The 2024 presidential election will be divided by just a handful of states — perhaps as few as five or six. That means national polls will be much less important to understanding how the campaign is playing out. And it means we will be paying intense attention mainly to polls from just a few key swing states.
A new Stack Data Strategy survey out yesterday purports to focus on the electoral map and concludes that if the election were held today, Donald Trump would lose the popular vote, 49% to 48%, but eke out a win in the Electoral College, 292 to 246.
From Playbook: “Trump’s projected victory is based on him winning the four states that were decided by the closest margin in 2020: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All four flipped from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020, and this projection has them swinging back to Trump — albeit by tight margins: Arizona by 1.4%, Georgia by 3.3%, Pennsylvania by 2.3%, and Wisconsin by 0.9%.”
While this certainly classifies as yet another shock poll — albeit from a firm that has a very good track record, including with the 2022 midterms — it has some significant problems.
First, every result in these individual swing states is within the poll’s margin of error.
Second, the presidential field isn’t even set. While Biden and Trump are very likely to be the major party candidates, there are already several third party and independent candidates trying to get on the ballot. In the four states projected to flip to Trump in this survey, the “other” candidates receive a not-insignificant portion of the vote: 4.0% in Arizona, 2.6% in Georgia, 3.1% in Pennsylvania, and 3.2% in Wisconsin.
Third, the campaign hasn’t even begun yet on the Democratic side.
Fourth, the poll makes national assumptions about voter turnout when each state may be very different due to the extreme focus the campaign will have on certain states over others.
Finally, a year is a very long time in politics. As Playbook points out: “Many of the events that will define the general election haven’t happened yet — a month ago we didn’t know a new war in the Middle East would roil American politics. Trump could be in jail, for one, and economic conditions could improve or deteriorate.”
The bottom line is there’s very little to take away from this new poll.
SCOTT 2024. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) announced Sunday night that he is dropping out of the 2024 presidential campaign, NBC News reports. Said Scott: “When I go back to Iowa, it will not be as a presidential candidate. I am suspending my campaign.”
Politico: “Multiple campaign staff members confirmed that they had no prior knowledge of Scott’s decision before he did so on live television”
The Dispatch: “It’s easy to identify the candidates running behind in the Republican presidential primary. They show up in the spin room post debate to chat with reporters and make the full round of interviews with television news and conservative talk radio networks. That was Tim Scott Wednesday evening.”
PHILLIPS 2024. “President Biden, already struggling with broad unpopularity and growing concerns among Democrats about his standing, is now facing an expanding list of declared or potential challengers who could further complicate his effort to win a second term and defeat leading rival Donald Trump,” the Washington Post reports.
“The growing field of challengers presents, at the very least, another headache for Biden, who has been shown to be tied with or even trailing Trump in both national and swing-state polls.”
“As President Joe Biden’s party frets openly over his reelection bid, House Democrats are growing more furious with one of their own — Dean Phillips — over his long-shot primary challenge to the president,” Politico reports.
“Even Democrats who insist their Minnesota colleague won’t hurt Biden in the end are aghast that Phillips would take the risk by running. It doesn’t help that he has centered his campaign on critiquing Biden’s age amid lackluster recent polls that show voters share the same concern about the 80-year-old president.”
Said Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH): “It’s threatening the success of the Democratic ticket from top to bottom.”
“Rep. Dean Phillips is escalating his long-shot presidential primary challenge to President Joe Biden, vowing to invest as much of his multimillion-dollar fortune as it takes to win,” CNN reports.
“His defiance comes in the face of overwhelming rejection from his fellow Democrats, a reaction so fast and furious Phillips believes he’s torpedoed his own congressional career.”
“But instead of backing down, Phillips is opening the door to super PAC money that could air millions of dollars’ worth of negative ads in primary states that are likely pivotal in the general election, including Michigan and New Hampshire. And he’s escalating his attacks against the president’s message and political standing.”
Joe Garofoli: “Democrats are notorious bed-wetters — a political colloquialism that roughly translates to irrationally overreacting to stuff that could happen, but hasn’t. And they’re doing it again right now.”
“The latest trigger is a recent batch of polls showed President Joe Biden trailing Donald Trump in five key swing states and with pivotal parts of the coalition that elected him in 2020 not feeling enthusiastic about him.”
“But analysts say Democrats should be feeling better after Tuesday night’s victories in red and purple states — and perhaps Republicans should be the ones feeling anxious about 2024.”
TRUMP 2024. Washington Post: “Over the course of four years, the Trump administration weakened or wiped out more than 125 environmental rules and policies, many of them designed to limit planet-warming emissions from fossil fuels. Biden, by contrast, has reversed many of Trump’s policies and enacted dozens of measures aimed at moving the nation away from oil, gas and coal…”
“In recent weeks, Trump and his team have targeted donors from the oil and gas industry by holding two large events in Texas and calling some of the country’s richest executives. The campaign’s pitch has been straightforward: Trump is going to be the GOP nominee, so these donors should get on board now.”
Donald Trump served reporters a chocolate pudding-filled boot at an off-the-record dinner at Mar-a-Lago, Semafor reports. Reporters from outlets including Politico, the Washington Post, NBC News, CBS News and others were in attendance.
Donald Trump took credit for Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WV) retirement in a Truth Social post. Said Trump: “Because I Endorsed Big Jim Justice of West Virginia for the U.S. Senate, and he has taken a commanding lead, Democrat Joe Manchin has decided not to seek re-election. Looking good for Big Jim!”
GOP strategist Karl Rove wrote in the Wall Street Journal that a match up between President Biden and Donald Trump would be “the worst dumpster fire of a campaign in history.”
“As he campaigned Saturday, former President Donald Trump’s campaign said he is looking to lock up his party’s nomination with a decisive victory when New Hampshire holds the first voting in the Republican primary in just over two months,” The Messenger reports.
“Trump has dominated New Hampshire polls since the summer, leading his nearest competitors by more than 30 percentage points among polls of likely voters with just over two months to go before the first-in-the-nation primary.”
CHRISTIE 2024. Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said he would back Chris Christie for the Republican presidential nomination, The Messenger reports.
Said Kinzinger: “I like Chris Christie. I would support Chris Christie because he’s telling the truth. And I think, for me, anybody that tells the truth, that’s important at this moment. But you know, he’s got obviously a pretty tough road to get there.”
RAMASWAMY 2024. “In a move to jolt his presidential campaign back to life, Vivek Ramaswamy is abandoning his suburban Ohio headquarters and dispatching his 40-person staff to Iowa and New Hampshire,” Politico reports.
Rachel Maddow noted the “deep, palpable, withering disgust that Vivek Ramaswamy seems to inspire from his fellow candidates.”
She added: “He makes them say things that you can’t imagine they’ve ever said before in their lives. He makes them make facial expressions on the stage that you’re quite sure that they don’t know that they’re making in public. He really brings out a side of them that makes news, frankly.”
RNC. “The third GOP presidential primary debate was watched by 6.86 million total viewers, a little over half the number who watched the first debate,” The Messenger reports.
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told CNN the committee would support Donald Trump as the GOP nominee — even if he were convicted of a crime.
GOP megadonor Bernie Marcus called on the Republican National Committee to end the “unproductive and embarrassing” Republican presidential debates and get behind Donald Trump as the party’s nominee.
“Vice President Kamala Harris [raveled] to Columbia, S.C., on Friday to formally file President Biden’s paperwork to appear on the Democratic primary ballot in the state,” the New York Times reports.
HALEY 2024. “Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign will reserve $10 million in television, radio and digital advertising across Iowa and New Hampshire beginning in the first week of December, a massive investment designed to give the former United Nations ambassador an advantage over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a critical moment in the GOP nomination fight,” the AP reports.
BIDEN 2024. Jonathan Martin: “2024 will be an extraordinary election, and it demands extraordinary measures.”
“That’s in part for reasons Biden refuses to accept: his capacity to do the job. The oldest president in history when he first took the oath, Biden will not be able to govern and campaign in the manner of previous incumbents. He simply does not have the capacity to do it, and his staff doesn’t trust him to even try, as they make clear by blocking him from the press. Biden’s bid will give new meaning to a Rose Garden campaign, and it requires accommodation to that unavoidable fact of life.”
“Moreover, and on this Biden would agree, this election will be exceptional because of the threat Trump poses. The former president is an exiled strongman who’s taken over a traditional political party and is attempting to reclaim office to consolidate power and punish his enemies with little regard for the Constitution. Just ask him.”
“The Iowa Family Leader and the Republican National Committee are at an impasse,” RealClearPolitics reports.
“When the influential evangelical organization invited each of the 2024 GOP presidential candidates to attend its Thanksgiving forum, the Republican National Committee quietly warned the campaigns that participating in the event would disqualify them from all future sanctioned debates.”
“Regardless, the Iowa Family Leader doesn’t have plans to reschedule or reformat.”
Said Bob Vander Plaats, the president and CEO of the organization: “We are going to move forward with the forum.”
NEW JERSEY U.S. SENATOR. The New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein writes that First Lady Tammy Murphy will announce in the coming week that she’ll seek the Senate seat held by her fellow Democrat, indicted incumbent Bob Menendez. Murphy would join Rep. Andy Kim in the June 4 primary; Menendez, who is set to go on trial the month before, hasn’t announced his plans yet, though Wildstein writes that “few expect” him to run again.
Wildstein also reports that longtime South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross will likely support Murphy. Norcross’ brother, Rep. Donald Norcross, didn’t rule out running himself in late September, but we can probably cross his name off the potential candidate list now.
ALABAMA 2ND DISTRICT. Alabama is poised to send two Black Democrats to Congress for the first time ever, thanks to a brand new court-ordered 2nd District that’s designed to bring the state into compliance with the Voting Rights Act. The new open seat has inspired a large field of hopefuls to join the race, including 13 Democrats and eight Republicans, according to AL.com’s Mike Cason.
One major name, however, had a last-minute change of heart. State Sen. Kirk Hatcher, who had announced a bid late last month, said on Friday that he would not file for the race after all. His decision means that the Democratic primary will feature no prominent candidates from the city of Montgomery, which anchors one end of the redrawn district. (The new-look 2nd runs east-west across the state to include most of the rural Black Belt, reaching down to take in Mobile along the Gulf Coast in Alabama’s southwestern corner.)
That still leaves five Democratic lawmakers seeking the seat, including one who entered just before the filing deadline, state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels. Like several other contenders, Daniels represents a district a ways away from the one he’s now hoping to represent: His Huntsville-based seat is nearly 200 miles from Montgomery. Daniels, however, grew up in Bullock County, one of the Black Belt counties now in the 2nd, which he has said gives him an understanding of rural communities that other candidates lack.
State Rep. Juandalynn Givan, meanwhile, represents Birmingham, which forms the heart of the state’s other Black-majority district, the 7th. (There, veteran Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell faces minimal opposition in her bid for reelection; see more below.) Givan says that she, too, has ties to the district, though she seemed less concerned about the issue. “I feel I’m just as qualified to run for this seat as anybody else,” Cason reports she said at her campaign kickoff, “whether I live here in Montgomery, or whether I live across the street, or up the street, or back the street, or anywhere else.”
Another Birmingham-area legislator, state Sen. Merika Coleman, pointed to her itinerant upbringing as a child of a military veteran. Coleman said that although she was not “indigenous” to her district in the legislature, “most people would never know that because I have fought the good fight” for her constituents, according to AL.com’s Roy Johnson.
The other two lawmakers in the mix do actually serve parts of the 2nd District. State Rep. Jeremy Gray, best known for spearheading the repeal of Alabama’s ban on yoga in public schools, represents a seat at the far eastern end of the state, though his hometown of Opelika is just outside the 2nd. Finally, state Rep. Napoleon Bracy hails from Prichard, a city just outside of Mobile. That makes him the only elected official from the region in the primary.
But he’s not the only notable Mobile-area Democrat in the race: Shomari Figures, who recently stepped down from a position with the Justice Department, joined the contest the day before the filing deadline. Figures is the son of state Sen. Vivian Figures, a prominent Mobile politician who has been in public office for three decades and had considered a bid herself.
The 2nd was created specifically to give African American voters the opportunity to elect their preferred candidate—almost certainly a Black Democrat, like all of the contenders mentioned above. To that end, the district is now home to a 51% Black majority and would have voted for Joe Biden by a 56-43 margin, according to Dave’s Redistricting App. Given Alabama’s history of racially polarized voting, that will make the Democratic nominee the heavy favorite in next year’s general election.
But that hasn’t stopped a number of Republicans from hoping they can pull off an unlikely upset. The GOP field includes two politicians, state Sen. Greg Albritton and former state Sen. Dick Brewbaker, both of whom are white. Another late entrant was former NFL defensive end Wallace Gilberry, who was a star for the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide before playing professionally for nine seasons; Gilberry is Black.
ALABAMA 1ST DISTRICT. Due to the creation of Alabama’s new 2nd Congressional District (see just below), two Republican incumbents will face off for the right to represent the neighboring 1st District, Reps. Barry Moore and Jerry Carl. The revised 1st, which stretches from the Gulf Coast in the west to Dothan in the east, is a deep red, heavily white district, so whoever survives the GOP primary will be assured of another term in the House. The loser will go home.
The two incumbents, who are both white, are both intensely conservative, though Moore may be even more extreme. While both men voted against certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in 2020, Moore went even further in inflaming Trump supporters following the Jan. 6 attacks. [I]t was a Black police officer who shot the white female veteran,” he tweeted of rioter Ashli Babbit, who was shot attempting to breach a hallway adjacent to the House chamber.
Moore, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, could also earn the backing of the deep-pocketed Club for Growth, which aided him in his initial bid for the prior version of the 2nd District in 2020 while also seeking to thwart Carl that same year. But Carl, who was elected to the old 1st District, does have one notable advantage: He represents 59% of the population of the redrawn 1st versus 41% for Moore, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections.
Alabama’s primary is March 5, though an April 2 runoff is required should no candidate win a majority of the vote. However, since Carl and Moore were the only two to file, their race will be settled in the first round.