By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023
PresidentNational Polling: Biden Weak Among Dem Voters — While First Lady Jill Biden was questioning over the weekend why people are not fully believing that President Biden is running for re-election when he has repeatedly said that he is, national Democratic primary voter polling since the 2022 election suggests internal weakness for the party’s incumbent. Though Democrats generally rate his job performance as very positive, a large percentage would also prefer another candidate run in 2024.
For example, the new California Field Poll conducted at the University of California at Berkeley (Feb. 14-20; 7,51 registered California voters; online) finds 86 percent of the state’s Democrats approving of President Biden’s job performance, but only 57 percent of this same segment favor him running for re-election.
Four national Democratic primary polls have been conducted since the 2022 election from Emerson College, YouGov, Reuters/Ipsos, and Harvard University/Harris; just among Democrats, President Biden only scores between 35-42 percent preference within a hypothetical field of notable Democratic potential candidates. Though this suggests weakness for renomination, it doesn’t appear that the president will face major intra-party competition as he begins his 2024 campaign.
California: DeSantis Leads Trump — The California Field Poll conducted at the University of California at Berkeley (Feb. 14-20; 7,512 registered California voters; 1,755 self-identified California Republican voters; online) also looked at the Republican presidential field. The statewide totals find Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an unannounced candidate for president, topping former President Donald Trump, 37-29 percent, with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley recording seven percent preference. All other potential Republican candidates score support figures of four percent or less.
The important point to remember about the California Republican nomination system is that the state selects delegates through its 52 congressional districts. Therefore, though DeSantis may be leading in the statewide count, the nomination battle is determined through the votes tabulated in the individual congressional districts. This system could make the California primary a wild card state on Super Tuesday.
Michigan: Two Say No — Two-time GOP US Senate nominee John James, who won the 10th District US House race last November, says he will not compete for Michigan’s open Senate seat next year and will instead defend his politically marginal congressional district in a bid for re-election. James was one of the national Republicans’ top Senate prospects, but his decision is good news for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
For the Democrats, state Senate Majority Whip Mallory McMorrow (D-Oakland and Wayne Counties) also said she will not enter the US Senate race. Though candidate speculation has been heavy, only Michigan School Board member Nikki Snyder (R) has announced her Senate candidacy among current elected officials. After much speculation and anticipation, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) entered the Senate race yesterday, saying in a campaign video that “We all know America is going through something right now, we seem to be living crisis to crisis,” after which she speaks to a relatively broad agenda. “Look, our country is going to get through this,” she declares. “It’s hard work, but that’s what Michiganders do.” In December, four-term incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she would not seek a fifth term.
Chicago: Closing Mayoral Poll Suggests Defeat for Incumbent Lori Lightfoot — The Chicago non-partisan mayoral primary is today, and a closing poll from M3 Strategies (Feb. 20-21; 450 likely Chicago voters) gives former Chicago Schools CEO Paul Vallas a substantial lead with 32 percent of the vote. Vallas is a Democrat but widely seen as the most conservative candidate in the nine-person field.
Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, who Reps. Jonathan Jackson (D-Chicago) and Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) support, is second with an 18 percent support factor. Mayor Lori Lightfoot now trails with only 14 percent backing, and Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago), who once led the race, drops all the way back to fourth position at 12 percent preference. Though all the candidates are relatively close, the poll shows the real possibility that Mayor Lightfoot would fail to qualify for the runoff election.
The city is reporting that over 210,000 mail ballots have been requested. Since the ballots may be postmarked on election day, Feb. 28, it could be several days before final tallies are reported. Under Chicago election law, however, mail ballots received before election may be counted early and added to the initial public reports on election night. If no candidate receives majority support in today’s election, which is a virtual certainty, the top two finishers will advance to an April 4 runoff contest.