Election 2024: Cohen Week

Today the trial in New York v. Trump takes its usual Wednesday day off. Michael Cohen took the stand first thing Monday morning, and gave a day-and-a-half of direct testimony, followed by half-a-day so far of cross-examination.

Judge Merchan had previously allowed Trump’s request to attend his son Barron’s high school graduation on Friday, so tomorrow will be the only remaining day of trial this week. The expectation is that Cohen’s cross-examination will wrap up tomorrow, after which the prosecution is expected to rest its case. It is unclear whether the defense will call any witnesses, but if they do that will likely commence on Monday. After that, we’ll be down to closing arguments and jury instructions. It is not impossible to imagine that we’ll have a verdict before Memorial Day.

In other news, yesterday there were primary elections in Nebraska and West Virginia. As expected, WV Governor Justice – yet another controversial billionaire (or, perhaps, ex-billionaire) – won the Republican Senate primary and becomes the prohibitive favorite to flip the open Senate seat being vacated by Manchin.

Over in Nebraska, all 5 incumbent Republican congresspersons faced primary opponents (including 2 Senators, there being a special election this fall for appointed Senator Ricketts’ seat to fill out the remainder of Sasse’s term). Interestingly, the MAGAified Nebraska state GOP had endorsed all of the non-incumbents. However incumbency proved to be more powerful than the endorsement, as all 5 incumbents won handily. The closest race as expected involved Congressman Bacon, a comparatively moderate Republican in a district that Biden won 52-46 in 2020; as of midnight Bacon was ahead 62-38.

In the presidential primaries, Trump’s margin over Haley in Nebraska was only 80-18, two months after she’d dropped out; the remaining 2% went to businessman and bridge player Perry Johnson, whose self-financed 2024 campaign never quite got off the ground as he failed to qualify for any of the GOP debates in 2023. By comparison, Biden won 90-10 in Nebraska, with Rep. Phillips the other candidate on the ballot. As one might expect, Trump did better – and Biden worse – in West Virginia. Here Haley won less than 10% of the vote, while Biden was held to just above 70% by Phillips and three extremely obscure candidates, only one of which I’d heard of previously.

Finally, the New York Times released a series of swing state polls earlier this week that look very bad for President Biden, but at the same time decent for Democratic chances of retaining the Senate:

  • In Arizona, Biden trails Trump 42-49, but Gallego leads Lake 45-41 for Sen. Sinema’s open seat;
  • In Nevada, Biden trails Trump 39-50, but Sen. Rosen leads Sam Brown (presumably not the British singer of “Stop” fame) 40-38;
  • In Pennsylvania, Biden trails Trump 44-47, but Sen. Casey leads David McCormick 46-41;
  • In Wisconsin, Biden leads Trump 47-45 but is out-performed by Sen. Baldwin, who leads Eric Hovde 49-40;
  • Biden trails Trump badly in two important swing states that do not have a Senate race this fall, Michigan (42-49) and Georgia (39-49).

I honestly do not know what to make of any of this data.