• Trump Is Pulling a Wright
• Trump Is Making Red States More Competitive
• Republican Culture vs. Democratic Culture
• Trump's Position on Immigration Keeps "Evolving"
• Are There Really a Large Number of New Republican Voters?
• Sanders' New Group Is Fighting with Itself
• What Is the Deal with the Clinton Foundation?
• Ninety-nine Senators Incensed About EpiPen Price Jump
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
A number of other websites have easy-to-find polling average by state, which are then often quoted by the media. In fact, we compute the average for each state (for both president and Senate) every day, but until now you had to mouse over a state on the map to find it. Now we have put them all in one place. A link to that page now appears in the menu to the left of the map as State poll averages. So if you want to see the current situation for multiple states quickly, just click on it.
This page has another use as well. On smartphones and tablets there is no way to "mouse over" the map to see the status of a given state. Using the new page, smartphone and tablet users can find the polling average for any state easily.
Possibly also of interest to some people is the "Icons for bloggers" entry on the menu. If you have a blog or Website and would like our current map to appear there, all it takes is copying and pasting three lines of code from that page one time, and then you will have the map, updated automatically, until the election. (V)
In 1988, then-Speaker Jim Wright decided he need a bit of extra cash, but House rules put tight limits on outside income, so he thought of a clever idea. He slapped together a bunch of his old speeches and had a friendly publisher put it out as a book. Then Wright told companies whose businesses were affected by what the House was doing to buy bulk copies of his book. They did as ordered, and Wright pocketed $54,000 in royalties ($110,000 in 2016 dollars). Technically it wasn't illegal, since members of Congress are allowed to write books, but it certainly violated the spirit of the rules, even if it was not formally forbidden. It was a nice gig while it lasted, but when word leaked out, it became a big scandal and Wright was forced out as Speaker.
Fast forward to 2016. Federal election law clearly forbids candidates from converting campaign funds into personal funds. Yesterday we noted that when Donald Trump's campaign began taking in serious money, he quadrupled the rent he charges his campaign for office space in Trump Tower, effectively funneling (even more) campaign funds into his personal account. Now it appears he is also doing what Wright did. He is having his campaign buy copies of one of his books at the retail price and giving them out as souvenirs. While this violates federal election law rather than just House rules, the mechanism is pretty much the same one Wright pioneered, with one difference. The difference is despite Trump being the greatest deal maker in all of recorded history, the campaign paid the retail price for the books, instead of negotiating a great deal with the publisher. In fact, if he had merely asked the publisher for a discount for bulk purchases, he would have gotten the same 40% discount routinely given to all large bulk purchases, without even having to negotiate. Trump cares a lot about money, so what is going on here? It turns out he almost certainly wants to get the book into the New York Times bestseller list, and bulk purchases don't count for that list. Only retail purchases count, so Trump took the 40% hit to try to get the book on the list. (V)
While the Republican primaries were a wild ride, with a newbie beating over a dozen experienced politicians, the general election is following the usual script more closely, at least in terms of the map (see below). Not only is Hillary Clinton winning California handily and Donald Trump winning Texas with ease, but most of the other states are also polling in line with the 2012 election results. Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight has made a scatterplot showing the current average for each state vs. the 2012 final result:
In every state that Obama won in 2012, Clinton is now leading, often by a substantial margin. But the reverse is not true: Trump is not leading in all the Romney states, and in some of the states where he is leading, it is not by much. A number of polls have shown Clinton ahead in North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona, although others have shown Trump ahead. Basically, they have become swing states that go back and forth as new polls come in. Depending on your capacity for believing very strange things, maybe even Utah and South Carolina are competitive, although we have our doubts.
The map wasn't always as stable as it is now. Consider the 1972, 1976, and 1980 electoral maps:>
As you can see, there were massive shifts from 1972 to 1976 and again from 1976 to 1980. Basically, the country was far less polarized then than it is now. Currently, being on the blue team or the red team is not only about who you vote for, but reflects just about every aspect of life, from where you live to your attitude about religion. If someone showed that Democrats like basketball while Republicans like golf, it wouldn't surprise us. Actually, someone has showed this—more below. (V)
As noted above, the divide between Republicans and Democrats goes beyond politics, and has a strong cultural element. "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd once characterized it, symbolically, as being "Starbucks nation" versus "Chick-Fil-A country." FiveThirtyEight liked Todd's way of thinking, but they found Whole Foods versus Cracker Barrel to be a more instructive comparison.
A few years ago, UW-Madison political scientist Ken Goldstein decided that he wanted to get even more specific. Fortunately for him, he happens to live in a particularly polarized state, so it was easy to survey the cultural differences between Republicans and Democrats. Among his findings:
- Media: Republicans tend to prefer radio and the
Internet; Democrats tend to favor newspapers and television.
- TV Channels: Republicans like Fox News, the Golf
Channel, the History Channel, the Speed Channel, ESPN and Country Music
Television; Democrats like MSNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, Lifetime and Bravo.
Everyone likes the Weather Channel, Nat Geo, and the Food Network, though.
- TV Shows: Republicans love "Survivor" and police
procedurals; Democrats prefer "60 Minutes."
- Sports: Republicans watch golf and car racing; Democrats watch basketball and hockey; both watch football and baseball.
George W. Bush's campaign famously used this sort of data to guide their advertising decisions—for example, buying copious amounts of time on "CSI" and "NYPD Blue." There can be no doubt that, even if they keep it on the down low, the political parties have and use even more sophisticated data today. So, if you like Starbucks, Comedy Central, "60 Minutes," and a nice basketball game, get ready to be bombarded with Hillary Clinton ads in September and October. Meanwhile, fans of the History Channel, NCIS and NASCAR should be seeing some Trump commercials, assuming he airs any. (Z)
Back in March, Donald Trump managed to take five different positions on abortion in three days, flip-flopping so rapidly that even John Kerry was envious. Now, immigration appears to be getting a similar treatment. Trump began his campaign with a promise to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants and build a wall along the Mexican border. Last week, he began to hint that he was willing to consider a path to citizenship for many of those 11 million. After getting quite a bit of blowback, he changed course and resumed the deportation talk. Now, he says there will be no path to citizenship, but that he's willing to "work with" the "good" undocumented immigrants.
Clearly, Trump and his team have begun to properly grasp that there's a big difference between the 13 million votes it took to win the primaries and the 65 million it will take to win the election. To bridge that gap, they're going to need some minority votes, plus a lot of the fence-sitting white folks who don't want to vote for a candidate they perceive as racist. The problem is that a candidate who stands for everything when it comes to a hot-button issue like immigration doesn't actually stand for anything. He really needs to pick a position and stick with it. If he and his team think the path to victory involves changing his views on immigration every other day, they are barking up the wrong tree. Conservatives, who never trusted Trump from the start, are already saying: "We told you so." (Z)
As anyone following the election knows (see the map above if you don't know), Donald Trump is lagging behind Hillary Clinton pretty badly in the polls. The great, white hope for the Trump campaign and its supporters is that Republican registration is way up this year relative to the past few elections. If this is true, it could mean that Republicans are going to vote in larger numbers than they have in years past, and that the models being used by pollsters are therefore incorrect.
There is some support for this hopeful point of view. Politico's Ben Schreckinger just produced an analysis observing that Pennsylvania, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina have seen an increase in new Republican registrations relative to new Democratic registrations, with the seeming result that the blue team has lost ground in all four places. For example, Pennsylvania Democrats outnumbered Pennsylvania Republicans by more than 1 million people in 2012, but now that number is down to about 900,000. In a true swing state, the loss of 50,000 or 100,000 voters could be devastating.
However, FiveThirtyEight's David Wasserman has taken a look at the numbers, and he's not persuaded they tell the whole story. There's no doubt that a lot of Democrats have switched their registration to Republican, but he suspects that many of those have been voting Republican for years, and that the only reason they re-registered was to vote in the primaries. In other words, those aren't actually new votes for the GOP. He also suspects that a lot of Democratic "losses" are just voters who moved or died years ago, and were recently purged from voter rolls. In other words, the blue team didn't actually lose those votes. To support his suppositions, Wasserman has examined the 90 counties where the GOP picked up at least five percentage points on the Democrats between November 2012 and August 2016. In 88 of those counties, the number of registered Republican voters is still less than the number of votes Mitt Romney received, often far less. This supports the thesis that there is a large population of Democrats who aren't really Democrats. Wasserman also takes a look at state-level data, which tells the same story. So that great, white hope may not be so great, after all. (Z)
After Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) conceded defeat in the primaries, he set up a group to carry his revolution forward. The group is already in disarray. A majority of the staff has quit, including the entire organizing department, the digital experts, and some of the people handling the data part of the project. Their main grievance is Sanders' choice of Jeff Weaver, his campaign manager, to run the show. Many staff members deeply distrust Weaver due to the manner in which he ran Sanders' campaign. For example, he ran television ads in some of the primary states. This seems like a gigantic waste to many of the young workers, who don't watch television. Also, Weaver is prepared to accept money from billionaires rather than be funded entirely by small donations, presumably because he doesn't believe that small donors will pony up enough to keep the lights on absent a presidential campaign. Republicans have taken notice of this mutiny and are saying things about the mess. The vice chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, Brady Toensing, said: "What I'm seeing here is a senator who is against big money in politics, but only when it's not his big money." (V)
Stuck with a candidate who tends to shoot himself in the foot, and who has all manner of questionable transactions in his background, the Trump campaign has been working hard to find an issue that evens things out, and gives substance to the "Crooked Hillary" moniker. Enter the Clinton Foundation, which has been an issue for Hillary Clinton for years, and which Donald Trump is now describing as "the most corrupt enterprise in political history." That's hyperbole, of course—Trump might want to read up on the Sinclair Oil Corporation or the Crédit Mobilier of America or the Committee for the Re-Election of the President if he wants to know about the actual most corrupt enterprises in history—but it is nonetheless the case that the Foundation has real potential as a political weapon. It's big, and complex, and fairly opaque, and gets money from many different sources, and does things that aren't easily explained. These factors make it hard to prove that the Clintons did anything improper, but also hard to prove they didn't.
For those who are interested, CNN's Nicole Gaouette has put together a good primer about what the Foundation does. Short version: It's a collection of 11 non-profit groups that work on four major issues: global health and wellness, climate change, economic development, and improving opportunities for girls and women. This translates into all manner of activities, from treating AIDS in East Africa to helping 18 million American schoolchildren learn how to eat healthy. Meanwhile, Slate's Josh Voorhees has a Q&A explaining the ins and outs of the Foundation as a political football. Short version: It is essentially impossible to make sure there are clear lines between (a) the money paid to the Foundation, (b) money paid to the Clintons for their services, such as giving speeches, and (c) official actions undertaken by Hillary as Secretary of State (and potentially, in the future, as president). So while the Foundation does good—in fact, critical—work, there is absolutely enough potential for corruption to raise some uncomfortable questions, particularly among voters already inclined to view the Clintons with suspicion.
So, it would seem that Trump has a winner here. Or he did, at least, until someone noticed that among the donors on the Foundation's $100,001 to $250,000 list is one Donald J. Trump. This puts him in a bit of a pickle, of course. He can keep saying that donations to the Foundation represented corrupt influence peddling, but then he's guilty, too. Or he can insist that his donation was purely charitable, but that weakens his "most corrupt enterprise in political history" argument. So, Trump may have to start looking for another hammer to wield. (Z)
The EpiPen is a device that injects epinephrine to prevent asthma and allergy attacks from becoming fatal. When the company that makes the EpiPen increased prices by 400%, 99 senators and a lot of other people yelled that it was outrageous. Many of them called for the price increase to be rolled back. Interestingly enough, the one senator who might have a real influence on the company said nothing. All Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) would have had to do is call his daughter, who is the company's CEO. Manchin lucked out, as he is not up for reelection until 2018. Had he been up this year, the Republicans would surely have blamed him for not forcing his daughter to rescind the increase. By 2018, this may have blown over.
Or maybe not. The daughter of another senator, Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), depends on EpiPen to manage her allergies. Even though they are both Democrats, it is unlikely that Klobuchar is going to let Manchin off the hook easily. In 2009, a set of two pens cost $100; now the set is $600. Furthermore, they expire after a year, requiring people who have severe allergies to buy a new set every year, even if they haven't used the old one.
Klobuchar could do more than just complain, of course. She could take note of the fact that in every other developed country in the world, drug manufacturers are not allowed to just set their own prices. They have to negotiate with the government about prices, just as electricity companies have to in the U.S. Then she could write and introduce a bill mandating that Medicare (and Medicaid) negotiate prices with drug manufacturers since the taxpayers are footing the bills. Medicare purchases about 40% of all drugs in the U.S., so insurance companies, hospitals, pharmacies, and other customers of the pharmaceutical industry would surely demand the same deal. But don't hold your breath on this one. (V)
After adding today's polls to the database, we are essentially back to where we started—after the 2012 election. Clinton has 332 electoral votes, just as Obama had in 2012. Trump is 15 short of Romney's total of 206 because North Carolina is a tie now. But North Carolina was almost a tie in 2012. It was the closest state then. A shift of 1% of the votes would have turned the Tarheel state blue. So basically the map is completely stable, although Trump's margin in a few red states might be smaller than Romney's. (V)
|Arizona||38%||45%||12%||Aug 18||Aug 23||Opinion Research|
|Florida||41%||43%||8%||Aug 19||Aug 22||Florida Atlantic Univ.|
|North Carolina||44%||42%||7%||Aug 20||Aug 23||Monmouth U.|
|North Carolina||45%||45%||9%||Aug 18||Aug 23||Opinion Research|
|New Mexico||40%||31%||16%||Aug 19||Aug 21||PPP|
Although the news on the presidential front is not great for the Republicans, Senate races are much better. Polls in three key states, Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina, show the Republican candidates ahead, in some cases substantially ahead. If the Democrats win the White House and Republicans win the Senate, we are in for 4 rough years. Or maybe 8 rough years. Or 12. Or 16. Or for a very long time. (V)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Arizona||Ann Kirkpatrick||39%||John McCain*||52%||Aug 18||Aug 23||Opinion Research|
|Florida||Patrick Murphy||39%||Marco Rubio*||44%||Aug 19||Aug 22||Florida Atlantic Univ.|
|North Carolina||Deborah Ross||43%||Richard Burr*||45%||Aug 20||Aug 23||Monmouth U.|
|North Carolina||Deborah Ross||45%||Richard Burr*||50%||Aug 18||Aug 23||Opinion Research|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug24 Assessing Trump's New I'm Not a Racist Strategy
Aug24 Trump Emphasizes the Supreme Court in His Campaign Speeches
Aug24 Appeals Court Rules for the Republicans in Voting Case
Aug24 California May Scrap In-Person Voting
Aug24 Both Candidates' Health a Mystery
Aug24 Get Ready for a Decade of Divided Government
Aug24 Priebus Predicts Trump Will Catch Clinton in Two Weeks
Aug24 Could Trump Start a TV Network If He Loses?
Aug24 Trump's Latest FEC Filing Has Some Interesting Items
Aug24 Jill Stein: The Trump of the Progressive Movement?
Aug23 More Clinton Emails Discovered
Aug23 Trump's Immigration Speech Postponed
Aug23 Will the Presidential Winner Have Coattails?
Aug23 Top RNC Strategist Will Help Trump
Aug23 Both Candidates Prefer Secret Fundraisers
Aug23 Clinton Goes to California
Aug23 Blue Wall Is Getting Taller
Aug23 Trump May Not Concede If He Loses
Aug23 Trump Goes Where He Won't Be Outfoxed
Aug23 Twelve-year-old Boy Running Trump's Campaign in Key Colorado County
Aug23 Melania Trump Threatens to Sue Ten News Outlets
Aug22 The Next President Will Make Nearly 100 Backlogged Judicial Appointments
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?