As we close out 2023, we’re reflecting on several firsts and firsts-in-a-while the year brought, from the presidential realm to Congress to international affairs.
The Speakership sagas
In January, the vote to elect then-Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as House Speaker went on for 15 rounds, making it the fifth-longest Speaker election by number of ballots ever and the longest the House had seen since before the Civil War.
Nine months later, McCarthy became the first Speaker ever removed from the position in October. After three Speaker-less weeks and four rounds of voting, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) ultimately claimed the gavel.
A former president is indicted
In March, former President Trumpbecame the first president (current or former) to face criminal charges when he was indicted by a Manhattan grand jury for allegedly falsifying business records related to hush money payments to an adult film star during his 2016 presidential campaign.
President Biden became the first sitting president to join a picket line in September, when he met with striking United Auto Workers members in Belleville, Mich.
The Israel-Hamas war
A representative is expelled
Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) became the sixth House member ever expelled from the chamber, the culmination of a year rife with controversy surrounding the freshman lawmaker.
We look forward to bringing you the latest in politics throughout 2024.
Programming note: This newsletter will be off Monday. We’ll kick off the new year with you on Tuesday.
Democrat-caucusing senator disagrees with decision to remove Trump from Maine ballot
Maine Sen. Angus King,an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he disagrees with the Maine secretary of state’s decision to remove former President Trump from the state’s ballot.
Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows (D) announced the decision Thursday, joining Colorado in barring Trump from the ballot over his alleged engagement in insurrection surrounding Jan. 6, 2021.
King said that “absent a final determination of a violation of the 14th Amendment’s disqualification clause, I believe the decision as to whether or not Mr. Trump should again be considered for the presidency should rest with the people as expressed in free and fair elections.” Democratic Rep. Jared Golden (Maine) expressed a similar sentiment.
The decisions in both Maine and Colorado are subject to appeal. Some states have turned down 14th Amendment challenges to Trump’s inclusion on the ballot.
GOP, Dems enter 2024 locked in tight battle for House control
Decision Desk HQ/The Hill’s polling index shows Democrats and Republicans each averaging around 43 percent in generic ballot polls, which ask respondents whether they’d vote for a Republican or Democrat in their district’s congressional election.
The parties hovered close to one another throughout a year that saw significant tumult in the House, from 15 Speakership votes in January to former Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s (R-Calif.) historic ouster and several votes to replace him in October.
Generic ballot polling has a good track record of forecasting which party wins control of the House, making it a metric to watch throughout 2024.
Consider the following, using RealClearPolitics’s generic ballot averages from 2016-2022 just before each election:
2022: Republicans led Democrats 50.6 percent-47.8 percent. Republicans won 222 seats to Democrats’ 213.
2020: Democrats led Republicans 50.8 percent-47.7 percent. Democrats won 222 seats to Republicans’ 212.
2018: Democrats led Republicans 53.3 percent-44.9 percent. Democrats won 235 seats to Republicans’ 199.
2016: Republicans led Democrats 49.1 percent-48 percent. Republicans won 241 seats to Democrats’ 194.
Recent rating shifts:
The Cook Political Report shifted Colorado’s 3rd District from “toss-up” to “lean Republican” after incumbent Rep. Lauren Boebert (R) announced she’ll seek election in the 4th District.
Earlier this month, Cook shifted Pennsylvania’s 10th District, where House Freedom Caucus chair Scott Perry (R) is seeking reelection, from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.”
Ohio’s Republican governor vetoes gender-affirming care ban
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) vetoed a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors, saying “for those children who face gender dysphoria, and for their families, the consequences of this could not be more profound.”
Meanwhile, Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador (R) will appeal a temporary block on a state law banning gender-affirming care for minors.
Menthol ban faces resistance, delay
The Hill’s Colin Meyn looks at the conflict surrounding the Biden administration’s delayed efforts to ban menthol cigarettes, which has pit civil rights groups against one another.
Obama’s top songs of 2023 list
Check out former President Obama‘s favorite songs of the year, featuring the work of Megan Thee Stallion, Jon Batiste and more.
17 days until the Iowa Republican presidential caucuses.
25 days until New Hampshire’s presidential primaries.