How Much Will Trump Win By Tonight?
And will Nikki Haley hold on to second?
Students of history may recall this little bit of election pop culture from the “Douche and Turd” election of 2004 (how quaint!):
Well it’s been updated now for the frigid winter of Iowa, where the plea for you hangs on the opportunity to vote AND die:
It’s an apocalyptic moment, people, every grandma needs to find their way out of the snow bank! That’s how important it is to maintain that double digit lead over Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley — and, lest we forget, Vivek Ramaswamy, now viewed as a potential single digit spoiler as was always inevitable. You cut into Donald Trump’s overall number, you’re a problem, no matter how much you suck up to the guy.
The final DMR Iowa poll, released on Saturday, showed that number maintaining its vaunted lead over all comers. If it holds, Trump will clearly displace Bob Dole as the widest margin for a winner in Iowa (Dole set the standard in an upset over George H.W. Bush in 1988, as I discussed in my podcast recently).
But there was a note of caution sounded by pollster Ann Selzer, namely that Nikki Haley’s number may prove particularly soft:
Yet while Haley’s first-choice support has ticked up, just 9% of her supporters say they’re extremely enthusiastic about her candidacy — substantially lower than the enthusiasm for Trump and even DeSantis.
“There is underlying weakness here,” pollster J. Ann Selzer said of Haley’s standing. “If turnout is low, it seems to me that a disproportionate share of her supporters might stay at home.” …
Trump’s strongest groups are evangelical Christians (with 51% of them picking him as their first choice), registered Republicans (54%), first-time caucusgoers (56%) and likely caucusgoers who don’t have college degrees (59%).
Haley’s 20% first-choice support in the poll is up 4 points from December’s poll, and she overperforms among independents (with 33% of them picking her as their first choice) and those with college degrees (27%).
Strikingly, half of Haley’s supporters identify as either independents (39%) or Democrats (11%) — significantly different from the poll’s overall makeup, which stands at 69% Republicans, 23% independents and 5% Democrats among likely GOP caucusgoers.
One clear takeaway from the last week is that the DeSantis ground game is chugging along, with the Florida Governor attracting large crowds at many events. If DeSantis ends up coming in second, does it do much to blunt the perceived momentum for Haley headed into the friendlier climes of New Hampshire? Or if the likeliest scenario is Trump by a lot in Iowa, and Trump by slightly less in New Hampshire, isn’t the takeaway just: Trump, heading into Nevada and South Carolina with plenty of mo?
Biden and Risk Assessment
As Republicans wait to seal their fate, Democrats are still sniping at each other over the perceived weakness of a particularly unpopular president. Here’s an interview with David Axelrod about all that:
You have two old guys running for president. One of them is consumed by his past, and the other has an eye on your future. That’s the choice. To me, that’s a compelling argument for Biden. It transcends whatever concerns people have about his presentation and so on. Look at the work product and explain the work product in context.
I don’t think he’s ever going to win a referendum. He’s not going to win a report card contest — [though] I think he’d like that, and I think he’s someone who likes that affirmation. But he’s never going to get the credit he deserves, at least in real time.
People should at least know what he’s working toward and what his vision for the country is, because Donald Trump is fully consumed by himself and his own problems and retribution. He’s a backward-looking candidate.
Bill Clinton once said elections are always about the future. I actually think, improbably, the oldest president can grab the future here if he talks about the project he’s working on. And I don’t think it’s all about democracy — though that is a part of it. Protecting and expanding the power of our democracy is a future-oriented project, but it’s not the sum total of it. It’s: What kind of lives are our kids and grandkids going to live in the future? …
Listen: Let me make clear that this can’t be a referendum. Part of that message has to be the contrast between a flawed former president who is consumed by the past, and a president who has an eye on the future. To me, that’s the contrast you have to draw.
If you don’t have this contrast, then it just becomes a battle of risk assessment — and I don’t think you want to get into that battle.
That last line is a pretty notable one, if David Axelrod really does think a risk assessment vs. Donald Trump would now put Joe Biden at a disadvantage. More on the Obama/Biden divide here.
Georgia Prosecutor Under Fire
Just three days after Georgia prosecutors indicted Donald Trump last summer, one of the lead prosecutors on the case faced some legal trouble of his own.
The prosecutor, Nathan Wade, was held in contempt for defying a court order in an acrimonious divorce proceeding with his wife. Wade, a judge in Cobb County, Ga., ruled, had “willfully” failed to turn over documents about his income — including, his wife later said, income from his work on the Trump case.
Wade’s divorce became abruptly intertwined with the Trump prosecution this week, when a lawyer for one of Trump’s co-defendants alleged in a court filing that Wade has been having an affair with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis. Shortly after the allegation became public, Wade’s wife, Jocelyn, served Willis with a subpoena seeking her testimony in the divorce proceeding.
The lawyer who alleged the affair has not offered proof, and Willis has said she would respond in court documents. A lawyer for Wade declined to comment.
Even aside from the salacious allegation, the contempt ruling against Wade in August 2023 shows that he was fighting his own deeply personal legal battle — and getting admonished by a judge — as he was helping run one of the most consequential criminal cases in American history: the indictment of Trump and numerous allies for their bid to subvert the state’s 2020 election results.
Items of Interest
“One of the great accomplishments of Martin Luther King (and apologies for invoking him, since it has become so banal) is that he managed to bring prejudiced people to his side. Attitudes in the South toward blacks and their place in society were changed by viewing well-dressed men and women attacked by dogs and blasted by fire hoses. The starry-eyed might claim that prejudice was thereby eliminated, and in many cases that was surely true. But a more modest view is that many people, still maintaining antipathy toward black Americans, found the visuals to be repellent. They didn’t like King and his supporters, but they disliked what they saw even more. Such thinking, that humans frequently have to select between two bad choices, is part and parcel of the right-wing view of humanity and seems a far more realistic explanation of human behavior than the idea that prejudice was or can be somehow totally or even largely expunged from a culture grounded in it.”
— Michael Malice