Trump won’t show at Wednesday’s debate

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 33

  • DeSantis hasn’t established himself as more electable
  • Without Trump, Wednesday debate still offers someone else a chance to break out
  • Landry “within reach” of winning Lousiana governor outright on Oct. 14

President 2024

Trump still dominant: The more they indict him, the bigger his lead gets.

Not withstanding the new indictment out of Atlanta, the latest CBS/YouGov poll has former President Donald Trump at 62 percent support among Republican primary voters. Even more ominous for the hopes of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is the fact that he has slipped behind former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) in New Hampshire in at least one state-level poll.

But it gets worse. In addition to his lead on the ballot test, Trump is also perceived by 62 percent of Republican voters as a sure bet to beat Biden, versus 50 percent who believe this of DeSantis. 

The data do not bear out the idea that Trump has the best shot of defeating President Joe Biden. Indeed, he trails Biden in five of the last eight polls, albeit narrowly, while tying him in two and leading in just one. If anything, Trump’s polling performance against Biden has slightly deteriorated since July 1, even though Biden remains deeply unpopular. 

Still, it is the opinion of Republican voters that Trump beats Biden and DeSantis is the less sure bet. This means that DeSantis is failing so far to establish himself, as we previously said he needed to, as the guy more likely to beat Biden than someone facing multiple criminal trials at the beginning of 2024. 

And indeed, DeSantis’s own polling against Biden has suffered as well, although he leads Biden in two of the last five polls testing the matchup.

Michigan: Then again, who says Trump can’t win? 

A new EPIC-MRA poll shows Trump and Biden virtually tied in Michigan. Biden leads, 46 to 45 percent, implying a statistical tie. Both candidates have lower than 40 percent favorability with voters. 

They were also tied in this same poll back in June. If Trump is that close in Michigan, then perhaps it’s much more of a race than anyone is currently expecting.

GOP debate: Trump’s dominance of the GOP primary is nothing new, which is precisely why he is refusing to participate in this week’s debate. Why debate your opponents, when you are leaving them by so much? Why give them a chance to land a punch when you can win without debating?

This does have a potential drawback, however, as Steve Doocy observed Monday Morning. It could potentially give Biden an excuse not to debate Trump next fall.

Still, the finding most interesting to this week’s debate probably has to be the emergence of entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy as the number three candidate in the crowded Republican field.  Behind DeSantis’s still-unimpressive 16 percent showing, Ramaswamy leads the remaining candidates with his 7 percent. This is not bad for a candidate with no political experience or incumbent office.

Another poll by Emerson College shows Ramaswamy tied with DeSantis at 10 percent.

This week’s debate may not match up to Tucker Carlson’s competing Trump interview when it comes to ratings. However, it will still be interesting despite Trump’s decision not to show up, in that it could give someone else a chance to shine and impress Iowa voters.

That could be Ron DeSantis, who desperately needs the performance and has the impressive resume. But it could also be Ramaswamy, who has already proven he has the charisma and rhetorical skill to make something potentially big out of a nothing candidacy — skills that DeSantis and other Republicans so far have not demonstrated.

Governor 2023

Louisiana: With the gubernatorial jungle primary coming up October 14, Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) has nearly 40 percent support in a new poll released last Wednesday. The leading Democrat, Sean Wilson, takes only 22 percent, and no other Republican or Democrat gets even 10 percent.

Given the 17 percent undecided, this means that Landry is quite close — “within reach,” as the pollster put it — of getting 50 percent in the first round and winning outright without a runoff.  

Governor 2024

New Hampshire: Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) begins her race for governor as a prohibitive front-runner, with 45 percent in a new Emerson college poll. The Republican runner-up, former date Senate majority leader Chuck Morse, garners just 9 percent. She also begins with a substantial lead-over each of the leading Democratic contenders, 9 and 13 points, respectively. Although they may both have some upside potential, considering they are only local officeholders — Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig (D) and  Cinde Warmington (D), who serves on the state’s Executive Council..

Senate 2024

New Jersey: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is no stranger to being investigated for corruption, nor are New Jersey voters unused to having their senators investigated for corruption.

Even so, the new federal investigation of Menendez probably should not give Republicans any hope.

His approval rating in New Jersey is at just 36 percent, with 45 percent disapproving, according to Monmouth. If some ambitious Democrat decides to challenge Menendez in the primary, this will be why.

Utah: If Sen. Mitt Romney (R) decides to run again (he has not expressed a decision at this point), he will do so in an environment in which only 30 percent of Utah Republicans support him, according to a poll from Noble Predictive Insights.

That would leave Romney in first place at the start of such a race, but certainly in a precarious position for an incumbent. Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is not running at this point, polls in second place at 13 percent if Romney runs again and in first at 16 percent if he doesn’t.

State House speaker Brad Wilson (R), who is actually already running for the seat and has a substantial amount of support from local officials, registered further back in the pack with 5 percent or 7 percent if Romney retires.