Clinton 319
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Ties 34
Trump 185
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Dem 49
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GOP 51
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  • Strongly Dem (223)
  • Likely Dem (50)
  • Barely Dem (46)
  • Exactly tied (34)
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  • Likely GOP (65)
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270 Electoral votes needed to win Map algorithm explained
New polls: AZ NV VA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA

Two More National Polls Shows Clinton with a Wide Lead

Every single national poll taken since the end of the Democratic National Convention has shown Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by margins of 4 to 14%. Now a WaPo/ABC News poll released yesterday confirms all the other polls, with Clinton at 45%, Trump at 37%, Gary Johnson at 8%, and Jill Stein at 4%. Before the convention, Clinton's lead in this poll was 4 points, so it has doubled since then. While the two candidates are seen as equally dishonest and untrustworthy, on the question of who has a personality and temperament to serve as president, Clinton scores 59% and Trump scores 33%. On the question of who has a good understanding of world affairs, Clinton wins 71% to 35%. The bottom line here is that many people don't like or trust Clinton, but they think she's knowledgeable and qualified for the job. Trump is just as disliked but is thought to be unqualified and of the wrong temperament for the job.

A Morning Consult poll released yesterday puts it at Clinton 41%, Trump 33%, Johnson 9%, and Stein 5%. So in both polls, Clinton leads Trump by 8 points. (V)

Will the Presidential Candidates Have Coattails?

Current national and state polling clearly shows that Hillary Clinton is ahead of Donald Trump for the moment. Next week, who knows? But for now Clinton is leading. Democrats are hoping for a big wave election that sweeps in many Senate and House candidates as well. Republican strategists believe that an incumbent Republican can survive a Clinton victory in the state if it can be held to 5 points. Anything bigger than that could mean curtains for Republican incumbents. The main reason for this fear is that ticket splitting is becoming rare. In our hyperpolarized world, people tend to vote a straight ticket, so a vote for Clinton in New Hampshire probably also means a vote for Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) who is running for the Senate and a 10-point spread for Clinton in Pennsylvania would probably be the end of the road for Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). Historically, waves break late so we may not have a good feeling how long the presidential candidate's coattails are until October.

One of us (Z) has written a brief feature story on presidential coattails since 1864. It, and all the other feature stories, are available using the "Feature stories" link to the left of the map above. (V)

Kasich: Very Difficult for Trump to Win Ohio

Yesterday, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) said it will be "really difficult" for Trump to win the Buckeye State due to his divisiveness. Kasich expects him to do well in parts of the state where people are really hurting, but on the whole, Kasich expects him to lose. Not only is Ohio a key swing state, but it is also a bellwether state. No Republican has ever been elected president while losing Ohio (and, for that matter, only two Democrats—FDR in 1944 and JFK in 1960—have pulled it off since 1900). (V)

How Badly is Trump Doing With Black Voters?

It's been about 50 years since black voters were a Republican constituency, and since the 1980s, Republican presidential candidates have had to consider themselves very lucky to get even 10% of the black vote. Ronald Reagan, both Bushes, and Bob Dole cleared that figure once each (14, 11, 11, and 12% respectively). More recently, it's been even more grim, with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) collecting only 4% of black voters, and Mitt Romney doing only nominally better at 6%.

Even by the less-than-lofty standards of McCain and Romney, however, Donald Trump is doing very badly with this demographic. Numerous polls, including one this week, reveal that he has the backing of a mere 1% of black voters. How bad is that? Well, even Louisiana U.S. Senate candidate David Duke is doing better. That would be the same David Duke who was once Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Given this, one wonders what Trump would have to do to cost himself that last 1%. In any event, getting trounced among black voters probably won't hurt Trump much in some states, but it could be very painful in Georgia (31.4% black), North Carolina (21.6%), Virginia (19.9%), Florida (15.9%), and Illinois (14.8%). (Z)

NeverTrump Forces Aren't Giving Up

One would think that the time to replace Donald Trump as the GOP's candidate would have been before, or maybe during, the convention. And one would be wrong, if the NeverTrump movement is to be believed. With less than 100 days to go before the election, they are still trying to get him removed from the ticket through any means possible.

The first phase of the plan involves contacting the three RNC delegates from each state/territory and getting them to sign a petition calling for an emergency session, to be chaired by Reince Priebus. If delegates from 16 different states or territories sign the petition, then the session can be convened. At that point, the NeverTrump folks would ask for a rather...creative interpretation of this passage in the RNC rules:

The Republican National Committee is hereby authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for President of the United States.

Their argument is that Trump, through his actions and statements, has "disqualified" himself, and that the "otherwise" part of the rule should kick in, empowering the RNC to choose a replacement.

Needless to say, this is a longshot, on the order of "Secretary of State Ted Kaczynski" or "Secretary of the Treasury Bernie Madoff." There is little chance that 16 RNC members are going to sign off on this, and even if they did it is inconceivable that the Party could seriously contemplate interpreting the rules in this way. If they tried, Trump would sue them nine ways to Sunday, he would still be the candidate, and the Party would end up with even more egg on its face. Reince & Co. are resigned, at this point, to taking their medicine and (likely) looking ahead to 2020. The NeverTrump forces would be wise to do the same, or else commit to sitting this one out. (Z)

Where Are the Republican Women?

Republicans have faced a gender gap for decades among voters, but now they also have an increasingly serious one among office holders. Of the 435 members of the House, 84 are Democratic women, and 22 are Republican women and several of the latter are retiring. Of the 100 senators, 14 are Democratic women and six are Republican women. The partisan gap is actually wider than it was a decade ago.

For the women in office, rising up the ladder is difficult. While the Democratic caucus in the House is led by a woman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the highest ranking Republican woman is Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the #4 position (Republican Conference Chair), who has twice been rebuffed as she tried to move up.

The gap among elected officials can hurt the Republicans in many ways. For one, male candidates and office holders sometimes say things that alienate women voters without even realizing what they are saying. No women would talk about "legitimate rape," as former congressman Todd Akin did. The people who write the Republican platform are nearly all men. Consequently, issues of importance to women don't get a hearing and don't get included. Finally, when issues are discussed on television, producers have no trouble finding a female Democrat to show up, but have much more trouble finding a female Republican because there are so few of them. To viewers, this can give the impression that Democrats value women and Republicans don't, which surely contributes to the gender gap in voting. Of course, the Republicans could address the problem by actively recruiting, training, and financing women as candidates for federal and state office, but they don't do it. (V)

Could an Election Actually Be Rigged?

Even before the first vote has been counted, Donald Trump announced that the election has been rigged. How easy would that be to do and how would it be done? A WaPo piece examines how one might try to pull it off. One scheme is old-fashioned vote buying. In a 1996 primary election for sheriff in rural Dodge County, GA, rival candidates set up vote-buying tables at opposite ends of the county courthouse. The going rate was $20 to $60 per vote. This vote fair attracted federal scrutiny; 21 people were indicted and a new election called. Obviously, this kind of operation would never work in a congressional election, let alone a presidential election, because too many people would know that someone offered to buy their vote. And this kind of scheme works only with absentee ballots, where the seller turns over a blank ballot to the buyer in return for cash. It doesn't involve in-person impersonation, where the buyer of the vote can't verify that he got his money's worth.

Another possible approach is hacking the voting machines in the 14 states where there is no paper trail. If the machines are never connected to the Internet, they would have to be either manufactured with biased software or else someone with physical access to the machines would have to replace the software in each one manually. This would be very difficult to pull off in one state, much less multiple states.

How about someone voting 10 times in a state? Since voters have to sign in to vote in most states, the voter committing the fraud would have to do this in 10 separate precincts, knowing the name and address of a voter in each precinct, and getting there before that voter. If the impersonated voter showed up later and tried to vote, the extra vote would be detected and an investigation started. Each fraudulent vote carries a federal penalty of a $10,000 fine and five years in prison, plus possible state penalties. Think how difficult it would be to get even 100 people to cast 10 fraudulent votes and take this risk, and even then, we're talking about only 1,000 votes. That is why since 2000, there have been only 31 credible incidents of impersonation out of 1 billion votes cast.

In short, as the Post article concludes, rigging a presidential election is "almost impossible" these days. Note also that the presence or absence of voter ID laws would do nothing to stop the first two types of attacks. In reality, voter ID laws make fraud more common, rather than less, because these laws never cover absentee ballots, only in-person voting. Someone without a voter-ID card can simply ask for an absentee ballot, which can then be sold. (V)

Clinton's Lies, Trump's Damned Lies

The British politician Benjamin Disraeli once said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." In other words, there are varying degrees and types of dishonesty. Anyone who has been watching this year's election knows that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have an honesty problem. But are they dishonest to the same degree? The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof has taken a look, and concluded that they most certainly are not. He puts it thusly: "[T]he idea that they are even in the same league is preposterous. If deception were a sport, Trump would be the Olympic gold medalist; Clinton would be an honorable mention at her local Y."

Kristof starts his case with some raw data, looking at the numbers from several fact-checking sites. The Washington Post Fact-Checker finds that Trump tells flat-out lies 4.5 times as often as Clinton; Politifact says it's nine times as often. Kristof also observes that with Clinton, the same handful of lies (email server, gunfire in Bosnia, TPP) are brought up over and over. With Trump, by contrast, there are bushels of brand-new lies every day. In fact, Politico estimated that Trump was guilty of a misstatement once every 5 minutes, while HuffPo once caught 71 distortions and inaccuracies in a single hour.

With both parties, their approach to the truth reflects a clear strategic and philosophical choice: Clinton embraces your garden variety politician's blend of mostly truth mixed with a bit of fiction when the truth is uncomfortable, while for Trump lying and exaggeration are core tenets. Kristof recounts an anecdote from one of Trump's lawyers, in which he noticed that every newspaper story about Trump's penthouse apartment listed a different number of rooms. When he asked The Donald how many rooms were actually in the apartment, the reply was: "However many they will print." (Z)

Could a Third Party Affect the Election?

With such unpopular major-party candidates this year and so much mud flying, many people are taking a closer look at minor parties. Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. does not have a two-party system. It has many parties. It's just that most of them don't get a lot of votes. Five parties are on the ballot in more than half the states, namely, the Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green, and Constitution Parties. In addition, 33 other parties are on the ballot in some states or are actively trying to become so. And this does not include the 91 historical parties that have given up the ghost, like the Greenback party, the Opposition Party, and the Vegetarian Party.

Many people are probably wondering whether the major minor parties might influence the election this year. Let's start with the Constitution Party, whose presidential candidate is Darrell Castle, a personal injury and bankruptcy lawyer. This party believes the United States is a Christian state founded on the basis of the Bible. Although it got 0.10% of the vote in 2012, it is in direct competition with the much larger Libertarian Party for people who are to the right of the Republicans, so it is unlikely to be a factor.

The Green Party is actually a serious party. Over 100 Greens have been elected to public office, ranging from sanitation districts to mayors. Jill Stein is the presidential candidate again in 2016. In 2012 she got 0.36% of the vote. Many supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are considering voting for her, although more than 85% have already conceded defeat and say they will (grudgingly) vote for Hillary Clinton in order to stop Donald Trump. In 2008, after Hillary Clinton lost the primary to Barack Obama, there was a similar burst of disillusionment, with Clinton supporters (the PUMA—Party Unity My Ass) voters saying they would never vote for Obama. In the end, nearly all of them did. As we get closer to November and the specter of Trump appointing a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia becomes more realistic, it is likely that most Green supporters in swing states will end up—clothespin on nose—voting for Clinton. Stein may get a lot of votes, but only in states like New York and California, where it doesn't matter, so Stein is not going to affect the election.

Finally, we come to Libertarian Party and its presidential candidate Gary Johnson. The LP is likely to be on the ballot in every state and its presidential and vice presidential candidates are both serious politicians, each having been twice elected as Republican governor of a state (Johnson in New Mexico, Veep William Weld in Massachusetts). For moderate Republicans who can't stomach Trump, this is a serious alternative, not a symbolic protest vote.

Johnson (and to a lesser extent, Stein) are noteworthy enough that some pollsters are including them in the polls. We have 41 polls in which Johnson is scoring above 5%. Here they are.

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
California 46% 30% 7% Jul 10 Jul 19 Public Policy Inst. of Calif.
Colorado 37% 28% 13% Jul 09 Jul 12 Fox News
Colorado 39% 33% 13% Jul 05 Jul 11 Marist Coll.
Connecticut 41% 36% 6% Jun 01 Jun 05 Quinnipiac U.
Florida 41% 36% 7% Jul 05 Jul 11 Marist Coll.
Florida 36% 41% 7% Jun 30 Jul 11 Quinnipiac U.
Florida 42% 36% 7% Jun 08 Jun 19 Quinnipiac U.
Georgia 41% 38% 11% Aug 01 Aug 04 Atlanta Journal/Abt SRBI
Georgia 40% 49% 6% May 27 May 30 PPP
Iowa 42% 44% 6% Jul 08 Jul 11 Monmouth U.
Iowa 37% 37% 7% Jul 05 Jul 10 Marist Coll.
Iowa 44% 31% 6% Jun 24 Jun 28 Loras Coll.
Kansas 36% 47% 8% Jul 08 Jul 11 SurveyUSA
Michigan 43% 32% 8% Jul 30 Aug 04 EPIC MRA
Michigan 41% 32% 8% Jul 30 Aug 01 DetroitNews/Glengariff
Missouri 41% 40% 9% Jul 23 Jul 24 Mason Dixon
Missouri 37% 47% 8% Jul 20 Jul 24 SurveyUSA
Missouri 36% 46% 7% Jul 11 Jul 11 PPP
New Hampshire 47% 32% 8% Jul 29 Aug 01 MassINC
New Jersey 44% 32% 9% Jun 22 Jun 26 Fairleigh Dickinson U.
New York 45% 33% 6% Jul 13 Jul 17 Quinnipiac U.
North Carolina 42% 46% 6% Jul 31 Aug 02 Civitas/SurveyUSA
North Carolina 42% 36% 7% Jul 05 Jul 11 Marist Coll.
Ohio 39% 42% 6% Jul 22 Jul 24 PPP
Ohio 38% 35% 9% Jul 05 Jul 10 Marist Coll.
Ohio 36% 37% 7% Jun 30 Jul 11 Quinnipiac U.
Ohio 41% 38% 9% Jun 22 Jun 28 RABA Research
Ohio 38% 36% 8% Jun 08 Jun 19 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania 49% 38% 6% Jul 29 Aug 01 Franklin+Marshall Coll.
Pennsylvania 43% 35% 8% Jul 05 Jul 10 Marist Coll.
Pennsylvania 34% 40% 9% Jun 30 Jul 11 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania 39% 36% 9% Jun 08 Jun 19 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania 41% 40% 6% Jun 03 Jun 05 PPP
Utah 27% 36% 10% Jun 08 Jun 17 Dan Jones
Utah 35% 35% 13% Jun 02 Jun 08 U. of Utah
Virginia 49% 37% 7% Aug 02 Aug 05 YouGov
Virginia 42% 46% 7% Jul 26 Jul 27 RABA Research
Virginia 39% 34% 10% Jul 09 Jul 12 Fox News
Virginia 41% 34% 10% Jul 05 Jul 11 Marist Coll.
Virginia 42% 39% 6% Jun 13 Jun 15 PPP
Wisconsin 43% 37% 8% Jul 07 Jul 10 Marquette Law School

To judge whether Johnson will have any effect on the election, remember it is all about electoral votes, not popular votes. The last third-party candidate to actually win a state and thus electoral votes was George "Send 'em a message" Wallace, who won five Southern states and 46 electoral votes in 1968 on a platform of "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever." Johnson is very unlikely to win a state, but he might siphon off enough votes from Trump to flip a red state into the blue column or make sure a purple state goes blue.

Johnson's best states are Colorado and Utah, where he has hit 13%. Colorado has always had many genuine libertarians (not just disaffected Republicans), and he is likely to do well enough there to guarantee that Clinton carries the state. In fact, she is so sure of that that she has stopped advertising in Colorado. Utah is another state where Johnson could matter. Many Mormons in Utah detest Trump for so many reasons that Johnson could do well enough there to at least make the state competitive. Besides, Johnson is well known in Utah because he was governor of a neighboring state. Two other states where Johnson is polling well and could hurt Trump are Virginia and Georgia. Virginia is going to be a huge problem for Trump, even absent Johnson, just due to the slow but inexorable demographic changes, especially in Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William counties in the north. And then there is the matter of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) on the Democratic ticket. Johnson could seal the deal for Clinton in Virginia. Georgia is normally a very red state, but even here Johnson could have the effect of making it competitive. So, in conclusion, Castle and Stein are not going to have any effect on the election, but Johnson could be a spoiler in a couple of states. (V)

Trump Will Not Be Able to Pay Off National Debt

Currently, the U.S. national debt stands at $19.4 trillion, give or take a few billion dollars. Back in April, Donald Trump said that he would be sure to pay off the entire amount by the end of his eight years in office. Now, Trump adviser David Malpass admits that paying off the debt will not be possible in that time frame.

Needless to say, we really did not need Malpass to tell us that this was the case. The U.S. government collects something like $3.3 trillion in tax revenue a year, so payoff would require close to 90% of revenue to be diverted to debt payments for eight straight years. Pretty hard to run the U.S. government, the military, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. on just 10% of revenue. Any trickery that might be used to get around this—say, printing lots of currency—would be catastrophic, and would trigger a massive recession and probably a worldwide crash that would make the Brexit look like a day at the beach. Meanwhile, it's not even clear that paying off the debt is necessarily a positive thing; quite a few economists argue that its existence keeps the U.S. economy strong. Anyhow, by having surrogates walk back some of his early promises, one can't help wondering if Trump is trying to forestall some of the hard questions that he sees coming during campaign season (particularly the debates, if he does indeed participate). Certainly, it's a different tack than we saw in the early days of The Donald's campaign. (Z)

George Bush Endorses Trump

No, not that one. Or that one, either. This is George P. Bush, Texas land commissioner and son of Jeb. Though his father categorically refuses to support The Donald, George P. says it is time for the GOP to unify behind its candidate.

This story is mostly interesting because it raises the question of what's going on with the rest of the Bush family. Nobody cares too much about George P., but George W. and George H.W. could still have an impact. There are, it would seem, three basic possibilities. The first is that George P.'s declaration is an entry-point that allows his family to slowly ease into line behind Trump. This seems unlikely, but it's possible. The second is that the Bushes stay close-lipped through the election, abstaining from taking a position. This is certainly what appears to be the plan. The third possibility, which would certainly create a stir, is that the Bushes decide to make an "October surprise" out of their decision to endorse Hillary Clinton. One could imagine a commercial in which each of the five living presidents tells viewers to "Vote for Hillary"—that would certainly be powerful stuff. It would also be unprecedented—there haven't been too many times in U.S. history where five presidents have simultaneously been alive, much less lined up behind the same candidate. Alas, for those who like dramatics, this possibility also seems very remote. It's not the style of the Bush clan to turn their backs on the GOP, a relationship that goes back seven generations and dates almost to the founding of the Party. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

Once again we see that Arizona is apparently in play. If the polls keep showing this, the Democrats are going to spend real money here, both for Clinton and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), who has a shot at retiring Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The key to Arizona is how big the Latino turnout is. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Arizona 42% 44% 5% Aug 02 Aug 05 YouGov
Nevada 43% 41% 4% Aug 02 Aug 05 YouGov
Virginia 49% 37% 7% Aug 02 Aug 05 YouGov

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug07 Trump Goes on the Offensive
Aug07 Is Trump-Pence Working Out?
Aug07 Wikileaks Won't Go After Trump's Tax Returns
Aug07 What's Behind Convention Bounces?
Aug07 Green Party Officially Nominates Jill Stein
Aug07 Third Parties Are Racing against the Clock
Aug07 Another Republican Bails on Trump
Aug07 Clinton Is Buying Olympics Ads
Aug07 The Political Process Is Worse Than Rigged
Aug07 Mosquitoes Bite Rubio
Aug06 The Economy Is Barreling Along
Aug06 Trump Names His Economic Team
Aug06 Donald Trump: Full of Surprises
Aug06 Clinton Working to Counter Trump's Rust Belt Strategy
Aug06 Former CIA Head Endorses Clinton
Aug06 Hillary Gets Overconfident, Gets Burned
Aug06 Clinton Still Having Trouble with Millennials
Aug06 Republican Insiders to Trump: Drop Out
Aug06 Another Take on What Happens If Trump Drops Out
Aug06 Trump Closer to Clinton in New Poll
Aug05 Clinton Has a Large National Lead
Aug05 Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball: Clinton Landslide
Aug05 Ryan and Others Are Walking a Fine Line
Aug05 Trump May Start to Drag Senate Candidates Down
Aug05 Melania Trump May Have Been an Undocumented Worker
Aug05 Clinton Is Targeting Influential Republicans
Aug05 Clinton Has To Figure out How To Use Her Billionaires
Aug05 What if Trump Dumps Trump? (Part II)
Aug05 Why Mormons Don't Like Trump
Aug04 Republicans Are Holding the Senate
Aug04 Trump May Be Preparing To Challenge the Election Results
Aug04 Trump Says His Campaign is Unified
Aug04 What If Trump Dumps Trump?
Aug04 Trump Revises July Haul Upward
Aug04 How To Play Trump in Clinton's Debate Prep
Aug04 Team Clinton To Spend Almost $100 Million on Ads
Aug04 Meg Whitman Supports Clinton
Aug04 Texas Won't Ask for Voter ID Cards in November
Aug04 Tea Party Congressman Defeated in Primary in Kansas
Aug04 Lewandowski is Back on the Birther Train
Aug04 What if the Democrats Nominated Sean Penn?
Aug04 Republican Are Holding the Senate
Aug04 Trump May Be Preparing To Challenge the Election Results
Aug04 Trump Says His Campaign is Unified
Aug04 Trump Revises July Haul Upward
Aug04 What If Trump Dumps Trump?
Aug04 How To Play Trump in Clinton's Debate Prep
Aug04 Team Clinton To Spend Almost $100 Million on Ads
Aug04 Meg Whitman Supports Clinton
Aug04 Texas Won't Ask for Voter ID Cards in November