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 you find time this week to read this wacky, wonderful essay — and then scour Spotify for a song written about your hometown. (I’m sure it’s there.)

3 things to know

  • Closing arguments begin today in Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial. The jury got a full week’s break after the defense rested its case last Tuesday. For a full primer on what has happened thus far and what comes next, look here.
  • You’ve probably seen Jon McNaughton’s art. The Utah-based artist gained celebrity status on the MAGA right during the Trump administration, when his paintings — depicting Trump as a superhuman figure or Obama as the devil — were cult classics. But now that Trump is on trial, McNaughton has a dilemma: what does Trump’s court artist do when Trump is stuck in a courtroom? Read more here.
  • Jeff Flake, ambassador to Turkey, is promoting democracy in a tenuous geographical place: between wars in Ukraine and Gaza. “You’ve got to have allies,” he told Deseret News in an exclusive interview. “You’ve got to have friends. I know that doesn’t play well in domestic politics, but it should.” Read the full interview here.

The Big Idea

Yes, Biden has a Hispanic problem

I’ve written before about President Joe Biden’s issues with Latino voters. Poll after poll show Trump gaining ground among Hispanics. And it’s not just Biden — the Democratic Party as a whole seems to be hemorrhaging support from Hispanics, who once formed a reliably blue voting bloc.

Polling is never perfect, though. The New York Times/Siena College poll in March that showed Trump up six percentage points among Hispanics was slammed by critics for oversampling English-speaking Hispanics (only 3% of interviews with Hispanics were done in Spanish). The NYT/Siena poll course-corrected in May and conducted 19% of interviews with Hispanics in Spanish. The result? A 31%-31% tie between Trump and Biden among Hispanic voters.

That doesn’t mean Biden is out of the woods. In fact, I’m even more convinced that there is a real sea change among Hispanic voters after seeing a fascinating poll from the U.S. Hispanic Business Council (USHBC). The council routinely sends out a survey to its tens of thousands of members across the country. This month, they focused on the presidential election, offering a glimpse into a niche — and severely under-sampled — group of voters: Hispanic small-business owners and workers.

Of the over 1,000 Hispanic respondents, the vast majority — over 70% — said they do not believe Biden’s policies have positively impacted them or their businesses. Over one-third of them — 34% — said Trump was better than Biden for their business’ bottom line; only 21% said Biden was better. And when asked who they plan to support in the presidential election, Trump had a 10-point lead, 43% to 33%.

I caught up with Javier Palomarez, the USHBC’s president and CEO, at a trade summit in Salt Lake City last week. Palomarez encouraged me — and you — to consider three things while parsing through the data.

First, Hispanics are not a monolith. “One of the big shocks for me in 2016 was that then-candidate Trump garnered about 29% of the Hispanic vote,” Palomarez said. “And then he turned around in 2020 and garnered about 39% of the Hispanic vote.” How did he do it? “He had a ground game — he had people on the ground in local communities, making the connections between his campaign and their needs,” he said. “I don’t see the same effort on the behalf of the current administration.”

Second, immigration is not the top issue for Hispanics. When asked to rank a number of issues from most to least important during this presidential election, Hispanics ranked the economy as the top issue. Only 13% of Hispanics said immigration was No. 1. “The fact of the matter is, most Hispanics in this country were born here,” Palomarez said. “Hispanic worry about the same kitchen-table issues that all Americans worry about: we worry about getting our kids to school, we worry about paying the bills, we worry about interest rates and mortgage loans.” Palomarez’s advice for the campaigns was simple: “Don’t make everything about immigration.”

Third, Hispanic voters could decide the election. “The current administration is spending a very large amount of time talking to African Americans,” Palomarez said. “That is right and good, and they should continue. But consider this: there are more Hispanics in this country than there are African-Americans and Asians combined.” There are significant Hispanic populations in swing states like Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, and the winning candidate will have to speak to those voters. “The Hispanic vote will be the deciding factor,” he said.

What I’m reading

Will Biden make the ballot? That’s a legitimate concern in Ohio, where state law requires that major parties select their nominee 90 days before the election. The problem? The Democratic convention falls two weeks after Ohio’s deadline. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, called on legislators to meet in Columbus today to resolve the issue. Gov. Mike DeWine calls special legislative session to address Biden ballot issue (Andrew Tobias, The Plain Dealer)

Trump now says he’ll announce a VP at some point during the Republican convention in July. The whole process has a game-show-like quality to it, and Trump is quite coy about who he’s really considering. But it appears Sen. Tom Cotton has emerged as a front-runner, alongside Doug Burgum, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott and J.D. Vance. Trump’s V.P. Pageant Has an Unexpectedly Strong Contender: Tom Cotton (Michael Bender, The New York Times)

Are Democrats too soft on crime? The view is becoming more popular among top White House officials, especially as Biden’s polling numbers show discontentment on both crime and the southern border. That view gained added credence last week when a progressive prosecutor in Portland lost reelection to a tough-on-crime challenger. The White House to the left: We told you so on crime (Adam Cancryn, Adam Wren and Jonathan Lemire, Politico)

Tuesday trivia

Last Tuesday’s question: This fall, Republicans attempt to retake the Senate, while Democrats try to gain a majority in the House. When was the last time both the House and the Senate simultaneously changed hands in a presidential election year?

Congrats to reader Kyle Belanger, who nailed it: 1952. Going into that fall, Democrats maintained a narrow two-seat majority in the Senate, but the U.S.’ involvement in unrest around the world — particularly the Korean War — and the nascent Cold War led to widespread discontent with President Harry S. Truman’s Democratic White House. Truman didn’t run for reelection; instead, there was a true red wave: Eisenhower beat Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson II for the White House, and Republicans took control of both the House and the Senate.

This week’s question, in honor of Memorial Day:

Of the 32 U.S. presidents who served in the military, 31 of them were commissioned officers. Which former president was not?

Think you know the answer? Drop me a line: onthetrail@deseretnews.com.

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.