The Political Report – October 8, 2023

“Next month’s Virginia state legislative election will provide the most meaningful read yet on the 2024 political environment,” Politico reports.

“Polls show deep dissatisfaction with President Joe Biden. But Democrats keep winning special elections, overperforming Biden’s 2020 margins. Economic indicators point to durable growth and low unemployment, but few voters say the economy is headed in the right direction.”

“At a moment when the best electoral indicators are all over the place, the Virginia races will help cut through the noise.”

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appears headed for a breakup with the party his family defined for generations, teasing that he’s preparing to ditch the Democrats in a ‘historic’ announcement Monday in which he is expected to launch an independent presidential campaign against President Joe Biden,” NBC News reports. “The split is mutual, though hardly amicable.”

“His campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, which started in April, evolved from an annoyance for party leaders to a full-frontal assault on them; he now claims Democratic officials are conspiring to ‘rig’ the primaries against him, citing his familiar blend of half-truths and outright fabrications.”

“Members of Donald Trump’s team are quietly preparing to go on offense against Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as internal campaign polling suggests his expected third party bid could draw more votes from Trump than President Joe Biden in a general election,” Semafor reports.

“Semafor has not independently reviewed the polling. One person close to Trump’s campaign said it showed that Kennedy took more votes from Trump than left-wing independent Cornel West drew from Biden when both were tested.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference set to begin Oct. 18, the Daily Caller reports.

Jonathan Chait: “At the risk of insulting the reader’s intelligence, apparently, it is necessary to point out that the choice construction of a presidential election is nothing like a restaurant menu. When you order from a restaurant, every diner gets to eat whichever dish they want. For that reason, it’s in the restaurant’s interest to provide them with as many options as the restaurant can competently supply. When I go to a restaurant, I want the menu to offer me something that caters to my individual tastes.”

“To continue with the restaurant analogy, a presidential election is like a restaurant where, even though we have different choices on the menu, every diner gets the dish that gets ordered the most. That changes the incentive completely. In that kind of restaurant, I would neither expect nor even want a menu with lots of choices. I would want a menu designed to give me the choice closest to my preference.”

When Donald Trump was indicted in March — and then indicted again and again and again — his lead in the Republican presidential primary expanded dramatically. Republicans inexplicably rallied to him as 91 felony charges piled up.

In contrast, when Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted last month on bribery charges, his political support among Democrats collapsed.  A new Public Policy Polling survey in New Jersey shows Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) leading a possible U.S. Senate primary with 42%, followed by Tammy Murphy at 19% and Menendez at just 5%.  The incumbent senator barely registers in this poll because Democrats have already thrown him overboard.  I don’t typically make election predictions, but I’m fairly certain Menendez cannot win a Democratic primary.

Jonathan Last notes that the “liberal media” — which has covered this case relentlessly — makes no apologies for Menendez. There are no Democratic conspiracy theories popping up to explain the senator’s behavior. No one is calling it a witch hunt.  He concludes: “I keep harping on this subject because I want to hammer home the fact that one of our two political parties is more-or-less healthy. And the other party is not.  This is different from saying that one party is ‘good’ and the other is ‘bad’—that’s a statement of preference. We’re talking about basic institutional health: The ability to understand reality and function in a rational manner.”

Our politics are in trouble not because the parties talk past each other. It’s because one of the parties is now completely corrupt.

Olivia Nuzzi: “On the trail with the candidates vying (in theory, anyway) for the Republican nomination.”

Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) removal as speaker “leaves much uncertainty about who might step in to fill his fundraising shoes and what happens to McCarthy’s own remaining political money,” Bloomberg reports.

“Rep. Kevin McCarthy spent 15 years building the political machine that won back control of the House in 2022 — a sprawling operation with billionaire donor relationships he managed, a recruitment program he oversaw and a network of shadowy political committees that intervened in primaries at the nod of his team,” the Washington Post reports.

“After only 269 days as House speaker, the fate of that operation is now in question, raising concerns among Republican strategists and members of Congress about their ability to hold or grow their majority next year.”

The ouster of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) showed American voters that Republicans are finding it impossible to govern. That alone will make it a tough election cycle for vulnerable GOP lawmakers running in blue districts.

But the eight Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy also took out the party’s best fundraiser ever. McCarthy’s super PAC raised and spent more than $250 million for Republican candidates in the 2022 midterms. It has raised millions more already this year.

Now, instead of traveling nonstop across the country courting big donors and recruiting new candidates, McCarthy must decide whether he’ll even run for re-election himself. And he’ll likely use some of that super PAC money to seek retribution against hard line Republicans who pushed him out, rather than spending it to defeat Democrats.

Politico: “Iowa’s influential perch within the Democratic Party will come to an end Friday when members of the Democratic National Committee are expected to accept Iowa’s plan to release its presidential preference numbers on March 5, Super Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the committee’s deliberations and granted anonymity to describe them.”

“Iowa’s capitulation caps off more than a year of internal party machinations over how to retool the party’s presidential nominating calendar, prioritizing battleground states with more diverse populations over Iowa, long the party’s first-in-the-nation caucus state.”

“Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign vehicle was hit Thursday afternoon in what the campaign said was an intentional act by protesters but police say was nothing more than an accident involving a driver unconnected to the protest,” the Des Moines Register reports.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) attacked Donald Trump on CNBC saying the former president would be a “lame duck” if elected for a second term.

Said DeSantis: “He’s got limitations in terms of his electability.”

He added: “He would be a lame duck on day one if he could even get elected. I think he’d have major problems with personnel. And of course, he didn’t deliver on his core promises.”

Politico: “Among those charged with getting the president reelected, there’s a consensus that a third-party candidate would almost certainly hurt the Democrat in the race, according to four Biden advisers not authorized to speak publicly about internal campaign deliberations.”

“It’s not just No Labels that has gotten their attention. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., is another potential spoiler for Biden — should he run as an independent, as anticipated — along with recently-minted independent candidate Cornel West.”

“For the past two decades, Cornel West has traveled the nation’s political back roads, making provocative comments and acting as a surrogate for insurgent Democratic presidential contenders. This time, he’s running himself—in a role that aims to disrupt the nation’s two-party system and could hurt the current Democratic president,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“West said Thursday he would seek the presidency as an independent candidate, choosing to forgo a run with the Green Party. The decision complicates his ability to get on the ballot—if he had won the Green nomination, it would have ensured ballot access in nearly 20 states with the potential for close to all 50 states.”

Playbook: “It’s a potentially significant piece of good news for President Biden, whose campaign has been plagued by worries about West’s potential to play a spoiler role in the 2024 campaign by winning the support of voters who might otherwise back Biden’s reelection.”

A Republican candidate for State Assembly in New Jersey plead guilty to smearing fecal matter on the doors of a children’s daycare center in a 2009 neighborhood dispute with the owner, the New Jersey Globe reports.

Said Joseph Viso: “It was done before anyone got hurt. I’m not going to defend it. It was wrong. I was a young man. It was a horrible time, and I made a mistake. Obama came into office the year before.”

“A federal court has picked Alabama’s new congressional map, which will likely result in an additional Black — and Democratic — member in the delegation,” Politico reports.

“The new map came after the same panel of federal judges twice found that lines drawn by the GOP-dominated legislature likely violated the Voting Rights Act by weakening the power of Black voters. The court’s decision means these lines will likely be used for at least the 2024 elections, though Alabama Republicans have vowed to fight them for future cycles.”

David Wassserman: Under the remedial plan, AL-2 swings from Trump +29 to Biden +12, virtually assuring a Democratic pickup.

“With Donald Trump boycotting and viewership falling off, some Republican National Committee members are starting to question whether the GOP’s primary debates should continue in their current format at all,” Politico reports.

“After refusing to participate in the first two Republican debates, former President Donald Trump and aides to his campaign have spent the past week arguing that there should be no more. The Republican National Committee, they say, should treat the race for the party’s nomination as over, given Mr. Trump’s large lead in the polls,” the New York Times reports.

“But in interviews on Thursday, more than a dozen members of the R.N.C. suggested that they were giving little weight to the Trump campaign’s appeal.”

“Two members of the party’s debate committee said the notion of canceling debates had not even risen to the level of discussion on the committee.”

A.B. Stoddard: “Just 24 hours after last week’s waste-of-time Republican primary debate, GOP donors still hoping to stop former President Donald Trump set out to narrow the field between Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, while also plotting to try and draft Glenn Youngkin for a late entry to the race.”

“These plans are being launched and funded despite what else happened last week: new polls show Trump’s lead is growing, a memo from an anti-Trump PAC reported that no lines of attack against him are working, and a Trump event on Friday showed a roomful of California Republicans laughing and chanting at some of his most incendiary lines, as he remains positioned to bag all of the Golden State’s delegates in its winner-take-all primary on March 5.”

“A growing number of anti-Trump Republicans are giving up — and giving into the belief that nothing will stop him from winning the GOP’s presidential nomination,” Axios reports.  “They’ve concluded that the GOP’s base can’t quit Trump.”

Nate Silver: “Having looked at data on dozens of third-party candidates in other races — mostly for offices like Congress and governor when building election models — I’m skeptical that they serve as spoilers as often as their critics claim. Third-party support tends to collapse down the stretch if the candidates aren’t seen as viable…”

“Third-party candidates typically also get less support in swing states, where voters know a protest vote could be more costly.”

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

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