Efforts remain to keep former President Donald Trump off the 2024 state ballots under the Constitution’s insurrection clause. But ultimately, the decision could come down to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Thursday, California’s Secretary of State declined to remove Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot after prominent California Democrats tried to have him removed under the 14th Amendment.
Shirley Weber, a Democrat, wrote: “It is more critical than ever to safeguard elections in a way that transcends political divisions.”
But both Maine and Colorado have moved to eliminate Trump from their 2024 ballots under the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause.
It bars U.S. officials from holding future office who have “engaged in insurrection” or have “given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
Trump is facing state and federal charges related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
On Thursday, Maine’s secretary of state, Shenna Bellows, became the first state official to ever remove a presidential candidate under the 14th Amendment.
“I’m mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a candidate of ballot access under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, but no presidential candidate has ever engaged in an insurrection under Section 3 of 14th,” said Democratic Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.
Maine’s decision as well as Colorado’s have been put on hold for now while the legal process plays out pending potential appeals.
“The radicals in Colorado who control every level of state government, to include the court system, have created a constitutional crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Civil War. They are literally trying to take away people’s choices in an election,” said Dave Williams, Chairman of the Colorado GOP.
Republican Donald Trump is in a better position against Democrat Joe Biden now than at any point during the entire 2020 campaign. The former president leads the current president in more than his fair share of polls of registered voters, including in a number of key swing states.
But it seems plausible that these initial polls may be underestimating Biden’s position. In a change from the usual expected dynamic in which Democrats are supposed to do better with higher turnout, Biden may benefit when pollsters look at likely voters instead of all registered voters.
Put another way, Trump may do better in an election in which turnout is higher.
Take a look at a New York Times/Siena College poll released earlier this month. Trump had a 2 point advantage among registered voters. Biden was up 2 points among likely voters. Both of those are within the margin of error, but it’s a notable 4 point shift towards Biden when comparing likely and registered voters.
Now, I don’t want to make too much of a deal out of one poll, but another pollster found something analogous. An average of the last two Marquette University Law School surveys showed the former president up by 4 points among registered voters, while Biden and Trump were tied among likely voters. As with the Times data, this is a 4 point shift toward Biden when going from registered to likely voters.
An October Grinnell College poll conducted by Ann Selzer similarly found that 2020 Biden voters were 4 points more likely to say they would definitely vote than 2020 Trump voters.
This would be quite the shift from what had historically been seen. Normally, Republicans gain about 2 points when going from registered to likely voters.
It is possible, of course, that the recent poll data is just statistical noise.
The 2024 polling does make sense, though, in the context of both recent elections as well as the coalitions being put together by Biden and Trump ahead of a potential rematch.
Democrats have liked to point out that they’ve done really well in special elections over the last year. Indeed, Democratic candidates are running about 4 points better in special state legislative and federal elections in 2023 than Biden did in those same districts in 2020.
Those special elections, however, usually have lower turnout. Contrast those special elections with the regularly scheduled Virginia state legislature elections held earlier in November. Control of both the state’s lower (House of Delegates) and upper house (state senate) was at stake. And while Democrats won control of both, Virginia is also a state Biden won by 10 points in 2020.
Democrats beat Republicans by less than 2 points in the popular vote for both houses. That’s more than 8 points worse than Biden did in Virginia in 2020.
Likewise, Republicans won the House popular vote by about 3 points in the 2022 midterms. A 6 point shift from the House popular vote in 2020, when Democrats won it by about 3 points. Midterms have much higher turnout than special elections.
So why are Republicans doing better when turnout is higher?
From an issues standpoint, a lot of Democrats are still very upset about the overturning of Roe v. Wade in 2022. It’s from that point forward that we really saw Democrats outperforming in special elections.
This could be why there’s evidence to suggest that Biden voters are more likely to turn out than Trump voters in today’s era, even when you take into account demographics.
Speaking of demographics, we’ve seen major changes in political alliances over the last few years.
The most obvious is the Democratic base is more reliant on college educated voters than ever before. Turnout and education are highly correlated in that more educated voters are more likely to turn out.
When analysts talk about education being a dividing line in the electorate, we’re usually focusing specifically on White voters. Something that may be happening this cycle is making the education gap even larger.
First, Trump is polling better among Black and Hispanic voters than he did four years ago. As a group, these voters are less likely to have a college degree than White voters.
Second, Trump is doing better among voters of color without a college degree than those with a college degree. Biden, meanwhile, is maintaining his strength among White voters with a college degree.
These factors combined are widening the education gap and causing Trump to do better among voters who are less likely to turn out as a group.
The other demographic switch at play is that there have been a number of polls in which Trump is doing disproportionately better among young voters than he did four years ago. Younger voters are less likely to turn out than older voters across demographic groups, so Biden may be better off trading younger voters for older voters from a turnout standpoint.
The bottom line is that there’s still a lot we don’t know about how 2024 will play out. But if what we’re seeing now in the polling is true by next November, then a lot of traditional theories about how turnout could impact the election may be wrong.
It’s just another thing to keep an eye out on as we enter what is sure to be a turbulent 2024.