• Clinton Has Double-Digit Lead Nationally
• The GOP Establishment Does Not Like Donald Trump
• Trump Gives a Major Address on the Economy
• New Citizens Could Play a Major Role in the Election
• Could In-Person Voter Fraud Steal an Election?
• Religious Leaders Focus on the Issues
• Two Benghazi Parents Sue Clinton
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
The little app for the iPhone and iPad (written by John Sinteur, proprietor of the excellent Daily Irrelevant blog) is available again. To download it for free, click on the iPhone icon under the map legend (not the "Smartphone" icon). There is, unfortunately, no Android version of the app. The "Smartphone" icon gives a very basic version of the site, with no layout, suitable for reading on small smartphones. (V)
Yet another national poll puts Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump. This time it is a Monmouth University poll with Clinton at 50%, Trump at 37%, Libertarian Gary Johnson at 7%, and Green Jill Stein at 2%. Clinton has solidified her support among Democrats, with 92% of them in her camp. The very small support for Jill Stein (2%) indicates that the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are apparently past bargaining and moving into depression and acceptance, possibly both at the same time. Also noteworthy is that Clinton has an 8-point lead in the 10 swing states that were decided by fewer than 7 points in 2012. In terms of favorable/unfavorable, Clinton is at 37%/49% whereas Trump is deeply under water at 26%/61%.
Another poll, from Susquehanna Polling and Research (SPR), arguably gave even worse news for The Donald. The pollsters asked Pennsylvanians about their presidential preference, and Clinton came out ahead 46% to 37%. This was bad news for two reasons. First, Pennsylvania is essential to Trump's electoral hopes—without the Keystone State, he has few viable paths to victory. Second, SPR is a Republican polling firm. We don't put partisan pollsters (including SPR) into our database, because they tend to be heavily skewed in favor of whichever party is paying the bills. For a Republican house to give the Democratic candidate a 9-point lead is very unsettling for the Republican, indeed. (V & Z)
You probably already knew that the Republican establishment and the Party's candidate are not exactly simpatico. But just in case, there was a veritable smorgasbord of reminders on Monday.
The appetizer came from Florida. There, the spokesman for the Florida State Republican Party, Wadi Gaitan, quit his job. A Latino whose parents came from Honduras, Gaitan was tired of being associated with Trump, and will now go to work for the Koch brothers. "I'm thankful for my almost two years with the Florida GOP," he explained in a statement. "However, moving on gives me a great, new opportunity to continue promoting free market solutions while avoiding efforts that support Donald Trump."
The main course, meanwhile, was a letter signed by 50 individuals who served in high-ranking national security positions in Republican administrations. The letter absolutely lambastes The Donald, declaring that he "would put at risk our country's national security and well-being" and that he "would be the most reckless president in American history." They suggest finding another candidate to vote for.
And the dessert was delivered all the way from Maine. There, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) became the first sitting Republican Senator to announce that she will not be voting for Trump. In an op-ed penned for the Washington Post, she laid out the incidents that were decisive for her: Trump's mockery of a disabled reporter, his attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and his verbal sparring with the Gold Star Khan family. "My conclusion about Mr. Trump's unsuitability for office," she declares, "is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics. Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities."
Hillary Clinton is already running a national commercial that highlights some of the Republicans who will not support Trump. At this rate, it's going to have to be a series of commercials. Or maybe a feature film. (Z)
Yesterday, Donald Trump gave a major address on the economy, stressing that he would bring new jobs and prosperity, whereas Hillary Clinton would bring stagnation. As usual, the devil is in the details, and the details are very similar to what Republicans have been proposing for decades. One item that Trump pushed is eliminating the estate tax. He didn't mention that it only kicks in for married couples with assets exceeding $11 million, so only a handful of extremely wealthy people are subject to it. Since he is way above that level, his kids would benefit enormously from such a change, but no middle-class families would benefit from it and even the poorer rich wouldn't. Eliminating it would reduce government revenues by $225 billion in the next decade.
Trump also advocated for a child-care tax deduction. For child care expenses of $10,000, the deduction would be worth $3,960 for someone making half a million a year, but only $1,500 for someone earning $75,000. Many poor families don't even earn enough to pay federal income tax, so the deduction wouldn't be worth anything to them. Trump also pledged to tear up the Paris climate agreement because he says government regulations are killing manufacturing jobs.
The Hill produced a list of the top five takeaways from Trump's speech:
- He is moving toward GOP orthodoxy
- Trump is not overhauling his image
- Ivanka is influencing his campaign
- He wants to look presidential
- Specifics will have to wait
While there were certainly some details in the speech, on a fair number of items he was vague to the point of not saying anything. For example, almost everyone is in favor of "tax reform." Only, some people mean taxes on the rich should be increased, and others mean taxes on the rich should be decreased. Thus, merely being for "tax reform" doesn't convey a lot of information.
Hillary Clinton reacted to the speech shortly after it was delivered, saying it was just warmed-over conservative talking points that would benefit the wealthy elite. She called his economic team "six guys named Steve," and pointed out that the team was all male and full of billionaires, so it is not surprising that Trump's plans play well with billionaires.
It also did not take long for economists from across the spectrum to weigh in and, on the whole, they were underwhelmed (or worse) by what they heard. Most saw Trump's plan as a "weird stew of policies," as conservative scholar Douglas Holtz-Eakin described it. Their feeling was that Trump was not trying to craft a comprehensive economic program, he was trying to rope in specific groups—something on child care to appeal to women, something on trade agreements to appeal to blue-collar voters, something on the estate tax to get establishment Republicans. So, it looks like it's back to the drawing board for the six Steves. (V)
In the first 3 months of 2016, over a quarter of a million U.S. residents applied for citizenship. Of these, 33,000 were in the key swing state of Florida, a gain of 41% compared to a year ago. There are almost 9 million legal residents of the U.S. who are eligible for citizenship. All they have to do is apply.
It used to be that the majority of Latinos in Florida were Cubans and voted Republican. That is no longer true. A majority of Florida Latinos, many of them from Puerto Rico, are now Democrats and they could spell big trouble for Trump. Without Florida, his campaign is essentially doomed. (V)
From time to time we see an article in which the author cites the case of someone who impersonated a voter as a test and got a ballot. From one or two instances, the author concludes in-person voter fraud must be rampant. An analogy could be made with tiger teams trying to smuggle weapons onto airplanes. Often the latter works. But there is a huge difference between the two exercises. If one person smuggles one weapon onto one plane, it could result in a plane crash, with hundreds of people being killed. If one fraudulent voter manages to vote illegally, it is not going to change an election result, except maybe for dogcatcher in a town with seven voters.
Consider what it would take to actually change, say, a congressional election. The closest congressional election in 2012 was in IL-13, where Rodney Davis (R) defeated David Gill (D) 137,034 votes to 136,032. To flip that election, Gill would have had to get 1,003 people to vote for him illegally. How would one recruit 1,003 people to cast fraudulent votes? Place an ad on Craigslist or in the local newspaper? Probably not a great idea, since asking people to commit a felony is not something you want to get caught doing. Maybe a radio spot? Attend a meeting of the College Democrats and pass out a flyer? Remember, this has to be done very covertly. Once you explain to an interested party what you want, most of them are going to sense you are asking them to commit a crime, even if they don't know the exact penalty. Most likely you are going to have to talk to thousands of people to get 1,003 who agree. Obviously, there is a great danger that more than a few of the people who you approach and who say "no" might go to the police.
The next problem is the money. How much money would it take to induce people to risk 5 years in prison? Would people do it for $100? Probably not too many. How about $1,000 or $10,000? That might work, but where would you get the money? To get $1,000 for each of 1,003 voters, you would need over $1 million in cash. As former House Speaker Dennis Hastert recently discovered, withdrawing $1 million in amounts of $9,000 each time is itself a felony. Besides, ATM withdrawals of $1 million, even in small amounts, leave a massive paper trail for the police later on. And when would you pay? Cash in advance? Probably not a good idea from the vote buyer's point of view. Cash after the fact? Probably not a good idea from the voter's point of view.
An alternative to impersonating voters would be to buy the votes of actual voters—say, as they arrive at their polling place. This approach is also fraught with issues, however. To start, it would run the same risk as the first approach; thousands of people would have to be asked, and any one of them could blow the whistle. Next, how does the buyer verify how the person voted? Remember, we are talking about in-person voter impersonation here, not absentee ballots that can be handed over. How about asking the voter to photograph his ballot in the voting booth? Aside from the fact that such photography is illegal in some places, how does the buyer know what happened next? Maybe the voter then marked multiple candidates for the same race and turned in his spoiled ballot and asked for a new blank one. And finally, it would be hard to "buy" only the correct kind of votes. If a Democrat was trying to swing an election, for example, some percentage of the votes they purchased would come from people who were going to vote Democrat anyhow. Which means that it might be necessary to "buy" 1,300 or 1,400 or 1,500 votes to gain 1,000.
In short, even flipping the closest congressional seat would be an extremely difficult and risky process, with thousands of people knowing about it, any of whom could expose the scheme. When considering Voter ID laws, and other "anti-fraud" measures, this microscopic chance of fraudulent voting changing an election result has to be weighed against the very real possibility of thousands of actual voters being disenfranchised because they lack voting credentials and are unable to overcome barriers intentionally put in place to make it difficult to get them. (V)
Many clergy members talk about politics with their congregants, but much of the focus is on the issues, rather than on the candidates' religions. The top issues discussed in churches are:
- Religious liberty
- The environment
- Economic inequality
Clergy members generally don't endorse or oppose candidates in church. That would violate IRS regulations. But a clergy member is free to say that anyone who votes for any candidate who supports equal rights for gay people will burn in Hell, as long as no candidates' names are mentioned. (V)
Patricia Smith made headlines with her scathing anti-Clinton address at the RNC. Now she and Charles Woods, both having lost sons at Benghazi, have teamed up to sue Hillary Clinton for wrongful death, negligence, and defamation. The suit hasn't got a prayer of succeeding, of course. It is very hard to sue a federal government employee, and on top of that, there is no evidence Clinton did anything wrong (much less criminally wrong) vis-a-vis Benghazi. You may recall that Congressional Republicans spent a bit of time looking into that question.
These things don't matter, though, because the purpose of the suit is not to win, it's to create headlines. Surely, it is not a coincidence that this comes when Donald Trump is still receiving criticism for his attacks on the Khan family. Smith and Woods are a GOP counter to the Khans; they can say literally anything, and Clinton will not be able to respond substantively. If she does, she'll be attacked for (a) arguing with a Gold Star family and (b) being a hypocrite, since she blasted Donald Trump for sparring with the Khans. So, she needs to hope that the suit doesn't get much attention, or else that it is dismissed quickly. (Z)
The evidence continues to mount that Georgia really might be in play. At very least, Donald Trump and the GOP are going to have to spend resources in a state where they really don't want to be using those resources. (Z)
|Georgia||44%||37%||7%||Aug 06||Aug 07||JMC Analytics|
|Utah||25%||37%||16%||Jul 18||Aug 04||Dan Jones|
Sen. Johnny Isakson has nearly $6 million on hand. He's going to need to start spending it, if he doesn't want to have an anxious time on Election Day. (Z)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Georgia||Jim Barksdale||30%||Johnny Isakson*||39%||Aug 06||Aug 07||JMC Analytics|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug08 Will the Presidential Candidates Have Coattails?
Aug08 Kasich: Very Difficult for Trump to Win Ohio
Aug08 How Badly is Trump Doing With Black Voters?
Aug08 NeverTrump Forces Aren't Giving Up
Aug08 Where Are the Republican Women?
Aug08 Could an Election Actually Be Rigged?
Aug08 Clinton's Lies, Trump's Damned Lies
Aug08 Could a Third Party Affect the Election?
Aug08 Trump Will Not Be Able to Pay Off National Debt
Aug08 George Bush Endorses Trump
Aug07 Trump Goes on the Offensive
Aug07 Is Trump-Pence Working Out?
Aug07 Wikileaks Won't Go After Trump's Tax Returns
Aug07 What's Behind Convention Bounces?
Aug07 Green Party Officially Nominates Jill Stein
Aug07 Third Parties Are Racing against the Clock
Aug07 Another Republican Bails on Trump
Aug07 Clinton Is Buying Olympics Ads
Aug07 The Political Process Is Worse Than Rigged
Aug07 Mosquitoes Bite Rubio
Aug06 The Economy Is Barreling Along
Aug06 Trump Names His Economic Team
Aug06 Donald Trump: Full of Surprises
Aug06 Clinton Working to Counter Trump's Rust Belt Strategy
Aug06 Former CIA Head Endorses Clinton
Aug06 Hillary Gets Overconfident, Gets Burned
Aug06 Clinton Still Having Trouble with Millennials
Aug06 Republican Insiders to Trump: Drop Out
Aug06 Another Take on What Happens If Trump Drops Out
Aug06 Trump Closer to Clinton in New Poll
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