of the ballooning power and influence of the video app. TikTok may have been known for viral dances in 2020, but it has increasingly become a news source for millennials and Gen Z-ers, who will be a powerful part of the electorate. But less than a year from the election, most politicians are keeping their distance from the app, as efforts grow in Washington and elsewhere to restrict or ban it because of its ownership by the Chinese company ByteDance. Many lawmakers and regulators have expressed concern that TikTok could put users’ information into the hands of Beijing officials — an argument that the company disputes.By passing up a huge microphone because of those concerns, however, politicians are running the risk that they and their campaigns will not directly reach young people on the app. They might also be upstaged by savvy challengers who may not feel so conflicted and who can figure out how to use TikTok to their advantage.Many campaigns are trying to hedge their bets by turning to a growing network of TikTok political influencers to share their messages or by making short videos on YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels in hopes that they’ll end up trending on TikTok. They have to give up some control to do that, and they need to persuade creators to work with them, often for little to no pay.To many political consultants, the politicians’ absence on TikTok is perhaps untenable.“The discourse is being shaped by this thing even if you yourself don’t use it,” said Teddy Goff, a top digital strategist for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist, said that he was telling candidates “if you didn’t get it banned in 2023, you need to get on in 2024.”Several Republican presidential candidates have slammed TikTok at their recent debates and criticized Vivek Ramaswamy, the one candidate who has joined the app despite previously referring to it as “digital fentanyl.” He has defended joining TikTok, saying he did it to reach young voters.Mr. Biden’s re-election campaign team said that it did not need its own TikTok accounts to reach voters.“The reality is us having an account would not make a substantial difference in what we need to do on TikTok,” said Rob Flaherty, Mr. Biden’s deputy campaign manager and the former White House director of digital strategy. “The most important thing you can do is work through influencers.”TikTok arrived as a political force during the 2022 midterm campaign, when Senator John Fetterman, Democrat of Pennsylvania, successfully roasted his opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, in a flurry of cutting videos, and Representative Jeff Jackson, Democrat of North Carolina, used a video filter to make his head look like a piece of broccoli while talking about reaching younger audiences.Annie Wu Henry, a 27-year-old digital strategist who helped run Mr. Fetterman’s TikTok account in 2022, said his use showcased TikTok’s potential reach and influence. She said she was amazed as she watched clips and memes that Mr. Fetterman’s campaign posted on the app take off “and become actual parts of conversation or picked up by traditional media sources.”Annie Wu Henry helped run social media for John Fetterman’s Senate campaign last year.Michelle Gustafson for The New York TimesWeeks after the elections, though, Washington’s sentiment toward the company turned sour. The Biden administration, as well as most states, some cities and some college campuses, has barred the app from being used on official devices. Some lawmakers have called for a national ban.Today, just 7 percent of the 533 Senators and Representatives have verified accounts on TikTok, and some have never posted, according to the analysis by The Times. None are Republican. The few who have joined often post to the app from separate “TikTok phones” because of security concerns, said Mike Nellis, a Democratic digital strategist.Mr. Jackson is the most popular, with 2.5 million followers, and Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, comes in second, with 1.4 million. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota each have over 200,000 followers.Ms. Wu said campaigns, including Mr. Biden’s, were potentially leaving major audiences on the table.“It needs to be figured out, and there’s almost this rush right now of who’s going to do it,” she said.The White House has tapped into TikTok in the past few years by working with social media stars to promote access to Covid-19 vaccines and to brief viewers on the Russia-Ukraine war and the Inflation Reduction Act. Several stars told The Times they weren’t paid but were eager to participate.That sort of workaround is expected to be even more popular next year. “There’s this booming industry under the surface of both agencies and platforms that are helping political organizations, social impact groups and politicians themselves sponsor content on TikTok and partner with creators and influencers to put out messaging,” said Brian Derrick, a political strategist and co-founder of Oath, a platform for guiding donations to Democratic campaigns.TikTok prohibits paid political ads, including paying creators for endorsements. It doesn’t encourage politicians to join the platform, though it does verify official accounts.A White House spokesperson, when asked about the use of TikTok, pointed to a rule barring the app from being used on federal devices as of March and declined to comment further.Harry Sisson, a 21-year-old junior at New York University and a political commentator on TikTok, is a rising creator, sharing news and opinions against backdrops of social media posts and articles.Yuvraj Khanna for The New York TimesHarry Sisson, a 21-year-old junior at New York University and a political commentator on TikTok, started posting in 2020, when he was a high school senior, to help Mr. Biden’s campaign for president. He has amassed 700,000 followers.Mr. Sisson said that in the past year and a half, Democratic groups had offered him more opportunities, including filming voting videos with Mr. Obama and watching the State of the Union at the White House. He wasn’t paid but was thrilled to be involved.With the White House in particular, he said, “They’ve always stressed, we’re not here to tell you guys what to say, if you disagree with us, we’re not going to be upset.”Mr. Sisson said he earned money through views on his TikTok videos and accepted some paid collaborations with advocacy groups that he believed in like Planned Parenthood, but his goal was to help elect Democrats. A.B. Burns-Tucker, a political TikTok creator, believes that her content has influenced voters, pointing to the approval of a recent Ohio ballot measure that enshrined a right to abortion in the State Constitution.Maggie Shannon for The New York TimesA.B. Burns-Tucker, 34, is another political content creator who has joined White House briefings. She posts on TikTok as @iamlegallyhype, and has over 700,000 followers. She said her account took off after she made a popular explainer video about the Russia-Ukraine war, which colloquially referred to world leaders as “Big Daddy Biden” and “Big Bad P.” She says she’s now a news source for people who don’t tune in elsewhere.“I talk about current events with my friends all the time, but most of them are like, ‘Girl, I don’t watch the news, if you don’t tell me I don’t know,’” she said. “I took that and ran with it.”Ms. Burns-Tucker believes that she has influenced voters, pointing to the approval of a recent Ohio ballot measure that enshrined a right to abortion in the State Constitution. She was paid by Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights to make a TikTok video that urged people to vote for the ballot measure, which aligned with her personal beliefs, she said. “A lot of people in the comment section were like, I didn’t even know, I’ll be in line first thing tomorrow,” she added. The video passed 45,000 views.People like Mr. Sisson and Ms. Burns-Tucker don’t have a parallel among conservatives, said Amanda Carey Elliott, a digital consultant for Republicans.Ms. Elliott said that she was firmly against using TikTok based on the party’s stance on China — but that there was also less incentive for Republicans to use it.“There’s not a huge culture of TikTok influencers on the right — it’s just not the same for us,” she said.Still, some Republican consultants say the opportunity is too big to pass up. Mr. Wilson, the Republican strategist, has been trying to guide candidates on how to sign up for the app after criticizing it.“Candidates drive in cars all the time — that doesn’t mean they want cars to be unregulated,” he said. “There’s not necessarily a hypocrisy there if you’re clear about what your position is and how you’re using it.” More

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    Arizona Officials Charged With Conspiring to Delay Election Results

    An indictment accuses two Cochise County supervisors of interfering with the state canvass of votes. The county has been a hotbed of election conspiracy theories.Two Republican county supervisors in Arizona were indicted Wednesday on felony charges related to their attempts to delay the certification of 2022 election results.Kris Mayes, the state attorney general, announced in a statement that Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby, two of the three supervisors in Cochise County, face charges of interference with an election officer and conspiracy, criticizing what she described as their “repeated attempts to undermine our democracy.”Neither Ms. Judd nor Mr. Crosby could be reached for comment Wednesday.Last year, Ms. Judd and Mr. Crosby sought to order a hand count of the ballots that had been cast in Cochise, a heavily Republican rural county, citing conspiracy theories that had been raised by local right-wing activists. When a judge ruled against them, they voted to delay certification of the election before eventually relenting under pressure of a court order.The episode was closely watched by democracy advocates and election law experts, who saw in the supervisors’ machinations a worrying precedent. As Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him became widely accepted in the Republican Party, local Republican officials in several closely contested states used suspicion of the election system on the right to justify delaying the certification of 2022 election results.In an interview with The New York Times last year, Ms. Judd said she did not actually suspect there were any irregularities in the vote in Cochise County. She characterized the move as a protest against the election certification in Maricopa, the large urban county that includes Phoenix, where right-wing activists had made an array of unproven claims of malfeasance.“Our small counties, we’re just sick and tired of getting kicked around and not being respected,” Ms. Judd said.Katie Hobbs, then Arizona’s secretary of state, sued the supervisors last November, arguing that their protest, which threatened to delay the statewide canvass, would disenfranchise the county’s voters. (The county’s third supervisor, Ann English, a Democrat, has opposed the others’ actions.) Republican candidates lost their races for most of the top statewide races in Arizona’s election, in which Ms. Hobbs, a Democrat, was elected governor.In October, the local Herald/Review newspaper and Votebeat reported that Ms. Judd and Mr. Crosby were subpoenaed by Ms. Mayes, a Democrat elected last year, to appear before a state grand jury in the attorney general’s investigation.Although local Republican officials interfering with election systems in other states since 2020 have faced criminal indictments on other grounds, the Cochise indictments are the first criminal charges filed over a refusal to certify an election.Jared Davidson, a lawyer for Protect Democracy, a watchdog group, argued that the prosecution could set an important precedent.“Pushing for potential criminal accountability is an important message, not just to election deniers in Arizona but across the country that if they indulge conspiracy theories and ignore the law and try to disenfranchise voters, there are real consequences,” he said. More

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    The Crisis in Issue Polling, and What We’re Doing About It

    A poll can be very close to the actual result but miss the key story line. We’ll try new question forms; we might even try an experiment or two.Protecting democracy has been a potent message in recent elections. Maddie McGarvey for The New York TimesBy the usual measures, last year’s midterm polls were among the most accurate on record.But in harder-to-measure ways, there’s a case those same polls were extraordinarily bad.Poll after poll seemed to tell a clear story before the election: Voters were driven more by the economy, immigration and crime than abortion and democracy, helping to raise the specter of a “red wave.”In the end, the final results looked just about like the final polls, but they told a completely different story about the election: When abortion and democracy were at stake, Democrats excelled. And while the polls had sometimes or even often showed Democrats excelling, they almost always failed to convincingly explain why they were ahead — making it seem that Democratic polling leads were fragile and tenuous.Take our own Times/Siena polls. Our results in states like Pennsylvania and Arizona were very close to the final results and showed Democrats with the lead. By all accounts, abortion and democracy were major factors helping to explain Democratic strength in these states, especially against election deniers like Doug Mastriano or Kari Lake.But although these polls performed well, they simply didn’t explain what happened. If anything, the polls were showing the conditions for a Republican win. They showed that voters wanted Republican control of the Senate. They showed that a majority of voters didn’t really care whether a candidate thought Joe Biden won the 2020 election, even though election deniers wound up being clearly punished at the ballot box. Voters said they cared more about the economy than issues like abortion or democracy, and so on.The Times/Siena polling wasn’t alone in this regard. Virtually all of the major public pollsters told the same basic story, and it’s the opposite of the story that we told after the election. If we judge these poll questions about the issues by the same standard that we judge the main election results — a comparison between the pre-election polls and what we believe to be true after the election, with the benefit of the results — I think we’d have to say this was a complete misfire.If you do this exercise for previous elections, issue polling failures look more like the norm than the exception. There just aren’t many elections when you can read a pre-election poll story, line it up with the post-election story, and say that the pre-election poll captured the most important dynamics of the election. The final CBS/NYT, Pew Research and ABC/Washington Post polls from the 2016 election, for instance, barely shed any light at all on Donald J. Trump’s strength. They contributed essentially nothing to the decade-long debate about whether the economy, racial resentment, immigration or anything else helped explain Mr. Trump’s success among white working-class voters in that election.With such a poor track record, there’s a case that “issue” polling faces a far graver crisis than “horse race” polling. I can imagine many public pollsters recoiling at that assertion, but they can’t prove it wrong, either. The crisis facing issue polling is almost entirely non-falsifiable — just like the issue polling itself. Indeed, the fact that the problems with issue polling are so hard to quantify is probably why problems have been allowed to fester. Most pollsters probably assume they’re good at issue polling; after all, unlike with horse race polls, they’re almost never demonstrably wrong.In fairness to pollsters, the problem isn’t only that the usual questions probably don’t fully portray the attitudes of the electorate. It’s also that pollsters are trying to figure out what’s driving the behavior of voters, and that’s a different and more challenging question than simply measuring whom they’ll vote for or what they believe. These causal questions are beyond what a single poll with “issue” questions can realistically be expected to answer. The worlds of political campaigning and social science research, with everything from experimental designs to messaging testing, probably have more of the relevant tools than public pollsters.Over the next year, we’re going to try to bring some of those tools into our polling. We’ll focus more on analyzing what factors predict whether voters have “flipped” since 2020, rather than look at what attitudes prevail over a majority of the electorate. We’ll try new question forms. We might even try an experiment or two.We already tried one such experiment in our latest Times/Siena battleground state poll. We split the sample into two halves: One half was asked whether they’d vote for a typical Democrat against a Republican expressing a moderate view on abortion or democracy; the other half was given the same Democrat against a Republican expressing more conservative or MAGA views on abortion or democracy.In the next newsletter, I’ll tell you about the results of that experiment. I think it was promising. More