About The Run-Up
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There was a moment in early 2023 when Donald Trump seemed like a politician in decline. And it wasn’t just his political opponents who thought so. National Republicans, who blamed Mr. Trump for the party’s run of bad results in the midterms, largely agreed. But now it’s starting to set in: It appears the former president’s staying power was underestimated … again. Mr. Trump is the overwhelming favorite to be the Republican presidential nominee — and his supporters remain the most influential force in the party’s politics. This week, through conversations at an event with South Carolina Republicans, we try to understand why the party continues to back an embattled Mr. Trump — and how it came to feel as though this primary ended before it even began. Then, Astead talks with Jonathan Swan, a New York Times political reporter, about how the Trump team has approached this campaign with discipline and strategy, and what it is planning should he win back the White House.
The former president’s legal status is one of the biggest wild cards heading into 2024. Even as he dominates the Republican primary and his party, Trump has been indicted on 91 felony charges, across four criminal cases in state and federal courts. We spent a day talking to our colleagues in The Times’s newsroom, trying to get answers to questions it’s surreal to even be asking. Among them: Are Republicans coalescing around a man who may soon be a convicted felon? And how much will Trump’s legal troubles collide with an election cycle that is unlike any we’ve seen before? Guests: Jonah Bromwich Richard Fausset Alan Feuer Maggie Haberman
Polls suggest that they are – and that Black voters’ support for Donald Trump, especially among men, is rising. Astead W. Herndon convened a special "Run-Up" Thanksgiving focus group to explore what might be behind those numbers. He spoke with family, friends and, parishioners from his father’s church, community members and people he grew up with. It’s a lively conversation with real implications for what might happen if the 2024 presidential election is a Biden-Trump rematch. Because where better to talk politics than over turkey and an ample dessert spread?
Vice President Harris believes that democracy is once again on the line in November. She is key to the Biden campaign’s strategy for getting that message to its skeptical base — and winning over groups of voters that Democrats can't afford to lose. In a wide-ranging conversation recorded in Chicago in August, Astead Herndon sat down with the vice president to discuss her life and work before Washington, and the fight ahead for her party. This interview was conducted as part of the reporting process for a New York Times Magazine cover story on Ms. Harris, which you can read here.
Out of more than 3,000 counties in the United States, Clallam County, Wash. is the only one that has voted for the winner of the presidential race every year since 1980. It earned this distinction in 2020, the election that broke everyone else’s streak. We’re a year out from the 2024 presidential election and despite a robust Republican primary field, the race is looking like it could easily be a 2020 rematch. So we thought Clallam County could give us something resembling a prediction. Here’s how the people there are feeling — and how they think this is going to go. To see photographs from our reporting trip to Washington, click here.
For the past few months, The Run-Up has been reporting on political insiders and the work they’ve quietly been doing to shape the 2024 presidential election. What we’ve found is a group of people — Republicans and Democrats — all operating under the premise that this race will revolve around former President Donald Trump. That his nomination — and thus a rematch between Trump and President Biden — is almost inevitable. But if anything is going to blow up that assumption, it’s probably going to start in Iowa. As the first state in the Republican primary process, Iowa plays a key role in narrowing the field. If Trump wins there, it may effectively mean that he has secured the nomination. However, there’s a group of voters that holds disproportionate power in the state and in American culture more broadly. These voters were once part of Trump’s coalition — and they are now wavering. If they go another way, the whole race could open up. In our final episode of the season, The Run-Up goes to Iowa and inside the evangelical church. We speak with Bob Vander Plaats, an evangelical activist with a history of picking Iowa’s winners. And we go to Eternity Church, where Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida recently spoke, and talk to Jesse Newman, the pastor, and other members of the congregation.
Back in 2020, Joe Biden stood out in a crowded Democratic primary field filled with younger, more historic candidates. Voters worried that Mr. Biden was too moderate, too uninspiring and too old. One of his challengers, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, got a lot of attention for his willingness to echo those concerns. But after going hard at Mr. Biden in a debate, his campaign fizzled and Mr. Castro, once a rising star in the Democratic Party, left Washington altogether. To some, it seemed like evidence of the consequences of stepping out of line with the party. Heading into the 2024 election, as voters grapple with the same questions about the incumbent president, Astead sits down with Mr. Castro to explore the party’s code of silence surrounding Mr. Biden’s primary alternatives and his advanced age. For more information on today's episode, visit nytimes.com/therunup.
Heading into the 2024 presidential election, a big part of the Democratic Party’s approach is to win through defense — to watch Republicans and promise voters that Democrats will be the solution to G.O.P. extremism. Some Democrats, however, argue that this is not a viable long-term strategy. This week, Representative Elissa Slotkin shares what happens when Democrats have a plan, and Megan Hunt, a Nebraska state senator, explains what happens when they don’t.
The Dobbs decision upended political calculations on both sides of the abortion debate. Democrats used the issue as evidence of Republican extremism, and it cost the G.O.P. seats in the 2022 midterms. Now, with a presidential primary looming, abortion activists have an opportunity to reset their strategies for 2024 and roll out new litmus tests for their respective candidates. This week, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, and Alexis McGill Johnson, head of Planned Parenthood, on how they’re trying to reshape the abortion debate in the U.S.
Two things are true: Bothsidesism can flatten the realities of political extremism in this country. And many voters really do see the Democratic and Republican parties as equally extreme at this moment. The parties know this. And they’re fighting to convince voters that it’s the other side that’s gone too far. That Republicans are the party of Donald Trump, election denial, Jan. 6 and six-week abortion bans. That Democrats are the party of woke-ism and the Squad. Today, we talk to two congressmen who have publicly clashed on this question — Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat, and Byron Donalds, a Republican — and press them on the roles they play in the fight.
This episode contains strong language. A central reality of the 2024 presidential election is taking shape: Voters may, once again, be faced with a choice between Donald J. Trump and President Biden. For months, Astead has been speaking with party insiders whose main question about the next election is which candidate will win. Speaking to voters, however, their question is: How come both parties seem poised to nominate the same man again? Voters across the country are dissatisfied with the choice, yearning for other options. Astead speaks with voters and the leaders of No Labels, an organization that’s working toward creating a “unity ticket” that they hope will appeal to those in the middle.
The 2016 Republican primary field was crowded. At one point, 17 people were vying for the nomination. It was a pileup that many saw as leading directly to the ascent of Donald Trump. The specter of that election hangs over the current moment for anti-Trump Republicans — could a fractured party once again put Mr. Trump at the top of the ticket? The question now for potential candidates is: Should I run or should I get out of the way? Astead speaks with Larry Hogan, former governor of Maryland, and Asa Hutchinson, former governor of Arkansas — two Republicans who wrestled with this question and made different decisions. For more information on today's episode, visit nytimes.com/therunup.
Outside a Manhattan courtroom, on the day of former President Donald Trump’s arraignment, Astead spoke to two camps of spectators. Supporters cast Mr. Trump as the victim of prosecutorial overreach, while opposing voices hoped this was just the beginning of his legal troubles. With an ever-shifting political landscape as America heads toward the 2024 election, what do Mr. Trump’s mounting legal woes mean for his electoral viability? Is success for the former president, despite it all, an inevitability? Astead speaks with Nate Cohn, The New York Times’s chief political analyst, about what the polls do — and do not — tell us.
Throughout our reporting inside the Republican Party over the past few months, one person kept showing up: Mike Lindell, MyPillow chief executive and election denier. At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, he ran to unseat the party chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel. At the Conservative Political Action Committee in Maryland, he couldn’t walk 10 feet without being cornered for a selfie. And more recently, he was a part of news coverage about the Dominion lawsuit and Tucker Carlson’s ouster from Fox News. While plenty of people don’t take him seriously, Lindell represents, maybe better than anyone else, the challenge facing the Republican Party in this moment: an establishment trying desperately to satisfy its base, despite evidence that their extreme beliefs are costing the party elections. After months of reporting on that dynamic, we talk to Mr. Lindell and Ms. McDaniel, two people who sit at opposite poles of the party.
For Republican presidential hopefuls, the Conservative Political Action Conference has played a very specific role in the election cycle. It’s where candidates try to establish their grass-roots credibility and convince conservatives that those running are listening to what they want. The conference culminates in a closely-watched straw poll — an early indicator of the candidates who have momentum. This year is an unusual one. After the midterms, the big story was that CPAC had become a place for has-beens and losing ideas. And with Donald Trump in the race, few candidates wanted to come and publicly challenge him in front of his base. But after spending time inside the political establishment of both parties, Astead felt that this was still a must-see event. Any candidate with a hope of securing the nomination is still going to need to speak the language of the grass roots. So, what do they want? We headed to CPAC to find out.
A few weeks after the midterms, something happened that largely flew under the radar. Democrats were celebrating a successful election, and giving all the credit to President Biden. And against that backdrop, the party made an announcement: It would be changing the order in which states voted in the primary election, moving South Carolina first. The party was talking about it in terms of representation and acknowledging the role of Black voters. But given that South Carolina essentially saved Mr. Biden’s 2020 candidacy, Astead wondered: Was something else going on? We headed to the party’s winter meeting as it prepared to make the change official.
It may feel too early to be thinking about the 2024 presidential election — but it’s the perfect time to understand where the parties are at, and how their plans for the next election cycle are shaping up. In our first episode, we join the Republican National Committee in Dana Point, Calif., as it gathers for its winter meeting. After a disappointing midterms, fractures have formed within the committee’s ranks. After targeting Kevin McCarthy in the fight for House speaker, the grass roots turned their ire on Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the R.N.C. The effort to replace Ms. McDaniel at this year’s winter meeting is emblematic of what the party is at this moment: a mess of tangled lines and scrambled allegiances.
It may seem way too early to be thinking about next year’s presidential election — and it is too soon to ask who’s going to win. But actually, it’s the perfect time to understand what the parties took away from the last election and how that’s already shaping their plans for the next one. For the past few months, Astead W. Herndon has been reporting from inside the political establishment, where party leaders, donors and activists are already trying to influence the 2024 election — and while voters are less likely to pay attention and lines of allegiance are scrambled. “The Run-Up” returns Thursday, April 6. See you there.