We’re almost exactly one year out from what increasingly looks like another Trump v. Biden showdown. Former president Donald Trump leads his second-place opponent by more than forty percentage points nationally, and has a thirty-point advantage in Iowa. President Joe Biden avoided a primary challenge from RFK Jr., who is now running as an Independent, and no one thinks Representative Dean Phillips’s campaign is serious, especially considering his refusal to acknowledge the objective reality that he’s even running against Biden.
Although Phillips doesn’t seem to be the guy for the job, more Democrats are waking up to the idea that Biden doesn’t have what it takes to win a second term. Polls have consistently shown that a majority of Democrats don’t want Biden to run again. On Sunday, the Biden team was hit with another whammy: a New York Times/Siena College poll of registered voters found that Trump is leading Biden in five out of six major battleground states. Despite facing four separate indictments and attempts to remove his name from the ballot, the former president leads by ten points in Nevada, six in Georgia, five in Arizona and Michigan and four in Pennsylvania. Biden holds a two point lead in Wisconsin.
To be fair, the margin of error in each state ranges between 4.4 and 4.8 percentage points, which puts Pennsylvania and Wisconsin in the toss-up category. But the overall methodology of the poll is sound and the general results across states still spell bad news for Biden. Biden wins voters under thirty by just one point, Trump earns the support of 22 percent of black voters (“a level unseen in presidential politics for a Republican in modern times”), voters trust Trump more on the economy and national security by double digits, and even the highly unlikable Vice President Kamala Harris performs better than Biden — eek!
Social media lit up on Sunday with Biden supporters calling for him to halt his re-election campaign following this damning poll. Bill Kristol asserted, “It’s time for Biden to announce he won’t run in 2024.” David Axelrod was a bit softer in tone, urging Biden to question if it is “wise” and in the “best interest” of the country for him to continue his campaign. Representative Pramila Jayapal said she had “great concern” for Democrats after seeing the NYT poll.
Naturally, the Biden campaign pushed back on the doomsday predictions. Ron Klain derisively dismissed Axelrod as the guy who previously called Biden “Mr. Magoo,” indicating that Team Biden won’t take his concerns seriously. Kevin Munoz, a Biden campaign spokesman, suggested the poll results don’t matter because they are still a year from Election Day. Surrogates also pushed a clip of former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile noting that there are many presidents who had poor approval ratings before winning re-election.
One of the many problems with the Biden team’s denialism, though, is that they were once champions of the year-out New York Times/Siena poll. As Alex Thompson of Axios pointed out, the Biden campaign touted the same poll in 2020 when it showed him to be the most electable of the Democratic primary candidates against Trump. Considering Biden did end up winning that contest, it would be quite unwise for the Biden campaign to now dismiss the NYT’s 2024 predictions. One has to imagine that, privately, there is a very real panic setting in at Biden HQ.
On our radar
DEBATE PREVIEW At least four GOP primary candidates — Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy — will square off at the NBC News debate on Wednesday, with Tim Scott’s status still uncertain. Conservatives have been critical of the RNC’s choice to allow Lester Holt and Kristen Welker to serve as moderators alongside conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
TRUMP TESTIFIES Former president Donald Trump testified Monday during his New York civil fraud trial. The judge threatened to remove Trump from the witness stand as he repeatedly admonished the proceedings and accused the judge of political bias.
FETTERMAN MAKES A FUNNY Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman made light of the auditory processing issues caused by his stroke during a rally on Sunday. As a pro-Palestinian tried to shout Fetterman off the stage, the senator replied, “The joke is on you. I had a stroke. I can’t fully understand what you are saying.”
Iowa governor Kim Reynolds is set to endorse Governor Ron DeSantis in the 2024 GOP primary, appearing at a campaign event with the Florida politician in Des Moines on Monday. Reynolds will continue her full-court press by joining DeSantis for a meet-and-greet on Tuesday and then following him to Miami on Wednesday to help him fundraise around the NBC News debate. Reynolds is extremely popular in Iowa and cruised to re-election in 2020, so no doubt her endorsement is a big deal for DeSantis, who is trailing Trump in Iowa by about thirty percentage points.
Some GOP officials, however, are wondering why the current chair of the Republican Governors Association is putting her focus and precious time on the presidential primary when there are two big gubernatorial races taking place on Tuesday: Kentucky and Mississippi. Attorney General Daniel Cameron is in a dead heat with Democratic incumbent governor Andy Beshear in Kentucky, while Democrats are hoping a second cousin of Elvis Presley will pull off an upset against the GOP incumbent in Mississippi.
NRSC demotes Meijer to bag boy
Grocery store scion and former congressman Pete Meijer has thrown his hat into the increasingly crowded ring for the Michigan Senate seat being vacated by Debbie Stabenow. This Michigander was pleased to see his campaign logo is basically a throwback to the old grocery store chain logo we all remember.
But there could be some early GOP-on-GOP fireworks in the primary as the NRSC previously warned Meijer not to run and on Monday called his candidacy “not viable,” having already recruited former Michigan congressman Mike Rogers as their chosen candidate. The idea, it seems, is that Meijer’s vote to impeach Trump after the events of January 6 will be too much of a black mark on his record in the primary, and also might lead to splitting the vote with the also-moderate Rogers.
While that could be a problem, we wonder if Meijer isn’t the better candidate for the Michigan GOP. He’s a young, moderate Republican war veteran with near-universal name ID given his family ties, decades of goodwill built up around being from the family of the cult-favorite grocery store (it’s like being from Florida and named “Publix”), and an ability to self-fund to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. This will be an interesting one to watch.
Senator Bernie Sanders isn’t making any friends with his stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Vermont senator gave his official response on Sunday to Representative Rashida Tlaib’s insistence that Israel is committing “genocide.”
“We don’t have to quibble about words,” the senator said during a CNN interview in which he called Tlaib a friend. “Thousands of men, women and children are being killed. It has got to end right now.”
Sanders’s tepid defense has angered not only conservatives, who were looking for a firm condemnation of Tlaib, but also the progressive, pro-Palestinian wing of the Democratic Party, upset that Sanders, too, rejected the idea of a ceasefire.
“I don’t know how you can have a ceasefire, [a] permanent ceasefire, with an organization like Hamas,” Bernie told CNN’s Dana Bash, explaining how the group seeks “turmoil and chaos and destroying the state of Israel.”
Nina Turner, who served as a national co-chair in Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted Monday morning that “[c]alling for a ceasefire is the democratic position,” claiming that 71 percent of Michigan Democrats support a ceasefire. Similarly, the former press secretary for the senator’s 2020 presidential campaign, Briahna Joy Gray, labeled Sanders the “[b]iggest political disappointment of our generation.”
–Juan P. Villasmil