A Marist poll finds 56% of Americans think the investigations into Donald Trump are fair. However, 41% consider the probes to be a “witch hunt.” An important takeaway: “While 45% of Republicans think Trump did nothing wrong, 10% say Trump broke the law, and 43% believe he engaged in unethical behavior.”
Aaron Blake has another: “Trump’s support has declined significantly since his 2020 defeat.”
A new Quinnipiac poll finds that Americans, by a 57% to 38% margin, think criminal charges should disqualify Donald Trump from running for president again.
“The historic indictment of former President Donald Trump thrust the 2024 presidential election into uncharted territory, raising the remarkable prospect that the leading contender for the Republican nomination will seek the White House while also facing trial for criminal charges in New York,” the AP reports.
“In an acknowledgment of the sway the former president holds with the voters who will decide the GOP contest next year, those eyeing a primary challenge to Trump were quick to criticize the indictment.”
“That posture speaks to the short-term incentives for Republicans to avoid anything that might antagonize Trump’s loyal base. But the indictment raises profound questions for the GOP’s future, particularly as Trump faces the possibility of additional charges soon in Atlanta and Washington. While that might galvanize his supporters, the turmoil could threaten the GOP’s standing in the very swing-state suburbs that have abandoned the party in three successive elections, eroding its grip on the White House, Congress and key governorships.”
“As Donald Trump rails against a
possible indictment in New York, his team is leaning into a strategy that has quietly become a cornerstone of his 2024 presidential campaign: releasing made-for-social media videos reacting to the news and outlining his agenda for a possible second term,” the AP reports.
“The videos feature the former president speaking directly to camera on topics ranging from Ukraine and ‘saving’ the suburbs to dismantling the ‘deep state,’ and they are often laced with his familiar dark rhetoric and conspiracies. But his team sees them as a tool to bypass the traditional news media and speak directly to supporters, and as part of a broader effort to steer Trump toward policy instead of his own grievances and obsessions with the past.”
Nathaniel Rakich: “It’s hard to come up with an argument that it could buoy him in a general election, but it’s a distinct possibility in the primary. Trump could experience a polling boost similar to a rally-around-the-flag effect that presidents sometimes experience when the nation comes under threat — except this time, Trump himself is under threat.”
Jack Shafer: “If ever a presidential candidate needed to run a Rose Garden campaign in which the incumbent denies his opponent the attention he needs to gain voter share, it’s Trump. Trump’s not the incumbent, you say? That’s not the way he sees the “rigged” 2020 election. By running for the restoration of the crown, Trump can avail himself to a virtual Rose Garden campaign of proclamations, press conferences and media events. He might even think about skipping the primary debates as beneath him, though it might be too tempting for him to pass up a format in which he excels.”
“By making Joe Biden his 2024 opponent instead of Ron DeSantis, Trump would rob DeSantis the dignity of being a competitor.”
New York Times: “Make America Great Again Inc., the super PAC supporting Mr. Trump’s candidacy, has begun running commercials for the first time, with a roughly $1.3 million ad buy on CNN and Fox News for a spot attacking Mr. DeSantis.”
“As expected, the ad focuses on Mr. DeSantis’s votes on Social Security and Medicare while he was a congressman. He once vocally supported restructuring both programs and raising the retirement age when he was a budget hawk in 2012. It’s a position that Mr. Trump has attacked him for relentlessly, and with reason: Such votes have historically been unpopular with seniors, who make up a substantial chunk of the Republican voting base.”
Jonathan Last on what happens if DeSantis doesn’t run: “For starters, it means that all of the questions about Biden running stop. If DeSantis pulls the plug, Trump becomes the overwhelming favorite—at which point there is zero chance that Biden declines to run for reelect.”
“The next thing that happens is Trump pops higher in both national and early-state polls. That’s because Trump is the second choice of about half of the voters who support DeSantis. Which means that you’d expect Trump to almost immediately add >10 points to his poll numbers, putting him close to the 60 percent mark nationally.”
“Then comes the time for fear.”
“The Republican establishment, which has been pushing DeSantis relentlessly for two years, would freak the eff out. They’d look around and see that Nikki Haley has moved backwards since declaring her candidacy. Mike Pompeo seems to have disappeared. Maybe Chris Christie is in the race sitting at 3 percent. The point is: No declared Republican candidate will have demonstrated viability.”
“So the money will go searching for someone who has upside potential.”
“The Arizona Democratic Party will file a lawsuit Thursday against the state’s top election administrator and No Labels, seeking to reverse the moderate group’s recognition as a political party for the 2024 elections,” the Washington Post reports.
“The lawsuit, in state court in Phoenix, reflects growing concern in Democratic circles that a No Labels third-party ticket in 2024 will jeopardize the reelection hopes of President Biden and make it harder for Democrats to maintain control of the Senate.”
“Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has spent months shoring up a tough-on-crime image as he weighs a run for the White House, calling for stronger penalties against drug traffickers and using $5,000 bonuses to bolster law-enforcement recruitment to his state,” the New York Times reports.
“Now, Mr. DeSantis and his allies plan to use that image to draw a contrast with the Republican front-runner in the 2024 race, former President Donald Trump.”
“The battle for control of Congress next year is already being waged in a New York appellate court where Democrats are seeking to revive a case challenging the redrawing of state congressional boundaries after 11 New York Republicans won elections last year — helping secure their party’s narrow majority in the House,” the Albany Times Union reports.
“The lawsuit seeks to compel the state Independent Redistricting Commission to submit a new map to the Legislature that would reshape New York’s congressional boundaries after a series of court rulings scrapped the gerrymandered districts that were created by state Democratic lawmakers. The boundaries were subsequently redrawn by a court prior to last year’s elections, and those maps are set to remain in place for the next decade.”
“I have recently learned that Joe Lonsdale, the outspoken investor and Palantir co-founder, is preparing to introduce Ron DeSantis to his network next month in Austin, his adopted hometown. About 200 of Lonsdale’s business and political contacts are expected to attend, including some who are flying in specifically for the event and the chance to meet the Florida governor.”
John Harris: “The Virginia governor offers two things Republicans need: A non-hostile alternative to Trump and a compelling centrist challenge to Biden.”
PENNSYLVANIA STATE HOUSE. The field is set for the May 16 special election to succeed Democrat Mike Zabel, who resigned this month after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, in the 163rd House District, a Delaware County constituency that backed Joe Biden 62-37.
Democrats, who need to keep this seat in order to preserve their 1-seat majority in the chamber, have nominated Upper Darby Democratic Committee Chair Heather Boyd, who is a former member of the local school board. Local Republican leaders, meanwhile, have opted for Army veteran Katie Ford, a first-time candidate who hasn’t previously been professionally involved in politics. (There are no primaries for special elections to the Pennsylvania legislature.)
State House Democrats currently hold a 101-100 edge in the 203-member chamber. The other vacant seat is the 108th District in the rural central part of the state, a 65-33 Trump constituency that Republican Lynda Schlegel Culver gave up after she won a state Senate special in January. The GOP nominee for this special, which will also be May 16, is Shikellamy School Board director Mike Stender, while the Democrats are fielding Montour County Commissioner Trevor Finn.
RHODE ISLAND IST DISTRICT. While Rhode Island state law prevents election officials from formally scheduling the special to succeed Democratic Rep. David Cicilline until he officially resigns, Gov. Dan McKee and Secretary of State Gregg Amore on Wednesday unveiled a “tentative calendar” should Cicilline depart on June 1 as he’s said he’ll do. The party primaries for this 64-35 Biden constituency would be Sept. 5, which is one day after Labor Day, while the general election would be Nov. 7.
Anyone who wants to run would need to submit paperwork by June 30, though there’s one other important step afterward. Candidates must submit 500 valid signatures to make the ballot, and it’s not quite clear how long they’d have to get to work: The calendar says that this process would begin “[n]o later than July 6” and conclude July 14.
WEST VIRGINIA GOVERNOR or U.S. SENATOR. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says he will make a “BIG Announcement” on April 4, a move that comes as he’s kept people guessing if he’ll compete in next year’s Republican primary for governor, seek a rematch with Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, or run for re-election. Morrissey’s allies at Black Bear PAC, a group funded in part by megadonor Dick Uihlein, certainly hope he’ll go for governor: The PAC earlier this month released a poll showing the attorney general ahead in that primary, while it conspicuously did not allude to the possibility he could run for something else.