Clinton 232
image description
Trump 306
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 48
image description
GOP 52
image description
  • Strongly Dem (182)
  • Likely Dem (18)
  • Barely Dem (33)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (90)
  • Likely GOP (45)
  • Strongly GOP (170)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: FL IA MI OH PA WI

Ambassador Trump Steps in It Again

Donald Trump ruffled feathers earlier this week when he chatted with the president of Pakistan and pledged to, "play any role you want me to play to address and find solutions to the country's problems." He was at it again on Friday, when he took a friendly phone call from President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan.

The problem here is that when the President of the United States talks to Tsai Ing-wen, he is acknowledging that she exists. And if she exists, then the government of Taiwan exists, which is a view that the Chinese government most certainly does not share. Well aware of this protocol, President Obama has never chatted with Tsai, just as a string of presidents never got Yasser Arafat on the phone, or Abraham Lincoln never sent a telegram to Jefferson Davis. In the span of a few days, then, Trump has stirred the pot for two of the world's biggest hotspots. Perhaps next he can challenge Kim Jong-un to a hand size contest, or can advise the Irish that England is really a "terrific" country to take orders from.

Kellyanne Conway was on Anderson Cooper's show, and insisted that Trump knows what he is doing. However, she could not explain what that might be, nor could she grasp the difference between, say, President-elect Obama placing a call to the leader of Argentina in 2008 and Trump calling Tsai. In the absence of an explanation, then let's step in and fill the gap with a few theories:

  • Theory 1: He's an id-driven ignoramus: This is the theory that many Democrats likely ascribe to, and there may be some truth to it, inasmuch as Trump is clearly guided by gut instinct more than anything else. However, he has shown us time and again that there is some method to the madness, so it's probably time to stop underestimating him.

  • Theory 2: He thinks diplomacy is the same as business: Trump's approach to foreign affairs has been classic Dale Carnegie-style networking. You call people, flatter them a bit, ask how you can help them, and promise you'll talk again later. Once that seed has had a chance to grow into a tree, you hit them again with your sales pitch. The Donald is not entirely wrong about this, if this is indeed his thinking, but he's also not entirely right. China vs. Taiwan or India vs. Pakistan is not the same as McDonald's vs. Burger King or Pepsi vs. Coke.

  • Theory 3: He's running foreign affairs like he ran his campaign: Over and over during the campaign season, the pros told Trump he was doing it wrong. He ignored them, and was proven right. Now, it sure looks like he is at it again. And while it's true that the experts are wrong sometimes (see every pollster in the world, 2012-2016), he might do well to recall that they are not always wrong.

  • Theory 4: It's a conspiracy: Now, let's engage in some 9/11-truther level craziness. It's still believable that Trump never really wanted this job, and that he did everything to torpedo himself, and that he was a success nonetheless. Sort of a political version of the musical "The Producers" (where the main characters try to produce a guaranteed flop, staging a Nazi-themed musical, only to have it become a smashing success). Anyhow, maybe Trump is desperately trying to give the electors cause to vote against him, sparing him the presidency while still saving face, and allowing him to spend the rest of his life complaining, which he loves to do.

It may be that all four of these are right, or that none of them are. We may know more when (and if) Trump sees fit to share his vision, but we probably won't really know until a few years have passed. Here's hoping we learn without World War III getting underway. (Z)

Trump Allies Try to Stop Recounts

Jill Stein is trying to get the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to count the votes again. Allies of Donald Trump are trying to stop the recount efforts. On Thursday, Trump's lawyers filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania saying that Stein lacks a valid claim enabling her to ask for a recount. Yesterday, Michigan's Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) filed a lawsuit to stop the recount there. In Wisconsin, a pro-Trump lawyer filed a suit to stop the recount there. There is a very tight deadline in all three cases, since the electors must cast their electoral votes on Dec. 19 (with federal law declaring that final results should be in by Dec. 13). If the lawsuits trying to stop the recounts tie the system in knots for a week or two, there won't be time to do the recounts, even if Stein prevails in all the states. The forces opposing her clearly know this, so they don't have to win, they simply have to prevent the recounts from starting for a week or two. (V)

Dean out of Race for DNC Chair

Though he has experience running the Democratic Party, having done so with great success, Howard Dean failed to gain traction with the 400 or so party members who will choose the next Chair. So, on Friday, he dropped out of the running. He did not indicate which of the remaining candidates he might support.

Unless President Obama can coax Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to throw his hat in the ring, Dean's departure would appear to hand the job to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN). Ellison already has a full-time job, which means his selection would technically violate DNC rules. However, in Washington these days, having two jobs seems to be all the rage—campaign manager and CNN commentator, member of Congress and DNC chair, real estate developer and president. So, if the Democrats decide they really need to find a way to connect with white, working-class voters who may hold less-than-enlightened racial and religious views, they will be doing so under the guidance of an upper-middle-class Black Muslim. (Z)

Why Did Trump Win, Part I? It Was the Millennials

Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, put a lot of the blame for Clinton's loss on the millennials. He said they felt that Clinton was going to win, so they felt safe in voting for third-party candidates. The millennials were playing a dangerous game of chicken. They wanted her to win but they also wanted to show her that she wasn't really their favorite, merely a bit better than the other guy. Mook said Clinton needed to win 60% of the millennial vote to seal the deal and in the end her percentage of it was only in the mid 50s, which fell short and resulted in narrow losses in Michigan (by 0.2%), Wisconsin (by 0.7%), and Pennsylvania (by 0.8%).

Nationally, Clinton did 5 points worse than Obama in 2012 among the 18-29 year olds. He got 60% and she got only 55%. In Michigan, she did 5 points worse than Obama. In Wisconsin, it was 20 points worse. Finally, in Pennsylvania, it was 17 points worse. These voters represented something like 20% of the vote; if she had gotten the same margins as Obama in all three states, she would have won them and the White House. (V)

Why Did Trump Win, Part II? He Didn't Get Much Attention in the Final Week

While many theories are floating around trying to explain Donald Trump's victory (our favorite, similar to Mook's, is that too many Democrats stayed home or voted for third parties; see above and below for more), new ones keep coming up. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has looked at the data and found a strong negative correlation between how much attention Donald Trump got on any day (as measured by Google searches for him) and his polling. The more people searched for him, the worse he did. Now, correlation is not causation, but it does seem that when Trump said something controversial, people began searching for him on Google and his polling dropped.

The exit polls showed that a fair number of voters decided whom to vote for in the final week. That was the week that Hillary Clinton dominated the news as a result of FBI Director James Comey's letter saying that he had found more of Clinton's emails. Trump was hardly in the news at all, wasn't searched for much, and relatively speaking, rose in the polls. Basically, Trump was mostly in the news all year for saying something outrageous, but since he didn't dominate the news the final week, that helped him. The long and the short of this is that Comey's announcement took Trump off the front pages, which actually was good for him since most of the time when he was in the news, he offended people. (V)

Why Did Trump Win, Part III? Democrats Stayed Home

Slate's Konstantin Kilibarda and Daria Roithmayr have crunched the data and reached their conclusion (which has been echoed by others): Hillary Clinton lost because she just did not inspire enough Democrats to get out and vote.

Their analysis focuses particularly on the Rust Belt, and they observe that Republican gains there were fairly modest, particularly compared to Democratic losses. For example, among voters earning less than $50,000, Trump improved by 335,000 votes over Mitt Romney, while Hillary Clinton lagged Barack Obama by 1.17 million votes. In other words, just 25% of the swing was new GOP votes, while 75% was disappearing Democratic votes. A lot of those Democrats stayed home, while many of them apparently voted third-party. Votes for third-party candidates in the Rust Belt tripled over 2012. What this all suggests is that, for all the Democratic hand-wringing, there hasn't been nearly as much of a realignment as it seemed. (Z)

Why Did Trump Win, Part IV? Democrats Have Lost Rural America

The New York Times has been leading the way in the visual journalism department this election season, and they have put together a great collection of maps and charts that help make sense of 2016, particularly in comparison to the last half-dozen elections.

The theme that stands out most across the data set is that the Bill Clinton-era Democratic Party was competitive across the country, in nearly all states and localities. Today, their approach is "win the cities big, and pick up a few votes elsewhere." The single most eye-opening statistic is this: In 1992, the Democrats won 533 counties in a landslide (+20% or more) and the Republicans won 592; in 2016 the blue team's number of landslide counties had shrunk to 242, while the red team's had quadrupled to 2,232. It's a dangerous game of electoral chicken for a party to pin its hopes on such a narrow geographical foundation. It could even be a recipe for winning the popular vote handily but losing the Electoral College. (Z)

Why Did Trump Win, Part V? Voter Suppression

This story got a fair bit of attention before the election, considerably less so afterward. However, there is no question that the Republican Party took steps to reduce voter turnout in key states, including the ultimately-critical states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Certainly these efforts had some impact, even when courts stepped in and tried to rectify the situation. Given the close margins in the states that decided the election, it's very possible that this voter suppression was enough to swing the election.

This question cannot be answered in a precise fashion, since we do not have and never will have data about what would have happened in a suppression-free world. However, there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence in support of the case. For example, the gap between Clinton and Trump in the Badger State is currently about 27,000 votes. 300,000 registered voters lacked strict forms of voter ID, voter turnout in Wisconsin was at its lowest point in 20 years statewide, and voter turnout was down 13% in Milwaukee, where the vast majority of the state's black residents live. Not conclusive, perhaps, but highly persuasive.

So, there you have it: Five different explanations for what happened on November 8. These explanations are not mutually exclusive, of course, and they probably all contain a fair bit of truth. Really, the only question is in which order of importance they should be ranked. (Z)

Other Indiana Companies Are Also Planning to Ship Jobs to Mexico

Using state tax incentives, Donald Trump managed to convince Carrier to save about 1,000 factory jobs in Indiana. It will be interesting to see how he goes about saving the jobs of other Indiana factory workers that are about to be shipped to Mexico or out of state. CNN has compiled a list of them:

  • United Technologies electronic controls plant in Huntington, IN (700 jobs)
  • Rexnord's bearing plant in Indianapolis (350 jobs)
  • Manitowoc Foodservice's plant in Sellersburg, IN that makes food and beverage equipment (84 jobs)
  • GE's appliance plant in Bloomington, IN (329 jobs)
  • Stanrail's plant making car parts in Gary, IN (100 jobs)
  • Paoli furniture factory in Orleans, IN (367 jobs)
  • Kellogg's plant in Seelyville, IN, which makes Cheez-It and Keebler snacks (150 jobs)

As every economist in the country who has weighed in on the Carrier deal has said, the president cannot intervene every time a company threatens to close a plant and build a new one in Mexico. He has to attack job loss at the macroeconomic level. That is Trump's challenge. If he fails, jobs will just continue moving south. (V)

Today in Schadenfreude: Russian Central Bank Hacked

After months (and years) of mucking around in the affairs of other nations, the Russians got a taste of their own medicine this week, when hackers attacked the Russian Central Bank and absconded with 2 billion rubles (about $31 million). In addition, to add insult to injury, they spread false news stories on Twitter and on social media on the subject of how weak the Russian financial system is, and how it is likely to completely collapse. Russian authorities say they shut down the hacking and the fake news before any serious damage could be done. Given that the rubles are long gone and the story has made the news across the world, we'd say that they are in error. (Z)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec02 Trump Has Reckless and Bizarre Conversation with Pakistan's Sharif
Dec02 Mattis Tapped for Department of Defense
Dec02 Sanders Slams Carrier Deal
Dec02 Bad Blood Between Trump and Clinton Campaigns
Dec02 Heitkamp Meeting With Trump
Dec02 Trump Launches Thank You Tour
Dec01 The Swamp is Draining Right into the White House
Dec01 Details About Carrier Deal Begin to Materialize
Dec01 Pelosi Survives Challenge
Dec01 GOP Senators: Not so Fast on Medicare
Dec01 Petraeus Would Need Probation Officer's Permission to Become Secretary of State
Dec01 Graham to Trump: Prove Voter Fraud or Shut Up
Dec01 What's Next for Conway?
Dec01 Are You Ready for Trump Texts?
Nov30 Trump Lashes Out at Flag Burners
Nov30 Three More Additions to Cabinet
Nov30 Trump Saves 1,000 Jobs, But at What Cost?
Nov30 House Democrats Likely to Re-elect Pelosi
Nov30 Trump's Going to Have Legal Problems
Nov30 President Obama: Michelle's Not Running
Nov29 Trump Wins Michigan
Nov29 Trump Picks Tom Price for HHS
Nov29 Petraeus for Secretary of State?
Nov29 Trump Has Changed His Views on Various Issues Since the the Election
Nov29 Trump May Not Be Able to Deport Undocumented Criminals
Nov29 The Difficulties in Draining the Swamp
Nov29 Trump May Have a Problem When a Chinese Bank's Lease Expires
Nov29 AP Issues Guidelines for Reporters about the term Alt-Right
Nov28 Senate Republicans Are Hesitant to Abolish the Filibuster
Nov28 The Media Are Starting to Be Honest; Trump, Not So Much
Nov28 Trump Intends to Take a Hard Line with Cuba
Nov28 Arizona and Georgia Democrats Are Nervous About Direction of the Party
Nov28 Maine Switches to Instant-Runoff Voting
Nov28 Democrats' 2020 Field Is Taking Shape
Nov28 Don't Want to Do Business with Trump? There's an App for That
Nov27 Trump Calls Recount Effort a Scam
Nov27 Trump Calls Castro a Brutal Dictator
Nov27 Trump's Conflicts of Interest Have Already Emerged
Nov27 Flynn Has Some Serious Baggage
Nov27 Falwell, Jr. Declined Cabinet Appointment
Nov27 Kirsten Gillibrand Is Already Exploring a 2020 Run
Nov27 The Reviews Are in on Trump's Ornament
Nov26 Fidel Castro Dead at 90
Nov26 Trump Will Soon Get the Nuke 101 Tutorial
Nov26 The Presidency as a Profit Center
Nov26 Christian Leaders Now Expect Trump to Deliver
Nov26 Democrats May Get a Chance to Rebuild in the Next Two Years
Nov26 Four Sites to Break Out of the Liberal Bubble
Nov26 New Mexico Business Tells Trump Supporters to Get Lost
Nov25 Russian Propaganda Machine Was Indeed Behind Fake News