How Weak is Trump? What about Biden?
Pollster Whit Ayres has some thoughts.
“This era of American politics will end, one way or the other. And when it does, historians are likely to debate whether its defining characteristic was stupidity or malice. I’ve gone back and forth in my own mind, but I now realize that the two traits have almost fully merged. Malice is creating stupidity, and stupidity is creating malice.” — David French, The New York Times
Fired anchor turns up in Moscow. Russian Media Hypes Tucker Carlson Visit: 'Americans Are in Shock'
Senator J.D. Vance, yet another extremely thirsty Trump vp candidate, says he would have done Trump’s bidding in overturning the 2020 presidential election.
And here’s Vance suggesting that the President of the United States can defy Supreme Court rulings.
Border bill sparks brawl in Senate GOP - Punchbowl News
MAGA hardest hit. Taylor Swift wins album of the year, setting Grammys record
Trump tosses Ronna under the bus. Trump suggests changes at the RNC in implied dig at Chairwoman McDaniel amid dip in cash reserves - CNN
Conviction politics. How a Trump conviction changes the 2024 race in NBC News' latest poll
The newest national NBC News poll shows former President Donald Trump leading current President Joe Biden by 5 points among registered voters, 47%-42%, in a hypothetical general-election matchup….
But when the survey’s final question re-asks voters what their ballot choice would be if Trump is found guilty and convicted of a felony this year, Biden narrowly pulls ahead of Trump, 45%-43%.
On the original ballot, Biden and Trump are tied 42%-42% among voters ages 18 to 34. But when these voters are asked about their ballot choice if Trump is convicted, they break for Biden by 15 points, 47%-32%.
Similarly, Latinos go from Trump 42%, Biden 41% on the first ballot — to Biden 45%, Trump 35% on the second one asking the hypothetical question about Trump’s conviction.
And independents shift from a 19-point lead for Trump on the first ballot to a smaller, 8-point edge for Trump on the second.
Ignorance is bliss. Most Republicans aren’t aware of Trump’s various legal issues - The Washington Post
Michael Steele: Let it Rip, Joe
On the weekend podcast: Surprise, surprise, Biden drops F-bombs when he talks about the former insurrectionist president. Plus, Mike Johnson is Trump’s punk, and the RNC is behind in the campaign money race after spending lavishly on luxury hotels and private jets. Former RNC chair and newly-minted MSNBC host, Michael Steele, joins me.
You can listen to the whole thing here. Or watch us on YouTube.
How Weak is Trump?
On the weakness of Donald Trump
AYRES: Donald Trump is a strong favorite to win the Republican nomination. Nikki Haley is making a good run and hanging in there. I think it’s important to realize that most presidential campaigns don’t end because the candidate believes they would not be particularly good in the office or that they have no chance. Most campaigns end because they run out of money. And, at least since the New Hampshire primary and Donald Trump’s less than gracious victory speech that night, apparently Nikki Haley has been able to raise a lot of money, enough money to keep going, at least through South Carolina and maybe through Super Tuesday. But, of course, the reality is that Donald Trump remains the odds-on favor to win the nomination.
[Trump] is a quasi-incumbent, and [despite that] some 40 to 45% of Republican primary voters are voting for somebody else. This is not exactly a sign of overwhelming dominance when you’ve got almost half the party at least interested in an alternative. But, of course, he remains the favorite. But it does cross my mind if he had said what I’m sure Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita wanted him to say after the New Hampshire primary, something similar to what he said after Iowa, “I congratulate Nikki Haley on a well-run race, but this primary is over and it’s time to join forces and unite the party against Joe Biden.” Instead, he went on this angry rant because Nikki Haley refused to bend the knee, and it reminded all the people who are not for Trump why they’re not for him. It was really an incredibly missed opportunity on the part of the Trump campaign, I thought…. He did not get a single vote on the primary night in New Hampshire that he didn’t already have, and he reminded everybody who wasn’t for him why they didn’t want him in the first place. It was not an impressive performance.
On Nikki Haley’s prospects
AYRES: Nikki Haley is making a good run and hanging in there. I think it’s important to realize that most presidential campaigns don’t end because the candidate believes they would not be particularly good in the office or they have no chance. Most campaigns end because they run out of money. And at least since the New Hampshire primary and Donald Trump’s less than gracious victory speech that night, apparently Nikki Haley has been able to raise a lot of money, enough money to keep going, at least through South Carolina and maybe through Super Tuesday. But of course, the reality is that Donald Trump remains the odds on favorite to win the nomination.
On the weakness of Joe Biden
AYRES: There’s no reason for the Biden forces to feel more optimistic today. The poll that came out today, Bloomberg Morning Consult, Wisconsin, Trump up 8, Nevada, Trump up 12, Michigan, Trump up 6, Georgia, Trump up 7, North Carolina, Trump up 13, Arizona, Trump up 8, Pennsylvania, Trump up 3. Trump would win in a landslide in the electoral college if the election were held today and the reason is that Joe Biden is the weakest American president since Jimmy Carter, and there’s some similarity between the two men. Both of them defeated weakened Republican incumbents. Gerald Ford, in the case of Jimmy Carter, who was very unpopular after he pardoned Nixon, and Biden defeated Trump after a chaotic first term, but both have conducted themselves in a way that has led a majority of Americans to disapprove of their job performance, and Biden is starting to get that Carter feel.
By that I mean that the world is coming apart, and he seems incapable of affecting events in any sort of positive way, and that was the feeling people started to get about Jimmy Carter after the Iranian hostage crisis, that he just was incapable of affecting events. You’re starting to get that feel with Joe Biden too, that he is just unable to affect events in a positive way, whether it’s Ukraine or immigration or the Middle East. It just feels like events are out of control, and Biden is a bystander watching events spin out of control. Once that perception settles in, it becomes incredibly difficult to change it, and I’ve seen nothing over the last few months to change that perception about Joe Biden.
On two baked-in vulnerabilities of the Biden campaign
AYRES: Biden has got two huge vulnerabilities, in addition to the foreign policy crisis and the crisis with the border and the economy that people don’t think is any good. The most important one is the vast majority of Americans, including a vast majority of Democrats, think he’s just too old to serve effectively, in his mid ‘80s in the most difficult job in the world.
The second vulnerability is that virtually no one in either party thinks that Kamala Harris is ready for prime time. The White House is fond of saying, “well, a lot can change in the course of eight months.” Well, that’s true, but what won’t change is Joe Biden is not going to get any younger, any more physically vigorous or any sharper mentally, and Kamala Harris is not going to get any more ready to be president of the United States. There’s nothing they can do about either one, and it’s amazing to me that Democrats at this point have gone along so meekly, and I wonder how much longer they’re going to continue to go along with a ticket that looks like a sure loser in the fall.
On whether there will be a major third-party challenge
AYRES: Two thirds of Americans absolutely dread the thought of a Trump/Biden rematch. Two thirds, and that includes a majority of both Democrats and Republicans. And almost 80% of independents want better choices. So, who knows what happens? It certainly doesn’t increase belief and trust in our political system. I’ve been very skeptical that a third party could be anything more than a spoiler, and I still think I’m there.
But you have to wonder, if it’s two thirds of the country doesn’t want either one of these guys, if there might not be the possibility of a third party having more effect than they’ve had in the past. I still am skeptical, I’ll have to be convinced. But it just sort of feels like there’s a vacuum there that somebody might be able to fill and start tapping into the widespread resistance to a Trump/Biden rematch.
On the potential for instability in the race for the general election
KRISTOL: In terms of the real world events, which is another set of things that haven’t happened yet, anything in particular from your experience or analysis of the opinion polls now, particular vulnerabilities on each side, if you could snap your fingers and make one thing happen or not happen either for Joe Biden or Donald Trump in the real world, in the economy, border, Ukraine, I don’t know, does one matter more than others? I mean, what is your sense?
AYRES: I mean, we’re still talking about changes at the margins when we’re talking about things like the economy getting better and Joe Biden being more trusted on the economy than Donald Trump, which he is not right now. But that’s so overwhelmed by the age problem and the Kamala Harris problem that it’s hard to see that kind of thing making a significant difference. It’s more likely to be some kind of health event. It’s more likely to be some kind of health event affecting either one of these guys or some kind of unexpected, violent event that affects either one of them. I don’t know. And that’s why, while [the race] looks so certain on the surface, it feels uncertain beneath the surface.
1. The inside story of the DeSantis super PAC’s failure.
Marc Caputo in today’s Bulwark. Editor’s note: Welcome to MAGAville, the new newsletter by The Bulwark’s national political reporter, Marc Caputo.
At the center of Never Back Down’s big drama, big ideas, and big spending stood a close Laxalt ally: the star consultant Jeff Roe, his mammoth firm Axiom Strategies, and a web of affiliated companies that accounted for $22 million in Never Back Down’s billing in 2023, according to an internal Never Back Down analysis of campaign finance information filed last Wednesday.
Roe became a target early on for Donald Trump and his supporters, who conducted what some called a “psyop” on DeSantis designed to sow mistrust about the consultant. Unreported until now, the super PAC backing South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott secretly fueled the division—chiefly by discovering and leaking a debate advice memo Roe clandestinely penned for DeSantis. It caused major suspicion inside the DeSantis campaign—and between it and the super PAC—about who the leaker was.
It was a constant power struggle from the jump: The DeSantis operation in Tallahassee pitted against Roe’s Axiom team in Atlanta. The Tallahassee crew thought the professional consultants were pretend experts who masked fecklessness with data and jargon, while Atlanta thought Tallahassee exemplified a Dunning–Kruger effect of inexperienced rubes overestimating their abilities.
“In hindsight, we were fucked from the beginning,” one Never Back Down consultant summed up.
2. Zelensky Is Reportedly Planning a Big Army Leadership Shakeup
Now there are reports that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to relieve (or has already relieved) Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, from command. There are a host of possible reasons for such a move. Zaluzhny reportedly ruffled a lot of feathers in the presidential administration when he described the war as a “stalemate” to the Economist, while also admitting that his strategy to bleed the Russians was ill-advised. There have also been suggestions that Zelensky and Zaluzhny have disagreed on the question of mobilization, with Zaluzhny believing mass mobilization is necessary to replenish Ukrainian forces and Zelensky disagreeing because of the politics and the cost.
Road-trip for Putin’s useful idiot.
Ann Coulter. How it started:
How it’s going: