Welcome back to another edition of the Palmetto Political Stock Index – your weekly barometer of the highs and lows of those vying for votes in South Carolina, a state which (for better or worse) picks American presidents.
This week saw some big political stock moves … especially on the Democratic side of America’s partisan divide.
California governor Gavin Newsom shook up the nation’s ruling party last week by clarifying his position regarding a primary challenge to incumbent president Joe Biden (he’s not running against Biden, for those of you who missed the news).
Seems like a simple enough news cycle, right? Not quite … Newsom apparently forgot to prep for questions about whether he would run against Biden’s vice president (his fellow Golden State politico), Kamala Harris.
The result of this flat-footedness? Some furious backpedaling that enraged Democrats and fueled GOP conspiracy theories – which maintain that Democrats wanting to keep Biden in office just long enough to hand the reins of power over to Harris.
FITSNews founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell compile this index each week to make sense of such developments. We track the rising and falling fortunes of individuals and institutions as well as the interplay of state and national politics in our early-voting South Carolina home, host of the quadrennial “First in the South” Republican presidential primary – and the “First in the Nation” Democratic primary. 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.
In this week’s edition?
A close call for Lindsey Graham …
An upward tick for Nikki Haley …
A woke “booty call …”
Remember, our index is simply an assessment of how subjects discussed herein fared over the past seven days. Positive reports don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones shouldn’t be construed as vendettas. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. And just because your favorite/ least favorite politician didn’t wind up on this week’s index – that doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. Look for them in future reports … and, of course, you can check prior installments to see how we’ve covered them in the past. To view last week’s index, click here. And to get your historical fix, click here.
Where should you invest your political capital this week?
South Carolina’s senior senator dodged a legal bullet last week. When the Fulton County, Georgia special grand jury’s report was released, it showed the good citizens of Atlanta were chomping at the bit to indict Lindsey Graham – along with his former U.S. Senate colleagues Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. This media outlet’s longstanding distaste for Graham notwithstanding, the grand jury document (.pdf) released to the public is a shocking look at what happens when a political witch hunt is allowed to run wild.
Atlanta grand jurors made it abundantly clear they wanted to drive a judicial stake into the heart of everyone even remotely associated with Donald Trump’s claims of irregularities in the 2020 presidential election in the Peach State. It was the most jaw-dropping display of mass retribution since the French Revolution. The recommendations went so far overboard that even progressive district attorney Fani Willis couldn’t “go there.” And so Graham, Loeffler and Perdue escaped the charges slapped on so many others.
Side note: Graham is so skilled at wriggling out of tight political spots that he could give lessons to Cirque de Solei contortionists. It would have been interesting to see how he would have extricated himself from that mess.
Still, lovers of a truly fair and impartial judicial system are grieving our neighboring state’s total politicization of the process. The old song ‘The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia’ warned us, “Don’t trust your soul to no backwoods Southern lawyer.” Be sure to keep it clear of an Atlanta grand jury’s hands, too …
California’s governor may be the darling of the liberal Left, but he needs a refresher course on Politics 101. Most practitioners of the art of the possible are talented at talking out both sides of their mouth at the same time. Not so, Newsom.
A taped interview for NBC’s Meet the Press was intended to show the Golden State’s governor as being solidly on Team Biden in 2024 – once and for all pouring a bucket of water on speculation that he might mount a primary challenge against the unpopular president. (That interview probably resulted from no small amount of prodding and pushing from the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).
The camera was turned on, and Newsom dutifully kissed Joe Biden’s ring.
“The train has left the station,” he said. “We’re all in. Stop talking. He’s not going anywhere. It’s time for all of us to get on the train and buck up.”
“Time to move on,” he then added for good measure. “Let’s go.”
Keeping himself in the spotlight for a post-Biden presidential run in 2028 has rubbed some national Dems the wrong way – including fellow Californian and potential 2028 rival, vice president Kamala Harris. Newsom first tried to sidestep it. He then went on to say if Biden should somehow not be the Democratic nominee next year, Harris would “naturally (be) the one lined up.” Not content to let well enough alone, when asked if he could ever see himself running against Harris, he replied, “of course not … won’t happen.”
Social media went wild at that point, and Newsom’s press flaks went into damage control, which has Newsom’s stock dropping like a rock this week.
The proof, they say, is in the pudding. And Haley’s campaign served up cup after cup of it last week. Most importantly, her ground game in early-voting Iowa and New Hampshire appears to be hitting on all six cylinders these days. Example: On Wednesday night, Haley made much hay out of signing the Moms for Liberty’s “Parents’ Rights Pledge” in Manchester, N.H.
Haley is making good on her promise not to be outworked, appearing at so many events in the Hawkeye and Granite states that many locals are starting to wonder if she now lives there. (Though in fairness, rivals Ron DeSantis and Tim Scott have day jobs to tend to, and with a billion bucks in the bank, entrepreneur Vikek Ramaswamy can skip as much work as he wishes.)
Establishment Republicans are clearly crystalizing around Haley as she and other GOP opponents scramble to pick up the support DeSantis is losing almost daily. (More on his sinking campaign in a minute.)
This relentless effort, combined with a solid debate performance, now has Haley inching toward second place in the polls – a distant second behind former president Donald Trump, to be sure – but still gaining ground.
Then came the type of bonanza every campaign dreams about getting. A CNN poll released last Thursday found that in hypothetical one-on-one matchups between Biden and each Republican candidate, Haley alone could beat him – drawing 49 percent of general election voters to Biden’s 43 percent.
That has Haley’s people now repeating one word over and over again: Electability. “You want to beat Biden in 2024? Nikki’s the only Republican who can do it.”
But one obstacle stands in her way, and it’s a biggie. To put it in wedding terms, Haley is the bride who is ready to walk down the aisle to the altar (a.k.a. the GOP nomination). The only problem is the groom (the GOP primary electorate) not only hasn’t popped the question – but appears disinclined to drop to one knee for her. Why? Because the Republican base is already wedded – to Trump. Heading into mid-September, Trump remains so far ahead of the field his nomination at this point is a done deal.
Speaking of, savvy political observers remain watchful for signs of something else, too. Whispers persist in political circles that a deal was quietly cut a while back for Haley to become Trump’s 2024 running mate. The former president is never hesitant to direct his fire on any perceived political threat – but he’s largely laid off of Haley. As her polling numbers continue to rise, will he unleash a devastating broadside on her … or stay mum? Trump’s volume level will … well, speak volumes.
What had been privately discussed among the chattering class for weeks is now coming out into the open: The DeSantis campaign’s internal operation is a slow-motion train wreck. If the late Theodore H. White were still around to write The Making of the President 2024, the DeSantis chapter would likely called “How Not To Do It.”
It’s been an ongoing horror show, from one snafu to the next on the ground exacerbated by the high command’s inability to craft and articulate an effective message. Then last week came one of the most damning hits of all.
Politico released an in-depth report showing how many of the big money people who bankrolled DeSantis’ 2022 gubernatorial reelection campaign are now bailing on his presidential run. We don’t mean the folks who write checks for $25, $100, or even $500. We’re talking about the people who line up long rows of zeroes in the figure shown on their check’s “amount” line.
Add to that, DeSantis’ poll numbers are like that leaky tire on your car that refuses to remain patched: It just keeps going down, down, down.
DeSantis was fine when he had a hurricane to deal with, but now that the focus is back on his flagging presidential aspirations … he’s once again sucking wind.
All of which has the boys in Tallahassee working overtime, begging the faithful to hang on just a little longer. But that narrative is starting to sound a lot like Kevin Bacon shouting, “Remain calm! All is well!” in the riot scene at the end of Animal House. And we all know how that turned out. (Spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie: He’s crushed in a stampede.)
Admittedly, we never expected to see the name Kamala Harris and the word “rising” in the same sentence. Yet, in the topsy-turvy world that is the 2024 campaign, here we are nonetheless.
The Veep is back in the news, thanks to the fumbles and bumbles of the aforementioned Guv Gavin. His ham-fisted comments have made her relevant again in the discussion of a post-Biden Democratic Party. And just a few days ago, she told CNN she’s ready to serve as commander-in-chief if the need should arise. She repeated that claim in a taped interview for Face the Nation.
But just when it appears she’s being groomed to finally take a seat at the grownup’s table, Harris reminds us she still wants to be seen as the “cool aunt,” too (as SNL’s Maya Rudolph framed her in her spot-on impersonations.) She spent Saturday night hosting 400 guests at a house party marking the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop music. If that doesn’t shout command-in-chief material, what does?
At any rate, the last time Kamala Harris made the PPSI, her shares were so low they were only trading on South American stock indices. With her profile slightly elevated last week, welcome back to the NYSE’s Big Board, madame vice president.
GERIATRICS ON CAPITOL HILL
Fresh on the heels of last week’s down rating for this bunch, Nancy Pelosi is making it known she eagerly wants to join the growing ranks of the “blank stares.” Not content with having served two (calamitous) terms as House Speaker, nor being history’s first “Speaker Emerita” (a title fawning Democrats pulled out of thin air for her last December), the 83-year-old announced Friday she’ll seek a 20th term in Congress next year.
Pelosi has been a Capitol Hill fixture for 36 years. Just how much time are we talking about here? When Pelosi was sworn in for her first term in 1987: Ronald Reagan was president; the Berlin Wall was still up and the USSR was still in business; nobody had ever heard of an iPhone or Netflix; and Taylor Swift was still two years away from being born.
Now, she wants another two years in office?
There was such a deluge of political news the past few weeks that covering it all was hard. But we can’t let summer end without calling attention to this beyond-absurd bit of Wokeism run amok.
For 45 years now, fans of the supergroup Queen have rocked out to “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Freddie Mercury was at the peak of his vocal talent in 1978, and the song’s guitar licks remain among the best in all classic rock. Its lyrics describe a young man’s fancy for full-figured women. But ay, there’s the rub in 2023.
Perpetually on the prowl for every opportunity to be offended by any issue, real or imagined, the Woke crowd has now seized on the song fans have loved for nearly half a century. And true to their tyrannical nature, they’re in “ban mode” again.
The tune has officially been scrubbed from the kid-friendly Yoto platform’s compilation of Queen’s greatest hits. The company sidestepped explaining the expungement, saying only that “after consultation” (it didn’t say with whom), it didn’t feel the song “was appropriate for our young audience.”
Curious, when you consider Yoto apparently had no problem with kids hearing Mercury confess:
“Momma, just killed a man;
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead.”
That’s because Queen’s biggest seller, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” remains available to tiny ears. But hearing “Fat-bottomed girls, you make the rockin’ world go round” would apparently have been too much for tots to handle. Good luck making sense of that.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.