Donald Trump at a Mar-a-Lago election-night party on Super Tuesday. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A Super Tuesday for Donald Trump

We chew through the primary results and brace for a Biden v. Trump rematch. Plus: TikTok, Supreme Court sanity, and much more.

Time to dust off those pussy hats, folx. 

H.L. Mencken famously defined democracy as the “theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” For all the talk of Biden-Trump being the rematch no one wanted, turns out it’s the rematch primary voters want—and the rest of us are going to get it, good and hard. 

Last night Donald Trump romped to an overwhelming victory. On the Democratic side, Biden won in fifteen of the sixteen states and territories up for grabs. (Shout-out to some guy called Jason Palmer, who clinched the Democratic American Samoa nomination.) 

Many challengers tried to save us from this fate. Trump’s primary rivals tested a range of anti-Trump strategies. Ron DeSantis promised Trumpism without the drama—and discovered people want the drama. Chris Christie went all-out anti-Trump—and was booed for it. Mike Pence championed the Trump-Pence administration’s track record—and put everyone to sleep. And Vivek Ramaswamy wasn’t so much running against Trump as running to be his running mate. 

That left Nikki Haley as the last woman standing. The Haley campaign became a rallying point for Republicans out of sync with the prevailing MAGA mood—but never showed signs of being anything more than that.

So: here we are. Trump, a 77-year-old man who says he’d like to be dictator for “one day.” And Joe Biden, who is 81, got the following ringing endorsement from Hillary Clinton yesterday: “You know what, Joe Biden is old. Let’s go ahead and accept the reality. Joe Biden is old.” 

Clinton framed the coming election as “a contest between one candidate who’s old but who’s done an effective job and doesn’t threaten our democracy” and one “who is old, barely makes sense when he talks, is dangerous, and threatens our democracy.” 

Who’s excited?

Why Nikki Haley’s Supporters Stood by Her

The one woman left—no, not Marianne Williamson, though God bless her—as of closing time last night was Nikki Haley. A lot of people pinned a lot of hope on Haley. And they put their money behind her candidacy: the former South Carolina governor raised $24 million in the fourth quarter of 2023 alone.

Though she’s yet to officially drop out, the verdict is in: the Haley campaign didn’t work. So why did many of her donors keep writing checks even after the writing was on the wall? The Free Press’s Joe Nocera, who profiled Haley in New Hampshire back in January, made a few calls to find out. 

Going into Super Tuesday, one thing was clear: Nikki Haley was going to lose most, if not all, of the 13 Republican primaries to Donald Trump.

Of course, all the donors to the SFA Fund, the Nikki Haley super PAC, knew this as well. As her quest became ever-more quixotic, some big backers, like AFP Action, a Charles Koch vehicle, pulled their funding. But many others stuck with her; Haley raised an impressive $16.5 million just in January.

So why didn’t they abandon her? Calling around on Tuesday, the answer I heard from a handful of donors was that she was reminding the country of what kind of person a Republican candidate ought to be. And that her campaign was so important for the country that they were happy to contribute even though, in political terms, it was a lost cause.

“I think she is illustrating what a Republican standard-bearer can and should be,” said Jay Lefkowitz, a lawyer and former George W. Bush aide. He added, “I think she should stay in the race, even after Super Tuesday. You never know. If Trump is forced to file for bankruptcy or convicted of a crime, or has serious health issues, that could change everything.”

Mina Nguyen, a financial executive, described herself as “proud” to support Haley. “Nikki provides a much-needed voice in this country, one that reflects my own as a daughter of refugees who believes in America’s great values,” she said in an email. “I think it’s important for America to see that there can be a candidate who represents hard work while remaining ethical, fierce advocacy without being a bully, and individual liberties without scandal.”

And Cliff Asness, the founder of the hedge fund AQR, put it very simply: “Doing what you think is right is almost always worth it, succeed or fail, and this is no exception.”

Haley’s merry band of disgruntled Republicans may be in the minority within their party, but they could yet play a decisive role come November, if they stay home and coalesce around a third-party candidate, or even vote for Biden. 

One big question for Haley now: Will she endorse Trump? 

Our Other Super Tuesday Takeaways

It’s the Trump Show—Even in California: In California, the battle to fill Diane Feinstein’s old Senate seat will be a contest between a Democrat and a Republican. The deep-blue state’s jungle primaries mean the top two candidates, regardless of party, go through to the general, and usually that means a choice between two Democrats. But not this time, because Republican and former L.A. Dodger Steve Garvey made it into the top two. 

Garvey will be up against Adam Schiff, the congressman who Republicans sought to expel from the House over Russiagate but who will now almost certainly become a senator. Schiff fought off his Democratic opponents by, well, not really fighting them at all, but instead posing as an anti-Trump crusader. And that, it seems, is what the voters wanted. 

And as for Stefan Simchowitz, the art-world upstart running in the race as a Republican and who we profiled on Monday—he did not come close to winning. As Simchowitz told Suzy: “Sometimes if you know you’re going to lose you can only win.” That’s the spirit, Stefan!

Cheerio, Deano! Time’s up for Dean Phillips’s quixotic presidential bid. I’m on the record as an admirer of the Minnesotan with moxie. But I’m starting to think he might not be the next president of the United States. Yes, Phillips did very badly last night. Back in November, Phillips said on X that if his “campaign is not viable after March 5th, I’ll wrap it up and endorse the likely nominee—Biden or otherwise.” Time to honor your word, Dean.

The Death of the Centrist: Arizona independent Kyrsten Sinema announced yesterday that she wouldn’t seek reelection. In every way, Sinema is a strange bird: a Democrat turned independent; an open bisexual in the Senate; a lawmaker who somehow finds the time to train for Ironman competitions; and a peacock among pigeons who dresses like an extra from The Hunger Games. We don’t know about her fashion sense, but the rest of it—the independent-mindedness in an era of groupthink, her willingness to call it as she sees it—we admired. But in 2024 we can’t have nice things. Here’s how Sinema put it in a video announcing her decision not to run again: “Compromise is a dirty word. We’ve arrived at that crossroad, and we chose anger and division. I believe in my approach, but it’s not what America wants right now.” 

Her departure puts the filibuster in jeopardy, and the race in Arizona is between MAGA die-hard Kari Lake, who bombed in the gubernatorial race in 2022, and Ruben Gallego, a progressive Democratic Congressman. 

In bowing out, she follows two other moderates out the Senate chamber: Joe Manchin, a Blue Dog Democrat who has served West Virginia as a senator since 2010, and Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, who, announcing his decision not to run, said of his fellow baby boomers: “we’re not the guys to be making the decisions” about America’s future. (The presidential candidates didn’t get the memo.) 

What Will No Labels Do Next? The lesson of Romney, Manchin, and Sinema is an ugly one: Americans want the hard stuff. Bipartisanship is for wussies. This is the backdrop to all the umming and ahhing at No Labels over whether to field a presidential candidate. They don’t have a candidate or, as far as we can tell, much of a plan. And this week they’ll decide whether or not they will enter the race. Democratic operatives are desperate that they don’t—fearing that a moderate alternative undermines the contrast Biden plans to draw between himself and Trump. 

Free Speech Under Threat Across the West 

Imagine a world where you could go to jail for a “hateful” meme or a text message. That could soon be Ireland’s reality. That country is seriously considering a sweeping law that would criminalize the act of “inciting hatred” against individuals or groups based on specified “protected characteristics” like race, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation. The definition of incitement is so broad as to include “recklessly encouraging” other people to hate or causing harm “because of your views” or opinions. In other words, intent doesn’t matter. Nor would it matter if you actually posted the “reckless” content. Merely being in possession of that content could land you a fine of as much as €5,000 ($5,422) or up to 12 months in prison, or both. 

It’s not just Ireland. Canada has just announced extensive new hate speech legislation. And in Britain, existing laws mean that tweeting “transwomen are men” can lead to a knock on the door from the cops.

The Free Press’s Rupa Subramanya reports on the new hate speech laws that threaten the most basic freedom across the West. Those fighting censorship in Canada, or Britain, or Ireland, wish they had a First Amendment to fall back on.

Ten Stories We’re Reading

  1. Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, which he’ll deliver Thursday evening, is seriously high stakes. (Politico)

  2. Donald Trump has broken his silence on the Israel-Hamas war. “Finish the problem,” he said Wednesday of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. (NBC

  3. A far-left group called the Vulkan claimed responsibility for an arson attack that halted production at a Tesla plant in Germany. Because electric cars are the obvious target for ecoterrorism. (The Guardian)

  4. RFK Jr. is considering seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination. “He’s a rogue punk rocker of the political system,” said one source close to Kennedy. (The Hill)

  5. Across Washington, D.C.’s, high schools, 60 percent of students were chronically absent in the 2022–23 school year. (D.C. Policy Center)

  6. The FBI is hunting a suspected Iranian assassin accused of plotting to kill Mike Pompeo and other former U.S. officials. (Semafor)

  7. Global climate policy isn’t working. (The Honest Broker)

  8. The golden age of American Jewry is ending, writes Franklin Foer. (The Atlantic

  9. Rich countries are addicted to cheap labor—and it’s stopping them from investing in productivity-boosting technology. (WSJ)

  10. When did novels stop mattering? (The Intrinsic Perspective)

Also on our radar. . . 

→ Supreme sanity: On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado did not have the right to remove Donald Trump from the ballot. The decision was unanimous—because the law here is pretty clear (as Bill Barr argued in our pages back in January). In a sane world, everyone would recognize Colorado’s move as a foolish scheme. It would be tossed out and that would be that. 

Here, in the reality-based community, that’s exactly what happened. But it was a different story for the #Resistance die-hards. 

Columnists and cable news analysts with a few legal textbooks collecting dust on their shelves rushed to argue that all nine justices had it wrong. 

In The New York Times, friend of The Free Press David French accused the court of “erasing part of the constitution.” (Sorry David, we’re with the justices on this one.) 

George Conway (ex-husband to Kellyanne) said that he couldn’t “make heads or tails” out of the court’s reasoning—which says more about Conway than it does about the court. 

And then there’s Keith Olbermann, patient zero of Trump Derangement Syndrome and someone who, honestly, it feels a little cruel to mention at this stage, talking about dissolving the court and. . . golden showers (?) on X.

→ France, like most Americans, is moderate on abortion: France made history this week by becoming the first country to explicitly enshrine abortion rights in its constitution. A special session of lawmakers backed the amendment, which makes abortion a “guaranteed freedom” in French law. As most of the coverage has noted, the effort was galvanized by events this side of the Atlantic—in particular the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs

Millions of pro-choice Americans will likely read the headlines about France’s new law with envy. But it’s worth remembering that, with some exceptions, abortion is legal in France only in the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy. As The Washington Post notes, “that’s more restrictive than in nearly half of U.S. states, where abortion is protected well past fourteen weeks. This amendment won’t in itself loosen any laws.” For further context, Donald Trump is privately mulling a sixteen-week national abortion ban.

So the lesson from France is more complicated than it first seems. The French have a national consensus in favor of a right to abortion in the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy. Pro-choice campaigners who want to try to enshrine a national abortion rights law in the United States should take note and reckon with Americans’ nuanced views on abortion that aren’t properly captured by titles like “pro-life” and “pro-choice.”

Meanwhile, for more on how attitudes on this issue are shaping the right, read Olivia Reingold’s latest: “How Abortion Became ‘the Defund the Police of the GOP.’ ” 

→ Hot take: a nuclear Iran would be bad: You might have thought that, given all of Iran’s troublemaking in the Middle East of late, now would be the time to take a stand against its march toward nuclear-power status. Apparently not. 

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency is meeting for its quarterly confab in Vienna this week, and Reuters reports that Western powers were considering proposing a resolution condemning Iran for its failure to cooperate with the organization but decided against it. The reason for backing down? Because the Biden administration wasn’t on board. According to Reuters, Britain, France, and Germany were pushing for the move but “Washington has opposed seeking a resolution against Iran for months, at least in part because of the impending U.S. presidential election in November, diplomats have said, and again it was the most reluctant of the four powers.”

I don’t know, a nuclear Iran seems bad, guys, and not something we should choose to ignore because there’s an election coming. Does that make me a warmongering neocon? 

→ TikTok KO: Remember banning TikTok? Whatever happened to that? It came up a while back, most lawmakers seemed to think it was bad for an app with ties to the Chinese Communist Party to be a whole generation’s main source of news and entertainment, and then. . . we forgot to actually ban it. (Read: the lobbyists got to work.) Well, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have decided to cross it off their to-do list. The legislation, which was introduced in the House yesterday, would force ByteDance, the Chinese tech company that owns TikTok, to sell the platform in the next six months or face a ban. Announcing the bill, the lawmakers called TikTok “an unacceptable risk to U.S. national security.” 

The White House came out in support of the legislation. “We appreciate the work of Representatives Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi and we look forward to working with Congress to further strengthening this legislation to put it on the strongest possible legal footing,” said a National Security Council spokesperson

Mike Gallagher is the congressman leading the effort. Read his Free Press essay: “Why Do Young Americans Support Hamas? Look at TikTok.” 

And finally. . .  

We couldn’t go without mentioning America’s big brother, Jason Kelce. 

In January my colleagues Evan Gardner and Suzy Weiss debated who was the better Kelce brother: Travis, who plays for the Kansas City Chiefs and is (for now) Mr. Taylor Swift, or his older brother, the all-pro Philadelphia Eagles center Jason. That debate is surely settled after Jason announced his retirement, after a brilliant thirteen-year career, in a forty-minute press conference in which he thanked everyone from his coaches to his high school band teacher to “Thirsty Thursdays” at a local bar—and riffed on the meaning of life and the importance of being a good dad. Watch his speech and try not to cry. 

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor at The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman

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