The Political Report – September 5, 2023

“Donald Trump has expanded his dominating lead for the Republican presidential nomination, a new Wall Street Journal poll shows, as GOP primary voters overwhelmingly see his four criminal prosecutions as lacking merit and about half say the indictments fuel their support for him.”

“The new survey finds that what was once a two-man race for the nomination has collapsed into a lopsided contest in which Trump, for now, has no formidable challenger. The former president is the top choice of 59% of GOP primary voters, up 11 percentage points since April, when the Journal tested a slightly different field of potential and declared candidates.”

MISSISSIPPI GOVERNOR. A new Mississippi Today/Siena College poll shows incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is leading challenger Brandon Presley (D) by 11 points ahead of the November general election, 52% to 41%.

WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR. A new MetroNews West Virginia Poll finds Gov. Jim Justice (R) leading Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in a U.S. Senate race, 51% to 38% with 11% not sure.

Ron Brownstein: “Political operatives and scientists agree on one key reason Biden and Trump remain so closely paired in a potential rematch: In our polarized political era, far fewer voters than in the past are open to switching sides for any reason.”

“But more than structural ‘calcification,’ as three political scientists called this phenomenon in a recent book on the 2020 election titled The Bitter End, explains the standoff in this summer’s polls between Biden and Trump. The two men are pinioned so close together also because they are caught between the four forces that have most powerfully reshaped the electoral landscape since they first met, in the November 2020 presidential election. Two of these dynamics are benefiting Democrats; two are bolstering Republicans. Combined, these four factors appear to be largely offsetting each other, preventing either man from establishing a meaningful advantage as they proceed toward their seemingly inevitable rematch.”

Said GOP consultant Mike Madrid: “Look, anybody who thinks this is not going to be very competitive … they are not paying attention to American politics. It’s going to be close. It’s going to be close for the next 20 years.”

“The top strategist for Ron DeSantis’ super PAC privately told donors that Vivek Ramaswamy posed a threat to the Florida governor — and bragged that the super PAC was behind an avalanche of opposition research targeting the rival candidate,” Politico reports.

Said Jeff Roe: “Everything you read about him is from us. Every misstatement, every 360 he’s conducting or 180 that he is going through in life, is from our scrutiny and pressure. And so, he’s not going to go through that very well, and that will get worse for him.”

“Ron DeSantis’ supporters were thrilled last week when a poll emerged following the first primary debate showing him bouncing up 7 points in the critical first caucus state of Iowa,” Politico reports.

“The debate, they argued, had given the Florida governor the type of bump he needed to revive a sagging presidential campaign.”

“Left largely unsaid: The poll had been commissioned by a nonprofit that had hired DeSantis’ own polling firm.”

 “GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy doubled down on his comments regarding voting for former President Trump if he is the Republican nominee in 2024, even if Trump is convicted in one of his four ongoing legal battles,” The Hill reports.

Said Ramaswamy: “I do not want to see us become a ‘banana republic’ where the administrative police state uses police force to eliminate opponents from competition. That’s not the way it works.”

“Virginia voters’ choices this November will give crucial clues about the direction of the national elections next November, and about the political future of a rising Republican star: Gov. Glenn Youngkin,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Control of the state legislature is at stake, with all 140 seats in both chambers up for grabs. Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate, Republicans have an edge in the House.”

“Youngkin, while not on the ballot, is pushing hard for a GOP trifecta so he can pass a 15-week abortion limit and other conservative priorities—and so he can burnish his reputation as a Republican who can win in swing territory after his 2021 victory put him on the national map.”

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) said on Sunday he does not know if Donald Trump could beat President Biden in a hypothetical 2024 general election rematch at this point in the campaign, saying that’s one of his concerns, The Hill reports.

Said Rounds: “We don’t know. We don’t know. That’s one of the concerns that a lot of people have got – me, as well.”

He added: “It’s the reason why I think if we bring in a uniter, rather than a divider, I think we’ve got a better shot at doing what’s right for this country long term. And that’s what I want.”

Former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) told Face the Nation that he has “not closed the door” to seeking the GOP presidential nomination in 2024 on a No Labels ticket. 

Said Hogan: “If I believe that we can actually win the race, we might have to try to pull off something that’s never been done.”

He added: “I think we should only put together a ticket in the event that it’s Trump and Biden.”

“President Biden directed the Democratic National Committee this week to pour $1.2 million into Virginia legislative races to counter record-smashing fundraising by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), whose prospects as a potential last-minute presidential candidate could rise or fall with the outcome on Nov. 7,” the Washington Post reports.

“The money will bring the DNC’s contributions to the Democratic Party of Virginia this year to $1.5 million — 15 times more than it invested four years ago, the last time all 140 seats in the state Senate and House of Delegates were on the ballot.”

Washington Post: “Republican rivals of Donald Trump and their allies have run about $75 million in advertising, hosted hundreds of events, deployed small armies of door-knockers and staged a presidential debate with ratings akin to the NBA Finals.”

“But they have little to show for any of it. The former president has continued to dominate the polls while racking up 91 felony indictments in four courtrooms, campaigning less than many of his competitors, skipping the debate and repeatedly slashing popular fellow Republicans.”

“A majority of the national GOP electorate now tell pollsters they support Trump’s renomination after the first debate, up about 10 points from the spring. His closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has watched his support cut in half from the 30s in March to now approaching the rest of the single-digit field.”

“Republican presidential candidate Tim Scott has shown a new willingness to needle his rivals in recent days after his affable approach proved a mismatch for last week’s pugilistic first 2024 primary debate,” CNN reports.

“In the wake of Scott’s wallflower performance in the Republican debate in Milwaukee last week, his subtle jabs at rivals during a six-day, three-state post-debate campaign swing could signal a shift toward a more confrontational approach for a candidate who has struggled to break through.”

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

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