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Finally, a Good Poll for DeSantis
The accepted narrative is still grim for Ron DeSantis. Here’s the Wapo’s latest headline on his sputtering campaign in New Hampshire: “Twice-indicted Trump dominates GOP race, as support for DeSantis stalls.”
The latest national Fox poll shows Trump extending his lead over the Florida governor from 15 points in February to 34 points today.
DeSantis’s argument that Trump can’t win also took a hit with the new Quinnipiac poll showing Trump with a one-point lead over Joe Biden in Pennsylvania. “Though battling fierce legal headwinds, Trump leaves the rest of the GOP pack (including Ron DeSantis) looking like ‘also rans’ and is running neck and neck with President Biden,” said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy.
Meanwhile, DeSantis continues to robotically pander to what he imagines the MAGA base craves.
In other words, it’s not going well. So, the new Wisconsin numbers from the Marquette University Law School poll have to be especially welcome to Team DeSantis.
Among Republicans in the Badger State, DeSantis is almost tied with Trump, pulling 30% of the vote versus Trump’s 31%.
It gets better.
The poll found that DeSantis’s approval rating among Republicans and Republican-leaving voters (67%) is nearly equal to Trump’s (68%) and in a hypothetical (and probably mythical) one-on-one contest, DeSantis actually leads Trump by 16 points —57% to 41%.
But here is the number DeSantis is most likely to hype: the Marquette poll finds that Trump would lose the crucial swing state decisively, but that DeSantis is competitive.
Biden leads DeSantis 49% to 47%, while beating Trump by nine points — 52% to 43%.
The timing is intriguing. Via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
The survey was also conducted in the wake of Trump's federal indictment related to his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.
"I do think the timing of this right after the Trump indictment is an unknown factor," Franklin said.
He added: "As a starting point, we're seeing Biden with a tiny advantage over DeSantis, a bigger advantage over Trump and a really close race within the Republican primary."
Of course, this poll could be an outlier. And I am no longer the innocent summer child of 2016 who thought that Wisconsin could be a firewall vs. Trumpism.
But Wisconsin remains a bellwether and the GOP has been on an extended losing streak here. To the extent that there is a party “establishment,” it seems to recognize that the party has a problem. But, as usual, they seem powerless to do anything about it.
[In] interviews with the Cap Times, almost all Republican leaders and operatives agreed the GOP needs to move past old issues and grievances that arguably cost them recent elections and sell voters on a vision for a more prosperous future.
But gathered in La Crosse earlier this month for their state party’s annual convention, delegates representing local GOP chapters from Wisconsin’s 72 counties overwhelmingly embraced a platform inspired by Trumpism, akin to ideas that have failed the party in recent elections and would continue to put it at odds with many swing voters.
In a series of non-binding resolutions, the Republican delegates advocated for, among other causes, enforcing the state’s 174-year-old abortion ban, stomping out early voting, building a border wall, ending vaccine mandates, curbing the authority of public health officials, arming school teachers with guns and abolishing the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
How important is Wisconsin? Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball says that it is one of only four genuine swing states, along with Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada.
My fellow Cheesehead, James Wigderson notes that the Marquette poll shows former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke with a favorability rating of 48% among GOPers, more than doubling Congressman Tom Tiffany's 22% favorability.
[This] is the second recent poll that showed Clarke leading the pack. Clarke has fully embraced the GOP clown car, including calling for the establishment of a Proud Boys chapter in Wisconsin and lamenting that the insurrection of January 6 wasn't organized enough to accomplish overturning the election.
To the extent that Clarke is leading in name recognition, so is Clarabell. But if Clarke leads in name recognition, it's because Republicans want their Trumpism straight, no chaser needed.
While I'm skeptical Clarke will run, the distant second-place Tiffany is hardly any better. Tiffany supported an ill-fated lawsuit to overturn the 2020 election and then voted to overturn the election after the violence of January 6.
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A quick reminder that we don’t know what we don’t know and nobody knows nothin’. So, restraint seems (once again) to be in order.
But this is still worth watching: “Giuliani Sat for Voluntary Interview in Jan. 6 Investigation.”
The voluntary interview, which took place under what is known as a proffer agreement, was a significant development in the election interference investigation led by Jack Smith, the special counsel, and the latest indication that Mr. Smith and his team are actively seeking witnesses who might cooperate in the case.
The session with Mr. Giuliani, the people familiar with it said, touched on some of the most important aspects of the special counsel’s inquiry into the ways that Mr. Trump sought to maintain his grip on power after losing the election to Joseph R. Biden Jr.
What, you ask is a “proffer agreement”? The NYT explains:
A proffer agreement is an understanding between prosecutors and people who are subjects of criminal investigations that can precede a formal cooperation deal. The subjects agree to provide useful information to the government, sometimes to tell their side of events, to stave off potential charges or to avoid testifying under subpoena before a grand jury. In exchange, prosecutors agree not to use those statements against them in future criminal proceedings unless it is determined they were lying.
Stay tuned. But you knew that.
Rick Scott’s travel ban; Liz Cheney’s warning; and a new survey of GOP county chairs. Is Trump inevitable? On Wednesday’s podcast, I chatted with political scientist Seth Masket.
Alexander Vindman joined Tim and JVL to review what's actually going on inside Russia after the Prigozhin incident.
1. How to Read Polls Without Terror
The polling shows a rally-‘round-Trump effect, but because many Republican voters get their news from talk radio and Fox News and other biased outlets, it’s safe to assume that most haven’t yet assimilated what Trump is accused of in the classified documents case. They’ve heard a whole lot of whataboutism: “Hillary Clinton did the same thing. Joe Biden did the same thing and no one prosecuted him!”
But this time, there are voices from within the GOP information bubble who are telling the truth. Neither Clinton nor Biden did remotely the same thing. Until now, Trump has been buttressed by a solid wall of falsehoods erected and maintained by virtually all elected Republicans and Right World’s propaganda outlets. That has changed. Chris Christie is firing daily broadsides. Asa Hutchinson and Will Hurd, too. And even on Fox News, viewers have been exposed to former Trump stalwarts Bill Barr, Trey Gowdy, Karl Rove, and Jonathan Turley saying the indictment is strong and Trump’s behavior is inexcusable. Elected Republicans like Don Bacon and even Freedom Caucus member Ken Buck have said they won’t support a convicted felon for president. I know, I know, it’s such a low bar, but considering where we’ve been, it marks a significant change.
2. Mainstream Conservatives Are On The Run in Europe, Too
While House Republicans weigh impeaching the attorney general and relitigating the former president’s impeachments, many Senate Republicans are sticking with their long-running strategy: wishing Trump would go away.
Their posture reminds me of the William Faulkner line from “Intruder in the Dust,” the one about how Southern boys are forever fantasizing it’s not yet 2 p.m. at Gettysburg in 1863, and the Confederates have yet to be repelled. For more than a few Senate Republicans, it’s still June of 2015 and Trump has yet to come down that Manhattan elevator to take over their party. Or that, any day now, the party will revert to its pre-Trump identity.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell no more wants to spend his golden years on Martha’s Vineyard than to see Trump as the Republican nominee in 2024. Yet McConnell didn’t even try to round up the votes for Trump’s impeachment conviction in the aftermath of Jan. 6, in hindsight the best chance the party had to be rid of Trump, and now he says nothing as the former president is charged with damning crimes.
3. The Presidential Race Could Use a Third Party—But Not a Third Candidate
A centrist party embracing fusion voting could have extraordinary leverage in the 2024 election. All signs point to another close race, where modest numbers of swing voters in a few purple states could again prove decisive. In exchange for their nomination, the centrist party could secure a commitment from the better candidate to support its key policy objectives, appoint moderate or cross-ideological officials in senior roles, or otherwise prioritize what matters to its supporters.
Is this possible? Absolutely. This strategy is viable now in several states that allow some form of fusion voting in presidential elections. And efforts are underway to re-legalize fusion voting in New Jersey and other states. If No Labels were to invest even a fraction of its $70 million war chest in this direction, they could actually advance their goals of reducing extremism and making our politics more representative. On their current course, No Labels will instead spend a fortune with little to show for it—except putting American democracy in even greater peril.
4. Why Donald Trump Was So Mad at Mark Milley That He Confessed to a Crime.
The reporting about his rift with Milley seemed to have greatly rattled Trump. In the summer of 2021, he was just a few months out of office, an unhappy exile spending most of his time at his clubs in New Jersey and Florida. In interviews, he fulminated about the “rigged” election and ran through his many grievances. While working on “The Divider,” Peter [Baker] and I sat through two such performances, which were guided less by our questions than by whatever Trump wanted to talk about. Milley was still very much on his mind. During our second interview with Trump, in November of 2021, months after these initial stories had come out, he told us that the chairman was “weak and stupid” and had “made up a lot of that stuff after I was done.”
Perfect. Just perfect.