The Bulwark has a poll out today which shows a greatly weakened Donald Trump but one who still holds an iron grip on about a third of the GOP primary electorate. In this poll he loses to Ron DeSantis in a head to head match up (52-30), in a three way race with “another candidate” (44-28) and even in a ten candidate race (39-28). These numbers are substantially different from other recent polls which have consistently shown Trump leading DeSantis in an actual multi-candidate race, usually by double digits. (538; RCP)
But the kicker in that Bulwark poll is that 28% of the GOP primary electorate is going to vote for Trump for President even if he decides to run as a third party candidate. They also point out that this isn’t very different from what happened in 2016. He generally won a third or a bit more of a given state primary, piled up delegates and the rest of the party fell into line once Trump was clearly the guy.
Jonathan Last: “I don’t know that Trump would run a third-party campaign if he lost the Republican nomination. But I do know that if Trump were to lose the Republican nominating contest, he could bring in a lot of money by running a third-party campaign.”
“And if the question is: ‘Trump could make a lot of money by doing X; will he do X?’”
“Well, then the answer is usually: Yes.“
“Cementing what has been in the works for months, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will formally announce she is running for president and will seek the Republican nomination for her party’s 2024 ticket,” the Charleston Post and Courier reports.
“According to an invitation soon going out to her backers, Haley’s advertised ‘special announcement’ will come Feb. 15 at the The Shed at the Charleston Visitor Center, a downtown gathering spot that could draw hundreds of supporters into the heart of the city’s tourism district.”
“The confirmation she is entering the race came Jan. 31 from a member of Haley’s inner circle.”
Matt Lewis: “Media reports suggest that Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley are laying the groundwork to launch 2024 presidential primary bids. While there will surely be more entrants (John Bolton has already announced a bid, and Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo are both making noise), DeSantis and Haley are two of the more serious opponents Donald Trump will likely face.”
“But the question remains: Are either willing and able to launch a sustained attack on Trump? The verdict is out.”
“I am for Donald Trump because I know what I’m going to get. We need somebody that on Day 1 can get this country back on track, that can secure our border and bring order out of chaos, somebody the Russians and the Chinese fear, somebody that can take the fight to the terrorists.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), endorsing Donald Trump for president during a Fox News interview.
Jonathan Bernstein: “For starters, there’s a former president running for the first time in more than 100 years. And it’s not just that: He’s a twice-impeached former president, one whom seven members of his own party voted to convict.”
“That’s not all! He’s also facing serious ongoing legal troubles in New York and Georgia, and is being investigated by a special counsel appointed by the Justice Department. And while there’s plenty of Republican grumbling about Trump, including blaming him for the party’s poorer-than-expected 2022 election results, there’s been hardly a peep from Republicans about the fact that their frontrunner could be indicted — multiple times — even before the Iowa caucuses.”
“Then there’s Trump’s image. Eight years ago, he had no governing experience at all. Now he’s a former president. Back then, he was popularly known as a business-savvy billionaire from reality television. Now only his supporters view him that way; many if not most Americans see him as a liar about the election and a fomenter of the attack on the Capitol. Back then, many voters saw him as more blunt and more moderate than typical Republicans. Now? It’s hard even to understand half of what he says, unless you spend a lot of time immersed in the world of the Republican-aligned media.”
“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is keeping quiet on Donald Trump, betting that the controversial former president may just be his own worst enemy when it comes to his 2024 prospects,” The Hill reports.
“Just last weekend, Trump took direct aim at DeSantis during a campaign swing through New Hampshire and South Carolina, accusing his one-time acolyte of ‘disloyalty’ and political opportunism.”
“But DeSantis has avoided so much as acknowledging Trump’s attacks – a strategy that many Republicans say is intended to cast DeSantis as a more even-keeled alternative to the bombastic former president.”
Washington Post: “Some of the advisers to other candidates also voiced hope that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has made preliminary moves toward a run, faces early scrutiny because of his high national polling — scrutiny that could work to their advantage. They added that there is a general sense in their circles that there is enough time to learn more about how the race will play out and still attract donors, get on ballots and build campaign infrastructure…”
“There are also Republicans who maintain hope that Trump might simply lose interest in running; they note that he has not filed a personal financial disclosure report, asking for two extensions. But others view Trump as the most likely GOP nominee, pointing to the demonstrated base of support he has built within the party that others have yet to match…”
“One person advising a would-be candidate said concern about Trump’s dominance has been driving discussions with candidates and donors, who want to know how rivals plan to get around Trump. Others expressed hope that Trump will find himself in a nasty fight this spring with DeSantis that politically wounds them both.”
Politico: “Donald Trump acolytes galvanized by the former president’s false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from him piled into last year’s campaigns for state election officer positions. And although Democrats and mainstream Republicans defeated all of those candidates in key battleground states like Michigan, Arizona and elsewhere, far more races for local election positions there and in other states will be up for grabs next year.”
“The slate of below-the-radar campaigns will test how much money and attention will be available for these critical roles in the midst of a presidential race.”
“Any candidate in ’24 that has, as their principal campaign theme, a stolen election, is probably going to have the same issues that some of the ’22 candidates had.”— Sen. John Thune (R-SD), quoted by Politico.
“By this time four years ago, at least a dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls eager to make their case against Donald Trump had either visited Iowa or announced plans to soon visit the leadoff voting state ahead of the 2020 election,” the AP reports.
“Iowa’s campaign landscape is markedly different this year, with a Republican field seemingly frozen by Trump’s early announcement of a 2024 campaign. So far, only former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has visited this year, and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina is making plans to stop by in the next few weeks.”
“Even Trump, the only declared candidate in the 2024 race right now, has been absent from Iowa, choosing instead to kickstart his campaign last weekend in New Hampshire and South Carolina, two other early voting states.”
However, Fox News reports Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is headed to Iowa next month.
“The operatives running former President Donald Trump’s cash-flush super PAC met quietly in December to sketch out their lines of attack against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other potential GOP rivals — the latest indication that the slow-burning 2024 primary is beginning to intensify,” Politico reports.
“During the meeting, which was held in an Alexandria, Va. office and led by Trump lieutenants Taylor Budowich and Tony Fabrizio, the group pored over confidential polling, went over legal and communications strategies and laid out a six-month plan for the race. That plan included an opposition research initiative targeting DeSantis and other possible candidates.”
“Southern Democrats are banding together to urge President Joe Biden to select Atlanta for the 2024 Democratic National Convention, arguing the choice would solidify the party’s gains in Georgia and demonstrate commitment to the entire region,” NBC News reports.
“Atlanta is one of the three finalists to host the convention, along with New York City and Chicago.”
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports more than 60 officials signed a letter saying that picking Atlanta for the prestigious event will “inspire Democrats in other competitive states to run, to organize, to fundraise and to volunteer in what is now truly fertile Democratic territory.”
“Former President Donald Trump is strapped for campaign cash following the mid-November launch of his 2024 presidential campaign,” NBC News reports.
“Trump, who has been the GOP’s most prolific fundraiser in recent years, pulled in about $9.5 million over the final six weeks of last year through his campaign and a joint fundraising committee.”
“In a sign that Trump understands he’ll need to raise more money faster for what promises to be a competitive GOP primary campaign, his campaign recently expanded its digital fundraising team by hiring the firm Campaign Inbox to solicit the small-dollar donor set. Campaign officials have long said he would use the early part of this year to build up his apparatus and begin expanding his footprint in early primary states.”
“Donald Trump’s endorsement helped push J.D. Vance and Eric Schmitt into the Senate. Now they’re nearly ready to return the favor,” Politico reports.
“Vance has told allies over the last few months that he anticipates endorsing Trump in the Republican primary… And Schmitt, whom Trump technically endorsed when he backed ‘Eric’ in the Missouri GOP primary last year, said on Monday that he’s supporting the former president.”
“Joe Biden’s expected re-election bid will thrust his wife, Jill Biden, further into the public eye, as the White House deploys the self-described introvert to help win over women,” Bloomberg reports.
“What little polling exists in regard to the first lady, who is 71, suggests she’s unknown to many Americans, even after two years at the side of the world’s most powerful person. But within the White House she is understood to be the president’s closest and most protective confidante.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) declared her support for President Biden to run for reelection but avoided officially backing Vice President Harris to stay on the ticket, saying she wants to defer to Biden’s team to decide, WGBH reports.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told ABC News that Donald Trump “can’t win a general election” and predicted the former president will not be successful in his 2024 presidential run.
Said Christie: “I’ve said, over and over again, that he can’t win a general election. That’s not speculation. That’s based upon the polling that I was privy to pre-the 2020 election, and what we saw actually happen in the 2020 election. And it’s only gotten worse since then.”