Clinton 2811
Sanders 1879
 Needed   2383
Trump 1542
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237

Princeton Election Consortium: Clinton in Excellent Shape

Amongst academic number-crunchers, not too many are better than Sam Wang, founder of the Princeton Election Consortium. He's wrapping up his first serious analysis of the general election, and here's how he sees things at the moment:

  • There are only 14 states that could conceivably be in play; the others are all very safe for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. The 14, listed from most likely to vote Clinton to most likely to vote Trump, are New York, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Utah.

  • If the election was held today, the likeliest outcome would be 330 electoral votes for Clinton, 208 for Trump.

  • Depending on the statistical method used, Clinton has between a 70% and an 85% chance to win the White House.

  • If the election was held today, the GOP would probably hold the Senate 51-49.

Wang's analysis squares very well with other early projections. There's a lot of time before Election Day, but there's also little doubt that Donald Trump is starting out in a big hole. (Z)

Democrats' Platform Veers Leftward

The blue team released the first complete draft of their platform on Friday. WaPo's David Weigel took a careful look, particularly in comparison to the 2012 platform, and noted a few items of interest.

To start, the Party appears to be punting on two of its most divisive issues. As currently written, the plank on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) merely notes that Democrats are divided on the issue. The plank on Israel, meanwhile, looks much like the 2012 version, with strong pro-Israeli verbiage and a somewhat wishy-washy call for a two-state solution.

On many other issues, however, the influence of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is palpable. The platform commits to ending the death penalty, a position Sanders supports, but Clinton does not. It also goes further on abortion rights than in the past, calling for a repeal of the Hyde and Helms Amendments (which, respectively, forbid the use of federal funds and foreign aid on abortions). The platform, as currently written, laments growing income inequality, proposes an expansion of Social Security, and says the time has come to increase taxes on corporations and on millionaires. These are all in the Vermont Senator's wheelhouse, of course.

Sanders and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are not getting everything they want. Beyond the noncommittal verbiage on Palestine and the TPP, the platform has nothing to say about fracking and does not go nearly as far on Social Security as they want. Still, this has to be seen as a victory for the progressives, particularly given where the Party was when this campaign began. Whether it will be enough for Sanders to fall into line behind Clinton is still anybody's guess, however. (Z)

An In-Depth Look at a State Department Leak

No, not that one. One from 30 years ago. Stephen R. Dujack was once the editor of the Foreign Service Journal, a periodical aimed at America's 8,000 foreign service employees. At the behest of Politico, he has written an in-depth account of the time he inadvertently helped expose state secrets to over a hundred foreign governments in 1987.

At issue is the February 1987 entry of the Journal, which had a cover featuring a picture of Ronald I. Spiers, then a high-ranking State Department official (#4 in the hierarchy). The shot was taken by Dujack, and was seen by anyone and everyone who received a copy of the issue (10,000 recipients, in total). Spiers posed at his desk, which was covered in paperwork, as befits a busy bureaucrat. The problem was that one of the documents on the desk, clearly visible in the picture, was the National Intelligence Daily, an extremely sensitive and highly-classified document produced by the CIA each day for the president and his closest advisers. That document should not have appeared in the photo, of course. In fact, Dujack should not have been allowed in the room while it was visible. And what sanction did Spiers receive for this carelessness? A letter warning him to show more discretion in the future.

The point of the piece is obvious. As Dujack concludes: "If Spiers wasn't criminally prosecuted for his worse 'infraction,' why would Hillary Clinton be prosecuted for hers?" And really, it goes beyond that. The State Department's handling of Spiers not only speaks to their general philosophy (mistakes happen), but also creates a precedent. If Clinton were to face prosecution, you can bet that her attorneys would be bringing Spiers up, early and often. And so each day we get closer to Election Day, the clearer it gets that Clinton is likely going to dodge this particular bullet. (Z)

Trump Dirt Du Jour: He Bought Himself a $12,000 Helmet with His Charity's Money

The nation's investigative reporters must feel a little guilty cashing their paychecks these days, since their jobs are so easy. Every Trump-related stone they look under seems to turn up something. Every Trump-related closet they peer into has a skeleton or 12.

Today's revelation is that Trump made a generous bid at a charity auction four years ago, paying $12,000 for a helmet signed by college football star (and NFL journeyman) Tim Tebow. The issue is not that The Donald kept the helmet for himself, but the $12,000 came from the Trump Foundation, where nearly all the money comes from non-Trump donors. Whatever charitable goals those folks had in mind, they probably did not involve the purchase of grossly-overpriced sports memorabilia for the collection of a billionaire. The good news for Trump is that this will largely be forgotten by tomorrow, when the next revelation takes center stage. (Z)

Today in Trump Non-Surprises

On Friday, as he does on any day ending in 'y,' Donald Trump generated a lot of headlines. Many of those stories are not flattering, of course. And many of them are not surprising. In fact, we have a trio of stories today where it's hard to judge which one is the least surprising.

To start, the site Politifact generally has a laser-like focus on specific speeches, debates, candidate statements, and the like. But several times a year, they try to step back and give a view of the big picture. Their mid-2016 report came out on Friday, and it revealed something shocking: Donald Trump lies. A lot. Even for a politician. In fact, he told more fibs than all of the other 2016 candidates combined. He was fact-checked 158 times by Politifact, and was assigned a rating of "false" or "pants on fire" (their worst rating) 95 times. That's more than 60%. Meanwhile, he was given a "mostly true" or "true" rating (their best) just 14 times (9%). By way of comparison, Hillary Clinton was fact-checked 120 times, was rated "false"/"pants on fire" 16 times (13%), and was rated "mostly true" or "true" 64 times (54%).

Meanwhile, in another non-surprise, it turns out that it's not easy to work for Trump's campaign. Slate's Jim Newell has written about the Trump 2016 revolving door. Digital consultant Vincent Harris was hired last Thursday, for example, and then let go this Thursday. Kevin Kellems was hired to manage surrogate campaigners on June 20, and was fired June 30. Erica Freeman, who was doing the same job, resigned on the same day. And, of course, much higher profile heads have also rolled (or have fled for the hills), including onetime manager Corey Lewandowski, and high-powered consultant Rick Wiley.

Finally, it turns out that Donald Trump is inspiring political imitators, who are trying to run his playbook. One such acolyte is Rick Tyler, who is running for Congress in Tennessee. In fact, Tyler is such a fan that he's adopted Trump's slogan, albeit with one tiny alteration. His mantra, which he has plastered on several billboards: "Make America White Again." The Trump campaign is unclear where Tyler might have come up with such an idea. They are the only ones. (Z)

The Clinton Money Machine Keeps Chugging Along

When campaigns are happy with their fundraising numbers, they get their paperwork into the FEC tout de suite. When they are not happy, they drag their feet. This being the case, we already know the Clinton campaign's numbers for June, but we're still in the dark on Trump's totals.

Clinton's final tally was $40 million for herself, plus $28 million for the Democratic National Committee and state parties. This leaves her campaign with $44 million on hand. Her total for the entire campaign is now $288 million, and she has not yet begun to fight. Trump should be very pleased if he's able to come up with 50% of Clinton's number, though we probably won't know until FEC deadline day, July 15. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul01 Clinton Steps In It
Jul01 Christie and Gingrich Being Vetted
Jul01 Trump Campaign Invisible in Pennsylvania
Jul01 As the Senate Turns
Jul01 Trump Mystified By His Poll Numbers
Jul01 Is Ryan's Career in Ruins?
Jun30 Poll: Clinton Trouncing Trump in Swing States
Jun30 Are Polls Biased Against Trump?
Jun30 The Clinton and Obama Show Will Soon Hit the Road
Jun30 Silver Makes His First Projection
Jun30 Trump Hustling to Raise Funds in Europe
Jun30 The Trump Dirt Just Keeps Piling Up
Jun30 Trump Not a Credible Candidate
Jun29 Trump Hires Top Staffers
Jun29 Trump Appeals to Conservative Christian Leaders
Jun29 Trump Discovers Data
Jun29 Clinton Rolls Out Data Initiative
Jun29 Benghazi Report Tells Us Nothing New
Jun29 Sanders Seems to Have Misplayed His Hand
Jun29 Pocahontas Is Back
Jun29 Lewandowski Loses Million-Dollar Book Deal
Jun29 Colorado Senate Seat Safe for Democrats
Jun28 SCOTUS Strikes Down Anti-Abortion Laws
Jun28 Clinton and Warren Campaign Together
Jun28 Should Clinton Choose Elizabeth Warren?
Jun28 Oh, Those Bernie Supporters
Jun28 AFL-CIO Will Oppose Trump
Jun28 Almost No One Wants to Speak at the GOP Convention
Jun28 Trump's Failed Baja Condo Project Left Buyers Angry
Jun28 Dueling Benghazi Reports Coming Tuesday
Jun27 Support for Trump is Cratering
Jun27 Trump's Donor List is Grim
Jun27 Trump's Economic Plan Would Explode National Debt
Jun27 Rubio Faces a Wealthy Challenger on the Right
Jun27 O'Malley Is Back
Jun27 McConnell Won't Say If Trump Is Fit To Be President
Jun27 Sanders Will Continue the Platform Fight
Jun27 SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Coming on Monday
Jun27 Obama, Clinton Embrace LGBT Community
Jun27 One No Trump
Jun26 About Those Donald Trump-Brexit Parallels
Jun26 What is Trump Doing in Scotland?
Jun26 Clinton Super PAC Will Spend Over $10 Million in Pennsylvania
Jun26 Republicans Alarmed by Trump's Lack of Money
Jun26 Clinton up Double Digits on Trump Again
Jun26 George Will Leaves the GOP
Jun26 Dobson Justifies Support for Trump
Jun26 Lewandowski's Head Rolled Due to Attacks on Federal Judge
Jun26 Israel Could Take Center Stage at DNC
Jun25 Striking Parallels between Brexit and U.S. Politics