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AP: GOP’s election-year standing with independents at risk
By Thomas Beaumont
September 19, 2022
- Sarah Motiff has voted for Sen. Ron Johnson every time his name appeared on the ballot, starting in 2010 when the Wisconsin Republican was first elected as part of the tea party wave.
- She became skeptical this summer as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection reported his office discussed giving then-Vice President Mike Pence certificates with fake presidential electors for Donald Trump from Wisconsin and Michigan, part of a broader push to overturn Joe Biden’s victory.
- Nudged further by the June U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, Motiff is opposing Johnson and supports his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, in one of the most fiercely-contested Senate races this year.
- In politically-divided Wisconsin where recent elections have been decided by a few thousand votes, the outcome could hinge on self-described independent voters like Motiff.
- In interviews with more than a dozen independent voters here over two days last week, many were rethinking their support of the GOP this fall.
- Steve Gray, a self-described Republican-leaning independent “but never a Trump fan,” opposed the June court decision, because he backs abortion rights.
- The court decision “upended the physics of midterm elections,” said Jesse Stinebring, a pollster advising several Democratic campaigns.
- The decision made Dilaine Noel’s vote automatic. The 29-year-old data analytics director for a Madison-area business said she had never affiliated with either party […] her support for abortion rights gave her no choice than to vote for the party’s candidates this fall.
- Mary Percifield is a lifelong independent voter who says the abortion decision motivated her to vote Democratic because she worries the court might overturn other rights.
- “A right has been taken away from us,” the 68-year-old customer service representative from Pardeeville, said. “I question if a woman’s right to vote will be taken away. A woman’s right for birth control.”
- Though [Senator Ron] Johnson dismissed testimony about fake electors as staff work which never reached him, it reminded Christian Wood, an independent voter from Lodi, of Johnson’s opposition to certifying the election before Jan. 6. Johnson reversed course after the riot.
- “It’s absolutely scary,” said Wood, who has often voted Republican. “To me that’s the most existential threat to our democracy. And to think he was even considering it makes him a non-starter.”