As news was breaking last week that former U.S. president Donald Trump was going to be indicted (again), CBS News conducted a poll of GOP primary voters. According to the results of that survey, 76 percent of respondents said they were “far more concerned” that Trump’s indictment was “politically motivated” than they were with his alleged conduct being “a national security risk.”
Only 12 percent said they were more concerned about Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents – while another 12 percent said they were equally concerned by both.
CBS’ pollsters also found that 80 percent of GOP voters felt Trump could still serve as president even if he were to be convicted of the charges he is facing – compared to only 20 percent who felt he couldn’t.
Finally, the survey showed Trump leading his nearest rival in the 2024 primary race by a staggering 38 percentage points … again, after news broke about his latest indictment.
What gives? Well … that’s what we’re here to try and explain.
Our founding editor Will Folks and our political columnist Mark Powell have labored to produce this index for the past three months – tracking the rising and falling fortunes of politicos at multiple levels. Got a hot “stock tip” for their consideration? Email Will (here) and/ or Mark (here). 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 over the past week. It doesn’t necessarily root for candidates – or against them. Positive reports certainly don’t reflect endorsements, 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.
Also, a quick reminder … just because your favored politician didn’t wind up on this week’s list doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. The index doesn’t always list each candidate every week (and thank God for that, considering how many hats there are in the proverbial ring all of a sudden).
Where should you invest your political capital? To the index!
One of the most accurate pollsters in the country, Cahaly released a survey showing 53.3 percent of Americans believed Biden’s family “received payments from foreign nationals to influence policy” in Washington, D.C. More troubling for Biden? A narrow majority of independents – 50.7 percent – said they believed the First Family was on the take.
Biden is accustomed to having his scandals buried … as evidenced by the fact you are not reading about him being indicted for mishandling classified documents this week.
Can he keep this scandal in the dark, too?
In fairness, it wasn’t all bad news for Biden this week – he got a huge labor endorsement that should help shore up his badly exposed left flank. But with multiple third party rumblings and the whiff of a serious scandal on the horizon, the incumbent continues losing ground on our index.
Strange as this sounds, Americans are growing accustomed to seeing former president Donald Trump sitting in a courtroom arraignment hearing. And as noted above, the Republican portion of the electorate is livid about it … and not at Trump.
So far, he is channeling their indignation … and capitalizing on it.
The 45th president sat angrily at his brief arraignment hearing in a federal courtroom in Miami on Tuesday afternoon – the first time a candidate for the White House has ever been indicted by his rival’s administration. From Miami, Trump flew to his Bedminster, NJ. home and hauled in a cool $2 million at a VIP fundraiser that same night. It was an unmistakable show of support expressed in cold hard cash. All told, Trump has raised more than $7 million since news of his federal indictment broke.
Republicans of lesser means voiced their outrage via the aforementioned polls, which so far show support for Trump holding — and even expanding — in the aftermath of what GOP leaders are roundly condemning as the weaponization of America’s justice system.
Pundits and reporters are using words like “commanding” and “dominant” to describe Trump’s position. One wonders if, come this fall, they will be substituted with words like “insurmountable” and “unassailable.”
Trump’s indictment earlier this year clearly boosted his standing with the GOP electorate – and the early returns from this indictment point to a similar phenomenon unfolding.
Can Trump keep it rolling, though? Especially with additional indictments looming?
Nikki Haley never seems to tire of painting herself into political corners. Especially when it comes to her once (and future?) boss, Donald Trump.
Remember her snoozer of a CNN Town Hall a couple of weeks back? You’re not alone if you don’t, because hardly anyone watched it. Haley tut-tutted that Trump was wrong to keep harping about the 2020 election results and to not condemn the events of January 6, 2021.
But that was then. Now that it appears Trump’s support isn’t going anywhere in the face of indictment on federal charges, Haley has changed her tune. But not without getting in a dig first. Haley said Trump was “incredibly reckless with our national security” as it related to his possession of classified documents. But then she went on to say she would be “inclined” to pardon Trump if he were to be convicted (possible) and she were to be elected president (significantly less likely, at this point).
Interestingly, the possibility of a presidential pardon was originally raised the day before by Republican rival Vivek Ramaswamy, who is increasingly a source of original ideas in a campaign that’s routinely in need of them.
Haley’s toes are now on a very high, very thin wire she is forced to walk without a net. If she says anything that’s too pro-Trump, she risks alienating the GOP establishment that is her bedrock of support; if she’s too anti-Trump, she risks the wrath of the MAGA faithful.
Don’t look down, Nikki. It’s a long way to fall.
SC FREEDOM CAUCUS
For years, the establishment gave itself a monopoly on power in the S.C. House of Representatives by codifying four official caucuses: GOP, Democratic, Black, and Women. Those four, and no more. Sanctioned caucus status involves much more than a mere name. Only official caucuses can raise funds, hire staff, and take other important steps to get their message out.
Early this year, the GOP Caucus tried to snuff in the cradle the newly-formed SC Freedom Caucus, which consists of approximately twenty House members committed to following through on the same conservative principles they campaigned on as candidates. Driven from Republican ranks by a string of “our way or the highway” demands, the Freedom Caucus sought the same rights as those enjoyed only by the Favored Four.
U.S. district court judge Cameron Currie agreed in her summary judgment order last week – ruling the Freedom Caucus (and other legislative groups like them) are entitled to those rights. Currie called the existing South Carolina caucus law “a ban on speech” and a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
The playing field isn’t level yet. But the high hill from which Establishment potentates and their lackeys rule is notably smaller now. Which leads us to …
You just can’t help pitying Micah Caskey. He’s the GOP establishment’s pit bull for attacking the SC Freedom Caucus. (Whether he was anointed by the powers that be or was self-appointed to the role, we don’t know.)
Like a dog that won’t let go of a bone, Caskey can’t let go of nipping at the rival caucus’ heels. Despite the inconvenient fact that the system he still enthusiastically espouses was found to be in direct violation of a little thing called the United States Constitution.
But details be damned! After last week’s decision was returned, Caskey told The (Charleston) Post and Courier, told The Point radio, and probably harangued people he passed on the sidewalk, too, with his opinion the Freedom Caucus members are really the Bad Guys. His new favorite word to describe them: “Charlatans.”
Never mind that his side demanded a Mafioso level of blind obedience in its universally panned loyalty oath, expelled from the House GOP Caucus everyone with the backbone to stand up to its draconian dictates, and turned a blind eye to shadowy groups attending to the political dirty work behind the scenes.
“There’s nothing to stop me from starting a caucus only I join,” Caskey told the Post and Courier. Great idea, Micah. Please do so immediately. “Caskey, party of one!”
This is getting ridiculous, folks.
Miami, Florida’s mayor is the latest Republican to gaze into a mirror and see a president in his reflection. Francis X. Suarez plunged head-first into the GOP race last week, billing himself as a “candidate of the times.”
Francis Who? The name Suarez is well-known in Florida’s Magic City (that’s Miami, not Orlando as one might suppose), where his dad was mayor before him. Twice.
Make no mistake, Suarez appears to be an accomplished administrator who would make an able secretary in some second-tier cabinet post like transportation. (Heaven knows he couldn’t be any worse in that job than “Mayor Pete”).
But in a GOP field already filled with ten other candidates, how can he get his message out? Especially when it’s growing increasingly obvious there are only three names in the race: Trump, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, and Everyone Else.
“My dad taught me that you get to choose your battles,” Suarez said in his announcement video, “and I am choosing the biggest one of my life.”
True enough. But Hizzoner should remember some battles wind up becoming Waterloo. Still, Suarez gets our customary courtesy “rising” rating by virtue of joining the race.
Admittedly, we’re a little late to this particular party. There was so much political news last week, we simply didn’t have room for it all. But this item is just too much fun to pass up.
Welcome to the 2024 presidential race, Cornel West. In a marriage made in political heaven, the Far Left academic activist is seeking the nomination of the equally Far Left People’s Party. Or … wait … is it the Green Party? Like so many woke progressives these days, West was apparently confused about his label (as of this writing, he appears to be settled on seeking the Green Party nomination).
With Critical Race Theory coming under withering attack around the country, a candidate whose 1980 Princeton thesis was titled “Ethics, Historicism, and the Marxist Tradition” seems better suited for a Quixotic quest than a presidential campaign. But amid growing voter discontent, West could peel away votes from Joe Biden’s left flank by appealing to Bernie Sanders Democrats. The incumbent president is already being threatened there by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – a fact not lost on West – who said Thursday, “(Kennedy) really needs to get off the crack pipe.”
Add a potential ‘No Labels’ threat from Joe Manchin and supposedly centrist Democrats and Biden could find himself in a world of hurt come next November.
Welcome to the Thunder Dome, Cornel. The 2024 election just got a lot more interesting!
WHITE HOUSE GUEST LIST
The way the White House tells it, it was supposed to have been a family-friendly June afternoon of celebrating the LGBTQ+ (and any other letters they wish to cram into that alphabet soup amalgamation) on the South Lawn of the people’s house.
Hmm … gather together a menagerie of over-the-top-activists, drag queens, and various he-she-they-pick-your-own-pronoun people … what could possibly go wrong?
Listen carefully folks; what happened next isn’t about gay rights or gender identity or any other divisive social offense du jour. It is strictly about decorum … or rather a galling lack thereof.
Things jumped the track when Rose Montoya stepped up to shake the presidential hand. Walking away, the self-identified non-binary transgender activist – who has had top surgery (but not bottom) – apparently got caught up in the moment and felt free to expose herself. Literally. Montoya opened her blouse and brazenly showed off her man-made bosom with America’s executive mansion as her backdrop.
Social media went wild and the White House went apoplectic with feigned outrage – the upshot of which being Montoya is now persona non grata at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
All too predictably, the 27-year-old is now playing the victim card, sharing on Tik Tok that “going topless in Washington, D.C. is legal and I fully support the movement of freeing the nipple.”
Maybe so. But there’s a time and there’s a place for everything in life, and this was neither. As Anchorman‘s Ron Burgundy would say, “You stay classy, Rose.”
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