Clinton 294
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Trump 244
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (164)
  • Likely Dem (56)
  • Barely Dem (74)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (89)
  • Likely GOP (41)
  • Strongly GOP (114)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: IN
Dem pickups vs. 2012: NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: FL IA OH

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Straight-Ticket Voting in Michigan

After the Michigan state legislature passed a bill in January, subsequently signed by Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI), banning straight-ticket voting (even though it has been used in Michigan for over 100 years), Democrats promptly took the state to court. The unspoken and unacknowledged goal of the law was to make it take longer for black voters to vote for every Democrat on the ballot, thus making the lines longer and discouraging some people from voting.

The district court judge suspended the law, so the state appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which agreed with the district judge. So the state went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Yesterday, the Supreme Court agreed with the 6th Circuit and upheld the original decision. After the ruling, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) said that he would respect the Supreme Court's decision. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R), who is the one who actually oversees elections, didn't comment on the decision after it was handed down. (V)

Trump Also Donated to Try to Stop New York's Investigation of Trump University

For the past several days, Donald Trump's donation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has been in the news. But Florida wasn't the only state pursuing a case against Trump, New York was as well. It is not known if Trump donated to the campaign of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, but in any event Schneiderman was not deterred, and continued his case against Trump U.

In 2014, conservative activist group Citizens United sued Schneiderman, and Trump's foundation donated $100,000 to the Citizens United Foundation to support the lawsuit. This was the largest donation it made to any group in 2014. It was also the first time Trump's foundation had ever given anything to the Citizens United Foundation. The ploy didn't work, and a judge dismissed Citizens United's lawsuit. More lawsuits against Shcneiderman followed and were dismissed, one as recently as last month.

There appears to be a pattern here. When Trump gets in trouble with the law, he first tries the carrot (donating to the attorney general's campaign), and if that doesn't work, he tries the stick (lawsuits). It will be interesting to see if any more news relating to Trump University comes out soon. (V)

Election Could Get Even More Unpredictable

The final two months could be even more volatile than they have been in past cycles. First of all, Donald Trump pulls one surprise after another. He is totally unpredictable and has learned that nothing he does, no matter how outrageous it is, seems to hurt him.

Second, there are many more undecided voters and voters who currently say they will support a third-party candidate than ever before. Together these represent something like a quarter of the electorate. They could easily be influenced by something that has not yet happened, for example, one of the debates. Or some domestic or foreign event could happen and roil the campaign. Things are far less stable than they were in 2012.

Another factor that is certainly going to play a role is the reemergence of Hillary Clinton as a candidate. She spent most of the summer at closed-door fundraisers raking in millions. Her absence has let Trump dominate the news day after day (although not always in a good way). The net effect has been to make Clinton's supporters wonder why she is not further ahead against such an outrageous candidate. As Clinton reemerges though, that could change. Also, she is planning a big charm offensive. In the next few weeks she will talk a lot about her background, what she has done for people her whole life, and what she wants to do as president. Expect biographical and positive ads the next few weeks. Expect Trump to respond to them. Things could change in unexpected ways. (V)

Trump Calls CNN "an Arm of the Clinton Campaign"

On Thursday, Donald Trump gave an interview on Russian TV in which he attacked President Obama's foreign policy and also the U.S. media. Not content to merely bash the media on Russian airwaves, on Friday Trump continued in the same vein, calling CNN "an arm of the Clinton campaign." The goal, of course, is to scare CNN (and other networks) into being very careful to "balance" their news. In other words, if they call him a liar, they have an obligation to call Clinton a liar, too. CNN's chairman, Jeff Zucker, brushed off Trump's comments, saying: "If everybody is a little upset at the end of the day, we're probably doing our job." But Zucker will no doubt be more careful in the future about appearing too one-sided, so Trump's attack might have an effect. (V)

Will Trump Be on the Ballot in Minnesota?

As we noted on August 26, the Trump campaign failed to cross all their t's and dot all their i's, such that he was in danger of not making the ballot in Minnesota. The issue was a failure to submit the names of 10 alternate electors, as required by state law, in time. The Minnesota GOP quickly pulled the necessary paperwork together, however, and it seemed that the crisis had been averted.

Or maybe not. The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Laborer (DFL) Party has taken a close look at the matter, and concluded that the requirements of the state law were not met, since the alternate electors were appointed rather than being elected at the state convention. So, the DFL is filing suit. On the merits, they absolutely have a case. Former deputy Minnesota Republican Party chairman Michael Brodkorb even acknowledged as much, observing that the Minnesota constitution does not allow for the last-minute fix that was utilized. But with that said, the courts are not thrilled to have election outcomes dictated by technicalities. Plus, Minnesota is a very blue state, so Donald Trump is likely to lose there regardless of whether or not he's on the ballot. Odds are, this becomes a non-story, one way or another. But it still bears watching, as it certainly could erupt into a major controversy, depending on what happens. (Z)

Trump to Reveal Personal Health Regimen to Dr. Oz

All that we know about Donald Trump's health, beyond the fact that he hasn't keeled over on the campaign trail, is contained within a four-paragraph letter that may or may not have been written by his physician. This has led to a lot of questions about why he's playing things so close to the vest. But now, the Trump campaign has announced a plan for putting these questions to rest: He will appear on "The Dr. Oz Show" and will "reveal his own personal health regimen."

If the goal was truly to resolve any questions about Trump's health, this is just about the worst way to do it. First of all, describing one's "personal health regimen" is not the same thing as giving information about one's actual physical (and mental?) state. Second, the information is being filtered through an intermediary, as opposed to, say, being posted to Trump's website. Third, there may be no doctor in the United States with less credibility than Mehmet Oz, who has a reputation for embracing quackery of various sorts (especially phony weight loss cures). His show is problematic enough that a group of prominent physicians implored Columbia University to remove him from their faculty. And it's not just them; a 2014 study found that half of the advice Oz proffers on his show is wrong.

The rough equivalent to what Trump is doing would be if President Obama tried to quell birther conspiracies by appearing with NBC's Brian Williams and showing his birth certificate to a producer, off-camera. We are therefore forced to conclude that the real purpose of the Dr. Oz appearance is not to resolve questions about Trump's health. Given that The Donald is also planning to discuss, "why the health of the candidates has become such a serious issue in this campaign," the odds are good that we're going to get two minutes of Trump's health regimen, and half an hour of why Hillary Clinton is not physically capable of being president. We will find out on Thursday. (Z)

Pence Releases His Tax Returns

Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) released a decade's worth of tax returns yesterday. In 2015, he earned $113,026 and paid $8,956 in federal income tax, an effective tax rate of 7.9%. He gave $8,923 to charity last year. In previous years, the governor's income has been as high as $187,495 and his effective tax rate has been in the range of 6.4% to 11.9%.

The obvious comparison is with the Democratic running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Kaine and his wife earned $313,441 in 2015 and paid a 20.3% effective tax rate. In large part, the difference between the Pences and the Kaines is that Kaine's wife, Anne Holton, had a good salary as Virginia's secretary of education. Pence's wife, Karen Pence, is an artist and earned $495 in 2015. However, she also had expenses of $546, so the bottom line for her business was a net loss of $51. (V)

Clinton Says Half of Trump's Supporters Are in the "Basket of Deplorables"

The usually measured Hillary Clinton courted controversy on Friday. While speaking at a fundraiser in New York, she told the crowd:

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.

That other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they're just desperate for change.

The remark was swiftly condemned by members of the Trump campaign. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway slammed her for "placing people in baskets" and insulting "millions of Americans." Senior communications adviser Jason Miller declared that Clinton had, "revealed her true contempt for everyday Americans." Meanwhile, social media users and right-leaning websites drew a connection to Mitt Romney's "47%" moment, which also took place at a fundraiser, and was also dismissive of a large segment of the voting populace.

So, does the comparison hold up? Maybe not so much. First of all, Romney's remark was much broader, and effectively condemned the entire Democratic Party, either as bloodsucking leeches, or enablers of bloodsucking leeches. Clinton was very careful to paint with a less broad brush. On top of that, there is every reason to believe that Romney meant the 47% remark to remain between him and a few well-heeled GOP friends. Clinton, by contrast, has used this same basic line before, and even used it again after this story broke on Friday. Given her tendency to play it safe, and to avoid controversy, there can be no doubt that the line was carefully considered (and probably even tested in focus groups). Most importantly, Romney's line was aimed squarely at his own supporters, trying to get them fired up (and to donate money). Clinton's line, on the other hand, is clearly aimed at the Trump supporters who are not in the "basket." She is saying to them, "Is this the crowd you want to be lumped in with?" This recalls the Gilded Age-era GOP's tactic of "waving the bloody shirt." For election after election, from 1868 to roughly 1900, they reminded Northern voters that, "Not every Democrat was a Confederate, but every Confederate was a Democrat." The line worked pretty well, since the Democrats managed to elect only one president during those three-plus decades.

So, in short: Clinton likely did not have a "47% moment," no matter what Breitbart News may claim. (Z)

Putin Closes Down Russia's Only Independent Pollster

Donald Trump has repeatedly praised Vladimir Putin's "leadership," and said he is a stronger leader than President Obama. Putin gave an example of his strong leadership recently when he unilaterally labeled the Levada Center, Russia's only independent pollster, a "foreign agent," which in Russian means "foreign spy." The effect will be to close the organization. No messy negotiation with parliament or anything time consuming like that. Just issue an order and it is done. Putin, of course, gave no reason for his decision, but most likely the center's polling was showing that Putin is increasingly unpopular.

In the past, Putin has been equally efficient in dealing with his political enemies. When a television station made fun of Putin, the owner was charged with fraud and had to flee the country. When oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky charged Putin with being corrupt, he was charged with fraud and his company dismantled. When the rock band Pussy Riot performed an anti-Putin punk song in a Moscow cathedral, the members were simply jailed. Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, a Putin critic, was mysteriously shot to death near the Kremlin. Former Federal Security Service officer Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium. Journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot to death after criticizing Putin's policy in Chechnya. No doubt this is the kind of leadership that Trump finds attractive in Putin. He moves quickly and decisively. (V)

Michele Bachmann Says that Clinton Will Jail Christians If She Wins

Speaking at the Values Voter Summit in D.C. yesterday, former Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann said that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, she would seek to jail Christians and prosecute churches and nonprofits. She got a standing ovation for her remarks. Needless to say, Clinton, a practicing Methodist who says her faith is important to her, has said no such thing. Bachmann urged the audience to support Donald Trump, citing the Book of Deuteronomy as her source.

Bachmann presumably does not realize it, but she has put Hillary Clinton in some very good company, indeed. When Thomas Jefferson was running for president in 1800, he was a bit too left-wing for the tastes of some Federalists. He didn't have an email server, so instead they tried to frighten voters by warning that if Jefferson was to become president, he would jail Christians, burn Bibles, and shut down churches. The attacks didn't work, of course, and he went on to have a pretty successful presidency. So, maybe this is a good omen for the Democratic nominee. (V & Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

Indiana is a red state and seems likely to go for Trump. Evan Bayh (D) is likely to win the Senate race. So the big question in Indiana is who will win the race for the governor's mansion now that Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) is not running for that office. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Indiana 36% 43% 11% Sep 06 Sep 08 Howey-DePauw

Today's Senate Polls

Lots of good news for the Republicans today. They are leading in four key Senate races. If they can hold all of these, they will probably retain control of the Senate. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
California Kamala Harris 51% Loretta Sanchez (D) 19% Aug 15 Aug 24 Sacramento State
Florida Patrick Murphy 43% Marco Rubio* 50% Aug 31 Sep 07 Quinnipiac U.
North Carolina Deborah Ross 43% Richard Burr* 49% Aug 31 Sep 07 Quinnipiac U.
Ohio Ted Strickland 40% Rob Portman* 51% Aug 31 Sep 07 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty 45% Pat Toomey* 46% Aug 31 Sep 07 Quinnipiac U.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep09 Colin Powell Advised Clinton to Use a Private Email Server
Sep09 Gary Johnson Has a Rick Perry Moment
Sep09 Trump Makes a Proposal on Education
Sep09 Clinton Holds a Formal Press Conference
Sep09 Twelve Governors Will Be Chosen in November
Sep09 Trump Made Nine Controversial Statements in 24 Minutes
Sep09 Trump's Teleprompter Gap
Sep09 Intelligence Official Challenges Trump
Sep09 Pence Agrees with Trump on Putin/Obama
Sep09 Anti-Trump Super PAC files DOJ Bribery Complaint
Sep09 Divorce Rate May Spike after the Election
Sep08 Clinton's Campaign Is Entirely Data Driven
Sep08 Trump's Spending Reveals His Priorities
Sep08 Trump Raised $90 Million in August
Sep08 North Carolina Reduces Early Voting
Sep08 Trump Speech on Military Readiness Fails to Impress
Sep08 Everyone Loses at Commander-in-Chief Forum
Sep08 Bad News for E-mail Scandalmongerers
Sep08 Be Careful about Trusting the August Polls
Sep08 Trump Held Fundraiser for Bondi after She Dropped Trump University Case
Sep08 Cornyn Refuses to Endorse Cruz in Senate Primary
Sep08 Evan McMullin Picks a Running Mate--by Accident
Sep07 Kasich Refuses to Help Trump in Ohio
Sep07 Has Trump Hit His Ceiling?
Sep07 Clinton Is Now Holding Press Conferences
Sep07 The Trump Campaign Is a Black Box
Sep07 The Road to the White House Runs Past Disney World
Sep07 Dallas Morning News Rejects Trump
Sep07 Koch Brothers Are Preparing for the Long Haul
Sep07 McCarthy Wants to Impeach Clinton
Sep07 Chaffetz To Hold More E-mail Hearings
Sep07 Today in Irony: Gingrich Has Coughing Spell While Blasting Clinton's Coughing Spell
Sep06 How Trump Might Do on His Campaign Promises
Sep06 Trump Denies Having Spoken to Bondi
Sep06 Trump Evolves on Amnesty, Again
Sep06 Banks Want No Part of Trump Wall Plan
Sep06 Trump: Voters Don't Care About My Taxes
Sep06 Trump Commits to Debating
Sep06 Clinton Blames Coughing Fit on Allergy to Trump
Sep06 Hillary Clinton's New Plane Takes Off
Sep06 Clinton Will Not Go to Mexico
Sep05 Trump Made Millions from Saudis
Sep05 A Tale of Two Scandals
Sep05 Even Trump's Advisers Are Unclear on His Deportation Plans
Sep05 About that Tightening Presidential Race...
Sep05 Who Supports Gary Johnson?
Sep05 Major Virginia Newspaper Endorses Johnson
Sep05 What's Trump Doing in Michigan?
Sep05 Kellyanne Conway: We Don't Need Pennsylvania
Sep05 Pence to Release Tax Returns This Week