Welcome to another edition of FITSNews’ Palmetto Political Stock Index. Our weekly stock report provides our growing audience with the lay of the land here in pivotal early-voting South Carolina – home to the “First in the South” Republican presidential primary and (we think) the “First in the Nation” Democratic presidential primary.
New Hampshire may have something to say about that latter claim, though …
Our founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell compile this index each week – tracking rising and falling candidate fortunes as well as the interplay of state and national politics in our early-voting home. Got a hot “stock tip” for our consideration? Email Will (here) and/ or Mark (here). Just make sure to include “Palmetto Political Stock Index” in the subject line.
Remember, our weekly index is simply an assessment of how listed individuals (or institutions) fared over the past week. Positive reports certainly don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t indicative of a vendetta. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. To borrow Walter Cronkite’s famous line, “That’s the way it is …”
Oh, and just because your favorite (or least favorite) politician didn’t wind up on this week’s list doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. Look for them to appear in future indices … and, of course, you can always check prior installments to see how we’ve covered them in the past.
Smooth sailing for a South Carolina presidential contender …
A rocky road for a former president …
A surprise rating for the current commander-in-chief …
Oh, and fast food … is hot?
Where you should invest your political capital this week? To the index!
It’s a good time to be Tim Scott. A very good time, in fact. Almost everywhere our state’s junior senator turned on the campaign trail last week, positive tidings awaited him.
Take his town hall meeting in Salem, New Hampshire on Tuesday night. When it was over, attendees were using phrases like “on fire,” “outstanding,” and “crushed it.” Gone were the “Faith in America” banners, and mentions of God were played down with optimism in America’s future played up. One political veteran unaffiliated with any presidential campaign remarked, “this was a totally different Tim Scott than we saw on his previous trips up here.”
That same day, a new University of New Hampshire poll showed Scott rising to third place in the GOP field in the Granite State, climbing from an anemic 3 percent to 8 percent. Not rising in the same poll? Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who is floundering with the same dismal sub-five percent rating she had when she entered the race five months ago.
The story was similar halfway across the country. A new poll of Iowa Republicans that came out Friday (paid for by Donald Trump‘s campaign, conducted by co/efficient and released to The Hill) also put Scott in third place behind Trump and DeSantis with a solid 10 percent.
Polls go up, polls go down – and make no mistake, there will be much movement in them over the next eight months. But as this index noted last week, Scott appears to be successfully transitioning from third-tier candidate to second-tier contender. Can his campaign maintain its current upward trajectory and land him on the A-List? Stay tuned …
For the former president – and more importantly for his lawyers – it’s starting to feel the same way it must have felt for George Armstrong Custer at Little Big Horn: Legal arrows are flying at him from all directions.
First, there are the two pending cases in Manhattan and Florida. In the latter matter – which concerns his alleged mishandling of classified documents – the judge set a May 2024 trial date, which would tie Trump up mere weeks before the 2024 Republican National Convention meets in Milwaukee.
If Trump secures his party’s nomination by then, TV cameras could be switching from him as a courtroom defendant to the GOP nominee delivering his acceptance speech (complete with the obligatory cascading of hundreds of red, white and blue balloons). Which would obviously cast a less-than-ideal contrast.
Adding to his legal woes, Trump said last week he’d received a target letter from Joe Biden‘s politically weaponized “Justice” department as it continues to prosecute the events of January 6, 2021. On top of all that, Fulton County, Georgia’s progressive district attorney is licking her chops to charge Trump in connection with Georgia’s 2020 election results.
So far, Trump’s indictments have shored up his GOP support. The MAGA base is more solidly behind him than ever. But a fundamental understanding of basic mathematics shows much more than MAGA will be needed to retake the White House next year.
Against this backdrop, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is investing heavily in a direct mail campaign in several states (including South Carolina) which bluntly that warns if Trump is the nominee, Republicans can kiss the House, Senate and the presidency goodbye in 2024.
Trump’s poll numbers showed some slight slippage last week. Was it a result of having been so high for so long that Sir Isaac Newton’s gravitational theory is finally beginning to apply to him? Are some Trump supporters (including one of his top Palmetto State backers) starting to get cold feet? Or is the collective weight of all that legal baggage finally starting to catch up with the former president? You can bet folks from Mar-a-Lago to the White House to a dozen GOP campaign headquarters in between will be closely scrutinizing this week’s numbers for clues.
After weeks of somewhat wobbly performances, Ron DeSantis is finally getting his sea legs. The Florida governor hit the campaign trail hard last week, including a swing through our neck of the woods where he became the first candidate to formally file his paperwork for February 2024’s ‘First in the South’ presidential primary.
But the news-making part of his stop came when DeSantis directly called out the Biden administration’s woke incursion into the U.S. military, turning our armed forces into a social laboratory for pushing liberals’ cherished “diversity” schemes (including rolling out the welcome mat to a host of transgender nonsense).
His policy rollout in West Columbia, S.C. was an opportunity for DeSantis to remind voters of his own military service – which stands in stark contrast to that of our current commander-in-chief. (In the mood for some light summer reading? You can easily breeze through “The Day Joe Biden Put on the Uniform” at the beach.)
Standing up for our armed forces always plays well in South Carolina, which boasts both a large veteran population and a proud military heritage. Score this week as a win for DeSantis.
Energy issues are getting ready to dominate the political conversation in South Carolina in a big way. State and regional leaders must manage escalating demand during a period of economic uncertainty and resource transition – with major players pushing them to adopt one approach versus another.
What mix of energy assets should they utilize? How should the expansion of that mix be paid for? Who should control and manage these critical assets?
All of these questions are coming to a head … and more than any other elected official in South Carolina, U.S. congressman Jeff Duncan is poised to answer them. Along with S.C. House speaker Murrell Smith and assistant House majority leader Jay West, Duncan is the politician driving the Palmetto State’s energy policy debate – with a seat at the table in Washington, D.C. and at all the key meetings back home.
He’s the “man in the room,” in other words.
And as South Carolinians learned during a severe winter storm seven months ago, nothing is more fundamental to the future of our state than getting this question answered … correctly. And right now Duncan is the man at the center of the conversation.
Wait … what? Biden actually get a rising rating from our index?
You read that right. Believe it or not, Biden managed to make it through an entire week without saying or doing anything stupid (that we know of). And given the increasingly dismal record of his presidency these past 2.5 years, that counts as a victory for him.
We’ve taken an exceedingly dim view of Biden since the inception of this format back in the spring … but in fairness, so have most Americans. According to the poll tabulators at FiveThirtyEight, Biden’s approval rating hasn’t eclipsed 43 percent since March – while his disapproval rating hasn’t dipped below 53 percent since mid-April.
Yeah … there’s not a lot of yeast in those numbers, people. No matter on what side of the partisan/ ideological divide you reside.
WES CLIMER & TOM DAVIS
In any political body, from county council to the halls of congress, there is always a handful of people who can be counted on to make things happen. Wes Climer and Tom Davis are two such workhorses in the South Carolina Senate.
This dynamic legislative duo was recognized last week by Americans For Prosperity (AFP) with stellar ratings in the group’s latest legislative scorecard. Climer received an unheard of 113 percent – the highest of any member in either chamber. Davis wasn’t far behind, garnering a 106 percent ranking from the group.
Climer and Davis were particularly praised for their hard work in helping end the state’s onerous certificate of need stranglehold on the healthcare sector. This move will open the door to growth, expansion, and job creation driven by free market competition.
Want to learn more about these ratings? Click here …
These two free-market champions have become key players in the Senate on multiple high-profile issues – and key brokers between the Senate and the House. Depending on the outcome of the 2024 elections, they could assume even more influence in the state legislature.
SOUTH CAROLINA JUSTICE SYSTEM
There’s an old expression about blind hogs occasionally finding acorns – which, incidentally, originates from a Roman expression about blind doves finding peas.
Sadly, this expression would seem to be applicable to the South Carolina judicial branch of government – which has developed an unfortunate reputation for putting the interests of violent criminals (and the powerful lawyer-legislators who often represent them) ahead of the interests of the public … and the rights of crime victims.
Last week, though, the system worked in Richland County – a rare example of justice being delivered. Our news outlet – which has pilloried those involved in our ‘injustice’ system for years – praised those involved in this case.
That’s how calling balls and strikes works, people. You rip the bad, reward the good. And while there’s certainly a case to be made that those who administered justice to convicted rapist Robert S. Drayton last Friday were just doing their jobs … we think it’s important to lend some encouragement to them in the process.
Clearly, our system needs more of this …
FLORIDA JUSTICE SYSTEM
We haven’t decided yet on whether to launch an addendum to our index entitled ‘Outrage of the Week.’ Or to keep doling out red marks.
Either way, you gotta hand it to a Florida jury. Thanks to its verdict last week, American consumers are now armed with a fact they had apparently been ignorant of for decades: McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets are hot. Really, really, hot.
It all started in 2019 when a mom picked up an order for her two kids in the town of Tamarac. Leaving the drive-thru window, a nugget fell onto then 4-year-old Olivia Holmes’ leg and burned it, leaving a small scar. Holmes’ leg healed a few weeks later.
A child being hurt is obviously no laughing matter. But neither was what happened next.
Momma Philana Holmes lawyered up and sued Mickey D’s for $15 million – arguing the fast food chain hadn’t told the family its food was served hot. Never mind that, as the defense attorney in this case pointed out in her closing argument, the now 8-year-old still goes to McDonald’s, still uses the drive-thru, and still eats Chicken McNuggets.
In the end, jurors apparently felt $15 million was a bit much. So they awarded the family $800,000 instead. Which likely had their attorneys humming, “I’m lovin’ it” all the way home.
So now you know: Fast food is hot. Oh, and cars occasionally crash, and medicines can cause side effects, too. In case they don’t tell you that, either.
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