The Political Report – May 10, 2023

“The Senate seats up for grabs in 2024 lean heavily in Republicans’ favor, with Democrats defending far more competitive states. Now, GOP leaders want to make sure they get strong candidates to run—or risk another disappointing election and two more years in the minority,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Headed into the next election, GOP leaders want to make sure they don’t blow it again, in the face of reluctance from some popular Republicans to run and the continued influence of former President Donald Trump, who is seeking the White House again. Many candidates aligned with Mr. Trump and his false claims of election fraud won GOP races in 2022 over more-establishment candidates but then lost in the general election.”

Peter Baker: “No single poll means all that much, especially so early in an election cycle, and the president’s strategists as well as some independent analysts questioned its methodology. But even if it is an outlier, other recent surveys have indicated that the race is effectively tied, with either Mr. Biden or Mr. Trump holding narrow leads within the margin of error. Taken together, they suggest that the president opens the 2024 campaign facing enormous challenges with no guarantee of victory over Mr. Trump.”

“The data has left many Democrats feeling anywhere from queasy to alarmed. Mr. Biden’s case for being the pair of safe hands at a volatile moment is undermined in their view if a president who passed major legislation and presides over the lowest unemployment in generations cannot outperform a twice-impeached challenger who instigated an insurrection, has been indicted on multiple felonies, is on civil trial accused of rape and faces more potential criminal charges in the months to come…”

“Whit Ayres, a Republican consultant, said it was telling that Mr. Biden was essentially tied or behind “‘a former president carrying more baggage than a loaded 747’ and warned Democrats against complacency.”

Melania Trump told Fox News that it would be a “privilege” to serve as first lady again.

Said Mrs. Trump: “My husband achieved tremendous success in his first administration, and he can lead us toward greatness and prosperity once again. He has my support, and we look forward to restoring hope for the future and leading America with love and strength.”

“Liz Cheney isn’t a presidential candidate — at least not yet. But the former Wyoming congresswoman launched her first TV ad of the 2024 election cycle in New Hampshire on Tuesday, warning voters of the ‘risk’ of a second Donald Trump presidency,” NBC News reports.

“Airing in New Hampshire, the first GOP primary state, the ad will coincide with the former president’s televised town hall on Wednesday at Saint Anselm College, just outside of Manchester.”

Philip Bump: “You can see the robustness of Trump’s baseline of support here. There’s not much difference between how he fares against Biden and how DeSantis fares against Biden among those who think Trump likely committed crimes. It’s, like, incredible: About 1 in 7 people who think that Trump should be criminally sanctioned for trying to subvert American democracy also say they’d probably vote for him to be president in a contest against Biden.”

“That’s the Fifth-Avenue crowd, the Trump supporters for whom criminal conduct is no barrier to support. Again, that’s not our saying Trump committed a crime. It’s them saying he should be charged. But also be president instead of Biden.”

There are two reasons why Democrats should feel good about Joe Biden running for re-election:  1) He’s been an effective president; and 2) He’s got an incredible amount of experience.  Of course, those two points go together.

But Biden does have a major weakness: Nearly every major poll shows Democrats are not excited about him as their nominee.

The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds 58% of “Democratic-leaning adults” don’t want him to seek re-election. And even if you discount that poll as an outlier, a recent NBC News poll finds 70% of the voters overall don’t want him to seek re-election.

John Ellis describes this enthusiasm gap compared with the likely GOP nominee:  “The difference is that Trump increases turnout in rural and exurban counties, everywhere, which helps Republicans up and down the ballot. Biden’s “impact” on turnout is entirely dependent on how crazy Republicans are at any given moment.  Amongst the 10-to-15 percent of the electorate who will decide the outcome of the next presidential election, none of them will vote for President Biden. They might (some of them certainly will) vote against the GOP nominee. But none will vote for Biden.”

That might be a little extreme. But it’s a problem when swing voters are not voting for you and just voting against the other guy.  If you compare Biden’s approval rating to his predecessors at this point in their terms, he’s running 9 points behind Barack Obama, 23 points behind George W. Bush and 9 points below Bill Clinton.  He’s tied with Trump, who went on to lose his re-election bid.  Biden has a solid record to run on. He needs to do a better job of letting voters know about it.

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis severed his connection to his long-standing state political committee and the tens of millions of dollars that it now controls, a step he needs to take ahead of a presidential campaign,” Politico reports.

“The Republican governor is expected to jump into the race for president soon and the move to rebrand his Florida political committee — called Friends of Ron DeSantis — is the most concrete sign so far that his candidacy is imminent.”

Politico: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had been seen as the top pick to lock down the support of financial titans who have already pumped millions into his state campaigns.”

“But as he stumbles through gaffes over everything from his personal demeanor and stance on Ukraine to his snacking habits, Wall Street donors are keeping the door open to his competitors, according to more than a dozen bankers, attorneys and political consultants interviewed for this story.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) accused Donald Trump of deploying “Democrat attacks” against him over his past support for changes to entitlement programs as the governor considers joining Trump in the 2024 primary, The Hill reports.

Said DeSantis: “Those are Democrat attacks, I don’t think anyone really buys that. Donald Trump himself wrote a book where he was talking about the need to increase the age of eligibility for Social Security to 70.”

ABC News obtained nearly two and a half hours of raw internal tapes of DeSantis’ 2018 debate prep sessions that have not previously been made public.”

“His comments in the videos provide a rare glimpse into how the Florida governor, who is now poised to enter the 2024 Republican primary, had previously calculated how to effectively appeal to Donald Trump’s fiercely loyal base while also working to carve out his own lane as a candidate — a balance that DeSantis may need to hone if he is to secure the party’s nomination in 2024.”

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), who has publicly criticized her party but backed it on most legislation, is trying to figure out how to be a mainstream Republican in the hard-right House GOP, the New York Times reports.

“He defined me as an independent voice in a way that I couldn’t have. I would not have won by 14 points had Donald Trump not come after me, and had I not been outspoken when Roe v. Wade was overturned.”— Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), quoted by the New York Times.

Associated Press: “As Biden, the oldest president in U.S. history, embarks on his reelection campaign, he is increasingly musing aloud about his advanced age, cracking self-deprecating jokes and framing his decades in public life as a plus, hoping to convince voters his age is an asset rather than a vulnerability. In short, he’s trying to own it.”

Bloomberg: “Harris is hitting some of her stride at a crucial moment as she and the president officially launch their reelection bid. Biden credits Black voters for his 2020 victory, with exit polls showing he carried 87% of the vote. But recent surveys reveal erosion in enthusiasm among the bloc, making it essential for Biden and Harris to bolster ties in the 18 months before the presidential election.”

“In that quest, Harris will also have to overcome some poor perceptions and low polling numbers around her time as vice president so far among the wider group of voters.”

The RNC “has floated a plan to multiple campaigns for the first debate, scheduled for August, of only allowing candidates that are polling at 1% or higher and have had at least 40,000 donors,” Time reports.

“If the committee sticks with the proposed criteria for the first debate in August, it will mark a change from the first debate of the 2016 cycle. The first GOP debate in August 2015 was split in two, with a prime-time debate for the ten candidates who averaged the highest national polling numbers, and an earlier undercard debate for candidates that didn’t make the top ten. The candidates with the lowest polling that secured a spot in prime-time were polling around 3%, according to a CNN report at the time. The RNC did not factor in a candidate’s donors in the criteria for that debate.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) “has already ruled out running for president in 2024, but he’s gearing up to be a crucial player in next year’s elections by raising millions of dollars for a pair of political action committees he will use to support Republican candidates at both the state and federal level,” NBC News reports.

“Patrick Krason, the treasurer for Kanye West’s still-active presidential campaign account, told a federal regulator he had resigned on Monday, alleging in a letter to the rapper-turned-candidate that campaign advisor Milo Yiannopoulos had possibly broken federal campaign finance law,” Politico reports.

“Yiannopoulos denied the allegation.”

“Republicans in state legislatures are working around the clock to make it harder for students to vote,” the Daily Beast reports.

Former Gov. Chris Christie (R) told The Dispatch he is planning a campaign for the Republican nomination that casts Donald Trump as a coward and his presidency as a failure.

Said Christie: “I’m not dumb. The way to win is to beat the guy that’s ahead. And so what would a campaign look like? A campaign would look like a direct, frontal challenge to Donald Trump. His presidency failed us.”

He added: “He can’t defend his record, he can’t defend his conduct, and he’s afraid to get on stage with anybody who will call him to task on it. What are we supposed to do, give him a participation trophy for the last time?”

More: “The streak of yellow down his back is visible from where I’m sitting.”

NBC News profiles new Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez:

“She has never run a campaign before, much less that of a sitting president warning that democracy is at risk of collapse. And she’s a latecomer to Biden’s inner circle. She worked on Kamala Harris’ 2020 ill-fated presidential campaign before switching to Biden after Harris dropped out.”

Said one Democratic operative: “No one in Democratic politics thinks she’s in charge. And that’s the problem.”

“Ask almost any Senate Republican, and they’ll tell you they love Tim Scott. They’re just not ready to endorse him for president,” NBC News reports.

“As the popular South Carolina Republican prepares to become the first — and likely only — GOP senator to launch a 2024 presidential bid, Senate colleagues are heaping praise on Scott as ‘terrific,’ ‘top-tier’ and ‘engaging,’ all while gingerly tip-toeing around the question of whether they will rally behind his candidacy.”

Josh Kraushaar: “It’s been a tough start to 2023 for moderates hoping for a return to normalcy in our politics.”

“For all the talk of a No Labels third-party effort, the reality is that politicians —and by extension, many of their constituents — are still in a no-compromise mood.”

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

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