Clinton 303
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Ties 44
Trump 191
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (215)
  • Likely Dem (76)
  • Barely Dem (12)
  • Exactly tied (44)
  • Barely GOP (35)
  • Likely GOP (61)
  • Strongly GOP (95)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Trump Has a Long History of Racial Discrimination

The New York Times has published a long piece of investigative reporting on Donald Trump's history of discriminating against black tenants in his buildings, going back decades. He was repeatedly cited by the Dept. of Justice and sued multiple times for housing discrimination. Discrimination is actually fairly easy to prove. A fair housing group sends a black person to rent an apartment and the person is told nothing is available. Then it sends a white person and all of a sudden lots of apartments are available. Then it sends another black person and suddenly nothing is available until the next white person shows up. It's hard to explain that away when the group carefully documents (and possibly secretly records) the various visits to the building. Trump inherited the "no blacks" policy from his father, Fred Trump, a real estate developer before him. So, he didn't invent it, but he didn't kill it off when he took over either.

Trump's response to the government's citations and lawsuits was to countersue the government. He generally lost these cases, but his persistence eventually wore the government down. He signed a consent decree agreeing not to discriminate, but never admitted any guilt. A few years after signing the consent decree, the government sued him again for violating it. Eventually, demographic changes in New York forced him to start renting to blacks; otherwise, he couldn't fill his buildings. But he made a point to pack them into a small number of buildings, so there were white buildings and black buildings.

Although this story is very old, now that Trump is nominally trying to court black voters (or at least make white voters believe he is not a bigot), these violations are very inconvenient. They may well find their way into attack ads in the fall, especially since some of the victims of his discrimination are still around and would no doubt be happy to talk about their early experiences with Trump. (V)

Who is the KKK Candidate?

Hillary Clinton released a brutal new ad this week, connecting Donald Trump to his supporters in the Ku Klux Klan. Trump, to nobody's surprise, decided to fight fire with fire, tweeting that "a KKK member was [Clinton's] mentor."

The person Trump is referring to is former Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. And The Donald's tweet is factually correct, in that (1) Clinton has cited Byrd as a mentor, and (2) Byrd was once a member of the KKK. However, the equivalency that Trump is trying to draw (Hey—we both have connections to the Klan!) doesn't really work, for a number of reasons:

  1. There have been three iterations of the Ku Klux Klan in U.S. history. The first version (1860s-1870s) and the third and current version (1950s-present) were/are both focused on white supremacy, sometimes achieved through terrorist means. The second Klan (1910s-1940s), by contrast, was more of a populist organization. This iteration had a much larger reach than the other two versions, with the result that membership was more socially acceptable, and was sometimes even an important means of networking for upwardly mobile politicians and businessmen. Even Harry S. Truman—the same man who integrated the U.S. Army—briefly flirted with Klan membership in the 1930s.

  2. Byrd has been dead for six years, and he left the Klan in the 1940s, more than 60 years ago. By contrast, the Klansmen who support Trump are still active in the organization (or, in the case of David Duke, still active in the white supremacist community).

  3. In the latter decades of his career, Byrd apologized profusely for his past Klan activities, and his less-than-stellar record on Civil Rights in the 1960s. He called his decision to join the Klan "my biggest regret," and in the last 30 years of his lengthy career, his voting record regularly earned a 100% from the NAACP. This was the phase of his career in which he worked with Hillary Clinton.

This is not to excuse Byrd, who clearly made shameful choices early in his career. It is merely to say that being mentored by a former Klansman who left the group and regretted his membership is not quite the same thing as enjoying widespread support among thousands of active Klansmen who don't regret their membership at all. (Z)

The Candidates' Debate Prep Styles Couldn't Be More Different

Hillary Clinton preps for the first debate (on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University on Long Island) the way a lawyer would prepare before an upcoming Supreme Court oral argument. She carefully studies briefing books full of arcane details and oppo research. She rehearses over and over. Her team hasn't yet chosen someone to play Trump, but will soon, and they will have mock debates on a stage that is an exact full-size replica of the real one. It will be impossible for the moderator to find a question so obscure that she doesn't know anything about it.

Donald Trump doesn't operate like this. It is far too much work to study the thick briefing books his staff has carefully prepared. Instead, he goes to his New Jersey golf course with Rudy Giuliani, Roger Ailes, and talk show host Laura Ingraham. They eat bacon cheeseburgers and hot dogs and test out zingers on each other. If Trump decides he wants to try a practice debate, Ingraham is likely to play Clinton.

Each candidate faces challenges, but different ones. Clinton has to avoid being Al Gore, a subject matter expert, but not someone you would want to have a beer with. She also has to convince people she is trustworthy. Above all, if Trump baits her, she has to avoid crawling into the gutter, and has to act presidential at all times. Trump, by contrast, has to prove he is up to the job. If he comes off as an ignoramus who is good at hurling insults but doesn't know anything about policy, it will be the end of him. He also has to deal with months of insulting numerous groups. When the moderator says: "On April 9th you said ..." and then reads some outrageous statement Trump made, he is either going to have to repudiate it or reinforce it, both with serious downsides. The first debate will probably be the most important event of the campaign. (V)

In New Ad, Clinton Attacks Trump for Making His Merchandise Overseas

Donald Trump says he will make America great again, but the things he actually makes, he makes somewhere else. In Hillary Clinton's new ad, she points out that his shirts are made in Bangladesh, his ties are made in China, his suits are made in Mexico, and other products are made in nine other countries. The ad, which will air in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida, asks how he can make America great again if he doesn't make things in America. (V)

Pence Is Fulfilling His Attack Dog Role Well

Normally, the presidential candidate takes the high road, and the vice presidential candidate is the mean and nasty attack dog. This year the Republican presidential candidate seems to have missed the part about the high road but the vice presidential candidate clearly understands what his job is, and is doing it with gusto. Yesterday, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) lit into Hillary Clinton for her "alt-right speech," calling it an attack on millions of hard-working Americans. Pence noted that after Trump spent a great deal of effort reaching out to minorities, Clinton pulls out the old playbook of divisiveness. He then added that as president, Donald Trump will make America great for all Americans. At least one of the Republicans on the ticket knows the script and can follow it. Pence is an experienced politician, of course, and knows full well that he has a much better shot at being elected president in 2020 than vice president in 2016, but to get there, he has to be a loyal party soldier now, so that is what he is doing. (V)

Republican Strategists Look Beyond Trump

Two experienced Republican strategists, Tom Korologos and Richard Allen, wrote a piece in the Washington Post advising the Republican Party on what to do now. Their starting point is that Hillary Clinton is going to win in a landslide, no matter what the party does. So now what? They have a four-point program:

  • Accept that Clinton will win, and hope that she wins big and then overplays her hand
  • In the next 3 months, try to educate voters about ticket splitting, in order to save the Senate and House
  • When Clinton starts to make appointments, pick the most liberal ones and expose their views to public scrutiny
  • Clean house at the RNC and make new rules for the 2020 primaries

The last point is the hardest and will be the most contentious. Some suggestions are (1) creating superdelegates (sorry Bernie, superdelegates are good), (2) somehow limit the number of candidates, and (3) set the primary dates later in the year. The RNC can easily create superdelegates and also set later primary and caucus dates. Limiting the candidates will be trickier, but not impossible. For example, the debates, over which the RNC has complete control, could have the rule that only the top five candidates in the polls get to be on stage, with no kiddie table for the losers. It won't be popular with the candidates, but it could lead to a more manageable field. (V)

How Will Gary Johnson Do on Election Day?

FiveThirtyEight is in the business of projecting election results, and this weekend, Harry Enten turned his attention to Gary Johnson, trying to figure out what the Libertarian nominee's tea leaves say. Comparing the "late summer" versus Election Day numbers of eight other third-party and independent candidates, from Henry Wallace in 1948 to Johnson himself in 2012, the conclusion is that we have reached the part of the calendar where third-party polling numbers basically stabilize. Enten thinks that Johnson's current 9% of the vote is likely to hold through November, perhaps minus 1-2%.

It is not, to be frank, the finest analysis that the site has produced. Indeed, there are a number of problems that immediately present themselves. First of all, a sample size of eight is not much of a sample, particularly when it is scattered across eight different decades. That leads to a second, related issue. Is it really meaningful to compare Gary Johnson to, say, a Dixiecrat like Strom Thurmond? Or a lefty insurgent like Ralph Nader? Finally, Enten appears to have been looking at his data through the lens that best serves his thesis. He points out that Wallace went from 4% to 2% between late summer and Election Day in 1948, Nader went from 4% to 3% in 2000, and Johnson went from 2% to 1% in 2012. These numbers support his conclusion that third-party candidates only lose 1-2 points over the last several months of the campaign. It's possible this is true, but another way to look at that same data is to say that Wallace and Johnson lost 50% of their support and Nader lost 25%.

Arguably the biggest weakness with Enten's thesis, however, is that it does not hold for the most Johnson-like candidate in the study: John Anderson, who cratered from 14% to 7% in the last two months of the 1980 campaign. Anderson was, like Johnson, a one-time member of the Republican establishment who remained conservative on fiscal issues, but became a liberal on social issues. Finding himself persona non grata in the GOP, he launched an independent bid for the presidency, pitching himself as an alternative to Jimmy Carter (who was very unpopular, and seen as a symbol of a broken political system) and Ronald Reagan (who was also unpopular, and was seen as too much of a lightweight on policy to be president). Voters unhappy with those choices—and there were a lot of them—said they absolutely planned to vote Anderson. But when the time came, half of them just could not pull the lever.

The point is that the data support the conclusion that Johnson is headed for 7%-9% on Election Day. But, the same data—and the clearest historical analogue for Johnson—also support the conclusion that he's headed for 4%-5%. There's really no meaningful way to predict, especially since the most important factor—whether or not the Commission on Presidential Debates bows to pressure and includes him on the stage—is not yet known. (Z)

Holton's Job Is to Make People Like Hillary Clinton

Anne Holton, the wife of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), is an experienced politician in her own right. The Harvard Law School graduate is a former judge and former state secretary of education in Virginia. Her father, Linwood Holton, was governor of Virginia from 1970 to 1974. Officially, Anne Holton is supposed to focus on education, a subject she obviously knows well. Unofficially, her real task is to make people warm to Hillary Clinton. She talks about Clinton as a grandmother and things like that. Holton herself is very relaxed and easygoing, and rarely takes herself seriously, which makes it easier to convince people that off stage, Clinton is just an ordinary person. (V)

Old Polls Added to the Database

Just yesterday, we discovered that Morning Consult ran Clinton vs. Trump polls in all 50 states plus D.C. January through April, and again from April through June. While we generally don't like Internet polls and these are old ones to boot, we made an exception and added both sets to the database, because for 11 states, these are the only polls we have in 2016. These states are Alaska, Alabama, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Also, D.C. Old Internet polls are probably still better than using the 2012 election results. For states that have been polled since June, these have no effect except appearing on the graphs of all polls in a state. Two states, Montana and North Dakota, became slightly less red on the map as a result of the new polls. Both states have a strong libertarian bent, and it could be that Gary Johnson is hurting Trump slightly there. Mississippi went back to dark red as a result of the second Morning Consult poll, which is a more recent result than a Mason Dixon poll of Mississippi taken in March. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug27 Trump Doubles Down on Calling Clinton a Bigot
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Aug27 Bannon May Have Made Anti-Semitic Remarks
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Aug26 Trump's Pitch To Black Voters Is Really to White Voters
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