The Political Report – June 29, 2023

A new St. Anselm’s poll in New Hampshire finds Donald Trump has gained 5 points in the Republican presidential primary over the last three months and now sits just shy of a majority with 47%.

Meanwhile, Ron DeSantis has seen his support erode 10 points to 19%, while Chris Christie is in third place at 6%.

And while it’s early for general election match ups, President Biden would prevail in a rematch with Trump, 49% to 40%.

A new New Hampshire Journal poll finds Donald Trump crushing Ron DeSantis in the GOP presidential primary, 47% to 13%. They are followed by Chris Christie at 9%, Mike Pence at 5%, Nikki Haley at 3%, Vivek Ramaswamy at 3% and Tim Scott at 3%.

“I have to work really hard to blow this.”— Donald Trump, quoted by The Messenger, pointing to recent national and New Hampshire polls that show him with a firm lead in the race for the Republican nomination.

TRUMP 2024. “Donald Trump is leveraging his connections to loyalists in key primary states to lobby for voting rules and dates that could cement his front-runner status in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination,” Reuters reports.

“Several states adopted Trump-friendly rules in 2020 to ward off competition for the then-president, and a recent change in Michigan appears to have bolstered his advantage in the race to secure delegates who determine the party’s nominee. Now the Trump campaign is advocating for modifications in half a dozen additional states.”

Donald Trump slammed Ron DeSantis over the Florida governor’s immigration plan on Tuesday, saying during an interview aboard his plane that it was a copy of his own policy proposals, Semafor reports.

Said Trump: “Well, his plan is my plan. I mean, he’s basically copied everything I said — catch and release, finish the wall.”

NBC News: “Trump is also exploring options for counterprogramming during the first debate.”

“Trump’s absence would deprive the RNC, Fox News and GOP primary voters of the Republican Party’s most compelling — and most powerful — figure. And Trump knows he can keep attention on himself by making his appearance conditional, at best.”

Washington Post: “Facing newly combative opponents, millions of dollars worth of competing advertising and two indictments, Trump is in a dominant position in the GOP presidential race halfway through 2023. He has a wide lead on the competition, polls show. He draws enthusiastic crowds. And even some of his rival operatives acknowledge he has an unshakable grip on a sizable part of the electorate.”

“DeSantis — who once ran more competitively against Trump in the polls — doesn’t look as threatening after slipping to a distant second and then stalling out. The non-Trump vote is splintered and surveying a crowded field of alternatives, according to interviews with voters in this state and elsewhere, as well as polling of the GOP race.”

“Allies and advisers to Trump rivals say there’s plenty of time to reshape the race with debates, intensive field organizing and early state momentum. But few deny that Trump has only grown more formidable in the first half of the year while the race to displace him is more unsettled than ever.”

DESANTIS 2024. “On the campaign trail, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has attacked Donald Trump’s signature prison reform bill, calling it a ‘jailbreak bill’ and claiming it ‘allowed dangerous people out of prison who have now reoffended and really, really hurt a number of people,’” CNN reports.

“But as a congressman, DeSantis voted for a House version of the bill in May 2018 containing some of the same provisions he and his campaign now condemn.”

“Former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida are holding dueling events on Tuesday in New Hampshire, but from vastly different political positions: one as the dominant front-runner in the state, the other still seeking his footing,” the New York Times reports.

“Strategists for both campaigns agree that the state will play a starring role in deciding who leads the Republican Party into the 2024 election against President Biden.”

“Mr. Trump sees the first primary contest in New Hampshire as an early chance to clear the crowded field of rivals. And members of Team DeSantis — some of whom watched from losing sidelines, as Mr. Trump romped through the Granite State in 2016 on his way to the nomination — hope New Hampshire will be the primary that winnows the Republican field to two.”

“At his first town-hall event in New Hampshire, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida talked on Tuesday about illegal immigration in Texas, crime in Chicago, disorder on the streets of San Francisco and the wonders of nearly every aspect of Florida — a state he mentioned about 80 times,” the New York Times reports.

“Roughly an hour into the event, Mr. DeSantis finally got around to saying ‘New Hampshire.’”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fielded unscripted questions from voters during an open forum here Tuesday — a New Hampshire tradition that the Republican presidential candidate was criticized for avoiding the last time he visited,” NBC News reports.

“By submitting himself to the town hall-style format, DeSantis also found himself pressed on two subjects he ordinarily avoids talking about in great detail: abortion and former President Donald Trump, who, according to polls, has a commanding lead in the first-in-the-nation primary state.”

BIDEN 2024. Michael Tomasky: “This is a key point that has to do with a core difference between liberals and conservatives. Liberals have a list of 50 things they want government to do, and they want those things done fast and to completion. Conservatives have a list of about two things they want government to do: Cut taxes, and punish people they disapprove of morally. For a presidential administration, satisfying that first group is a lot harder than satisfying the second.”

“So people will complain. That’s fine and proper for, say, The New Republic; where I see Biden falling short, I’ll say so, and my colleagues whose views are different from mine will make their criticisms as well. That’s the role of the press.”

“But the role of Democrats is different. They need to understand: Joe Biden is going to be the nominee (barring of course some major health issue in the next few months). He’s the most accomplished president since Lyndon Johnson, and without the immoral war.”

MCCARTHY ANGERS TRUMP. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he does not know if Donald Trump is the “strongest” Republican candidate to compete against President Biden in 2024, CNBC reports. Said McCarthy: “Can he win that election? Yeah he can. The question is, is he the strongest to win the election? I don’t know that answer.”

“The remarks offered a rare lapse in McCarthy’s usually firm posture of support for Trump. McCarthy leads a narrow House Republican majority that includes sizeable factions loyal to the former president.”

McCarthy’s comments about Donald Trump’s electability — and his subsequent attempt to walk them back — haven’t calmed the “fury” in Trump’s inner circle, Politico reports. “This morning, we can report that none of these moves have assuaged the fury in Trump’s inner circle. McCarthy, they feel, has taken advantage of the former president when it benefits him and failed to show unflinching loyalty in return. They don’t understand how he could ‘misspeak’ — as McCarthy, we’re told, put it to Trump — on something so critical.”

“In fact, McCarthy’s damage control made things worse.” Said one GOP consultant: “If Donald Trump wanted… he could have him out as speaker by the end of the week.”

CHENEY 2024. Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) said she will avoid taking any steps that could help Donald Trump in his quest to return to the White House, the HuffPost reports.

Said Cheney: ”I’m not going to do anything that helps Donald Trump.”

She added: “The way I’m thinking about where we are and what has to be done is much less about what should I do in terms of am I going to be a candidate or not and much more about stopping Donald Trump whatever that takes.”

Doug Sosnik: “Trump can’t win without a third-party candidate dividing the anti-Trump vote. With the exception of winning Georgia in 2016 with 50.77% of the vote, Trump never reached 50% in any of the competitive states that determined the outcome of the last two presidential elections.”

SCOTT 2024. NBC News: “He gets support from just 3% of Republicans as their first choice in the GOP presidential primary, according to the latest national NBC News poll. But that’s just part of the picture: The number of GOP voters who see Scott as their second-choice candidate has risen sharply — more than any other Republican candidate polled by NBC News from April to June.”

“In June, 12% of those polled said the same, a 9-point increase over the 3% who said so in April.”

CHRISTIE 2024. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) mocked Donald Trump for Trump’s recent quips about his weight, Politico reports.

Said Christie: “Oh, like he’s some Adonis?”

He added: “Here’s my message to him: I don’t care what he says about me, and I don’t care what he thinks about me, and he should take a look in the mirror every once in a while — maybe he’d drop the weight thing off of his list of criticisms.”

“He’s the cheapest S.O.B. I’ve ever met in my life. What Donald Trump is good at is spending other people’s money.”— Chris Christie, quoted by Politico, on Donald Trump diverting campaign funds to a PAC to pay his legal bIlls.

Politico: “The hottest club in GOP politics right now is the party’s presidential primary. The calculus of every longshot is that anything could happen. And the likely, worst-case scenario? It isn’t that bad at all.”

REDISTRICTING. In a landmark decision Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected a radical legal theory advanced by North Carolina Republicans that sought to remove limits set by state constitutions on state legislatures when lawmakers enact bills and set policies governing federal elections. Had the court’s right-wing supermajority accepted this argument, it would have enabled a new wave of GOP congressional gerrymandering and voter suppression measures in key states ahead of the 2024 elections.

Debating the meaning of the word “legislature.” The Constitution says that each state’s legislature has the power to set federal election laws unless Congress overrides them. Republicans claimed this means only the literal legislature, but a mountain of historical evidence showed that the framers meant all state institutions with the power to shape laws, including state courts.

Making legislatures supreme above their own state constitutions. Republicans wanted to bar state courts like North Carolina’s from striking down gerrymandered maps under their state constitutions. But taken to its logical extreme, this legal theory could have also removed governors’ veto power and voters’ ability to use ballot initiatives to enact fairer election laws.

A potential “time bomb” for future election disputes remains. Despite rejecting the GOP’s claims, the court reserved the power to intervene in unspecified future instances should it conclude that a state court has deviated too far from established state law. Experts, however, are divided on just how much of a new threat this possibility poses.

OREGON BALLOT REFERENDUMS. Oregon’s Democratic-led legislature has placed a measure on the ballot next year that will ask voters whether to reform their electoral system by adopting ranked-choice voting for federal and statewide offices. Lawmakers also put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would finally empower the legislature to impeach and remove statewide officials for misconduct.

Minimizing the spoiler problem. The ranked-choice voting reform proposed here primarily aims to avoid letting one candidate win with a plurality only because other candidates split a majority of the vote. Democrat Tina Kotek only beat her GOP opponent 47-44 in last year’s race for governor, with a former Democrat taking 9% as an independent. That close call may have spurred Democrats to push for ranked-choice voting.

Ranked-choice voting has been growing in popularity. Voters last year in Oregon’s largest city, Portland, passed variants of the system for mayoral and city council elections, as have some other jurisdictions around the state. This new ballot measure also marks the first time that any state’s legislature has led the way to adopt ranked-choice voting for federal or state elections.   

The last state without an impeachment process. Oregon is the only remaining state where legislators lack the power to impeach and remove officials such as the governor. This situation threatened to cause major problems twice in the last decade when a former governor and secretary of state became embroiled in scandals, and a crisis was avoided only because both voluntarily resigned.

VIRGINIA STATE SENATE. Del. Elizabeth Guzman on Saturday conceded the June 20 Democratic primary to state Sen. Jeremy McPike, who narrowly secured renomination in Northern Virginia’s dark blue 29th District. McPike leads 50.2-49.8―a margin of 53 votes―with almost all ballots counted; Stafford County officials will finish their work Monday, but there don’t appear to be enough untabulated ballots to change the outcome. Guzman had the option to ask for a state-funded recount, but she chose not to.

BRONX & QUEENS DISTRICT ATTORNEYS. Tuesday’s Democratic primaries ended in landslide wins for the district attorneys seeking reelection in dark blue boroughs. The Bronx’s Darcel Clark defeated civil rights attorney Tess Cohen, who was running to her left, 73-27. Queens’ Melinda Katz likewise scored a 71-14 victory over former local judge George Grasso, who positioned himself to her right; another 14% went to Devian Daniels, a defense attorney who doesn’t appear to have waged an organized campaign.

“Ronald Reagan’s ‘11th commandment’ famously counseled Republicans not to speak ill of one another. Early 2024 GOP primary advertising suggests Donald Trump and his allies didn’t get the memo,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Super PACs for the former president and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the two top-polling candidates in the GOP race so far, are spending millions to get their messages to the primary electorate.”

“The bulk of that advertising has been focused on DeSantis, with none of the super PAC’s ads rated as positive in tone by AdImpact. More than half—53%—of MAGA Inc. airings on broadcast and cable TV were negative in tone, with the rest rated as contrasting in nature.”

OHIO BALLOT REFERENDUMS. The campaign to defeat the Republican-backed constitutional amendment to require 60% voter approval to pass future amendments is up with the first TV ad of the Aug. 8 special election, and’s Andrew Tobias says it’s part of a weeklong $1.1 million TV and radio buy.

The inaugural spot dramatically depicts a pair of scissors embossed with the words “Issue 1” slicing apart the state constitution as the narrator warns it would “end majority rule in Ohio, undermining the sacred principle of one person, one vote.” (Not coincidentally, the commercial is being aired by a group called One Person One Vote.) The ad continues by declaring that a win for Issue 1 would give “corrupt politicians and special interests more control.” Tobias notes that opponents of a comparable 2022 proposal in Arkansas deployed similar messaging in their winning effort, though those ads showed arson consuming the state’s governing document.

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

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