Campaign Report — Democrats test the water on first-in-nation primary

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South Carolina on the line

Democrats are weighing several alternatives to South Carolina for their party’s first-in-the-nation primary following President Biden’s letter to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) pushing for the southern state to go first.

As our Hanna Trudo writes, three states – Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina – are being mulled over amid informal talks by members of the party who believe they would offer a suitable substitute to South Carolina. While Biden’s push to have South Carolina be the first Democratic presidential primary has created an awkward scenario for Democrats who are wary of appearing at odds with the White House, members also see the three states as diverse states that have or could pave the way for more Democratic successes.

Alternatives: “Georgia, I think, makes a lot of sense because now it is a major swing state and reliably Democratic in the last couple cycles,” one former campaign worker who advised a presidential candidate in 2020 told Hanna.

“South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia are really not, in my mind, electorally that far apart from each other to have the votes for Democrats to be established,” Michael Ceraso, a Democratic strategist who worked for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) when they each sought the presidential nominations, also told Hanna.

Still, there’s considerations to weigh in choosing an alternative to South Carolina, including the price tag for media markets in those three states – an issue that Georgia’s metro Atlanta market would certainly run into. At the same time, North Carolina would require greater resources and Democratic infrastructure toward engaging with voters there – a state that has remained aloof to Democratic presidential candidates since after 2008.

Not so fast: Meanwhile, others believe that South Carolina still deserves to be considered, especially as Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) decision to endorse Biden has been credited with helping him cross the Democratic presidential primary finish line.

Ceraso told Hanna, “Clyburn earned it.”

“South Carolina has paid its dues,” the Democratic strategist said. “Black voters and their way of life is very reflective in South Carolina.”

Voters contend with a less favorable Trump

Former President Trump is grappling with the fact that voters don’t view him as favorably as they once did, with polls showing high unfavorable ratings that only pose further challenges to him as he mounts a third White House bid.

A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday found that 59 percent of voters view Trump unfavorably, compared to 31 percent who view him favorably. That favorability rating is the lowest for Trump since 2015, and among Republicans – where 70 percent view him favorably – that’s the lowest among the party since 2016.

Movement away: Recent polling also reiterates a trend that’s emerged this year: that a majority of his party do not want him as their 2024 presidential nominee. A CNN poll out Wednesday found close to two-thirds of registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents want the 2024 candidate their party nominees to be someone besides Trump. That same poll also found that nearly six in 10 registered Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents feel similarly about President Biden.

Still, the polling suggests that there’s a clearer opening for other Republican presidential candidates, especially as many of Trump’s midterm candidates struggled in November. The survey also highlights that while Trump and Biden might be their party’s respective standard bearers, voters don’t think that will be the case for long.

For Trump, the polling also comes amid backlash in response to his recent comments suggesting parts of the Constitution be eliminated. That same Quinnipiac University poll found that over half of voters – 51 percent – believe he should be disqualified from running because of his call to terminate the Constitution’s elections rules, compared to four in 10 who argue he should still be able to remain on the ballot.


Republican candidates and groups alike are contesting several elections in Arizona, including the gubernatorial race between Democrat Katie Hobbs and Republican candidate Kari Lake – making it the site once again for several election lawsuits.

Only two years after former President Trump sought to contest his win in Arizona during the 2020 election –  a state that went for President Biden – Lake and other groups and individuals like the Republican National Committee (RNC), Arizona Secretary of State Mark Finchem, Attorney General candidate Abe Hamadeh (R) and others have filed lawsuits contesting the election results.

The lawsuits rest on arguments including allegations of illegal ballots, issues with third-party software used in Maricopa County and issues with printers used in the county. For a full breakdown of those lawsuit, read more about where each of those stand from our Zach Schoenfeld here.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Campaign page for the latest news and coverage. See you next week.

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