Top of the Hour

Good morning from Hotline. Today we’re sifting through the crosstabs of the latest battleground polls, tracking results from the special election in NY-26, and tallying up Rep. David Trone's (D-MD 06) investments in the Senate race. Let's get after it.

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NEW YORK: Voters are voting in the special election to replace former Rep. Brian Higgins (D-26) who resigned in February to become president of a performing arts center in Buffalo. State Sen. Tim Kennedy (D) faces West Seneca Town Supervisor Gary Dickson (R). The election is not expected to be close in the heavily Democratic seat. Polls close at 9 p.m. and results can be found here.

In NY-01, former CNN anchor John Avlon (D) and 2020 nominee Nancy Goroff (D) “share similarly mainstream Democratic policy positions on things like abortion rights and supporting Ukraine. But Avlon is unquestionably more polished than Goroff and is pitching himself as being the better bet against” Rep. Nick LaLota (R). “Avlon’s city-boy privilege is already on the list of the Republican talking points against him,” as he used his vacation home in the district to “launch a mid-life political career.” (New York)

LAW AND ORDER DJT: As former President Trump’s hush-money trial restarts today, prosecutors will now try to fill in the details of what they believe was an illegal scheme to bury negative stories about Trump to influence the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors used last week to set the scene. The court will hear from banker Gary Farro, who helped former Trump attorney Michael Cohen “open accounts, including one that Cohen used to buy the silence of” porn star Stormy Daniels. (AP) Judge Juan Merchan “will also weigh a request to hold the former president in contempt … for repeatedly violating a gag order,” which could result in a $10,000 fine. (New York Times)

Trump has started to direct his anger at his own lawyer, Todd Blanche. The “former president has complained repeatedly about him in recent weeks,” as he believes he isn’t being aggressive enough. Trump “has also wondered aloud why his lawyers cost so much.” (New York Times) “One America News, a right-wing cable news network, on Monday retracted a report claiming that” Cohen, who is the prosecution’s key witness in Trump’s hush-money trial, “had been the person who actually had an affair with” Stormy Daniels. (New York Times)

REPUBLICANS: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) reportedly has “no shot” of becoming Trump’s running mate after she revealed in her memoir that she killed her 14-month-old dog. (New York Post) North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) has become the proverbial flavor of the month for Trump, as the former president has singled him out for praise. (Semafor)

GENERAL ELECTION: A series of Emerson College/The Hill polls (April 25-29; 1,000 RVs; +/-3%) showed that Trump is either ahead or virtually tied with President Biden in every battleground state. In head-to-head races, Trump led Biden in Arizona, 48%-44%; in Georgia, 47%-44%; and in North Carolina, 47%-42%.

Trump and Biden were statistically tied in Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, although Trump was marginally ahead in all of them. The former president’s lead grew in polls of a five-way race: Trump led Biden in Arizona, 44%-40%, in Georgia, 45%-39%, in Nevada, 42%-37%, in North Carolina, 46%-37%, in Pennsylvania, 45%-41%, and in Wisconsin, 45%-40%. The two candidates were still virtually tied in Michigan. The five-way races included anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (I), who earned between 5% and 9% in each state, scholar and activist Cornel West (I), and 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein (release)

SENATE POLLING ROUNDUP: CBS News/YouGov released polls of Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that showed the Democratic incumbents ahead. In Pennsylvania (April 19-25; 1,306 RVs; +/-3.1%), Sen. Bob Casey (D) led 2022 candidate Dave McCormick (R), 46%-39%. In Wisconsin (April 19-25; 1,245 RVs; +/-3.3%), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) led real estate executive Eric Hovde (R), 48%-41%. (CBS News)

Emerson College/The Hill released battleground polls (April 25-29; 1,000 RVs; +/-3%) in five states.

In Arizona, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-03) led the field with 45%, while 2022 GOV nominee Kari Lake (R) had 43%. 12% were undecided. In Pennsylvania, Casey led McCormick, 46%-42%, with 12% undecided. In Michigan, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-07) was statistically tied with former Rep. Mike Rogers (R), 42%-40%, with 19% undecided. In Wisconsin, Baldwin led Hovde, 46%-43%, with 11% undecided.

In Nevada, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) led 2022 candidate Sam Brown (R), 45%-37%, with 18% undecided. In a hypothetical matchup with former ambassador to Iceland Jeffrey Ross Gunter (R), Rosen led, 47%-33%, with 21% undecided. (release)

HOUSE POLLING ROUNDUP: A poll conducted by the Tarrance Group (April 13-16; 400 LVs; +/-4.9%) for the GOP-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund found state Rep. Gabe Evans (R) and Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-CO 08) statistically tied. Evans was at 42%, Caraveo was at 41%, and 17% were undecided. Caraveo had a 38% favorability rating, 29% unfavorability, and 19% had never heard of the freshman lawmaker. 15% had no opinion.

On the presidential ballot, Biden came in at 45%, Trump 44%, and 11% were undecided. Biden was underwater at 43% approve/50% disapprove. 7% were unsure or had no opinion. (Hotline reporting)

In OR-05, a Brilliant Corners poll (April 26-28; 402 LVs) conducted internally for state Rep. Janelle Bynum (D) found Bynum and 2022 nominee Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D) statistically tied. Bynum was at 37%, while McLeod-Skinner came in at 34%. McLeod-Skinner led in name recognition at 69%, compared to Bynum’s 53%, but that’s an uptick for Bynum since February, where less than a quarter knew Bynum. (Oregon Capital Chronicle)

STATES POLLING ROUNDUP: An Emerson College/The Hill poll (April 25-29; 1,000 RVs; +/-3%) found Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) and state Attorney General Josh Stein (D) in a dead-heat, with Robinson narrowly leading Stein, 42%-41%. 5% planned to vote for someone else, and 12% were undecided. (release)

In Utah, a Noble Predictive Insights poll (April 8–16; 283 RVs; +/- 5.8%) found Gov. Spencer Cox (R) comfortably leading the GOP primary at 51%. No other candidate neared double-digit support, with state Rep. Phil Lyman (R) and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Scott Robbins (R) both at 4%. 37% were undecided. (release)

VT GOV: “Vermont’s longest-serving governor is thinking about getting back in the saddle.” Former Gov. Howard Dean (D), “has been discussing whether to challenge” Gov. Phil Scott (R), “in this fall’s election.” Dean confirmed his interest with VTDigger on Saturday. “It’s far from clear whether Dean will move ahead with a campaign, but party leaders say they’re taking the prospect seriously—and some volunteers have begun collecting signatures to get Dean’s name on the ballot ahead of the May 30 deadline.” Scott has not announced whether or not he’ll seek reelection, “though he is widely expected to do so.” (VTDigger)

RACE FOR THE HOUSE: Speaker Mike Johnson “took a call with major GOP donors Wednesday, where he highlighted his recent bipartisan legislative accomplishments as he asked the donors to give more money to House Republicans.” Johnson told donors that efforts to oust him will fail because the faction doesn’t “have a plan.” The speaker has yet to match former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s fundraising ability, and some donors have shifted toward Senate races, where they believe the environment favors Republicans. Republican advisers see this quarter as particularly important for Johnson to raise money. (Washington Post)

House Freedom Caucus members aren’t ready to back Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA 14) motion to vacate, even as their anger toward Johnson grows. “Freedom Caucus members will likely continue opposing rules and taking other retaliatory steps, as they have throughout this Congress,” but there’s no solution to removing Johnson, as no one in the conference could get to 218 votes right now. (Punchbowl News)

WV SEN: Rep. Alex Mooney (R-02) released a new attack ad against Gov. Jim Justice (R) featuring a bulldog that looks a lot like Justice’s beloved Babydog. In the 30-second spot, a narrator says “If you think Jim Justice is a conservative, you’re barking up the wrong tree.” (Politico)

BATTLE FOR THE SENATE: In the leadership fight to succeed Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), Minority Whip John Thune and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are competing to prove who has the fundraising chops to take over. Cornyn raised $18.3 million this cycle to help GOP incumbents and candidates—$5.6 million were raised in the first three months of the year. Thune has raised a total of $13.1 million for Republicans this cycle and is the number two fundraiser for the NRSC behind Chair Steve Daines. Both senators will have to show their colleagues that they have the ability to rake in the kind of cash McConnell provided for years. (Axios) Thune and Cornyn are also courting Lake’s favor as she campaigns to replace retiring Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ). Lake “has emerged as a key Trump proxy in the leadership race.” (Axios)

MD SEN: With two weeks to go until the primary, Rep. David Trone (D-06) “is explicitly making his bank account a selling point, testing whether it’s more important for Democrats to diversify the overwhelmingly white and male Senate—or to have the resources to save their deeply endangered incumbents.” Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) has consolidated support from nearly every major Maryland Democrat, but she does not have the same financial resources as Trone in a must-win race that could get very expensive. (Politico)

DE GOV: GOP Chair Julianne Murray, “who last year was selected to lead the state Republican Party, said in the posted letter that she intends to officially announce her intentions to run for governor on May 8.” The primary will take place on Sept. 3. Murray would join Lewes resident Jerrold Price (R) in the GOP primary. Democrats running for governor include Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long (D), New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer (D), and former Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara (D). Gov. John Carney (D) is term-limited. (Delaware News Journal)

   Episode 50: Moving Up the Ranks

Hotline editor Kirk A. Bado and House-races correspondent James A. Downs discuss the second House Power Rankings of the cycle.

 Listen to our Latest Podcast

  Paging the Hotline

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 Hotline's Graph of the Day


After several weeks of slight upticks in his approval rating, Biden plateaued this week in the RealClearPolitics polling average. The good news for Biden: his approvals have dipped. The bad news: his approvals aren't getting any better. He'll have more opportunities in the coming weeks to contrast himself with Trump while he's stuck in New York for his hush-money trial, but the campaign might be in trouble if Biden can't run up the score while his opponent is down. 


 Hair of the Dog

Military horses injured galloping across London making progress, army says” (The Guardian)

Our Call

CLF's poll of CO-08 is the second partisan poll in as many weeks of the district, but the pair tell slightly different stories. The NRCC's poll showed 61% of voters had no opinion of Rep. Yadira Caraveo, while CLF's showed just 15% with no opinion and another 19% had never heard of her. The NRCC polls likely paints a rosier picture for Republicans, and partisan polls ought to be greeted with skepticism, but back-to-back polls of the same district indicate a concerted emphasis on winning this seat and an effort to tout their candidate, state Rep. Gabe Evans. The party leadership’s preferred candidate is another example of Republicans recruiting veterans and candidates from minority communities to flip competitive seats. CO-08 was featured in Hotline’s latest ranking of seats most likely to flip, and could be key in keeping Republicans in power. — James A. Downs

In the final weeks of the GOP West Virginia gubernatorial primary, it appears that former state Del. Moore Capito (R), the son of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), is pulling out all the stops to overtake frontrunner state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R). On April 18, Gov. Jim Justice tapped Capito to be his successor, marking the highest profile endorsement in the race in the absence of former President Trump's. While internal polling should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism, a pro-Capito group released a survey over the weekend that was taken shortly after Justice's endorsement that found Capito leading Morrisey by 8 points, a spike in his polling numbers that is fondly being called the “Babydog bump,” here at Hotline. In the final lap of the race, it will be worth watching if Capito manages to keep up the momentum. GOP strategists in the state told Hotline earlier this month that he could have an opening, especially if Morrisey and businessman Chris Miller (R) continue to lob insults at one another on the airwaves. — Mary Frances McGowan

 Fresh Brewed Buzz

Dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters seized a University campus building at Columbia University “in the early hours of Tuesday morning, moving metal gates to barricade the doors, blocking entrances with wooden tables and chairs, and zip-tying doors shut.” (Columbia Spectator)

“Gender-affirming care for transgender youths won't be banned this year after Kansas lawmakers narrowly failed to override” Gov. Laura Kelly's (D) veto. (Topeka Capital-Journal)

Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texas to ignore Biden administration’s new federal protections of LGBTQ+ students” (Texas Tribune)

The Biden administration “is indefinitely delaying a long-awaited menthol cigarette ban, a decision that infuriated anti-smoking advocates but could avoid a political backlash from Black voters in November.” (Los Angeles Times)

Twelve departing lawmakers tell us what Congress is really like.” (New York Times)

Expelled Rep. George Santos (R-NY) announced that he will be reviving his drag persona, Kitara, for Cameo. Santos previously denied that the drag persona was him. He claims that 20% of proceeds will go to two charities: one supporting veterans and first responders and another fighting antisemitism. (Twitter)

A journalist, an influencer and a consultant walk into D.C.’s biggest party…” (Washington Post)

 Rooster's Crow

The House and Senate are in at 10 a.m.

Biden will depart the White House at 1:25 p.m. and head to Wilmington, Delaware, arriving at 2:20 p.m. He will attend a campaign event at 3 p.m. He will depart at 6:15 p.m., returning to the White House at 7:20 p.m.

Swizzle Challenge

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) dedicated June 26, 2010 to singer Shreya Ghoshal.

Joe Bookman won yesterday’s challenge. Here’s his challenge: A presidential pet had to be removed from President Jackson’s funeral. What was the animal and why was it removed?

The 3rd correct email gets to submit the next question.

 Early Bird Special

Georgia and Armenia are trying to balance their relationships with Russia and the West, with varying degrees of success.

In 1945, a prominent reporter sat a Johns Hopkins physician just below Roosevelt to take stock of the ailing president. It would be one of FDR's last public events.

Hotline editor Kirk A. Bado and House-races correspondent James A. Downs discuss the second House Power Rankings of the cycle.

In his latest column, Charlie Cook asks: Will swing voters put Trump’s ethics and personal failings aside in service of policies they remember fondly?
PLUS: Biden reverses Trump move to strip health protections for transgender patients, and Granholm touts IRA clean-energy projects in New Mexico.


“I was conscious of the fact that I was joining an organization … that was less popular than head lice, colonoscopies, and the rock band Nickelback.” — Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA 06) reflecting on his tenure (New York Times)


“And I've been wrong, I've been down / Been to the bottom of every bottle / These five words in my head / Scream, ‘Are we havin' fun yet?’” — Nickelback (“How You Remind Me”)

Kirk A. Bado, Wake-Up Call! Editor

Associate Editor: Hannah Thacker
Senior Production Editor: Taameen Mohammad
Staff Writers: Mary Frances McGowan, Zac Weisz, James A. Downs
Hotline Intern:  Erika Filter

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