Trump, Republicans Down in Poll of Crucial Midwest States

US Capitol at Night

Because of the constitutional quirks of the Electoral College, Donald Trump was elected president because of approximately 80,000 voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. A newly released NBC News/Marist poll of two of those three states does not bode well for the president nearly two years before he runs for re-election.

In Michigan, the president’s approval rating is 36-54.

In Minnesota, the president’s approval rating is 38-51.

In Wisconsin, the president’s approval rating is 36-52.

In contrast, only about one third of voters in all three states say President Trump deserves re-election.

The poll was done mostly after the President’s widely criticized summit and press conference with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on July 16. A majority of voters in all three states were in favor of a Democrat-controlled Congress: 45-36 in Michigan, 48-36 in Minnesota, and 47-39 in Wisconsin. A majority of voters in all three states said the message of their vote in November would be that more Democrats are needed in Congress to act as a check and balance on the president.

Besides House congressional races, all three states also have governor and U.S. Senate races as well.

Reading the 2020 Tea Leaves

A look at what prospective Democratic presidential candidates are up to:

Alabama House Member Considering Run Against Senator Doug Jones in 2020

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) told The Hill he was considering a run against Democratic Senator Doug Jones, who is up for re-election in 2020. He rated his chances of getting in the race as “greater than 50 percent.”

Jones won what was considered a safe Republican seat in a special election last December, defeating former Chief Justice Roy Moore who was politically weakened after a series of allegations that he made advances on teenage girls as a 30-year-old man.  He is currently serving the remainder of former senator Jeff Sessions’ six-year term, which expires in 2020. He would likely be one of the most endangered Senate Democrats in that cycle.

Terry McAuliffe Headlining Kansas Democratic Party Convention

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) will be the keynote speaker at the Kansas Democratic Party’s bi-annual Demofest convention, scheduled to take place in Wichita during the weekend of August 24-26. It has been widely speculated that McAuliffe, a former chairman of the National Governors Association and of the Democratic National Committee, is considering a presidential run in 2020.

Biden Endorses Four Secretary of State Candidates

Former Vice President Joe Biden endorsed four down ballot candidates running for Secretary of State in key states for the midterm and presidential election cycles. He made the announcement in an email sent out to supporters of American Possibilities, his political action committee. He cited protection of voting rights as his reason for the endorsements, writing that one of the best ways to accomplish this goal was “by electing strong Secretaries of State, the folks responsible for overseeing elections, all across the country.”

Biden has maintained his public profile by endorsing several state and congressional candidates across the country in the past several months, fueling speculation about whether he is considering another White House run. Biden told the Washington Post that he did not know what he was going to do.

The four candidates to receive Biden’s endorsement were attorney Jena Griswold in Colorado, former Wayne State University Law School dean Jocelyn Benson in Michigan, Assemblyman Nelson Araujo in Nevada, and State Rep. Kathleen Clyde in Ohio.  All four states have open races for governor because of term-limited incumbents. Only Colorado does not have a Senate race in the current cycle. All four are competitive swing states in presidential elections.

The significance of the secretaries of state who are elected in this cycle is that they will become the top elections officials in their respective states for the 2020 presidential cycle, which will make them responsible for managing primaries, protecting the integrity of the election systems and process, and certifying the results.

Griswold won her party’s nomination in the Colorado primary this evening.

Jay Inslee Headlining Florida Democratic Party Gala

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) has been announced as the keynote speaker for the Florida Democratic Party’s annual Leadership Blue Gala, scheduled for this weekend in Hollywood, Fla.  Also scheduled to speak at the event are House Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and incumbent senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is running for re-election this fall.

The event is scheduled one week after Inslee traveled to Iowa to campaign on behalf of Democratic nominee Fred Hubbell, who is running for governor.  As was the case in Iowa last week, Inslee is attending the event in Florida in his capacity as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, although it will also raise eyebrows about his possible 2020 presidential ambitions.

Also scheduled to speak at the event are Democratic state legislators and candidates, including the five candidates running for the party’s nomination in the governor’s race this fall: Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Jeff Greene, Chris King and Philip Levine, as well as Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher Kat Posada. Democrats are trying to win the state’s chief executive position for the first time in 24 years.

Larry Sabato and the Cook Political Report both project the Florida governor’s race as a toss-up. The state’s primary is scheduled for August 28.

The Next Potential Democratic Litmus Test: Abolishing ICE

In light of the national uproar over President Donald Trump’s family separation policy, at least two incumbent House Democrats (Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Rep.  Jim McGovern of Massachusetts) a gubernatorial candidate (Cynthia Nixon in New York) and one possible presidential contender (Kamala Harris in California) has floated the idea of reforming, de-funding or shutting down Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Even the libertarian publication Reason has gotten behind this idea. The most serious move on this issue so far has come from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), who announced this morning that he would be introducing legislation in the House to abolish ICE.

The agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, has come under new scrutiny for its role and actions in implementing President Trump’s policy, as have its architects.  Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller were heckled by protesters while eating out in Washington DC restaurants last week.

The Republican National Committee hasn’t made much of an issue out of it yet beyond a blog post, although expect that to change if President Trump enters the fray, particularly in close House and Senate races which could make or break the Republican majorities for next year.