5 min read

Another Trump midterms

Wake Up To Politics: Another Trump midterms
Another Trump midterms

by Gabe Fleisher

Good morning! It’s Monday, August 29, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 71 days away. Election Day 2024 is 799 days away.

Another Trump midterms

After months of preparing for a blowout victory in the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans are beginning to come to terms with the fact that November might not be the smashing success they had once forecasted.

A string of independent analysts is downgrading the size of the House majority they expect Republicans to notch this fall. A new CBS News analysis out this weekend estimated that Republicans will win 226 seats in November, down from 230 estimated in July. (A majority is 218 seats.)

Fox News has also changed its forecast from a 240-seat GOP majority to 234 seats, while Cook Political Report now expects Republicans to pick up 10-20 seats, instead of 15-30.

The Senate landscape is seeing similar changes, with FiveThirtyEight placing the odds of Republicans winning the chamber at 35 in 100, down from 54 in 100 at the beginning of July. The “red wave looks more like a ripple,” the Cook forecasters wrote.

Buoyed by recent legislative wins, special election victories, and an increase to President Biden’s approval rating, some Democrats are now even allowing themselves to daydream about the possibility of keeping the House in their control, per the Washington Post.

Late last week, Gallup recorded Biden’s approval rating at 44%, a six-point gain from July and his highest in a year. A CBS News poll released Sunday showed Democrats increasing their standing among white women with college degrees — a critical voting bloc — by nine percentage points since July, a shift which can likely be attributed to the end of Roe v. Wade.

While most forecasters still view a Democratic House majority as an unlikely outcome, razor-thin GOP control would not be a change in fortunes without consequence.

As CNN notes, a smaller GOP majority could complicate House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s path to the speakership if enough right-wing Republicans defect, as some have threatened. It could also make governing next to impossible for McCarthy, who would likely need Democratic support to usher through mast-pass bills to avert government shutdowns and a debt ceiling default.

At the same time, it should be noted that “midterm campaigns have tended to stay on course once voters get a baked-in view of the party in power,” as the Washington Post points out, unlike presidential campaigns that often feature late-in-the-game “October surprises.”

“The question now is not whether the environment has shifted,” Democratic strategist Meredith Kelly told the Post, “but whether it can stay that way for 70 days, an eternity in politics.”

Republicans are expressing confidence that voters’ initial impressions will ultimately win the day: “It’s a grocery and gas election,” Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), the chair of the House GOP campaign arm, told the Wall Street Journal. “The No. 1 issue in every one of the battleground districts that we look at remains inflation and the economy.” (Democrats see some signs for hope there too, however, as gas prices continue to fall.)

For House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (right), former President Donald Trump is back in the news at the worst time. (National Archives)

Still, it comes as no relief to Republicans that on top of all of this, Donald Trump — the first president since 1932 to lose the White House, Senate, and House for his party in a single four-year term — is also back in the news again.

According to the Times, some top Republicans are “signaling concern” that an election they once expected to be a referendum on Biden is now “being complicated by all-encompassing attention on the legal exposure” of his predecessor.

On Friday, a redacted version of the affidavit used to justify the FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate was unsealed, revealing that the documents Trump kept with him after his presidency included records at the highest classification levels — such as documents that identified human intelligence sources.

Trump is set to dominate headlines once again this week. A Trump-appointed federal district judge signaled Saturday that she is likely to accede to the former president’s request that an independent special master be named to review the documents seized during the FBI raid.

The judge, Aileen Cannon, ordered the Justice Department file a response to Trump’s motion calling for a special master by Tuesday; she also told prosecutors to file a “more detailed receipt” of what was seized during the raid. That receipt will be kept under seal.

A hearing on whether to appoint a special master will then take place on Thursday, ensuring that news of the Trump investigation continues throughout the week.

In addition, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines told lawmakers on Friday that her office will lead an “assessment of the potential risk to national security” from the documents at Mar-a-Lago, yet another review that could spell trouble for Trump.

And it’s unclear that the dispute over the documents themselves is even over: some National Archives officials reportedly “believe that there might still be more records missing” from the Trump era.

Today’s political daybook

All times Eastern.

President Joe Biden will return to the White House this morning from Wilmington, Delaware, where he spent the weekend.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff traveled to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where they were supposed to watch the launch of Artemis I, an uncrewed, next-generation mega-rocket set to take off towards the moon.

However, the historic launch has been postponed due to an “issue with an engine bleed” and will no longer take place today.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will hold her daily press briefing at 1:30 pm. Watch

The Senate is on recess until September 6.

The House is on recess until September 13.

The Supreme Court is on recess until October 3.

Before I go...

Artemis I is no longer set to take off today, but it’s still interesting to read about where the next generation of spaceflight will (eventually) lead.

When it does take off, Artemis I is expected to travel 42 days — reaching the moon, looping around it, and then returning to earth. With no human crew, the rocket will instead be “manned” by a trio of mannequins: Commander Moonkin Campos, Helga, and Zohar.

A plush Snoopy toy will also be on board to serve as the zero gravity indicator, something that will begin to float once the rocket reaches outer space.

Artemis I will be the first launch in the Artemis program, easing NASA back into flying to the moon until the agency eventually sends rockets with actual human crews later in the program. Those eventual astronauts will be the first humans to land on the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

Read more via CNN.

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Thanks for waking up to politics! Have a great day.

— Gabe