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Friday, July 12, 2024

National, State and Local Temperature Checks

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National

The post-debate environment is one that typically generates an increased interest in polling and campaign ground game. The first presidential debate of this year was unusual for many reasons. It was held rather early in late June, almost two months ahead of the conventions. Debates typically begin after the conventions, which are typically held in August. This debate was also the first since the 1960s that was not held in front of a live audience. The debate was also the first in history that pitted an incumbent president against a former president.

True to form, elevated interests and emphasis on polling has emerged in the wake of the debate. The vast majority of respondents in formal polling, as well as in informal settings, agree that former President Donald Trump (R-FL) won the debate, or at least performed better than President Joe Biden (D-DE).

One of the first major polls conducted over the two days after the debate shows a shocking development in the presidential race that could make November’s result historic.

President Trump has been shown to lead Biden narrowly in New Jersey, a state that has not backed a Republican candidate since 1988. Additionally, 270toWin shows Trump taking the lead in the average of recent polls.

The poll, conducted between June 26 and 27 by co/efficient of 810 likely voters finds Trump leading Biden by one percentage points – 41%-40% – with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. taking in 7% of the vote. 13% of respondents were undecided.

In terms of partisan loyalty, Trump captures 15% of Democrats, 82% of Republicans, and 38% of Independents, leading Biden by five points in the latter category. Biden, conversely, takes in only 65% of Democratic support, just 9% of Republican support, and 33% of Independent support.

By ideology, Trump takes in 33% of self-proclaimed moderates, while Biden narrowly leads respondents of the ideology with 39% support.

By racial demographics, Trump leads Biden among Hispanic voters by two points – 30%-28% – and captures 19% of the black vote. Trump also has a large fifteen-point lead over Biden among Asian voters – 45%-30%. Biden received just 28% of Hispanic support and 58% of black support in the poll.

Trump also leads Biden in the critical demographic of young voters. Among respondents between the ages of 18 and 34, Trump leads with 44% to Biden’s 27%. Trump trails Biden among female voters by just seven points and leads Biden among Jewish voters by a similar margin.

Trump’s favorability rating is also only five points underwater in an otherwise blue state, compared to Biden’s approval rating that is close to twenty points underwater in a state that backed him by sixteen points in 2020.

New Jersey’s last close presidential race was in 2004, when John Kerry (D-MA) bested George W. Bush (R-TX) by around seven points in the typically blue state. A “high floor-low ceiling” state for the GOP, capturing 40% of the vote is typical for almost any New Jersey Republican, but venturing north of that is generally seen as a challenge. The latest results show not only a stunning upheaval of conventional political wisdom and a map possibly expanded beyond what observers would have likely anticipated, but it could indicate a bellwether effect among voters of similar demographics in states with political leanings similar to that of New Jersey. New York, Delaware, and Illinois could possibly be tracked in a similar scenario if the pollster’s findings are accurate.

The same polls also show a thin race for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Bob Menendez (D). Menendez earned notoriety late last year for his alleged federal corruption, bribery, and conspiracy charges and for allegedly acting as a foreign agent to the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Congressman Andy Kim (D, NJ-03), first elected in 2018, maintains a decent, yet relatively thin, seven-point lead over Curtis Bashaw (R). New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.

The New Jersey poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.42%.

Another poll to further shake up the race is from New Mexico, a once-competitive swing state that has built a profile as a generally blue-leaning battleground. Two polls conducted by 1892 Polling show Biden narrowly leading Trump both in a head-to-head matchup and a contest of multiple third-parties candidates.

Biden leads Trump by two points in a contest between just the two candidates. His lead shrinks to just one point when RFK, Green Party nominee Jill Stein, Libertarian Party nominee Chase Oliver, and Constitution Party nominee Randall Terry.

New Mexico has not backed a Republican nominee since 2004. After being relatively uncompetitive in 2008 and 2012, Trump held Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to an eight-point margin in the Land of Enchantment after making a late play for the state in 2016. Biden grew the margin to around eleven points in 2020.

New Mexico’s Senate race could also become engaged as Nella Domenici is found to trail Senator Martin Heinrich (D) by just four points. Heinrich was elected to the open seat in 2012, winning by five points. He won a resounding twenty-four-point win in 2018 in a three-way contest that included former Republican Governor Gary Johnson running as a Libertarian.

New Mexico has not elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Pete Domenici’s final win in 2002. He had held the seat since 1973. Nella, Domenici’s daughter of the late Senator, is hoping to flip the seat red this November.

Finally, a St. Anselm College poll of the perennial swing state of New Hampshire finds Trump two points in lead, just within the margin of error, with third-party candidates collectively receiving just 6% of the vote. Trump not only leads in the slightly Republican-leaning First Congressional District, containing Portsmouth and Manchester, but also the blue-leaning Second District, which contains Concord, Dartmouth, and Nashua. Democrats have a four-point voter registration advantage in NH-02, a signal that Biden’s typical base is unenthusiastic for his candidacy, and that the open congressional seat could spawn a competitive race.

This is the first time this year that Trump has been tracked in the lead in the Granite State. New Hampshire has not backed a Republican nominee since 2000.

In other national news, the Supreme Court handed Trump a win in the case regarding his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

In a 6-3 ruling along ideological lines, the Supreme Court found that Trump cannot be prosecuted for any actions that were within his constitutional power as president, but that he can be tried for private acts conducted during his term.

“We conclude that under our constitutional structure of separated powers, the nature of presidential power requires that a former president have some immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts during his tenure in office,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, adding that immunity for former presidents is “absolute” regarding their “core constitutional powers.”

The landmark ruling tosses out a lower court’s decision that had rejected Trump’s claim of immunity from federal charges regarding the 2020 election. THe ruling is also the first in history that recognized presidential immunity.

“When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution. Orders the Navy’s Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune,” Justice Snia Sotomayor wrote in the dissenting opinion. “In every use of official power, the president is now a king above the law.”

Trump is the first former U.S. President to be criminally prosecuted and convicted of a crime.

State

Governor Kathy Hochul (D) has signed a repeal of a measure instituted by former Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). The repeal essentially returned tenured teachers to their previous state of near-immunity and untouchability.

The new bill allows each school district to set their own performance evaluation systems. What it does retain from its predecessor is that tenured teachers can still face termination if they earn poor scores on their evaluations. What the new bill repeals were measures that patterns of ineffective teaching could serve as evidence for termination, as well a required expedited hearing for a “just cause” termination.

Teacher evaluations will no longer be required to consider test scores, student growth scores, and a few other measures that the State had used since 2010 until the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Bob Lowry, a spokesman for the New York State Council of School Superintendents, says that the previously-required data points were too difficult to apply to all teachers in all districts. He says that the original student growth scores were determined by the state, saying it was “mystifying” how they were determined.

The previous law did not grant teachers tenure if their scores were ranked with “developing” instead of “effective,” and teachers needed three years of “effective” scores to qualify for tenure. Schools also began evaluating teachers partially based on whether or not students in the district at-large had improved their own scores.

Lowry says that while districts should be committed to the success of all their students, it is “flawed” to make “high-stakes employment decisions” based on those metrics.

The new bill concentrates more on “educator growth,” and allows each school district to construct their own metrics for evaluation. Those metrics must be approved by the State Department of Education. Districts must also inform parents of the teachers’ scores.

Local

Congressman Nick LaLota (R, NY-01) voted to pass the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, and the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.

The trio of bills provides $300 million for border security technology, $4.1 billion for custody operations, $822 million to fund transportation and removal operations for removable illegal immigrants, a 4.5% pay raise for all military personnel, a 15% pay increase for junior enlisted service members, funding and policies to combat the flow of fentanyl and illegal drugs into the U.S., and host of equipment and technical support for the Armed Forces.

“I am proud to help pass three bills to support our military and my fellow Veterans, secure the border, and keep American families safe at home and abroad. These bills include vital provisions I championed, including language to counteract the malign influences of China, Russia, and Iran, reinforce our unwavering support for key allies such as Israel and Taiwan, and address the ongoing border crisis by holding President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas accountable,” said LaLota. “I’m also proud to have secured language supporting the release of citizens wrongfully detained in China, such as Kai Li of Huntington, improve airport security and screenings, fund the Disaster Relief Fund, and support Law Enforcement.”

Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri
Matt Meduri has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Messenger Papers since August 2023. He is the author of the America the Beautiful, Civics 101, and This Week Today columns. Matt graduated from St. Joseph's University, Patchogue, in 2022, with a degree in Human Resources and worked for his family's IT business for three years. He's also a musician and composer with his sights set on the film industry. Matt has traveled all around the U.S. and enjoys cooking, photography, and a good cup of coffee.