Clinton 358
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Trump 180
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (231)
  • Likely Dem (71)
  • Barely Dem (56)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (41)
  • Likely GOP (44)
  • Strongly GOP (95)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Manafort Quits

After Donald Trump fired his first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, he brought in Paul Manafort, who managed Bob Dole's 1996 campaign. Earlier this week, Manafort was demoted when Kellyanne Conway was hired as campaign manager and Stephen Bannon was hired as campaign CEO. Yesterday, Manafort quit. No doubt the fact that he has been in the news all week for his work for strongmen and oligarchs in Ukraine and Russia, receipt of possible undisclosed cash payments of $12.7 million, and maybe violations of federal law, played a role. Trump was probably happy to be rid of him.

Another factor that may have played a role is that before Manafort resigned, the campaign had three top executives: himself, Bannon, and Conway. It is often hard for an organization to make decisions and allocate resources when three people think they are running the show. Having only two might make things easier. (V)

Nate Silver: Trump Is Doubling Down on a Losing Strategy

Donald Trump got 14 million votes in the primaries, more than any Republican has ever gotten in history. He is proud of that total and rightly should be. It was an excellent achievement. However, Mitt Romney got 61 million votes in the 2012 general election—and lost. If Trump gets four times as many votes in the general election as he got in the primaries, he'll lose. To win, he has to bring large numbers of people who didn't vote for him in the primaries into the tent.

According to election guru Nate Silver, the choice of Stephen Bannon as campaign CEO is a big step in the wrong direction. Bannon is an aggressive right-winger who thinks the Republican leadership consists of a bunch of liberal RINOs. Trump is polling in the mid-30s in the key swing states, and you don't win elections with numbers like that. It seems unlikely that Bannon will do anything to make Trump more popular with the roughly 65% of the electorate that disapprove of him. Doubling down on immigration, building walls, and so on appeals largely to the people who already support him, so what's the gain here? Silver concludes that Trump is in profound denial about the narrowness of his appeal. (V)

Republican Insiders Also Think Bannon Is a Bad Choice

Politico asked its panel of Republican insiders (activists, strategists, and operatives) in 11 swing states what they thought of installing Stephen Bannon as campaign CEO and Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager. A third of them essentially agreed with Silver's comments and thought it would make things worse, although another third thought it could possibly make things better. The rest weren't sure. One New Hampshire Republican said: "There is no way to right this ship." A Virginia Republican said: "You can keep moving people in and out of the car, but so long as the drunk guy is driving it while blindfolded, the ride probably isn't going to get any smoother." An Iowa Republican said: "The problem was never the organization, or obvious lack thereof. The problem has always been Donald." A North Carolina Republican called Bannon a bomb thrower, but with good aim." Generally, the insiders were more positive about Conway, and hoped she would be a good influence on Trump. And remember, these are people whose whole lives are about electing Republicans. Politico didn't ask Democratic insiders what they think about Clinton's campaign staff, but it is inconceivable that a third would think they are hopeless and another third would be unsure, with no one being really positive. (V)

Trump Is Now Running His First Ad

Yesterday Donald Trump's first ad began running in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina. The ad starts with a harsh criticism of Hillary Clinton's America, which features a plan to accept 65,000 Syrian refugees. It then says that illegal immigrants convicted of crimes get to stay and collect Social Security benefits. Then it pivots and says that Donald Trump's America is secure, with video of helicopters, border patrol vans, and even large warships. What role large warships play in stopping Mexicans from crossing the Rio Grande in small boats is not made clear. The ad is very similar to the one he ran in January in Iowa and New Hampshire, hitting on same themes and also using dark, grainy images of (purported) illegal immigrants streaming into America. Clearly, Trump does not plan to change his messaging for the general election (see above). (V)

Could the Election Be Hacked?

An article on the ABC News Website is entitled: "Yes, It's Possible to Hack the Election." It is written by Richard Clarke, who was cybersecurity adviser to both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, and who has worked for the NSA. He even goes further and says: "If it is a computer, it can be hacked." That includes computers that are not connected to the Internet, although that is much harder and requires a malicious person to get physical access to the computer (or it requires the computer to be pre-hacked by the maker of the hardware or software). Clarke cites numerous examples of very secure computers and networks that have been hacked, including some top-secret systems at the Pentagon and at the State Dept. Ironically, Hillary Clinton's email server might actually have been safer than the State Dept.'s since nobody knew about it until fairly recently.

Clarke goes on to discuss the plethora of different computerized voting systems in use around the country, many of them ancient and none of them secure. The worst ones are the all-electronic ones that just give vote totals at the end of the day with no auditing at all possible. These should be forbidden right now. Better are touch-screen computers that allow the voter to make choices and then print a paper ballot that the voter can verify and then bring to the optical scanner, where it is recorded and physically stored for possible recounts. These have some advantages over straight paper ballots because they can have audio for the blind and can present the ballot in multiple languages. They can also prevent overvotes and undervotes and print a nice, clean ballot that can be unambiguously scanned.

Nevertheless, the machines should be physically sealed with a tamper-evident seal and should not have any USB, Ethernet, or other ports. Nor should they have WiFi, Bluetooth, or any other way to communicate with the outside world. All the code running on the machines should be open source and on Election Day, technical experts from both parties should be allowed to go to actual polling places, pick machines at random, and take them apart for study. In theory, this should not be necessary because voters can verify their printed ballots, but in reality many won't, so the machines could still cheat. If a voter notices that his or her ballot is wrong, that one ballot can be replaced, but the machine will go on cheating with other voters, who might not notice. Clarke ends by saying that if we don't take security a lot more seriously, and provide funding to upgrade the equipment, we could have a crisis if the presidential election or even a Senate election is close and half the country doesn't believe the results. (V)

Trump Supporters Already Suspicious of Election Outcome

In an apparent effort to give himself cover in case of a loss, Donald Trump has suggested that the voting might be rigged. Clarke's article (above) suggests that it is possible. As we pointed out previously, this builds upon a narrative that has been circulating in GOP circles for years. And the conspiratorial talk is apparently hitting its mark, as a new poll reveals that only 11% of Donald Trump supporters expect the votes to be counted correctly in November (compared to 49% of Democrats).

Literally speaking, the individuals who think the final tally will not be correct are absolutely right. When 130 million people vote, there are going to be all sorts of small irregularities, ambiguous ballots, polling place issues, and the like. The question is whether or not these issues will have any impact on the outcome of the election. They almost certainly will not. Besides, if the machines are hacked it will most likely be the Republicans doing the hacking, since 31 of the governors are Republicans and only 18 are Democrats (Gov. Bill Walker of Alaska is an independent), and the states, not the federal government, control the entire elections process. However, if the total is close, Republican voters are primed to question the legitimacy of Hillary Clinton for four years. Which is why, when she goes to bed each night, Clinton should be reciting the election administrator's prayer: "Dear Lord, let it be a landslide." (Z)

Trump Tours Flooded Louisiana While Obama Stays on Vacation

Donald Trump and his running mate Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) visited flooded areas of Louisiana yesterday, while at the same time criticizing President Obama for being unwilling to interrupt his vacation and come to Louisiana. However, the reason is not an unwillingness to skip vacation, it is that the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards (D), specifically asked Obama not to come now because it would require redeploying hundreds of law enforcement officers and first responders from the flooded areas to provide the president with security, and the governor said he wants those people in the field helping the flood victims. Hillary Clinton also chose not to come, but talked to the governor on the phone yesterday. Everyone remembers how George W. Bush's lack of interest in the victims of Hurricane Katrina hurt his image very badly and no one wants to be caught in the same trap this time. (V)

Trump Thinks He Can Win the Black Vote

No, not this year. Even he seems to concede that black voters are a lost cause for him in 2016. But at a Michigan rally on Friday evening, he predicted that if he's running for re-election in 2020, "I guarantee you that I will get over 95 percent of the African-American vote. I promise you. Because I will produce."

This, of course, is delusional. Even Barack Obama didn't get 95% of the black vote when he was running for re-election. No Republican has even claimed a majority of the black vote (much less 95%) since 1932. And that wasn't the only pipe dream of the evening, as the man running an overtly demagogic campaign also predicted that when he wins, "The era of division will be replaced with a future of unity, total unity. We will love each other." Hard to know what to make of this, other than to say that Stephen Bannon does not seem to be any better at reining in Trump than Corey Lewandowski or Paul Manafort was. (Z)

Why is Trump Flailing in Michigan?

In theory, Donald Trump's messaging focused on angry, white, working-class men should be playing very well in Michigan. After all, the Wolverine State is chock full of white guys who feel like they have been shafted by the system. However, as you can see from our map, Hillary Clinton is trouncing The Donald there. And while we don't show county-level data, he's even trailing her in rural areas that tend to be GOP strongholds. So, what is going on?

Politico's Daniel Strauss has taken up that question, and he sees something of a "death by a thousand cuts" situation. In other words, it's not any single thing, it's an accumulation. To start, Trump failed to gain the support of the Michigan Republican establishment, from Gov. Rick Snyder on down. Further, his missteps have been particularly damaging—patriotic Michiganders especially did not care for the attack on the Khan family. Trump's major speech on the economy, delivered from Detroit, fell flat with the state's residents—probably because he used Detroit as an illustration of everything that is wrong with America. And overall, Trump's style does not play well in Michigan. They prefer a more low-key, "salt of the Earth" type politician, in the mold of a Mike Pence or a Joe Biden.

GOP insiders in the state say that there is still time for Trump to turn things around (though we're now at 80 days and counting). One problem, though, is that fixing a lot of small problems takes more time, generally speaking, than fixing one big one. Another problem is that Clinton is currently trouncing Trump in ground game, with 26 state offices compared to five for The Donald. And even if it is technically possible to right the ship in Michigan, he might nonetheless have to throw in the towel in Michigan, given his needs in other places—Georgia, Utah, Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc. (Z)

Stephen Bannon Is Part of the Alt-Right World

Many people are now talking about Stephen Bannon's connection to the alt-right movement, but are perhaps unsure exactly what that movement is. To help them, CBS News has published a long primer on the subject and Bannon's connection with it. The right has always had kooks and cranks, just as the left has, but until he died in 2008, William F. Buckley, Jr. was largely successful in determining what was acceptable and what was not. After Buckley passed away, there was no one with his stature to keep everyone on the same page.

When the tea party movement got going, Andrew Breitbart founded Breitbart News to cheer it on. When Breitbart died in 2012, Bannon took over and quickly saw that there was a community on the Internet that nobody else wanted, including racists, anti-semites, men's rights activists, pick-up artists, and miscellaneous trolls. Breitbart News became their home and Bannon became one of their heroes. Another one is Breitbart News' editor Milo Yiannopoulos, whose pitch to his young white male audience is:

The Muslims are coming, and so are the Mexicans. Blacks are out of control in the cities. The feminists are trying to upset gender norms, which is why you can't get a date. Smart as you are, young white man, you can't get rich, because of globalists, who "just happen" to be Jews.

The article, authored by the CBS News website's managing director for politics, Will Rahn, is written in the style expected of serious journalists explaining the news. The comments section, not so much. Here is an excerpt from one commenter's view of the article:

People only read nonsense like this for a laugh or to find out what they [sic] latest lies are. Traitors like Rahn can try to vilify and compartmentalize 'America First' supporters all he wants. Too bad, so sad for Rahn; but the days of never-ending invasion of feral aliens, endless wars for daddy Israel, globalism, horrendous trade deals, debt slavery, worship of Black Lives Matter terrorists, vilifying police, disastrous 'affirmative action', bowing to LGBTQQIAAP, and every other weapon embraced by Rahn and his degenerate accomplices used to destroy the country - are over. Rahn's whining and hurt feelings are now just background noise - no one notices or cares.

The comment probably gives more insight into the alt-right mentality that Bannon helped to channel than the article itself. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug19 Trump Is Losing Support Among Men
Aug19 Five Takeaways from Trump's Choice of Bannon as Campaign CEO
Aug19 Trump Is Finally on the Air
Aug19 Trump Will Debate, Says Conway
Aug19 Why is Trump Ignoring the Olympics?
Aug19 Trump Spokeswoman Is at it Again
Aug19 And Bad Mistakes, I've Made A Few, Says Trump
Aug19 Kaine Went To Wyoming
Aug19 Clinton Foundation Will Decline Foreign Donations
Aug19 The Donald Has No Clothes
Aug18 Mercer Connection Explains Trump's Shake-Up
Aug18 GOP Scared Witless by Bannon
Aug18 Does Trump Want to Win?
Aug18 Trump's Casinos Owed $30 Million in Taxes, but Christie Forgave Most of It
Aug18 Would Cutting Trump Loose Help Republicans Downballot?
Aug18 Could the House Be in Play?
Aug18 Election Turnout in the U.S. Is Among the Worst in the World
Aug18 Green Party's Baraka Has Some...Unorthodox Opinions
Aug17 Major Shakeup for Trump's Campaign Staff
Aug17 Who Will Moderate the Debates?
Aug17 Roger Ailes May Help Trump Prepare for the Debates
Aug17 Clinton Is Already Prepping for the Debates
Aug17 Clinton Is Not Counting on Winning Blue-Collar White Men
Aug17 Trump Deposition Video Could Be Made Public
Aug17 Why Have the Media Taken Off the Gloves When Reporting about Trump?
Aug17 Cheney Wins Republican Primary in Wyoming
Aug17 How the Tea Party Movement Was Murdered
Aug17 Stein's Shaky Science
Aug17 McLaughlin Dies at 89
Aug16 Trump Reveals Anti-terrorism Plan
Aug16 Trump Speech Fails to Impress
Aug16 Rudy Giuliani Has a Bad Day
Aug16 Trump Has To Turn His Campaign Around, and Fast
Aug16 Wall Street Journal Gives Trump Until Labor Day To Fix Things
Aug16 Manafort May Have Been Paid $13 Million by Former Ukrainian President
Aug16 What Will it Take For Johnson, Stein to Join Debates?
Aug16 McMullin Gets on Utah Ballot
Aug16 Priebus May Be Back for More
Aug15 RNC Might Abandon Trump
Aug15 What Will Happen To Trumpism After the Election?
Aug15 The RedState Gathering Was Not a Happy Meeting
Aug15 Gary Johnson, Serious Candidate
Aug15 Trump to Deliver Major Address on Terrorism
Aug15 Trump Adds Eight Women To His Economic Team
Aug15 Trump Borrows Another Anti-Semitic Image
Aug15 Mike Pence Has to Dance, Dance, Dance
Aug14 Trump Is Soliciting Election Observers To Prevent Cheating
Aug14 Can Donald Trump Be Saved from Donald Trump?
Aug14 Pointing the Finger Here, There, and Everywhere
Aug14 Trump Spokeswoman Blames Obama for Afghanistan War