Discover more from Power Corridor
Biden's Secret Weapon: Trump?
Also: Is America on track to dodge the dreaded Election Year Recession? The results of our first-ever Power Corridor audience survey -- and our new favorite podcast from the FT.
I want to thank all of you who responded to Power Corridor’s first audience survey — which you can still fill out here, if you’re feeling limber. We got hundreds of responses and learned so much about you. In addition, I discovered what I am doing on here that you like, what you don’t like and what you really love. So thank you for that. All of it helps me create the best experience I can for you.
To briefly share some of the results, a surprising number of you — in fact, the vast majority — prefer long-form, deeply reported features and stories, which is great to hear. Among the topics you like to hear about best are economics, energy, the environment and climate change, healthcare, investing and, a big surprise for me, the state of our democracy in the U.S. and beyond. I also learned you are reading Power Corridor from all around the world and you cover a wide range of ages, from below age 20 to over 65. You also value outstanding story selection, unique perspectives and are open to a world events podcast.
All of this I did not know — very grateful for your feedback. Once again, if you haven’t weighed in yet and would like to, please just go here.
One more thing before we get going, as many of you like investing. Our sponsor today is offering a double whammy: You can optimize your portfolio while supporting rural communities all over the country. AcreTrader empowers you to invest in farm assets like a Georgia pecan orchard or an Iowa corn grange, which boosts U.S. agriculture* — and your investment strategy. Learn more here.
Alright, onto this week’s Big Read. With just under 500 days to the next presidential election, I wanted to have a closer look at where the various candidates stand — and who is supporting them. Ready?
Thanks again for reading and just a heads-up that I will be on break next week, but back with Power Corridor the week of July 30th!
All the best,
Leah McGrath Goodman
Editor, Power Corridor
Biden’s Secret Weapon: Trump?
Why some prominent members of the GOP are doing all they can to find a new front-runner – before it’s too late.
He may be the Republican front-runner, but Donald Trump is rapidly hemorrhaging the bold-name, established conservatives who first propelled him to the White House.
The splintering of the GOP electorate could go a long way toward bolstering President Biden, who is far from owning the polls, especially if Republicans are unable to find another Trump — minus the baggage.
In a Quinnipiac poll out this week, Biden was narrowly ahead of Trump by 49 percent to 44 percent in a head-to-head matchup among registered voters. If Biden is able to maintain or widen that lead, it could mean that Trump’s base will be headed for another devastating loss, unless it changes course, soon.
Rupert Murdoch, chair of Fox Corp. and executive chairman of News Corp., signaled in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection that he believes Trump, while still exceedingly popular among Fox News viewers, is not the right choice for the Republican Party – or the White House – in 2024. (Murdoch is Australian, but he is also a naturalized U.S. citizen, in addition to running one of the nation’s most politically influential news networks.)
Heavyweight GOP donors, such as industrialist billionaires Charles and David Koch, along with their sprawling donor networks, also made plain at the outset of this year that they would be having none of Trump’s antics in 2024. In a memo, their libertarian conservative political advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity Action, observed, “Our country must move past the current political situation — we’ve got to turn the page on the past several years. If we want to elect better people, we need better candidates. And if we want better candidates, we’ve got to get involved in elections earlier and in more primaries.”
Yet in a sign that even the Kochs – who not long ago, absolutely dominated Republican politics – don’t really know what to do about the 2024 election, many within their coalition of conservatives have held off on writing the really big checks, as the search continues for that elusive unicorn: a Trump opponent who can take out the original. So far this year, the Kochs have raised more than $70 million for political races in a bid to unseat Trump. But the former president has shocked even his most virulent foes for his indefatigable staying power in the polls and ability to successfully fundraise in the face of dozens of indictments.
In a survey of Republican and GOP-leaning voters, this week’s Quinnipiac poll showed Trump handily leading all other Republican presidential candidates, with 54 percent of the vote, far ahead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 25 percent. Former Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Trump’s former vice president Mike Pence each came in at 4 percent. Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie each received 3 percent of the vote, while entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy came in at 2 percent.
With just over six months to the primaries, hopes are fast dimming that DeSantis will be the right’s great deliverance from Trump, as he’s gaffed his way through most of the year and failed to gain traction nationally. What’s wrong with him? As Vanity Fair’s Bess Levin puts it, in an outstanding screed, “Being an unlikeable jerk [is] not working out so well for Ron DeSantis.”
Murdoch, according to press reports, has privately said he would like to see Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia run, but it remains to be seen if Youngkin, who took himself out of the race earlier this spring, is ready to jump back in again. It looks like he might consider it.
At the same time, anti-Trump Republican groups are moving swiftly, albeit cautiously, to loosen conservative voters up to the idea of rallying behind a candidate who is not facing what appears to be a third round of blistering indictments.
While the first two, covered variously by Power Corridor here, here and here, were serious enough, the letter Trump revealed this week from U.S. Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith indicated he is now the target of federal charges for allegedly interfering with the peaceful transfer of power in the 2020 presidential election (read: the insurrection).
Although none of the indictments have been welcome news for Trump’s candidacy – and he has categorically pleaded not guilty to all of them – this letter outlined how Trump could be charged under three statutes, including conspiracy to commit an offense against or defraud the U.S. and tampering with a witness. Target letters usually precede a person being charged.
The pro-Republican groups floating anti-Trump ads include Win it Back, an organization linked to Club for Growth, which is rolling out a $3.6 million ad campaign in states holding pivotal early primaries. Notably, the ads do not seek to promote a specific GOP candidate so much as look to simply warn voters away from Trump in general. In one of them, a man named “John,” says he supported Trump, but, “He’s got so many distractions, the cost of fighting, something every day, and I’m not sure he can focus on moving the country forward.”
Another ad recently out from Republican anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project ticks off a long list of former Trump allies who have since denounced him or are running against him, including Pence and Haley.
In addition to the Kochs and Murdoch, other big donors and former Trump allies are abandoning him for alternative Republican candidates. Billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen supports Christie; Trump’s former director of the National Economic Council and former Fox Business host Larry Kudlow is backing Pence; billionaire Silicon Valley businessman Larry Ellison is backing Scott; and billionaire investors Paul Singer and Stanley Druckenmiller are both supporting Haley.
Billionaire Tesla and SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk has publicly aligned himself with DeSantis, but given Musk’s capriciousness, that partnership seems unlikely to stick if DeSantis continues to suffer in the polls.
Tech billionaire and Republican mega-donor Peter Thiel, who famously backed Trump during the former president’s ascension – and regretted it – reportedly won’t be backing any GOP candidates in 2024.
Given Trump’s dominance – and obvious weaknesses – a growing number of Republicans have not only come to resent the notion that the former president would be the presumed front-runner, but are increasingly making the case that doing so will only cement another win for Biden.
In a memo out earlier this month, Michael Palmer, president of a Koch-affiliated voter group, pointed out that the anointing of Trump as the de facto GOP nominee “is being pushed by left-leaning media outlets, political operatives and the Trump campaign itself.”
America is in a different place than where it was eight years ago when it elected Trump, Palmer said, and it deserves a stronger slate of candidates.
“Voters of all stripes (including GOP primary voters), have a changed base of knowledge regarding the former president,” he said, “And other candidates will most certainly treat him differently in the primary this time around.”
You Can’t Go Wrong Combining Farms With Markets
Don’t know about you, but the summer has us feeling thankful for America’s farmers as we chow down on sweet, juicy peaches, grilled corn and beefsteak tomatoes.
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A selection of recent reads — and a podcast! — for your weekend illumination.
While I often feature articles and books in Power Reads, this week we are recommending our first Power Podcast. It’s called, “Working It,” from the Financial Times, hosted by Isabel Berwick, who is on a mission to help you thrive at work — and in life. This podcast keeps you up to date on the trends driving your professional life, with expert analysis and watercooler chat about workplace strategies, management, leadership and all aspects of professional life from the FT’s top-notch journalists. Among recent episodes are how Jeff Wong sees artificial intelligence curing us from boredom at work, and the best workplace options for what to wear, post-pandemic (it’s not what you think), as well as how to deal with narcissistic bosses. Check it out here and make going to work — or working from home — that much better.
If America held President Biden personally responsible for runaway inflation during his administration, will it now credit him for consumer price inflation plummeting to a 3 percent annual rate in the latest data — approximately a third of where it stood a year ago? Will it laud him for (so far) dodging a recession, even as the Federal Reserve assiduously jacked up interest rates over the past two years (and seems ready to do so again next week)? Will it give him props for the amazingly low unemployment rate? He certainly hopes so. In this piece, The New Yorker’s John Cassidy takes a closer look at so-called “Bidenomics,” the president’s still-pretty-abysmal poll numbers, and why Biden and his team are increasingly confident they just may be able to avoid the greatest curse of any sitting president: the dreaded re-election year recession.
So, just a show of hands, how often do any of you think about mining? As a journalist who’s long had a specialty in energy and commodities, I probably think about it more than many of you — but, if you’re honest, isn’t what lies below the ground interesting? I always thought so. But to write about it well is another thing entirely. Nick Bowlin writes the living daylights out of this feature for The Drift, detailing how mining is getting a makeover — and it’s nothing short of extraordinary. His words: “To build a mine, a company needs legal permits, and in the old days, perhaps those were enough. Today, though, the industry and its investors increasingly believe that in order to be successful — and maximize profits — a company also needs what the industry calls a ‘social license to operate,’ or moral permission to reap the benefits of tearing up the earth to extract minerals. Social license and profit go hand in hand. With that in mind, companies are trying to reinvent themselves as part of the solution to the climate crisis, allies to the environmentally minded, with carbon-neutral targets for their global operations.” No small feat. Great piece, please read it, not one sentence is boring.
Thanks all, have a terrific weekend and see you when I return from annual break the week of July 30!
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Alternative investing is speculative and involves a high degree of risk, including complete loss of principal and is not suitable for all investors. Distributions are not guaranteed. *Data source: NCREIF Farmland Index. You cannot invest directly in an index. Returns do not represent a real investment. Past performance does not represent future results.