The Political Report – August 27, 2023

A new Politico Magazine/Ipsos poll finds that 61% of Americans feel Donald Trump should stand trial for the federal 2020 election subversion case before the Republican primaries in early 2024 or before the general election in November 2024.

In addition, 59% agree that the Justice Department’s decision to indict Trump “was based on a fair evaluation of the evidence and the law.”

A new Navigator Research poll finds that — by a whopping 62% to 30% margin — most Americans think Donald Trump has committed a crime. Independent voters are even more sure and think Trump is guilty by 67% to 18%.

However, the public is split evenly on whether they believe Trump will ultimately be convicted, 42% to 41%. While that’s a net 7-point shift from two weeks ago, it’s important to note how skeptical people are across party lines that he’ll actually be held accountable.

That suggests the political impact of an actual Trump conviction are probably not factored into the polling of the 2024 presidential race. The nightmare scenario for Republicans up and down the ballot — especially since so many seem fine with voting for Trump in any scenario — is that he’s convicted next summer after winning the GOP nomination and his poll numbers tank.

A new Politico/Ipsos poll finds Donald Trump’s cascading indictments are likely to take a toll on his general election prospects.

“The survey results suggest Americans are taking the cases seriously — particularly the Justice Department’s 2020 election case — and that most people are skeptical of Trump’s claim to be the victim of a legally baseless witch hunt or an elaborate, multi-jurisdictional effort to ‘weaponize’ law enforcement authorities against him.”

A new Washington Post/FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll finds 29% of debate viewers thought Gov. Ron DeSantis came out on top, followed by Vivek Ramaswamy at 26%, Nikki Haley at 15% and Mike Pence at 7%.

“The findings may be surprising because DeSantis generally stayed above the fray in a raucous debate, though Ramaswamy received and delivered lots of barbs.”

Navigator Research survey of Wisconsin independent voters found that 45% of those who watched the GOP debate thought Nikki Haley won, followed by Ron DeSantis at 24% and every other candidate in single digits.

Her favorability rating shot up from 61% to 85%.

Also interesting: 55% of Wisconsin independents fear Donald Trump as the nominee.

“The Republican Party will host its 2028 convention in Houston,” Politico reports. “The Republican National Committee’s selection of a 2028 convention site comes a full year before the GOP holds its 2024 nominating event.”

Their 2024 convention is in Milwaukee. The Democratic 2024 convention is in Chicago.

HALEY 2024. Nikki Haley told Fox News that Donald Trump can’t win the presidency in 2024.

Said Haley: “He’s going to spend more time in a courtroom than he’s going to spend on the campaign trail… He’s the most disliked politician in all of America. That’s reality. And that person can’t win a general election.”

“After her well-received debate showing, Nikki Haley’s campaign worked the phones, collected checks from donors and raised more online in the last 24 hours than on any day since the campaign started,” the Washington Post reports.

DESANTIS 2024. Politico: “Once viewed as a near-singular alternative to Trump, the Florida governor had been floundering for weeks, laying off staff and falling back in public opinion polls. But then came this week’s debate, and the re-focusing of the contest on Trump a day later.”

“No longer Trump vs. DeSantis, the Republican primary is quickly reverting to Trump vs. everyone else.”

“Supporters of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plan to buy at least $25 million in television advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire between Labor Day and Halloween, hoping to reverse his summer slide in the polls after a strong first debate performance,” the Washington Post reports.

RAMASWAMY 2024. “Vivek Ramaswamy has described himself as an ‘outsider,’ accusing rivals for the Republican presidential nomination of being ‘bought and paid for’ by donors and special interests,” The Guardian reports.

“But the 38-year-old Ohio-based venture capitalist, whose sharp-elbowed and angry display stood out in the first Republican debate this week, has his own close ties to influential figures from both sides of the political aisle.”

“Prominent among such connections are Peter Thiel, the co-founder of tech giants PayPal and Palantir and a rightwing megadonor, and Leonard Leo, the activist who has marshaled unprecedented sums in his push to stock federal courts with conservative judges.”

President Biden’s reelection campaign released a new TV ad targeting Republicans’ views on abortion rights, NBC News reports.

“The advertisement features a series of Republicans discussing the end of Roe v. Wade and calling for national limits on abortion. … It will run online and in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.”

“Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said the discussion about abortion during Wednesday’s Republican debate was part of an important path forward for the party,” Politico reports.

Said McDaniel: “I was very pleased to see them talk about abortion. Democrats used that in 2022… If our candidates aren’t able to fend a response and put out a response, we’re not going to win. They’re going to do it again in 2024. And I thought all of them did a really good job on that.”

Last night’s debate confirmed what Democrats already suspected: Abortion will be a big issue in the 2024 campaign.

The candidates on stage last night haven’t figured out a position that resonates beyond the average Republican primary voter.

Despite every poll showing Republicans on the opposite side of the majority of Americans, several candidates — including Mike Pence, Tim Scott and Asa Hutchinson — firmly endorsed a 15-week federal ban on abortion.

Ron DeSantis danced around the issue without actually taking a position on a federal ban.

Nikki Haley called herself “unapologetically pro-life” but cautioned that a national abortion ban was not politically possible because Republicans do not have the 60 votes needed to pass it in the Senate.

Only Doug Bergum, who celebrated his own signing a 6-week abortion ban in North Dakota, insisted the abortion issue should be left to the states.

And of course, Donald Trump, who didn’t show up for the debate, can take no cover since he’s the one ultimately responsible for appointing the Supreme Court justices that ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade.

Without a unifying position, abortion will come back to haunt the eventual Republican nominee in the general election.

MISSOURI GOVERNOR. Businessman Mike Hamra, whose eponymous company operates almost 200 restaurants nationwide, tells the St. Louis Business Journal that he’ll decide “in the upcoming weeks” if he’ll join state House Minority Leader Crystal Quade in the Democratic primary.

INDIANA U.S. SENATOR. Wealthy egg farmer John Rust’s already difficult campaign for the GOP nod received some potentially terminal news Tuesday when Jackson County party head Amanda Lowery told’s Kayla Dwyer she wouldn’t sign off on paperwork certifying that he’s a Republican. Lowery insisted this was “nothing personal” against Rust because she also won’t be taking this step for anyone else who didn’t meet the state’s requirements for competing in primaries.

Rust, who would be the first gay Republican to serve in the upper chamber, is in this predicament because the state only allows candidates to run with the party they belong to, and the easiest way for Hoosiers to establish party affiliation is to cast their two most recent primary votes in that side’s nomination contests. (There is no party registration in Indiana.) But while Rust most recently participated in the 2016 GOP primary, his prior vote was in the 2012 Democratic race. Candidates can get an exemption if their local party chair certifies that they belong to the party, but Lowery made it clear she won’t be doing that.

Rust says he’ll continue his campaign to deny the GOP nod to Rep. Jim Banks, the frontrunner he castigated as a “career politician,” but it’s not clear what options he has. Dwyer writes that he’s “looking into a path around the statute,” but Rust wouldn’t say what options he was thinking of pursuing. He’ll eventually need to think of a strategy, though, because Dwyer says that Banks already plans to formally challenge his right to seek the Republican nomination.

ARIZONA U.S. SENATOR. Republican Kari Lake told The Hill Wednesday that she would decide “by the end of the year” if she’d run for the Senate, though Arizona’s not-governor also evaded answering when she was repeatedly asked if she was interested in serving as Donald Trump’s running mate. Axios reported weeks ago that Lake was “staffing up for a Senate campaign in anticipation of an October launch.”

NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR and SUPREME COURT. Retiring Democratic Justice Mike Morgan said Thursday that he would resign in the first week of September rather than serve out the remaining 16 months of his term on North Carolina’s Supreme Court, a development that could give his party a better chance to defend this crucial seat next year. We may see Morgan’s name on the 2024 ballot anyway, though, as his announcement came two months after he unexpectedly expressed interest in running for governor.

First, though, it’s up to the state’s current chief executive, termed-limited Democrat Roy Cooper, to appoint a new justice to succeed Morgan on the seven-member body. Cooper’s choice does not need to be confirmed by the GOP-dominated legislature, and they’ll be able to run for a full eight-year term as an incumbent.

The News & Observer’s Lars Dolder mentions four state Court of Appeals judges―John Arrowood, Allegra Collins, Toby Hampson, and Allison Riggs―as possible picks. Dolder also speculates that former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who lost reelection to the court by just 401 votes in 2020 and was the party’s unsuccessful 2022 nominee for U.S. Senate against Republican Ted Budd, could also be considered.

Democrats will want the eventual appointee to be able to quickly organize a strong statewide campaign because the party needs to hold this seat in November of 2024 as part of a multi-cycle plan that represents their only realistic path toward rolling back the GOP’s iron grip on state politics. Republicans last year flipped two Supreme Court seats to turn what had been a 4-3 Democratic edge into a 5-2 GOP majority, and Democrats have little room for error if they’re to regain control in the next several years. To take a 4-3 majority, Democrats would need to win four of the next five races, which include Morgan’s seat in 2024, fellow Democratic Justice Anita Earls in 2026, and three Republican-held seats in 2028.

It’s also critical that Democrats prevail in next year’s race to succeed Cooper in order to stop Republican legislators from adding two seats to the court for a GOP governor to fill, which they’ve been contemplating for years. A Democratic governor could also fill any other vacancies that arise, including in 2027 when Republican Chief Justice Paul Newby hits the mandatory retirement age of 72 (Newby’s seat will be up in 2028 regardless).

For most of the year it looked all-but-certain that Attorney General Josh Stein would be the party’s nominee for governor, but Morgan himself said two months ago he was also thinking about waging his own campaign for the top job. Morgan, who would be North Carolina’s first Black chief executive, wouldn’t tell Dolder if his early departure means that he’s about to run.

“I don’t want to allow my focus to be so distracted by anything personally about what my plans may be that I take my focus away from making sure I leave the court in the best situation,” said the outgoing justice. “So I’m not fully prepared to talk about what I shall be doing, but soon after I leave the court I can more directly focus on myself.” The Tar Heel State’s candidate filing deadline is Dec. 15, so we’ll know what Morgan’s doing within a few months.

MAINE 2ND DISTRICT. Republican state Rep. Mike Soboleski told the conservative Maine Wire this week that he’s interested in challenging Democratic Rep. Jared Golden for this 52-46 Trump constituency in the northern part of the state. The state representative, who was elected to his first term representing a conservative seat months after he won his primary by 5 votes, did not say when he expects to make a decision; Soboleski is a Marine veteran, a distinction he shares with his would-be opponent.

The only notable Republican who has announced a bid so far is Robert Cross, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nod for a state Senate seat last year, but he finished June with barely more than $30,000 banked. State Rep. Laurel Libby, who is one of the most prominent hardliners in the legislature, didn’t rule out her own bid in March, and the Bangor Daily News writes that she remains the “focus of the most speculation in Republican circles.” Golden, for his part, finished the second quarter with $610,000 on hand.

RHODE ISLAND 1ST DISTRICT. WPRI’s Ted Nesi reported Wednesday night that Williams College told businessman Don Carlson in 2019 that he wouldn’t be allowed to teach there again, a decision Nesi says occurred “after administrators were alerted to an overture he made to a student.”

Carlson, who is now competing in the Sept. 5 special Democratic primary, had been serving as a temporary economics instructor when, according to WPRI, a second student notified the school about what they felt was unacceptable conduct by Carlson towards their classmate. While there was never a complaint through Title IX, the federal act that outlaws sexual harassment in schools that receive federal assistance, Williams reportedly told Carlson he wouldn’t be returning.

Nesi writes that Carlson’s team would not discuss the allegations on the record until Tuesday when the campaign said, “WPRI has repeatedly refused to provide the campaign with the specifics of each of the allegations it intends to report, and we’re not going to respond to rumors and unnamed third-party sources. WPRI has an ethical duty to Don and the voters to provide us with specific assertions and the basis for those assertions that it intends to air so we can have the opportunity to address them.” (WPRI says its discoveries “had been laid out in detail to the campaign the prior week.)

Nesi continues that a Carlson attorney soon unsuccessfully tried to convince the station not to run the story because there was no “formal Title IX complaint, a formal investigation, or any formal findings of wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Carlson.” Williams, for its part, would not address Carlson’s time as an instructor, saying, “While we can’t comment on specific personnel matters, we want anyone who has experienced sexual harassment or unwanted attention at Williams to know that you can contact our Title IX office and you’ll have our full support.”

The story comes less than two weeks before a crowded and unpredictable primary, and we got our first survey of the contest since last month on Wednesday when former Biden administration official Gabe Amo publicized a week-old Blueprint Polling internal. The survey shows former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg leading Amo 28-19 as two other candidates, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos and state Sen. Sandra Cano, take 11% each.

Carlson is further back with 8% as another 15% are undecided, while the remaining respondents selected “another candidate not mentioned here.” (A total of 12 people are on next month’s ballot.) The memo argues that, while Amo is trailing, “[I]t is clear that Gabe is the only chance at beating Regunberg.”

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

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