• North Carolina's HB-2 Bites the Dust
• Vinnie Viola to be Secretary of the Army
• More Data on Why Clinton Lost
• Bill Clinton: Comey and the Russians Did Hillary In
• An Early Look at the 2020 Democratic Field
• Why Michelle Obama Won't Run for Office
• Why Republicans Suddenly Love Putin
• Are Trump's Sons Already on the Take?
Trump Wins the Electoral College
It's official; Donald Trump has been chosen as the winner of the 2016 presidential election. Barring extraordinary circumstances, he will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on January 20.
The talk of "faithless" electors largely proved to be much ado about nothing. Five Clinton electors defected, with one from Hawaii voting for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), three from Washington voting for former general Colin Powell, and another from Washington voting for Dakota pipeline protester Faith Spotted Eagle. Two Trump electors from Texas also rebelled, with one of those voting for Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) and the other voting for former representative Ron Paul. That, of course, is far short of the number needed to change the outcome of the election. Is it enough to start a national dialogue on the Electoral College? Well, it's more faithlessness than we've seen in any election since 1872. However, if there's going to be a national dialogue on the Electoral College, it seems more likely to be jump-started by the fact that the popular vote winner has been denied the White House for the second time in 20 years, and not by a handful of rogue electors.
The next step in the process comes on January 6, when the members of Congress gather to certify the tally (304 to 227, thanks to the seven faithless electors). It is possible for lawmakers to object to a single elector, or to an entire state's electoral slate, if one representative and one senator sign a letter to that effect. So, that is likely to be the next straw that the anti-Trump forces grasp at. However, both the House and the Senate (which are, remember, controlled by the GOP) would have to vote to throw the electoral vote(s) out. One can see how Republican leadership would be tempted, since they would be choosing from the top three finishers, which would mean that they could replace Donald Trump with newly-anointed third-place finisher Colin Powell. However, in the absence of some justification for doing so, arbitrarily canceling electoral votes would be dangerously close to staging a coup. So, barring some really, really juicy developments on the Russia front, it's not happening. (Z)
North Carolina's HB-2 Bites the Dust
North Carolina's HB-2—the "bathroom bill" that notoriously required individuals to use the restroom matching the gender on their birth certificate, and also made clear that sexual orientation and gender identity were not protected categories when it came to anti-discrimination laws—has cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost jobs and revenue, and also hurt the state GOP badly at the polls. These things being the case, it seemed likely that it was only a matter of time until the bill was repealed. And now, the repeal has indeed come to pass.
Outgoing governor Pat McCrory (R), who would not be outgoing if not for HB-2, announced on Monday that a deal had been struck to remove the law from the books. Specifically, the city of Charlotte had to agree to repeal the gay-friendly city law that they passed, which is what led to the gay-hostile statewide law. Now that the city has done their part, state legislators will be called back into session on Wednesday to handle their part. The Tar Heel State will promptly regain some of the revenue that was lost—for example, the NCAA Tournament and NBA All-Star Game will be returned to North Carolina after having been yanked earlier this year. However, some of the losses are undoubtedly permanent. (Z)
Vinnie Viola to be Secretary of the Army
Donald Trump announced his latest appointment on Monday: It's Vinnie Viola, who will serve as Secretary of the Army. Best known as the owner of the NHL's Florida Panthers, Viola is a billionaire, so that's another one for Trump's collection. He's a U.S. Military Academy graduate who served in the 101st Airborne Division, which means he's certainly qualified for the job. He should sail through the confirmation process, which is required even though it's not a cabinet-level appointment. (Z)
More Data on Why Clinton Lost
Charlie Cook has put out new raw vote data. Here it is for the states that Trump flipped (Maine being only a partial flip):
The conclusion is that in these states, Democratic turnout was way down compared to 2012, much more than Republican turnout was up. The poster child here is Wisconsin, which Trump won by 23,000 votes. Democratic turnout was 238,000 votes less than it was in 2012 while Republican turnout was down by 3,000 votes. In other words, Republicans didn't beat the Democrats in Wisconsin, Democrats committed suicide. In six of the seven states, Democratic turnout was down. Only in Florida was it up, but up by less than Republican turnout.
The data don't show why Democratic turnout was down. Was it millennials sulking that they couldn't have their beloved Bernie? Was it FBI Director James Comey's letter than made Democrats who didn't really like Clinton much stay home? People will be analyzing the data for years to come, but one conclusion that is inescapable now is that Democrats lost because for whatever reason, they didn't bother to vote, at least not in the numbers they did in 2012. (V)
Bill Clinton: Comey and the Russians Did Hillary In
Bill Clinton, a presidential elector in New York State, cast his electoral vote for his wife Hillary Clinton yesterday, remarking "I've never cast a vote I was prouder of." He also said that while she fought and overcame the email issue, what she couldn't overcome was the letter FBI Director James Comey released 11 days before the election and the Russian hacking. He also cited Nate Silver, who came to the same conclusion, namely Clinton had a small lead two weeks before the election, but the voters who decided in the final week or so broke strongly for Trump, and by then, it was impossible for Clinton to do anything to counter it. (V)
An Early Look at the 2020 Democratic Field
Public Policy Polling has conducted the first survey of Democratic voters, to see who they would like as their presidential candidate in 2020. Leading the pack is Vice-President Joe Biden, with 31% of the respondents backing him. Next up is Bernie Sanders at 24%, and then his fellow progressive senator, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), at 16%. Also getting support were Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey (4%), Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (3% each), Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York (2% each), and HUD Secretary Julian Castro (1%).
Needless to say, if a week in politics is a lifetime, then four years is a geologic era. So, these numbers don't mean all that much. Among the successful candidates that would not have been on the radar at this point in the process are John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump. Further, the poll itself revealed internal contradictions within Democrats' thinking, as the great majority of respondents said the Party needs to get "younger" and then promptly gave their support to a candidate in their seventies (Biden, Sanders) or their sixties (Warren, Franken, Brown). So, don't go buying your Biden-Sanders 2020 shirts quite yet. (Z)
Why Michelle Obama Won't Run for Office
Over and over, Michelle Obama has said she is not planning to run for office once her time as First Lady is over, and has no interest in being president. On Monday, she sat for an interview with Oprah Winfrey and explained why:
People don't really understand how hard this is, and it's not something you cavalierly just sort of ask a family to do again. Let me just tell America: This is hard. It's a hard job. It requires a lot of sacrifice. It is a weighty thing. And it's not something you look to one family to take on at that level for that long of a period of time. Sixteen years. I wouldn't do that to my kids. What people don't understand is that you run, their lives stop at any age. The next family that comes in here, every person in that family, every child, every grandchild, their lives will be turned upside down in a way that no American really understands.
This is not the usual "I'm not officially running for office yet, so that I don't run afoul of campaign finance laws" coyness. She seems quite definite on this point, and with very sound reasons for feeling as she does. So, those who are holding out hope that she'll be the savior of the Democratic Party should probably look elsewhere. (Z)
Why Republicans Suddenly Love Putin
For years, Republicans despised Vladimir Putin for his authoritarian rule, his habit of murdering or imprisoning his political opponents, and his tendency to invade other countries. A new poll of Republicans shows that Putin's popularity among Republicans has risen from 10% in July to 37% today. What happened? The upturn is primarily due to Trump's continual praise of Putin's "strong leadership" compared to President Obama's "weak leadership." Republicans like strong leaders, and if they violate democratic norms to get results, so be it.
Another factor that plays well with the Republican base is Putin's hatred of gays, Muslims, and minorities generally. And of course, Trump voters are strongly influenced by whatever Trump says, and he has been saying that Putin is a good guy. (V)
Are Trump's Sons Already on the Take?
Donald Trump's sons have co-founded a new nonprofit organization in Texas (aka, not their home state). Now, under the auspices of that nonprofit, they are offering million-dollar donors a 2017 Inauguration Day package. The individuals who pony up seven figures will attend "a private reception and photo opportunity for 16 guests with President Donald J. Trump," will enjoy a "multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion for 4 guests with Donald Trump, Jr. and/or Eric Trump, and team," and will get tickets to other events and "autographed guitars by an Opening Day 2017 performer."
In theory, the money will go to "conservation charities," though the name of those charities has not been specified, nor has the manner in which the money will be distributed (which matters, because some non-profits retail a very large percentage of receipts to "compensate" their directors/employees). Meanwhile, in contrast to the rules for PACs, the names of donors to nonprofits are not a matter of public record. So, at worst, this is an end-run around the rules that allows well-heeled donors to give money directly to the Trumps without scrutiny. At best, it demonstrates hypocrisy and a lack of transparency from a family that savaged Hillary Clinton for selling access to wealthy donors. (Z)Email a link to a friend or share:
---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec19 Trump to China: Keep the Drone
Dec19 Congress Could Demand Sanctions against Russia but Trump Could Refuse
Dec19 Conway Denies that Trump Had Contact with Russia
Dec19 Brazile Contradicts Obama, Says Russia Kept Hacking Until the Very End
Dec19 Fact-Check Trump's Tweets in Real Time
Dec19 Nate Silver: If Comey Had Kept Quiet, Clinton Would Have Won
Dec19 Comedian Says He Has Unreleased Apprentice Footage
Dec19 Trump Taps Mick Mulvaney for Budget Director
Dec19 Ghosts of Administrations Past Coalescing Behind Tillerson
Dec19 Trump May Not Take Action Against Russian Hackers
Dec19 Trump Reveals Some Details of His Plan for His Businesses
Dec19 Trump Grill Gets Fried
Dec19 North Carolina GOP Smacks New Governor
Dec19 Montana House Seat in Temporary Limbo
Dec18 Trump Taps Mick Mulvaney for Budget Director
Dec18 Ghosts of Administrations Past Coalescing Behind Tillerson
Dec18 Trump May Not Take Action Against Russian Hackers
Dec18 Trump Reveals Some Details of His Plan for His Businesses
Dec18 Trump Grill Gets Fried
Dec18 North Carolina GOP Smacks New Governor
Dec18 Montana House Seat in Temporary Limbo
Dec17 Trump Would Have Crushed Sanders
Dec17 Trump Tries to Calm His Supporters
Dec17 Clinton Said that She Was Beaten by Putin and Comey
Dec17 FBI Agrees with CIA that Russia Helped Trump Win
Dec17 No Briefing for Electors
Dec17 Trump Has Assembled a Team of Bosses
Dec17 Perez Throws His Hat into the Ring
Dec17 Americans Have No Idea How Many Muslims Live in the U.S.
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.