Saxman: DeSantis Leads Trump Nationally per WPA; But in Which Direction Will the Parties Go?

“Poll shows edge for DeSantis in clash with Trump.”

The Lenten season begins with a solid forehead smudge of ashes and many hear the call to examine their direction in life. The smudger usually says, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

This year I got the condensed version, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Taken aback, I thought to myself as I exited St. Mary’s evening Mass, “Damn, she was direct,” and also, “Delete browser history.”

Virginia’s election season is about to be in full bloom and both parties are going to be deciding in which direction they intend to go. Yes Virginia, it’s Bellwether Season. Again.

For Republicans, the central question currently is whether or not Donald Trump is their national brand and leader. Recent WAPO article:

Trump’s grip on the Republican base is slipping — even among his fans More than 150 interviews in pivotal electoral states show the former president maintains a bond with his GOP voters, but faces rising interest in a new standard-bearer.

With the bloom fading off the Trump rose, Virginia Republicans seem to be charting a post-Donald direction in favor of competent, less offensive/nice candidates, and more policy specifics aimed at improving people’s lives …

… $200 million educating funding snafu notwithstanding.

What about Governor Youngkin’s decision to not pursue the Ford battery plant venture with the Chinese firm CATL, you ask? Politically, it’s a solid move; economically … well, here’s how one investor, Keith Fitz-Gerald, viewed it in his daily newsletter:

Key in on “… now??!!” and “selling my shares.”

Democrats in Virginia, on the other hand, are facing a far more decisive primary season than I can ever recall. These next 116 days until the June 20th primary date will see many more nomination contests that are far more determinative of Democratic direction than the GOP faces.

They, too, are vying for daily improvement policies and have several legislative initiatives defeated by Republicans on which they will focus. Notable polling backs up their primary and general election strategies to win enough of the few swing districts:

Democratic contests are going to be more ideological and generational in nature and, in all likelihood, another stress test of identity politics within the party base.

As Republican Senate Caucus Press Secretary Jeff Ryer explained to a recent weekly Friday Zoom, this season for Democrats is reminiscent of the Quo Vadis 2005/2007 cycles for Republicans in which many incumbents faced nomination contests following the 2004 tax battle.

Where are they going? Home to be elected again. Or not.

Ryer also recommended a book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. Published fifteen years ago, it’s still a good/scary read.

But not nearly scary as the 2014 study I mentioned in a previous column on Motive Attribution Asymmetry which showed NINE YEARS AGO that Republicans and Democrats have the same feelings for their own and their opposite tribes as Israelis and Palestinians do. That was BEFORE Donald Trump descended the escalator into our daily lives.

And then there is this little cuddle bug:

Twitter avatar for @mtgreenee

Marjorie Taylor Greene ?? @mtgreenee
We need a national divorce. We need to separate by red states and blue states and shrink the federal government. Everyone I talk to says this. From the sick and disgusting woke culture issues shoved down our throats to the Democrat’s traitorous America Last policies, we are…

1:43 PM ? Feb 20, 2023


Hey, Marge. Call me. I have NEVER heard that … ever.

Genus – Dingbaticus, species – erecticus. Whiskey Tango Fruitloops.

So, yeah – this year’s elections in Virginia are a yuge deal. Bigly.

Speaking of identity politics … have you noticed the recent Republicans to announce for president? Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy – both first generation Americans of Indian descent – while South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is also expected to announce his candidacy soon. #DiversityRising

Here are some recent national polls:


Biden 45 – Trump 42

Harris 42 – Trump 45

Biden 41 – Haley 45


Biden 41 – Trump 46

Biden 41 – DeSantis 42


Biden 48 – Trump 46

Biden 46 – DeSantis 47

Those are all binary, national polls. Start to draw your attention towards state polling.

The unspoken reality is that the Republicans’ #1 problem is keeping the party unified. If Trump appears to be the nominee, expect a serious and well-funded third party effort to be launched. While Liz Cheney is the most likely at this point, it would be hard to see a Pro-Dour campaign really lighting up the telly.

If Trump loses the nomination fight, he could bolt for a third party run. I think that’s suboptimal for future sales, but what of his devout following? Do they stay home or find another standard bearer?

There are just too many folks who normally vote Republican that have become Never Again Trumpers for the GOP to beat Joe Biden. #SCOTUS #SENATE #HOUSE

Per US News and World Report/Marist poll:

Democrats, in Major Shift, Now Prefer Biden as Nominee The poll was welcome news for a president who has struggled to convince fellow Democrats he is the right candidate to take on the GOP for president in 2024.


And from the Money Talks and Bravo Sierra Walks portion of the newsletter:

Republicans are looking to repent, follow their gospel, and delete their browser history.

Democrats, meanwhile, seem determined to test the strength of their 2020 coalition united in 2020 by their full-on hatred of Donald Trump. However, if Orange Man Bad is no longer their unifying foil, how long can that coalition last?


We’re just dust in the wind … get ready, there’s a train a coming … maybe those kids at Asbury U in Kentucky are onto a revolution – ‘tis the season after all….

Some of the recent video podcasts – former Gov. Wilder, Parole Board Chair Chad Dotson, and House Majority Caucus Chair Amanda Batten.

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