The red wave never materialized in 2022. And in recent special elections – and off-year races in 2023 – Democrats have been thriving.
What gives? Abortion.
“The more we talk about abortion, the worse we’re doing,” outgoing U.S. senator and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said on Wednesday after Republicans lost big at the ballot box the previous day based in no small part of the issue.
Is he wrong? Not politically – especially after voters in Ohio (a state Donald Trump won in 2020 and in which he is leading comfortably heading into 2024) overwhelmingly passed a measure guaranteeing abortion access prior to fetal viability – i.e. between 23-25 weeks.
No wonder GOP candidates like Trump and his former ambassador/current 2024 rival Nikki Haley have been modifying their messaging on this hot-button issue.
“Let’s agree on how we can ban late-term abortions,” Haley said last week. “Let’s make sure we encourage adoptions and good quality adoptions. Let’s make sure we make contraception accessible.”
More on Trump’s view on the issue in a moment …
FITSNews founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell compile the Palmetto Political Stock Index each week to assess the impact of these important issues on our political process. We follow the rising and falling fortunes of individuals and institutions on the national stage as well as the interplay of state and national politics in our early-voting South Carolina home, which hosts the quadrennial “First in the South” Republican presidential primary (and the “First in the Nation” Democratic primary).
Remember, our index is simply an assessment of how our subjects fared over the past seven days. Positive reports don’t reflect endorsements, and negative ones aren’t indicative of vendettas. We just call ‘em like we see ‘em. Also, just because your favorite/ least favorite politician didn’t wind up on this week’s report doesn’t mean we aren’t still tracking them. Look for them in upcoming editions … and, of course, you can check prior installments to see how we’ve covered them in the past.
Where should you invest your political capital this week? To the index!
Another week, another impressive collection of swing state polling which showed former U.S. president Donald Trump extending his lead over incumbent Joe Biden in the electoral battlegrounds where the 2024 race will be decided.
While Republicans generally took it on the chin last week, this time they couldn’t blame Trump – who said back in September that a six-week abortion ban being pushed by Republicans in numerous states (including South Carolina) was “a terrible thing and a terrible mistake.”
One that would cost the GOP dearly at the polls …
Trump was assailed by his GOP presidential rivals Ron DeSantis and Tim Scott at the time, but his comments did nothing to weaken his status as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee – and had the added benefit of proving prescient at the polls last week.
“Trump is the only Republican with the sense and the courage to say what many conservatives do not want to hear: their moral agenda is unpopular,” Matt Boose noted for American Greatness. “This is especially true in the Rust Belt states that Trump flipped in 2016, like Pennsylvania.”
“How many times do voters have to send the message before Republicans get the picture?” Boose added.
As the abortion debate rages on, the presidential picture right now is crystal clear: Trump is running away with the GOP nomination and is better positioned than ever to beat Joe Biden next November.
Much of Joe Biden presidency has been bedeviled by another Joe. U.S. senator Joe Manchin’s fingerprints have been all over the administration’s legislation, constantly trying to pull it back to the middle ground. Sometimes, Manchin succeeded; sometimes, he didn’t. But his presence was always felt. Is Manchin about to do likewise with the 2024 presidential race?
The 76-year-old Democrat announced last week he’s passing on a third term representing Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. That creates the potential for a Republican pickup in the Senate – but it may also open the door to an even bigger opportunity for the outgoing senator.
Manchin raised D.C. eyebrows when he attended a gathering of the No Labels movement in New Hampshire in July. This group of disgruntled Democrats and recalcitrant Republicans are unhappy with next year’s presidential election choices. The group has said that if a rematch between Biden and former U.S. president Donald Trump is imminent next spring, it will field its own presidential ticket. Don’t laugh; as of late October No Labels has already qualified to appear on next year’s ballot in twelve states – including battlegrounds Arizona, Nevada and North Carolina.
If the group does put forth a candidate, could Joe Manchin be it? He may be leaving the Senate … but Manchin may also harbor hopes of hanging around Washington a little longer.
Penned by strategist James Carville, the famous guiding mantra of former president Bill Clinton‘s 1992 campaign was, “The economy, stupid.” This country was created as the result of a tax revolt, after all, and Americans have voted with their pocketbooks ever since. What was true in Clinton’s 1992 election still holds true today, especially with inflation running rampant like a roaring lion.
Last week, Moody’s downgraded the U.S. government’s credit rating from “stable” to “negative.” That’s a serious warning sign, people.
The reason for the drop?
“Continued political polarization within U.S. Congress raises the risk that successive governments will not be able to reach consensus on a fiscal plan to slow the decline in debt affordability,” Moody’s said in a statement.
That’s a highfalutin way of saying, “Congress is a mess, and we see it only getting messier.”
Garnish that rosy scenario with a reminder we’re looking at another partial government shutdown when Uncle Sam’s authority to spend money expires Friday. House Republicans released a stopgap measure Saturday night aimed at avoiding it. How it will fare remains to be seen. It’s also the first test of newly installed House Speaker Mike Johnson‘s mettle.
And so Congress offers yet more bread and circuses (to borrow from the Roman poet Juvenal) as America dances ever closer to the fiscal cliff.
“The economy, stupid,” after all.
But are the stupid ones listening?
These are tense times in Kamala Harris’ family circle. The future VP married Doug Emhoff, a high-profile entertainment lawyer and partner in a powerhouse legal firm, back in 2013. He was previously married to Emmy Award-winning film producer Kerstin Emhoff. They had two kids. And this is where it gets complicated.
Daughter Ella Emhoff is a super progressive. The 24-year-old is an enthusiastic cheerleader for almost every left-of-center issue imaginable. And that has her on a potential collision course with her dad and stepmom.
Doug Emhoff is Jewish, while Harris is the No. 2 official in an administration actively supporting Israel in its war with Hamas. Meanwhile, Ella Emhoff is actively pushing an $8 million fundraising drive “supporting urgent relief for Gaza’s children” to her 315,000 Instagram followers. Given that she’s in lockstep with her generation’s support of Far Left causes, it should surprise no one she joined her fellow Gen Zers who continue to look kindly upon the Palestinian cause despite the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas in the latest Middle Eastern conflict.
That should make for some extremely interesting table talk in the Harris-Emhoff household this Thanksgiving.
Political tongues are wagging about a recent Golden State campaign contribution to a race in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. It wasn’t a game-changer, but it does suggest it could be “game on” for California governor Gavin Newsom.
The California governor’s Campaign for Democracy PAC donated to Charleston mayoral candidate Clay Middleton. That PAC also sent a fundraising text that netted Middleton’s campaign more than $170,000.
The late influx of liberal cash wasn’t enough to help Middleton, who finished third with 18 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election. Challenger William Cogswell and incumbent John Tecklenburg will face off in a Nov. 21 runoff election after they finished first and second, respectively, in the first round of voting.
What’s significant here is Middleton was a longtime aide to powerful U.S. congressman Jim Clyburn. And every Democrat knows the path to winning the Palmetto State’s presidential primary passes through Clyburn.
The Middleton contribution is just one of an increasing number of steps Newsom is taking to elevate his profile and remind fellow Dems that should Biden’s ever-sinking approval ratings prove too great a risk next year, he’s ready, willing, and able to step in at the top of the ticket.
It should also be noted that Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker likewise gave money to Middleton’s campaign, though his was a personal donation and not filtered through a PAC. Would-be presidents think alike, it would seem.
We can’t close the books on last week’s off-year elections without updating you on a pair of Virginia politicos we reported on earlier.
You may recall we told you in September about Susanna Gibson, the Democrats’ candidate for the House of Delegate’s 57th District seat. Gibson rose to fame (or infamy) when it was discovered she uploaded videos of herself having sex with her husband on a pay-to-play website. We’re not talking about a youthful indiscretion from Gibbons’ long-ago past; the most recent video to the X-rated site was posted on September 30, 2022.
It turned out dabbling in online porn wasn’t a winning political strategy. Gibson was defeated last week, but it wasn’t the shellacking you might imagine; she only lost by less than 1,000 votes out of nearly 35,000 cast.
The big story in Virginia was Glenn Youngkin. The fleece-wearing business executive appeared out of nowhere to win election as governor in 2021, putting the Old Dominion in the GOP win column. He’s been a MSM favorite ever since. We told you last month that Youngkin’s “Red Vest Retreat” in Virginia Beach would update supporters on his push to flip the Virginia Senate in the upcoming election – giving Republicans complete control of the legislature and thus providing a launchpad for a possible Youngkin presidential bid.
That launchpad is officially engulfed in flames …
Not only did Republicans fail to take control of the Senate, but they lost the House of Delegates to Democrats. They say you can pick up “Youngkin for President 2024” buttons dirt cheap in Richmond these days.
KENTUCKY FRIED FORECAST
We leave you this week with something to ponder. As Kentucky goes, so goes the nation? Maybe.
Kentucky’s governor, Democrat Andy Beshear, coasted to an easy reelection victory as expected last Tuesday. Many political junkies are now wondering if that’s a harbinger of things to come.
The Bluegrass State elects its governor the year before America picks a president. And for the last five cycles, the party that won the governor’s mansion in Frankfort went on to win the White House in Washington the following year.
Consider the following:
- Ernie Fletcher (R) wins in 2003; George W. Bush (R) wins in 2004
- Steve Beshear (D and Andy’s dad) wins in 2007; Barack Obama (D) wins in 2008
- Steve Beshear (D) wins again in 2011; Obama (D) wins again in 2012
- Matt Blevins (R) wins in 2015; Trump (R) wins in 2016
- Andy Beshear (D) wins in 2019; Biden (D) wins in 2020
Will the streak continue in 2024? We’ll find out in 51 weeks …
WANNA SOUND OFF?
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