Former president Donald Trump’s support among voters in Iowa now tops 50 percent, according to a new poll from the Des Moines Register and NBC News. It’s the widest lead Trump has enjoyed in the first state to vote as part of the Republican primary process. Fifty-one percent of likely Republican caucus goers said Trump is their first choice, a gain of eight points since the last poll published in October. That puts him up more than thirty points over his nearest challenger.
Aside from this being an obvious victory for Trump, who enjoys a likely insurmountable lead, the poll is also very bad news for former UN ambassador Nikki Haley. Haley failed to gain any ground in the poll, remaining steady at 16 percent since October, despite recently nabbing the endorsement of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity — along with millions of dollars and a massive get-out-the-vote effort. Haley bragged about being backed by the Republican mega-donor class (and some wealthy Democrats!) at the fourth presidential primary debate on Wednesday night. She alleged that her closest competitor, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, was merely jealous that he no longer enjoyed the support of Wall Street. But even without their deep pockets, DeSantis managed to climb three points in Iowa since October, and is now sitting at 19 percent.
Trump’s climb in the polls comes as he has refused to participate in any of the RNC-sanctioned debates, faces four federal indictments, and has built an impressive army of small-dollar, online donors. The poll’s cross tabs are almost equally as fascinating: Trump enjoys 63 percent support among first-time caucus goers, which tend to skew younger, wins independent voters over Nikki Haley, and has the most immovable support among all of the candidates. Seventy percent of Trump supporters in Iowa say their mind is made up on who to vote for, while 70 percent and 65 percent of DeSantis and Haley supporters, respectively, say they could be persuaded to vote for someone else.
On our radar
INFOWARS RISING Infowars host Alex Jones is back on X after a long suspension from the social media platform. Following a viral interview of Jones by Tucker Carlson, X owner Elon Musk informally polled users to ask if he should restore Jones’s account. Seventy percent of respondents said “Yes.”
GOP CHARGES AHEAD ON IMPEACHMENT The Republican-led House is steps away from formalizing its impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden as his son, Hunter, resists appearing for a private deposition.
COMEDY FAIL? Saturday Night Live is being panned for a sketch based on last week’s congressional testimony on antisemitism by a group of college presidents. Although the University of Pennsylvania’s president resigned after failing to condemn calls for genocide against Israel, SNL chose to make Congresswoman Elise Stefanik the butt of the joke.
Sheila Jackson Lee drops mayoral race
Democratic congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee lost a runoff election Saturday to decide the next mayor of Houston, Texas, proving the axiom that telling your supporters to vote on the wrong day is never a good electoral strategy.
Jackson Lee ran against a fellow Democrat, State Senator John Whitmire, in a highly publicized contest that promised to lay bare fissures within the party. Whitmire said he would tackle Houston’s crime issue by increasing policing, addressed inflation and infrastructure concerns, and had the backing of the city’s fire department and police unions. Jackson Lee notched endorsements from Democratic Party bosses such as Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Hakeem Jeffries, and focused her campaign on abortion access and combating alleged right-wing extremism. She also suggested her opponent was “follow[ing] MAGA extremists” by working across the aisle with Republicans in the state legislature.
Whitmire won the plurality of votes during the general election, and smashed Jackson Lee nearly 2:1 in the runoff.
Jackson Lee’s campaign was marked with plenty of other drama. In October, a leaked recording featured Jackson Lee berating two staffers, calling them “fuck-ups,” “fat” and “big-ass children,” among other expletives. Jackson Lee expressed regret for her words but blamed her opponent for the attack. The week before the runoff, Jackson Lee ran a TV ad in the Houston market telling voters the wrong date for the election. The ad said to vote “on or before December 7,” two days before polls actually closed.
Whitmire’s victory speech notably excluded any mention of Jackson Lee by name, but took several shots at the congresswoman.
“People want to go to work for me because we respect people. We don’t bully people,” Whitmire said, seemingly referring to the leaked audio scandal. Whitmire also said he was tired of “one person” taking all of the credit for bringing in funds to the local congressional delegation.
What’s next for Jackson Lee? She has until 6 p.m. today to decide if she will run for re-election to her seat in Congress, which she was served in since 1995.
Mr. Zelensky comes to Washington
Speaker Mike Johnson will meet with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday amid ongoing negotiations over aid delivery to the war-torn country. Zelensky is also set to meet with President Joe Biden and on Monday delivered an address to the Department of Defense’s National Defense University.
The news comes at a time when the speaker has given the Biden administration an ultimatum on tying additional foreign aid to increased funding for border security. While Johnson has personally expressed his support for aiding Ukraine’s efforts, he faces an internal challenge as a growing faction in his party loses faith in the war effort. Representative Mary Miller tweeted that she would “continue to vote AGAINST sending your tax $$ to corrupt oligarchs in Ukraine for a proxy war that could have ended in ’22,” noting that Biden rejected a peace deal that was presented last year. Representative Matt Gaetz similarly reacted to Zelensky’s visit, writing, “America has sent enough money to Ukraine. We should tell Zelensky to seek peace.”
–Juan P. Villasmil