It would have been easy to write Nebraska off as a fluke, after Democrats ran better than expected in a House race there last month. But then came Minnesota, where Democrats again beat expectations. And then, in New York on Tuesday, the dam broke.
“Well, shit,” one Republican strategist texted late Tuesday, as results from a Hudson Valley special election filtered in.
It would have been a victory for Democrats if they’d even kept it close. Instead, Democrat Pat Ryan beat Republican Marc Molinaro in a district that Joe Biden narrowly won in 2020, but that would have appeared to favor Republicans in a normal midterm climate.
This race was considered a bellweather. Ryan’s television ads promoted his support for abortion rights, while Molinaro ran on inflation and crime (for the record, he’s against them). Abortion rights won.
“It can be tempting to read too much into special elections,” the Politico piece continues. And the Hudson Valley is not the Midwest. But since the end of Roe, “it’s been nothing but one sign after another that Democrats — while still widely expected to lose the House in November — might not be in for the all-out drubbing once predicted.”
Nathaniel Rakich at FiveThirtyEight writes that Yes, Special Elections Really Are Signaling A Better-Than-Expected Midterm For Democrats. There’s still time for that to change before the November midterms, of course, but there’s no question that the political landscape has shifted in Dems’ favor since Sam Alito’s Dobbs decision was handed down.
If something happens to cause gas and food prices to go up again, things could change. But it’s also the case that Trumpworld may be at the beginning of a meltdown.
Immediately after the FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, the MAGA faithful and their Republican fellow travelers rallied to Trump’s cause of perpetual outrage and bottomless grievance. But Trump and his immediate circle appear to be having a hard time keeping it together. How could any of them thought that releasing the National Archives letter was a good idea, for example? And the so-called lawyers working for him now can’t manage to fill out basic legal paperwork correctly.
Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer write for the New York Times,
The documents investigation represents the greatest legal threat Mr. Trump has faced in years, and he is going into the battle shorn of the protective infrastructure and constitutional armor of the presidency. After years of burning through lawyers, he has struggled to hire new ones, and has a small group of lawyers of varying experience.
He is facing a Justice Department he no longer controls, run by a by-the-book attorney general, Merrick B. Garland, who has pursued various investigations into Mr. Trump methodically and quietly.
Mr. Trump is serving as his own communications director and strategic adviser, seeking tactical political and in-the-moment public relations victories, sometimes at the risk of stumbling into substantive legal missteps.
The National Archive letter debacle appears to be an example of Trump seeking a public relations victory while making a huge legal misstep. He, or somebody, was so eager to prove that President Biden was behind the FBI raid (and the National Archive letter didn’t say he was) that he failed to notice the letter made Trump’s hoarding of classified documents look much more serious. This was a boneheaded move, made by a guy who is no longer sitting in the Oval Office where he was surrounded by at least some smart advisers.
And at this point Trump isn’t about to get any smarter. He may yet avoid criminal indictments, but if he does it won’t be because he’s so good at 12-dimensional chess.
Update: We’re getting some clues of one possible reason Trump was hanging on to classified documents. He thought they were cool stuff he wanted to put in his presidential library. From the Wall Street Journal:
The former president asserted early on, in a monthslong back-and-forth with National Archives officials seeking to recover the material, that it was his property and destined for his presidential library, said a person familiar with the matter.
“He has said, ‘People put this stuff in their library. How can they put it in their library if it has to go back to the Archives? I don’t understand why I can’t have these things,’ ” the person recalled. Mr. Trump has said he declassified all the material.