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)
      •  Trump Would Have Crushed Sanders
      •  Trump Tries to Calm His Supporters
      •  Clinton Said that She Was Beaten by Putin and Comey
      •  FBI Agrees with CIA that Russia Helped Trump Win
      •  No Briefing for Electors
      •  Trump Has Assembled a Team of Bosses
      •  Perez Throws His Hat into the Ring
      •  Americans Have No Idea How Many Muslims Live in the U.S.

Trump Would Have Crushed Sanders

Many supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have said that if only Sanders had been the Democratic nominee, Donald Trump could have been beaten. Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has done an analysis showing that actually, Sanders would have been crushed. The essence of the analysis was to use the DW-NOMINATE system that rates how liberal a candidate is. He did this for all Democratic nominees since 1952. Here are the results:

Liberal score

In this system, lower means more liberal and higher means more conservative. The Democrats with scores above 15 (e.g., LBJ, JFK, Obama, and Bill Clinton) generally won. The ones below 15 all lost. The lowest scoring Democrat since WW II, George McGovern, had a score of 4, meaning he was more liberal than all but 4% of Congress. He was crushed. Sanders' score is a 1. He would have been toast. In contrast, Hillary Clinton is a 15 (the same as Jimmy Carter), and although she won the popular vote easily, she didn't win conservative white men in the Midwest. Sanders almost certainly would have had even more trouble with them. Republicans would have attacked him as a liberal, a socialist, an atheist, and a communist. He wouldn't have had a chance in the states Clinton lost. He is simply too liberal for that part of the country. (V)

Trump Tries to Calm His Supporters

The Donald Trump victory tour is in full swing, and so is the dramatic pivot from "candidate Trump" to "President Trump." Appearing in Orlando, he was greeted by a crowd that was hungry for more of the red meat they got during the campaign. Not only were they chanting "Lock her up," a few even called for Hillary Clinton to be waterboarded. Trump tried to calm the crowd, declaring:

[Before the election] you people were vicious, violent, screaming, 'Where's the wall?' 'We want the wall!' Screaming, 'Prison!' 'Prison!' 'Lock her up!' I mean, you were going crazy. You were nasty and mean and vicious. And you wanted to win, right? But the campaign is now over. Victory is in hand. The inauguration is a month away. It's much different. Now you're laid back, you're cool, you're mellow, right? You're basking in the glory of victory?

As with previous rallies where Trump endeavored to dial back his words, the crowd did not appear to grasp (much less embrace) the notion that campaign rhetoric may not translate into actual governance.

At this point, it is anybody's guess as to how the relationship between Trump and his base will develop. Will they hold him responsible for not living up to his most audacious promises? Will he able to harness their money and energy when he needs it, without benefit of "lock her up" and similar verbiage? During the midterm elections, for example, or during his (theoretical) re-election campaign? For what it is worth, Bernie Sanders had trouble connecting with his base once he was no longer speaking their language. Trump may have painted himself into a similar corner. (Z)

Clinton Said that She Was Beaten by Putin and Comey

In a speech in New York, Hillary Clinton said that her defeat in the Electoral College was a direct result of two things. First was the Russian hacking, personally directed by Vladimir Putin, who was furious with her for saying in 2011 that the parliamentary elections in Russia were rigged. He never forgave her for that. Second was the remark from FBI Director James Comey, who said he was reopening the case against her. Clinton said that many voters in the swing states made their decisions in the last week, when Comey dominated the news. (V)

FBI Agrees with CIA that Russia Helped Trump Win

FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and CIA Director John Brennan are all in agreement that Russia intervened in the election for the purpose of helping Donald Trump. Up until now, it was not clear that all three agencies were on the same page. Now it is clear that they are, though Trump has dismissed the finding.

The leaders of Congress have agreed to investigate the matter. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is tentatively getting to work. From Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) point of view, this is a better choice than the Senate Armed Services Committee, which is headed by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), over whom McConnell has no power. The Intelligence committee is run by Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who is more of team player than McCain. It is possible that senior government officials, as well as Trump campaign staffers, will have to testify before the committee.

It appears that the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), will be conducting its own investigation as well.

In his news conference yesterday, President Obama said that he told Vladimir Putin to "cut it out" with respect to hacking and interfering with the election. Obama told Putin there would be serious consequences if he kept it up. Obama was mostly concerned with the actual election process itself, including the vote counting. He also said that Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave over the GOP's fondness for Putin. (V)

No Briefing for Electors

A fair number of presidential electors—the majority of them pledged to Hillary Clinton, it should be noted—have asked that they be provided with an intelligence briefing prior to casting their votes on December 19. They want to know exactly how and why the Russians interfered with the presidential election.

On Friday, they learned that no briefing is forthcoming, with the request being turned down by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The DNI said that their review is underway, that Congress will eventually get a briefing, and that the results of the review will also be made publicly available. The implication is that the information simply won't be available in time, though this is likely also a graceful way of avoiding charges that the intelligence community tried to interfere with the election. Well, avoiding charges that they tried to interfere again. (Z)

Trump Has Assembled a Team of Bosses

With more than 20 top nominees now selected, Donald Trump appears to have cloned himself nearly two dozen times. Nearly all the nominees are wealthy, older white men who have run companies and who see themselves as risk takers and deal makers. All of them prefer action to deliberation. Conspicuously missing from this team are academics, intellectuals, and lawyers. Not too many have substantial government experience—out of the 20, there's a senator, two congressmen, two governors, a former cabinet secretary, a state-level secretary of state, and (if we define "government experience" liberally) three retired generals. In other words, only half the cabinet has government experience of any sort, and in some cases that experience is fairly nominal or is only tangentially related to their new jobs. It is a very big departure from previous cabinets.

One problem that all of them will have is that they are used to getting their way. None of them have had a boss recently, and now they do—Trump. And the boss often has contradictory ideas, which he changes frequently. People lacking government experience often make mistakes that more experienced hands don't make. For example, George W. Bush's first treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, rattled markets with careless remarks and Bush had to fire him. (V)

Perez Throws His Hat into the Ring

The race for DNC Chair is heating up. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has been the favorite, and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison and New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley have also expressed an intention to run. Now, President Obama's preferred candidate—Labor Secretary Tom Perez—has joined the party, officially declaring his candidacy late Thursday.

Perez already has a website online; the front page contains a statement that explains why he is running, and includes this sentiment:

But most of all, we need to listen. We need to listen to Democrats at every level, empowering them to fight for progressive values and a vision of opportunity and optimism. And we need to listen to voters, up and down the ballot, who are asking us to stand behind them.

From the rank-and-file's point of view, that is certainly promising. Given that the Secretary has Obama's backing, that will presumably translate into the backing of much of the Democratic establishment. Perez could also pick up some progressive support, given his advocacy for working people and the fact that he will bring diversity to the party. So, he likely takes over as the frontrunner now, though we'll have a clearer picture next week.

Meanwhile, if Perez is elected and performs well, he could quickly become a potential presidential candidate for 2020. Beyond the fact that he would likely continue to enjoy the backing of the Obama network, his service as secretary of labor would position him well to connect with the working-class voters that have been deserting the party in droves. And, as a Dominican, he would likely attract substantial support from the Latino community. So, the first page of the next chapter for the blue team may have been written on Thursday. (Z)

Americans Have No Idea How Many Muslims Live in the U.S.

Pop quiz: How many Muslims live in the United States? The British research firm Ipsos Mori asked that question of several thousand Americans, and—on average—their guess was that 17% of the country is Muslim. That would translate into 55.25 million people.

This number is way too high, of course. Poll director Bobby Duffy attempted to explain the discrepancy, and offered two theories: (1) That Muslims dominate public discourse far out of proportion with their actual numbers, and (2) That they are perceived as a threat, with it being human nature to overstate the extent of perceived threats. In truth (and the answer to the pop quiz): About 1 in 100 Americans is a Muslim, which equates to about 3.25 million people. So, Americans' best guesses inflate the true number by more than 1500%. That said, there are other countries whose perceptions are even more skewed; the United States actually finished in seventh place behind France, South Africa, the Philippines, Italy, Germany, and Belgium. Certainly it's not a coincidence that several of the countries on the list have had far-right parties/politicians rise to great prominence in the past few years. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec16 Democrats and Republicans Differ on How to Investigate the Russian Hacking
Dec16 Trump Thanks Black Voters for Not Voting
Dec16 Graham Explains How Tillerson Can Get His Vote
Dec16 Trump Cabinet a Wee Bit Top-Heavy
Dec16 Trump Picks Hardliner for Israel Ambassadorship
Dec16 Whither the Democrats?
Dec16 Could 2017 Be Worse than 2016?
Dec16 Net Neutrality in Jeopardy
Dec16 Bill Gates: Trump Could Be Like JFK
Dec15 Romney Gets the Job after All
Dec15 Fiorina Being Considered for Intelligence Director
Dec15 What Went Wrong in Michigan for Clinton
Dec15 Bolton May Be Harder to Confirm than Tillerson
Dec15 D.C. Hotel Turning Into a Headache for Trump
Dec15 Another Day, Another Conflict of Interest
Dec15 Russians Also Intervened in House Races
Dec15 Twitter CEO Not Invited to Tech Summit
Dec15 Gates, Rice and Baker Have Ties to Exxon and Russia
Dec15 Culture Wars Meet Star Wars
Dec14 Trump Picks Perry to Lead the Er, Uh, Whatever Department.
Dec14 Zinke Tapped for Interior
Dec14 McCain Could Be a Real Problem for Trump
Dec14 Why Tillerson?
Dec14 Tillerson Undermined U.S. Foreign Policy in 2011
Dec14 Manchin Will Stay in the Senate
Dec14 Roger Stone: Trump Interviewed Romney Just to Torture Him
Dec14 Trump Humiliates Ryan
Dec14 Fed May Block Trump's Promised Economic Boom
Dec14 Clinton's Popular Vote Lead Approaches 3 Million
Dec13 Trump Wins Wisconsin
Dec13 Electors' Lawsuit Fails
Dec13 Trump's Conflicts of Interest May Already Be Showing in Turkey
Dec13 Trump Postpones News Conference
Dec13 Senate Committee to Investigate Russian Influence on the Election
Dec13 A Battle Is Brewing in the Senate over Tillerson
Dec13 Democrats Not Ready for Trump's First 100 Days
Dec13 Trump to Hang Nixon Letter in Oval Office
Dec13 Plotting, Planning, and Scheming Against Trump
Dec13 Democrats Rediscover Federalism
Dec13 New York Times Gets Out the Big Guns
Dec12 Comey Likely Decided the Election
Dec12 Trump Says He Doesn't Believe CIA Report of Putin Helping Him
Dec12 What Would the Democratic Version of Trump's Team Look Like?
Dec12 Five Things We Know about President Trump and Five We Don't Know
Dec12 Bernstein Slams Trump
Dec12 Christie Turned Down Trump's Job Offers
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