A new Roanoke College poll in Virginia finds Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) crushing Joe Biden, 55% to 39%, among Virginia voters in a hypothetical 2024 matchup. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) leads Biden, 48% to 43%. But Biden has a slight edge over Donald Trump, 47% to 46%.
“Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) traveled to New York on Wednesday to meet with major GOP donors, making the first of several planned out-of-state political trips amid mixed signals about the Republican’s White House ambitions,” the Washington Post reports.
BIDEN 2024. “President Biden’s team is moving quickly to build a ‘national advisory board’ stocked with Democratic governors, senators and other political stars who will travel and speak on Biden’s behalf during his expected reelection campaign, an early effort to unify party leaders and minimize the chance of dissent,” the Washington Post reports.
“Biden aides said some Democrats are still being asked to join the effort, but they have already enlisted more than 20 national figures. They include such influential governors as Gavin Newsom of California, J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Wes Moore of Maryland, Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Phil Murphy of New Jersey.”
DESANTIS 2024. “What I would say is, I was well known. I was, you know, kind of a hot commodity. And I thought that the book would do well, I think it is doing well. I think you’re gonna see it’s going to do very well. We’ve had a great, great response.” — Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), in an interview with the Times of London, when asked if he wrote a book because he’s running for president.
SUNUNU 2024. Politico: “Every four years, the Beltway media establishment anoints a favorite Republican. The New Hampshire governor is doing everything right.”
Henry Olson: “The consensus among political elites holds that a large, divided GOP presidential field would help former president Donald Trump. That view is likely wrong…”
“This simplistic view overlooks that Trump really secured the nomination after the field winnowed down.”
CPAC. Associated Press: “Many of the party’s best-known likely candidates — from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to former Vice President Mike Pence — are skipping the marquee event kicking off Wednesday as the group grapples with controversy and questions over its place in a movement that remains deeply split over its allegiance to former President Donald Trump.”
“Adding to the turmoil: A lawsuit filed by an unnamed Republican campaign staffer against Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the conference. The suit accuses Schlapp of groping him during a car ride in Georgia before the November election. Schlapp has denied the allegations.”
Charlie Sykes: “As the annual CPAC conference kicks off Wednesday, we’re seeing signs of a growing split between the extremists and the normies.”
“What is not yet clear is whether this is a divorce — or merely a trial separation. But as we head into 2024, the battle lines are clearly being drawn.”
Donald Trump on Truth Social: “The only reason certain ‘candidates’ won’t be going to CPAC is because the crowds have no interest in anything they have to say. They’ve heard it all before, and don’t want to hear it again. But my speech, on Saturday night, is already a sold out ‘monster.’ They are trying to expand the room and space.”
TRUMP 2024. Donald Trump is planning to visit Iowa in mid-March, a first foray to the leadoff caucus state since announcing his 2024 White House campaign, the AP reports.
Politico: “As of March 1, fewer than 20 House Republicans have formally endorsed Trump in the four months since he declared his third campaign… Roughly another dozen have publicly supported Trump in some way, though short of a formal endorsement.”
“The widespread hesitancy would not be notable in another era — or if a former president was not already in the race. But in this instance, the lack of public support is perhaps the clearest sign yet that members feel Trump’s support is no longer a prerequisite for political survival. Trump’s vengeance is now barely registering as a threat, after years as one of the most dominant forces in politics. … In interviews with nearly 20 House Republicans, many cited the uncertainty in the field as reason to keep quiet for now.”
“Donald Trump, who once dominated the Fox News broadcasts, is now running into a brick wall with what four members of his circle say is a ‘soft ban’ from the top of the conservative news channel, as it rolls out the red carpet to even the low-profile rival candidates,” Semafor reports.
Said one source close to Trump: “Everyone knows that there’s this ‘soft ban’ or ‘silent ban.’ It’s certainly — however you want to say, quiet ban, soft ban, whatever it is — indicative of how the Murdochs feel about Trump in this particular moment.”
HALEY 2024. “Nikki Haley has promised to support former President Donald Trump should he win the 2024 GOP nomination contest — the kind of categorical support that Trump has so far declined to make,” Insider reports.
WHO IS WORSE: TRUMP OR DESANTIS? Jonathan Chait: “Whether DeSantis would actually do more damage to American democracy in office than Trump could remains hard to say. Perhaps, perhaps not. But we should recognize that he is not putting himself forward as a critic of Trump’s authoritarianism. He is promising, on the contrary, to exceed it.”
Damon Linker: “So let’s stipulate that Mr. Trump and Mr. DeSantis would both try to do bad things in office. Mr. Trump still brings something distinctive and much more dangerous to the contest — or rather, several things. He’s flagrantly corrupt. He lies constantly. He’s impulsive and capricious. And he displays a lust for power combined with complete indifference to democratic laws and norms that constrain presidential power…”
“That makes Mr. Trump categorically more dangerous than anyone else running or likely to run for president in 2024 — including Mr. DeSantis.”
Charlie Sykes: “As objectionable as the Florida governor may be (and he ranks remarkably high on both the authoritarian/asshole meter), Trump continues to be a unique threat.”
Rich Lowry: “The disinclination to engage with Trump at all brings back memories of 2016. If it’s a temporary dynamic, that’s one thing; if it’s another prisoner’s dilemma among the non-Trump candidates, waiting for someone else to take him on and hoping to emerge unscathed in the aftermath, it’s repeating the same mistake and expecting a different result.”
“If the current situation holds, there’s no way around Trump — only through — and that will require making a case against him.”
“To be the man (or the lady), as the immortal Ric Flair said, you’ve got to beat the man. Trump may indeed be beatable, but the latest polling shows him squarely in the way of anyone who wants to take over the party he’s dominated for seven years and counting.”
Politico: “Lee Zeldin is making his next move, with the New York Republican launching a PAC designed to aid GOP candidates in appealing to first-time Republican voters like those who turned out for him during his closer-than-expected gubernatorial bid.”
“It is also a clear sign Zeldin could run again. The question is when and for what.”
This race is very much Trump’s to lose.
That’s because the primaries are the time voters get to know the candidates. But everyone already knows Trump. And they know exactly what kind of president he would be. A large number of Republican voters definitely want Trump again. And those that don’t want Trump haven’t settled on an alternative yet.Polls suggest Gov. Ron DeSantis is the most favored alternative, but he’s still unknown to most Republican voters. He’s never been on the national stage before. It’s likely a majority of Republican voters have never even heard DeSantis give a speech. And the rest of the likely GOP field is polling in the low single digits.
That suggests the biggest obstacle Trump faces for his party’s nomination right now is himself. An indictment (or two or three) would certainly complicate his run. Understandably, that might make some GOP voters uncomfortable about choosing him as their nominee if he could end up in prison. For any other politician, an indictment would immediately end their campaign. But it might actually help Trump. An indictment would cause Trump’s hard core supporters to rally around him. That would only make it much harder for his primary challengers — who are trying to woo Trump voters — to criticize him. The combination of the two might actually make Trump invincible.