After a wild ride a week ago, it was a ho-hum past couple of days for this emerging barometer. That’s likely to change in the coming week, though, as a pair of Republican presidential candidates formally launch their bids.
Among the new entrants? A second South Carolina contender and the only GOP candidate not named “Trump” who is currently polling in double digits.
How will the entries of Tim Scott and Ron DeSantis reshape this race? We are about to find out … which means next week’s index will be one you definitely won’t want to miss.
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.
Remember, our installment is simply a reflection of how individuals (or institutions) fared in the past seven days. It doesn’t root for candidates – or against them. Positive reports don’t reflect an endorsement or support, and negative ones don’t indicate a vendetta. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. To borrow Walter Cronkite’s famous line, “That’s the way it is….” No more, no less.
To view last week’s installment, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here.
Leave it to Henry McMaster to do something South Carolina voters haven’t done in nearly two decades. The (so-called) Republican governor put a Democrat in statewide office. Pretty hard to argue with a winning streak like that, isn’t it?
It was … until McMaster said, “hold my beer.”
McMaster accomplished via executive fiat what millions of South Carolina voters declined to do with the franchise: Make a Democrat a statewide constitutional officer. McMaster appointed fiscal functionary Brian J. Gaines as interim comptroller general after state lawmakers forced the resignation of former comptroller Richard Eckstrom. The gig became open after a $3.5 billion accounting booboo sent Eckstrom’s 22-year-stint in that job down with the Titanic.
To his credit, Gaines seems to understand he is a placeholder whose main duty is simply affirming the authority of the office to issue checks on behalf of the state (though one wonders if he will still feel that way a year or two from now after new state chairwoman Christale Spain and other prominent Dems have whispered in his ear).
To his discredit, McMaster put fresh wind in Democratic sails by giving a slight blip to their otherwise perpetually flatlined political pulse. It was a hideous miscalculation (are you listening, Trey Walker?) made ironic by the fact McMaster was once SCGOP chairman.
Many Republicans are now wondering, “with friends like that …”
Ten weeks have passed since the PPSI was launched, and during much of that time we have noted how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was drawing increasing flak for not officially jumping into the 2024 GOP presidential race. It now appears as though the long wait is finally ending.
Word broke late this week that DeSantis will announce he’s running on Wednesday, May 24 – while meeting with big-money people in Miami. That’s important because, under federal law, he can’t seek donations unless he is a declared candidate.
The timing is of double interest to Palmetto pachyderms since South Carolina’s own U.S. senator Tim Scott is scheduled to officially toss his hat into the ring two days earlier in North Charleston on May 22. Does Scott run the risk of being eclipsed by DeSantis’ big news? Or will this be an opportunity to outshine him?
Either way, it’s expected DeSantis will kick off his campaign with a big PR dog and pony show in his hometown of Dunedin, Florida, sometime the following week.
Now that the mystery of “when will he?” is fading, the question is becoming, “will it be enough?”
DeSantis has lost ground in the polls. His big money backers have been growing visibly restless. And with no immediate challenger nipping at his heels at the front of the presidential pack, Trump has had free rein to say whatever he likes about his soon-to-be-declared chief rival. To overcome all that, DeSantis needs a strong shot of glitz and glam – coupled with an equally strong appeal to grassroots conservatives.
It’s “go time” for Tim Scott, who has a massive war chest, ample identitypolitik and a kinder, gentler conservative message that many in the GOP believe is capable of resonating with general election voters.
Will it resonate in a rough-and-tumble GOP primary, though?
Scott enters the 2024 fray (belatedly, some might say) as a decided underdog. In addition to fighting for airtime with big names like Trump and DeSantis, he also has to share “First in the South” oxygen with former Palmetto State governor Nikki Haley, who has been an announced candidate for several months.
Still, all systems are go for Scott’s campaign launch next week … which will introduce the nation to as compelling a personal narrative as you will hear from any politician. Can Scott capitalize on the momentum from his big announcement and emerge as a viable contender in this race?
We shall see …
Nobody with the political sense of a PeeDee county party flunky believes for a second the guy with the funny last name is going to win the GOP presidential nomination. But he does have a first-rate mind, a backbone of steel, a commanding speaking style and — not least of all — hundreds of millions in personal net worth. Meaning he can open his checkbook and write “Pay to the Order of My Campaign” until his hand cramps.
Vivek (like “cake”) Ramaswamy also has fresh ideas that are worth hearing. Take the one he shared with fellow early-voting Iowans late last week.
“It is a problem that young people don’t vote in this country,” he said.
His solution: Raise the minimum voting age from 18 to 25.
Ramaswamy added those who choose to participate in a six-month “national service requirement” (such as serving in the military or as a first responder) would be allowed to vote if they were between 18 and 25.
“If you make it (voting) something that you have to earn, you value it even more,” he noted.
If you’ve seen the audience at a Taylor Swift concert lately, Ramaswamy may be on to something.
Either way, he continues to deliver policy ideas worth debating in a field which often finds itself bereft of substance. He also continues to inch his way higher in the national polls.
Trump Haters (and to put in Biblical terms, they are “Legion, for they are many”) love bashing the PPSI each week because the former president has received mostly “rising” ratings of late. Look, we’re not here to help or hinder any campaign. But if you can’t see that Trump remains firmly in the driver’s seat of the 2024 GOP presidential primary race, we suggest you call your eye doctor and book the first available appointment.
Whether his front-runner status is a good or bad thing is up to you, the reader, to decide.
Trump spent much of this week taking a victory lap after the 306-page Durham Report (.pdf) was released. This hall of horrors documented how the FBI spectacularly bungled its probe of claims that foreign governments colluded in rigging the 2016 election.
The report called the FBI’s investigation “seriously flawed.” The MSM sanitized and minimized that, with the AP sugarcoating it by saying “the findings aren’t flattering” to the FBI. That’s like saying the Warren Commission Report painted an uncomplimentary portrait of Lee Harvey Oswald.
Trump’s response? Essentially, “Told you!” And of course, the MAGA base readily agrees. All of this is enough to confirm his position as frontrunner for another week – and a frontrunner on the rise, at that.
U.S. senator Lindsey Graham was likely minding his business in Washington, D.C. this week – plotting the next neoconservative battle to fight with your tax dollars.
Then … BAM! MSNBC host Joe Scarborough announced that to find gay people, one needed only to “go to the Republican Caucus meeting in the United States Senate.” Scarborough followed that doozy up by claiming gays were “throughout the Republican Party in South Carolina.”
Scarborough never dropped a name, but with those two data points in hand all eyes immediately turned to Graham.
Is Graham gay? Who knows … and honestly, who cares.
Either way, the revival of these rumors probably isn’t the way he wanted to make his debut on our index …
SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATS
Despite the aforementioned ray of sunshine provided by an inept governor, South Carolina Democrats couldn’t resist parading their anti-baby, anti-family values throughout the S.C. House of Representatives this week – submitting approximately 1,000 amendments (1,000!) to the fetal heartbeat bill approved by the S.C. Senate. They threw everything at this legislation but the proverbial kitchen sink in a Hail Mary attempt to stop the measure. That’s how desperate they were to maintain South Carolina as an abortion destination in the post-Dobbs world.
For years, Democrats have wagged their fingers and scolded Republicans about being “on the wrong side of history” as it relates to abortion. It’s one of their ‘greatest hits’ – and is repeated with all the urgency of an auctioneer with a bad bladder. Yet they never pause to consider that in South Carolina – they are the ones on the wrong side of history as they vainly erect roadblocks in opposition to the vox populi.
Dems parrot all the decrepit liberal lines by rote (including that chestnut, “I don’t want the government saying what a woman can do with her body”). Although Beth Bernstein and Gilda Cobb Hunter’s lips were moving, the voice coming out was pure Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan circa 1973. In short: Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. Americans have heard that tired old tune for half a century now. But Democrats keep blaring it over and over (apparently on 8-track) at full volume.
What did their huffing and puffing amount to in the end? They couldn’t even muster one-quarter of the House to oppose the bill. The word “shellacking” comes to mind, but that’s probably too kind an assessment.
By digging in their heels even deeper against something the majority of South Carolinians want, Democrats just made their job of trying to win over those same South Carolinians at the ballot box next year all the harder. Republicans should send them a fruit basket to show their appreciation …
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Aw, Fits is getting touchy about its Trump ratings. The Republican Party is held hostage by the MAGA mutants and has been for years. Trump could sodomize a nursery full of special needs infants and they’d love him even more. “Rising” among the hostages is a meaningless piece of analysis. Report back when he can move the needle for the rest not held hostage by the 30%…
““It is a problem that young people don’t vote in this country,” he said.
His solution: Raise the minimum voting age from 18 to 25.”
This makes no sense except to disenfranchise those who you don’t think will be voting for you, but Vivache is kind of a nutty guy.
But then again a lot of people claim the problem is not the guns but the people so therefore more people should have guns. We really are living in an idiocracy.