Quick Guide: The Election of the Double Haters

In this first episode of our new season, the State AG Group’s Jerry Kilgore and Stephen Cobb compare notes with Cozen Public Strategies CEO Howard Schweitzer and the Hon. Rodney Davis on the issues and politics of the upcoming election. From presidential to congressional and gubernatorial to state attorneys general races, they consider the impact of aging presidential contenders, the economy, immigration, reproductive rights, and international conflict.

(00:24) Stephen introduces himself and the other participants on this, the first episode of Season 4 of State AG Pulse and lays out the plan for season 4.

(3:33) The Hon Rodney Davis identifies immigration as the number one issue for Republicans and Democrats, with inflation coming in second. Other top 3 issues are likely to be driven by local concerns in individual constituencies.

(4:40) Howard makes the point that the key issues are very different depending upon your political perspective and identifies abortion as a huge issue for Democratics with immigration polling as more significant on the Republican side.

(5:43) Stephen contends that it is the independents and the centrist voters that are going to determine the success or failure of candidates, and that focusing on the key issues for primary voters may not translate into general election success.

(6:14) Rodney emphasizes the importance for candidates of coming up with solutions in order to stay aligned with their base.

(7:00) Jerry expresses his view that coattails up and down the ballot are going to determine many of the outcomes in this year’s election.

(8:53) Howard agrees that whoever’s at the top of the ballot will have an impact. Jerry adds that lower ticket candidates need to find a way to screen out the election noise and talk about issues that matter in their race to get people to look beyond the presidential race.

(10:40) Stephen raises the thorny issue of age, both in terms of the ages of the presidential candidates and also the need to appeal to young people and get them out to vote. The others weigh in on how important age is vs. other issues like abortion/reproductive freedom in terms of winning votes from groups like suburban women.

(13:34) Stephen runs down the states that have introduced statewide ballot initiatives in support of reproductive choice. He asks Howard what concerns he is hearing and seeks his top level advice.

(14:50) Howard believes the appeal to populist policies on both sides of the aisle is undermining business interests and putting especially technology and pharmaceutical businesses under the gun.

(16:27) Jerry agrees with Howard the both parties are looking for populist issues to take back to their constituencies and state AGs are aligning in a bipartisan manner.

(17:09) Stephen asks Rodney to analyze the congressional races that he thinks are going to be indicative of the national races.

(18:38) Rodney identifies New York, Virginia, Arizona and Wisconsin as races to watch.

He predicts that the voter that only comes out to vote when Trump is on the ballot could be influential in states like Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Howard identifies tight Senate races in Montana and Ohio, as well as Nevada, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

(22:53) Rodney describes shifts in voter demographics over the last 10 years that he was in office.

(24:53) Jerry asks about the impact of international relations on election outcomes, e.g. the war in Ukraine or the Israeli conflict.

(25:12) Howard discerns a moderation in the current administration’s previously strong pro-Israel position. Rodney agrees but warns of the risks associated with trying to have it both ways. Rodney adds that for many voters, international means the southern border rather than far-off conflicts like Ukraine or Israel. Howard also mentions China as potential international relations issue area, but one where there is little daylight between Rs and Ds.

(28:53) Jerry queries whether there will be a third-party impact on the presidential race. Rodney affirms that a third party candidate could make a significant difference, but only if there is a close election and also if the candidate has significant resources to win over voters who are disenfranchised and disappointed with the two major party candidates, the so-called “double haters”.

(30:53) Stephen’s view is that none of the currently announced third party candidates have enough organization or resources in any of the five key states to really make an impact.

(31:30) Howard asks the others which current AGs have the potential to move into higher office.

(32:00) Stephen names Shapiro, James, Bonta and Stein as AGs who have already or seem likely to make their mark in this way, and Campbell as a rising star.

(33:23) Jerry and Stephen weigh in with the names of others who look set to ascend the ranks.

(33:52) Howard asks Jerry and Stephen where state AGs are focusing most of their attention now. Jerry responds that consumer protection, social media, the opioid lawsuits and multistate investigations, cybersecurity and data privacy, and antitrust issues are all on AGs’ agendas. Stephen adds AI to the list.

(36:22) The discussion wraps up with Stephen acknowledging the interplay between regulatory enforcement and policy and the value to our clients of the collaboration between the state AG Group and Cozen Public Strategies.

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