Clinton 232
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Trump 306
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Click for Senate
Dem 48
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GOP 52
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  • 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
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Why Did Trump Win, Part VI
      •  Mook: "Deplorables" Was a Mistake
      •  Trump Trashes SNL, Again
      •  Trump Trashes China, Again
      •  Dakota Pipeline to be Rerouted...Probably
      •  Trump's Tax Headache
      •  How about "None of the Above" for Secretary of State?
      •  Renzi Rebuked, Will Resign

Why Did Trump Win, Part VI

On Saturday, we presented five theories about why president-elect Donald Trump won the electoral college. Briefly summarized, these were:

  • It was the millennials
  • He didn't get much attention in the final week
  • Democrats stayed home
  • Democrats have lost rural America
  • Voter suppression

To these five we now add a sixth possibility: Jill Stein. Dave Wasserman of he Cook Political Report looked at the most recent popular vote tally in the three "blue-wall" Midwestern states that Trump won and found these numbers (still subject to change):

State Stein votes Trump margin Pct. Stein votes Clinton needed
Michigan 51,463 10,704 20.8%
Wisconsin 31,006 22,177 71.5%
Pennsylvania 49,678 46,765 94.1%

If every Stein voter in these three states had voted for Hillary Clinton instead of Stein, Clinton would have won all three states and the presidency. It's probably a safe bet that all of the Stein voters strongly dislike Clinton, but equally likely is that they abhor Trump and if they realized that their vote was going to put Trump in the White House, many, if not most, would have held their noses very tightly and voted for the hated Clinton, just to stop Trump. As we can see from the table above, if only 20.8% of the Stein voters in Michigan had voted for Clinton, she would have carried Michigan. That's very likely to have occurred if they realized how close it was. Wisconsin would have been tougher, since 71.5% of Stein voters would have had to vote for Clinton to win. In Pennsylvania, it would have taken 94.1% of the Stein voters.

The polls clearly played a big role here. Most Stein voters undoubtedly assumed that Trump had no chance of winning, so they could vote for their favorite. Had they known that these three states were all virtual ties and votes for Stein were de facto votes for Trump, things probably would have turned out differently.

A seventh reason for Trump's win, closely related to the above, is the voting system. If instant-runoff voting had been used, allowing voters to indicate a first choice, a second choice, and so on, most of the Stein voters would probably have voted for Stein as #1, Clinton and Gary Johnson as #2 and #3, in either order, and no fourth choice. (V)

Mook: "Deplorables" Was a Mistake

Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook is on something like a victory tour these days, except the kind that you take when you lose. He was on with CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday, and he acknowledged that Clinton's "deplorables" remark hurt the campaign. "Hillary apologized right away after that and said that she misspoke and that she regretted the comment," he observed. "That's something that Donald Trump wouldn't do, you know."

Mook also believes, probably correctly, that the James Comey letter did a lot of harm. "We were expecting to perform better with suburban women in particular," he said. "We saw those numbers a lot stronger than what happened on Election Day. We do think that was because of the Comey letter." He also said that the letter likely had a major impact among millennial voters. As Mook ate crow on behalf of his candidate, the ever-gracious Kellyanne Conway was there to rub salt in the wounds, insisting that Clinton never really apologized for her remarks, and opining that her only regret was "getting caught." So, the campaign apparently isn't quite over, yet. (Z)

Trump Trashes SNL, Again

"Saturday Night Live" took another tilt at Donald Trump this week, this time in a sketch that had him paying too much attention to Twitter in order to listen to a security briefing. The Donald was not pleased, and yet again—with no apparent sense of irony—promptly got on Twitter to fire back. "Just tried watching Saturday Night Live - unwatchable!" Trump tweeted. "Totally biased, not funny and the Baldwin impersonation just can't get any worse. Sad."

This brings up all kinds of questions. In no particular order:

  • If Trump does not like the show, and is bothered by how he is portrayed, why does he keep watching?

  • Does he have some sort of larger political purpose? It's easy to see how attacking the liberal New York Times, or poking the Chinese in the eye, might curry favor with his base. But are there really people saying, "Finally! Someone is telling SNL how it is!"?

  • Does he not realize that his Tweets have an impact quite the opposite of what he wants? First, by drawing attention to the sketches, he effectively guarantees that every news outlet links to the video or plays a clip, and that two or three times as many people see the sketch. Second, SNL loves sparring with politicians, and will keep pumping out Trump sketches as long as they keep getting a rise out of him. Especially since Trump portrayer Alec Baldwin is a die-hard liberal who loathes The Donald.

  • Does he really think he can rein in SNL, either through official or unofficial influence? They might be the most bulletproof program on television. First of all, they are an institution, one that has been on the air for more than four decades, poking politicians in the eye that entire time. Second, they air at 11:30 p.m., which means there is no "Think of the children!" censorship argument. Third, and finally, they are a money-printing machine for NBC. As long as producer Lorne Michaels wants to keep going, SNL is going to keep going.

  • Is there any way Trump's petulance doesn't reflect badly on him? If Tricky Dick, Jerry, Jimmy, Ronnie, George, Bill, W., and Barack could take it, why can't The Donald?

Trump's instincts have proven right many times, and so perhaps there is something we are overlooking here. However, we cannot conceive of what it might be, for the life of us. Which leaves us, for the moment, with the conclusion that he really is too thin-skinned and too impetuous for the job he's about to take over. (Z)

Trump Trashes China, Again

Donald Trump is smarting after all the criticism he has received for taking Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen's call, and decided—once again—to take to Twitter to blow off some steam, calling out the Chinese government. "Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency" and "build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea?" he asked. "I don't think so!"

Trump's campaign rhetoric was predicated on the notion that China is fairly weak, and can easily be pushed around by the mighty United States. Let us hope that he does not actually believe that. Someone whom he listens to needs to impress upon him that the current status quo between Taiwan and China is fraught with peril. Taiwan believes strongly that it is independent, and functions that way, without making a point of actually saying it out loud. China believes strongly they are not, but looks the other way as long as the Taiwanese don't force the issue. This is not something to be trifled with; one of us (Z) has taught many exchange students from the two places, and partisans on both sides are as earnestly serious about their points of view as Iranians and Iraqis, or Sudanese and South Sudanese, or Russians and Ukrainians. If Taiwan's leaders think they have the United States' support to take a more aggressive stand, Trump could end up being responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, or for dragging the United States into a conflict even more burdensome than Iraq or Afghanistan. (Z)

Dakota Pipeline to be Rerouted...Probably

The longstanding protest against the proposed Dakota pipeline has been successful, it would seem, as the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) has said it will not grant the permit needed for the project to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. Republicans condemned the decision; Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) took to Twitter to declare, "This is big-government decision-making at its worst. I look forward to putting this anti-energy presidency behind us. " Progressives cheered; Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) issued a statement in which he said, "I appreciate very much President Obama listening to the Native American people and millions of others who believe this pipeline should not be built."

The matter is not quite settled, yet, since the Trump administration could still try to revive the project. However, the Sioux tribe and their supporters now have a pretty significant legal card to play in a potential lawsuit, not to mention having the upper hand in the court of public opinion. Meanwhile, the story reminds us of two things: (1) Barack Obama has a fair bit of leeway to frustrate the Trump administration on his way out the door, and (2) The federal bureaucracy—whether the ACE, or FBI, or State Department, or whoever—also has a fair bit of leeway to frustrate the Trump administration, and they most certainly are not on their way out the door. (Z)

Trump's Tax Headache

Many people have strongly urged Donald Trump to sell his company to avoid conflicts of interest. It wouldn't be easy at all, due to the tax consequences. Under a federal law passed in 1989, officials who have to sell their assets or put them in a blind trust where the trustee sells them, don't have to pay capital gains tax. But to get a certificate that qualifies one for the exemption, an official has to be required by law to sell his assets. The law does not cover the president or vice president, so Trump might not qualify for the certificate. He could issue an executive order requiring himself to sell his assets, but critics would instantly jump on that saying he just issued an order relieving himself of millions (maybe billions) in taxes.

Another problem is his stated intention of passing his business to his children. If he gave the business to them now, there would be a gift tax of 40% on essentially the entire amount when he dies. If the kids found outside financing and bought the business for fair market value, there would be no gift tax, but a lot of people would be concerned with why the outsiders did it and what they expected in return. There is no clean way out for Trump. If he keeps the business, he has conflict of interest problems and if he sells it, he has tax problems. (V)

How about "None of the Above" for Secretary of State?

Four names have been bandied about for Secretary of State, each with major issues:

  • Mitt Romney: Trump supporters hate him for calling Trump a "con man"
  • Rudy Giuliani: He has many foreign entanglements, no knowledge of foreign policy, and is rather...undiplomatic
  • David Petraeus: He was convicted of giving classified information to an unauthorized person
  • Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): Trump doesn't seem to like him much

Petraeus, who had been something of a favorite, was on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday morning, trying to save his candidacy. Asked about the leak of classified information, he said, "Five years ago, I made a serious mistake. I acknowledged it. I apologized for it. I paid a very heavy price for it and I've learned from it." Perhaps more humility than Trump might show, but an answer that is probably not going to get it done.

So, the hunt is on for more candidates. One of them is former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, who speaks Mandarin. Another is John Bolton, George W. Bush's ambassador to the United Nations, a man known for his ill temper. Still another is Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon. And there might be more as Trump expands his search. (V)

Renzi Rebuked, Will Resign

For the last couple of years, it has been all the rage worldwide for voters to "poke 'em in the eye." On Sunday, the Italians took their turn. As we noted Saturday, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was pushing a series of reforms to the Italian constitution. The referendum was an unmitigated disaster for him; 70% of the voters showed up to hand him a massive defeat, with 60% of them voting against the reforms. Renzi will resign, clearing the way for the populist Five Star Movement to take over the nation's government. Five Star leader Beppe Grillo, a television star who could become the next prime minister, is reportedly planning something "terrificante" for Italy. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec04 China Lodges Formal Complaint
Dec04 David Petraeus to Audition for Secretary of State Today
Dec04 Sarah Palin Attacks Trump
Dec04 Job Destruction is Part of America's Secret Sauce
Dec04 Trump Inherits a B or B+ Economy
Dec04 No Recount in Pennsylvania...Maybe
Dec04 NeverTrumpers Throw in the Towel
Dec04 Could Italy Be Next?
Dec03 Ambassador Trump Steps in It Again
Dec03 Trump Allies Try to Stop Recounts
Dec03 Dean out of Race for DNC Chair
Dec03 Why Did Trump Win, Part I? It Was the Millennials
Dec03 Why Did Trump Win, Part II? He Didn't Get Much Attention in the Final Week
Dec03 Why Did Trump Win, Part III? Democrats Stayed Home
Dec03 Why Did Trump Win, Part IV? Democrats Have Lost Rural America
Dec03 Why Did Trump Win, Part V? Voter Suppression
Dec03 Other Indiana Companies Are Also Planning to Ship Jobs to Mexico
Dec03 Today in Schadenfreude: Russian Central Bank Hacked
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