By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024
Candidates: And Then There Were Three — After former President Donald Trump’s victory in the Iowa Caucuses on Monday, two more presidential candidates, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, suspended their campaigns.
Prominent candidates who previously dropped their bids are former Vice President Mike Pence, ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. The moves essentially leave the presidential field to Mr. Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. Of the exiting candidates, Ramaswamy and Burgum both have endorsed Trump. No other former candidate to date has issued an endorsement.
New Hampshire: ARG Sees Trump & Haley Tied — A third installment of the American Research Group survey series (Jan. 12-15; 600 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters; 406 Republican voters; 194 Independent voters; live interview) sees Trump and Haley now tied as the candidates turn the corner toward the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23. Both candidates were drawing 40 percent support. DeSantis and now-ex presidential candidate Ramaswamy fell well back to four percent apiece. Clearly New Hampshire is the only pre-Super Tuesday state where Trump fails to dominate.
New Hampshire: A Biden Warning Sign — The American Research Group also ran a companion poll for the Democratic presidential primary as it was surveying the Republican side. This study (Jan. 12-15; 600 likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters; 452 Democratic voters; 148 Independent voters; live interview) finds US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) posting his best standing against President Joe Biden of any poll. According to these results, Biden, clearly identified as a write-in candidate on the questionnaire, would lead Rep. Phillips 58-28 percent, with author Marianne Williamson drawing three percent.
The New Hampshire primary is Jan. 23, but Biden chose to bypass the state because New Hampshire did not agree to the proposed Democratic National Committee primary calendar changes. Therefore, voters wanting to support the current president will have to write in his name.
Louisiana: Second Redistricting Map Released — On the first day of the special legislative session for congressional redistricting and other issues, state Rep. Mike Echols (R-Monroe) released a map that was seen as potentially the basis for an eventual final draw. Under the introduced plan, Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) would likely find himself as the odd man out as a new Baton Rouge-anchored 6th District that would be designed to elect an African American representative. The original map was sent back to the legislature for the purpose of increasing minority representation.
The Dave’s Redistricting App statisticians have already released their calculations of all six districts in the proposed plan. Instead of the current 5R-1D plan, we would see a 4R-2D map, with the 6th District going from a partisan lean of 66.0R – 31.9D to one that favors the Democrats to the degree of 56.3D – 41.8R. Rep. Graves would be placed in the 5th District with fellow Republican incumbent Rep. Julia Letlow (R-Start). In this map version, Letlow’s current constituency would comprise two-thirds of the new district, thus giving her a major advantage if the two ultimately face each other.
Now, a second plan has been submitted but two points are clear when comparing the two versions.
First, the legislature is clearly complying with the court order to draw a second majority minority seat within the six-member congressional delegation, and second, the targeted GOP House member likely to lose his seat is to make room for the new district is Rep. Graves. Once completed and passed into law, the new court-ordered map will almost assuredly mean a net gain of one seat for the Democrats in the 2024 election.
MD-2: Primary Opponent Emerges for Rep. Ruppersberger — Two-term state Delegate Harry Bhandari (D-Nottingham) announced that he will challenge 11-term US Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Cockeysville) for the Democratic nomination in the May 14 Maryland primary election. Bhandari does not have to risk his seat in the legislature because Maryland awards its state Delegates with four-year terms, and he was re-elected in 2022. Rep. Ruppersberger has yet to announce that he will run for re-election. The Maryland candidate filing deadline is Feb. 9.
MD-2 is a safe Democratic seat. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the district as D+11. The Daily Kos Elections statisticians rank the seat as the 62nd most vulnerable in the House Democratic Conference.