Friday Edition

Is big city life getting less sexy? The headaches facing the GOP and Dems. RFK Jr.'s deal. The truth about Ukraine outrage.


1. Red/Blue Crises

With the 2024 elections only months away, the two major U.S. parties each battle their own set of crises with the potential to turn off voters.



  • Donald Trump’s legal problems: While some polls show there’s no bump for Biden even if Trump gets convicted of a crime, other polls show a conviction could hurt Trump with independents. Either way, Trump courtroom drama is a distraction that keeps the microscope off of Biden. It’s also a drain on campaign funds.

  • Abortion: GOP strategists are very worried the overturning of Roe v. Wade could spur higher Dem turnout in 2024, as exit polls from recent elections show a growing number of voters list abortion as a key issue.

  • Dysfunction: Speaker Mike Johnson is being threatened with a motion to vacate just months after his predecessor was ousted. Infighting is rampant in the GOP, which might not inspire much confidence in voters.

Bubba’s Two Cents: Americans have become somewhat numb to the circus that is modern politics as chaos and dysfunction become par for the course. News cycles move fast, and the national conversation can turn on a dime. Some of the issues we mentioned above will hang around, but ’24 may come down to what the conversation is in late October — and that could look very different than it does today.

2. Big Cities Lose Their Shine

Evidence keeps mounting of a major shift in America's economic and cultural hubs. (Economic Innovation Group)

Chart: Economic Innovation Group

Last year marked the first time ever that high-wage metro areas created less than 50% of U.S. jobs, according to a new analysis from the bipartisan Economic Innovation Group. In the 10 years before the pandemic, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Boston and New York City alone were responsible for 25% of all new jobs.

The three main reasons it’s happening:

  1. People are fleeing expensive coastal cities for cheaper areas, taking jobs with them.

  2. Tech sector growth has stalled, limiting job opportunities.

  3. Economic growth in Sun Belt regions is drawing businesses and workers, sparking new job creation.

Economic Innovation Group research lead August Benzow: “The long-term implications of this geographic reshuffling remain to be fully understood. However, one thing is clear–the landscape of opportunity across America has been fundamentally altered in the post-pandemic environment. This transformation provokes a re-evaluation of our assumptions about the locations and drivers of job growth in what appears to be a ‘new normal’ economy.”

Related: We're seeing a geographic realignment not only in business but also in other areas.

  • Higher education: Applications to public Southern colleges are up 62%.

  • Population: The South has been the fastest-growing region in the country for two years running.

Bubba’s Two Cents: The pandemic seems to have prompted a national reevaluation of our priorities and values. That flashy, fast-paced big city lifestyle with fancy job to match has gotten less appealing to a lot of people.

3. Checking In on RFK Jr.

What’s the deal with independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.? (Politico)

The latest: Donald Trump’s camp is reportedly worried about how often RFK is showing up on right-leaning news shows.

  • Kennedy’s made 69 media appearances since January, with nearly half occurring on conservative or anti-establishment programs.

  • RFK averages about 10% support nationally, a high enough share of the vote to potentially swing the 2024 election to Trump or President Biden.

Polling results are unclear on whether RFK will take more votes from Trump or Biden.

  • A Yahoo News/YouGov poll finds Kennedy pulls equally from both Trump and Biden, who are tied at 42% each in a full field of candidates, with Kennedy securing 5% of the vote.

  • Other polls show him taking more votes from Biden, while still others say it’s Trump who’ll be hardest hit.

Interestingly, it seems like people who don’t like Trump or Biden aren’t necessarily huge RFK fans either, according to a recent Monmouth poll.

  • Among double haters (voters who dislike Biden AND Trump), his support stands at nearly 40% (15% definite and 23% probable).

  • But once these double haters get acquainted with Kennedy’s views, support drops to 26%.

Bubba’s Two Cents: Left and right is becoming less important than pro- versus anti-institution. RFK, like Trump, taps into the growing frustration with the people who’ve been in charge of running the country for the past decades. He may not be the answer, but he’s going to be a factor, which goes to show how powerful this sentiment has become in politics.

4. The Truth About Ukraine Outrage

America First Republicans such as Sen. J.D. Vance, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Rep. Matt Gaetz make it seem like their constituents are outraged by the recent $61 billion funding round for Ukraine — but it’s not clear they’re all that bent out of shape about it. (Semafor)

Semafor national political reporter Dave Weigel: “Momentum for Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to remove House Speaker Mike Johnson stalled over the last recess; she entered Tuesday without the votes to pass it. And West Virginia Rep. Carol Miller and Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, both facing primary challengers who’ve attacked their Ukraine vote, are operating like the vote won’t matter.”

53% of Americans support sending military aid to Ukraine, according to a recent CBS News-YouGov poll.

  • A Gallup poll from earlier this month found Americans are basically split on the issue, with 36% saying the U.S. is doing too much to help Ukraine, while another 36% believe it's not enough.

Surveys have shown a majority of Republicans oppose more Ukraine aid, but the full story’s a bit more complicated than that.

  • According to a recent American Action Network poll, a plurality (46%) of GOP voters in solidly red districts support providing military aid to Ukraine.

  • A majority of Republican voters in both battleground and deep-red districts view Russian President Vladimir Putin unfavorably (86%), and 64% strongly agree that Russia was wrong to invade Ukraine.

Meanwhile, an American Action Network poll from March found Republican voters are evenly split on Ukraine aid.

  • 33% are more likely to support a pro-aid candidate, 33% less likely, while 34% say it doesn’t make a difference either way.

Bubba’s Two Cents: The rise of left-right populism has made it more common for politicians to pursue their pet agendas and say they’re doing it in the name of the American people. You’ve got Ivy League campus agitators acting like they’re standing up for the oppressed, and you’ve got America First politicians railing about how they’re standing up for the will of the people. The reality is most Americans might take a side on some of this stuff, but they’re not quite as riled up about it.

5. One For the Road

The Biden administration recently accused Sheetz, a Pennsylvania convenience store, of discriminating against minorities by using criminal background checks.

For similar vibes, check out these other headlines (via @feelsdesperate):


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