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)
      •  Sanders Formally Endorses Clinton
      •  Did Sanders Campaign in Vain?
      •  It's Silly Season in the Veepstakes
      •  Trump Turns NAACP Down
      •  Kasich Getting the Full Court Press
      •  McConnell and Ryan Will Speak at the Convention
      •  Warren Will Speak on the First Night of the Democratic Convention
      •  Voters Responding to Nonexistent Trump TV Ads
      •  New Poll Puts Clinton up 13 Points
      •  Trump, Ginsburg Trade Blows

Sanders Formally Endorses Clinton

After being bitter rivals for 14 months, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) buried the hatchet today when he formally endorsed her. That was the easy part. Sanders is a serious politician who understands that you win sometimes and you lose sometimes. Many of his young supporters have little sense of perspective and believe that Clinton and Donald Trump are more or less interchangeable ogres. Now Clinton has to decide if she wants to go after these voters. She could, but it is not her only option. Instead, she could move to the right and try to corral moderate Republicans who can't stand Trump.

In his speech in Portsmouth, NH, today, Sanders mostly attacked Donald Trump, saying he would cut taxes for the richest Americans. Sanders also said that Trump's economic policies would increase inequality in America and cause the national debt to explode. Sanders clearly understands that praising Clinton now would be seen as hypocritical, but that attacking Trump seems much more genuine. No doubt his main approach to the campaign will be go after Trump rather than to tell everyone how wonderful Clinton is. It's not quite the lesser of two evils, but sort of.

One person who was not participating in the former rivals' newfound bonhomie was Jill Stein, the likely Green Party candidate for president. She tweeted things like "#HillNo #JillYes" and "Many Berning hearts are breaking right now." She also denounced Clinton as a servant of the 1%. Her problem is that with Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) now on the Clinton bandwagon, she is about to become irrelevant. She ran for president in 2012 and got 0.36% of the vote. That could well be her high point. (V)

Did Sanders Campaign in Vain?

An interesting question is how people will view Sanders' campaign 10 years from now. Will they say it really changed things, or that it was a waste of time and money? Recent American history is littered with Democratic insurgents from the left, including George McGovern in 1972, Gary Hart in 1984, Jerry Brown in 1992, Bill Bradley in 2000, and Howard Dean in 2004. None of them were elected president, but some of them ultimately had an impact.

Politicians make two types of promises during campaigns. One type is a small-bore, detailed proposal that, with the right president, probably could get enacted. Hillary Clinton has made many of these in many areas. For example, she wants to tweak some of the rules of "Obamacare" to include more people. The other type of promise is something simple and easy to understand but which has no chance of actually becoming law any time soon. Sanders' proposal to make college free falls into that category. The former type rarely inspire anyone, the latter type often does, and when circumstances change a few years down the road, could be achieved. Now that the Democrats are about to be officially on record supporting free tuition at public colleges, for example, the public will get used to the idea. If the Democrats retake the House after the 2020 census, plans like that could actually be achieved. So it is likely that very few of Sanders' ideas will be implemented in the short term, but they could plant the seeds for changes a few years down the road. (V)

It's Silly Season in the Veepstakes

Now that the presidential candidates are known, reporters are flogging all kinds of nutty stories about possible Veeps. Donald Trump has been said to be close to naming a variety of military figures, some of them lifelong pro-choice, pro-gay Democrats. While this makes interesting copy, it is unlikely that even The Donald is going to pick someone no one has ever heard of (with apologies to Admiral James Stockdale). Now the media are all excited about rumors that Hillary Clinton is going to pick Admiral James Stavrudis (ret.), another military man no one has ever heard of. Stories like this make no sense, especially not about Clinton, who is as cautious as Trump is reckless. She is not going to choose an unknown admiral. It is illogical, especially since her strength is foreign policy and she needs no help there. She will almost certainly pick a well-known figure, probably a senator, governor, or cabinet officer. She has plenty of them to choose from. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) seems the most likely at this point. (V)

Trump Turns NAACP Down

Customarily, in election years, presidential candidates address the NAACP's national convention. Hillary Clinton will do so this year, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama did so in 2012, Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) did it in 2008, and so forth. Donald Trump, however, has decided to decline the organization's invitation to appear.

The most charitable interpretation of Trump's refusal is that he realizes that he would be wasting his time, as he has little hope of attracting substantial numbers of black voters. Indeed, giving the convention a few remarks could backfire, if he ends up getting booed or ignored by the crowd—and neither of those would look good on the evening news. A less charitable interpretation is that Trump recognizes that quite a few of his supporters would not be pleased to see him making nice to an organization made up of black people. Either way, politically speaking, he's probably correct to stay away. (Z)

Kasich Getting the Full Court Press

RNC Chair Reince Priebus is pulling out all the stops to create some semblance of GOP unity at the Party's convention. While past candidates and presidents (Mitt Romney, the Bushes) seem to be a lost cause, he is hoping to pull in as many of the high-profile members of this year's slate of candidates as is possible. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina are already in. Jeb Bush is hopeless, of course, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has plausible cover since he is busy running a last-minute campaign for re-election to his Senate seat. That means that the biggest name left on the RNC wish list is Gov. John Kasich (R-OH).

Kasich has a special importance for a few reasons. To start, he is a moderate, a Rust Belter, and an Ohioan. Trump badly needs to curry favor with all three of those groups. Further, Kasich's absence from the convention will be particularly noticeable, since the event is being held in his backyard. So, Priebus is promising the sun and the moon if Kasich will hop on board the Trump express, in particular money and logistical support for any future campaigns he might choose to run.

In the end, though, the Chairman is probably barking up the wrong tree. Kasich dislikes Trump and nearly everything he stands for. There is also a personal dimension; the Governor has taken note of the fact that Trump has not lifted a finger to curry his support since they talked on the phone on the day that Kasich dropped out of the race. An adviser suggested that the odds of his boss appearing at the Convention are "somewhere between zilch and zero." That seems unlikely to change. (Z)

McConnell and Ryan Will Speak at the Convention

With so many Republicans running away from Donald Trump as fast as they can, for a while it looked like most of the speakers at the Republican National Convention would be sports stars or celebrities. Now the two highest-ranking Republicans in the country, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) have both confirmed that will speak at the convention. Of course, they haven't said what they will talk about. Most likely it will not involve Donald Trump. More likely topics are email servers, Benghazi, Vince Foster, the Clinton Foundation, Whitewater, Goldman Sachs, and maybe even Monica Lewinsky. Neither of these politicians has it easy, since it is abundantly clear that neither one has any use whatsoever for their party's nominee, so they are simply stuck and will no doubt just fire away at Clinton and call it a day. (V)

Warren Will Speak on the First Night of the Democratic Convention

Hillary Clinton has invited Sen. Elizabeth Warren to speak on the first night of the Democratic convention. This slot is a great honor and Warren will get a huge amount of attention. It is also a sign that she will not be Clinton's running mate, as Veeps almost always speak later in the week. Unlike McConnell and Ryan, who are unlikely to have anything nice to say about Donald Trump, Warren will probably both praise Clinton and go after Trump with both a scalpel and a cudgel. She has already called him "a small, insecure money grubber." Expect more of the same. (V)

Voters Responding to Nonexistent Trump TV Ads

Hillary Clinton and her affiliated super PAC have already aired nearly 31,000 pro-Clinton commercials during this campaign. The ads seem to be hitting their mark; 52% of voters recall seeing at least one commercial featuring the Democratic frontrunner. Meanwhile, in something of a surprise, Donald Trump is doing nearly as well, as 46% of voters remember seeing one of his ads. The reason this is a surprise is because he essentially hasn't run any ads.

Two things that have become clear during this campaign are that (a) Donald Trump isn't as good at raising money as Hillary Clinton is, and (b) he's much better at commanding headlines than she is. The latter tendency seems to be making up for the former, as he's gotten an estimated $3.8 billion in unpaid media exposure in the last year, compared to $1.7 billion for Clinton. If he actually makes this work—substituting free-of-charge outrageousness for difficult and expensive fundraising, then American politics will be forever changed. (Z)

New Poll Puts Clinton up 13 Points

Reuters/Ipsos released their latest poll Tuesday, and it had good news for the Clinton campaign. Among likely voters, she was up by 13 points, 46% to 33%. This is one of her best polling results of the campaign.

Now, as we have warned many times, these polls should be taken with a few truckloads of salt. It's still early, the presidency is not awarded by popular vote, we're still not sure how well pollsters are dealing with the challenges posed by cell phones, etc. That said, if the aggregate of the polls points strongly in one direction, it does mean something. And there's no doubt that, so far, it looks like Clinton is in a commanding position. She became the presumptive nominee on June 7, and RealClearPolitics' database has 26 polls taken since that day. Clinton has won 24 of them, while the two that Trump won were both Rasmussen (which famously has a pronounced pro-Republican house effect). Clinton's average margin over those 26 polls has been 5.7 points. Even if it's the Electoral College that ultimately decides, it's not easy to win the White House while losing the popular vote; it's happened only four times in U.S. history. So, The Donald definitely has work to do. (Z)

Trump, Ginsburg Trade Blows

Neither Donald Trump nor Ruth Bader Ginsburg is known for holding his or her tongue. And now, they are in the midst of a very public squabble, with each calling the other's competence into question.

It was Ginsburg who fired the first shot across the bow, when she expressed horror at the thought of Trump's being elected president during a weekend interview with the Associated Press. She doubled down on Tuesday while talking to CNN, calling Trump a "faker" and wondering why the media has not pressed him on his refusal to release his tax returns. Trump blasted Ginsburg's remarks as "highly inappropriate" and then took to Twitter to declare that, "Her mind is shot—resign!"

There are two possible readings of Ginsburg's actions here. On one hand, she may have erred in taking such a public stance on Trump, since judicial ethics would now require her to recuse herself from any Trump-related business before the Court. On the other hand, she's very sharp and certainly knew what she was doing. This suggests that she is so confident of a Clinton victory that she sees no need to hold her tongue. She better hope that the election does not come down to whether or not older Jewish voters in Florida can fill out their ballots properly. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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