Sunday, February 11, 2024

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A Safe Senate Seat Now A Pick-up?

Republican 2024 U.S. senate prospects, already

looking bright, just got brighter with the unexpected

announcement that former Maryland Governor Larry

Hogan is running for the state’s open seat in November,

Even though long-time incumbent Senator Ben Cardin,

a Democrat, had  decided to retire, the seat was rated

“Safe Democrat” because this was such a liberal “blue”

state.


Bur Hogan is one of several Eastern moderate

Republican political figures who win elections in the

liberal northeast, and enjoiy wdespread popularity.

Vermont Governor Phil Scottl New Hampshire

Governor Chris Sununu, and Maine Senator Susan

Collins  are other examples of Republicans whose

blending of tolerant social policies with conservative

economic policies make them successful with East

Coast voters;


In the Midwest, there are Democrats who win race

conservative states, including Montana  Senator Jon 

Testor, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and Kentucky

Governor Andy Beshear, but this cycle both Testor

and Brown are facing serious GOP challengers.


There is a catch to the new development that 

appears to be a benefit to GOP senate prospects. 

Hogan expands a Republican majority, but like

Collins and Alaska Senatior Lisa Murkowski,

another moderate, he won’t be relied on to vote for

many conservative social issues. Hard-line GOP

voters on the right often denounce moderates as

RINOs and sell-outs.


While the voter base of the Democrats is veering

left, and the GOP base is veering right, both parties

face the complications of senate members who

are center-left and center-right. With party strength

almost tiied in recent years, the Senate has not

always functioned as party leader have wished

in recent years, so the GOP will need to pick up

more than 2-3 Senate seats in 2024 if they want

to have truly effective control.


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Copyright (c) 2024 by Barry Casselman. All rights resered.


 

Saturday, February 3, 2024

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Did Anyone Notice That Joe Biden Just Won The South Carolina Primary?


In case you missed it, President Joe Biden won the

Democrats’ 2024 South Carolina primary held on 

Saturday, February 3 with more than 95% of the

vote.


Intended to be the first official primary for the

Democrats, it was preceded by a meaningless

Iowa caucus with no results until March and an

unofficial New Hampshire primary in which the

president was not even on the ballot, but won

easily nonetheless with write-in votes.


Biden has only two opponents in the race for

the Democratic nomination, Marianne Williamson

and Congressman Dean Phillips. Phillips did

receive 19% of the vote in New Hampshire, but

tallied less than 2%, and trailed Williamson slightly.


The rest of the Democrats’ primary season is

almost certainly a foregone conclusion. Mr.Phillips 

has complained he has been excluded from

several primary ballots, but his highly-publicized

protests have gone unheeded by the Democrats’

political establishment which has successfully

discouraged any major Democrat from running

this year — intending that the incumbent

president is renominated for a second term

without the omplication of a potentially bitter and

divisive contest.


However, Mr. Biden remains a notably unpopular

figure in  almost all opinion polls, and has had a

negative favorability for most of his first term. Even

more significant, he trails his potential major  

Republican opponents in match-up polls in virtually

all of the battleground states he won in 2020, and

even trails in the overall national popular vote —

which signals a landslide against him in the key

electoral college vote which determines the winner

of the presidential race.


These polls, and the president’s unfavorability have

a great many Democrats calling for Mr. Biden to

announce his retirement before the Democrats’

national convention in Chicago in August — making

it possible to replace him on the ticket before the

general election in November.


Mr. Biden’s supporters and strategists have so far

strongly resisted the calls for his retirement, citing

the likelihood now that Donald Trump will be the

GOP nominee in November, and that the president

has already defeated Mr. Trump, and claiming he

would do it again.


They also cite some current economic data that

the economy is improving, a current strong stock

market, and some improving inflation and 

unemployment numbers.


On the other hand, there is little evidence so far

that this data has improved his standing with 

voters — many of whom in both parties and 

among independents who feel price inflation 

and job security is worse.


Although there is more enthusiasm for Mr. Trump

among Republican base voters than there is for

Mr. Biden among the Democrats’ base, the former

GOP president is a controversial figure for many

voters who would prefer another conservative

nominee. With several criminal trials and ballot

challenges ahead for him, his appearance on the

November ballot is no certainty.


With so much dissatisfaction for the likely major

party nominees, the 2024 is now likely to see

considerable activity by third party nominees.

These nominees almost certainly will not win the

presidency in 2024, but they are likely to have a

profound impact on who will win — and perhaps

even when the winner is determined.


As demonstrated in the 2000 presidential election,

it doesn’t take many votes for third party

candidates to have huge impact, and already

several of these likely to be on many state ballots,

including the No Labels Party which says it intends

to field a ticket featuring a prominent Democrat and

Republican.


Citing 2016 or 2020 is therefore not likely to be

particularly useful in 2024


For the first time in memory, the actual primary 

season of the presidential election is drawing little

public interest. The real outcomes are much ahead.


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Copyright (c) 2024 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, January 23, 2024

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Presidential Race Goes Into Political Outer Space

The 2024 U.S. presidential race has suddenly gone into

political outer space as, within a week, the races for the

Republican  and Democratic nominations have been

decided without almost any voting, and against the 

traditional weight of popular concurrence.


As astronauts in physical outer space experience 

weightlessness, voters now might be confronted with the

political weightlessness of having little or no say in the

eventual presidential ballot itself.


On the Republican side, former president and 2024 

frontrunner for renomination Donald Trump has regained

his support in the GOP base, and despite the early and

serious efforts of several credible opponents, has not

only maintained a very large lead in virtually all opinion

polls, but in the first actual voting easily defeated his

opponents as he exceeded 50% of the total vote.


This caused his leading opponent in the early part of

the cycle, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, to withdraw 

and endorse him. Now only one major opponent, former

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley remains in the race,

but since New Hampshire permits some Democrats and

independents to register as Republicans on Election Day 

and vote in the GOP primary, her total vote in the New

Hampshire primary included many crossover voters —- 

voters who will not be available to her in most succeeding 

primaries where she trails Mr, Trump by substantial 

margins. Even with non-Republicans padding Haley’s

New Hampshire total, Trump still received almost 55%.


Most immediately and significantly, the next primary is

in her home state of South Carolina where she is far

behind, and where fellow SouthCarolinian and former

presidential rival Senator Tim Scott has endorsed Mr.

Trump, as have Governor DeSantis and her other

former rival Vivek Ramaswami. 


Barring the unforeseen, the GOP nomination race is

now likely over in the traditional process of the voters.


However, in this unprecedented election cycle, Mr.

Trump’s nomination does not guarantee that his place 

on the November presidential ballot is assured.


Facing four criminal trials and numerous indictments,

as well as an unprecedented effort to keep him off

several state ballots using an obscure passage in the

Constitution (alleging he fomented an insurrection

against the government in 2021), it is possible, should

the U.S. Supreme Court decide he can be tried, and

he is convicted, and/or also decide that the  

constitutional prohibition apples to him, and several

states subsequently remove him from the ballot, that

he might not be his party’s viable nominee in November.


On the Democratic side, President Joe Biden so far has

only token opposition. The Democrats have formally

eliminated the traditional Iowa and New Hampshire

voting, and their first primary is in South Carolina. Even

his minor opponents do not even appear on most state

ballots. Party leaders have successfully prevented any

major Democrats from opposing Mr. Biden, and his

renomination is now assured.


Despite a great many Democrats and independents 

voting for Nikki Haley in New Hampshire, Mr. Biden won

that primary gaining more than 70% with write-in votes.


However, the Democrats’ president has historically low

poll numbers, significant unfavorability among his own

party’s voters, and trails his major Republican opponents

in most recent polls. These polls reflect the popular vote

which Democrats in recent elections have won, and so his

current numbers indicate he would lose the all-important

Electoral College in a landslide. Should Mr. Trump be

excluded from the presidential ballot in several states

where Democrats are in control, it is very likely that states

where Republicans are in control would move to exclude

Mr. Biden from their ballots, alleging that his immigration

and border policies are an insurrection against the

government.


Many notable Democrat leaders, strategists and liberal

media commentators have called on Mr. Biden to retire,

and this has not subsided, but instead increased as the

cycle enters the primary stage. A very large number of

Democrats, polls say, would prefer a younger and more

active nominee,


Feeling weightless in all of this, what voters will do next

November is ominously unpredictable. Frustrated, many

Republicans, Democrats and independents could stay 

home or vote for prominent third party candidates.


The presidential election might not be decided until

well into 2025.


Eventually, astronauts in space come back to earth and

its laws of gravity. Voters on the left, right and center

could have their chance to express how they feel having 

been sent this cycle into political outer space against their 

will.


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Copyright (c) 2024 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.