Clinton 368
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Ties 6
Trump 164
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Click for Senate
Dem 49
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GOP 51
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  • Strongly Dem (231)
  • Likely Dem (42)
  • Barely Dem (95)
  • Exactly tied (6)
  • Barely GOP (15)
  • Likely GOP (27)
  • Strongly GOP (122)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: CO FL NC NH TX VA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ GA NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Trump's ISIS Claim Was Sarcasm--Or Maybe Not

Donald Trump's latest outrage was his recent declaration that Barack Obama was the founder of ISIS and "Crooked Hillary" was the co-founder. Pundits across the spectrum helpfully pointed out that this could not possibly be true, since ISIS was founded in 1999, when Obama was an Illinois state senator and Clinton was First Lady. Despite being given many opportunities to back off or clarify the claim (including several chances from a softball-lobbing Hugh Hewitt), Trump stuck to his guns and insisted that he meant what he said.

On Friday morning, after two days of withering criticism, Trump finally tried to give himself cover, claiming that he was just being "sarcastic." This explanation did not sit well with reporters, who wondered why Trump wouldn't have explained that to Hewitt, et. al., when he was being pressed on exactly what he meant. And apparently Trump himself didn't really believe his explanation either, because on Friday afternoon he told a crowd that the remark was "not that sarcastic, to be honest with you." One might think that such undisciplined messaging would have RNC Chair Reince Priebus tearing his hair out, but at the same rally Priebus made clear that he's still on board with the campaign: "Let me tell you something: Donald Trump, the Republican Party, all of you, we're gonna put him in the White House and save this country together." Of course, maybe the Chairman was just being sarcastic. (Z)

Trump Threatens the RNC on Fundraising

More and more Republican donors, activists, and strategists are openly suggesting that the RNC stop supporting Donald Trump and pour all of its resources into saving the Senate. Trump has now taken notice of this rebellion and fired back. Yesterday he threatened the RNC by saying if they abandon him, he will stop fundraising for them. In July, he raised over $40 million for the RNC, so such talk is not just bluffing. It looks like a high-stakes game of poker here. (V)

Trump Isn't Sure that Getting Out the Vote Is Important

For most political campaigns, getting out the vote on Election Day is one of the most important parts of every candidate's strategy. The parties have built huge databases pinpointing voters who support them but who have spotty voting records. They use these databases to locate and visit the lazy voters on Election Day and try to nudge them to the polling places. Now, Donald Trump is questioning the need for all this. On Bill O'Reilly's show, he said: "I don't know that we need to get out the vote."

To any serious political operative, this is madness. Having a good Get Out The Vote (GOTV) operation is often the difference between winning and losing. Much of President Obama's victories in 2008 and 2012 can be credited to his superior database and GOTV operation. Now, Trump is saying it doesn't matter. The Donald added that he was going to have great turnout from evangelicals, miners, people who make steel, people getting killed by trade deals, unemployed people, and the military. It may well be true that those groups of people prefer him to Hillary Clinton, but experience shows that if a candidate does not have a strong GOTV operation, many of his or her supporters won't bother to vote. (V)

Trump: Clinton Can Only Win Pennsylvania by Cheating

Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the last six presidential elections, and polls currently put Hillary Clinton up there by 10-11 points. Nonetheless, Donald Trump insists that the large numbers of coal miners and other blue-collar workers mean that he has the Keystone State in the bag. So much so, in fact, that he declared on Friday that the only way the Democrats could possibly take the state is through underhanded means. "We're going to watch Pennsylvania," he told rally-goers in Altoona. "Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don't come in and vote five times. The only way we can lose, in my opinion—I really mean this, Pennsylvania—is if cheating goes on."

In the increasingly divisive world of American politics, nearly everything is on the table, from filibusters to tax returns to years-long investigations of e-mail servers. However, it is virtually unheard of for politicians to challenge the integrity of an election (particularly months before that election has even taken place). There is a reason for this: Any party that questions the legitimacy of election returns when they lose knows that, one day, the shoe will be on the other foot. But the Donald is not invested in the future success of the the Republican Party, he is only concerned with the future success of Donald Trump and the Trump brand. Recognizing that he is a big underdog, he's already doing damage control so that he can keep his "winner" reputation as intact as is possible, even in the face of a landslide. And thus we see one of the downsides to an "outsider" candidate; they're more than willing to embrace a scorched earth approach, and to leave future generations to clean up the mess. (Z)

Clinton and Kaine Release More Tax Returns

Hillary Clinton released her 2015 tax returns yesterday. Her joint return with Bill shows an adjusted gross income of $10.5 million for 2015. The Clintons paid $3.6 million in federal tax in 2015. and donated 9.8% of their income to charity. Long ago she released all of her tax returns from 2007 to 2014, and during her first presidential run she released returns all the way back to the 1970s.

New yesterday are the tax returns of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Kaine and his wife earned $313,441 in 2015. The Kaines paid an effective tax rate of 26%. Over the course of the past 10 years they donated almost 8% of their income to charity.

Now it is Donald Trump's turn. He has refused to release his tax returns, and this gambit is unlikely to make him change his mind. Undoubtedly a Clinton ad entitled "What's he hiding?" is being prepared right now. (V)

Trump Won't Reveal Bundlers' Names

Hillary Clinton's publication of a near-lifetime of tax returns has reminded everyone, once again, that Donald Trump is not following suit. The Washington Post observes that The Donald is also declining to be transparent in another way: He's hiding the names of his bundlers. Bundlers are the people who collect large numbers of small-to-medium sized donations for a campaign, with the total often reaching seven figures. Federal law does not require their names to be revealed, unless they are registered lobbyists. Nonetheless, it has become customary to provide this information, as the Clinton campaign has this year.

It is unlikely that this particular breach of protocol will have the same impact as the unreleased tax returns, since many voters don't even know what a bundler is. However, this does raise the interesting question of exactly why Trump is keeping things a secret. The likeliest possibility is that the list would be embarrassing in some way. Perhaps there are a few toxic names on it, say Roger Ailes or Dennis Hastert. Or perhaps the overall composition of the list would be an embarrassment—maybe 61% of Trump's bundlers are wealthy, white, Wall Street tycoons named Steve. Another possibility is that the bundlers themselves prefer to remain anonymous, for one reason or another, like not wanting their name/business to be associated with Trump. Whatever the case may be, we'll likely never know. (Z)

Republicans Question Trump's Travels

Pretty much all political operatives have memorized the names of the swing states. There aren't that many, perhaps a dozen at most, and some of them, like New Mexico, aren't really that swingy any more. Donald Trump apparently hasn't done that yet. Today he is holding a rally in Connecticut, a state that last went for the Republicans in 1988. Many Republican strategists see this as a fool's errand: Trump has no chance to win Connecticut, so why is he wasting precious time there? Last week he campaigned in Maine, another almost hopeless case, although there is an outside chance that he could pick up one electoral vote in ME-02, since Maine is one of the two states that awards electoral votes by congressional district. Still, spending a few hours in a difficult-to-get-to location in Northern Maine to place a longshot bet on one electoral vote has Republicans scratching their heads.

Another thing Republican strategists don't understand is why Trump is allowing himself to be buried on the air. Since the primaries, Hillary Clinton has spent $43 million on television ads. Trump has spent zero. The strategists are scared that 2016 is going to be 2012 all over again. In that year, Obama swamped Romney during the summer. By the fall, everyone already had image of Romney—the one Obama was giving them over and over. That could happen again, since Clinton is bombarding viewers in the swing states with negative ads about Trump, saying that he is unfit for public office and too volatile to have his fingers on the nuclear trigger. By the time Trump gears up and starts fighting back, it may be too late. (V)

The Internet is Eclipsing Television for Campaigning

Donald Trump's campaign announcements come in units of 140 characters or less. In fact, social media generally are beginning to rival or surpass television as the place where elections are fought. Political campaign advertising is moving in that direction as well. One key characteristic of U.S. elections is that they are all local. There are no national elections. Even for the presidency there is no national election, just 50 state elections plus D.C. And television is not always so useful for reaching the right audience. To reach New Hampshire voters, for example, a campaign has to advertise on the very expensive Boston stations, most of whose viewers don't live in New Hampshire. For a House race, television is never an effective way to spend money. For this reason and others (young people don't watch television), more and more campaign advertising is moving to the Internet.

No one really knows how effective Internet advertising is, though. When a 30-second television commercial airs, probably a large percentage of the people watching that channel see the ad. With computer screens, that is completely different. There is so much clutter on most Web pages that ads may not get a lot of attention unless they are very clever and catchy. But one huge advantage of the Web is that it is possible to target much more narrowly. We are only beginning to move to an era where Internet advertising competes with traditional advertising, but the change is coming quickly. (V)

Half of GOP Insiders Think that Trump Has Already Lost

Politico asked its panel of activists, strategists, and operatives in 11 swing states for their views on where we are now. Half of the panel said the race is essentially over and Trump lost. One Iowa Republican said: "it would take video evidence of a smiling Hillary drowning a litter of puppies ..." Another pointed out that Trump absolutely must win Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania, and there is no evidence that he has any ground game in those places at all. Another Republican said that Trump has 15 days to right his ship, otherwise it is over. Democrats on the panel weren't nearly as certain that it was in the bag for Hillary. Only 28% thought it was effectively over. The others thought that external events could yet happen to scramble the race. (V)

GOP senators Are Walking on a Tightrope and Falling Off

Donald Trump is causing Republican senators no end of grief. If they endorse him, then their Democratic opponent will tar them with every radioactive speech and tweet he puts out. If they disavow him, many Republican voters will see them as RINOs and stay home or write in someone else. Many of them are walking a tightrope by "supporting" him but not "endorsing" him, but that approach seems to be failing. In race after race, incumbent senators who were leading in the spring are now trailing. For example, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) was leading Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) until recently, but she is down 3-4 points now. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is dead meat already, trailing the man he beat in 2010, Russ Feingold, by double digits in the most recent polls. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) had a substantial lead over Katie McGinty, a Democrat who has never held elected office, but McGinty has been leading in the most recent polls. If Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) is elected vice president, the Democrats need to pick up four seats to control the Senate. With Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) as Veep, the Democrats need to flip five seats. (V)

Hacker Releases House Democrats' Phone Numbers, E-mails

Around the same time the DNC was breached, the DCCC was too, though the latter attack got limited attention. Yesterday, a hacker claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 attempted to rectify that, posting a trove of documents reportedly looted from DCCC computers, including extensive personal information for all of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives.

Between the hackers' skill at covering their tracks, and the fact that this news broke late Friday, it is difficult to be certain, but this appears to be the same Guccifer 2.0 that compromised the DNC. It is believed that 2.0 (the original Guccifer is currently sitting in prison, waiting for sentencing) is the frontperson for a hacking group called "Fancy Bear," which has ties to Russian military intelligence. There has yet to be any indication as to why they released this particular information at this particular time. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

Hillary Clinton has stopped advertising in Colorado and Virginia. Now we know why. Her internal polls probably show the same thing the public polls show. She is +12 in Colorado and also +12 in Virginia. She is probably assuming there is no way for Trump to somehow recover in these high-education states. Virginia also has a large military presence, but that may not be enough. If we assume the "blue wall" of 242 electoral votes holds—and there is no evidence to the contrary—then adding Colorado and Virginia gives 264 electoral votes. Then all she needs is 6 more. Basically, Trump has to win all the other swing states, and that includes New Mexico (5 EVs) which has become quite blue but is not part of the 242 because it voted for Bush in 2004. If we take the blue wall (242) as the basis, then add in Colorado (9), Virginia (13), and New Mexico (5), we get 269. That is one shy of 270.

If Trump wins all the others, we get 269-269 and a true moment of reckoning. Then the House will have to pick the president, with each state getting one vote. Will House Republicans vote for Trump or for Gary Johnson (they have to choose among the top three electoral vote winners)? That could be exciting. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Colorado 41% 29% 15% Aug 04 Aug 10 Marist Coll.
Florida 41% 36% 9% Aug 04 Aug 10 Marist Coll.
Florida 46% 43%   Aug 05 Aug 07 PPP
North Carolina 45% 36% 9% Aug 04 Aug 10 Marist Coll.
New Hampshire 50% 37%   Aug 05 Aug 07 PPP
Texas 35% 46%   Aug 08 Aug 09 Dixie Strategies
Virginia 43% 31% 12% Aug 04 Aug 10 Marist Coll.

Today's Senate Polls

The Senate is still 51R and 49 D. The states that are now the most critical are North Carolina (Ross vs. Burr), Nevada (Cortez Masto vs. Heck), and Arizona (Kirkpatrick vs. McCain). All are very close. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Colorado Michael Bennet* 53% Darryl Glenn 38% Aug 04 Aug 10 Marist Coll.
Florida Patrick Murphy 40% Marco Rubio* 42% Aug 05 Aug 07 PPP
Florida Patrick Murphy 43% Marco Rubio* 49% Aug 04 Aug 10 Marist Coll.
Iowa Patty Judge 42% Chuck Grassley* 52% Aug 08 Aug 10 Suffolk U.
North Carolina Deborah Ross 46% Richard Burr* 44% Aug 04 Aug 10 Marist Coll.
New Hampshire Maggie Hassan 47% Kelly Ayotte* 42% Aug 05 Aug 07 PPP

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug12 Trump Doubles Down on Claim that Obama and Clinton Cofounded ISIS
Aug12 Clinton Rebuts Trump in Speech on Economics
Aug12 Has the Trump Campaign Reached the Breaking Point?
Aug12 Clinton and Kaine to Release More Tax Returns
Aug12 Wisconsin Plaintiffs File En Banc Petition in Voter-ID Case
Aug12 Wal-Mart Moms Are Split between Clinton and Trump
Aug12 Trump Lied Repeatedly Under Oath in a 2007 Deposition
Aug12 Pence Campaigning Hard--for President in 2020
Aug12 Reid Thinks Clinton Will Stick with Garland
Aug12 Defeat for Gerrymandering in North Carolina
Aug12 Wasserman Schultz Likely to Win Her Primary
Aug12 Trump Doubles Down on Claim that Obama and Clinton Cofounded ISIS
Aug12 Clinton Rebuts Trump in Speech on Economics
Aug12 Has the Trump Campaign Reached the Breaking Point?
Aug12 Clinton and Kaine to Release More Tax Returns
Aug12 Wisconsin Plaintiffs File En Banc Petition in Voter-ID Case
Aug12 Wal-Mart Moms Are Split between Clinton and Trump
Aug12 Trump Lied Repeatedly Under Oath in a 2007 Deposition
Aug12 Pence Campaigning Hard--for President in 2020
Aug12 Reid Thinks Clinton Will Stick with Garland
Aug12 Wasserman Schultz Likely to Win Her Primary
Aug11 Appeals Court Allows Wisconsin Voter ID Law to Go into Effect
Aug11 Neither Party Is Popular
Aug11 New Emails Spell More Trouble for Clinton
Aug11 DNC Hack Worse than Originally Thought
Aug11 Cracking the Code on Trump Tweets
Aug11 RNC Staffers Fleeing Trump
Aug11 Trump Supporters Less Likely to Vote than Clinton Supporters
Aug11 Trump Not Seizing His Opportunities
Aug11 Trump Is Caught in a Downward Spiral
Aug11 Obama's Debate Prep Adviser Has Some Advice for Clinton
Aug10 Go Back in Time
Aug10 Clinton with a Big Lead in Another National Poll
Aug10 Trump Campaigns in Eastern North Carolina
Aug10 Trump Says that Second Amendment People Can Stop Clinton
Aug10 Trump Willing to Debate Clinton, but Only on His Terms
Aug10 Anti-Trump Republican Decides To Run Despite Certain Defeat
Aug10 Could the Rigged Election Talk Have Serious Ramifications?
Aug10 Ryan Lives to Fight Another Day
Aug10 Trump Says Wife Will Address Immigration Controversy
Aug10 Fiorina Running for RNC Chair
Aug10 How To Vote in Each State
Aug09 The iPhone/iPad App is Available Again
Aug09 Clinton Has Double-Digit Lead Nationally
Aug09 The GOP Establishment Does Not Like Donald Trump
Aug09 Trump Gives a Major Address on the Economy
Aug09 New Citizens Could Play a Major Role in the Election
Aug09 Could In-Person Voter Fraud Steal an Election?
Aug09 Religious Leaders Focus on the Issues
Aug09 Two Benghazi Parents Sue Clinton