This week: The Briefing, Vol. XI, Issue 38
- Trump abortion comments roil presidential race, but his polling is holding up
- Biden’s numbers keep sagging
- McCormick jumps into Senate race with Biden disapproval in Pa. at 58 percent
Bob Menendez: The bribery indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — his second corruption indictment in a decade — could potentially help Republicans build a political case about a Democratic “Culture of Corruption,” as Democrats did to them long ago in 2006.
There is also a remote chance, but not much better than that, that Republicans could beat a weakened Menendez next fall after he either beats the rap (as he did last time) or (although this is less likely) somehow delays his trial, wins his primary election, and remains in the Senate a year from now.
Even so, Menendez’s downfall is probably bad news overall for the direction of the Democratic Party.
It doesn’t necessarily show up in his voting record, but Menendez is one of the more moderate Democratic officeholders remaining in Washington. This is no small fact, considering that he represents deep Blue New Jersey.
As Senate foreign relations chairman, the Cuban-American senator is especially known for his staunch opposition to Cuba’s communist regime. His indictment and resignation from the committee (not from the Senate) leaves it open for a Democrat more sympathetic to the Castro-Canel regime in Cuba, and eventually for Menendez’s replacement by a woker, more leftist Democrat.
The upshot is that one of the nation’s two major parties is going further off the rails ideologically, but the media only seems to be noticing the drama in the other. As Democrats continue to lose their moderate wing, the potential only grows for ever-more outlandish policy stances.
Ron DeSantis: It isn’t exactly breaking news, but the Florida governor is clearly doing what so many presidential candidates do, putting his eggs into the Iowa basket. As he vies (apparently with success) for the endorsement of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), DeSantis has also dropped to 10 percent and fourth place in New Hampshire behind Nikki Haley and even Chris Christie.
Iowa caucus-goers, among whom Trump lost decisively in 2016, are a group much more likely to choose an alternative. Recall that, at that time, Trump reacted in a manner that has by now become familiar: “Ted Cruz didn’t win Iowa,” Trump tweeted at that time. “He stole it. That is why all of the polls were so wrong and why he got far more votes than anticipated. Bad!”
Given the way national polls are going — all toward Trump, all the time — an Iowa win is a necessary precursor to any kind of DeSantis comeback. Trump’s national lead in the latest NBC poll, at a large and growing 59 to 16 percent, appears more daunting than ever.
Trump-abortion: The need for DeSantis to win Iowa and gain momentum that way became even more evident after Trump’s recent remarks that state-level pro-life “heartbeat laws” like Florida’s are “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”
Trump additionally promised not to sign any national laws limiting abortion. This is significant because Democrats have been seeking ever since Roe was overturned to codify an all-nine-month universal right to abortion by passing a law in Congress to that effect.
There appears to be a genuine rift on the Right in the post-Roe era. As the party seeks to choose a nominee, DeSantis can count on Iowa Republicans having a much more religious Right character than their counterparts in New Hampshire, who were additionally responsible for giving Trump a very big and much-needed win in 2016. Even so, that is only one small advantage, not necessarily one that can gain him a victory against such a massive national Trump tide.
Biden: Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s numbers continue to deteriorate. Among registered voters, last week’s ABC News poll shows him trailing Trump, 52 to 42 percent, an astounding margin for a sitting incumbent to be trailing at this point and by far the best poll for Trump since the cycle began. This suggests that if Trump gets his vote out instead of complaining that the elections are all rigged, he will be president again.
The poll showed increasing strength for Trump among non-white voters at 43 percent, up from 32 percent in the same poll in February. Improved polling among Hispanics is driving this result, hinting at the realignment we have seen coming since the 2022 cycle.
Will Trump actually do this well among non-white voters? He doesn’t have to. If he even comes close, then it is truly Armageddon for Democrats.
A major paradox of dogmatic woke-ism is that only the white urban gentry have a taste for it, in spite of its headline preoccupation with “racial justice.” As social justice warriors seek to de-gender Spanish and turn a blind eye to crimemostly in their negihborhoods, all while telling them they’ve never had it so good with the Biden economy, it may not be as surprising as you’d think.
In fact, Trump’s political incorrectness has likely improved his standing among Hispanic voters, who can be viewed for most political purposes as very similar to non-Hispanic white working-class voters.
Virginia: After Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) pivotal 2021 victory and Republicans’ retaking of the state House of Delegates, the state GOP will attempt to further right the ship this November in the first contest this decade that will also involve control of the state Senate.
The state House will be closely fought, as well. This has led to one candidate in a tight race, Susanna Gibson (D), being exposed for live-streaming her intimate acts with her husband to the public, and even taking requests from paying online strangers.
Youngkin has played his part to highlight Democrats’ Achilles heel, recently pardoning the father who was prosecuted for his angry reaction to Loudoun County School officials’ attempted coverup of the rape of his daughter in a school locker room by a boy in a skirt.
The off-year results in Virginia often escape notice, but they will be worth watching closely this year. A continued Republican resurgence could signal that the state’s conservatives still have some life left in them, whereas a Democratic takeover of the state House could signify an irretrievable slippage by the Commonwealth into Blue State territory.
Pennsylvania: Veteran and former Hedge fund CEO David McCormick (R) has jumped into the Senate race against three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D), receiving a full-throated endorsement from the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
McCormick would have arguably won the 2022 Senate nomination over Mehmet Oz if not for Donald Trump’s endorsement of the latter. He begins this race as an underdog this time against an entrenched incumbent. But Casey’s approval rating is only 43 percent, and Casey can be tied to the ever-more-unpopular Biden, whose disapproval rating in the Keystone State stood at 58 percent last month.