IMMEDIATE RELEASE Nov 30, 2023
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
The Haley factor
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON — The political pendulum is swinging ever so slightly, but pendulums have weight, weight creates momentum, and momentum is the life blood of politics.
In the last few days, polls conducted by Morning Consult and Economist/YouGov, found President Biden edging ahead of former President Trump in a head-to-head contest – admittedly only by a point or two, but Biden appears to be on the move to reclaim the lead he once held over Trump, a fact that also impacts Trump’s primary races, with former South Carolina Governor and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley being the beneficiary.
Different factors are helping Biden and Haley and equally hurting Trump who has a history of hurting himself.
First, the Biden factors.
Inflation has all but disappeared. The Stock Market is rising. Interest rates – especially mortgage rates – are falling. The auto and entertainment industry strikes has ended. The benefits of his Infrastructure Bill are becoming more and more apparent as new roads and bridges become more ubiquitous. And finally, Congress is beginning to come to its senses, passing budgets and conducting ordinary business.
Further, Biden has a habit of eventually doing the right thing such as finally providing Ukraine with weapons they have long needed and finally telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take the necessary steps to lessen Palestinian civilian casualties. Viable China and immigration policies are yet to come.
All this undermines Trump’s ominous economic warnings and his foreign policy isolationism.
Next, the Haley factors.
Due to strong debate performances, she is beginning to break away from the Republican pack, picking up endorsements, crowds, and money in the process. In this age of billionaire political influence, reminiscent of the Robber Baron era more than a century ago, she just welcomed the Koch clan and its unlimited money to her team.
She does not have the Big Mo (momentum) yet, but she certainly has the Small Mo in New Hampshire if not in Iowa. Iowa Republicans are mainly evangelical Christians who – apparently for reasons other than religion – support Trump who is anything but evangelical. The Iowa caucuses fall on January 15, but will quickly be eclipsed by the New Hampshire Primary on Tuesday, January 24. Trump will also probably win there, but by how much? If he under performs and Haley over performs, it will be on to her home state, South Carolina, and its Republican Primary on February 24.
The pendulum and its accompanying momentum will be swinging between January 15 and February 24, and the final factor – the Trump factor – could prove decisive.
If events play out less than expected for him in New Hampshire, will he do what a normal politician would do? Refocus, recalibrate the message, reshuffle personnel, and reevaluate strategy? Not likely. His history signals otherwise. He will double down on tactics that have not worked. He will lash out with increasingly incoherent petulance. He will go off message more than usual. He will listen to his coterie of obsequious toadies instead of political professionals. And, of course, come March, he may be convicted in his first of several trials. For Haley, all this makes Trump her greatest ally.
In the end what are the likely scenarios?
1. Trump falters against Haley yet wins the nomination but is so damaged that Biden wins the election.
2. Trump falters. Haley wins the nomination and goes on to defeat Biden against whom she polls better than Trump.
3. Haley falters and we return to the status quo ante of a Biden/Trump tossup.
The common element is the Haley factor.
Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).
© 2023 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
IMMEDIATE RELEASE Nov 30, 2023