It’s that time of year: mailboxes stuffed with glossy papers featuring smiling, friendly faces; televisions rolling footage of dark skylines and deep voices warning of impending doom.
About seven weeks are left until Nov. 8, Election Day, and in even less time, California voters will receive their ballots in the mail.
So as campaigns round the corner into the midterms and really begin to hone their messages, what does that look like for Democrats in Southern California?
It’s threefold: abortion access, gun violence prevention and inflation reduction, according to Madison Mundy, a western regional spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
“These are the issues that are really motivating voters,” Mundy said, pointing to both internal and external polling as well as national Democrats’ early efforts to make on-the-ground contact.
The DCCC is running radio ads in Vietnamese that accuses Congresswoman Michelle Steel, R-Seal Beach, of being “opposed to getting Orange County relief from rising inflation.” It recently launched television ads in CA-41, a district that winds from Corona to Palm Springs, highlighting Will Rollins’ record as a prosecutor taking on gangs and terrorists. And across Southern California, it is behind a slate of digital, radio and mail content in both English and Spanish praising Democrats for “fighting for our reproductive rights.”
Most California voters recently surveyed by the Public Policy Institute of California named jobs, the economy or inflation as the most important current issue. Homelessness, housing availability and costs, and the environment followed.
But when asked specifically about Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment that would enshrine abortion protections into California’s constitution, voters overwhelmingly signaled support.
Statewide, 69% of voters said they would vote for Prop 1. In the Inland Empire, 61% of voters supported Prop 1, and 67% of voters surveyed in Los Angeles County signaled support.
That was even higher in voters surveyed in the Orange and San Diego counties region where 72% said they would vote to enshrine abortion protections.
The results of the survey came on the heels of a new mailer from the House Majority PAC, which works to elect Democrats to Congress, with a simple message: “Brian Maryott wants to ban abortions.”
(Maryott, a Republican businessman vying for the 49th District, has said he does not support a national ban on abortion or contraception. He supports a woman’s right to choose up until the second trimester, but he does support exceptions in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of a mother is at stake.)
The House Majority PAC is scheduled to start running television ads in the district next week – although the topics of those ads were not readily available. But Democrats maintain abortion is a winning message for the party in Southern California.
Across the U.S., Democrats are pumping an unprecedented amount of money into advertising related to abortion rights, underscoring how central the message is to the party in the final weeks before the November midterm elections.
With the most intense period of campaigning only just beginning, Democrats have already invested more than an estimated $124 million this year in television advertising referencing abortion. That’s almost 20 times more than Democrats spent on abortion-related ads in the 2018 midterms.
But back in Southern California, local Democrats remain focused on races down ballot as well. And that means their messaging is a bit broader.
“There’s a lot at stake in this area, from climate change to women’s rights to local corruption issues and making sure we have a Board of Supervisors focused on our health in the middle of a pandemic,” said Ada Briceño, chair of the Orange County Democrats.
To that end, the OC Democratic Party is focused on health care, including mental health.
“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and making sure that health and mental health care is readily available is crucial so we are looking very strongly at the Board of Supervisors,” Briceño said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.