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

Trump Still Has Almost No Campaign Infrastructure

Although the Republican National Convention begins next Monday, the Trump campaign still has almost no infrastructure. In many states there is no office or Website or even a working telephone. Only six states have an office with a working phone that someone answers and of those, not all have a functioning campaign headquarters. Now, it is probably not necessary for any Republican to have a full-blown ground operation in, say, Wyoming or Oklahoma, but having a fully staffed headquarters would be a good thing to have in at least a dozen swing states and maybe in states like Georgia, Arizona, and Utah, which might swing for the first time in decades this year. Of course, there is still time after the convention to set up offices, but setting up an operation takes time and money and time is running out and although Trump pulled in $51 million in June, running a national campaign takes a lot of money. In contrast, Hillary Clinton has more than 100 offices already open in 14 states and has paid staff in 45 states. (V)

Trump's Pitch Is All about White Resentment

Like Sarah Palin before him, Donald Trump's calling card is fanning the flames of white resistance to social change. Many working-class whites and older whites do not like the idea of Spanish-speaking people taking over substantial areas near where they live, areas that used to be entirely non-Hispanic white. They also see Muslims as the enemy of the United States and strongly object to treating them just like all other Americans. In addition, there are many college students who are tired of all the rules many campuses have about microagressions and what may and may not be said to avoid hurting anyone's feelings, not to mention trigger warnings professors are supposed to give when discussing topics that might upset some students with dainty ears. These are Trump's people.

As background for an article, the New York Times interviewed dozens of people all over the country and discovered a lot of white people greatly resent what they see as special privileges given to nonwhites and non-Christians. There has always been at least an undercurrent of racism in the U.S. (and sometimes much more than an undercurrent); what Trump has done is bring it out in the open and make it legitimate. Sarah Palin tried to give voice to these people in 2008, but she was too confused and inarticulate to do a good job of it. Trump is far more forceful and articulate than Palin ever was.

While Trump's slogan is "Make America Great Again," an equally good slogan for him would be Howard Dean's 2004 slogan: "You have the power to take our country back." Only Trump and Dean have different ideas about exactly who hijacked the country and how to get it back. (V)

Five Things to Know about Mike Pence

Many Republicans in Congress are hoping and praying that Donald Trump picks former congressman and current governor of Indiana Mike Pence (R) as his running mate. He would bring stability, policy expertise, fundraising ability, and a wide network of connections to the ticket. Pence is running for reelection as governor and has only until Friday at noon to withdraw, putting time pressure on Trump if Pence is his man. In anticipation of a possible announcement that Pence will be #2 on the GOP ticket, The Hill has compiled a short fact list about Pence:

  • Pence has many loyal supporters on Capitol Hill
  • He is in a tough reelection race that he could well lose
  • He is a well-connected fundraiser and is close to the Koch brothers
  • He is a staunch religious conservative who would excite evangelicals
  • He once was a host on conservative talk radio and knows that world well

Of the various options Trump has, Pence would probably bring more to the ticket than any other.

However, Politico is reporting that some people in Trump's inner circle are upset that Trump seems to be moving away from Pence in favor of Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who has Trump's in-your-face style but brings no state, regional, ideological, or demographic group to the ticket. Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is his de facto campaign manager, is said to be very much against having Christie on the ticket. Kushner wants Newt Gingrich, in no small part because putting Gingrich on the ticket probably means megadonor Sheldon Adelson would quickly pony up, say, $100 million for the campaign. On the other hand, Paul Manafort definitely dislikes Gingrich and sees him as a loose cannon. He wants Pence. But it is Trump's call; we will learn whom he's chosen on Friday. (V)

Sometimes the VP Pick Comes From Left Field

At this point, the commentariat feels like it has a pretty good grasp on the VP shortlists of both Donald Trump (Christie, Gingrich, Pence) and Hillary Clinton (Warren, Kaine, Castro). But sometimes, the candidate throws a curveball at the last minute. Politico's Josh Zeitz reminds us of five occasions where that has happened in the last 50 years:

  • George H. W. Bush selects Dan Quayle in 1988. While Quayle was a sitting U.S. Senator, he was a fairly nondescript one, who was perhaps best known for luckily avoiding the Jonestown Massacre. Bush chose him because his defeat of Democratic Senator Birch Bayh had made him a popular figure among movement conservatives, and because Quayle was youthful enough (41) to appeal to Baby Boomer Republicans. Unfortunately for Bush, Quayle became the butt of jokes early and often during his time in office, attracting particular attention for his inability to spell "potato."

  • Ronald Reagan selects George H. W. Bush in 1980. The widespread presumption in 1980, which came close to becoming reality, was that former President Gerald Ford would take the #2 slot on the Reagan ticket, and that the duo would serve as "co-presidents." By the third evening of the convention, however, it became clear that such an arrangement would be legally dicey, and also somewhat impractical. So, the conservative Reagan turned to another centrist in place of Ford, despite the fact that he and Bush had a rocky relationship stemming from a bruising primary season. The announcement of Bush, when Ford had been all but nominated, provided some drama for the fourth and final day of the Republican convention.

  • George McGovern selects Sargent Shriver in 1972. McGovern's original running mate was Thomas Eagleton, but that came to an ugly and unjust end when reporters learned that Eagleton had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital several times and had received electroshock treatments. To replace him, McGovern turned to Shriver, who had zero experience in political office, and was best known for being related to the Kennedys by marriage, and for creating the Peace Corps. He did little to help improve the fortunes of a ticket that did a pretty good Titanic impersonation.

  • Richard Nixon selects Spiro Agnew in 1968. Shortly before the Republican Convention, Time ran a list of eight likely running mates for Tricky Dick, and another 12 longshots. Agnew, then governor of Maryland, was not on either list. The good news was that he proved particularly adept at the VP candidate's #1 job: being an attack dog. The unhappy news is that he had the bad habits of taking bribes and not paying his taxes. He had to resign in ignominy about a year before Nixon had to do the same.

  • Barry Goldwater selects William Miller in 1964. This may have been the biggest surprise pick of them all. Miller, as his very generic-sounding name might suggest, was an obscure Representative from New York whose elevation to the #2 slot on the Republican ticket quickly gave rise to the rhyme: "Here's a riddle, it's a killer/Who the hell is William Miller?" He offered little to the ticket, as he was even more conservative than Goldwater (who already had the far right end of the spectrum locked up) and he hailed from a region and a state dominated by Democrats. Miller's biggest contribution to the campaign was likely the headlines he made when he replied to an offer to bet on a Goldwater-Miller victory by saying that even he wasn't stupid enough to bet against Johnson-Humphrey.

Zeitz seems to have missed the most recent one: John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin in 2008. No one south of Juneau had ever heard of her, Alaska is not a swing state, and the Republicans in the Alaska state legislature hated her. But McCain, ever the maverick, thought that an attractive woman would really shake things up. It certainly did, but not in the way he was expecting.

It is worth noting that five of these six surprises were sprung by Republicans. And since there have only been nine VP candidates chosen by Republicans since 1964 (Miller, Agnew, Bob Dole, Bush, Quayle, Jack Kemp, Dick Cheney, Palin, and Paul Ryan), it means there's been a surprise candidate over half the time. Given Donald Trump's taste for challenging convention, and for monopolizing headlines, nothing that happens on Friday should surprise us. (Z)

Ten Things That Could Go Wrong at the Republican Convention

Political conventions are usually tightly scripted, leaving nothing to chance. With this year's Republican National Convention, however, all bets are off. It could involve a lot of surprises of the sort that the planners would like to avoid. David Lightman at McClatchy has made a list of ten possibilities:

  • The platform could divide the party on ideological grounds
  • The Veep could be an unconventional or controversial figure
  • There could be a scandal, like Dick Morris, Bill Clinton's top adviser in 1996, hanging out with a prostitute
  • It doesn't take much imagination to envision riots on the streets
  • Long and boring speeches are always a danger when politicians gather
  • In 2012, Chris Christie gave a 24-minute commercial about himself and forgot Romney; it could happen again
  • In 2012, Romney was upstaged by Clint Eastwood's empty chair; again, something weird could happen
  • In 1980, Jimmy Carter circled the stage trying to shake Ted Kennedy's hand; bad optics is always possible
  • Bad weather canceled George W. Bush's speech in 2008 and day 1 in Tampa in 2012; could a river catch on fire?
  • Boredom could set in if nothing interesting happens

Are any of these likely? With Trump, you never know what to expect. (V)

More Polls, More Bad News for Trump

Fox News released two new state polls on Wednesday. Their survey of Colorado, one of the swing states, has Hillary Clinton up 10 points over Donald Trump. And their Virginia poll has her up by seven.

These polls are bad news, first of all, because Fox has a Republican house effect of about two points. So, Trump is very possibly down by 10 or more points in both states. More important, however, is that the Democrats' "blue wall" (the states the party has taken for six or more presidential elections in a row) has 242 electoral votes. Virginia has 13 EVs, and Colorado has 9, for a total of 264. So, if Trump cannot make some big inroads into these two states, then Clinton will be only six electoral votes from victory. And the odds that The Donald can somehow take all of the other 10 or so swing states are very long, indeed. (Z)

Trump Polling at Zero Percent with Black Voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania

Donald Trump's problems with Latino voters are well known, but his problems with black voters are even worse, as multiple recent polls make clear. In a national Quinnipiac poll released at the end of June, Trump was getting 1% of the black vote. Could it get worse? Yes. In a new Marist College poll of Ohio, Trump gets 0%. In Marist's poll of Pennsylvania, he also pulls down 0%. The bad news is that not even John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012 sank this low. The good news is that it can't get worse. (V)

Trump Suing Former Campaign Adviser for $10M

Non-disclosure agreements are fairly common in the world of business, and so Trump the businessman has brought them into the world of politics. Lawsuits over NDAs are also somewhat common, and now The Donald introduced that tradition into the political realm, too, seeking $10 million in damages from former adviser and now critic Sam Nunberg.

Trump has had a lot of success in the business world, including using the legal system as a tool to aid his financial pursuits, so it's hard to question his use of NDAs in that part of his life. But we can certainly question it in this domain. Such a lawsuit, since Nunberg undoubtedly does not have $10 million lying around, makes Trump look like a bully. Not great optics for a presidential candidate. Further, this kind of thing can cause a lot of dirty laundry to get aired, either in court documents or through the press. Again, not a desirable outcome in politics. Trump would do well to drop the suit. And if Paul Manafort cannot convince him to do that, hopefully he can at least persuade The Donald not to comment on the ethnicity or gender of the judge assigned to the case. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul13 Sanders Formally Endorses Clinton
Jul13 Did Sanders Campaign in Vain?
Jul13 It's Silly Season in the Veepstakes
Jul13 Trump Turns NAACP Down
Jul13 Kasich Getting the Full Court Press
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Jul12 Evan Bayh Will Replace Baron Hill in Indiana Senate Race
Jul12 Stock Market Hits Record High
Jul11 The Young and the Old Are Key Voting Blocs
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Jul11 Five Things To Watch for This Week
Jul11 Republican Lawmakers Want Pence as Veep
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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