The belated arrival of Florida governor Ron DeSantis to early-voting South Carolina was the political story of the week here in the “First in the South” Palmetto State.
But was it as big a story as it should have been? And more to the point … did it do anything to move the needle in DeSantis’ favor?
With DeSantis national campaign experiencing its first significant slippage following his triumphant reelection last fall (and subsequent installment as ‘DeFuture‘ of the GOP) the ‘Ready for Ron’ crowd needed a big splash in the heart of Trump country to right the ship.
Did they get it?
That’s why our Palmetto Political Stock Index is here, people. To track the trajectories of those vying for votes in this pivotal presidential state.
The Palmetto Political Stock Index is compiled weekly by our founding editor Will Folks and our political columnist Mark Powell. Got a hot “stock tip” for their consideration? Email Will ([email protected]) and/ or Mark ([email protected]). Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.
Where should you invest your political capital this week? To the index!
The big buzz following the Florida governor’s visit to South Carolina was … honestly, a lack of buzz. Reaction to DeVisit largely depended on whether someone attended DeSantis’ rallies in person. By all accounts, things went smoothly – with enthusiastic crowds greeting the governor and his wife at each of their three campaign stops (well, four if you count an impromptu drop-by at a Lowcountry coffee house). Turnout was so strong at a Baptist church in Spartanburg an overflow room was required to handle the influx.
DeSantis hit all his signature themes: Decrying the alphabet soup of Woke politics (CRT, DEI, etc.), railing against transgenderism gone wild, the crippling COVID lockdowns, and so on. He even played nice and never mentioned frontrunner Donald Trump by name. Media coverage was plentiful and about as positive as any conservative can expect these days.
But here’s where things get dicey. Those who saw and heard DeSantis in person later used words like “excited” and “pumped up” to describe their reaction. Yet among the rest of the GOP base – crickets. Almost total silence.
That eerily mirrors what happened last week in another early primary state. DeSantis was last Friday’s featured speaker at the New Hampshire GOP’s Amos Tuck Dinner (its version of the SCGOP’s Silver Elephant bash). Those who attended gave him rave reviews. Four days later, though, a new University of New Hampshire (UNH) poll showed DeSantis plunging among GOP voters in the Granite State – dropping from 43 percent support in January to just 22 percent support today.
Meanwhile, Trump saw his support shoot up from 30 percent to 42 percent over the same time period.
What gives? A growing disconnect exists somewhere between the DeSantis campaign and the GOP grassroots. His team needs to find and correct it — stat — before the governor’s window of opportunity slams shut. For that reason, his stock remains a firm hold this week.
Just when you thought Biden couldn’t do anything more to damage the economy and hamstring his reelection chances, he exceeds expectations. While the liberal news media (a.k.a. Biden’s propaganda ministry) has largely turned a blind eye to this news, a big (and costly) change is mere days away from taking effect on beleaguered home loan borrowers. Starting on May 1, 2023, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will slap new fees – called loan level price adjustments (LLPAs) – onto new home loans originated by private banks such as Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase. And here’s the kicker: Those LLPAs will only be paid by customers with good credit scores and will be used to finance those who are at greater risk. In short, if you’re a responsible consumer, you’ll be burdened by a higher monthly mortgage payment to support those who are not.
This is pure Karl Marx, people. The Comrade Father of Communism called it “wealth redistribution,” and his acolytes in the Biden administration palm it off as “home ownership equity.” But if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck….
Whoever is pulling this doddering puppet’s strings is doing so with their Left hand and acting with haughty Leftist impunity. Higher mortgage payments; higher gasoline prices, natural gas prices, and electricity bills; higher costs at the grocery store … Though Democrats shrug it off, a Day of Reckoning could soon be approaching for Biden. And if his teleprompter doesn’t figure out a way to tack back to the middle soon, that day could very well be Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024.
Regardless, word came late Thursday that Biden will officially announce he’s running for reelection next week, possibly as early as Tuesday (the anniversary of his 2020 announcement). But posing as a political Robin Hood by taking money from the rich (and congratulations if you’re middle class; in Biden’s eyes, you just became “rich”) and giving it to the poor will only help with votes Biden already has – while motivating others to vote against him. So it’s sharply down for POTUS this week.
This is a good time to be Donald Trump. A very, very good time. Poll after poll shows him arcing across the Republican presidential sky with the brightness of a comet. “It’s Trump’s race to lose,” a GOP strategist said, before quickly adding “at this moment.”
All too often in politics, a comet can burn itself into a falling star – although every prediction of Trump’s demise (at least among the GOP electorate) has proven to be wishful thinking by his enemies.
The PPSI doesn’t have a crystal ball that sees into the future. (If we did, we’d be snapping up real stocks on Wall Street instead of handicapping political races in South Carolina!) But as of this week, Trump remains comfortably planted on the catbird seat, smiling like the cat who swallowed the proverbial canary.
Or should we say DeCanary …
ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.
The PPSI takes a dim view of celebrity bon vivants who indulge in political vanity projects. Kennedy’s glitzy announcement in Boston Wednesday showed he is not one of them.
His is more than a Quixotic campaign combining pie-in-the-sky liberal puffery with a strong shot of Camelot nostalgia. This newest claimant to the Kennedy mantle made it abundantly clear he is earnest about this race. While no professional pol believes for a minute that RFK, Jr. can score one of the greatest upsets of all-time by bumping off Biden for the Democratic nomination, they also recognize he could play a critical spoiler role in New Hampshire’s rump First-In-The-Nation Democratic primary (for reasons we spelled out a few weeks ago).
Plus, everyone knows Kennedy money – along with that of their equally rich liberal friends – can go a long way in little old New Hampshire (and down here in South Carolina, too). That – along with Biden’s latest stumble – is why his stock is rising this week.
Larry Elder is officially running for president. Larry Who? Fair question. But that isn’t stopping the conservative commentator (who turns 71 next week) from going for the brass ring. He officially entered the Republican field on Thursday. Elder was the top GOP vote-getter in the 2021 recall effort that unsuccessfully tried to strip California governor Gavin Newsom of his job.
That bolstered Elder’s name ID beyond the talk radio circuit – at least in California. And given that Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 there, it’s hardly a groundswell one can ride to Washington. But the PPSI takes a benevolent view of most candidates in either party when they initially enter the race. Hence, it’s a rising rating this week for Larry Elder – even if odds are you won’t hear the name Larry Elder again.
Seriously? Without a doubt, the most bizarre political development this week was whispering that Mitt Romney might be toying with running in the 2024 GOP presidential primary. Speculation was stoked late last week when he submitted a statement of candidacy to keep his Utah Senate seat — but didn’t actually say he was seeking reelection. At the same time, Utah’s conservative House Speaker is openly considering a primary challenge to Romney.
It’s possible this flamingly moderate squish may pass up a messy renomination fight and, as captain of the SS Trump Impeacher cruise line, make yet another White House run instead. If he does, he can at least count on riding congresswoman Liz Cheney’s coattails. Oh, wait …
The upside? Romney does still “look like a president …”
Norman has been in Washington for six years now – and there’s increasing chatter he may be eyeing a different job. One in Columbia, S.C., perhaps. Or maybe at the other end of Capitol Hill in D.C. Wherever he’s headed, Norman is reportedly hoping to use a Palmetto political group to help get him there.
The fiercely conservative congressman (just ask him) is a member of the original Freedom Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. He also was among the 20 GOP holdouts who delayed Kevin McCarthy’s election as Speaker in January in exchange for a string of significant concessions.
Norman is the founding father of the new South Carolina Freedom Caucus – which is working overtime to shake up the status quo swamp at the state level. The word among political circles is Norman hopes to tap into the S.C. Freedom Caucus network as a launchpad either for a run for governor – or to challenge left-of-center Lindsey Graham for his U.S. Senate seat in 2026.
Norman’s “aw shucks, ya’ll” schtick is a perfect fit for the folksy fifth congressional district. How it would play in the glittering polish of Charleston (and how his sometimes-earthy language would go over in the evangelistic Upstate) are open to question.
Further, it’s widely suspected the House GOP Establishment will be coming after the Young Turks in the SC Freedom Caucus with the fury of a rapacious swamp sow – meaning most of its members will be defending their own seats while trying to pick up others to grow their ranks. How much political ammo they would have left over to send Norman’s way is up for debate. Either way, Norman’s aspirations could add a new dynamic to the constantly changing kaleidoscope that is South Carolina politics. So we will keep an eye on his stock in future reports …
HEATHER BAUER AND JOE WHITE
Talk about a legislative odd couple! You’d be hard-pressed to find a more unlikely team than these two freshmen lawmakers. One is a young female urban (Columbia) small business-owning Democrat whose political star is ascending. The other is a male small-town (Prosperity) military veteran Republican who has seen his biblical “three score and ten” years – plus a few more to boot. Yet this unlikely duo is doing what precious few public officials on either side of the aisle are even attempting: They’re working together for the common good, trying to change how judges are selected in South Carolina.
The entrenched powers resisting them are formidably strong, and the odds of change happening this legislative session are long. But Bauer and White are displaying the best qualities of public servants by educating their fellow citizens about the critical need to revamp the judicial selection process. And for that, their stock is commendably high this week.
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