This week: The Briefing, Vol. X, Issue 13
- Biden’s polling just keeps getting worse
- The scandal that could finally stop Eric Greitens
- Republicans have a chance to test their strength in South Texas
Worse and worse for Biden: Advisors to President Joe Biden had hoped for a respite — for a Ukraine War boost in popularity for their popularity-challenged president. With the passing of each week, it becomes increasingly evident that they have been let down. Indeed, Democratic fortunes look even bleaker today than they did in January.
The hope had been that people would rally around the flag. In practice, voters seem to recognize that Biden allowed this war to happen by showing weakness toward Vladimir Putin, and that he keeps botching his comments, contradicting his own official White House message and in fact saying things that substantially harm the war effort, including his comments over the weekend that he wants to remove Putin from power. This latest error leaves Putin with little to lose and incentivizes him never to give up fighting in Ukraine.
There are, it turns out, consequences to giving power to someone who is evidently unaware of his surroundings.
The latest NBC News poll, whose topline numbers are largely consistent with other polls taken this month, shows that only 29% have “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of confidence in Biden’s handling of Ukraine, whereas 71% have little or “just some” confidence. This suggests that, if anything, the war is dragging Biden down a bit, as he stands at 40% approval overall, with 55% disapproving. This is his worst showing yet in the NBC poll.
Importantly, Biden’s 39% approval among Hispanic voters is lower than his support overall. This could become the big story of 2022, much like Southerners finally voting for Republicans was the big story of 1994. A revolution is brewing among this key voter group that could potentially deal Democratic partisans their biggest shock of 2022: the “Latinx” (as only the most clueless white urban gentry refer to them) are simply not that into you.
Overall, Biden is 30 points underwater on his handling of the economy. He is nine points underwater on foreign policy. Americans generally believe the country is headed in the wrong direction by a 49-point margin. Only 22 percent believe it is headed in the right direction.
Biden’s overall approval is negative even in California, according to another poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, which again implies widespread discontent among many non-white voters. The wokeness and COVID-safetyist agendas are not sitting well, meaning once again that there is a unique historic opportunity to inch back toward competitiveness by courting Asian and Hispanic voters.
Republicans, meanwhile, lead by two points in the generic ballot poll for congressional control, according to the NBC poll. Historically, this number is an underestimate of Republican strength.
In short, these numbers all point to a brutally hard and unexpected slap in Democrats’ face this coming November.
Alaska: With the exit of Elvi Gray-Jackson from this race, Democrats have at least temporarily lost their only declared candidate against Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Murkowski also faces the conservative, Trump-endorsed Kelly Tshibaka in the August 16 top-four jungle primary. The absence of a credible Democrat could help Murkowski survive the challenge, as Democratic voters would be more likely to back her. On the other hand, the lack of a party choice for such a high-profile office could also seriously depress Democratic turnout overall.
Missouri: Former Gov. Eric Greitens, who was forced to resign from office under a cloud of scandal, has loomed over the Republican nomination for this open seat. Greitens has consistently led in polls, but with a plurality so small that it seemed unlikely to hold.
Now, Greitens’ ex-wife’s court-filed accusations of physical abuse and unstable behavior may finally become the obstacle to his candidacy that Republicans had been hoping for.
Just as this emerges, the latest Missouri Scout poll suggests that Attorney General Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler — the two recipients of most conservative political endorsements — are within shooting distance of one another for the nomination, with Schmitt narrowly leading.
Republicans just hope that there’s enough time to stop Greitens from pulling out a win. They may finally have what they need to make that happen — and at the very least, it is now highly unlikely that President Donald Trump will endorse Greitens, as many feared he would.
In fact, Trump had a few kind words this week (but not an endorsement) for the also-ran candidate Rep. Billy Long, who currently polls in the high single digits.
This primary election is August 2.
Alaska-At Large: The death of 25-term Rep. Don Young of a heart attack opens up the state’s only House seat for the first time in five decades. The special election to replace him is predictably drawing a crowd. The special election, will be an early demonstration of the state’s new top-four jungle primary system. Former Gov. Sarah Palin appears to see this as an opportunity to regain some relevance in national politics and is making noises about running.
Meanwhile, Republican Nick Begich III — who hails from the same Democratic family as former Sen. Mark Begich and his father, former Rep. Nick Begich — has already been in the race since October, running as a conservative.
The primary, which under the new system is supposed to narrow the field to the top four finishers, will be mostly vote-by mail and held June 11. The subsequent special election will be held on the state’s general primary election day of Aug. 16.
Texas-34: Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela is resigning his seat now to cash out and become a lobbyist.
Joe Biden barely squeaked out a four-point victory in this currently 84% Hispanic district in 2020. That sets the scene for the special election now coming this summer, and an open-seat general election that will follow in a redrawn version of the district this fall.
The precise timing of the resignation will determine what happens next. If he officially quits before April 1, there is supposed to be a special primary election in the Louisiana jungle fashion, in which the top two go to runoff. Otherwise, the seat is supposed to remain vacant until November, but it probably won’t because the governor can declare an emergency and cause the race to .
This race is significant because Vela only won this heavily Democratic (and drawn to be so) seat by 13 points in 2020. The overwhelmingly Hispanic electorate here is already trending Republican fast, thanks largely to Democrats’ leftward lurch and the ridiculous lengths to which they are taking their new religion of “wokeness.” After redistricting, and with a few more Democrats publicly unable to say what a “woman” is, this seat might be a fair-fight seat.
This is highly significant because his near-loss for re-election in 2020 was one of the early signs that Republicans are gaining significantly at the margin with the South Texas Hispanic vote.
It is deeply ironic that Donald Trump was the Republican president who helped usher Hispanics into the party. Despite every attempt to shape a narrative about Trump’s hatred for Hispanics, they eagerly voted for him, and they are now moving rapidly toward other Republicans.
Before this year’s general election, there will be a special election. General election nominee Mayra Flores, who won 61% of the primary vote earlier this month, will almost certainly represent Republicans in the coming special election.
The situation could be more complicated for Democrats, as their 2022 nominee for Texas-34 is Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D, who came within a hair’s breadth of losing in nearby Texas-15 in 2020. He has already said he will not give up his current seat to run in the current Texas-34 in a special election, which creates a massive disincentive for all credible Democratic candidates to run and hold the office for just a couple of months at best. This creates a unique opportunity for Republicans to win the special election and break through in South Texas, then defend the seat in the fall. The Texas GOP, which is finally starting to see fruit result from its longtime quest to win over Hispanic voters, would love to have a chance to test their strength and hone their turnout operation in the special election.