The Campaign Report – 8/22/19

A new AP-NORC poll finds a majority of Americans critical of President Donald Trump’s overall job performance: 62% disapprove of the way Trump is handling his job, compared with 36% who approve. 21% strongly approve, while 46% strongly disapprove.

A new OH Predictive Insights poll in Arizona shows Joe Biden leading President Trump in a general election match up, 45% to 43%. Trump edges Elizabeth Warren, 44% to 43%, but well within the poll’s margin of error. Trump leads Bernie Sanders, 44% to 34%, tops Kamala Harris 45% to 36% and leads Pete Buttigieg, 43% to 38%. Said pollster Mike Noble: “Trump is in the low- to mid-40s, which I’d say is a pretty big red flag. He’s not doing himself any favors for 2020 in a state he won in 2016.”

A new Monmouth poll finds just 35% of Americans feel that President Trump should be impeached and compelled to leave the presidency while a clear majority — 59% — disagree with this course of action. The survey finds Trump’s approval at a dismal 40% to 53%.

A new Data for Progress/YouGov Blue poll in 42 battleground congressional districts finds Ocasio-Cortez polls roughly as favorably on net as Joe Biden, and more favorably on net than President Trump and Democratic leadership. In addition, each member of “the Squad” — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib — has a higher net favorability than President Trump, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and the Republican Party in these battleground districts.

The survey also shows that Sen. Elizabeth Warren had the highest net favorable ratings among the 2020 presidential candidates tested.

A separate Civiqs poll confirmed Warren has the highest favorable rating of any Democrat in the battleground districts. It also found Biden and Ocasio-Cortez have essentially the same favorability in these swing districts.

“Joe Biden, his wife and his entire campaign apparatus have put an electability argument front and center this week in an attempt to dispel any lingering concerns among Democrats about his ideology, his age or his verbal mistakes,” the Washington Post reports.

“As the Democratic primary campaign trundles on, Biden is winning polite applause from audiences that respect him but clearly are not as fired up by his presence as are crowds for other candidates. He has made verbal miscues nearly daily as his more disciplined opponents hew closely to their chosen messages.”

“And yet his standing atop the polls as the candidate seen as most able to defeat Trump — including in key states needed to secure the presidency — has been an enduring aspect of an otherwise volatile primary contest.”

“President Trump decided long ago that it would be smart politics for him to yoke his administration to Israel and to try to brand the Democratic Party as anti-Semitic,” the Washington Post reports.

“He set about executing a pro-Israel checklist: Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights as part of sovereign Israel and taking a hard line against Iran. And he promoted himself as the greatest president ever — a deity even — for Jewish people.”

“Yet Trump has become flummoxed that Jewish Americans are not in turn lining up to support his reelection… and he has lashed out in predictable fashion.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) told MSNBC that he is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic presidential race. Inslee plans to run for a third term as governor, the Seattle Times reports.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) announced that he will run for Senate, the Denver Post reports. Said Hickenlooper: “I’ve always said Washington was a lousy place for a guy like me who wants to get things done — but this is no time to walk away from the table. I’m not done fighting for the people of Colorado.

A new Emerson poll shows Hickenlooper beating Sen. Cory Garner (R), 53% to 40%.

For President Trump, Minnesota “is the one that got away in 2016. Now he’s fixated on flipping the state in 2020,” Politico reports. “After losing Minnesota by just 1.5 points, the president has told aides repeatedly in recent weeks that he’s determined to win the Democratic stronghold, which hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since 1972.”

“Trump’s push reflects his broader reelection blueprint, which is focused on a cluster of Midwestern and Rust Belt states that were decided by razor-thin margins in 2016 and are likely to determine the outcome of the election. Hoping to offset what they concede will be deep deficits in metropolitan centers and suburbs, the president’s advisers are formulating a strategy geared toward amping up conservative turnout in rural areas.”

“Joe Walsh, a conservative radio show host and former Republican congressman from Illinois, is expected to announce he is running for president as early as this weekend, presenting President Trump with a challenger from the right his critics hope will weaken the president in the 2020 election,” the New York Times reports.

New York Times: “Some Trump advisers are more concerned about a primary challenge than they publicly let on, as Mr. Trump faces more strain in the job than he has in many months. They are also aware that primary challenges can weaken incumbents in a general election. The most recent example was President George Bush, who faced a primary challenger from the right in 1992 from Patrick J. Buchanan, a former aide to Richard Nixon and a prominent conservative…”

“Some public polling has found that more than 40 percent of Republicans are open to a primary challenge to Mr. Trump.”

New York Times: “ABC News, which is hosting the debate in Houston, announced Wednesday that if 10 or fewer candidates qualify, it would be held on a single night, Sept. 12. But if that number ticks up to 11, the debate will take place on Sept. 12 and 13 — mimicking the format of the first two sets of debates.”

“With one week left before the deadline to qualify for the third debate, 10 candidates for president have met the thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee.”

“And an 11th candidate may not be far off: Tom Steyer needs only one more qualifying poll to make the cut; Tulsi Gabbard is two polls short; and Kirsten Gillibrand would need 20,000 more donors and three more polls.”

“Sen. Kamala Harris raised over $1 million through several campaign fundraisers in the wealthy enclaves of the Hamptons on Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts,” CNBC reports.

“Harris attended multiple events last weekend in the affluent vacation spots, including five in the Hamptons. The massive haul comes after she suffered a quick decline in national polls.”

The Democratic National Committee has rejected a proposal to host a single-issue debate on the climate crisis, the HuffPost reports. Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Joe Biden, was among those who urged the DNC committee to vote down a climate debate, saying it would be “dangerous territory in the middle of a Democratic primary process.”

That contrasts with what Biden had earlier said earlier this summer: “I’m all in.”

Alan Abramowitz: “When it comes to ideological identification, Democratic voters are far more divided than Republican voters. Around two-thirds of Republican voters identify as conservative while fewer than half of Democratic voters identify as liberal. Many observers of the current presidential campaign have cited this fact to argue that ideological divisions are a serious potential threat to Democratic unity, especially if the party nominates a strongly liberal candidate.”

“But a closer examination of recent polling data indicates that when it comes to specific policy issues such as abortion, gun control, and health care, Democratic voters are actually considerably less divided than Republican voters. Moreover, these data show that divisions among Democrats based on age, education, and race are much less significant when it comes to policy issues.”

“What makes this all the more important is that policy preferences appear to have a much stronger influence than ideological identification on voters’ broader political outlook including their opinions of President Trump. These findings suggest that the task of uniting Democrats behind the party’s eventual nominee may not be as difficult as some pundits and political observers have suggested.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “It’s been a very long time since a true dark horse — a candidate who really came out of nowhere — won a presidential nomination. But we’ve had a couple of recent winners (John McCain in 2008 and John Kerry in 2004) who looked dead in the water for long periods of the year before the election. And we’ve had other candidates (Rick Santorum in 2012 and Gary Hart way back in 1984) who showed almost no signs of life until right before the Iowa caucuses but then went on to become serious challengers to the eventual winner.”

“I see a lot of pundits out there who want to reach conclusions about at least the structure of this cycle’s nomination struggle, if not proclaim a winner. I’m not averse to doing that when there’s strong evidence, as there was for Hillary Clinton in 2015. But there’s nothing close to that this time, and that means, to me, that we still don’t really have a good idea of where any of this is headed.”

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