Clinton 2811
Sanders 1879
 Needed   2383
Trump 1542
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237

It's Pence

As widely rumored all week, Donald Trump picked Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) as his running mate. With his deeply religious behavior, public expressions of religiosity, dislike of same-sex marriage and gay rights, aversion to negative campaigning, and complete avoidance of alcohol, it is hard to say that Pence is a man who matches the times well. Supporters see him as a principled conservative; opponents see him as an anachronism. Most Americans are only dimly aware of him. And if they have heard of him, it is almost certainly due to a bill he signed in 2015 that made it legal for businesses to refuse service to gay people—for example, florists who didn't want to sell flowers for a legal same-sex wedding. The law created a firestorm, which led the Indiana state legislature to draw up a slightly watered-down law that he also signed, but which pleased no one. Progressives said it still allowed discrimination and conservatives saw Pence as a spineless wimp for not standing up and defending the law.

On the positive side, Pence is a thoughtful and careful person, and one who rarely makes gaffes. Other than the 2015 bill, he has never been involved in a lot of controversy. He is a good fundraiser and is on excellent terms with many evangelical leaders.

However, it took Hillary Clinton all of 15 minutes to launch her first attack ad against Pence, in both an English and a Spanish version. She also called him the most extreme pick in a generation, conveniently forgetting her earlier thoughts about Sarah Palin. The ad says that Pence was willing to tank the Indiana economy in order to allow discrimination against LGBT people. It shows him as an enemy of women's reproductive rights and as an opponent of comprehensive immigration reform. Since the Clinton campaign and allied PACs have a boatload of money and Trump's don't, there is a chance she will be able to define the unknown Pence before Trump gets a chance. If Trump thought his Veep would get a pass because he is mild mannered, he is about to get a big surprise. (V)

Trump Wanted to Dump Pence after He Picked Him

CNN's Dana Bash reported yesterday that Donald Trump was so unsure that he made the right choice that after he had notified Mike Pence that he was on the ticket, Trump began asking his inner circle if he could still back out. Trump really wanted Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), but his staff wouldn't let him pick the volatile governor. This incident is reminiscent of 2008, when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) really wanted to pick his buddy—then-senator Joe Lieberman—but his staff vetoed the idea. He then ended up with Sarah Palin and came to regret not going with his gut feeling. (V)

Pence and Trump Are Not on the Same Page on Some Key Issues

On a surprising number of important issues, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have very different views:

  • Trump opposes trade agreements; Pence strongly supports them
  • Trump wants to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.; Pence thinks that is offensive and unconstitutional
  • Trump doesn't actually care much about abortion; Pence wants to ban it, even in cases of rape and incest
  • Trump has no problem with same-sex marriage; Pence is strongly against it
  • Trump wants a wall built along the Mexican border; Pence does not
  • Trump has made millions on casinos; Pence finds gambling immoral and would prefer it be outlawed

Of course, what the vice presidential candidate thinks doesn't matter a whole lot, but the differences will provide journalists with lots of copy. (V)

Pence Is No Billionaire

Unlike Donald Trump, who claims to be worth $10 billion, Mike Pence doesn't talk about his personal finances at all. He has a good reason: By the standards of modern politicians, he is a pauper. While Pence was in Congress, he had four mortgages on his homes in Indiana and Virginia. When he left Congress in 2013, the net worth of him and his wife (excluding their Indiana home) was under $300,000. The average net worth of his fellow members of Congress exceeded $5 million.

In his early days in politics, Pence frequently pulled a Rubio mixing personal and political funds. In 1990, he used campaign contributions to pay his mortgage, his wife's car payments, credit card bills, parking tickets, and groceries. He doesn't even deny this, claiming it was legal under federal law. However, when this got out and his case was heard by the FEC, the commissioners deadlocked 3-3. As governor of Indiana, Pence is paid $112,000 per year. His wife, an artist, recently asked the state ethics commission for permission to sell towel charms for $6.25 each. So, understandably, when Pence was offered the job of vice president, which pays $230,000 per year and requires no work, he jumped at the offer. (V)

Never Trump is Nevermore

Donald Trump's opponents among the RNC delegates had hoped they could derail his campaign, one way or another. Plan A was having a majority of the rules committee vote to unbind all of the RNC delegates. That wasn't going to happen, so Plan B was to have at least 28 members of the committee vote to send a "minority report" to the convention floor proposing a rule change. That also fell through, when only 21 committee members could be recruited, so Plan C was to ram through a rule change by voice vote. Now, that too has failed.

The issues here were numerous. First, a lot of people (and a lot of RNC delegates) like Trump, or he wouldn't be the nominee. Second, RNC delegates are party insiders and loyalists who are very much invested in institutions and in the democratic process. They are not the type of people who like to rebel against the system, even when the system produces a result they don't like. Finally, if there was to be a delegate rebellion, it would almost certainly require an alternative candidate to rally around. None have presented themselves, and RNC committee members are simply not going to ignore the will of the voters in favor of "Who knows?" So, to the chagrin of the 10% of bettors at William Hill and Paddy Power who put money on the RNC choosing some other candidate, the convention is going to end with Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. (Z)

Jeb Bush Slams Trump

The Bush family, as you may have heard, does not like Donald Trump. Beyond their policy differences, Trump and the Bushes are about as far apart as it gets in terms of the type of politicians they are: insider vs. outsider, genteel vs. populist, long-time members of the Party vs. Johnny-come-lately. The GOP's most dynastic family will not be in Cleveland next week, so Jeb took to the pages of the Washington Post to remind us how he, Poppy, Babs, and W feel about The Donald.

Bush begins by trying to "diagnose" the causes of Donald Trump's rise. And what is the primary answer that he settles upon? If you guessed "Barack Obama," then you're a winner. Jeb thinks that the "divisive tactics" of the administration, coupled with the president's use of government power as a "weapon for liberal dogma" has polarized the electorate, encouraging "a few" members of the Republican Party to try to "out-polarize the president." This has led to gridlock, anger, and—voila!—Donald Trump.

Bush then avers that he cannot vote for the "Know-Nothing-like nativist" Trump, and that he also cannot check Hillary Clinton's name on his ballot, since she "promises to continue the disastrous foreign and economic policies of the Obama administration, as well as its hyper-partisanship." That leaves him with Gary Johnson, perhaps, or maybe a write-in, while waiting for the GOP to recover in time for the next election. He concludes by writing:

We can renew our country by applying conservative principles and aspirational politics over the long haul, but it will take stick-with-it-ness and strong leadership in the years to come. The Republican Party has always been the party of hope and optimism, of opportunity and liberty. I'm confident we can be that party once again.

The editorial is really only interesting for one reason, and that is as a barometer for how the GOP establishment is responding to Trump and his success. If Jeb is any indicator, they seem to have learned nothing from what has happened in 2016. To suggest that divisiveness began with Barack Obama, and that the Republicans have been—until Obama came along—the party of "hope and optimism, of opportunity and liberty" is delusional, and leaves us wondering if he slept through his brother's entire administration. There is plenty of blame to go around, and yet Bush wants to assign that blame only to the blue team and to a handful of Republican outsiders/insurgents/miscreants. None, in his view, goes to the GOP establishment. If Republican insiders truly believe that all they need to do is stay the course, and maybe offer up a bit of feeble rhetoric about "applying conservative principles," they are in for an unhappy time in 2020 and beyond. (Z)

ACLU Slams Trump, Too

Though it is perceived to be a liberal lobbying group, the ACLU is officially non-partisan. And it has decided to analyze the constitutionality of the policy ideas being advanced by both major parties' candidates. First up is Donald Trump, who was the subject of a Wednesday WaPo editorial and a more in-depth report released on Wednesday. To nobody's surprise, the ACLU does not like what it's hearing.

The "Trump Memos," as the report is titled, is 27 pages, single-spaced, including 170 footnotes. It focuses on Trump's stands on immigration, Muslims, torture, libel, mass surveillance, and abortion (while ignoring such seemingly obvious issues as Trump's views on the judiciary and separation of powers). Put briefly, the ACLU finds that if Trump were to try to implement all of his ideas, he would break all manner of laws, would run afoul of many Supreme Court rulings, and would violate about 70% of the amendments to the Constitution (which is fairly similar to his batting average with the Ten Commandments, come to think of it).

The "Trump Memos" is certainly not going to counter the ACLU's reputation for being a left-wing organization. Executive Director Anthony D. Romero promises that Hillary Clinton's policy proposals will get an equal amount of attention, and that the "Clinton Memos" is forthcoming. For that one, it's probably wise to bet the under on 27 pages and 170 footnotes, though. (Z)

Trump-Pence Logo Leaves the Internet Snickering

Once Mike Pence was formally announced as Donald Trump's running mate, one of the first items of business was to unveil a new logo for the campaign. Here it is:


The goal, of course, was to weave together a 'P' and a 'T' into an American flag-looking design. However, the response of approximately 99.99% of people to the new logo was to take note of how the 'T' and the 'P' are...interacting. This sent the Internet (particularly Twitter, appropriately enough) into a frenzy. Among the more notable bon mots:

What is the T doing to that P?

This logo accurately represents what Trump Pence will do to America.

We all knew that any politician who became Trump's running mate would be screwed for life, but this is a bit blunt.

I hope it's not too late for Trump to pull out of this logo design.

This logo is not welcome in certain Indiana pizzerias.

The first two items on the list came from Democratic Congressmen: retired long-time representative John Dingell of Michigan and current representative and U.S. Senate hopeful Alan Grayson of Florida. In addition, blurring part or all of the T/P to make it "safe for TV" or "safe for kids" quickly became a meme.

It is worth noting that Hillary Clinton's logo was originally savaged when it was first released, but is now widely admired. Perhaps the Trump-Pence logo will grow on people, too. On the other hand, if Trump actually reads his Twitter feed, we could be seeing a new logo by Saturday afternoon. (Z)

Wary Voters Still Reject Third Parties

Despite Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump's being the least popular major party candidates ever, even the biggest of the other parties can't crack 10% in the polls consistently. Neither the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson nor the Green Party's Jill Stein is anywhere near the 15% they would need to be included in the Fall presidential debates. Increased partisanship has about 40% of each party's supporters so committed to it that the party could run a big rat for president and they would vote for it.

In addition, the winner-take-all electoral vote system that 48 states and D.C. use allows Republicans to say that a vote for Gary Johnson is a vote for Hillary Clinton, and allows Democrats to say that a vote for Jill Stein is a vote for Donald Trump. Currently, Johnson is polling in the 5-10% range in a number of states, but Stein rarely breaks 5% anywhere. In 2012, both of them ran, with Johnson getting 0.99% of the vote and Stein pulling in 0.36% of the vote. It is expected that Johnson will once again do much better than Stein, because most of the Bernie-or-bust voters are scared to death of Donald Trump and will probably end up voting for Hillary Clinton, albeit with clothespins on their noses. In contrast, many conservatives are so angry with the Republican Party that they are willing to endure 4 years of Clinton in an attempt to destroy the party and then rebuild it from its ashes. (V)

Hillary Clinton Announces the Main Convention Speakers

The Democratic National Convention opens on July 25 and Hillary Clinton has now announced some of the main speakers:

  • Monday: Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama
  • Tuesday: Bill Clinton
  • Wednesday: President Obama and Vice President Biden
  • Thursday: Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton

Clinton didn't mention anything about a Veep, but presumably he or she will be squeezed in there somewhere or moved if already scheduled. (V)

Thousands of Votes May Not Be Counted in North Carolina This Year

In 2013, the North Carolina legislature passed a law making it harder to vote. One provision bans voters from voting in a precinct other than the one they live in. It also bans them from voting the day they register during the early voting period. The Justice Dept. says the law was designed to disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters, who do both of these things more than white voters. The case is in a federal appeals court now. One study showed that about 29,000 voters would vote in vain if the court upholds the law. North Carolina is expected to be one of the biggest battlegrounds of all this year; Barack Obama won it in 2008 but barely lost it in 2012. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is expected to issue a ruling within a few weeks. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul15 Insiders Are Saying Trump's Veep Will Be Pence
Jul15 Kaine Tears into Trump
Jul15 Trump, Clinton Respond to Attacks in Nice
Jul15 Republican Unity Talks Break Down
Jul15 Trump Has an Odd Lineup of Convention Speakers
Jul15 Big Republican Donors in Disarray
Jul15 Hoosiers Could Be Blue in November
Jul15 Battleground State Polls Are All Over the Place
Jul15 Sanders Is Writing a Book
Jul14 Trump Still Has Almost No Campaign Infrastructure
Jul14 Trump's Pitch Is All about White Resentment
Jul14 Five Things to Know about Mike Pence
Jul14 Sometimes the VP Pick Comes From Left Field
Jul14 Ten Things That Could Go Wrong at the Republican Convention
Jul14 More Polls, More Bad News for Trump
Jul14 Trump Polling at Zero Percent with Black Voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania
Jul14 Trump Suing Former Campaign Adviser for $10M
Jul13 Sanders Formally Endorses Clinton
Jul13 Did Sanders Campaign in Vain?
Jul13 It's Silly Season in the Veepstakes
Jul13 Trump Turns NAACP Down
Jul13 Kasich Getting the Full Court Press
Jul13 McConnell and Ryan Will Speak at the Convention
Jul13 Warren Will Speak on the First Night of the Democratic Convention
Jul13 Voters Responding to Nonexistent Trump TV Ads
Jul13 New Poll Puts Clinton up 13 Points
Jul13 Trump, Ginsburg Trade Blows
Jul12 Republican Platform Committee Fighting over Gay Rights
Jul12 Judge Grants RNC Delegate Right to Vote His Conscience
Jul12 Trump Radio Clips Give Democrats Even More Ammunition
Jul12 Trump Has an Enthusiasm Problem
Jul12 Republican Ground Game Is Behind Schedule
Jul12 Sanders Will Campaign With Clinton Today
Jul12 Ryan Rebuffed; Clinton Will Get Security Briefings
Jul12 Evan Bayh Will Replace Baron Hill in Indiana Senate Race
Jul12 Stock Market Hits Record High
Jul11 The Young and the Old Are Key Voting Blocs
Jul11 Bettors Not Completely Convinced Trump Will Be Nominated
Jul11 Five Things To Watch for This Week
Jul11 Republican Lawmakers Want Pence as Veep
Jul11 Chris Christie Wants Chris Christie as Veep
Jul11 Newt Gingrich Wants Newt Gingrich as Veep
Jul11 Could Paul Ryan Be in Trouble?
Jul11 Donald Trump Just Can't Help Himself
Jul10 Hillary Re-backs Public Option for Health Insurance
Jul10 Democrats' New Plank Is Dope
Jul10 Trump Is Considering a Retired General as Veep
Jul10 Trump May Not Get the Veep He Wants
Jul10 Trump Also May Not Get the Abortion Plank He Wants
Jul10 Priebus Is Preparing for a Chaotic Convention