The Political Report – March 31, 2023

A new Fox News poll finds Donald Trump has doubled his lead in the Republican primary since February and is up by 30 points over Ron DeSantis, 54% to 24%.

Last month, Trump was up by 15 points, 43% to 28%.

No one else hits double digits. Mike Pence comes in third with 6%.

National Journal: “This year’s Republican primary electorate isn’t likely to be as unstable as 2012’s, simply because Trump commands a solid one-third to one-half of Republicans in multicandidate polls. The 2024 primaries are likely to look more like 2016, since the biggest question is, ‘Can anyone beat Trump?’”

“That question is driving coverage and polling, and most reporters and political outlets are looking for a competitive story to tell. Trump vs. DeSantis gets clicks. It’s boring to say repeatedly that Trump is the front-runner and DeSantis might or might not be able to overcome him. It’s much more attention-grabbing to say, ‘Trump leads. No, wait! DeSantis leads. No, wait! Back to Trump,’ and to continue that pattern, getting clicks based on people’s hopes (or fears) that one or the other will end up the nominee.”

“This is where the media industry and the polling industry work together to create a toxic environment. Both need attention in order to function, because eyeballs and reputation equate to revenue. They feed off the emotions of those who are plugged into politics, and hope to gain some clicks among those who aren’t, by creating a narrative of a dynamic, shifting race. And in part, that’s true. We’re still more than nine months out from the first votes. We don’t have a full slate of candidates yet. Big-ticket donors are still figuring out who is their best bet. If the donor class doesn’t fully know yet, how do we expect Joe Six Pack who happens to answer a poll to know?”

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will visit Israel next month, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Amanda Carpenter: “How many times can you let someone punch you before everyone else thinks you’re a sucker?”

“Ron DeSantis is about to find out.”

“Donald Trump has disgustingly smeared DeSantis on social media, gone after DeSantis at his presidential campaign rally in Waco on Saturday, and used a primetime interview on Fox News on Monday to question DeSantis’s ability to win Florida without his help.”

“So far, DeSantis has accepted it all as if he were being initiated into the 2024 race with a ‘Thank you, sir, may I have another?’ plastered-on smile.”

WISCONSIN STATE SUPREME COURT. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball: “In one of the biggest elections of the calendar year, a Democratic-aligned justice appears favored in next week’s Wisconsin state Supreme Court election. But that was also true in 2019, when a Republican-aligned justice pulled an upset.”

“Democrats often underperform in such races in Milwaukee, so that is a key place to watch.”

Politico: “With the exception of the governorship, Republicans have long had a lock on most levers of power in the state. … But a liberal win in the April 4 election could upend all of that. It would give liberals an effective majority on the high court — and with it, the possibility to redraw state and congressional district lines in ways that dramatically curb Republican power.”

WISCONSIN STATE SENATE. Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin once again whooped her Republican opponent, state Rep. Dan Knodl, in fundraising ahead of Tuesday’s special election for Wisconsin’s vacant 8th Senate District, according to new filings. Habush Sinkyin, an environmental attorney, raised $837,000 between Feb. 7 and March 20, spending $803,000 and ending the period with $92,000 in the bank. Knodl, meanwhile, took in just $261,000 during the same timeframe and spent $317,000, finishing with $51,000. Both received considerable help in both cash and in-kind contributions from state and local party organizations, with Democratic groups providing $233,000 to Habush Sinykin and Republican entities giving a $166,000 boost to Knodl.

Knodl also made news in the campaign’s waning days for saying in a new interview that he’d “certainly consider” impeaching Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz, who still has yet to be elected. (Her race is also on Tuesday.) In targeting the progressive Protasiewicz, Knodl claimed that local judges in Milwaukee “have failed the community,” but she was the only judge out of 47 in the county that he called out by name.

And if Knodl wins, Republicans could indeed impeach her, or any other liberal member of the high court: In November, the GOP won a new supermajority in the state Senate thanks to an extreme gerrymander, which Knodl is hoping to preserve. At the moment, Republicans are one seat short, thanks to the resignation that gave rise to this vacancy, but party leaders have expressed interest in using their impeachment powers to, as Assembly Speaker Robin Vos put it, “take out people who aren’t doing their job.”

CHICAGO MAYOR. Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas is pushing back on Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson’s attempts to portray him as a Republican in all but name with a new spot that features several prominent Democrats praising him. The ad, which opens with a narrator proclaiming, “Democrats for Democrat Paul Vallas,” features a diverse cast made up of Sen. Dick Durbin, former Rep. Bobby Rush, former Secretary of State Jesse White, and Aldermen Sophia King and Silvana Tabares.

Another Vallas commercial for Tuesday’s general, meanwhile, argues Johnson supports “a massive tax increase.”

Nikki Haley provided a small glimpse at her strategy for defeating Donald Trump in the Republican primary, noting that he had a “hard 25%” support, CBS News reports.

Said Haley: “There are 75% other Republicans there that are looking for a place to be.”

She added that she doesn’t plan to do “big rallies” on her campaign: “You have to go and answer the hard questions. You have to go face to face. You can’t fly in and fly out. And I believe the American people want you to earn their vote. I don’t think they’re gonna give it.”

Washington Post: “Interviews with nearly two dozen GOP donors, strategists and voters suggest the desire for a backup option has intensified amid questions about how the Florida governor would fare in a protracted battle against Trump and how he can distinguish himself from the former president without alienating Trump’s supporters. There is also lingering concern about how DeSantis’s insular style will wear on early state voters who expect to welcome candidates into their living rooms for an extended job interview.”

Yahoo News: “The question now is whether they can draw on that experience — the failures, the successes, the lessons learned — in order to beat Trump next year. Their time in the trenches fighting for Cruz could be all that more valuable as the former president attacks DeSantis, another 40-something conservative policy wonk and Harvard-educated lawyer, in explicitly personal terms.”

“Alarmed over young people increasingly proving to be a force for Democrats at the ballot box, Republican lawmakers in a number of states have been trying to enact new obstacles to voting for college students,” the New York Times reports.

“Attempts to cordon off out-of-state students from voting in their campus towns or to roll back preregistration for teenagers have failed in New Hampshire and Virginia. Even in Texas, where 2019 legislation shuttered early voting sites on many college campuses, a new proposal that would eliminate all college polling places seems to have an uncertain future.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is seriously considering a 2024 presidential campaign, told Axios that he will never support Donald Trump for president again — even if he wins the Republican nomination.

Said Christie: “Look, I just can’t. When you have the Jan. 6 choir at a rally and you show video of it — I just don’t think that person is appropriate for the presidency.”

“The Democratic Party has begun testing the use of artificial intelligence to write first drafts of some fund-raising messages, appeals that often perform better than those written entirely by human beings,” the New York Times reports.

“Donald Trump has tapped an operative to lead his 2024 efforts in New Hampshire. And for the role, he’s turned to a veteran of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid, a campaign he mercilessly roasted,” Politico reports.

 “Militia groups, Christian nationalists, anti-vaccine activists and other conspiracy theorists in the Pacific Northwest have all started working together and are forging new connections with the formal political class,” Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

New York Times: “Seven years after Michigan helped cement Donald Trump’s presidential victory, the state has transformed into a new — if fragile — focal point of Democratic power, testing the promise and pitfalls of complete Democratic governance in one of the nation’s pre-eminent political battlegrounds.”

“We did everything for him. I like people that are loyal. When you help somebody, you expect there will be a certain amount of dignity and loyalty. We didn’t get that from Ron. But that’s OK. We’re gonna beat him and beat him very badly.”— Donald Trump, in a video attacking Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Republicans hope potential charges against former President Trump won’t wreak havoc on down-ballot races next year but are warning of dire consequences should candidates mishandle an unprecedented indictment,” ABC News reports.

Said one GOP strategist: “Any Republican who’s not prepared to answer a question about the indictment, if it should come, and not prepared to pivot away from questions about Trump and back to the economy, crime and Biden’s shortcomings is going to have a really hard time.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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