Clinton 2811
Sanders 1879
 Needed   2383
Trump 1542
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  The Young and the Old Are Key Voting Blocs
      •  Bettors Not Completely Convinced Trump Will Be Nominated
      •  Five Things To Watch for This Week
      •  Republican Lawmakers Want Pence as Veep
      •  Chris Christie Wants Chris Christie as Veep
      •  Newt Gingrich Wants Newt Gingrich as Veep
      •  Could Paul Ryan Be in Trouble?
      •  Donald Trump Just Can't Help Himself

The Young and the Old Are Key Voting Blocs

Can Hillary Clinton generate the same enthusiasm among younger voters that Barack Obama did in 2008? Can Donald Trump avoid scaring seniors? These are the big questions this year. In 2012, the 29-to-65 age group split almost evenly, even though they get most of the attention (blue-collar workers, soccer moms, etc.). But it was the younger and older voters who decided the election. Obama won a larger number of younger voters than Romney won older voters and that was his margin of victory.

Republicans are hoping that some of the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will warm to Trump's ideas on trade and how the system is rigged. Democrats think that is folly, since his worldview is so out of sync with theirs. Among older voters, women like Clinton and men like Trump. If Trump can get the same 56% of the senior vote that Romney did and more of the junior vote than Romney did, he has a shot at winning. Otherwise, it will be a steep uphill climb. (V)

Bettors Not Completely Convinced Trump Will Be Nominated

The media keep prefixing "Donald Trump" with "presumptive nominee," but people with their own money on the line aren't all presuming that. The Iowa Electronic Markets indicate that bettors think there is a 10% chance that someone other than Trump grabs the brass ring in Cleveland, a far higher percentage of doubters than in previous years.

What about the general election? The bettors at William Hill have implicitly assigned these probabilities to some potential candidates:

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 71.4%
2 Donald Trump 33.3%
3 Bernie Sanders 2.9%
3 Paul Ryan 2.9%
5 Joe Biden 2.4%
6 Gary Johnson 1.0%
7 Mitt Romney 0.7%

In other words, the bettors think it is more than twice as likely that Clinton will win in November than Trump will win and a nontrivial number of people are betting on someone else. The numbers don't add to 100% due to the bookie's cut. (V)

Five Things To Watch for This Week

The Republican Rules and Platform Committees are meeting this week and there could be fireworks. The Hill has drawn up a list of five things to watch for this week:

Will "Never Trump" score an early victory? The anti-Trump forces, led by Colorado delegate Kendal Unruh, are hoping to pass a "free the delegates" rule during the Rules Committee meeting. The idea is that if delegates have a religious or personal reason for voting for someone other than the candidate to whom they are bound, they could do so. The votes related to this issue will give a rough indication of how many anti-Trump delegates there really are.

Cruz 2020. There is no doubt at all that Sen. Ted. Cruz (R-TX) is already running for the Republican nomination in 2020. The thing to watch here is whether the Rules Committee passes any new rules that would help him next time, for example, having only closed primaries to prevent independents and Democrats from voting in them. An even more extreme change would be to eliminate delegates from congressional districts held by Democrats. The schedule for primaries and caucuses will also be debated.

Establishment vs. grassroots. In both parties, there are activists who aren't terribly keen on the party leaders. Some proposed rule changes could affect the balance of power between the two. One controversial rule change would bar lobbyists from being RNC members. Another is setting the number of states a candidate must win to be formally nominated at the next convention. In 2012, pro-Romney forces changed the nomination rule at the last minute to prevent Ron Paul from being nominated, angering true-blue conservatives.

Trade wars. Previous Republican platforms have supported free trade and free markets. Donald Trump doesn't like free trade at all and his supporters will undoubtedly try to get their views in the platform, causing a big fight with big-business Republicans, who support trade agreements. What happens on this gives an indication of who has more power.

Trump vs. Ryan. Nobody ever reads the platform and the media ignore it. Nevertheless, getting what you want into it has symbolic value. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has a master plan for which way the Republican Party should go and it is very different from Trump's ad hoc plans. Will Ryan get his way or will Trump block him?

By the time the actual convention starts next Monday, we should have a pretty good idea of whether it will be a Paul Ryan convention, with Donald Trump making a cameo appearance, or a Donald Trump convention, with Paul Ryan sulking in the corner (despite being the official chairman). (V)

Republican Lawmakers Want Pence as Veep

Yesterday's veep du jour was Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (ret.). Then it came out that not only is he a lifelong Democrat, but he is also pro-choice. Same-sex marriage is also fine with him. Not surprisingly, Republican members of Congress are not so enthusiastic about him. Their favorite is another Michael, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN). Rep. John Carter (R-TX) put it like this: "I'd be dancing in the aisles. I'd love to see Mike Pence be the guy. It'd be awesome." Many others hold the same view. Pence served 12 years in the House before getting elected governor of Indiana in 2012. He is popular with the Republican establishment and from a rational point of view, would be Trump's best choice. He is currently running for reelection as governor and has until Friday to withdraw.

Pence is an evangelical Christian who could help Trump with evangelicals, many of whom are leery of him. He also brings considerable governing experience to the table. Best of all, he has close ties to the Koch brothers, who so far have kept their checkbooks closed. Pence might be able to pry them open.

Pence also has a downside. Earlier, he signed a bill that allowed discrimination against gays and lesbians in the guise of religious freedom for those doing the discriminating. It exploded all over the news for weeks and sparked boycotts of Indiana by many groups. If he is Trump's choice, all of that will be back on the front pages again. This will force Trump to take one or more stands in the freedom of religion vs. gay rights battle every day. No matter what he says and how often he retracts it, just having this discussion can't help party unity. (V)

Chris Christie Wants Chris Christie as Veep

Flynn and Pence are not the only politicians potentially in the running to be Trump's running mate (assuming he is nominated). Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is trying very hard to make sure Trump doesn't forget about him. His strategy is pushing conservative plans that have absolutely no chance of being enacted into law in blue New Jersey, but that please conservatives. For example, he is a big fan of increasing state aid to education to suburban and rural (i.e., Republican) school districts while slashing it for urban (i.e., Democratic) ones.

The vice-presidential candidate's big job is being an attack dog, and no one can attack better than Christie. Not only can he do it well, but he loves doing it. On the other hand, a ticket consisting of people from New York and New Jersey doesn't have a lot of regional balance, and one of Christie's aides will be on trial in September for the Bridgegate affair, which will put that back into the news and might reveal some more details about what Christie knew and when he knew it. But no candidate is perfect. (V)

Newt Gingrich Wants Newt Gingrich as Veep

Chris Christie isn't the only potential veep who is putting on the full-court press. Newt Gingrich badly wants the job as well, and is not being shy about making that known.

For weeks now, the former speaker has been appearing on any media outlet that will have him. If you're the assistant editor of the East Cupcake Elementary School student paper, he'll be happy to sit for an interview with you. He has also posted fawning op-eds about himself to his website. Perhaps the most hagiographic is a piece written for Time by Rev. David Lane, in which Gingrich is described as "still the most feared Republican in America" and is compared favorably to both Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill. The Reverend acknowledges that Newt has flaws, but what are a little adultery and a couple of divorces among friends?

By all accounts, Mike Pence and Michael Flynn aren't really pressing for the #2 slot, and Pence may not even be particularly interested. Christie and Gingrich are going all out. This may give some indication as to whose careers will reach the end of the road if they are not chosen. (Z)

Could Paul Ryan Be in Trouble?

One might expect that the Speaker of the House of Representatives would not have to worry about holding his or her seat. And normally, one would be right. But 2016 is not a normal year, and now Paul Ryan (R-WI) is starting to have reason to watch his back.

Ryan's primary challenger is Wisconsin businessman and political novice Paul Nehlen. When he first declared his intention to run, a poll put the Speaker up 80% to 7%. But Nehlen has some pretty sharp political instincts; on Saturday, for example, he staged a press conference/photo up in front of the wall that encircles Ryan's mansion, while announcing:

Paul Ryan, if you will not build a border wall for America, then I am asking you to tear down your wall. If you will not build a wall to honor the mothers and fathers of the dead, if you will not build a wall to protect our children, then, sir, you should tear down your wall and show everyone that you will live under the same conditions as they do.

Thanks to maneuvers like this, Nehlen has cut Ryan's polling lead to 11 points, 43% to 32%. That's still substantial, but it's hardly "safe." On top of that, Ryan has run afoul of much of the conservative media, and still he's got to deal with four days of appearing arm-in-arm on national television with Donald Trump, who is not very popular with Wisconsin Republicans. The odds remain in Ryan's favor, but given what happened to Eric Cantor just two years ago, he would be wise not to take victory for granted. The primary is Aug. 9. (Z)

Donald Trump Just Can't Help Himself

During the primary season, and particularly once he was the presumptive nominee, there was talk of Trump 1.0 vs. Trump 2.0. The former is the unfettered, unpolished, impolitic version that was well-suited to the primaries and that overwhelmed his competition. The latter is the more refined, more cautious, more scripted version that has been crafted by Paul Manafort, et al., and is a better choice for the general election. But, as the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Forbes' Stan Collender both observe, Trump seems capable of displaying v2.0 for only a short time before v1.0 shows up yet again.

Both analysts focus on the same pair of examples to make their point. At the end of May, the State Department released its scathing report on Hillary Clinton and her email server. Trump would have been best served to remain silent for days (or even weeks) and to let that story dominate the news cycle for as long as possible. Instead, less than 48 hours in, he made his impolitic remarks about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, and Clinton's email server was pushed off the front pages. This week, Clinton got blasted again for her email—this time, by FBI director James Comey—while the Trump campaign announced a shockingly high fundraising take of $51 million. As Cillizza observes, "Trump would have done well to, literally, talk about nothing other than those two stories for the rest of the week—and maybe even the rest of the month!" But instead, to use Collender's words, Trump turned gold into lead. That very same day, Trump sent out his now-infamous Star of David tweet and praised Saddam Hussein. All of a sudden his bad behavior, rather than Hillary's, was the top story.

Trump's dilemma is understandable, inasmuch as Trump v1.0 worked so well for him in primary season, and—indeed—has served him well for his entire career. But if he doesn't learn discipline quickly, well, nobody can overcome so many unforced errors, particularly when they are facing such poor odds. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul10 Hillary Re-backs Public Option for Health Insurance
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Jul08 Trump Underwhelms in Capitol Hill Meetings
Jul08 Cruz Will Speak at Republican Convention
Jul08 Format for Presidential Debates Announced
Jul08 2016: The New Year of the Woman?
Jul07 Trump Raises $51 Million in June
Jul07 Corker Withdraws as Potential Republican Veep
Jul07 Ernst Also Withdraws as Potential Republican Veep
Jul07 The Anti-Semitic Tweet that Would Not Die
Jul07 Trump Delegate Math Getting a Little Hairy
Jul07 Rubio Will Skip GOP Convention
Jul07 Democrats Getting Very Angry with Sanders
Jul07 Clinton-Sanders Endgame Appears to Be Underway
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Jul07 Cruz Working Hard on His 2020 Race
Jul07 Trump Raises $51 Million in June
Jul07 Corker Withdraws as Potential Republican Veep
Jul07 Ernst Also Withdraws as Potential Republican Veep
Jul07 The Anti-Semitic Tweet that Would Not Die
Jul07 Trump Delegate Math Getting a Little Hairy
Jul07 Rubio Will Skip GOP Convention
Jul07 Democrats Getting Very Angry with Sanders
Jul07 Clinton-Sanders Endgame Appears to Be Underway
Jul07 Did Comey Abuse His Power?
Jul07 Cruz Working Hard on His 202 Race
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Jul06 Republicans Take Non-Indictment Poorly
Jul06 Sanders Still Won't Quit
Jul06 A New Proposal for Conservatives: Don't Run Anyone for President
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Jul06 Trump Praises Saddam Hussein
Jul06 Clinton Either Crushing Trump or It's Tied
Jul05 Trump Wants an Unconventional Convention
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