Monday 25 March 2024

Could Joe Biden Deliver A MAGA Tidal Wave 8 Years In The Making?

 Republicans have a not-so-secret weapon going into the 2024 election for the first time of the Trump era: a presidential nominee running circles around his opponent in the polls.

At the top of March, Trump posted his largest lead over Biden to date in either a New York Time/Siena or New York Times/CBS poll. He continues to trounce Biden in hypothetical matchups across most swing states. The 81-year-old president battles a low approval rating and growing concerns about his age.

All signs point to a major opportunity for Republicans, and GOP strategists told the Daily Caller the road could lead to a long-anticipated red wave in November. 

“I think that’s absolutely true that his low job approval is helping the Republicans, it’s no question about it. And in fact, more than that, his low job approval is causing Americans to look back on the Trump presidency with some nostalgia,” a longtime GOP adviser in Kentucky and veteran of numerous campaigns, Scott Jennings, told the Daily Caller.

Though Jennings said Republicans are certainly benefitting from Biden’s low approval rating, he added that he thought it was too early to confidently predict a red wave.

“But the conditions are right. I guess it’s the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. Tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted,” Jennings said. “A tornado watch is the conditions are right. And I think the conditions are right. So I’d say that’d put us in watch territory.”

Mark R. Weaver, a GOP strategist, told the Daily Caller that the 2024 election contains several parallels to the 1980 election, when former President Ronald Reagan won a staggering 44 states.

“History tells us that Jimmy Carter was in the White House. He had been elected, promising a different kind of presidency, after Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. But he was so inept at the job that Americans were very frustrated with his administration,” Weaver explained. “Inflation was high. Food prices were high. Gas Pump prices were high and actually rationed. They were American hostages being held in the Middle East and we couldn’t get them back. We were not respected around the world.”

Weaver added that Reagan asked voters ahead of the election if they were better off today than they were four years ago — a line, he added, that could help Trump propel himself over the finish line.

“So there’s some parallels here. I always like to say Donald Trump is not Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan is once in every three or four generation quality candidate,” Weaver continued. “So Donald Trump has far more weaknesses than Ronald Reagan did. Having said that, Joe Biden’s a lot like Jimmy Carter, because people are frustrated with how inept his administration is, and they are ready for a change and in this case, the change would be back to the future.”

“Trump will use that line and he’ll be referring to a time when he was president. And that could produce a red wave,” he concluded. 

Republicans have been anticipating a red wave for the last eight years, but have instead been the victims of mirages. In 2016, though Trump beat out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the presidency, and Republicans clinched both a Senate and House majority, the party lost seats in both chambers.

Even with the majority, the makeup of congress wasn’t particularly favorable to Trump. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed Trump after he secured the nomination in 2016, but is definitionally establishment. In fact, McConnell at the time said he didn’t believe Trump would change the GOP, but that Republicans would change Trump.
On the House side,  Speaker Paul Ryan said he would vote for Trump in 2016, but added that “it’s no secret that he and I have our differences.”
In addition to skeptical leadership, Trump entered the 2016 election as an insurgent force within the Republican Party, lacking much of the institutional control he has now. In 2024, his campaign is increasingly influential over the RNC, and he plays a kingmaker role in GOP primaries. 
In 2018, with Trump in office, Republicans ceded ground to Democrats, who won a House majority. And in 2020, Biden led Trump in the polls as election day inched closer, eventually defeating him for the White House. Meanwhile, Democrats retained control of the House and gained several seats to win a 50-50 split in the Senate.
Two years into Biden’s presidency, Republicans believed they would finally get their red wave, but in many ways fell short. Though they won back the House, another underperformance resulted in Democrats holding the Senate by a 51-49 margin.
“The vaunted red wave never hit the shore in midterm elections,” a Washington Post headline read.

“The red wave that wasn’t: 5 takeaways from a disappointing night for the GOP,” a Politico headline said.

“GOP Pollster: Republicans Failed to Secure Red Wave in 2022 Midterms for Four Key Reasons,” the National Review wrote.

But now, down-ballot candidates across the country, particularly those with a “MAGA” agenda and endorsed by Trump, are predicting a red wave and crediting Biden for the help.

“President Trump is going to win the White House and Republicans are going to take back the Senate Majority. Joe Biden and Ruben Gallego’s policies have crushed hardworking Arizonans with crippling inflation: high prices at the gas pump, grocery store, and even when buying a home,” Republican Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake, a long-time Trump supporter, told the Daily Caller in a statement. 

Republican Texas state Rep. Steve Toth, also endorsed by Trump, told the Daily Caller that a red wave has already begun to take Texas and he pointed to Biden’s handling of the economy and the southern border as reasons why.

“But when things get bad, not only do [Republicans] turn out, but it awakens the independents that are right leaning but yet haven’t decided what they want to be when they grow up. And I think we’re all feeling the effects right now of a really crappy economy and open borders in a tremendous way. It’s straining the economy. It’s straining the workforce. It’s straining everything. I mean we’re really coming apart at the seams right now. I think people feel it,” Toth told the Daily Caller. 

Both Lake and Toth have been endorsed by Trump and have similar priorities to the former president. Both politicians told the Daily Caller that Republicans should prioritize building a border wall, which did not get done during Trump’s first term.

The signature legislative accomplishment of Trump’s first term was the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a law that was championed by Reaganite Republicans and perfectly in-line with longstanding beliefs in the party. Analysts at the time wrote that the prioritization of tax cuts over immigration may have been pushed by Congressional leadership.

“That means the president is going to have to decide, very soon, how he wants the fall policy debate to play out. Does he want Congress to spend the next few months battling over the budget and funding a border wall? Or does he want lawmakers to try to pass a tax cut? If he does not develop and sell a coherent policy choice to Congress when it returns to Washington in a couple of weeks, it is likely that the congressional GOP leadership will choose for him,” Tax Policy Center’s Howard Gleckman wrote in 2017.

“In some ways, it may already have. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), whose relationship with Trump has turned icy, has made no secret that he wants to clear the legislative decks to make room for a tax bill.”

“My first action as a Republican Senator would be to introduce legislation that: 1. Secures the border by finishing the wall 2. Baby bonuses for parents and extending the child tax credit 3. Extending President Trump’s tax cuts. President Trump and Senate Republicans will get America back on track,” Lake added.

Republican Texas state Rep. candidate David Covey, also endorsed by Trump, told the Daily Caller in a statement that his priority on securing the nation’s southern border helped him secure the support of the former president.

“My opponent, House Speaker Dade Phelan, was the only Republican in the Texas Legislature not to vote for SB4. His lack of leadership on border security is one of the many reasons why former President Donald Trump endorsed me in the race for Texas House District 21. Securing the border and protecting Texas families is my number one priority,” Covey told the Daily Caller.

Texas’ State Bill four [SB4] would allow local police to arrest migrants who cross into the state illegally. The law has been the subject of a lengthy legal battle. The Supreme Court recently made the decision to allow the local police to move forward with arresting migrants who cross into the state illegally.

Immigration is at the top of Americans’ priorities heading into the 2024 election while “government” and “economy in general” take second and third place, according to a February Gallup poll. And while Americans keep immigration and economy at the top of their concerns, a majority disapprove of how the president has handled those very issues.

Sixty-nine percent of Americans disapprove of how Biden has handled immigration while 68 percent disapprove of how the president has addressed inflation, a December Monmouth University poll shows.

“The Biden administration keeps touting their infrastructure investments and a host of positive economic indicators,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, previously said in a press release coupled with the poll. “Those data points may be factual, but most Americans are still smarting from higher prices caused by post-pandemic inflation. This seems to be what’s driving public opinion. There is political danger in pushing a message that basically tells people their take on their own situation is wrong.”

In addition to Biden’s low polling, the former president’s team is confident that is “America First” messaging will help propel Trump to victory in November.

“Americans are suffering from the failed policies of Crooked Joe Biden, and congressional Democrats are stifling Republicans’ attempts to deliver relief through legislation like the Lower Energy Costs Act and Secure the Border Act. Voters are ready for a change, and President Trump’s America First message will bring a rising tide that will lift all boats this November,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez told the Daily Caller.

Despite optimism from some on the right and from the former president’s supporters, some continue to hold their breath.

“With respect to the campaign for president, if the election were held tomorrow morning, Mr. Trump would probably win. Please keep in mind that, as we have noted before, the race will be very close (likely decided by fewer than 500,000 votes spread across seven States and, if you like specificity, about 40 counties in those seven States),” Mike McKenna, a former Trump advisor and longtime Republican operative, wrote in a memo provided to the Daily Caller. 

“The race will also be volatile. So, it is entirely possible that a month from now or six months from now, Mr. Biden may have the upper hand,” McKenna added.

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