Clinton 2811
Sanders 1879
 Needed   2383
Trump 1542
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Clinton Steps In It
      •  Christie and Gingrich Being Vetted
      •  Trump Campaign Invisible in Pennsylvania
      •  As the Senate Turns
      •  Trump Mystified By His Poll Numbers
      •  Is Ryan's Career in Ruins?

Clinton Steps In It

No, not her. Him. On Monday, Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch happened to be at the same airport at the same time on the same tarmac. Since they are friends, the chance meeting became the occasion for a quick chat, reportedly about social issues, the two politicians' recent travels, the Clinton grandchildren, and Bill's golf game. Harmless, right?

No, not so much. Under most circumstances, the conversation would not have been a problem. But Clinton's wife is under investigation by the federal department headed by Lynch. Even if they did not address that particular subject (and most believe Lynch and Clinton when they say they did not), this is not a good look. Both are thus being criticized from all parts of the political spectrum. Donald Trump has blasted them (of course), as have Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), and many others. The incident will undoubtedly give more fuel to conspiracy theorists who think Hillary is being "protected" by powerful friends. It also calls into question, yet again, Bill's once-legendary feel for public opinion. (Z)

Christie and Gingrich Being Vetted

According to multiple reports, Donald Trump's VP selection process is moving forward rapidly, to the point that his team is vetting two finalists: Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and former Speaker Newt Gingrich.

The duo have both been consistent presences on hypothetical Trump short lists, so Thursday's report is not a surprise. That said, the news does raise a lot of interesting questions. For example, what new information about these two men might be uncovered, given that they have both been in the public spotlight for years and years? And, on a related note, exactly what would it take to disqualify someone from a Trump-led ticket? Extramarital affairs? Shady tax maneuvers? A bankruptcy? Bilking innocent people out of their money? These would normally all be deal-breakers but the slate already has all of those issues, even before a VP has been selected.

The biggest question, of course, is "What do either of these men add to the GOP ticket?" Christie is essentially a carbon copy of Trump, so he doesn't bring a different stylistic or ideological dimension to the table. He can't deliver his home state, since New Jersey is very blue, and the voters there hate Christie anyhow (23% approval rating). He's got limited Washington experience, so he won't be able to be a "veteran adviser" in the mold of a Dick Cheney or a George H. W. Bush.

Gingrich makes more sense, but only a little more. Unlike Christie, he does have "Washington insider" on his resume. And, he might help a bit in his home state of Georgia, which is looking more and more like it could be in play. But he is out of power for a reason: He became very unpopular, and was also scandal-ridden. Trump may have cheated on his wife, but at least he didn't divorce her while she was lying deathly ill in the hospital. Beyond that, Gingrich is also a generation removed from being in power, and so his insider skills may be more than a bit outdated.

The truth of the matter is that both Christie and Gingrich offer the same major selling points: (1) They are "name" Republicans who are actually willing to partner with Trump, and (2) They will kowtow to The Donald. And those are the things that Trump seems to be looking for. (Z)

Trump Campaign Invisible in Pennsylvania

The only way that Donald Trump will have any margin of error on November 8 is if he cracks the Democrats' "blue wall." And the only one of those states—the ones that have gone Democrat for six or more elections in a row—that Trump can realistically take is Pennsylvania. In short, the Keystone State is absolutely critical to Trump's election chances. So naturally, he has absolutely no campaign infrastructure there.

Politico talked to many of the key players in Pennsylvania Republican politics, and they were all stunned by the lack of contact from the Trump campaign. "It takes a lot of time to put together an efficient and smooth-operating ground effort," said one respondent. "They don't have anything at this point. They can't just come waltzing in here and expect it's all going to fall into place." The interview subjects did note that Hillary Clinton's campaign has an extensive operation in the state, however. (Z)

As the Senate Turns

A week ago, the Democrats were feeling very good about their chances to pick up Florida's Senate seat. But then, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) decided that he would run for re-election after all. And now, the Democratic side of the contest has become a real mess. The blue team's preferred candidate is Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), a moderate who has been endorsed by Vice-President Biden and President Obama. But now, he is enmeshed in a scandal over inflated claims on his resume. The alternative to him is Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), a shoot-from-the-hip left-wing firebrand who has no real hope of winning the race. The GOP, in a time-honored strategy, is now running commercials on Grayson's behalf in hopes that he will overtake Murphy for the nomination.

The news is not all bad for the Democrats, though. They did not dream that Iowa would be in play this year, as it is home to one of the Republican lions of the Senate, Chuck Grassley. But between Grassley's role in blocking a hearing for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and a very effective campaign being run by longtime Iowa politician Patty Judge, the race has become a tossup. Yet another poll, released on Thursday, confirmed as much. So, the Democrats may be able to afford a loss in Florida and still seize control of the Senate. (Z)

Trump Mystified By His Poll Numbers

As we noted yesterday, nearly all of the Trump v. Clinton polls so far have been bad news for the presumptive GOP nominee. This has left the Donald mystified, as he explained in a Thursday interview with radio talker Mike Gallagher:

Well, you know, I really feel it, Mike. I go to Ohio, we were there two days ago, and Pennsylvania and near Pittsburgh and we—I was in West Virginia, the crowds are massive. And you know, I walked out of one, and I said, "I don't see how I'm not leading."

The specific phenomenon that Trump noted is fairly easy to explain. The human brain is not very good at processing large numbers, such that all "big" numbers seem to be basically the same. This is why he's not truly grasping the difference between the 5,000 or 10,000 people who might show up at a rally and the millions that make up the voting public.

Meanwhile, the WaPo has a thought about the weak poll numbers. A recent survey they conducted reveals that more than half of Republican voters wish they had a different nominee to vote for. So, as we might have guessed based on the defections of high-profile Republicans like George Will and Hank Paulson, the GOP is not really coalescing around The Donald. And that is killing him in polls. (Z)

Is Ryan's Career in Ruins?

That Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) wants to be president one day is one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington. When he accepted his current job, presumably in service of that goal, he took a big gamble, particularly given that one of the three major GOP factions in the House (the tea party) was lukewarm in its support. Since then, as Bloomberg's Francis Wilkinson points out, things have not gone well.

To start with, as the tea partiers' early response should have suggested, Ryan is having a hard time keeping his colleagues in line. The same folks who tossed John Boehner out on his rear end are now pushing back against their new leader, and Ryan failed in an effort to change the rules of the House, to get a Ryan-style budget passed, and to secure emergency funding to fight Zika. Meanwhile, the Democrats took to the floor (literally), engaging in open rebellion in hopes of drawing attention to the issue of gun control.

Then, of course, there's Donald Trump. The two men do not much care for each other, in case you hadn't noticed. But Ryan is joined at the hip with The Donald in a way that other Republicans are not. They are effectively co-heads of the Republican Party. And they will effectively be co-hosts of the Republican National Convention. While many of Ryan's colleagues will find a convenient excuse to avoid going to Cleveland, or will otherwise remain out of sight of the cameras as much as is possible, Ryan has to serve as convention chair. He will be front and center on television with The Donald, smile screwed on his face, for four straight evenings. And then, Trump will probably lose, and Ryan will be stuck with at least four years of the White House being controlled by the opposition.

As Wilkinson observes, Ryan is young enough and savvy enough that he might be able to overcome these early reverses. On the other hand, there's probably a reason that only one Speaker of the House has ever become president. And James K. Polk was elected 172 years ago. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun30 Poll: Clinton Trouncing Trump in Swing States
Jun30 Are Polls Biased Against Trump?
Jun30 The Clinton and Obama Show Will Soon Hit the Road
Jun30 Silver Makes His First Projection
Jun30 Trump Hustling to Raise Funds in Europe
Jun30 The Trump Dirt Just Keeps Piling Up
Jun30 Trump Not a Credible Candidate
Jun29 Trump Hires Top Staffers
Jun29 Trump Appeals to Conservative Christian Leaders
Jun29 Trump Discovers Data
Jun29 Clinton Rolls Out Data Initiative
Jun29 Benghazi Report Tells Us Nothing New
Jun29 Sanders Seems to Have Misplayed His Hand
Jun29 Pocahontas Is Back
Jun29 Lewandowski Loses Million-Dollar Book Deal
Jun29 Colorado Senate Seat Safe for Democrats
Jun28 SCOTUS Strikes Down Anti-Abortion Laws
Jun28 Clinton and Warren Campaign Together
Jun28 Should Clinton Choose Elizabeth Warren?
Jun28 Oh, Those Bernie Supporters
Jun28 AFL-CIO Will Oppose Trump
Jun28 Almost No One Wants to Speak at the GOP Convention
Jun28 Trump's Failed Baja Condo Project Left Buyers Angry
Jun28 Dueling Benghazi Reports Coming Tuesday
Jun27 Support for Trump is Cratering
Jun27 Trump's Donor List is Grim
Jun27 Trump's Economic Plan Would Explode National Debt
Jun27 Rubio Faces a Wealthy Challenger on the Right
Jun27 O'Malley Is Back
Jun27 McConnell Won't Say If Trump Is Fit To Be President
Jun27 Sanders Will Continue the Platform Fight
Jun27 SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Coming on Monday
Jun27 Obama, Clinton Embrace LGBT Community
Jun27 One No Trump
Jun26 About Those Donald Trump-Brexit Parallels
Jun26 What is Trump Doing in Scotland?
Jun26 Clinton Super PAC Will Spend Over $10 Million in Pennsylvania
Jun26 Republicans Alarmed by Trump's Lack of Money
Jun26 Clinton up Double Digits on Trump Again
Jun26 George Will Leaves the GOP
Jun26 Dobson Justifies Support for Trump
Jun26 Lewandowski's Head Rolled Due to Attacks on Federal Judge
Jun26 Israel Could Take Center Stage at DNC
Jun25 Striking Parallels between Brexit and U.S. Politics
Jun25 Dump Trump Probably Doesn't Have the Votes on RNC Rules Committee
Jun25 Sanders Sorta, Kinda, for Clinton
Jun25 Sanders Getting Much of What He Wants
Jun25 Clinton Picks Up Two High-Profile Republicans
Jun25 Republican Insiders: It's Kaine
Jun25 Polling the Veepstakes