Welcome to Thunderdome, where we could be about to witness a “dog who caught the car” moment for the MSNBC set that pushed this Colorado case so vociferously. I wonder if they regret this move? Do they understand that a nearly unanimous rejection makes them look very silly? And do they understand that every legal win Donald Trump has from here on out hurt their overall lawfare plan of attack?
A Supreme Court decision affirming that ruling would “take away the votes of potentially tens of millions of Americans,” Mitchell said.
Signaling sympathy for that argument, Justice Samuel Alito said the Colorado ruling could have severe consequences if upheld. He also said there was little if any history of a state attempting to disqualify someone from a federal office in this way…
Chief Justice John Roberts quickly pressed a lawyer for the Colorado voters challenging Trump’s eligibility, saying the whole point of the Fourteenth Amendment was to restrict the power of the states.
Roberts said Colorado’s decision, if upheld, would unleash a flood of similar eligibility challenges in the future, including ones seeking to block Democrats from the ballot.
“That’s a pretty daunting consequence,” the chief justice said, adding that the high court would be thrust into resolving a wave of litigation.
Justice Elena Kagan jumped in and questioned why a single state should get to decide a candidate’s eligibility for the White House.
Added Justice Amy Coney Barrett: “It just doesn’t seem like a state call.”
Now, the level to which this provokes backlash may be minimal. Hakeem Jeffries and other Democrats have been less invested in this idea than in other cases. But the argument from Republicans will be made to the many Trump ’16/Biden ’20 voters — who exist in reality if not in media — that “Democrats so loved democracy they wanted to make sure you couldn’t even vote for him!” And that’s a pretty good accusation of hypocrisy for something central to their campaign.
The guys cover these topics and more on today’s podcast. Listen here!
Yes America, Joe Biden is losing
The other thing people point to is that Democrats have been doing well in special elections. That’s notable on its own terms, and is unusual for the party that holds the presidency — especially with an unpopular president.
But as Nate Cohn has detailed, this is almost entirely a triumph of turnout rather than persuasion. Very few people vote in these special elections, and while Rosenberg is overstating the size of the anti-MAGA electorate, what’s true is that anti-MAGA sentiment is extremely strong among the people with the highest propensity to vote. All else being equal, this is a nice advantage to have. Obama-era Democrats enjoyed the romance of voter mobilization efforts. And having the lower-propensity coalition is a nice psychological salve when you lose — you can always tell yourself that you just need to work harder at mobilization. Democrats are lucky to now have the high-propensity coalition. It helps them in special elections. It helped them a little in the midterms. And it means that in a hypothetical evenly matched opinion landscape, they are essentially skating downhill.
It also means that they need to set the psychological salves aside. Democrats have the high propensity base. They need to worry that tons of media coverage about the high-stakes presidential showdown will succeed in mobilizing lots of low-propensity voters, voters who mostly — but somewhat reluctantly — like Trump more than they like Biden. And they need to try to counter that by persuading people to like Biden more.
Special election in New York
Once viewed nationally as an indicator of suburban moods, its politics instead became defined by local concerns that favored conservatives, like crime and bail legislation. The red wave that Santos rode to national prominence also pushed Republicans to victories across town and county government and in every single one of suburban Long Island’s congressional offices, even while Democrats were overperforming expectations nationally. In a district where Joe Biden’s share beat Donald Trump’s by eight points in 2020, Santos — an unknown at the time — won with a healthy margin of more than seven percentage points.
But now, those local issues are receding, and the campaign trail to replace Santos in a February 13 special election is instead marked by national topics, as voters grapple with issues like immigration and Israel’s war in Gaza.
All of these interrelated developments — the expulsion of Santos, the refocusing of attention beyond the borders of the district — put Nassau County in position to once again serve as a suburban crystal ball. And considering the importance of suburbs to Democrats in the 2020 election, Biden and Trump could see their fates foretold in Nassau months before November. If the public polling is right — Democrat Tom Suozzi appears to be single digits ahead of Pilip, the Republican Party’s candidate — the district is headed for a nailbiter.
In other words, back to normal for purplish Nassau County, the once and maybe future prophet of who will win the White House.
‘A failed chair’
It seems very clear that Ronna (Romney) McDaniel is not long for the RNC chairmanship, having become the longest serving in this past cycle. But how soon will she be replaced, and who will replace her? That’s still up in the air. But it’s hard to think it could get any worse for the GOP:
The question for McDaniel now isn’t just whether it was all worth it, but whether she could have done anything differently.
“I think she’s just a very loyal person — she was loyal to Trump, she was loyal to her staff,” said another RNC member, who also was granted anonymity to talk freely about McDaniel. “I like her… I think she is a good person.”
But, the member added, “I think she was a failed chair.”
Few, if any, argue that McDaniel’s tenure was an overall electoral success for the RNC. The Republican Party gained two Senate seats but lost forty in the House during the 2018 midterms, lost both chambers of Congress and the presidency in 2020 and underperformed in 2022. Beyond that, her critics point to McDaniel’s failure to overhaul longtime RNC staff even as the party suffered those electoral losses, and note the downturn in fundraising.
McDaniel’s supporters — and even some skeptics — say she faced a chorus of contradictory criticism that made her situation difficult. Throughout her tenure, she was derided both for doing too little or too much to support Trump. And it was Trump, they say, that bore the brunt of responsibility for the party’s failure that she often was given.
One more thing
Farewell to Marianne Williamson, who was indeed running for president this cycle. Last time around she got a look from lots of interested corners who tried to explain what her viral presence meant in the field — Ross Douthat invested some effort in finding what America wants with a politician as self-help guru. She leaves us with this:
“I read a quote the other day that said that sunsets are proof that endings can be beautiful, too. And so today, even though it is time to suspend my campaign for the presidency, I do want to see the beauty, and I want all of you who so incredibly supported me on this journey — as donors, as supporters, as team and as volunteers — to see the beauty, too.”
Pour one out for Marianne, everyone.