An earlier version of this article was published in the On the Trail 2024 newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox on Tuesday and Friday mornings here. To submit a question to next week’s Friday Mailbag, email onthetrail@deseretnews.com.

Good morning, friends. I hope all enjoyed a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. Here’s a beautiful column from my colleague, Holly Richardson, who writes about being the mother to 25 children.

3 things to know

  1. Michael Cohen testified in Donald Trump’s hush money trial on Monday. He said everything he did, including allegedly giving adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep her affair with the former president a secret, was “at the direction of and benefit of Mr. Trump.” Meanwhile, Trump ally Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, said the trial made him want to “fall asleep” as he sat in the courtroom. Read more here.
  2. Barron Trump’s foray into politics will have to wait. Trump’s 18-year-old son had been included on a list of the Florida GOP’s delegates for the Republican National Convention this summer. It was a surprising revelation, since the teenager has largely avoided the spotlight, even during Trump’s time in the White House. But Barron won’t actually be participating in the convention, the Daily Mail reported, due to “prior commitments.” Read more here.
  3. Will we have an Election Night concession? Trump is threatening to “fight for the rights of the country” if the election results are not “honest.” In a CNN interview last week, President Joe Biden blasted Trump for this, claiming Trump would not accept the results of the election. “You can’t only love your country when you win,” Biden said. Read more here.

The Big Idea

Barreling toward the apocalypse

We’re in an odd chapter of the 2024 election cycle. It feels as if we’re moving through a groggy haze, where the two major candidates are fundraising at major levels but barely campaigning. Vast majorities of voters already have their minds made up as to who they’ll support. We’re not even to summer, and in some ways, it feels like the election is already over.

That’s the big takeaway I’ve had when talking to voters. The Biden-Trump rematch has seemingly sucked the life out of what would normally be an energized, high-stakes late-primary season. It’s paradoxical, because the stakes are incredibly high: The world is in chaos. The economy is stabilizing, but inflation is still painful for many middle- and working-class voters. And the options for president are one candidate who seeks reelection as the oldest sitting president ever, and the other is the first former president to ever face a criminal trial.

A just-released New York Times/Siena College poll adds a dose of opium to this already deflated election. The poll tracked voters in six swing states across the country, including Arizona and Georgia. Forty percent of respondents say they’d vote for Trump if the election were tomorrow; 33% say Biden; 10% said Kennedy. That’s the topline that stole headlines. But I was much more intrigued by this finding: a vast majority of Americans have already made up their minds, and the election is still nearly six months away.

Consider this data point: when asked if they “definitely or probably” will vote for the candidate they chose, 78% of Trump supporters and 81% of Biden supporters said “definitely.” That means 4 in 5 of Trump’s and Biden’s backers say, as of now, that they won’t be swayed by any further developments. Not if Trump goes to jail, or if Ukraine is conquered, or if the avian flu runs rampant. Maybe that’s not true — but it’s an interesting thought experiment: What would it take to sway Trump’s or Biden’s most fervent supporters?

A trip to jail: If Trump is convicted and sent to prison — in the Manhattan hush money trial, or because of one of his other cases — could it rock his voters? A new ABC/Ipsos polls says yes. A fifth of Trump’s supporters said they would either “reconsider” their support (16%) or “withdraw” it (4%) if he’s convicted of a felony.

Death: Both Trump (77 years old) and Biden (81) are old. Heaven forbid either succumb to a premature passing. But if they do, where do the voters go? Is Vice President Kamala Harris promoted to the top of the ticket? Who would Republicans select as their nominee?

A trivia question: Only one presidential candidate in U.S. history both 1.) ran for president from jail, and 2.) was assassinated while running. Who was it? Drop me a line: onthetrail@deseretnews.com

More war: Since Biden took office, two major wars have erupted across the globe: first, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and now Israel’s retaliatory attack on Hamas. Biden’s critics blame him for showing weakness on the world stage; Trump’s critics call him an unstable actor. If war spreads — say, Iran launches a full-scale attack on Israel, or Russia conquers Ukraine and continues its march through Western Europe — is Biden questioned over his foreign policy, or will voters doubt Trump could make the situation any better?

Economic recession: The U.S. economy has shown resilience against what was once an imminent threat of post-pandemic recession for several years now. Some economists are beginning to renew those warnings. Poll after poll show that voters trust Trump more to handle the economy. If the economy slides, does Biden shoulder the blame? Or are voters reminded that Trump left a pandemic-wrecked economy in worse shape than what we have now?

At this point, these are all unanswerable questions, and I hope they remain unanswered. But six months remain until Election Day. A lot can still happen.

What I’m reading

The Democratic National Convention is in Chicago this summer. But ongoing tensions between the city’s mayor and the Illinois governor — along with concerns over pro-Palestinian protests and whether they’ll disrupt the proceedings — are casting a shadow over planning. “If there is one peep in that hall, the networks will be all over it,” one convention planner said. The DNC Is Preparing for the Worst in Chicago — Without the Help of the City’s Mayor (Jonathan Martin, Politico)

Both Trump and RFK Jr. will appear at the Libertarian Party convention this month, a move that tickled some Libertarians and enraged others. This is an interesting look at the divisions within the party, including those who praise Trump and others who see him and Biden akin to “stomach cancer and pancreatic cancer: You definitely don’t want either one, but one might kill you a little slower.” Will the Trumpification of the Libertarian Party Actually Hurt Donald Trump? (Jonathan McCormack, The Dispatch)

Republicans don’t want to talk about abortion, as I’ve reported before. Democrats, however, want to make it a central issue this fall. A new $25 million ad blitz is focused on testimonials by people affected by the Dobbs decision and state-level abortion bans. Democratic group starts attacking Trump with abortion rights testimonials (Michael Scherer, The Washington Post)

See you on the trail.

Editor’s Note: The Deseret News is committed to covering issues of substance in the 2024 presidential race from its unique perspective and editorial values. Our team of political reporters will bring you in-depth coverage of the most relevant news and information to help you make an informed decision. Find our complete coverage of the election here.