LAST NIGHT’S REPUBLICAN DEBATE wasn’t memorable, but it will further winnow the field. The candidacies of Tim Scott and Vivek Ramaswamy are on life support; both may be gone by the end of this year. That would leave only three candidates in a futile fight with Donald Trump:
1. NIkki Haley, once again the debate winner, still enjoying a buzz among party insiders and fundraisers.
2. Ron DeSantis, who was solid last night but inexplicably did not cite his endorsement from the governor of Iowa.
3. And Chris Christie, the anti-Trump pitbull who has virtually no support among the GOP rank and file.
THAT’S IT — EFFECTIVELY JUST TWO CANDIDATES with any chance to dent the Trump blitzkrieg. Nothing can slow his astonishing momentum — not his indictments, not his frequent gaffes, not his refusal to play by any established rules. Trump is a lock to win the GOP nomination, and as of now is the narrow favorite to win the general election.
THERE’S AN ODD POLITICAL DYNAMIC SHAPING UP in 2024, with an increasing chance that abortion and a dysfunctional performance on the budget could cost Republicans the House. But the GOP has a very good chance of recapturing the Senate, based on the number of Democrats who are up for re-election next year.
DEMOCRATS EFFECTIVELY HAVE A 51-49 MAJORITY in the Senate, but they will have to defend 23 of the 34 seats up for re-election. Most analysts believe that of the 10 most vulnerable seats, eight are held by Democrats.
REPUBLICANS ARE FAVORED TO CAPTURE THE SEATS of Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Jon Tester in Montana, Sherriod Brown in Ohio, and the GOP has a chance to capture seats in Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
INCREDIBLY, of the 10 most vulnerable seats, only two are held by Republicans — Rick Scott in Florida and Ted Cruz in Texas, and they’re the early favorites. (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, now an independent, could lose to a Republican in Arizona.)
THUS A REPUBLICAN SENATE is very likely in 2025-26, just in time to begin a ferocious debate on extending the Trump tax cuts.
THE ONE POSSIBLE SNAG is if Republicans fail to agree on a more moderate abortion stance; voters have rejected strict restrictions with no exceptions. This gives Democrats an opening among moderate voters in the North, and as of now we think the GOP will lose the House.
Related: America Has a New Political Star
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