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)
      •  Five Races to Watch in 2017
      •  Big Questions for 2017
      •  Priebus Compares Trump to Jesus
      •  Netanyahu Not Happy; Letting Everyone Know
      •  Trump, Obama Tweet Christmas Messages
      •  Clinton May Have Attacked Trump the Wrong Way
      •  Republicans May Hit the Undo Button on Tech Policy
      •  Reid Slams DNC
      •  Foreign Visitors Will Be Asked for their Social Media Accounts

Five Races to Watch in 2017

You thought we were done with elections until 2018? Nope. Here are five races to watch in 2017:

  • Virginia governor: Virginia allows its governors to serve only one term before stepping down (although they can run again later on). Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will thus be leaving office in January 2018. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) aims to succeed him, and no other Democrat is likely to challenge Northam for the nomination. On the Republican side, we could have a fight between the establishment and Trump Republicans. GOP veteran Ed Gillespie is likely to try, after running for the Senate in 2014 and missing by only 1%. However, Trump supporter Corey Stewart will give him a tough primary fight. State senator Frank Wagner is also running. Virginia used to be a red state, but it has gone to the Democrats in the past three presidential elections and the governor and both senators are Democrats.

  • New Jersey governor: Gov. Chris Christie (R) isn't going to jail but he will be unemployed in Jan. 2018, since Donald Trump doesn't seem to want to hire him. This means we have a wide-open race for governor in Nov. 2017. Former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy is the favorite for the Democratic nomination. He has boatloads of money, union endorsements, and support of the state's Democrats. Also running, but an underdog, is Assemblyman John Wisnieuwski. On the Republican side there will be many candidates. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno is running, but may be tainted by Christie, one of the nation's least popular governors. Steve Rogers, a Trump supporter from Nutley, is in the race, as is Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli.

  • Xavier Becerra's House seat: When Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) appointed Rep. Xavier Becerra (D) to be California attorney general after Kamala Harris (D) was elected to the Senate, Becerra's House seat become vacant. His district covers downtown Los Angeles as well as environs to the north and west of there, is two-thirds Latino, and is expected to remain Democratic. Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez has gotten endorsements from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Harris. But he will have a lot of competition, as something like a dozen Democrats are contemplating entering the race. There will be a jungle primary in the late spring and the top two candidates will face off in the general election, even if both are Democrats, as is likely.

  • Tom Price's House seat: President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be secretary of repealing Obamacare (previously known as Sec. of HHS), so there will be special election to fill his suburban Atlanta seat. Hillary Clinton came within 2 points of carrying the district, so the Democrats may well put up a fight for it. Many candidates are likely to enter the primary on both sides. Among the Democrats eyeing the race are state senator Ron Slotin, attorney Joshua McLaurin, and former state representative Sally Harrell. Of course, the seat will be vacant only if Price is confirmed to the cabinet, and Democrats are going to fight very hard to try to prevent that.

  • Ryan Zinke's House seat: Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) has been named secretary of the interior, so there will be a special election for his House seat (which covers all of Montana) if he is confirmed. Democrats are not going to fight him because if he is not confirmed, he will run for the Senate in 2018, posing a real challenge for Sen. Jon Tester (D). Better to have him in the cabinet. Two Republican state senators, Scott Sales and Ed Buttrey, are already in the race for the Republican nomination. Several other Republicans are likely to jump in soon. On the Democratic side, former state representative Amanda Curtis may run, but she is definitely an underdog.

So even before Trump is sworn in, political junkies will have something to look forward to in 2017. (V)

Big Questions for 2017

The calendar will turn very soon, which means it's time for a raft of "2017 preview" columns. Princeton political scientist Julian Zelizer, writing for CNN, has a pretty good one listing the big questions of 2017, as he sees them. Here they are:

  • Can we make progress on increasing middle class security?
  • How can we strengthen our counterterrorism policies?
  • Are our democratic institutions sound?
  • What happens to American journalism?
  • What happens to the (racist) genies that have been let out of the bottle?
  • What will the Democrats do?
  • Will we go to war?

This is just about as good a list as anyone could put together at this point, but of course there are going to be curveballs coming up that nobody has foreseen. That would be true for any incoming president, and it is likely doubly true with someone as inscrutable as Donald Trump. (Z)

Priebus Compares Trump to Jesus

In a statement released on Christmas Day, RNC chairman Reince Priebus drew an apparent parallel between Donald Trump and the lamb of God:

Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King.

Social media went wild. Was Priebus comparing Trump to Jesus? Is Trump preparing to be king? When asked, Priebus said no, but not everyone was convinced. (V)

Netanyahu Not Happy; Letting Everyone Know

Speaking of Jesus, his hometown has been in the headlines recently, given the U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank (including Bethlehem, which is smack-dab in the middle of the region). The ambassadors to Israel who represent the various countries on the Security Council have been getting called into Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netahyahu's office for a dressing-down. U.S. ambassador Daniel Shapiro took his turn on Sunday, and was told in no uncertain terms that Israel "knows" the United States was secretly behind the resolution, even though the U.S. was the only country to abstain from the vote. "[F]riends don't take friends to the Security Council," opined Netanyahu.

Israel has largely been on the backburner of American politics, but it appears to be roaring back to forefront. Since the Security Council vote, numerous Republicans have spoken out in support of Netanyahu's position, including President-elect Donald Trump and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). For the GOP, the issue appears to be a winner, since strong support for Israel pleases both evangelicals and Islamophobes, and may even peel off some Jewish voters from the Democratic Party. Netanyahu, on the other hand, is playing a very dangerous game of poker. The 14-0 vote gives some indication where the international community stands on Israel's behavior, and there will eventually come a time when the Democrats are back in power. At that point, the Prime Minister could find himself without many friends in the world, which is a bad place for a small nation, surrounded by enemies, to be. (Z)

Trump, Obama Tweet Christmas Messages

The President and the President-elect both tweeted Christmas messages accompanied by photographs on Sunday, and they were a study in contrasts. Barack Obama's message showed the first family in formalwear, and read "The best part of the holidays is the time we share with those we love. On behalf of Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, Merry Christmas everyone." Trump's message was merely "#MerryChristmas" and showed him in front of a Christmas tree with his fist raised. The punditry, of course, is driving themselves mad trying to figure out exactly what that means. (Z)

Clinton May Have Attacked Trump the Wrong Way

After the election, Planned Parenthood ran focus groups in six swing states asking Trump voters about abortion and whether it influenced their vote. Some of them were a bit confused on his position on abortion, since he changed it so many times during the campaign. Clinton did not make abortion an issue, but maybe she should have. She often said that Trump was not a normal Republican, but the focus groups revealed that a number of his blue-collar voters support Planned Parenthood and are not against abortion. If Clinton had hammered on Trump as a normal Republican who opposes all abortions, including in cases of rape, the image of him as an anti-abortion zealot might have cost him more votes than it got him. (V)

Republicans May Hit the Undo Button on Tech Policy

The Republicans' hatred of the ACA is well known, but there are some tech policies that they hate almost as much and which are likely to be changed soon. Here are three of the biggies:

  • Net neutrality: Current FCC regulations prohibit Internet providers from giving better service to some content providers and worse service to others. Verizon, AT&T and the others are not permitted to make a deal with, say Netflix, to provide excellent service to it while at the same time providing terrible service to all its competitors, like Amazon Prime. That could change. And what about the millions of small websites? They are probably not willing to cough up even $10,000 a month for the carrier's new "extremely basic service," so why carry them at all? Just cut them off to leave more bandwidth for the paying customers. Dropping net neutrality could change the Internet into something more like cable television, with 1,000 corporate websites that pay the providers for carriage and little else.

  • Telecom consolidation: There aren't many telecom companies left, but the Republicans see no problem with reducing the number even further. Also, they see no problem with mergers between telecom companies and content providers. For example, a Trump administration is likely to approve the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner. If that were to happen, no doubt Time Warner content would get excellent service on the AT&T network; competing content maybe not so much. While in principle Republicans support competition, in practice, competition lowers prices, which large businesses don't like, so expect more mergers, less competition, fewer choices, and higher prices.

  • Cybersecurity: There have been stories all year about hacking, phishing, ransomware, and foreign interference in the U.S. elections. Clearly, the nation's electronic infrastructure is weak. But attempts to strengthen it will make it harder for the government to snoop on everyone. So if the administration is faced with a choice of strengthening or weakening the cyber infrastructure, expect it to come down on the side of weakening it, so law enforcement will have an easier job of collecting information about everyone in order to catch possible terrorists. A specific example is the case of the San Bernadino shooter, whose iPhone the FBI snagged. The government asked Apple to unlock it and Apple refused. In fact, Apple went in the other direction and began increasing security on its products. A Trump administration could pass regulations prohibiting encryption and other technologies designed to enhance users' privacy. Such actions could mean the U.S. government—but also foreign governments and criminals—could hack smartphones, tablets, and computers much more easily. Republicans tend to see this as a good thing because law enforcement likes it, privacy and security be damned.

In short, a number of rather abstract policies that few people really understand could change the balance of power between large players and ordinary citizens in the new year.

A potential downside for the Trump administration of adopting these new policies is that the tech industry is largely against all of them, and it is a rich and powerful industry with many lobbyists and enough money to run ad campaigns against "greedy telecom" companies, which are among the least popular companies in America. These policy changes could also drive many of the tech executives into the arms of the Democrats, potentially providing a big source of campaign contributions. (V)

Reid Slams DNC

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is calling it a career in a couple of weeks, which makes him a man with nothing to lose. And so, sitting for an interview with NPR, he pulled no punches, lambasting the DNC and its former chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

I believe one of the failures of Democratic Party has been the Democratic National Committee, the DNC, has been worthless. They do nothing to help state parties. That should be the main goal they have. I developed everything in Nevada on my own. Their help was relatively meaningless. We need a full time DNC chair and what they should do—they can take my model if they want—it's not rocket science. It doesn't take a lot of brain power to figure out what needs to be done. They should take a few states every election cycle, maybe three maybe four, and help them develop the infrastructure for good state party organization.

Reid is a battle-tested veteran of nearly half a century in politics. He probably knows what he's talking about, and whoever the new DNC chair is would do well to listen to the interview and take notes. (Z)

Foreign Visitors Will Be Asked for their Social Media Accounts

A new U.S. government policy adopted Dec. 19, is to ask all visitors to the U.S. for their social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google+, and LinkedIn. However, providing the information is not mandatory—yet. Civil liberties advocates have denounced it as an invasion of privacy. Donald Trump could scrap the policy of course, but most likely he will keep it and perhaps make it mandatory, at least for people from majority-Muslim countries. This could become a government tool to keep Muslims out of the U.S. without asking for their religion explicitly. After all, in many cases there is likely to be something there that could be used against the person. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec25 Trump Needs to Name Five Key Ambassadors
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Dec25 Miller Opts Out of Administration Post
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Dec24 UN Votes to Condemns Israel; U.S. Abstains
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Dec23 Trump Says He Is Still Draining the Swamp
Dec23 Trump Weighs In on U.N. Vote
Dec23 Trump Wants More Nukes
Dec23 Obama Orders Registry System Dismantled
Dec23 Heitkamp Likely to Remain in Senate
Dec23 Governors' Races Are Key to the Democrats' Future
Dec23 Mustache Cost Bolton the Secretary of State Job
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Dec22 Trump Team Considering Tariff via Executive Order
Dec22 Trump Reveals Jobs Plan
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Dec22 Corey Lewandowski Starts a Lobbying Firm
Dec22 Poll Shows Democrats Don't Want Clinton to Run Again
Dec22 Ellison Faces More Problems
Dec22 Trump Sons Removed from Nonprofit
Dec22 HB2 Lives On
Dec21 DeVos Has Contributed to 17 Senators Who Will Vote on Her Confirmation
Dec21 Democrats Want Tillerson's Tax Returns
Dec21 Drama Surrounds Trump's Last Few High-Profile Appointments
Dec21 Trump Probably Can't Sell D.C. Hotel Without Losing Money
Dec21 Ross Will Make Trade Policy
Dec21 Republicans' First Defeat Could Be Defunding Planned Parenthood
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