The Political Report – April 24, 2023

A new AP-NORC poll finds only 4 in 10 adults “believe Donald Trump acted illegally in New York, where he has been charged in connection with hush money payments made to women who alleged sexual encounters.”

“More — about half — believe he broke the law in Georgia, where he is under investigation for interfering in the 2020 election vote count.”

“The poll finds about half feel similarly about his role in the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and his handling of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, which are both under investigation by the Justice Department.”

One of the more fascinating trends over the last decade is that college educated voters are now more likely to identify as Democrats, and those without college degrees tend to support Republicans.

A voter’s educational attainment also now correlates with their views on a wide range of social issues, such as abortion, gun control and LGBTQ rights. And it extends to what they read and watch and how they get their information about politics and elections.

Doug Sosnik, who was Bill Clinton’s political director in the White House, explains in a new memo what this political re-alignment means for the 2024 elections.

A few takeaways:

  • The Republican advantage in the Electoral College has grown because of the party’s advantage with non-college educated voters since they live disproportionately in rural states.
  • The 2024 presidential election will likely be fought in just eight battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all of which all have education levels at or near the national average.
  • The “diploma divide” has also defined the battleground for Senate and House races, in states and districts where education levels are also near the national average.

Finally, Sosnik concludes: “Never before has such a limited number of states had such an outsized impact on the results of elections.”

NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR. North Carolina Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) “said he will run for governor in 2024, ending months of speculation over whether he would seek the state’s top executive office and kick-starting an intraparty battle against at least one contender for the GOP nomination,” WRAL reports.

The 19th: “The most competitive and high-profile governor’s race of 2024 is set to take place in North Carolina — and will center on abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, with major implications for the state’s future.”

Politico: “Republicans are on the verge of wiping out what remains of Democrats’ political power in North Carolina. The only thing they need is for the likely nominee for governor to not blow it up. On Saturday, when the state’s lightning rod Republican lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson, formally announces his gubernatorial campaign, polls suggest he will instantly become the frontrunner for the nomination. He’ll saddle the GOP with a laundry list of his past public controversies.”

WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR. “Gov. Jim Justice (R) is planning to launch a long-awaited campaign against Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) next week, handing Republicans a well-funded and popular recruit in their best opportunity to flip a Senate seat,” Politico reports.

“Justice, a coal mining magnate who is friendly with former President Trump, has hinted at a Senate run for months… He was heavily recruited by the National Republican Senatorial Committee and has been in contact with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

“Still, Justice is known to change plans suddenly. While the event is set for Thursday, he could still punt a decision to later.”

“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is throwing his support behind Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) in what’s shaping up to be a high-profile GOP primary race to see which Republican will take on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) in 2024,” Fox News reports.

“Mooney is the only major Republican candidate in the race so far, but allies of Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell have made it clear they want West Virginia’s Republican governor, Jim Justice, to run as well. Justice was a Democrat until 2017, when he announced himself as a Republican during a rally with former President Donald Trump.”

OHIO U.S. SENATOR. “Bernie Moreno, a Republican looking to challenge US Sen. Sherrod Brown, suggested the white descendants of northern Civil War soldiers should be eligible for some form of compensation,” the New York Post reports.

Said Moreno: “They make it sound like America is a racist, broken country. You name a country that did that: that freed slaves, died to do that. You know, they talk about reparations. Where are the reparations for the people in the North who died to save the lives of black people?”

Jonathan Chait: “A little over four years ago, Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign appeared to be, if not inevitable, then at least like the most strongly positioned candidacy to win her party’s nomination. The former Harvard professor had won over a large segment of the progressive intelligentsia with her impressive array of domestic-policy proposals. But the enthusiasm of activists and intellectuals seemed to augur a groundswell of support from the base that never arrived.”

“The Warren precedent sprung to mind when Florida governor Ron DeSantis yesterday ventured to South Carolina, where he railed against the ‘woke mind-virus,’ which he defined, perhaps unhelpfully, as ‘a form of cultural Marxism.’ These are terms and concepts that have ricocheted across the conservative elite, especially Republicans trapped in New York, Washington, Silicon Valley, and other citadels of liberal elitism, where teachers and human-resource staffers have grown enamored of Robin DiAngelo–speak. But is this worldview, and the jargon DeSantis uses to express it, actually familiar to the voters? Are Republicans in South Carolina truly in a state of despair over ‘cultural Marxism’?”

“DeSantis’s struggles have consumed the national media and inspired sundry explanations. Perhaps his misanthropy is the problem… Maybe the issue is that Donald Trump was indicted. Maybe it’s his refusal to engage the mainstream media. Or maybe his struggles are a passing phase, willed into existence by a campaign press corps that quadrennially seizes on any wisp of momentum, positive or negative, and blows it up into a self-perpetuating narrative, before getting bored and overcorrecting the other way… But the deepest problem may be that he has simply brain-poisoned himself into an abstract worldview that his constituents don’t recognize.”

Washington Post: “Two people involved in the reelection effort said they expect Julie Chavez Rodriguez, currently the director of the White House office of intergovernmental affairs, to manage the campaign.”

“Biden aides also have not announced the location campaign headquarters, though there is growing confidence that the president will settle on his hometown of Wilmington, a little more than an hour away from Washington by Amtrak.”

“In a landmark decision, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled Friday that partisan gerrymandering is unconstitutional under the Alaska Constitution’s equal protection doctrine,” the Anchorage Daily News reports.

“The court ruled Friday that the redistricting board would have 90 days to appear before a Superior Court judge and show cause why the interim political map should not be used until the 2032 general election.”

Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, a longtime Donald Trump ally, will help lead a political action committee encouraging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024,” the AP reports.

“Laxalt, who roomed with DeSantis while in naval officer training, will serve as the chairman of the Never Back Down super PAC, the organization confirmed Saturday.”

“Days after withholding his financial backing for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, billionaire GOP donor Thomas Peterffy is opening his wallet for Glenn Youngkin, the Virginia governor some in the party still hope will run for president,” Politico reports.

“Peterffy on Thursday wired a $1 million check to Youngkin’s political action committee… The move comes less than a week after Peterffy told the Financial Times that he had put his support for DeSantis ‘on hold’ because of the governor’s controversial positions on abortion and book bans, which have alienated some of those in the donor community and the mainstream wing of the party.”

“Scores of rightwing U.S. extremists were defeated in school-board elections in April, in a victory for the left and what Democrats hope could be effective for running against Republicans in the year ahead,” The Guardian reports.

OHIO REFERENDUM. Ohio Republicans passed a constitutional amendment in the state Senate on Wednesday that would make it harder for voters to amend the state constitution in the future, and the state House is likely to follow suit soon. The amendment itself must go before voters for their approval before it can become law.

60% support to pass new amendments. Amendments currently need just a simple majority to pass in Ohio and all but a few other states. Republicans want to raise that threshold in order to make it easier to defeat progressive policies in this red-leaning state.

The GOP’s aim: preserve their abortion ban and gerrymanders. A top sponsor was caught telling his colleagues that the purpose of the higher threshold is to thwart voter-backed efforts to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution and to create a new independent redistricting commission.

Republicans want an August election—when turnout will be low. Just months ago, Republicans eliminated regular August elections, but now they want a one-time election this summer for voters to weigh in on their amendment. The goal: pass the new amendment so that it can take effect before a potential November vote on abortion.

NEW YORK COURT OF APPEALS. The New York state Senate on Tuesday confirmed Rowan Wilson to serve as chief justice of the state’s highest court one day before it approved Caitlin Halligan to replace him as an associate judge, and the dual confirmations mean that the seven-member Court of Appeals is at full capacity for the first time since Chief Judge Janet DiFiore unexpectedly resigned last August. The ascension of Wilson, a liberal who is the Court of Appeals’ first Black chief judge, and Halligan will almost certainly shift the body to the left, though no one’s sure by how much.

DiFiore and three other judges until last year formed the conservative wing of the court, with Wilson and Jenny Rivera being in the progressive minority and Shirley Troutman not clearly belonging to either faction. However, New York Focus’ Sam Mellins notes that Anthony Cannataro has sided with the liberals on several cases since DiFiore left despite previously always voting with her.

Halligan, who is a former state solicitor general, does not have a judicial record to scrutinize, though, and she could well prove to be a swing vote on important issues like redistricting. Law professor Vincent Bonventre, however, noted that Barack Obama had unsuccessfully nominated Halligan for a federal judgeship and called this “a pretty darn good sign that Obama, or those who do the vetting for him, were confident that she was a liberal.”

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

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