Pelosi, Raskin won’t endorse her for renomination

This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 37

  • Biden’s swing state swoon
  • No love for Kamala
  • Romney is done with politics

President 2024

Joe Biden: We pointed out several of President Joe Biden’s problems last week. But a new Reuters-Ipsos poll of 4,000 voters contained some even more troubling results for him. 

First of all, Biden’s best asset in a rematch with former President Donald Trump (R) is Trump’s overwhelming unpopularity. But this survey found the two statistically tied in the category of “very unfavorable,” with 38 percent viewing Biden this way and 40 percent viewing Trump this way (two-point margin of error). 

The headline finding was even worse for Biden. Because this poll had such a large sample size, a subsample was created for voters in the seven key swing states with the narrowest results in 2020 — Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada and Michigan. In those seven states, Trump led Biden, 41 to 35 percent. 

Nationally and overall, Trump and Biden were tied at 39 percent each. This is an astoundingly low topline number for an incumbent, although in Biden’s defense Trump could also be considered like an incumbent, based on his universal name recognition. 

But bear in mind that this result comes right after several Democratic prosecutors have strategically brought charges against Trump in order to dent his image further and distract him throughout the campaign year.

Now, this poll could be considered dubious just because it has so many undecideds. But that doesn’t entirely eclipse its significance. The fact that Biden, an incumbent, is performing so poorly in swing states against a candidate with such a pronounced popularity problem represents an enduring challenge for his campaign. How is an incumbent like himself going to get people excited to go out and vote for him and a status quo with which overwhelming majorities are unhappy and view him as too old to be president (77 percent)? Don’t forget, the candidate himself is probably not capable of talking his way back to popularity. Nor will he have COVID as an excuse to stay in his basement for the entire campaign this time.

Biden’s one hope is a sudden economic recovery. As with the poll we analyzed last week, this one found an overwhelming majority stating that economic conditions are about the same or worse than before COVID (73 percent). 

Issues: The latest Quinnipiac survey was easier on Biden overall, showing him leading nationally over Trump, 47 to 46 percent. (Note that this result would also be consistent with a Trump victory in the Electoral College.) However, its questions about issues should raise further concerns, as voters disapprove of Biden’s performance even on some issues he would consider his strengths: the economy is obviously a weakness (35 percent approval/60 percent disapproval), but Biden would consider himself a winner on climate change (36 percent/53 percent), and the war in Ukraine (43 percent/51 percent), even though majorities disapprove of his performance on both.

Perhaps most tellingly, when asked who they thought “would do a better job responding to a national crisis,” 51 percent chose Trump over Biden (44 percent). This evinces an astounding lack of confidence in Biden’s abilities at the core of voters minds, which could potentially override all other considerations.

Kamala Harris: When asked directly, neither Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) nor Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) was willing to directly endorse Kamala Harris for renomination as vice president. This is an astounding occurrence and surely no coincidence.

Pelosi, under questioning by the sympathetic Anderson Cooper of CNN, refused repeatedly to say that she thought Harris was “the best running mate for Biden.” 

Raskin was even more evasive under questioning from Jake Tapper, refusing to give a yes or no answer to whether Harris was the best running mate for Biden in 2024. Tapper made an fool of him in the interview: When he responded with the question, “What can I say?” Tapper shot back with the obvious: “You could say ‘Yes.’” Raskin refused to do so.

One could make the case that these senior Democrats in Congress were just observing their party’s pecking-order, trying to avoid tying Biden’s hands, in case he wants the flexibility to pick a new running-mate. But even this excuse implies that there is actually some serious talk behind the scenes of dumping Kamala from the 2024 ticket.

Recent surveys show Harris is viewed even less favorably than Biden or Trump — by just 37 percent in the RealClear average and as low as 33 percent in multiple recent polls. 

But are Democrats going to dump Harris? It is doubtful. In a party that is trying to reorganize itself and the nation entirely along racial lines (to the point of essentially abolishing all significance for states that are deemed excessively white (Iowa and New Hampshire) in their presidential nominating contests, what kind of message would it send to dump the first female and the first black vice president? If they could choose Harris as his running-mate even after she called Biden a racist, there is little she can do that would excuse team Biden getting rid of her.

On the other hand, Harris is very unpopular. It would probably help Biden’s chances of reelection if he replaced her with someone more sincere, dynamic, and serious. 

Governor 2024

North Carolina: In May, state Supreme Court Justice Michael Morgan (D) announced he would not be running for reelection in 2024. Here are a few facts to help understand why: Morgan, approaching the end of his 8-year term, is the last justice to win an election in North Carolina (in 2016) before the state legislature passed a new law making judicial candidates run on the ballot with party labels.

His departure from the state Supreme Court gives Republicans a chance at a 6-1 conservative majority next year. But in the last couple of weeks, Morgan has announced he would be resigning his seat on the court and become a late entrant into the governor’s race. He joins the overwhelming favorite, Attorney General Josh Stein (D).

This means that Morgan is getting a late start far behind a front runner. However, don’t count him out.

Morgan is black, and one of the most distinguished and accomplished black public officials in the state. The Democratic base in North Carolina is overwhelmingly black. This could add another dimension to a Morgan-Stein primary that could potentially disrupt all of the assumptions made so far.

Senate 2024

Utah: Sen. Mitt Romney (R) is retiring after a single controversial term in which he voted twice to remove Trump from office. The race to replace him will be a wide open one, as the candidate who has been polling best up to now, Attorney General Sean Reyes has announced he will not be seeking the nomination.

Governor 2026

Texas: Last week, following the reasoning of some Texas political experts, we anticipated that Republicans would not acquit Attorney General Ken Paxton. But they did — in fact, they didn’t even produce a majority vote for his removal, let alone the required supermajority vote. So what happened?

Our incorrect assumption, in line with some Texas Republicans’ thinking, had been that the state Senate would have dismissed the charges immediately on technical grounds if it had intended to keep Paxton in office. This proved to be wrong. The state Senate declined to dismiss the charges. It heard from witnesses, then acquitted Paxton. 

The reasoning given afterward was partly procedural. As Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) argued afterward, the State House, heavily influenced by moderate Republicans, had hastily cobbled together its impeachment articles and failed to create an evidentiary record establishing Paxton’s guilt. He blamed the situation on politics, and stated that the Bush era of the Texas Republican Party was over. Part of the issue stemmed from a lack of clear rules or modern precedents for how impeachments are supposed to be conducted in Texas. 

Patrick’s subsequent speech, excoriating the state House for impeaching Paxton by such a wide margin, is available here. He referred to an earlier speech from during the impeachment vote, by state Rep. John Smithee (R), which went unheeded when the state House voted overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis to impeach Paxton.

Previous articleLong Shot