• Trump's Immigration Speech Postponed
• Will the Presidential Winner Have Coattails?
• Top RNC Strategist Will Help Trump
• Both Candidates Prefer Secret Fundraisers
• Clinton Goes to California
• Blue Wall Is Getting Taller
• Trump May Not Concede If He Loses
• Trump Goes Where He Won't Be Outfoxed
• Twelve-year-old Boy Running Trump's Campaign in Key Colorado County
• Melania Trump Threatens to Sue Ten News Outlets
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
Hillary Clinton's emails never stop coming. Now, another batch of 14,900 emails has been discovered. They will be turned over to a conservative legal group that had sought them. The State Dept. will first vet them for confidential information, but the ones that are not classified will be turned over quickly. Whether there are unexploded bombshells in them is something we will soon learn. (V)
Donald Trump was supposed to make a major speech on immigration on Thursday, with recent events suggesting he was planning to endorse some sort of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the United States. This might get him some Latino votes, and might also make it more acceptable for moderate white voters to back him ("Hey! He's not a racist!"). However, building a wall with Mexico and deporting 11 million people have also been cornerstones of his campaign, and the mother of all flip-flops is not likely to please the people who backed Trump in the primary season. Apparently, the campaign needs more time to think through the pros and cons, because the Thursday speech has been postponed. No reason was given for the postponement, nor was an alternate date given by the campaign. Odds are, the speech never sees the light of day. (Z)
With the Senate hanging in the balance, the question of presidential coattails is a big one. We won't know how long or short they are until after the election, but we can look at the current data to get an idea. In particular, we have examined all the states where the Senate race has been polled in 2016 and compare the Senate candidates to the presidential candidates in the same state. If the presidential candidate is doing better than the Senate candidate, there is potential for coattails, otherwise, not so much. Here is the current state of play.
|State||Democrat||Republican||Sen (D) - Clinton||Sen (R) - Trump||Difference|
|Connecticut||Richard Blumenthal*||Dan Carter||19%||-6%||25%|
|New York||Chuck Schumer*||Wendy Long||14%||-6%||20%|
|Indiana||Evan Bayh||Todd Young||12%||-6%||18%|
|Colorado||Michael Bennet*||Darryl Glenn||13%||7%||6%|
|Wisconsin||Russ Feingold||Ron Johnson*||11%||9%||2%|
|Washington||Patty Murray*||Chris Vance||9%||10%||-1%|
|Missouri||Jason Kander||Roy Blunt*||1%||2%||-1%|
|Nevada||Catherine Cortez-Masto||Joe Heck||-7%||-5%||-2%|
|North Carolina||Deborah Ross||Richard Burr*||-1%||2%||-3%|
|Arizona||Ann Kirkpatrick||John McCain*||-4%||-1%||-3%|
|Maryland||Chris Van Hollen||Kathy Szeliga||-8%||-3%||-5%|
|Pennsylvania||Katie McGinty||Pat Toomey*||-3%||3%||-6%|
|Georgia||Jim Barksdale||Johnny Isakson*||-6%||0%||-6%|
|New Hampshire||Maggie Hassan||Kelly Ayotte*||-3%||5%||-8%|
|Florida||Patrick Murphy||Marco Rubio*||-2%||7%||-9%|
|Ohio||Ted Strickland||Rob Portman*||0%||10%||-10%|
|Iowa||Patty Judge||Chuck Grassley*||3%||14%||-11%|
|Illinois||Tammy Duckworth||Mark Kirk*||-8%||6%||-14%|
|South Carolina||Thomas Dixon||Tim Scott*||-11%||4%||-15%|
|Kansas||Patrick Wiesner||Jerry Moran*||-7%||8%||-15%|
|Utah||Misty Snow||Mike Lee*||-3%||20%||-23%|
Here is how to interpret the table. In Connecticut, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) is running 19 points ahead of Hillary Clinton and Dan Carter is running -6 points ahead of Donald Trump (that is, Trump is doing better than Carter). If we subtract the second one from the first one, we get a 25-point difference. This means that Blumenthal is doing very well and doesn't need any help from the top of the ticket. At the bottom of the table, Misty Snow is in terrible shape and needs all the help she can get. Much of the table has single digits in the fourth and fifth columns, meaning that Senate candidates tend not to run much ahead or behind the top of the ticket. In many cases where an entry is in double digits it is because either the senator is exceptionally popular (e.g., Portman, Grassley, and Lee) or the presidential candidate is exceptionally unpopular (e.g. Vance). As usual, asterisks denote incumbents.
Also noteworthy is that in the fourth column, the pluses and minuses are roughly equal. In other words, about half the Senate candidates are running ahead of Clinton and half behind her. The fifth column is a different story. In only six of the 21 states for which we have data is Trump beating the Senate candidate. In most states, the Senate candidate is beating Trump. This suggests that Trump is a drag on downballot candidates. (V)
Despite all the talk about the RNC dumping Trump, their top strategist, Sean Spicer, is now working for the Trump campaign at his headquarters in New York. Between Spicer and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, Trump may be on the verge of starting to run a normal campaign. Setting up campaign machinery, such as a digital database of all voters, a get-out-the-vote operation, advertising in swing states, and so on is all doable with people like Conway and Spicer in charge, but the real hurdle the campaign has to overcome is the candidate himself. As long as he keeps saying outrageous things, it will be hard for Conway and Spicer to turn Trump into a normal candidate.
One thing the RNC should definitely be taking control of is Trump's Internet efforts. TPM's Josh Marshall has produced an assessment of The Donald's digital campaign, characterizing it as "comically bad." The $8 million contract for this service went to Brad Parscale and his company, who have no experience with this sort of operation, and were chosen because Parscale is friends with Trump. At the moment, they are wasting copious amounts of money spamming people like Marshall, someone who a more sophisticated digital operation would recognize as a waste of time (Jewish, liberal, Ph.D., New Yorker, and so forth). Given the shoestring-like nature of the Trump campaign, they simply cannot afford to be investing their time and resources so inefficiently. (V & Z)
In 2012, when Mitt Romney told wealthy potential donors that 47% of the country consisted of moochers, he discovered the perils of having what you say at a fundraiser come out. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have absorbed that lesson completely. This past weekend Clinton held multiple fundraisers on Cape Cod but made sure no reporters were present. She did release some information about them, however, including who the hosts were, how many people attended, and how much money she collected. That is more than Donald Trump releases about his fundraisers. Everything about them is completely secret.
The secrecy probably hurts Clinton more than it hurts Trump. Many people do not trust Clinton; holding secret fundraisers makes people wonder if she is telling donors something quite different from what she is telling the public. Trump's problem is the opposite: He talks too much, not too little. Except when it comes to his tax returns. (V)
Hillary Clinton is spending a few days in the Golden State. Not for speeches or rallies, of course, because she knows that she's already got California in the bag. No, she's after the only two things that California has that are of use to a presidential candidate: money, and appearances on late-night talk shows. When she's not shooting the breeze with the Jimmy Kimmels of the world, she'll be rubbing elbows with Hollywood aristocracy at the houses of Magic Johnson, Haim Saban, and Justin Timberlake. Tickets for these events are a bargain, at least for those who have a spare $100,000 laying around.
Of the five largest states in the U.S., only Florida is even in doubt these days. That means there are approximately 100 million voters in California, Texas, New York, and Illinois who are not rich celebrities and are not talk show hosts and so have no particular relevance to presidential candidates. One wonders how America's founding fathers would feel about this. On one hand, they were advocates for democracy. On the other hand, they were also wealthy elites who were very comfortable with the idea that wealthy elites should have most of the political power. Truth be told, the odds are pretty good that if he were alive today, George Washington would be ponying up $100 grand so he could hang out with George Clooney and Steven Spielberg and make snarky comments about the hoi polloi. (Z)
It is well known by now that the Democrats have won 18 states plus D.C. in the past six presidential elections, and it looks like this will be the seventh straight one. Together these add up to 242 electoral votes of the 270 needed. Chris Weigant has pointed out that a few of the swing states may be lost causes for the Republicans going forward, even though they were swing states in the past. In particular, New Mexico (5 EVs), Colorado (9 EVs) and Virginia (13 EVs) may be very hard to turn red again, even with a future candidate like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Together these three states have 27 EVs, making the "blue wall" 242 + 27 = 269. That is just one shy of 270.
If this hypothesis is true, the Democrats need to win only one of the remaining swing states. It doesn't matter which one. Even little New Hampshire (4 EVs) is enough. If the Republicans win all the remaining swing states, it will be a tie, in which case the House picks the president with each state getting one vote. Republicans control a majority of the state delegations so normally they would all vote for the Republican. However, if Gary Johnson wins at least one electoral vote, in principle some or all House Republicans could vote for him. (V)
The key hallmark of a democracy is that the loser concedes gracefully and allows the winner to govern. If Donald Trump loses in November, there is every reason to suspect that he will never concede, putting the U.S. democracy in danger. Polls show that only 38% of Trump's supporters believe that their votes will be counted properly. Among all registered voters, only 49% are "very confident" that their votes will be counted without error.
The short-term and long-term consequences are enormous. In the short term, Republicans in Congress will get support from many Republican voters if they say that Hillary Clinton is not a legitimate president and therefore they are justified—no, make that obligated—to obstruct everything she does. In the long term, both sides can play this game. Some day a Republican will be elected president and then Democrats will say he cheated and is not legitimate. Could the U.S. become a banana republic? Don't bet against it.
The problem could be avoided if the Republican leadership were to speak out forcefully about Trump's claims that the election is rigged, but so far Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) haven't said a word about this and have not contradicted Trump in any way. (V)
Many of Donald Trump's biggest missteps have come on various political news and talk programs, where he gets put on the spot and has to answer questions. This includes the Khan family mess, which began with an appearance on George Stephanopoulos' show. Since that disastrous interview, something interesting has happened, as HuffPo's Michael Calderone and Sam Stein noticed. The candidate who would once sit for an interview with anyone who would give him screen time has now limited himself to appearing only on Fox News.
The troublesome interview with Stephanopoulos came on July 31, and Trump hasn't made an appearance on ABC since then. His last appearances on MSNBC (May 20), CNN (June 13), CBS (July 17), and NBC News (July 24) came even earlier. In other words, he hasn't appeared on any major non-Fox outlet in the month of August. Fox, however, has been lavished with The Donald's time, with 11 appearances this month and counting.
This apparent new policy is an interesting change of direction in several ways. First, it seems a tacit acknowledgement from Trump that politics may not be solely about getting as much free media coverage as is possible. At the same time, it suggests a certain discipline is settling in, discipline that we have not generally seen during the campaign. Unfortunately for Trump, Fox News viewers are largely "the choir." They're already voting for him. If he's going to minimize his exposure to unfriendly lefties like Stephanopoulos, he's also going to minimize his access to their audiences. Which means he's really doubling down on the strategy of just getting every angry white guy in the country to the polls. (Z)
A 12-year-old boy, Weston Imer, is running Donald Trump's campaign in Jefferson County, which is one of the most populous in Colorado and includes much of the Denver metropolitan area. Weston's mother thinks this is good experience for her son. That might well be, but it shows how weak Trump's ground game is. Experienced political operatives do not put 12-year-olds in charge of a major county in a key swing state. The boy said he is thinking of running for president in 2040 and would be willing to have Trump's 10-year-old son, Barron, as his running mate. (V)
It has not been an easy campaign season for Melania Trump. First came the plagiarism controversy, then questions about whether or not she violated U.S. immigration law, and then the suggestion that she worked as a high-priced escort before marrying The Donald. She does not plan to take this lying down, however, and so now she and her lawyers have threatened to sue The Daily Mail (which first printed the escort story, at least in English), Politico (which has taken the lead in raising questions about potential immigration shenanigans), and eight other media outlets for defamation.
If Melania Trump were to actually go to court with this, she is exceedingly unlikely to succeed. Inasmuch as she is a public figure, the bar that she would have to clear is very high. It's a multi-part test, but the short version is that she would essentially have to demonstrate that Politico, et al. knew (or should have known) that they were printing false and harmful information, and that they proceeded nonetheless. Presumably, Trump does not actually intend to go to court, though, she just wants to use the threat to silence her media critics. Given that the Trumps' good friend Peter Thiel just used the court system to put Gawker out of business (albeit under different circumstances), the threat is probably enough to give the various media outlets pause.
This story has a number of additional interesting dimensions to it, as well. To start, it reminds us that Trump has yet to address questions about alleged immigration improprieties in her younger days. Her husband claimed that she would be doing so at a press conference, likely sometime this week. That hasn't happened, though the lawsuit threat suggests that her answer is essentially, "Lies! All lies!"
Beyond that, it was a Serbian magazine that first suggested that Melania Trump's modeling agency was also an escort service, and it was a British newspaper that broadcast the story throughout the English-speaking world (before it was ultimately picked up by CNN, The Hill, The New York Times, and other American outlets). Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) certainly didn't get this kind of international attention during their runs (much less their wives). Clearly, the Trumps move the needle in a way that they did not, even on the other side of the pond. Either the foreign press is fascinated by the would-be First Family, or is horrified. Or maybe both.
It bears noting that for many years, the First Lady (or would-be First Lady) was essentially off limits when it came to this kind of scandalmongering. Betty Ford, for example, was a near fall-down drunk, but the media kept it to themselves. But that unwritten rule began to fall by the wayside, particularly with—as chance would have it—Hillary Clinton. Now, they are civilians no longer, and are as much in the trenches as their husbands or wives. Such is the nature of politics in the 21st century.
Finally, sometimes The Donald's reflexes get the best of him. If he and Melania had just ignored the original story in the Daily Mail, it would have died immediately. No respectable publication would have touched it with a barge pole. But due to the Trumps' action, the lawsuits themselves are now legitimate news, and respectable publications (like ours) can cover the lawsuit story, thus giving the underlying story, even if it is totally bogus, much more attention. (Z & V)
The Carolinas continue to be interesting stories. North Carolina because it is likely to see-saw back and forth until the election, South Carolina because it is not a huge blowout for the Republicans. We have now had a number of recent polls in Ohio showing Clinton ahead in this state that Trump must absolutely win. (V)
|North Carolina||38%||39%||10%||Aug 15||Aug 17||Gravis|
|Ohio||43%||39%||10%||Aug 18||Aug 21||Monmouth U.|
|South Carolina||37%||41%||7%||Aug 15||Aug 17||Gravis|
Evan Bayh's decision to run for his old Senate seat is paying big dividends for the Democrats. He is now crushing his opponent, turning a safe red seat into a safe blue seat. On the other hand, Ted Strickland, the former governor of Ohio, doesn't seem to be able to catch up to the popular Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), so this one looks safe for the GOP. Ohio may be one of the few states with a lot of ticket splitting. Probably there are many yard signs in Ohio saying "Clinton Portman 2016." (V)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Indiana||Evan Bayh||54%||Todd Young||36%||Aug 10||Aug 14||Global Strategy|
|Ohio||Ted Strickland||40%||Rob Portman*||48%||Aug 18||Aug 21||Monmouth U.|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug22 Trump about to Flip-Flop on Immigration
Aug22 Trump Could Cost the GOP a Generation of Voters
Aug22 Clinton Has Raised Half a Billion Dollars
Aug22 Trump's July Net Haul Was Not as Large as Initially Reported
Aug22 New Republican Theme: Clinton Is Too Sick To Be President
Aug22 WIRED Endorses Clinton
Aug22 Trump Has Stopped Tweeting about the Polls
Aug22 Super PAC to Spend $10 Million to Save the House for GOP
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