Clinton 306
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Ties 34
Trump 198
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Click for Senate
Dem 49
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GOP 51
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  • Strongly Dem (210)
  • Likely Dem (50)
  • Barely Dem (46)
  • Exactly tied (34)
  • Barely GOP (40)
  • Likely GOP (65)
  • Strongly GOP (93)
270 Electoral votes needed to win Map algorithm explained
New polls: GA MI
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA VA

The Economy Is Barreling Along

The Labor Dept. reported yesterday that the economy is churning out jobs at an excellent clip, with 255,000 new jobs created in July. The stock market surged on the news. So did Democrats' hopes for November. One of the Republicans' arguments for "throw the bums out" is that Democrats can't manage the economy. But when jobs are plentiful, new college graduates are getting snapped up quickly, and wages are rising, it is hard to make the argument that the economy is in dire straits and it is Obama's fault. The good report is especially important for Hillary Clinton, since she is clearly running for Obama's third term. If his second one ends with a bang, many people will be happy to have more of the same. (V)

Trump Names His Economic Team

Donald Trump didn't let the good economic news pass unnoticed. Instead, he took action: He announced his economic team. All are men, 38% are named Steve, and many are billionaires. 11 of the 13 come from business. Only one is an academic and he is also the only one with a Ph.D. in economics. Only one has any government experience. When Trump says he prefers wealthy businessmen to academics and government bureaucrats, he clearly means it. Here is the list:

  • Tom Barrack: Founder and chairman of Colony Capital, which invests in real estate and distressed assets
  • Andy Beal: Billionaire founder of Beal Bank
  • Steve Calk: Chairman and CEO of Federal Savings Bank
  • Dan DiMicco: Former CEO of steel company Nucor
  • Steve Feinberg: Billionaire co-founder and CEO of Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity firm
  • Harold Hamm: Billionaire CEO of Continental Resources, an oil company
  • Howard Lorber: CEO of tobacco and real estate firm Vector Group
  • David Malpass: Former chief economist of the failed investment bank Bear Stearns
  • Steve Mnuchin: CEO of hedge fund Dune Capital Management
  • Steve Moore: Founder of the Club for Growth and Fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation
  • Peter Navarro: Economics professor at the University of California at Irvine
  • John Paulson: Billionaire founder of an investment firm that made billions shorting subprime mortgages
  • Steve Roth: Billionaire CEO of Vornado Realty

As can be seen, the emphasis is on billionaires from the financial and real-estate sectors. Only one comes from a manufacturing company. Given Trump's repeated statement that he will bring good jobs back to America, one might have expected the team to be weighted towards CEOs of successful manufacturing companies, but it is not. Many of the team members have long advocated for massive tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, on the grounds that that would create jobs. The list gives a pretty good idea of Trump's thinking on matters economic. (V)

Donald Trump: Full of Surprises

Donald Trump has pointedly spent all week not endorsing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), obvious payback for Ryan's refusal to endorse Trump. On Friday, however, The Donald changed course and gave Ryan his full support:

We will have disagreements, but we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory. And very importantly, toward real change. So in our shared mission, to make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.

For good measure, Trump also endorsed two other fellow Republicans with whom he had been sparring: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Whether Trump's endorsement helps, hurts, or has no impact on those races is hard to say. From Trump's perspective, however, the move was probably the wise course of action. He cannot afford to have the entire Republican Party establishment aligned against him (on top of the entire Democratic Party). Some of his supporters were less than pleased, however, calling The Donald "a sellout."

The endorsements were not the only surprise to come from Trump on Friday. Earlier this week, the billionaire accused the Obama administration of making a secret $400 million payment to Iran, and said he had seen footage of an airplane smuggling the money into the country. Trump was wrong on both points; the payment was not secret, and the footage he saw was of American prisoners being transported out of Iran. Caught in the midst of yet another outright error, Trump did something absolutely shocking: He admitted he was wrong.

That said, a leopard cannot change his spots (especially in just 24 hours). By the end of the day Friday, Trump the iconoclast was back at it. He was being interviewed about possible picks for his Cabinet, and was asked what female he might name. After struggling to come up with an answer for about a minute, he named...his daughter, Ivanka. He also proposed adding the reporter who was asking the questions (Angelia Savage). Just when Paul Manafort thought he could exhale.

No, wait. It gets worse. Although Ivanka Trump is clearly an intelligent woman, her appointment to the cabinet would be illegal. When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, he appointed his brother Bobby as attorney general. When Bobby Kennedy traveled to Oxford, MS to enroll James Meredith in the University of Mississippi at the point of gun, he went as Attorney General of the United States, not as Jack's brother. At the time, no one questioned Bobby's qualifications for the job. Nevertheless, after the fact, people got antsy about possible future nepotism, with presidents appointing their relatives to cushy government jobs. So, 5 U.S. Code 3110 was amended to prevent that from happening. Sorry Ivanka. (Z & V)

Clinton Working to Counter Trump's Rust Belt Strategy

Everyone—politicians and pundits alike—recognizes that Donald Trump's great white hope is the Rust Belt states. Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, in particular, represent his only real chance to pierce the Democrats' "blue wall." To that end, the Clinton campaign is hard at work on their countermoves.

The strategy has several prongs. First is to deploy Clinton surrogates who might appeal to white, working-class male voters. "Regular guy" Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) is barnstorming right now, and his semi-doppelgänger Joe Biden will eventually follow, as will Bill Clinton and a host of others. Second is to re-direct ad money from states that now appear to be safe (Colorado, for example) to Rust Belt states. Third is messaging—it's not a coincidence that Clinton and Kaine have spent a lot of their time since the convention talking about jobs, the economy, and trade. Currently, polls suggest that voters trust Clinton slightly more than Trump on economic issues. If she can keep that up, or can improve a bit, then the blue wall should hold. (Z)

Former CIA Head Endorses Clinton

Michael Morell, former acting director of the CIA from 2010 to 2013, endorsed Hillary Clinton yesterday, attacking Donald Trump in blistering terms. Morell is an independent who worked in the CIA for 33 years, serving both Democratic and Republican presidents. He said he had two reasons for making his endorsement. First, he worked with Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State and can attest to the fact that she is qualified to be commander in chief. Second, he strongly believes that Donald Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but a threat to national security.

In particular, he pointed out that Vladimir Putin is a trained intelligence officer, skilled in finding vulnerabilities in people that he can exploit. Morell said that Putin has done precisely that with Trump, praising him and gaining his confidence, and ultimately getting Trump to say things that are in Russia's national interest rather than America's. Morell is especially upset with Trump's endorsing Putin's spying on America and interfering with its elections and not objecting to Russia's military annexation of the Crimea. Morell even went as far as saying that effectively, Trump is Putin's agent. (V)

Hillary Gets Overconfident, Gets Burned

As we and others have observed, Hillary Clinton has been as quiet as a church mouse this week. She knows that when your opponent is shooting himself in the foot, the best thing to do is to get out of the way.

It is not the nature of a politician to keep quiet, however. Further, after such a great week, polling-wise, Clinton had to be feeling pretty good about this thing. So, on Friday, she did something she hasn't done in 260 days: Held a press conference. Press conferences are, to put it mildly, not her forte. As someone who is both a hardcore wonk and a hardcore politician, she is all but unable to give answers that are clear, simple, or direct. Consequently, the session on Friday was—by all accounts—a disaster. She spent much of the time giving crummy answers about her email server (Note to HRC: "It was a screw up—one of the biggest errors of my time in public service. I'm sorry for the mistake and I am very glad the FBI, etc. concluded America was not harmed." Fin). She was also tossed a softball of a question: "What is the most meaningful conversation you've had with an African American friend?" Her answer:

Oh my gosh. Well, could I tell you that I am blessed to have a crew of great friends...I can't really pick one conversation out of, you know, 50 years of conversations. I'm going to respect the cone of friendship silence, but please know I've got a lot of great friends who have given me so much more.

In other words, just like Sarah Palin couldn't think of one magazine or newspaper she reads, Clinton couldn't think of one good conversation she's had with a black friend.

And so, what we have on Friday is Donald Trump acting like Hillary Clinton (see above) and Hillary Clinton acting like Donald Trump. It's a strange election. (Z)

Clinton Still Having Trouble with Millennials

Although Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) did not win the Democratic nomination, one thing he did extremely well is poison an entire generation against Hillary Clinton. Large numbers of voters under 30 see her as a warmonger and corporate stooge. While these people despise Donald Trump for his racist, sexist, and xenophobic attitudes, they are also not ready to pull the lever for Clinton. Many are confused, undecided, or will vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Unlike older voters, millennials are more idealistic and are much less inclined than their parents to vote for the lesser of two evils.

Clinton is well aware of this and is trying to woo them. She has joined up with liberal climate change advocacy group NextGen climate, which is going all out on 200 college campuses as soon as school starts. Clinton is also setting up her own campus-based outreach group. In the end, there is no way she can come off as their rumpled, passionate, authentic hero. The best she can do is convince them that she is not really the cartoon that Sanders drew her as, and that Trump would be a true disaster for them. Historically, it takes a few months before the losers' supporters calm down and gravitate to the winner, especially after a bitter ideological battle. (V)

Republican Insiders to Trump: Drop Out

It looks like #NeverTrump is morphing into #StillNeverTrump. Politico asked its panel of Republican activists, strategists, and operatives in 11 swing states what to do about Donald Trump and 70% said he should be told to drop out of the race. Never before have so many insiders wanted to get rid of their nominee two weeks after the convention. However, they are also afraid of what would happen if they tried to pressure him into exiting, in effect rebuffing the millions of people who voted for him.

Nor are they optimistic Trump will drop out. One New Hampshire Republican said: "I also wish I could lose 20 pounds, cut 5 shots off my [golf] handicap and play the piano. None of those things will happen and neither will Trump drop out." An Ohio Republican felt that talk about him dropping out is only going to anger his supporters, who see all this talk as the party elite scheming against the people's choice. A Colorado Republican called him an "egomaniac." A Michigan Republican wants him "to lose fair and square" to teach the base a lesson. Many Republicans expect the drumbeat for an exit to get louder if his poll numbers continue on their current downward trajectory. (V)

Another Take on What Happens If Trump Drops Out

While there is no indication that Donald Trump plans to drop out (although 70% of insiders polled by Politico would love him to do it), discussion continues about "what if ...?" Thursday we had an item on this and yesterday as well. Now one of the country's foremost election law specialists, Prof. Richard L. Hasen of the University of California at Irvine, has written a piece looking at the issue from a different angle. Ours were about what happens to the presidential electors in the event the candidate changes in midstream. His is about what might happen in the courts if Trump drops out and a lawsuit follows, as it inevitably would.

Hasen's starting point is the democracy canon: "Election rules should be interpreted as generously as possible in favor of voter interests." In other words, if some state's law says a candidate may be replaced up to 51 days before an election and Trump were to drop out 36 days before the election, Hasen believes that if a replacement were named the next day (35 days before the election), the courts would overrule state law and allow the replacement. However, if the ballots were already printed and shipped out, and there was no time to print new ones, the court might refuse to order new ballots, especially if that put the election in jeopardy.

We have one recent example of a dropout/replacement scenario. In 2002, then-senator Bob Torricelli was forced to withdraw when he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar (although he was never formally charged with a crime). Democrats wanted to replace him with former senator Frank Lautenberg, who was willing to unretire to save the party. Torricelli withdrew 35 days before the election. New Jersey law strongly suggests (but does not explicitly state) that candidates may be replaced only if they withdraw 51 days or more before the election. The Republicans wanted to keep the corrupt Torricelli on the ballot and fought the Democrats in court. Fortunately for the Democrats, the court ruled that the interest of the voters was best served by having the name of the actual candidate on the ballot, so Lautenberg replaced Torricelli. He was elected and then reelected in 2008, serving until his death in 2013 at age 89. Of course, we don't know what would have happened if Torricelli had withdrawn 30 days or 25 days or 20 days before the election. Based on this one case, if Trump were to withdraw, say, Sept. 27 (the day after the first presidential debate), the Republicans might be able to replace him in many states (assuming the RNC could pick a replacement quickly, which might not be so easy). (V)

Trump Closer to Clinton in New Poll

Yesterday we had a news story about seven national polls, all of which Clinton led Trump by margins of 4% to 14%. Now a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows Clinton barely ahead, 42% to 39%. It is important to realize that all these polls have margins of error of 3-5%, depending on the sample size. Besides statistical errors, there are other sources of error in all polls, primarily the pollster's idea of the composition of the electorate. Nevertheless, with all eight post-convention polls showing Clinton leading, she probably is indeed leading for the moment. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Georgia in play? Seems hard to believe, but we now have a poll putting Clinton ahead in the Peach State. Whether this is really true remains to be seen, but it is conceivable that the state really is in play. What Clinton has going for her here is (1) a large black population that is close to 100% for her, and (2) many college-educated voters in Atlanta. Whether these are enough to overcome the state's historic Republican slant remains to be seen. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Georgia 41% 38% 11% Aug 01 Aug 04 Atlanta Journal/Abt SRBI
Michigan 43% 32% 8% Jul 30 Aug 04 EPIC MRA

Today's Senate Polls

As noted above, we're not 100% persuaded by these polls until we have more data from Georgia. But if these numbers are correct, well, a 6% lead for an incumbent Senator against an upstart challenger with no political experience would be very poor, indeed. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Georgia Jim Barksdale 42% Johnny Isakson* 48% Aug 01 Aug 04 Atlanta Journal/Abt SRBI

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug05 Clinton Has a Large National Lead
Aug05 Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball: Clinton Landslide
Aug05 Ryan and Others Are Walking a Fine Line
Aug05 Trump May Start to Drag Senate Candidates Down
Aug05 Melania Trump May Have Been an Undocumented Worker
Aug05 Clinton Is Targeting Influential Republicans
Aug05 Clinton Has To Figure out How To Use Her Billionaires
Aug05 What if Trump Dumps Trump? (Part II)
Aug05 Why Mormons Don't Like Trump
Aug04 Republicans Are Holding the Senate
Aug04 Trump May Be Preparing To Challenge the Election Results
Aug04 Trump Says His Campaign is Unified
Aug04 What If Trump Dumps Trump?
Aug04 Trump Revises July Haul Upward
Aug04 How To Play Trump in Clinton's Debate Prep
Aug04 Team Clinton To Spend Almost $100 Million on Ads
Aug04 Meg Whitman Supports Clinton
Aug04 Texas Won't Ask for Voter ID Cards in November
Aug04 Tea Party Congressman Defeated in Primary in Kansas
Aug04 Lewandowski is Back on the Birther Train
Aug04 What if the Democrats Nominated Sean Penn?
Aug04 Republican Are Holding the Senate
Aug04 Trump May Be Preparing To Challenge the Election Results
Aug04 Trump Says His Campaign is Unified
Aug04 Trump Revises July Haul Upward
Aug04 What If Trump Dumps Trump?
Aug04 How To Play Trump in Clinton's Debate Prep
Aug04 Team Clinton To Spend Almost $100 Million on Ads
Aug04 Meg Whitman Supports Clinton
Aug04 Texas Won't Ask for Voter ID Cards in November
Aug04 Tea Party Congressman Defeated in Primary in Kansas
Aug04 Lewandowski is Back on the Birther Train
Aug04 What if the Democrats Nominated Sean Penn?
Aug03 More Decorated Veterans Excoriate Trump for Criticizing a Gold Star Family
Aug03 Trump Spokeswoman Blames Obama for Humayun Khan's Death
Aug03 Trump Got Five Draft Deferments to Stay Out of Vietnam
Aug03 Trump Receives a Purple Heart
Aug03 Trump Refuses To Endorse Ryan or McCain
Aug03 The Walls: Red, White, and Blue (and Pink)
Aug03 Clinton Outraised Trump in July
Aug03 DNC Shakeups Continue
Aug03 Jill Stein Names Her Running Mate
Aug02 The Khan Story Just Won't Die
Aug02 Gallup: Democratic Convention Better Than Republican Convention
Aug02 Clinton Leads in New National Polls
Aug02 Surprise Endorsements for Clinton and Trump
Aug02 Trump Is Afraid the Election May Be Rigged
Aug02 Trump Raised $36 Million in July
Aug02 Trump Fights FireFighters with Fire
Aug02 Buffett Presses Trump on Tax Returns