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)
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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)
      •  Comey Likely Decided the Election
      •  Trump Says He Doesn't Believe CIA Report of Putin Helping Him
      •  What Would the Democratic Version of Trump's Team Look Like?
      •  Five Things We Know about President Trump and Five We Don't Know
      •  Bernstein Slams Trump
      •  Christie Turned Down Trump's Job Offers

Comey Likely Decided the Election

Many of the factors that may have contributed to Hillary Clinton's loss on Nov. 8 are unknowable (e.g., suppose she had campaigned in Wisconsin), but one of them has now been quantified. An analysis by Sam Wang shows clearly that the letter written by FBI Director James Comey in October cost Clinton about 2% nationally in the end. If it also cost her 2% in each state, that would explain why she lost Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and why the polls were off. Basically, everything changed in the final week and there was no time for the polls to catch up to the changed public sentiment. Here is Wang's graph.:

Comey effect

In short, Clinton dropped 4 points directly after Comey's announcement. The announcement completely dominated the news. There is no other explanation for such a sudden drop. She eventually recovered 2 of those points, but ended up 2 points lower than she was. As can be seen from Charlie Cook's current data, even a Comey-effect as small as 0.7% would have flipped Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and a Comey effect of 1.2% would also have flipped Florida. Here are the current totals for these four close states:

State Clinton (D) Trump (R) Others Clinton % Trump % Others % Trump Margin
Florida 4,504975 4,617,886 297,178 47.80% 49.00% 3.20% 1.20%
Michigan 2,268,839 2,279,543 250,902 47.30% 47.50% 5.20% 0.20%
Pennsylvania 2,926,457 2,970,764 218,225 47.90% 48.60% 3.60% 0.70%
Wisconsin 1,381,823 1,404,000 189,490 46.40% 47.20% 6.40% 0.70%

Thus, while we can't say what would have happened if Clinton had campaigned more in the Midwest instead of wasting effort in Arizona and Georgia, it does look like Comey's announcement was just enough to pull Trump over the finish line first. (V)

Trump Says He Doesn't Believe CIA Report of Putin Helping Him

Appearing on Fox News Sunday yesterday, Donald Trump said he does not believe the CIA's conclusion that Vladimir Putin intervened in the U.S. election in order to help him. Literally, he said: "I think it's ridiculous. I think it's just another excuse. I don't believe it." The intelligence community thinks otherwise.

Senior Republicans all supported Trump's view. It would be suicidal to say: "Without Vlad's help, we would never have made it." So, these pro-forma denials don't mean a lot. President Obama has tasked the CIA with producing a final report before he leaves office. If the CIA releases the report on Jan. 19 or Jan. 20, and it definitely concludes that Trump was helped by Putin (even a 1% shift matters a lot, as shown above), it would get Trump off to a rough start with the intelligence agencies. If they give him advice and he intentionally ignores it because he doesn't trust them, it could lead to trouble. We have had a situation before when the intelligence community warned the president of an upcoming problem and he ignored it. On Aug. 6, 2001, George W. Bush received a briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." and Bush ignored it. If Bush had immediately taken action to tighten airport security, etc., 9/11 might not have happened. (V)

What Would the Democratic Version of Trump's Team Look Like?

The appointments that President-elect Donald Trump has made, so far, have raised quite a bit of ire among Democrats. Not only are these individuals' politics being questioned, so too is their very fitness for the jobs they plan to assume. But Washington, of course, is known for its rapid outbreaks of "shoe is on the other foot" syndrome. Republicans, for example, could think of no worse crime than leaking classified information, right up until Michael Flynn and David Petraeus were under consideration for jobs, and then it didn't seem so bad after all. Democrats, for their part, were big opponents of SCOTUS justice filibusters throughout 2016. Now, they are poised to become major fans of the practice.

As a thought exercise, then, we propose to construct the mirror image of Trump's team—people of similar qualifications/background, but opposite politics. Perhaps this will help to sort out the extent to which concerns about Trump's cabinet are rooted in legitimate concerns, and how much they are simply the product of differences of political opinion.

Donald Trump is, of course, the President-elect of the United States. While he's a successful real estate developer, there are many businessmen who have had a better career than he. The primary reason that he is president, and they are not, is that he's a skilled entertainer and a provocateur, and has been for years (long before "The Apprentice"). Let's see...billionaire, provocateur, reality TV star, loves Twitter, political ideology a little hazy. That's pretty much the biography of Internet tycoon and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
Mike Pence describes himself as, "a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order." He was chosen primarily to appeal to the GOP's evangelical right-wing, having previously advocated ideas (like gay conversion therapy) that liberals consider reprehensible. Pence's mirror image would seem to be an outspoken progressive who drives right-wingers nuts. Perhaps a secular Jewish socialist, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)?
Secretary of State
Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson appears to be the choice. Fitting right in with a cabinet made up mostly of billionaires and generals, Tillerson has no diplomatic experience. Reportedly, his experience negotiating business deals with foreign governments—including the Putin administration in Russia—is considered by Trump to be an acceptable substitute. While the Democratic Party has its fair share of billionaires, they largely derived their wealth from technology, media, or stock market investing, and not through dealmaking with foreign potentates. The closest equivalent to Tillerson, then, may be Clinton foundation mega-donor and billionaire shipping magnate Wang Wenliang, who—like Tillerson—has uncomfortably close ties to a none-too-friendly foreign government (in his case, China). Wang is not a U.S. citizen, but he is a permanent resident, and citizenship is not technically required for Secretaries of State (though, like other non-"natural born" Secretaries like Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, he would not be eligible to succeed to the presidency).
Attorney General
Trump has chosen Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a far right winger who very much believes that white lives matter. His impolitic remarks on the subject of race in his younger days came back to haunt him, costing him appointment as a federal judge in the 1980s. To replace Sessions, we will choose Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who has gotten into some hot water over his support of Louis Farrakhan, as well as other provocative statements about race and racism he made in his younger years. There's no doubt that a black Muslim AG and outspoken supporter of Black Lives Matter would turn some conservative stomachs in much the same way that a white (former?) racist turns some liberal stomachs.
Secretary of Defense/Secretary of Homeland Security
The pick is James Mattis, who will take HHS, while John Kelly will take over the Pentagon. The former is respected for his intellect, the latter for his bravery and calm demeanor. Let's swap them out with a Rhodes Scholar former army general, Wes Clark, and highly-decorated former marine general John R. Allen, who spoke at this year's Democratic convention.
Secretary of the Treasury/Secretary of Labor
Steve Mnuchin has been chosen for Treasury, while Andy Puzder was given Labor. That's two corporate/Wall Street types where there would normally be one. The yin to President Trump's yang would presumably be two labor leaders. For example, the Teamsters' James P. Hoffa and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. Though neither of them has a history of spousal abuse, it should be noted. Unlike, say, Puzder.
National Security Adviser
Michael Flynn is a three-star general with extensive Washington experience, but also some black marks on his resume (like sharing classified intelligence that he wasn't entitled to share). He's an outspoken critic of Islam, to the point that many have labeled him an Islamophobe. It's not so easy to find a military figure who can serve as the Democratic equivalent of Flynn. The armed forces tend to attract mostly Republicans, while also encouraging people to keep their political opinions to themselves. Both of those tendencies work against the emergence of an outspoken left-wing military officer. Although, it's worth noting that Flynn isn't actually a Republican, at least not by registration—he's a Democrat. So, who is someone who is perceived to be liberal, is actually of unclear partisan affiliation, and tends to say some pretty outrageous things at times, particularly about Muslims? Paging "Real Time" host Bill Maher.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Ben Carson is very accomplished in his own field, but has no business running HUD, since he has zero relevant experience. He's got a notorious history of saying odd things, and was chosen in part to give the Cabinet "diversity." To take his spot, we'll give the nod to talented musician and businessman Kanye West, who has his own case of foot-in-mouth disease, and who also has no business running a government agency.
Secretary of Transportation
Elaine Chao is a former cabinet secretary, a Washington insider, and the spouse of another prominent Washington insider (namely, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY). Not too many Democrats fit that particular description, which means that for her spot we may have to get a bit creative and tap...Hillary Clinton.
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Tom Price is an experienced physician who is on the fringes of his political party, and who sometimes says things that would seem to be at odds with his medical training. So, we're looking for an outspoken liberal doctor who sometimes says some very non-medical things. Sounds like a description of Jill Stein.
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
The nod here went to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), an army veteran and Harvard graduate from a red, red state. Pompeo's counterpart is someone like Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), a marine corps veteran and Harvard graduate from a blue, blue state.
Ambassador to the United Nations
Nikki Haley (R-SC) has zero foreign policy experience, having served exclusively at the state level. A rising star in the GOP, she was picked to give some gender/cultural diversity to the Trump cabinet, and to silence a potential outspoken critic. There's no sitting Democratic governor who parallels Haley, so instead we will go with Senator-elect Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is also a rising star, who would also give gender/cultural diversity to a cabinet, who also has no foreign policy experience, and who appears to be set to be an outspoken iconoclast, in the mold of her predecessor, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
Secretary of Education
Betsy DeVos will take Education. She's a megadonor to the GOP and is known for her advocacy of school vouchers, which liberals hate. What educational idea do conservatives hate just as much as liberals hate vouchers? Common Core. A wealthy Democratic donor who has been outspoken in their support for Common Core? George Soros fits the bill. Like Ben Carson/Kanye West, neither DeVos nor Soros has experience running a government bureaucracy.
Director of the Environmental Protection Agency
Trump's selection is Scott Pruitt, a militant anti-environmentalist who embraces a number of ideas (i.e. "no global warming") that run utterly contrary to scientific consensus. Pruitt's mirror, then, would be a militant pro-environmentalist who embraces a number of ideas (i.e., "vaccines cause autism") that run utterly contrary to scientific consensus. Someone like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Secretary of the Interior
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, though she seems to have hit the glass ceiling, and so is happy to make a change. She's relatively moderate and, like all Secretaries of the Interior, a Westerner. Moderate Democrat, part of her party's leadership in the House, Westerner, perhaps looking for something new after a long run in Congress? Deputy whip Diana DeGette (D-CO) might be interested after two decades of service in the lower chamber.
White House Chief of Staff
Reince Priebus is as insider as it gets, having run the Republican Party for a decade, though with no experience in elective office. Priebus' Democratic equivalent is someone like David Axelrod, who was never DNC Chair, but wielded a similar kind of influence during the Obama years.
White House Chief Strategist
Steve Bannon rose to fame running a website that believers treat as gospel, and most everyone else approaches with caution. Perhaps the best parallel is Markos Moulitsas, publisher of the Daily Kos. It's not a perfect equivalency, since Moulitsas does not traffic in conspiracy theorizing, dog-whistle racism, or anti-Semitism, but he would certainly trigger the same kind of conservative hair-pulling that Bannon has on the left.

So, there we have it. On review, it seems that there are some pretty clear categories that we might divide the Cabinet(s) into. Some members are entirely reasonable and qualified (i.e. Mattis/Clark, Pompeo/Moulton). Others are qualified but very controversial (i.e. Sessions/Ellison, Pruitt/Kennedy). Still others range from unqualified (Haley/Harris) to wildly unqualified (Carson/West). Of course, each left-leaning reader can judge for themselves how willing they would be to grit their teeth and bear it if the politics were ok, but the resume was still problematic due to past behavior or lack of experience. (Z)

Five Things We Know about President Trump and Five We Don't Know

If Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had just been elected president, we would have a pretty good idea of what to expect. With Donald Trump, some things we know for sure and others are mysteries. The Hill has put together two lists about Trump: Five things we know for sure and five we don't. Here are the lists:

Five things we know:
  • Trump will have the most conservative cabinet in modern history
  • He will be as combative as ever
  • Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner will be power players
  • So will Vice-President Mike Pence
  • Trump will keep trying to drive the news

Five things we don't know:
  • How he will deal with Congress
  • He he will react to a crisis
  • His top priority
  • How much political capital does he have?
  • How he will deal with conflicts of interest

As president, Trump will be in brand new territory, both for himself and for the nation. He is used to giving orders. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are not used to following orders—from anyone. What happens when Trump wants something they don't want? What happens if one or more of his cabinet appointments are rejected (Rex Tillerson, for example)? Will Trump explode? What happens if a terrorist blows up a building Trump owns in the U.S. or abroad? How will be react? There is so much that no one (Trump included) knows about how things will play out during the next four years. (V)

Bernstein Slams Trump

Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, knows a little something about presidents and bad behavior. And, as one of the deans of American journalism, he can get away with saying things that may not fly from his junior colleagues. Appearing on CNN Sunday, he pulled no punches in his assessment of the coming Trump presidency:

No president, including Richard Nixon, has been so ignorant of fact and disdains fact in the way this President-elect does. And it has something to do with the growing sense of authoritarianism he and his presidency are projecting. The danger of it is obvious and he's trying to make the conduct of the press the issue, not his own conduct...He doesn't go to a fact-based argument. He goes to an emotional argument.

Bernstein was particularly unhappy about Trump's response to Chuck Jones, the Indiana union leader who has been critical of the President-elect's deal to save jobs at Carrier. He also suggested that reporters are entering into uncharted waters, and that they must stay the course, regardless of the pushback from Trump or his supporters. It's looking like it will be a rocky four years. (Z)

Christie Turned Down Trump's Job Offers

According to unnamed sources (probably sources located in Trenton, NJ), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) was offered a number of positions in the Trump administration, including Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, ambassador to Italy, and others. The Governor, who reportedly was promised the Attorney Generalship, turned down these various consolation prizes.

Christie has one year left as governor of New Jersey, and that seems likely to be the end of his career in politics—a swift and remarkable decline for someone who's just 18 months removed from being one of the favorites (and maybe the favorite) for the Republican presidential nomination. He's radioactive in The Garden State, thanks to Bridgegate, so a run for Congress is not likely in the cards. He pursued the chairmanship of the RNC, but appears to have lost out on that. He's declined appointment to the various posts Trump offered. Only Christie knows what his plans are, but the likeliest options seem to be a nice, cushy job at a law/lobbying firm, or maybe a federal judgeship. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec11 NBC: Rex Tillerson Will be Secretary of State
Dec11 Kennedy Wins Louisiana Senate Seat
Dec11 Intelligence Officials Don't Know How to Deal with Trump
Dec11 A Tale of Two Revelations
Dec11 Heitkamp Is Leading Candidate for Secretary of Agriculture
Dec11 Americans Skeptical over Trump's Agenda and Transition
Dec11 Kander Offers Postmortem for Democrats
Dec11 Gingrich Slams Trump
Dec10 Russians Were Trying to Help Trump; Obama Orders Investigation
Dec10 Trump Picks Cathy McMorris-Rodgers for Interior
Dec10 McDaniel Likely to lead RNC
Dec10 McConnell Meets with North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer
Dec10 Giuliani Withdraws from Consideration for any Cabinet Post
Dec10 Trump Voters Have Their Own Reality
Dec10 Trump Spent $66 Million on His Campaign, but Earned Almost $15 Million from It
Dec10 Trump Opposes Early Voting
Dec10 Trump Tries to Rein Crowd In
Dec10 Democrats Back Down on Government Shutdown
Dec10 Electors File Lawsuit in Colorado
Dec09 Trump Expected to Name Fast-Food Executive to run the Labor Department
Dec09 Why the Republican Health Care Plan is Likely to Fail
Dec09 Democratic Megadonors May Run for Governor
Dec09 Battle Looming over RNC Chairmanship
Dec09 Democrats Are Urging Perez to Run for DNC Chair
Dec09 Donald Trump, Bully-in-Chief
Dec09 Trump to Keep One of His Day Jobs
Dec09 Former Clinton Staffer Launches Anti-Trump Site
Dec09 Who Gets Write-in Votes?
Dec08 Trump Names New Top Appointees
Dec08 Michigan Recount Stopped
Dec08 Ohio Abortion Bill Awaits Kasich's Signature
Dec08 Republicans Still Bitterly Divided about Repealing and Replacing the ACA
Dec08 The Debt Limit Fight Is Back
Dec08 Mayors Push Trump to Keep DACA
Dec08 Majority of Adults Confident Trump Will Put U.S. Interests above Personal Ones
Dec08 Trump Named Person of the Year
Dec07 Trump's Carrier Deal Is Wildly Popular
Dec07 Trump Takes Credit for $50 Billion Investment
Dec07 Trump May Have Sold All His Stocks in June
Dec07 CEOs Delighted With Trump
Dec07 McConnell Says Repealing ACA Will Be First Item on Senate's Agenda in 2017
Dec07 Americans Divided over ACA Repeal
Dec07 Pence Promises Donors that the Administration Will Grant Their Wishes
Dec07 Conway May Run Outside Group to Help Trump Get His Way
Dec07 Trump Is Trying to Mold the Republican Party in His Image
Dec07 Flynn Leaves Trump Team Red-faced
Dec06 Trump Picks Dr. Ben Carson to Be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Dec06 53 Organizations Urge Trump to Dump Flynn
Dec06 Trump's 35% Tariff on Products Made by American Companies Abroad is Dead on Arrival
Dec06 Electors Are Pushing for John Kasich