Scoop: Biden-district House Republicans warm to Trump
Why it matters: Trump is reasserting his dominance over the GOP as he zeroes in on the nomination — even with Republicans who are gambling their political fortunes by embracing his brand.
Driving the news: Rep. Nick LaLota (R-N.Y.) on Saturday became the first of the 17 Biden-district House Republicans to throw his support behind Trump.
- "President Trump's policies made our nation stronger and had us on track to prosperity," the Long Islander said in a statement. "I endorse President Trump to be our 47th president and look forward to him cleaning up the mess President Biden created."
- LaLota represents one of the reddest Biden districts — and it could be made even more Republican in redistricting.
What we're hearing: LaLota likely won't be alone for long.
- "I expect to ultimately endorse Donald Trump for president," Rep. John Duarte (R-Calif.), whose district voted for Biden by nearly 11 percentage points in 2020, told Axios.
- Duarte said the GOP primary is "consolidating fast" and that he "will strongly support the Republican candidate," adding, "We need to save America from Joe Biden's frailties, corruption and failures."
- Another Biden-district Republican who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Axios they plan to endorse Trump, though their timeline is uncertain.
State of play: Trump is facing off with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary, with polls suggesting the former president is on track to win decisively.
- The RealClearPolitics polling average has Haley trailing Trump by 18.2 percentage points in New Hampshire — and facing even larger deficits in South Carolina and nationwide.
- Trump's landslide win in the Iowa caucuses and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' exit from the race have prompted a sudden burst of new endorsements for Trump, most recently from Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.).
Zoom in: One key Trump endorser is House Republicans' campaign chief.
- "Iowa sent a strong signal that Republican voters want the party to unify behind Donald Trump," National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) said in a post on X on Sunday.
- "He is the presumptive nominee. It is time to come together, kick Joe Biden out of office, and get our country back on track," Hudson added.
Between the lines: GOP strategist Mike Madrid, in an interview with Axios, predicted the "vast majority" of Biden-district and swing-district Republicans will end up supporting Trump.
- "The calculation is: Can you risk alienating ... your base by not supporting him and then taking your chances with the moderates?" he said, noting college-educated swing voters in places like New York and California are an increasingly tough sell for even down-ballot Republicans.
- The GOP base is "moving from college-educated to non-college-educated voters," Madrid said — making Republicans more reliant on the low-propensity voters Trump turns out in presidential elections.
The other side: "It's no surprise the so-called moderate Republicans are 'bending the knee' to Trump and lining up to endorse him," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesperson Courtney Rice told Axios.
- "The DCCC is committed to making sure their decision to put fealty to the MAGA agenda over their constituents will cost them their seats in November."