Clinton 326
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Ties 24
Trump 188
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Click for Senate
Dem 49
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GOP 51
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  • Strongly Dem (179)
  • Likely Dem (85)
  • Barely Dem (62)
  • Exactly tied (24)
  • Barely GOP (80)
  • Likely GOP (30)
  • Strongly GOP (78)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: AK AZ CO FL ME NC PA UT
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AK NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

A Third of All Voters Less Likely to Support Clinton Due to FBI Announcement

A new WaPo/ABC News poll shows that for 63% of voters, the FBI announcement about Hillary Clinton's emails makes no difference in how they will vote. However, for 34%, they are less likely to vote for Clinton, and for 2% they are more likely to vote for Clinton. Only 1% have no opinion, a surprisingly low number.

Of course, no one yet knows what is in the emails. They may simply be emails that Clinton forwarded to Huma Abedin for printing, as Clinton apparently hasn't discovered how you type CTRL-P to print something. But we are not going to find out soon, as there are reports that the laptop on which they are stored, which belongs to Anthony Weiner, contains 650,000 messages. Most likely, given the former congressman's interests, the vast majority are wiener related, not Clinton related. But with so many emails to investigate, the FBI could be at it for months.

Step 1 for the FBI is to obtain a warrant allowing it to search the emails. Late yesterday, it obtained that warrant. The FBI has not yet stated what it intends to do next. The Clinton campaign is insisting that all the emails be released immediately. (V)

Comey May Find Himself Out of a Job

James Comey has, at very least, opened himself up to withering criticism from both sides of the political aisle. And at worst, his actions may cost him his job as FBI Director.

To start, it is worth noting that when Comey first advised Congress of his recommendation not to prosecute Hillary Clinton, he bowed to the intense partisan environment, and engaged in a fair bit of anti-Clinton editorializing that was wholly at odds with established precedent. As we wrote at the time (drawing on a piece by former Justice Dept. public affairs director Mark Miller):

Imagine that the FBI had just spent a year investigating the Koch brothers to see if they had violated any campaign finance laws and then the director of the FBI gave a press conference saying that they had not broken any laws, followed by a 15-minute speech explaining why they are deplorable people and detailing all the things they had done wrong that didn't technically qualify as crimes but were still pretty reprehensible. ... That is not the way the FBI is supposed to work. If someone is innocent, then the FBI is not supposed to besmirch that person's reputation. If the target is guilty, then he or she should be indicted; otherwise, the investigation should be closed with a simple statement that no charges will be brought. Until now, this was always the way the FBI worked.

As chance would have it, there is a rough, real-life parallel to our hypothetical example here: The FBI has been looking into Donald Trump's connections to Vladimir Putin, and has said nary a word about their conclusions. Being circumspect with one candidate but publicly commenting on and lambasting the other certainly does not seem consistent with the non-partisan approach that is expected of the Bureau.

The problem for Comey is that, if his actions did advance a partisan agenda (even if that was not his intention), he may have broken the law. As Richard W. Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007, writes, it is very possible that the Director violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from influencing the outcome of an election. Painter writes:

It is not clear whether Mr. Comey personally wanted to influence the outcome of the election, although his letter—which cast suspicion on Mrs. Clinton without revealing specifics—was concerning. Also concerning is the fact that Mr. Comey already made unusual public statements expressing his opinion about Mrs. Clinton's actions, calling her handling of classified information "extremely careless," when he announced this summer that the F.B.I. was concluding its investigation of her email without filing any charges.

But an official doesn't need to have a specific intent—or desire—to influence an election to be in violation of the Hatch Act or government ethics rules. The rules are violated if it is obvious that the official's actions could influence the election, there is no other good reason for taking those actions, and the official is acting under pressure from persons who obviously do want to influence the election.

Painter notes that he has already filed a complaint against the FBI with the Office of Special Counsel and with the Office of Government Ethics. The usual penalty for a Hatch Act violation is termination of employment.

And even if Comey did not violate the Hatch Act, he's got another issue to contend with. On Sunday, it leaked out that the FBI has had the laptop in question for multiple weeks. An announcement, without details, might have been made a month before the election. Or, that time could have been used to do a preliminary examination and to make an announcement, with some details, this weekend. But by sitting on the emails for several weeks, Comey has given the American public the worst of both worlds: Close to the election and no specific information. This is not criminal, but it does raise some questions about intentions, and about basic competence.

The bottom line is that Comey may find himself relieved of his duties following an Office of Special Counsel investigation. And even if that does not come to pass, he may have put himself in a position where he's unable to do his job effectively, particularly if Hillary Clinton is in the White House (more below). The odds are pretty good that, in the next month or two, Comey will choose to fall on his sword and resign. (Z)

A President Clinton Would Have a Very Tense Relationship with FBI Director Comey

On account of James Comey's Friday announcement (among other things), if Hillary Clinton is elected president and Comey keeps his job, she and Comey are going to have an extremely frosty relationship, to put it mildly. FBI directors serve for 10 years, supposedly to insulate them from politics, but for Comey it is too late. He was appointed in Sept. 2013 and would normally serve until Sept. 2023. When Comey briefed Clinton on, say, terrorism, how would that go? Would she believe him? Suppose it were leaked that she doesn't believe a thing he says, and always talks to #2 or #3. Would Comey be able to do his job if the president semi-openly declared that she didn't trust him? Best case is that it would be an extremely tense relationship. (V)

Early Votes Favor Clinton

About 21 million people have already voted, nearly all of them before James Comey's announcement last Friday. In Colorado, Florida, and Nevada, close to a quarter of the electorate has already cast its ballots. The votes haven't been counted yet, but more Democrats than Republicans have voted, presumably giving Hillary Clinton a slim lead over Donald Trump. However, in North Carolina, black turnout is down compared to this point in 2012. Then again, more Latinos are voting in Florida than in 2012. (V)

Trump Moving Back to Blue States

In light of James Comey's announcement Friday, Donald Trump is making a last-ditch effort to win blue states that had previously been out of reach. Yesterday, Trump campaigned in Colorado and New Mexico. Today he is going to Michigan. Tomorrow he is going to Wisconsin. Until Friday, these were all lost causes. Since there are so few undecided voters left, it is doubtful that these visits will flip any of the states visited.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is focusing on North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio, three states that actually are swing states. While she is doing well in North Carolina and Florida, Ohio has been more problematical for her. She is running behind Barack Obama's 2012 performance in places like Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), where high black turnout propelled Obama to victory in 2012. She is trying to deal with this by sending black surrogates, including Michelle Obama and the rapper Jay Z there (and elsewhere). If she wins Florida and North Carolina, she can lose Ohio and still win the White House. (V)

Trump Encourages Supporters to Vote Again

Donald Trump continues to beat the "rigged election" drum. And, in a new line of attack, at a rally on Sunday he wondered, "Do you think those (mail-in) ballots are properly counted?" He then instructed supporters to go to a local voting center, check if their vote had been counted correctly, and then if that supporter suspected problems, "they'll void your old ballot, they'll give you a new ballot."

Needless to say, none of this is based in reality. It's not possible to "confirm" that a mail in vote has been counted properly (particularly since they haven't been counted yet), nor is it possible to "void" a ballot and vote again. Meanwhile, it would be fairly easy for a Trump supporter to hear his words and to think they are being instructed to vote twice—via mail, and in person. Such individuals would be well-advised not to do so; the first Trump supporter to make that error has already been arrested and charged. (Z)

A Quarter of All Adults Are Not Registered to Vote

About 55 million potential voters—a quarter of all adults—are not registered to vote, and won't be able to cast a ballot next week. A new analysis takes a look at them. It turns out that there are major demographic differences between the registered and the unregistered. For example, 30% of people earning under $40,000 per year are not registered, vs. only 12% of those making $150,000. Race also makes a big difference. Among young people of color making under $40,000, an astounding 52% are not registered, despite these people being heavily affected by government policies (e.g., Medicaid, various subsidies). Among white people making over $150,000, only 8% are unregistered.

Politically, the unregistered support the Democrats about as much as the registered, but they support the Republicans far less. Many of them are independents. On the whole, the unregistered have progressive views on issues like the minimum wage, single-payer health care, and free college tuition. However, they are not as cynical as voters in general on issues like whether special interests can buy politicians and whether much government spending is wasteful. The study also suggests that many of the unregistered have not registered due to factors such as recent moves or lack of interest in politics, rather than a protest against a corrupt system.

If the government or the people of the United States wanted to get these non-voters involved in the political process, what would make a big difference is making voter registration much easier. For example, it should be possible to register any time a person has contact with any government agency, from the Dept. of Motor Vehicles to all social services agencies. It should be possible for 16- and 17-year-olds to preregister, so they when they turn 18 they are automatically registered. However, since the unregistered skew strongly Democratic, it is unlikely that Republicans will support any measure to increase registration. (V)

Senate Hangs in the Balance

Control of the Senate is going to depend on six very close races: New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida, Missouri, and Nevada. Either party could win any of them and the one that wins the most will probably control the Senate. Here is what the races look like now:

See our Senate page by clicking on the "Click for Senate" link above the map. It contains more information about all the Senate races. How much influence the FBI announcement will have down-ticket is far from clear, but it is hard to imagine it helping the Democrats. (V)

Trump Has Changed Dating

It used to be a rule that on a first date, you didn't talk about politics. No more. It's now the first thing that comes up. The election is so charged and partisan, that it is hard to imagine any Clinton supporter being willing to consider a relationship with a Trump supporter and vice-versa. As was pointed out in "West Side Story," it is all about sticking to your own kind. (V)

The Decline and Fall of Chris Christie

On Sunday, the New York Post broke the news that Donald Trump initially wanted Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) as his running mate, and even extended an offer. "Trump cares about who's the most loyal and who kisses his a** the most, not who's the most qualified and what's the best political decision," said one person close to the campaign. Within 48 hours of the offer being made, however, Trump's family had persuaded him that Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) was the better choice, and so the offer was withdrawn.

It's just the latest indignity for a man who has suffered one of the more breathtaking falls from grace in American political history. If the presidential election had been in 2014, there's a very good chance that Christie might be the one to move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He had an almost Reaganesque potential to attract both conservatives and moderates, with a sky-high 72% approval rating in blue New Jersey. But, as Alex Wagner points out in a piece for The Atlantic, it was all downhill from there. The Bridgegate scandal, wherein the most important bridge connecting New Jersey and New York was shut down so as to punish one of Christie's political opponents, led to an investigation and court case. And while Christie has not yet been charged, the testimony from his subordinates paints a picture of a vindictive bully and a tyrant, given to taking pleasure in others' misery.

Bridgegate is where Wagner's narrative ends, but the remainder of the story is plain. Under assault from all sides of the political spectrum, Christie chose to tack rightward in primary season, trying to shore up his conservative flank. The problem is that while he was conservative enough for the right end of the spectrum in New Jersey, evangelicals and other ultraconservatives in the Midwest and the South did not find a man who once supported Planned Parenthood and who hugged President Obama to be credible. Meanwhile, the rightward move cost Christie his moderate/independent support, and made him look like a flip-flopping opportunist. By the time that the Governor recognized that populism was where things were headed in 2016, Trump had already seized that mantle, and Christie was out of cash and out of the running. All that was left was to become Trump's lap dog, which Christie was happy to swallow his pride and do, but even that does not seem like it will work out, unless the end goal was a weekend gig on Trump TV.

In terms of both personality and career arc, Chris Christie bears more than a passing resemblance to Richard M. Nixon. So, it is certainly possible he rises from the ashes in four or eight years, as Nixon once did. But don't bet on it. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

North Carolina is slipping away from Donald Trump, and Pennsylvania has already slipped. If Alaska really goes for Hillary Clinton (unlikely), that would be quite interesting (though, at 3 EVs, not too consequential). The last Democrat to take Alaska was Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1964. (Z)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Alaska 47% 43% 7% Oct 21 Oct 26 Craciun Research
Arizona 42% 44% 4% Oct 26 Oct 28 YouGov
Colorado 42% 39% 7% Oct 26 Oct 28 YouGov
Florida 42% 46% 4% Oct 25 Oct 27 Siena Coll.
Florida 45% 44% 5% Oct 25 Oct 26 Marist Coll.
Maine 48% 37% 5% Oct 20 Oct 25 U. of New Hampshire
North Carolina 47% 41% 8% Oct 25 Oct 26 Marist Coll.
North Carolina 48% 45% 3% Oct 26 Oct 28 YouGov
Pennsylvania 48% 40% 5% Oct 26 Oct 28 YouGov
Utah 24% 32% 4% Oct 20 Oct 27 Dan Jones

Today's Senate Polls

Not too much here that's surprising, though it's unlikely that Colorado is really that close. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Ann Kirkpatrick 38% John McCain* 43% Oct 26 Oct 28 YouGov
Colorado Michael Bennet* 46% Darryl Glenn 41% Oct 26 Oct 28 YouGov
North Carolina Deborah Ross 44% Richard Burr* 44% Oct 26 Oct 28 YouGov
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty 44% Pat Toomey* 41% Oct 26 Oct 28 YouGov

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct30 Comey's Announcement Shocks Former Prosecutors
Oct30 E-Mails Look Like Much Ado About Nothing
Oct30 Four Ways Forward for Clinton
Oct30 Democrats Vigorously Attack Comey
Oct30 Trump Bragged about his Philanthropy but Gave Little
Oct30 GOP Braces for a Multidimensional Civil War
Oct30 Obama Got Zero Votes in at Least 38 Precincts in 2012
Oct30 Voter Fraud Is Already Underway
Oct30 About Those Odds-of-Winning Projections
Oct30 Trump 2020?
Oct30 Who Owns Trump's E-mail List?
Oct30 The Funniest Political Ad of the Year
Oct30 Comey's Announcement Shocks Former Prosecutors
Oct30 E-Mails Look Like Much Ado About Nothing
Oct30 Four Ways Forward for Clinton
Oct30 Democrats Vigorously Attack Comey
Oct30 Trump Bragged about his Philanthrophy but Gave Little
Oct30 Trump Bragged about his Philanthropy but Gave Little
Oct30 GOP Braces for a Multidimensional Civil War
Oct30 Obama Got Zero Votes in at Least 38 Precincts in 2012
Oct30 Voter Fraud Is Already Underway
Oct30 About Those Odds-of-Winning Projections
Oct30 Trump 2020?
Oct30 Who Owns Trump's E-mail List?
Oct29 Clinton's E-mails Rear Their Ugly Head Again
Oct29 Economy Does Well in Third Quarter
Oct29 Philadelphia Suburbs Are Going Strongly to Clinton
Oct29 Trump Donates $10 Million to His Campaign
Oct29 States Are Not Prepared for a Cyber attack on Election Day
Oct29 Former Miss Finland says Donald Trump Sexually Assaulted Her
Oct29 Kaine Threatens Nuclear Option if Supreme Court Nominee is Blocked
Oct29 Kirk Blunders Badly in Debate with Duckworth
Oct29 Rubio Won't Say If Trump Is a Good Role Model
Oct29 Biden: Thanks, But No Thanks
Oct28 Cruz Suggests Leaving Supreme Court Vacancy Open Indefinitely
Oct28 It's Not Just the Supreme Court, Though
Oct28 A Surprise Secretary of State Candidate
Oct28 Trump Has Three Major Voter Suppression Programs in Place
Oct28 Clinton Raises $100 Million in October; Trump Much Less
Oct28 The South Is Not as Red as It Used to Be
Oct28 Is the Koch Brothers' Network in Decline?
Oct28 Today in Self-Delusion
Oct28 Donald Trump's Star is Fading
Oct28 Did Hillary Clinton Just Luck Out in Getting a Weak Opponent?
Oct28 New Ad Not Negative
Oct27 Early Voting Favors Clinton in Key States
Oct27 More National Polls Favor Clinton
Oct27 Republicans Abandon Trump, Try to Save Senate
Oct27 Paul Ryan May Be in Big Trouble
Oct27 Trump Takes Time Off to Publicize His New Hotel