Political Stock Index
Politics

Palmetto Political Stock Index – 3/5/2024

Primary fever …

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The 2024 presidential primary campaign is officially in overdrive, with its biggest day of all scheduled for this week. As we prepare to parse the results from Super Tuesday, it’s worth catching up on the field and determining how political stocks are trading heading into the potentially decisive day.

Over the last eleven months, founding editor Will Folks and political columnist Mark Powell have been monitoring developments in this race via our Palmetto Political Stock Index. Each update represents an evaluation 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.

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Also, just because your favorite/ least favorite politician isn’t 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.

To get your historical fix, click here. For last week’s index, click here. 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.

Where should you invest your political capital this week? To the index!

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DONALD TRUMP

STOCK: RISING

As Top 40 radio DJs used to say, “the hits just keep on coming” for former president Donald Trump. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court gave him a major dose of vindication when it struck down the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling which had blocked him from appearing on that state’s primary ballot. Plus, Trump racked up easy wins in the Idaho, Michigan, and Missouri Republican presidential caucuses over the weekend. If things continue going his way at this rate, the GOP could save a bundle by scrapping this summer’s national convention and nominating him by return postcard instead.

The math is strongly in Trump’s favor on Super Tuesday, too. People will be voting in fifteen states, determining more than a third of all GOP convention delegates. It’s the biggest round of voting until the general election this fall – and polling suggests Trump is set to sweep it in a breeze.

Trump is acting like a nominee-in-waiting, as well. The snide, petty putdowns of fellow Republicans are at a minimum these days (though not entirely gone). Plus, Trump made a high-profile visit to the Southern Border last Thursday where Texas governor Greg Abbott gave him a personally guided tour of Lone Star State’s efforts to stop illegal immigration at Eagle Pass.

Trump also called the parents of Laken Riley, the nursing student whose murder on the University of Georgia campus – allegedly at the hands of an illegal alien – has galvanized opponents of illegal immigration.

The 2024 campaign has largely been a love fest between Trump and his MAGA base. And he has run the race on his own terms. Trump skipped all five of the GOP debates and eschewed most retail campaigning, opting instead for his trademark large rallies and feeding off widespread conservative outrage over the bevy of criminal cases brought against him. That strategy worked exceedingly well for him. Now, only two questions remain: When will he clinch the nomination, and will his approach continue working with general election voters after that?

In related Supreme Court news, justices have agreed to consider Trump’s claim of “absolute immunity” in connection with the events of January 6, 2024. Locking down the Republican nomination will likely long be in his rearview mirror by the time oral arguments in that case are made in late April.

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ISRAEL-HAMAS

STOCK: HOLDING

Nearly five months after Hamas terrorists unleashed a brutal terrorist attack against Israel, fighting continues to rage in Gaza. And while that war is unfolding on the other side of the world, it has a direct bearing on president Joe Biden’s reelection chances. 

In last Tuesday’s Michigan presidential primary, 101,432 Democrats (or 13.2 percent of those who cast ballots) backed “uncommitted” over the incumbent. It was an effort by progressives to highlight their disapproval of Biden’s support for Israel – and their demand for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The protest succeeded far beyond the organizers’ wildest dreams. It also set off alarm bells inside the Biden camp. If a Biden-Trump 2.0 rematch materializes this fall, Democrats will have an incredibly thin margin for error – meaning they must keep progressives onboard.

After Tuesday’s rebuke at the polls, Biden took great pains to make sure his left flank knew its message was received. On Saturday, U.S. planes dropped 66 bundles containing 38,000 meals intended for Palestinians in southwest Gaza. Jordan’s air force likewise made two similar drops in northern Gaza the same day.

Also on Saturday, a senior U.S. official said Israel had more or less agreed to the framework for a ceasefire that would stop the fighting before Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, begins on Sunday. Diplomats say the ball is now essentially in Hamas’ court.  

The folks at the White House are anxiously awaiting word of the group’s decision … because much more than Mideast peace is riding on it.

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NIKKI HALEY

STOCK: HOLDING

At long last, the former United Nations ambassador notched a win in her belt. Nikki Haley easily carried Sunday’s District of Columbia primary, becoming the first woman in history to win a GOP primary election.

The historic victory came just in the nick of time for Haley, who is heading into Super Tuesday like the R.M.S. Titanic steaming headlong into the ice fields. Similar “sinking” sensations are likely in store for Haley, as polling in the fifteen states where ballots are being cast ranges from a solid second place to barely a flicker.

High dollar donors are also slowly deserting her. First to go was the political action wing of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity organization, but more are following suit. Limping into the campaign’s pivotal stretch, Haley continues to struggle with the same problem that has hounded her every step of the way: Authenticity.

Or rather a lack thereof …

Long known here in South Carolina as “Have-It-Both Ways Haley,” the former Palmetto State governor is maintaining that trait right up to the bitter end. Consider what happened last Friday: In a roundtable discussion with reporters in Washington, she blasted Trump as an old man obsessed with vendettas and personal pettiness. Then, without pausing to catch her breath, she went on to insist her campaign wasn’t “anti-Trump.” She has branded it as “pro-America,” but if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck …

Apparently, Haley believes GOP voters should pay no attention to that large cadre of #NeverTrumpers lined up behind her.

Haley did make one bit of news on Friday. She shot down the possibility of continuing her presidential bid on a fusion Republican-Democratic ticket sponsored by the No Labels party, which according to her has “sent, like, smoke signals that they want me to talk to them.”

How’s that for irony? Haley is shutting the door on the only group that’s shown an interest in her being its nominee.

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JOE BIDEN

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STOCK: FALLING

Have you heard the news? Three years and six weeks into his presidency, Joe Biden is suddenly concerned about the crisis on America’s southern border. Very, very concerned, he would have us believe.

On Wednesday, Biden asked so-called “sanctuary cities” (overwhelmingly located in solidly Blue states, not so coincidentally) to cooperate with immigration authorities to remove dangerous illegals who pose a threat to their community. 

That’s a major flip-flip for Biden, who spent much of his first year in office making it easier for illegals to enter – and stay – in the United States. Tellingly, the change comes in the wake of public outcry over Laken Riley’s murder.

The border focus didn’t stop there, though …

On the same day Trump visited Eagle Pass, Biden was 269 miles away in Brownsville – but flaws in the sincerity of the incumbent’s trip began appearing immediately. While Trump went to one of the most porous border crossing sites in the region, Biden picked one of its slowest sectors. And what was the very first thing he talked about once he got there? Not the tidal wave of illegal immigrants who have washed into the country during his administration, but his most beloved topic of all: Climate change. Specifically, Biden blamed the left’s favorite bogeyman for the massive wildfires currently ravaging the Texas panhandle.

Adding insult to injury? Biden’s people handed out a fact sheet to reporters that referred to illegal immigrants as “newcomers.” This begs the question: Just how sincere was Biden’s Brownsville dog and pony show and his sudden change of heart on illegal immigration?

And, more importantly, will he still feel that way the morning after Election Day?

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D.C. DYSFUNCTION

STOCK: FALLING

“Republican” Senate leader Mitch McConnell is finally hanging up his spurs. The 82-year-old Kentucky senator announced last week he won’t seek another term as Senate Republican leader during congressional organization elections in November (although he is hanging on to his seat in the upper chamber).

Unrest within the right flank of the GOP caucus has been growing for months, and there’d been increasing talk in recent weeks about a revolt by unhappy conservatives. Add to that McConnell’s all-too-obvious physical limitations, including several incidents when he stopped mid-sentence and stared blankly into the distance (something political wags now sneeringly refer to as “McConnelling”).

Though the vote to select his replacement is more than eight months away, several would-be successors have already stepped forward. Senator John Cornyn says he wants the job. And former President Donald Trump wasted no time giving senator Steve Daines from Montana his endorsement, setting the stage for a MAGA vs. Establishment showdown.

Plenty of drama is also brewing on the other side of Capitol Hill. House Speaker Mike Johnson‘s grip on the gavel is coming in the crosshairs of the very people who took it from predecessor Kevin McCarthy‘s hands last October. 

Barely four months into the gig, Johnson is increasingly running afoul of conservatives, especially the hard-right Freedom Caucus. They accuse him of not following through with promises to curb spending and limit government. About one dozen Democrats sent Johnson a letter recently, warning him against caving in to Freedom Caucus demands.

Matters could come to a head as early as this week when the House begins taking up several spending bills. Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats alike will be watching what Johnson does.

You will remember when a no-confidence vote dethroned McCarthy last fall not a single Democrat voted to save his neck. Should a similar parliamentary coup be launched against Johnson, would a lifeline be tossed to him from across the aisle this time?

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COMMANDER BIDEN

STOCK: FALLING

The president has got plenty of grief over a First Family member. And his name isn’t Hunter Biden.

Commander, Biden’s German shepherd, is in the doghouse after a string of biting incidents. How bad, you ask? Secret Service documents indicate at least 24 canine encounters of a close kind. And that doesn’t include many more involving White House residential staff and other workers.

A CNN review of Secret Service emails involving the presidential pooch turned up this delicately phrased guidance from last June by an unnamed special assistant agent in the service’s Presidential Protective Division: “The recent dog bites have challenged us to adjust our operational tactics when Commander is present – please give lots of room.”  

Late last week, the White House Historical Society showed off the wooden eggs that will be used in this year’s Easter Egg Roll tradition. First cat Willow and Commander are prominently featured on the “Biden Blue” egg, which showcases the Biden Family.

But Commander won’t be there next month to watch kids as they frolic around the South Lawn. He was banished last fall to live elsewhere with Biden relatives, presumably at an undisclosed location.

Bad dog!

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1 comment

Ralph Hightower Top fan March 7, 2024 at 12:30 pm

Nikki Haley needs another “Sugar Daddy” since the Koch brothers (Americans For Prosperity) pulled out.

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