The Political Report – September 23, 2023

“Donald Trump is facing sharp blowback from some antiabortion activists and conservative governors, including his top challenger in the Republican presidential primary, reflecting the intraparty divisions over an issue the GOP has struggled to navigate since Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer,” the Washington Post reports.

“The tensions center on Trump’s recent comments disparaging an abortion ban after six weeks of pregnancy and pledging to work with ‘both sides’ on a federal ban, though abortion rights advocates staunchly oppose such a restriction.”

“Donald Trump on Wednesday warned supporters at a rally in Iowa that they risk losing elections without backing exceptions to abortion bans,” The Messenger reports.

Said Trump: “Without the exceptions, it is very difficult to win elections. We would probably lose majorities in 2024 without the exceptions, and perhaps the presidency itself.”

He added that Republicans should learn how to “properly talk about abortion.”

Associated Press: “For those on either side of the debate, Virginia — where all state House and Senate seats are up for election and early voting begins Friday — is among the biggest fights this year over abortion rights. The Commonwealth’s odd-year elections are often an indicator of the national mood heading into major election years and offer both parties a chance to test campaign strategies, messaging and policy ahead of 2024 contests for president, Congress and other offices.”

“Democrats are banking on abortion rights to be a winning issue, just as it was in the 2022 midterms and in earlier contests this year in Virginia and elsewhere.”

Josh Marshall: “Democrats should be happy to spend the next fourteen months debating with Donald Trump whether he wants a 6 week national ban or an 8 week ban. If he’s really forgotten that he’s the “most pro-life President ever” who single-handedly overturned Roe by appointing three diehard abortion opponents, then by all means get him to demand his obediant and gerrymandered state legislatures to ditch all the state bans altogether.

One article I see has it that “aides and allies of the president quickly moved to try and shape the media’s cover of the comments. Mainly, they admonished stories that didn’t – in their estimation – note that Trump” was the reason all the bans exist in the first place. But you’ll only get so far admonishing bad reporters. You need to provide more to report and engaging Trump directly is what does that.

As we noted yesterday, you’re not going to accomplish anything allowing Trump to say a series of nonsensical things, imagining reporters are going to do anything about or thinking you’re going to win some notional logical argument. You need to run right into the fire and give reporters something to report. Let’s talk about which kind of ban Trump wants. If he wants no bans, what’s he going to do about it? Most of Trump’s power comes from his razzmatazz getting people to think there are no rules, that he can do anything he wants, retool reality without consequences. That only happens when his opponents get cowed. We’ve seen very clearly over the last year that a huge swath of the population cares a great deal about abortion rights. They won’t easily be fooled.

A new Pew Research poll finds 65% of Americans say they always or often feel exhausted when thinking about politics, while 55% feel angry. By contrast, just 10% say they always or often feel hopeful about politics, and just 4% are excited.

A new Morning Consult poll finds a plurality of Republicans backing the House impeachment inquiry into President Biden, 48% to 42%. Notably, McCarthy seems to be benefiting with his base: His favorability rating among Republicans has jumped from 42% to 49% since he announced the probe.

new study finds college-educated voters now express more liberal views than working-class voters on issues of taxation, the social safety net, income redistribution and government intervention in the economy.

Inside Elections made 10 ratings changes for House seats — three in the direction of Republicans and seven towards the Democrats.

Amy Walter: “When I first started covering politics some 25 years ago, the following data points were considered the gold standard to understanding the trajectory of an election cycle: a president’s job approval rating, the overall mood of the electorate (namely, is the country headed in the right direction or wrong direction) and opinions about the economy. Taken together, they told the story of a president or party in peril, or a president and party that were headed to reelection.”

“Over these past few years, however, these questions have become less determinative.”

“A confluence of crises jarring America’s political, democratic, judicial and economic systems, often fueled by Donald Trump and far-right Republicans, threatens to severely test Joe Biden’s presidency amid rising doubts over his reelection bid,” CNN reports.

“As the 2024 White House race heats up, it’s becoming clear that extraordinary, historic challenges complicate Biden’s push for a second term, over and above the liabilities expressed in his low presidential approval ratings and the uneven economy.”

“Even by the standards of recent years, in which democracy has wobbled and fierce political recrimination deepened, the country is heading into a political morass without parallel.”

“Donald Trump plans to skip the third Republican presidential debate, according to a senior adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity, extending his strategy of avoiding forums that include his lower-polling rivals,” Bloomberg reports.

From a Wall Street Journal editorial: “Is he worried he’d look his age at 77 next to younger candidates?”

Donald Trump lashed out at billionaire donor Charles Koch, calling him a “very stupid, awkward, and highly overrated globalist.” Koch has raised more than $70 million to oppose Trump in the Republican presidential primary.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) promised to roll back several of the Biden administration’s climate initiatives, calling them “part of an agenda to control you and to control our behavior,” the New York Times reports.

Said DeSantis: “They’re trying to circumscribe your ambitions. They are even telling our younger generations to have fewer children, or not to even have children, on the grounds that somehow children are going to make our climate and planet unlivable — and that’s wrong to say.”

NBC News: “The Florida governor, once seen as the top rival to former President Donald Trump in the 2024 GOP primary, sits in fifth place in New Hampshire, according to a CNN poll released Wednesday. He hasn’t visited the state, which holds the nation’s second contest, in more than a month.”

“A Washington Post/Monmouth Survey of South Carolina voters earlier this month found him in only slightly better stead — fourth place — trailing Trump and a pair of home-state candidates, former Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott.”

Nate Cohn: “Donald Trump’s lead in the Republican primary just keeps growing. He breached 60 percent of the vote in Fox News and Quinnipiac polls last week, including 60-13 and 62-12 leads over his nearest rival, the not-so-near Ron DeSantis.”

“Even more notable: His gains follow what would be considered a disastrous 50-day stretch for any other campaign. Since early August, he has faced new federal and state criminal indictments for attempting to subvert the 2020 election. He skipped the first presidential debate, which was nonetheless watched by over 10 million people. Not only did it not hurt him, but he came out stronger.”

“With these latest gains, Mr. Trump is inching into rarefied territory. The latest surveys show him polling about as well as any candidate in the history of modern contested presidential primaries.”

“Tim Scott’s campaign is moving to tamp down expectations for next week’s presidential primary debate, while seeking to calm donors’ nerves about the lack of movement in national polls,” Politico reports.

Said Scott’s campaign manager, Jennifer DeCasper: “I’d encourage you to remember that these nights are merely a single moment in time. Any candidate who hopes to truly capitalize on it must be disciplined and built for the long haul.”

“After eking their way into the first Republican presidential debate last month, Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, long-shot candidates, appear to be in jeopardy of failing to qualify for the party’s second debate next week,” the New York Times reports.

Vivek Ramaswamy said he regrets taking the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine he’s received, NBC News reports.

Wall Street Journal: “The two presidential candidates [DeSantis and Ramaswamy] are among a growing class of Republican Ivy Leaguers who are bashing their alma maters to appeal to populist voters. What they don’t mention is how much those degrees paved the way for their ascent into the highest levels of politics and business.”

“Their strategy is a response to the educational realignment of the two political parties. Republican politicians, who for generations burnished Ivy League credentials with pride, now must avoid alienating the large share of Republican voters who never went to college at all.”

Ohio’s Republican-led Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld most of the summary that the conservative Ohio Ballot Board crafted for the Nov. 7 proposed abortion rights amendment to replace the one drawn up by the amendment’s backers, including text that substitutes the words “unborn child” in place of “fetus.” The actual text of the amendment that would go into the state constitution remains unchanged.

One Republican on the seven-member body, Justice Pat Fischer, sided with the three Democrats to order the Ballot Board to swap the words “state of Ohio” out for “citizens of the state of Ohio” in a passage describing who had the power to limit access to the procedure. However, the summary that will go before voters will still declare that the amendment would “[a]lways allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability if, in the treating physician’s determination, the abortion is necessary to protect the pregnant woman’s life and health.”

A campaign has launched in Arizona to place an amendment on next year’s general election ballot to do away with the state’s partisan primaries starting in 2026, an effort that comes months after Republican legislators placed their own amendment on the ballot to protect the status quo and ban instant-runoff voting. The Arizona Mirror says that if both amendments won next year, only the one with the most support would take effect.

However, even if voters opted to change how elections are conducted, it still wouldn’t be up to voters what system they’d get to use. Axios’ Jeremy Duda explains that, while all the candidates would run on one all-party primary ballot, it would be up to the legislature if anywhere between two and five contenders would advance to the general election for races where only one candidate can win.

Instant-runoff voting would be used for the second round of voting if more than two contenders are allowed to move forward, but the GOP’s hatred of ranked-choice voting means that this almost certainly wouldn’t happen as long as the party maintains its narrow majorities in both chambers. Should the legislature fail to reach an agreement, though, it would be up to the secretary of state―a post currently held by Democrat Adrian Fontes―to make this call.

In order to qualify for the ballot, the campaign must secure about 384,000 valid signatures by July 3. Republican leaders very much hope it fails to hit this target, with state party chair Jeff DeWit ardently condemning the effort.

Ohio State Supreme Court Justice Joe Deters, a Republican appointed to the court by GOP Gov. Mike DeWine in January to fill a vacant Republican seat, has indicated he will instead challenge one of the two Democratic incumbents who will be up for reelection next year rather than run for his current seat. Because Deters filled a vacancy to replace GOP Justice Sharon Kennedy after she was elected to the chief justice’s position last year, the 2024 election for Deters’ seat is only for the final two years of Kennedy’s term. By contrast, both Democratic Justices Melody Stewart and Michael Donnelly are running for what would be their second six-year terms.

Deters has yet to indicate which Democrat he will challenge, but Democrats are already facing another tough election cycle after Republican lawmakers made court races partisan contests ahead of last year’s elections in order to help their party in this red-leaning state, and Republicans hold a 4-3 majority after winning all three races last year. Democrats theoretically could gain a 4-3 edge of their own if both Stewart and Donnelly won reelection and the party flipped Deters’ open seat in 2024, but that will be a challenging task in a state that has shifted rightward during the Trump era.

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

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