Clinton 274
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Ties 6
Trump 258
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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GOP 50
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  • Strongly Dem (162)
  • Likely Dem (63)
  • Barely Dem (49)
  • Exactly tied (6)
  • Barely GOP (67)
  • Likely GOP (34)
  • Strongly GOP (157)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: PA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: CO FL IA NM OH

Trump Says Clinton Should Disarm Secret Service Detail

Appearing at a rally in Miami on Saturday, Donald Trump offered a suggestion to Hillary Clinton, the second time he's made the proposal in as many days. His idea? That her security detail should disarm immediately. His exact words, when he first pitched the idea on Friday:

What do you think, yes? Take their guns away. She doesn't want guns. Let's see what happens to her. Take their guns away, OK? It would be very dangerous.

This is, of course, outrageous on a couple of levels. To start, as someone who already hinted that Second Amendment activists could "take care" of Clinton, it's getting harder and harder for Trump to claim that he's not inciting violence against the Democratic nominee. In addition, this is obviously a gross misrepresentation of her views on gun control. Even the most zealous anti-gun partisans (a group that does not include Clinton) would not presume to disarm law enforcement.

With that said, the most interesting thing about this story is what it reveals about the current state of the Trump campaign. This declaration, coupled with some of the other things said on Saturday (see below), suggests that Trump v1.0 is back, at least for now. Perhaps he's feeling cocky about his chances, or perhaps he can only play Trump v2.0 for so long, but whatever the case may be, the discipline imposed by Stephen Bannon and Kellyanne Conway was nowhere to be seen on Saturday. It may also be the case that Trump is desperately trying to push "birther" stories out of the headlines through any means possible. The fact that he made a point of repeating almost exactly the same outrageous thing on two consecutive days gives some credence to this thesis. And whether it's "Trump v1.0 is back" or "Trump's trying to replace the birther headlines with something else" or both, it seems clear that the flow of recent weeks has ended, and another ebb is underway. (Z)

Robert Gates Says Trump Is Beyond Repair

Robert Gates, who was Director of the CIA under George H.W. Bush and Secretary of Defense under George W. Bush, said yesterday that Donald Trump is "beyond repair" and added:

The world we confront is too perilous and too complex to have as president a man who believes he, and he alone, has all the answers and has no need to listen to anyone. A thin-skinned, temperamental, shoot-from-the-hip and lip, uninformed commander in chief is too great a risk for America.

In addition to working for both Bushes, Gates has worked for six other presidents over a career of 50 years in government service.

When Trump was made aware of Gates' critique, he took it in stride, saying that he appreciated the feedback, and that he hoped to prove the former Secretary wrong. Oh wait, no he didn't. In fact, he took to Twitter and wrote:

Never met but never liked dopey Robert Gates. Look at the mess the U.S. is in. Always speaks badly of his many bosses, including Obama.

At a rally later in the day, Trump expanded on that thought, telling his followers that, "He's a nasty guy. Probably has a problem that we don't know about." Whatever that problem might be, apparently it managed to escape the attention of eight different U.S. presidents. (V & Z)

Trump Has Received $885 Million in Tax Breaks

Investigative reporters for the New York Times have uncovered a vast trail of tax breaks and subsidies of various sorts that Donald Trump has received from New York City over the years. Added up, he has managed to legally avoid $885 million in taxes by getting city officials to give him special deals unavailable to others.

The biggest winner for Trump was the Grand Hyatt Hotel on 42nd St. in Manhattan, for which the tax breaks have totaled $360 million since the hotel was completed in 1980. The hotel itself cost only $120 million to build.

But, no break or subsidy was too small for Trump. After 9/11, the city set up a program to help small businesses recover from the attack. Trump applied for and received a grant of $150,000 on one of his buildings near Ground Zero, even though it was not damaged in any way. The whole article shows that Trump has relentlessly pursued every tax break and subsidy possible. Most likely, his tax returns would disclose the full extent of his feeding at the public trough, and for someone who is nominally against government, that might look a tad hypocritical. (V)

Trump Threatens to Sue the New York Times

Robert Gates (see above) was not the only target of Donald Trump's ire on Saturday. The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was on CNN for an appearance promoting her new book. She said that during an interview with Donald Trump, "I told him that it was wrong that there was violence being incited at his rallies and that reporters were getting roughed up, and he paused ... but then he disagreed and said he thought the violence added a frisson of excitement."

Trump was not happy about this revelation, and took to Twitter to blast MoDo:

Wacky @NYTimesDowd, who hardly knows me, makes up things that I never said for her boring interviews and column. A neurotic dope!

Later in the day, Trump connected the Times' story about his tax breaks (see above) with Dowd's commentary, and decided that it is a conspiracy against him. So, he threatened to sue the Times for "irresponsible intent." It is unclear exactly what this means, but Trump and his lawyers might want to review the basics of libel law, particularly the portions about truth as an affirmative defense. (Z)

New York Times Criticized for Coverage

In the past several weeks, there has been a growing chorus of voices in the media critical of the Times' coverage of one of the 2016 candidates. The claim is that the newspaper of record is too focused on scandal, too focused on undermining the candidate, and has lost all semblance of balance in their reporting. Naturally, the candidate in question is...Hillary Clinton.

It's hard to believe that the left-leaning Times would be accused of bias against the left-leaning Clinton, but the pattern has become undeniable. The linked article, from Eric Boehlert of media analysis site MediaMatters, itself contains links to analyses from Josh Marshall at TPM, Matthew Yglesias at Vox, Charles Pierce at Esquire, James Fallows and Norm Ornstein from The Atlantic, Will Bunch at, Paul Glastris at Washington Monthly, and even the Times' own Paul Krugman. Of particular concern is the newspaper's tendency to beat Clinton scandals into the ground, while often giving passing attention to Trump scandals. The Times has been obsessive about the e-mail server and about the Clinton Foundation; by contrast, the story about Trump possibly bribing the Attorney General of Florida did not get a mention until five days after it broke.

How are we to explain this curious turn of events? There are several explanations running through the various analyses. The first, which literally everyone agrees on, is that the Times and the Clintons just don't like one another, an antagonism that now dates back three decades. Second is the pursuit of "balance"; the Times has been particularly sensitive to right-wing charges of bias, and may play up Clinton scandals to prove that they are "fair." The third is something of an "in for a penny, in for a pound" dynamic—once the paper really commits to a story, particularly if it one that they "uncovered," it is hard for them to abandon it and acknowledge that there wasn't much substance there. And finally, it seems clear that the Times is intimidated by Trump's lawsuit threats (see above), knowing well how he's run his business for 40 years.

Whichever of these it may be, Boehlert's conclusion is pretty damning:

But I can tell you that as someone who's been watching the Times for decades and observing criticism of the paper, I can't remember a time when so many seasoned journalists set aside so much time to simultaneously document how unfair and misleading they thought the Times' presidential campaign work had become. These are in-depth, detailed critiques cataloging an array of Times missteps that have more and more writers seeing red. Or, as Pierce lamented in Esquire, "Oh, for the love of god, mother Times. Are you freaking kidding me?"

Of course, this is somewhat balanced out by the fact that right-leaning Fox News doesn't really like Donald Trump. 2016 has been a very strange year, indeed. (Z)

Silicon Valley Donors Are Flexing Their Political Muscles

Usually when people think of big donors from California, they think of Hollywood stars, directors, and producers. However, this year, another part of California is starting to play a big role in financing political campaigns: Silicon Valley. Tech billionaires who previously kept a low profile are starting to come out of the woodwork and make large donations. Here are some of the bigger players:

  • Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook, is giving $20 million to Democrats
  • Larry Ellison, chairman of Oracle, gave $5 million to Marco Rubio
  • Meg Whitman, CEO of HP Enterprise, gave $305,000 to Chris Christie and then $50,000 to Hillary Clinton
  • Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, gave $2 million to Carly Fiorina
  • Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce, gave $100,000 to Hillary Clinton

And there are many more donors from Silicon Valley, as billionaires there who used to keep out of politics are jumping in. (V)

Veep Debate Stand-ins Named

Both presidential and vice-presidential candidates are working on their debate performances. It is expected that at least three of them (with Trump the possible exception) will take part in one or more mock debates. Who will play Trump in Clinton's mock debates isn't known yet. However, it has been announced that the Washington super lawyer Robert Barnett will play Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) when Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) gets on the mock stage for the mock debate. He also played Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) when Hillary Clinton practiced for her debates with Bernie Sanders. So, he's a pretty flexible guy—one day he is playing a wild-haired Jewish socialist from Brooklyn and Vermont, and another day he is a deeply religious conservative Christian from Indiana. Barnett is an old hand at this kind of role-playing. In 1984, he played George H.W. Bush and in 2000 and 2004 he played Dick Cheney in the Democrats' mock debates.

On the other side, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is playing Tim Kaine in Mike Pence's prep. In fact, one mock debate has already taken place. Pence picked Walker himself, with no input from Trump Tower. (V)

How the Cartels Will Defeat Trump's Wall

Donald Trump thinks that building a wall along the Mexican border will stop the flow of people and drugs into the United States, but it is unlikely to succeed. Criminal money and ingenuity will be able to defeat any wall. Criminals will use numerous techniques to commit their crimes. One that the Border Patrol already knows about is digging tunnels. Hundreds of them have already been discovered and sealed, but there are undoubtedly many others. Usually they terminate on the U.S. side inside houses or warehouses, so they are difficult to detect. Many are too deep for ground-penetrating radar, and some even have air conditioning and a railway system.

A newer technique is using small drones to smuggle drugs over the border. In Aug. 2015, the Border Patrol seized a shipment of 28 pounds of heroin and arrested two people who came to collect the drugs after the drone landed. This was the first seizure, but certainly not the last one. Detecting a small drone flown just over the wall at night will be nearly impossible. Other techniques involve using small speedboats and submarines to smuggle people around the wall out in the Pacific Ocean and land them on the U.S. side on the California coast. Small planes are also commonly used to smuggle people. People have also been hidden inside packages of all kinds on trucks that are crossing the border legally. Probably the most bizarre case was that of Enrique Aguilar Canchola, who was smuggled sewn inside the upholstery of a car seat. And if everything else fails, there is always that old standby: bribing a Border Patrol officer. (V)

Mark Cuban Offers Trump $10 Million for an Interview

Billionaire Mark Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, has offered Donald Trump a great deal. If Trump will agree to be interviewed by Cuban for four hours on policy, with no mentions of Hillary Clinton, Cuban will donate $10 million to any charity of Trump's choosing. Or if Trump prefers, he can keep the $10 million himself. Although Trump was happy to take $150,000 to repair his "small business" after 9/11 (see above), so far he has shown little interest in Cuban's $10 million. (V)

Ryan's Tax Plan May Slightly Favor the Rich

As we pointed out, Donald Trump's economic proposals have underwhelmed the professional economists. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), by contrast, is a serious politician with serious policy ideas. So, his economic plan—which is, de facto, the House Republicans' economic plan—should stand up to scrutiny a bit better, right? Maybe not.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center (TPC) has conducted an analysis of Ryan's tax plan, and they don't much like what they see. They project that by the time all of the Speaker's tax cuts are implemented in 2025, a rather sizable portion of the benefits would be going to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. As in, 99.6%. Those households would see an average increase in their income of 10.6%, and would enjoy an average annual tax savings of $240,000. Working-class households, by contrast, would see an average increase in their income of 0.5%, and would enjoy an average annual tax savings of $120. Middle- and upper middle-class households would pay more in taxes, and would see their incomes decrease. Meanwhile, the loss of revenue to the government would likely require trillions of dollars in extra borrowing.

The TPC will be releasing an analysis of Hillary Clinton's proposals, as well as their own analysis of Donald Trump's proposals. Depending on their conclusions, we could be seeing their name a lot in commercials in the next couple of months. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

Good news for Hillary Clinton. Without Pennsylvania, it will be tough for Trump to get 270 EV. Essentially, all his eggs would be in the North Carolina basket (and that assumes he takes Ohio and Florida and Arizona and Colorado). (Z)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Pennsylvania 40% 32% 14% Sep 12 Sep 16 Muhlenberg Coll.

Today's Senate Polls

For someone with no experience running for office. Katie McGinty is doing quite well. Given how large and expensive Pennsylvania is to campaign in, Toomey may soon find himself the victim of GOP triage, as the RSCC, the Kochs, et al. decide their money is better spent elsewhere (like Missouri). (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty 43% Pat Toomey* 38% Sep 12 Sep 16 Muhlenberg Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep17 Trump Concedes that Obama Was Born in the United States
Sep17 Response to Trump Birther Announcement is Swift
Sep17 Johnson and Stein Don't Make the Cut
Sep17 Bob Schieffer Gives Advice to Debate Moderators
Sep17 The Biggest Issue of the Campaign Is Entirely Missing
Sep17 Hillary Clinton Wasn't Always Like She Is Now
Sep17 Democrats Rallying Around Clinton
Sep17 Fraternal Order of Police Endorses Trump
Sep16 Can Clinton Win the Kids?
Sep16 How to Watch the Debates: Turn the Sound Off
Sep16 New Hampshire Union Leader Endorses Johnson
Sep16 Trump Explains His Economic Plans
Sep16 Trump, Jr. Has New Excuse for Why Dad Won't Release Taxes
Sep16 Trump Reverses Course on Birther Claims...Sort Of
Sep16 Ford Fires Back at Trump
Sep16 Trump Is Rising, but What Goes Up Can Also Come Down
Sep16 Virginia Supreme Court Sides with McAuliffe on Reenfranchising Felons
Sep16 Dr. Oz Show Edited Out Trump's Remarks about Kissing Ivanka
Sep16 Kochs Shift Gears
Sep15 President Trump Would Have Massive Conflicts of Interest
Sep15 President Trump Would Cost the U.S. $1 Trillion
Sep15 Both Candidates' Health Still Partially Shrouded in Mystery
Sep15 Melania Trump's Immigration History Still Shrouded in Mystery, Too
Sep15 New York Times Wants to Unseal Trump's Divorce File
Sep15 Springfield Ohio, A Town with No Hope
Sep15 Clinton to Return to the Campaign Trail Today
Sep15 RNC Was Hacked...or Not
Sep14 The Deplorable Duel
Sep14 About Clinton's Unforced Error
Sep14 Candidates and Aides Get Sick All the Time on the Campaign Trail
Sep14 Supreme Court Refuses to Reinstate Ohio's Golden Week
Sep14 Middle-Class Incomes Grew at a Record Pace in 2015
Sep14 Trump Unveils Childcare Plan
Sep14 Details of Trump's Dr. Oz Appearance Revealed
Sep14 Today in Dissembling: Kellyanne Conway
Sep14 Republicans Privately Panicking about a Possible Trump Win
Sep14 More DNC Documents Leaked
Sep14 Colin Powell Gets Hacked, Too
Sep14 Senate Democrats Already Worried about 2018
Sep14 Absentee Ballots Are the Weak Link Fight against Voter Fraud
Sep13 No Chicken Little, The Sky is Not Falling
Sep13 Clinton Will Release More Information on Her Health
Sep13 David Axelrod Hits Clinton for Her Obsession with Secrecy
Sep13 The Looming Debate Disaster
Sep13 Trump Faces New Type of Pressure on Tax Returns
Sep13 Why Does Donald Trump Get a Pass from the Media?
Sep13 NCAA Pulls Championship Games from North Carolina over Bathroom Bill
Sep13 Obama's Approval Numbers Are Soaring
Sep13 Nate Silver Gives GOP Donors a Secret Presentation
Sep13 Pence Doesn't Want Duke's Support, but Doesn't Think He's Deplorable