Clinton 352
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Ties 6
Trump 180
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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 (79)
  • Exactly tied (6)
  • Barely GOP (31)
  • Likely GOP (27)
  • Strongly GOP (122)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: NY WA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Trump Reveals Anti-terrorism Plan

In a speech in Youngstown, Ohio, yesterday, Donald Trump unveiled his plan to combat what he calls "radical Islamic terror." He said that a common thread linking major Islamic terrorist attacks on U.S. soil have involved immigrants or the children of immigrants. For this reason, he wants "extreme vetting" of potential immigrants. This is a change from his earlier—and widely criticized—plan to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. Actually, Trump is endorsing current U.S. policy, in which vetting of potential immigrants is so thorough that it often takes 2 years. He said he would create a commission on radical Islam, keep the prison at Guantanamo Bay open, and try suspected terrorists in military courts. Trump also wants to convene an international conference on combating terrorists, and to cut off their funding and shut off their access to the Internet.

The last point indicates that Trump has little knowledge of how the Internet works. For decades it has been known that the Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it. There would be no practical way of denying terrorists access to the Internet short of cutting off entire countries, and even that would not work if the country being cut off found a friendly country to connect to.

In the speech, Trump called for closer relations with Russia in order to combat terrorism. This would be a change from current policy, in which Russia is regarded as more of an adversary than an ally. Very few diplomats believe that Vladimir Putin can be trusted, something Trump has no problem with. (V)

Trump Speech Fails to Impress

The reviews are already in on Donald Trump's ISIS speech, and they are not good. Consider, for example, these two summations, one from an outlet that is left-leaning, and the other one right-leaning:

Donald Trump again blamed President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the rise of ISIS. He questioned his opponent's "physical stamina" to eradicate the terrorist group. And he again interspersed what his campaign hyped as a major foreign policy speech—his third to date—with falsehoods and half-truths, promising an end to nation building abroad by obscuring his past positions on the subject.

What would Donald Trump do to fix the Middle East? Listening to his prescriptions, it's not an easy question to answer...The national security framework he described was so contradictory and filled with so many obvious falsehoods that it's virtually impossible to tell what he would do as president.

Can you tell which one is which? Well, the former passage comes from right-leaning Politico, while the latter comes from NBC News. Also unimpressed were The New York Times, CBS News, PoliticusUSA, The Washington Post, and Gen. Barry McCaffrey (ret.), a Republican. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich liked it, though, calling it, "the most important foreign policy speech since Ronald Reagan."

In terms of factual issues, Politifact has done its usual thorough analysis. They draw attention, in particular, to the following assertions:

"The rise of ISIS is the direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton." (Pants on fire)

"Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism, is now flush with $150 billion in cash released by the United States—plus another $400 million in ransom." (False)

"It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama's global 'Apology Tour.'" (Pants on fire)

"I was an opponent of the Iraq war from the beginning" (False)

"[M]y opponent wants to increase the flow of Syrian refugees by 550 percent." (Mostly true)

As a statement of policy, CNN's national security analyst Peter Gergen has a very good breakdown. He observes that much of Trump's plan—partnering with Jordan and Egypt, cutting off ISIS funding, cyber warfare against ISIS, decimating al Qaeda—is already in place. Meanwhile, he is critical of Trump's notion that Russia might be a partner in combating ISIS (their focus is on keeping their ally Bashar al-Assad in power), that the Internet can somehow be "shut down" (see above), and that using Guantanamo Bay for trials is helpful (trials tend to get bogged down there, whereas civilian tribunals have been vastly more efficient).

The central feature of Trump's plan is also the part attracting the most scrutiny and the most negative feedback: His plan to establish a "test" for immigrants from countries with a large terrorist "footprint." Gergen and Politico's Nahal Toosi, among others, note several issues. First, it would be impossible to devise an instrument that would accurately identify potential terrorists, since such individuals would undoubtedly lie. Second, it is unclear what countries would be subject to this test. For example, France has had significant and well-publicized incidents of domestic terrorism. So, would French immigrants have to "pass" the test? What about Britons? Or Israelis? Or Jordanians? Or Turks? These are some of America's closest allies. Finally, nearly everyone has observed that Trump's new policies would not have stopped any of the major terrorist attacks that have already happened: 9/11, the San Bernardino shootings, the Orlando massacre, etc.

The purpose of Trump's speech, ultimately, was to right the ship and try to reverse the downhill slide of the previous month. Given the immediate response, it's hard to think that he got the job done. (Z)

Rudy Giuliani Has a Bad Day

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani is traveling with Donald Trump right now, part of a strategy on the part of Paul Manafort to use seasoned politicians to keep The Donald in check. Unfortunately for the plan, Giuliani had some head-scratching moments while conducting introductions at the Youngstown rally where Trump gave his ISIS speech. When introducing Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN), he told the crowd that, "You know better than I do what a great governor he is of your state." They were in Ohio, not Indiana. Later, when prepping the crowd for Trump's entrance, Giuliani declared that, "[B]efore Obama came along, we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack inside the United States. They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office." This assertion, of course, omits the 9/11 attacks. Presumably Giuliani is familiar with those, since they happened while he was mayor, and indeed are the entire basis of his fame and reputation.

Giuliani's behavior during the 2016 campaign has led to questions about the 72-year-old's mental state. To start, the personality that has been on display in in 2016 is 180 degrees from the warm, avuncular persona that earned him the nickname "America's Mayor" 15 years ago. Further, in recent television appearances, Giuliani has been sporting a large and unexplained bump on his forehead. And now this (which, in truth, was probably not forgetfulness, but instead a clumsy way of making the argument that George W. Bush kept America safe after 9/11, while Barack Obama has not). In any case, the overall picture we're getting is somewhat concerning. Is it dementia or early-onset Alzheimer's? Normal, everyday aging? Bad luck? Something else? It's unlikely we will know anytime soon, but if Giuliani can't get things in check, then he's not going to be much use as a Trump wrangler. (Z)

Trump Has To Turn His Campaign Around, and Fast

No candidate polling as badly as Trump is now, two weeks after the conventions were all wrapped up, has ever won the popular vote in the modern era according to election expert Prof. Christopher Wlezian of the University of Texas. To have a chance, then, Trump has to reverse his slide in the polls very quickly. Furthermore, he faces a disadvantage that previous candidates did not face: early voting and no-excuse-needed absentee ballots that will be sent out as early as next month. That means if Trump rights his ship in early October, millions of votes will have already been cast and no improvement on his part can take them back. Wlezian's model predicts that if Hillary Clinton holds her national and state leads for another week, she will have a 90% chance of winning. The New York Times' model puts the chance of a Clinton win at 88%. FiveThirtyEight polls only model puts the chance at 89% and its polls-plus model puts it at 78%. The Princeton Election Consortium's models put Clinton's chances at 75% to 87%. We don't compute probabilities but we note that Clinton currently has 273 electoral votes in solid and likely states, which is enough for victory. She will also undoubtedly claim her fair share of the 116 EV in the "Barely Dem," "Exactly tied," and "Barely GOP" categories.

The big problem for Trump is that very few voters are undecided. The only foreseeable event that could change things is the first debate. Also, very few voters who tell pollsters they won't vote for Trump are open to change. CBS Elections Director Anthony Salvanto said his polls asked women who are not going to vote for him if they might change their minds, and the number who might consider it is in the 0-9% range.

Trump has countered this kind of polling data by saying there are millions of voters who are afraid to tell the pollsters they prefer him. However, a majority of the polls nowadays are robopolls, and people are much less embarrassed at expressing their preference when a computerized recording says: "Press 1 for Trump or press 2 for Clinton." Unless the first debate is a decisive win for Trump, it is looking grim for him. Just look at our electoral vote graph. Clinton's lead is not some kind of recent fluke; it's been there all year. Trump really needs a big game changer, and fast. (V)

Wall Street Journal Gives Trump Until Labor Day To Fix Things

The Wall Street Journal, hardly a bastion of Bernie-or-bust sentiment, is more generous than Prof. Wlezian. It gives Donald Trump until Labor Day (Sept. 5) to get his act together. If he hasn't fixed his stumbling campaign by then, an editorial run yesterday says he should step down and turn the campaign over to Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN). The Journal wants to make the campaign a referendum on Hillary Clinton, not on Trump, and they want him to be focused and disciplined, two things he hasn't been so far. Having the voice of big business tell Trump to shape up or ship out is a bad sign. The Journal is as staunchly Republican as any newspaper in America; for it to tell Trump, "maybe it is time to pack your bags" is unprecedented.

It is unlikely the RNC will pull the plug on Trump before the first debate. In principle he could right his campaign if he crushes Clinton. However, the first debate is Sept. 26, by which time it may be too late to reallocate resources to Senate and House races. As to having Trump turn the reins over to Pence, that is not Trump's decision to make. If he resigns as candidate, the RNC would decide whom to replace him with. There could easily be a big fight in the RNC among supporters of Pence, Mitt Romney, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), all of whom might want to be the new candidate. (V)

Manafort May Have Been Paid $13 Million by Former Ukrainian President

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's de facto campaign chief, did consulting work for Viktor Yanukovych, the corrupt former President of Ukraine who was hounded from office. A recently-discovered handwritten ledger shows $12.7 million in cash payments for Manafort. Whether Manafort actually received the cash is not known, but anti-corruption detectives in Ukraine are investigating. Manafort was also involved in various business deals with top Russian oligarchs, including Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

Manafort mixed politics and business in both Ukraine and Russia. He helped Yanukovych win elections and also was involved in a deal to sell Ukrainian cable television assets to a partnership including Deripaska. The $12.7 million in cash might have been related to this work.

Precisely what Manafort did is important, because if part of his work was polishing Yanukovych's image in the United States, he would have been required to register as a foreign agent with the Dept. of Justice, which he never did. One of his subcontractors did register, however. It would seem odd that a subcontractor working for Manafort was involved in influencing American policy towards Yanukovych without Manafort being involved. That is not the kind of work that is generally outsourced without the main contractor being aware of what is going on and giving advice. And even if Manafort didn't break the law, it gives an idea of the kind of people who might have high roles in a Trump administration. (V)

What Will it Take For Johnson, Stein to Join Debates?

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his Green Party counterpart Jill Stein would very much like to be on the stage for this year's presidential debates. Given how inclined voters are to defect from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the spotlight could be invaluable for them and for their parties. Since this campaign began, we've known their basic target is 15% in the polls. But now, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has specified precisely what that means: by mid-September, they need to be averaging 15% or better in the ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, and NBC-Wall Street Journal polls.

This is very bad news for Johnson and Stein. Both were hoping that the CPD would loosen their rules, perhaps even to the point that a single result of 15%, in any poll, would do the trick. For Johnson, in particular, this was at least within the realm of possibility—he's polling consistently in the 7%-9% range, and a gain of a couple of points plus a particularly fortuitous polling sample might have gotten him to 15% one time. But the odds that either candidate can get to an average of 15% in the five most important polls are virtually zero. So, it's looking like no debate podium for the junior varsity this year. (Z)

McMullin Gets on Utah Ballot

Former CIA operations officer and House staffer Evan McMullin, who is running for president as an independent, has qualified to be on the November ballot in Utah. He has already missed the deadline in dozens of other states and by the end of this week will have missed even more. McMullin is a Mormon and conceivably could get a few percent of the vote in the Beehive State, nearly all of which would come from Donald Trump, who is extremely unpopular there. The idea of Utah turning blue sounds absurd, but there is a very real chance it could happen this year. It is unlikely McMullin will have much impact in any other states. (V)

Priebus May Be Back for More

For two years, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has been telling anyone and everyone that his third two-year term (making him the longest-serving head of the Republican Party) would be his last. One might think that the fiasco that is 2016 would have him thinking about the possibility of an early retirement. Instead, he now appears to be executing a Full Rubio: contacting party insiders to tell them he's seriously considering a run for a fourth term.

It is hard to know what changed Priebus' mind; perhaps he has grown attached to being in power, or maybe he thinks his legacy would be badly damaged by leaving the GOP after a crushing defeat. In any event, whether the Chairman could win again is an open question. On one hand, he obviously has experience and an extensive base of support on his side. On the other, he's facing a stiff challenge from Carly Fiorina, and many Republican officials are dissatisfied with his leadership. For example, former Arnold Schwarzenegger aide and John Kasich super PAC chair Matt David said, "Not only does the RNC not lead, there's nothing left behind the curtain. It's the Wizard of Oz and Reince is the Wizard." The one thing that is clear is that Donald Trump is of little value to Priebus's re-election bid—if Trump wins the presidency, he'll get to choose his own RNC Chair (definitely not Reince) and if he loses, he'll have little influence. On the other hand, the members of Congress who are up for re-election this year would have a lot of influence on a re-election bid. So, if Priebus does decide to throw his hat into the ring again, it will surely give him an itchy trigger finger when it comes to throwing Trump overboard and diverting RNC resources to Senate and House races. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

Not much to see in New York or Washington; those states are part of the Democrats' "blue wall," and have been foregone conclusions throughout 2016. The most interesting poll of the day actually comes from the campaign of Indiana's Democratic candidate for governor, John Gregg. We don't include it in our database, because it is an internal poll (and thus has a probable partisan slant), but it has the Hoosier State in a dead heat, 44% for Donald Trump and 44% for Hillary Clinton. If Indiana actually goes blue (or is even plausibly in play), that is very bad news for the GOP, and is also a huge embarrassment for Mike Pence. (Z)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
New York 50% 25% 9% Aug 07 Aug 10 Siena Coll.
Washington 43% 24% 7% Aug 09 Aug 13 Elway Poll

Today's Senate Polls

Kelly Ayotte is exhibit A in "Senators being dragged down by Donald Trump." If she loses her re-election bid, she should send him a bill for six years' Senatorial salary. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
New Hampshire Maggie Hassan 42% Kelly Ayotte* 41% Aug 10 Aug 12 YouGov

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug15 RNC Might Abandon Trump
Aug15 What Will Happen To Trumpism After the Election?
Aug15 The RedState Gathering Was Not a Happy Meeting
Aug15 Gary Johnson, Serious Candidate
Aug15 Trump to Deliver Major Address on Terrorism
Aug15 Trump Adds Eight Women To His Economic Team
Aug15 Trump Borrows Another Anti-Semitic Image
Aug15 Mike Pence Has to Dance, Dance, Dance
Aug14 Trump Is Soliciting Election Observers To Prevent Cheating
Aug14 Can Donald Trump Be Saved from Donald Trump?
Aug14 Pointing the Finger Here, There, and Everywhere
Aug14 Trump Spokeswoman Blames Obama for Afghanistan War
Aug14 Millennial Voters Are Profoundly Unhappy with Their Choices
Aug14 Some Top Democrats Want Clinton to Renominate Garland If She Wins
Aug14 Democrats Think that the Path to Winning the House Runs through Republican Suburbs
Aug14 Cheney Is Running for Congress
Aug13 Trump's ISIS Claim Was Sarcasm--Or Maybe Not
Aug13 Trump Threatens the RNC on Fundraising
Aug13 Trump Isn't Sure that Getting Out the Vote Is Important
Aug13 Trump: Clinton Can Only Win Pennsylvania by Cheating
Aug13 Clinton and Kaine Release More Tax Returns
Aug13 Trump Won't Reveal Bundlers' Names
Aug13 Republicans Question Trump's Travels
Aug13 The Internet is Eclipsing Television for Campaigning
Aug13 Half of GOP Insiders Think that Trump Has Already Lost
Aug13 GOP senators Are Walking on a Tightrope and Falling Off
Aug13 Hacker Releases House Democrats' Phone Numbers, E-mails
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