The Political Report – July 13, 2023

The latest Morning Consult tracking poll finds Donald Trump crushing Ron DeSantis among Republican primary voters nationally, 56% to 17%.

Also interesting: “Chris Christie, who’s spent much of his time on the campaign trail criticizing Trump, has an enormous popularity disadvantage. Almost half of potential GOP primary voters (46%) hold unfavorable views of the former New Jersey governor, compared with 26% who view him favorably. He has 3% support against the other candidates.”

Seth Masket: “Trump’s support continued to increase. Roughly twice as many county party chairs are now committed to Trump as to DeSantis, and no other candidates have really broken through.”

“The one non-Trump, non-DeSantis contender who saw a real bit of movement in my survey is South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.”

Washington Post: “But the attacks so far do not appear to have diminished Trump’s front-runner status, according to interviews with GOP voters attending early campaign events, and with lawmakers and strategists, as well as a review of polling.”

“With just over six months until the first nominating contest, here in Iowa, Trump holds a wide advantage in national surveys over a crowded field as his critics nervously confront the absence of a potent political argument against him — or a consensus on deploying one.”

DESANTIS 2024. “Less than two months into Ron DeSantis’ declared run for president, his most important backers in conservative media are already starting to lose faith,” Rolling Stone reports.

“Since the beginning of the Biden presidency, the powerful Murdoch family has favored the Florida governor in the 2024 presidential primary, largely due to a conviction that DeSantis would be a more electable, and less chaotic, evolution from Donald Trump. But in recent weeks, the Murdochs have grown increasingly displeased with the DeSantis campaign’s perceived stumbles, lackluster polling, and inability to swiftly dethrone Trump… They have also seriously questioned whether the governor is capable of defeating Trump in the 2024 GOP presidential primary.”

Said one Fox insider: “They are transactional and can smell a loser a mile away.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he would not be former President Donald Trump’s running mate if given the opportunity to join him on the ticket,” NBC News reports. Said DeSantis: “I don’t think so. I’m not a No. 2 guy.”

Miami Herald: “Some of his plans match what Trump has already proposed, and others echo what he already did as president. It’s a particular challenge for DeSantis, whose substance-heavy pitch to voters relies more on policy than most Republican candidates.”

New York Times: “Over the last week, he has confronted noticeably tougher questions in interviews with two of the network’s hosts, Will Cain and Maria Bartiromo, who pressed him on his anemic poll numbers and early campaign struggles. It was a striking shift for a network that for years has offered Mr. DeSantis a safe space as a congressman and a governor.”

“Other outlets in Mr. Murdoch’s media empire have also been slightly less friendly of late.”

Edward Luce: “It was often said that when Bill Clinton walked into a room, each person thought he noticed them in particular. Clinton was the ultimate retail politician: he liked people and they knew it. When Ron DeSantis shows up, even those who want to support him feel that he harbors a special dislike for them. Being a black hole in terms of charisma is not automatically fatal to a candidate’s prospects. When your target is the diabolically charismatic Donald Trump, however, you are working at a big disadvantage.”

“The story of how DeSantis went from being the favorite, or near-favorite, Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential race to America’s most rapidly falling meteor in years, tells us a lot about the mindset of US conservatism.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) told Fox News that the Trump administration’s agencies “colluded” with technology companies to censor a story involving the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop left at a Delaware repair shop.

Said DeSantis: “I look back at the Hunter Biden censorship, which was a huge, huge deal to happen in the 2020 election, and yet those were Donald Trump’s own agencies that were colluding with Big Tech.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ campaign is in trouble. He’s trailing badly in national polls as well as those in the early states of IowaNew HampshireSouth Carolina and Nevada.  He’s even getting beat in his home state of Florida.

That’s why DeSantis is already looking to target the 14 Super Tuesday states.  It’s not a bad move — at least on paper — when you consider the four early-voting states account for just 138 of the 2,467 Republican delegates to the convention — less than 6%. Meanwhile, the Super Tuesday states on March 5 account for nearly one-quarter of all the delegates.

Furthermore, DeSantis doesn’t appear short on cash to wage a long campaign.  Unfortunately, modern political campaigns don’t really allow you to do poorly in the early states. You quickly get written off as a loser by the news media and any progress you made in the later states fades pretty quickly.

The other problem for DeSantis is that he’s not the only GOP primary candidate with money. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) has a big war chest and a super PAC that’s being bankrolled by tech billionaire Larry Ellison. Scott should be able to stay in the race as long as he wants.   We saw a similar strategy in 2020 when Michael Bloomberg thought he could skip the early states entirely and spend nearly $1 billion on the later states.  The only primary he won was Guam.

There’s certainly a scenario where Donald Trump’s campaign sags under the weight of multiple indictments and it pays to be the last challenger standing.   But if it hasn’t happened after more than 70 criminal charges, it’s not clear it will ever happen.

Wall Street Journal: “GOP pollster Whit Ayres said DeSantis lacks a team that has worked with him before in a close election. Key strategists who helped with his first bid for governor in 2018 are no longer with him—one of them, Susie Wiles, is now a top Trump campaign aide—while his 2022 re-election was a 19-point blowout.”

Said Ayres: “Politics is a team sport, especially at this level. There is no team that has been with him through thick and thin.”

2Q FUNDRAISING. The Minnesota Republican party has just $53 cash on hand, according to FEC filings.

Playbook: “On the fundraising front, there is more evidence of a campaign losing momentum. DeSantis raised $20 million in Q2 despite only being a candidate for six weeks of the reporting period. That’s a figure well behind Trump’s $35 million, but likely substantially ahead of every other Republican candidate.”

“But dig into that figure: The $20 million includes an impressive $8.2 million on his first day as a candidate. Which means that after Day One, he raised an average of just over $300,000 a day for the next 36 days of the fundraising quarter.”

“We won’t know how quickly things slowed down until official numbers are released in a week, but clearly there was a significant dropoff.”

TRUMP 2024. “What the hell is a ‘Blizzard’?”— Donald Trump, visiting a Dairy Queen in Iowa.

Every member of the Michigan Republican congressional delegation is endorsing former President Trump for the White House in 2024, Fox News reports.

Donald Trump accused Gov. Ron DeSantis of illegally transferring funds from a prior gubernatorial race to his presidential campaign.

Said Trump: “Ron DeSanctimonious is desperately trying to get out of the Presidential race, while at the same time saving face for 2028, where he has been greatly damaged. Jeff Roe, Ron’s boss despite having a terrible record of winning, is spending money like a wild man gone bad. Much of the money being used was raised for his Gubernatorial race, and transferred over (illegally?) because his Presidential donors have largely fled do [sic] to his terrible, and still falling, poll numbers. Ron is just wasting time!”

A mailing sent to some Iowa households over the weekend purports to thank Donald Trump “for standing up for LGBTQ+ rights!,” Bleeding Heartland reports.

The mailer claims that Trump “stood up for MARRIAGE EQUALITY and TRANS RIGHTS” and encourages recipients to “tell him to keep fighting for LGBTQ rights!”

“A new super PAC aligned with the conservative Club for Growth is speaking directly to Donald Trump’s supporters in a $3.6 million advertising campaign, questioning his electability and telling Republicans they need a candidate who can attract voters to win a general election,” Bloomberg reports.

“The 60-second ad features a former Trump supporter named John sitting on his front porch steps and describing Trump as a losing bet for Republicans.”

Donald Trump criticized Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for not endorsing in the Republican presidential primary — even though she recently appeared with Gov. Ron DeSantis at an event in her state.

Trump claimed that he “opened up the Governor position for Kim Reynolds, & when she fell behind, I ENDORSED her, did big Rallies, & she won.”

He added: “Now, she wants to remain ‘NEUTRAL.’ I don’t invite her to events! DeSanctus down 45 points!”

“I think I won the last time. I think I won both times by a lot. This is a state that is disgraceful.”— Donald Trump, courting voters in an interview with the Nevada Globe.

“Iowa Republicans voted Saturday to hold their first-in-the-nation caucuses on January 15 next year, setting up the earliest start of the presidential nominating process since 2012, when caucusgoers gathered on January 3,” CNN reports.

Politico: “The dates are far from official, since the other three early states remain in flux. But the most likely scenario is now a historically lengthy runup to the notoriously rough-and-tumble South Carolina primary, raising the stakes even higher for competing there.”

“That could turn the state into a make-or-break for favorite son and daughter candidates Sen. Tim Scott and former Gov. Nikki Haley. It also ups the ante for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.”

“Iowa may be the most important state on Donald Trump’s early 2024 political calendar, but he hasn’t been making many friends there lately,” the New York Times reports.

“He lashed out at Iowa’s popular Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, and then his campaign informed one of the state’s politically influential evangelical leaders, Bob Vander Plaats, that the former president would skip a gathering of presidential candidates this week in Des Moines.”

“The back-to-back moves on Monday — which the campaign of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida labeled a ‘snub of Iowa conservatives’ in an email on Tuesday — show the extent to which Mr. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, acts as if he is immune to traditional political pitfalls while he is also under indictment and his rivals are seeking to capitalize on some voters’ fatigue with his antics.”

“The present-day Republican Party can best be understood as the result of an arduous, years-long effort to deal with the situation Donald Trump has thrust upon it. But for many in the party, that situation also has presented huge opportunities for advancement,” the Washington Post reports.

“And perhaps no prize is as big as becoming Trump’s running mate — a position for which, you might have heard, there is a vacancy.”

New York Times: “The Republican candidate for president makes a pitch that the faiths have much in common, but for many religious conservatives, the difference is a hurdle.”

Failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R) railed against the media, denying that her relationship with Donald Trump has waned, the Daily Beast reports.

Said Lake: “I know they just make things up from scratch. Nothing is true. They attack the people who are exposing the truth… When they attack me, it makes me feel good.”

“Republicans are divided over whether former President Trump should show up at the first Republican presidential debate scheduled for Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, with some warning it would be a bad look for their party if Trump skips it,” The Hill reports.

“Some Republicans think Trump is holding off on committing to the debate to exert leverage over the rules and tickets to the event.”

Jonathan Bernstein: “With the first Republican presidential debate scheduled for Aug. 23 rapidly approaching, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the institutions and practices for choosing presidential nominees are a terrible fit for the choices the party has to make.”

“This is perhaps easiest to see in the loyalty pledge that the Republican National Committee is requiring candidates make in order to participate in the debates. The pledge to support whoever wins the nomination has already meant that Trump critic Will Hurd apparently won’t be allowed to participate. It also puts any other anti-Trump candidate, such as former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, in the nonsensical position of arguing that Trump is unfit for the office, yet he would still support the former president should he be nominated.”

“Indeed, the pledge institutionalizes as the Republican Party’s official position that neither attempting to overturn an election nor being indicted for multiple felonies is disqualifying for the presidency and that anyone who believes otherwise will be cut off from party leadership.”

BIDEN 2024. “In 2020, Joe Biden scored a narrow Electoral College victory with a decisive assist from young voters. But as the president looks beyond his first term, many young voters are not satisfied, presenting a fresh challenge as he heads into a likely rematch with former President Donald Trump in 2024,” NBC News reports.

“Biden faces little risk of losing young Americans to Trump, who is far less popular among Gen Z and millennial voters. But can the president harness their anger to turn out and push him over the top? Or will their lack of perceived progress cause them to stay home, making way for a Trump victory next year?”

“Democrats are hoping to harness anger over the Supreme Court’s student loan debt ruling to galvanize younger voters in 2024, a demographic that helped the party earn critical victories in the midterms,” The Hill reports.

“The court’s decision last week blocked President Biden’s debt forgiveness program and left many dispirited and without options or optimism for paying back their mounting school debt.”

NO LABELS 2024. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) “is headed to New Hampshire next week for an event with No Labels as the group looks to run a third-party candidate in next year’s presidential election and frantic Democrats are trying to stop it out of fears it could siphon off votes from Joe Biden to hand Donald Trump a victory,” the Daily Mail reports.

“Manchin, a former honorary co-chair of the group, will be the headliner of the gathering along with former Republican Governor of Utah Jon Huntsman at the townhall meeting, which will take place Monday, July 17th, at Saint Anselm’s College in Manchester.”

Former House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt is planning to launch a new bipartisan group to oppose the No Labels third-party presidential effort, the Washington Post reports.

The new group has private polling showing that a generic “moderate, independent third-party candidate” would pull more votes away from President Biden than former president Donald Trump, all but assuring the Republican wins back the White House.

WEST 2024. “Cornel West’s third-party presidential campaign is stirring up unpleasant flashbacks to 2016 for members of the Democratic Party, some of whom are starting to grow anxious about the effect it could have on President Biden’s reelection,” The Hill reports.

HALEY 2024. “Nikki Haley raked in $26 million in the second quarter, including $7.3 million in direct donations, demonstrating support from donors, despite persistently low poll numbers,” Bloomberg reports.

“The super PAC supporting Haley, Stand For America Fund Inc., raised $18.7 million from April through June, bringing her overall total to $26 million.”

New York Times: “Ms. Haley downplayed concerns about her standing in the primary. It’s early in the race, she said, and many voters have yet to tune in to the campaigns.”

Associated Press: “A string of California House districts has proved volatile in recent elections, spotlighting their importance to both parties as they look to control the chamber. Democrats snatched seven seats from Republicans in 2018, then Republicans seized four from Democrats in 2020.”

Roll Call: “One of the first rules when choosing a launch date is to announce at the beginning of a quarter. Campaigns understand the importance of fundraising and the media judges candidates based on their quarterly numbers, so candidates often announce their campaigns in early January, April, July or October to have as close to three full months to raise money as possible.”

“Candidates want to maximize exposure for their announcements, so announcing early in the week is an opportunity to have multiple days of media coverage of interviews and related events, ads and other activities.”

“Avoiding major holidays is preferable as well.”

BURGUM 2024. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) appears to be paying people $20 in gift cards to donate as little as $1 to his presidential campaign.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) “announced on Tuesday a new effort in his state designed to encourage Republicans and swing voters to vote absentee by mail or early in-person,” NBC News reports.

“The program — called Secure Your Vote Virginia — makes Youngkin the latest in a growing list of Republicans to push early voting, after the party endured a disappointing 2022 midterm cycle. It also follows a multi-year attack on early and mail-in voting by former President Donald Trump and many of his allies.”

The Messenger: “In a tweet, Blaze Media said the event will take place July 14 and will be live-streamed on BlazeTV and their YouTube channel.”

“Five GOP candidates currently in the race – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, sitting U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, and former Vice President Mike Pence – will be attending. Most notably missing from the lineup is former Tucker Carlson favorite Donald Trump.”

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

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