April 1, 2019
The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 13
- The Mueller dead-enders
- Susan Collins still popular, Dems hardest hit
- Sununu for Senate?
The bargaining stage: Democrats are still hopping mad that the Mueller investigation came up empty. But they’ve at least reached the bargaining stage of grief.
They got angry, they went into denial, and now are bargaining that there might be something wrong with Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Democrats (and some journalists who staked their personal reputations on the Mueller probe coming up aces) seem to believe that they have a gripe. They are currently staking their hopes on the idea that there’s a meaningful distinction between Barr summarizing the report’s conclusions and the idea that he was summarizing the entire report. In effect, though, the two are the same, assuming that the conclusions are representative of the facts that led to them.
Despite the liberals’ big hopes, they’re just setting themselves up for another letdown. Things are not going to get any better for them when Mueller’s report is released, even if (as is likely) there are some details that embarrass Trump or figures in his inner circle, aside from those already disgraced after being convicted for offenses not related to Russia, Trump, or collusion.
The bottom line is that if the special counsel and the Justice Department didn’t find sufficient evidence to prosecute for collusion, then
Democrats are hoping especially that Barr’s summary misrepresents what Mueller found, and that there’s something nefarious there. This is highly highly unlikely, however, as the two are close friends.
Moreover, Barr has already announced that the Mueller report will be coming out in a matter of weeks. If there were really any desire to hide the ball, he would not likely promise such a quick turnaround.
Trump: Throughout his presidency so far, President Trump’s approval rating has rarely varied outside the 40 to 45 percent range. His disapproval/unfavorable has nearly always been above 50, even on the day he was elected. So here’s something you may not have expected: A new poll commissioned by The Hill shows that 54 percent of Americans are open to voting to re-elect him. This suggests that an unusually large minority of the 55 percent who disapprove of him in the same poll are not necessarily that serious about their disapproval.
It goes to show that when it comes to Trump, you can’t take the polls too seriously. Economic indicators pointing to a much stronger Trump performance in 2020 than you might otherwise expect, and you have to wonder whether there isn’t something to them. Might he win a resounding 2020 victory, in spite of all the Democrats’ anger?
Creepy old Biden: Someone is trying to make an issue of former Vice President Joe Biden’s history of casually creepy behavior toward women. The complainant in this case is involved in groups supportive of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is neck and neck with Biden
Let the incident serve as a reminder that almost any derogatory information you hear now about Democratic hopefuls (including the scathing allegations against Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.) is almost certainly being planted in the media by opponents.
Note also that the chief beneficiary of anything negative about Biden is probably Trump. Biden, as the viable moderate who might yet run, is the Democrat most likely candidate to defeat the incumbent.
Last week, there were a few developments in 2020 Senate races. But none of them appear especially good for helping Democrats win control of the Senate. That’s a big problem for their party, which will need a Senate win in order to prevent the most important parts of President Trump’s legacy from becoming permanent.
Maine: Last fall, when Sen. Susan Collins, R, gave her famous floor speech on why she was voting to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh, far-left activists raged. They sent death and rape-threats to her office. They also raised $3.8 million and promised to end Collins’ career in 2020.
It didn’t seem like an idle threat. After all, the moderate Collins holds a pivotal Senate seat that isn’t in natural Republican territory.
Fortunately for Collins, Mainers’ priorities don’t seem to match those of the woke Left. Collins’ approval remains sky-high at 62 percent according to a new local poll released last week. The same poll found that she also has a 51-to-29 percent lead over one likely opponent, state House Speaker Sara Gideon, D. But it isn’t just a losing race for Gideon — those numbers don’t suggest a promising prospect for any challenger. Who’d have thought it — the average Maine voter isn’t freaking out over a more conservative Supreme Court.
If Democrats can’t put this race on the table, they’re going to have a very hard time winning the Senate in 2020. Republicans currently hold 53 Senate sets, and they are all but certain to win a 54th in Alabama. That means Democrats will need to pick up four or five seats, depending on whether they win the presidency. As we saw last week in Montana, they aren’t having much luck so far in recruiting top candidates to put new races on the board.
The consequences of Collins’ continued popularity could thus be quite dramatic. Even if President Trump is not re-elected, a continued Republican Senate could stymie Democrats’ ambitions to restore their judicial supremacy through presidential appointments. It would certainly halt in its tracks any attempt to seize power through illegitimate means, such as stacking the Supreme Court or abolishing the filibuster — all ideas that Democratic presidential candidates are discussing.
New Hampshire: Sen. Jean Shaheen, D, defeated Sen. John Sununu in 2008 to take control of her seat. Now John’s brother, Gov. Chris Sununu, R, is considering a run to take it back. House Speaker William O’Brien is also considering a run.
Shaheen, a former governor, has always been relatively popular, but she nearly fell in 2014, holding off former Sen. Scott Brown by less than 16,000 votes.
A competitive race in New Hampshire would make Democrats’ prospects for retaking the Senate even less appealing than they already are. And already, two recent polls show a dead-heat race between Shaheen and Sununu — one poll even shows a tie at 44 percent, which is bad news for the incumbent.
New Mexico: The unexpected retirement of progressive Sen. Tom Udall, D, opens up a seat in a state where Republicans have fared very poorly since the late Sen. Pete Domenici, R, held office. Although George W. Bush carried the state in 2004, and Republicans briefly seized control of its governorship in 2010 and its state House in 2014, they have failed to mount competitive races for Senate since 2002.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D, is announcing today that he is running for the seat. Republicans have some decent candidates who might run — including former Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, R — but Democrats must be favored out of the gate to keep this seat.