Clinton 358
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Trump 180
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (231)
  • Likely Dem (89)
  • Barely Dem (38)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (41)
  • Likely GOP (44)
  • Strongly GOP (95)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: IA OH
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

The Next President Will Make Nearly 100 Backlogged Judicial Appointments

A moderate amount of attention has been focused on who the next president will appoint to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, but almost no attention has been given to the large number of other judicial appointments the next president will get to make. Currently, there are 11 vacancies on the U.S. Courts of Appeal and 72 vacancies for district judges, plus a few miscellaneous other vacancies. While the Supreme Court tends to get all the glory, most federal cases do not get above the Courts of Appeal, so which judges sit there is of great importance. Here is a table showing how many appointments each president since Eisenhower has made at each level in the federal court system.

President Supreme Court Appellate Courts District Courts Total
Dwight D. Eisenhower 5 45 129 179
John F. Kennedy 2 21 102 125
Lyndon B. Johnson 2 40 126 168
Richard Nixon 4 46 181 231
Gerald Ford 1 11 50 62
Jimmy Carter 0 56 203 259
Ronald Reagan 3 83 290 376
George H. W. Bush 2 42 148 192
Bill Clinton 2 66 305 373
George W. Bush 2 62 261 325
Barack Obama 2 55 268 325
Clinton or Trump 1 11 72 84

The last line of the above table shows only the backlogged appointments, that is, the ones the new president can make on day one. In a typical 4-year term, a president gets to make 40 to 70 appointments to the appellate courts and 150 to 300 appointments to the district courts, in addition to the backlog. So the next president is going to have a major effect on the court system for years to come. (V)

Trump about to Flip-Flop on Immigration

If there is one core principle that Donald Trump has stuck to since the day he announced his run, it has been that we have to seal the border with Mexico and deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. However, various news outlets, including the Washington Post, are now reporting that Trump will give a major speech on immigration on Thursday, and it will include a plan to legalize—not deport—millions of undocumented immigrants.

Such a plan would be a stunning flip-flop from what he has been saying for over a year. No doubt he will deny ever saying anything about deporting people, but there are miles and miles of videotape showing him saying precisely that (well, actually there is no videotape at all, but there are gigabytes on hard disks showing him saying it). If he does this, it will be the mother of all pivots. The question is: "Will anyone believe him?" If he winks enough during his speech, maybe his supporters will think he is saying this to get Latinos to vote for him but as president would still deport the undocumented immigrants. He has to hope they believe that, because for many people, his original views on immigrants are what attracted them to him. On the other hand, he has shown time and time again that he can say anything he wants to, including out-and-out lies, and it has zero effect on his popularity. He might be able to pull it off again.

If he flips 180 degrees and gets away with it, Kellyanne Conway will be eligible for sainthood, having produced an actual miracle. Although she is nominally the campaign manager, in reality she is the candidate manager. She is extremely good at convincing people to do what she wants them to do by telling them how great they are and letting them believe that what she wants is really their idea. With Trump, this is the only strategy that works. (V)

Trump Could Cost the GOP a Generation of Voters

Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan, on many different levels. The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby focuses on one of those in particular, namely support among young voters. In the 1980s, the Gipper had enormous youth appeal, attracting close to two-thirds of the 18-to-34 vote. That cohort, now in its 50s and 60s, is the most loyal GOP constituency in America today. In other words, they became Republicans for life.

Donald Trump's numbers among young people, by contrast, are ghastly. Only 18% of millennials say they plan to vote for him, compared to 50% for Hillary Clinton. This trails the roughly one-third of the youth vote that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Mitt Romney got in their presidential runs and, of course, it's far behind Reagan. The presumption is that if "I'm a Republican" became a lifelong decision in the 1980s, then presumably "I'm not a Republican" will be a lifelong decision now. It's yet another way that Priebus & Co. will likely rue the day they heard the name Donald Trump. (Z)

Clinton Has Raised Half a Billion Dollars

Hillary Clinton is halfway to her goal of raising a billion dollars, according to an AP report yesterday. She announced this at her Brooklyn headquarters. She entered August with $58 million cash on hand, but she will need all of that and more, since she has a high burn rate. This week alone, she is going to spend $10 million on television ads in half a dozen states. After Labor Day, her burn rate will shoot up.

In addition to television advertising, she has a big family with a lot of mouths to feed. Currently, 700 people are on her payroll. She also has 43 events planned in 14 states in the next two weeks (= big travel bill). She is definitely not running a low-budget campaign. Donald Trump has only about 70 employees so he needs less money than she does, but he also can reach many fewer voters on the ground. (V)

Trump's July Net Haul Was Not as Large as Initially Reported

Donald Trump touted his $80 million fundraising haul in July as evidence that he can match Hillary Clinton dollar for dollar. Maybe not. To start with, only $36.7 million went to his campaign. The rest went to the RNC, which may well spend it all on Senate and House races. Of the $37 million, $9.5 million is designated for the RNC's convention, headquarters, and legal accounts. The fundraising didn't come cheap. It cost $18.5 million to raise the $80 million. Another large chunk went to a Texas digital marketing firm that never worked for a campaign before. Spending on staff was a measly $392,000. Field organizing got $432,000. Hats and merchandise cost the campaign $1.8 million. Trump is $40 million behind what Mitt Romney raised at this point. (V)

New Republican Theme: Clinton Is Too Sick To Be President

When he was running the Breitbart News Website, Stephen Bannon was a big fan of conspiracy theories and made-up stories. One of his old standbys is that Hillary Clinton is too sick to be president. In one variant, she has brain disease. In others, she has some unnamed malady that requires her to sit on a lot of pillows. Now, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has gotten into the act. Yesterday he accused the media of failing to cover this important story. As evidence, he pointed out that she hasn't held a press conference in over 200 days. Although DSM-5 does not cover this recently discovered mental illness, it is not too late for DSM-6 to include an entry for "mediaphobia."

As a strategy, claims like Giuliani's might work because they are impossible to disprove. Clinton's physician has written and publicized a letter saying Clinton is in good health and up to the rigors of being president, but once people start talking about something, some people will believe it. If Clinton brings up the story and denounces it, some people are going to assume that since everything a politician says is untrue, then this must be true. If she ignores the story, other people will take this as evidence that it is true. There is no good way to tackle problems like this. Democrats don't like to play this game ("Trump's hair is infested with Zika-carrying mosquitoes," or "Trump Tower was condemned by the city for its persistent cockroach problem, but Trump bribed the inspector"). So, Bannon has the advantage here. (V)

WIRED Endorses Clinton

Throughout its history, WIRED magazine has stayed above the political fray, and so has not backed presidential candidates. Not anymore, though. This weekend, it published its first ever endorsement, throwing its support behind Hillary Clinton. It's an interesting and unusually thoughtful take on the race, and well worth reading. At the heart of their argument is this notion:

Right now we see two possible futures welling up in the present. In one, society's every decision is dominated by scarcity. Except for a few oligarchs, nobody has enough of anything. In that future, we build literal and figurative walls to keep out those who hope to acquire our stuff, while through guile or violence we try to acquire theirs. In the other future, the one WIRED is rooting for, new rounds of innovation allow people to do more with less work—in a way that translates into abundance, broadly enjoyed.

They were also impressed with Clinton's mastery of policy, down to the smallest minutiae.

The endorsement is a reminder that the tech industry is almost entirely lining up behind Clinton. As she works to get that second half-billion (see above), Silicon Valley and the Research Triangle are surely going to be like her personal piggy bank. (Z)

Trump Has Stopped Tweeting about the Polls

Starting from just about the day he announced he was running for president, Donald Trump kept tweeting about how well he was polling. Once he started actually winning primaries, he didn't need to tweet so often, so the tweet rate about polls went down. Now that he is deeply under water, he almost never tweets about polls. FiveThirtyEight has made a chart showing the decline in tweets about polls very clearly:

Trump tweets

The difference between "then" and "now" is pretty clear. (V)

Super PAC to Spend $10 Million to Save the House for GOP

A major GOP super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, has just announced plans to spend $10 million on the 12 most hotly-contested seats in the House of Representatives. About two-thirds of that will go towards defending currently-endangered Republicans, while the rest will go to prying seats out of endangered Democrats' hands.

And so it begins. It's not surprising that a Super PAC called the Congressional Leadership Fund should be spending on Congressional races, of course. What's different is how much money they have to spend, and how early they are beginning to spend it. This is presumably just an early salvo, as the Party slowly but surely moves resources away from its presidential candidate and towards saving Congress. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

Iowa has gone Republican just once since Ronald Reagan left office (2004), so it's no surprise that the polls there are slowly growing more favorable to the Democrats. Trump had been leading there and now it is a tie. Meanwhile, it hardly needs saying that without Ohio, Donald Trump would be toast. (Z)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Iowa 40% 40% 7% Aug 17 Aug 19 YouGov
Ohio 46% 40% 6% Aug 17 Aug 19 YouGov

Today's Senate Polls

Both of these races seem to be finding their level, with the Republicans holding a comfortable but not commanding lead. If Patty Judge and Ted Strickland are going to move to Washington, it looks like they are going to need some very long Clinton coattails. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Iowa Patty Judge 38% Chuck Grassley* 45% Aug 17 Aug 19 YouGov
Ohio Ted Strickland 39% Rob Portman* 46% Aug 17 Aug 19 YouGov

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug21 Republicans Prepare to Cut Trump Loose
Aug21 Clinton Foundation Is Becoming a Real Problem
Aug21 Trump's Companies Have Far More Debt Than Previously Thought
Aug21 Trump's New Target: Minorities
Aug21 Trump Thinks He's Got a Shot in Minnesota
Aug21 Sanders To Return To the Campaign Trail
Aug21 Clinton Will Not Have To Testify Under Oath About Email Server
Aug21 McAuliffe Working to Restore Felons' Voting Rights
Aug21 Ginsburg Retiring? Not So Fast
Aug21 Arpaio To Be Prosecuted
Aug20 Manafort Quits
Aug20 Nate Silver: Trump Is Doubling Down on a Losing Strategy
Aug20 Republican Insiders Also Think Bannon Is a Bad Choice
Aug20 Trump Is Now Running His First Ad
Aug20 Could the Election Be Hacked?
Aug20 Trump Supporters Already Suspicious of Election Outcome
Aug20 Trump Tours Flooded Louisiana While Obama Stays on Vacation
Aug20 Trump Thinks He Can Win the Black Vote
Aug20 Why is Trump Flailing in Michigan?
Aug20 Stephen Bannon Is Part of the Alt-Right World
Aug19 Trump Is Losing Support Among Men
Aug19 Five Takeaways from Trump's Choice of Bannon as Campaign CEO
Aug19 Trump Is Finally on the Air
Aug19 Trump Will Debate, Says Conway
Aug19 Why is Trump Ignoring the Olympics?
Aug19 Trump Spokeswoman Is at it Again
Aug19 And Bad Mistakes, I've Made A Few, Says Trump
Aug19 Kaine Went To Wyoming
Aug19 Clinton Foundation Will Decline Foreign Donations
Aug19 The Donald Has No Clothes
Aug18 Mercer Connection Explains Trump's Shake-Up
Aug18 GOP Scared Witless by Bannon
Aug18 Does Trump Want to Win?
Aug18 Trump's Casinos Owed $30 Million in Taxes, but Christie Forgave Most of It
Aug18 Would Cutting Trump Loose Help Republicans Downballot?
Aug18 Could the House Be in Play?
Aug18 Election Turnout in the U.S. Is Among the Worst in the World
Aug18 Green Party's Baraka Has Some...Unorthodox Opinions
Aug17 Major Shakeup for Trump's Campaign Staff
Aug17 Who Will Moderate the Debates?
Aug17 Roger Ailes May Help Trump Prepare for the Debates
Aug17 Clinton Is Already Prepping for the Debates
Aug17 Clinton Is Not Counting on Winning Blue-Collar White Men
Aug17 Trump Deposition Video Could Be Made Public
Aug17 Why Have the Media Taken Off the Gloves When Reporting about Trump?
Aug17 Cheney Wins Republican Primary in Wyoming
Aug17 How the Tea Party Movement Was Murdered
Aug17 Stein's Shaky Science
Aug17 McLaughlin Dies at 89
Aug16 Trump Reveals Anti-terrorism Plan