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Yesterday may have been a turning point in the 2024 election — here’s why

Veteran GOP pollster Whit Ayres was recently interviewed by The Bulwark’s Bill Kristol, a Never Trump conservative who has become an unlikely ally of Democrats and supported President Joe Biden in 2020. Kristol’s Bulwark colleague Jonathan V. Last, analyzes Ayres’ observations in a column published on August 28.

According to Last, the “main takeaways” from that interview are: (1) Monday, August 28 was “important” because a trial date was set in ” the Jack Smith election interference case,” (2) “If there is a trial before the Republican convention and Trump is not found guilty, he will be the Republican nominee,” (3) “Absent that, there may be a lane for another Republican to seriously challenge him, but those odds are long and require candidate consolidation, (4) “If Trump is the nominee, he could absolutely win the general election,” and (5) “The Democrats still have time to move off of Biden/Harris and have an attractive bench, including potential candidates such as Gretchen Whitmer and Josh Shapiro.”

The trial date turned out to be March 4, 2024.

Last argues, “If the trial actually does start on March 4, we get the worst of both worlds: The criminal trial is ongoing during the most important phase of the primaries with a verdict TBD.

This means that: (1) Republicans enter the primaries defending Trump, (2) After the trial ends, the party will be pot-committed to Trump even if he is convicted, because they are not going to fight an intra-party civil war at the convention against the 35 percent of their base who are Forever Trump.”

Last is very skeptical about Ayers’ argument that Democrats would do well if Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris decided to step aside and the party nominated a ticket consisting of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.

“If Biden were to step aside,” Last explains, “there would not be a coronation. You’d have a primary in which the sitting president was ostensibly neutral.

The party would eventually choose a nominee, and this candidate would have to unify the party in the 30-week period between Super Tuesday and November 5, 2024 — while starting from near-zero name ID…. Whitmer and Shapiro seem like attractive candidates. But they have not been vetted on the national stage, and no one has any idea how they’d perform in a national campaign.”

Jake Massey
Jake Massey
Journalist at the Medialinker Group
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