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

Protests Expected as the Republican National Convention Begins

As Republicans are gathering in the Quicken Loans Arena starting today to nominate Donald Trump for president and to hand him a platform in which he has little to no interest, many other people are also gathering in Cleveland. Quite a few of them plan to protest something. Some aren't so keen on Trump but others aren't so keen on the other protesters. The police chief, Calvin Williams, said he expects his officers to face difficult situations but they are under orders to act with restraint.

That said, the city has plans to handle mass arrests, if it comes to that. Jails have been lined up to handle almost 1,000 arrestees. The courts will be open 20 hours a day to process cases. Hospitals have stockpiled medical supplies and are ready for convention-related emergencies. The normal Cleveland police force will be bolstered by 2,500 additional officers from states as far away as California, Texas, and Florida. The city has already purchased 2,000 sets of riot gear, 2,000 steel batons, and 10,000 sets of plastic handcuffs.

Since many of the speakers Trump has lined up are B-listers or lower (see below), the media are likely to be bored and it won't take much action outside the arena to have the networks cut away from the proceedings inside the arena to what is going on outside. (V)

Baton Rouge Shootings Cast Shadow over Republican Convention

In case the Dallas shootings were not fresh enough in our memory, nearly the same story played out again in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday. Yet again, a disaffected black veteran decided to open fire on police officers. This time, three men in blue were left dead.

This incident, like the one from Dallas, comes at an unfortunate time for the Republican Party. It raises some awkward issues—gun control, racial oppression—for the Party, and we could well end up with evening news broadcasts in the next few days that juxtapose Republican speakers advocating for the Second Amendment with the funerals of the three dead officers. Further, Sunday's developments serve to heighten already high tensions at a time when activists of various stripes (many of whom have shown themselves to be comfortable with violence) will be descending on Cleveland—a city, by the way, where open carry is allowed. We can only hope that the precautions outlined above will be enough. (Z)

Complete List of RNC Speakers Released

With the Republican convention set to get underway today, the list of speakers can no longer be kept secret. And so, the party announced the full list on Sunday night, along with themes for each day. Here they are (with "headliners" in bold):

Monday—"Make America Safe Again": Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, former Texas governor Rick Perry, Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, actor Scott Baio, Pat Smith (mother of Benghazi victim Sean Smith), Battle of Benghazi veteran Mark Geist, Battle of Benghazi veteran John Tiegen, Kent Terry and Kelly Terry-Willis (siblings of Brian Terry, killed while patrolling the U.S. border), actor Antonio Sabato, Jr., immigration reform advocate Mary Ann Mendoza, immigration reform advocate Sabine Durden, immigration reform advocate Jamiel Shaw, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Sheriff David Clarke, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), U.S. Senate candidate Darryl Glenn, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Karen Vaughn (mother of fallen U.S. Seal Aaron Carson Vaughn), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, Melania Trump, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (ret.), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), veterans' advocate Jason Beardsley, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT)

Tuesday—"Make America Work Again": RNC Co-Chair Sharon Day, UFC President Dana White, Gov. Asa Hutchison (R-AR), Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (R), Former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, Businessman Andy Wist, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), NRA Lobbyist Chris Cox, LPGA Golfer Natalie Gulbis, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Tiffany Trump, Trump Winery GM Kerry Woolard, Donald Trump, Jr., Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Carson, actress Kimberlin Brown

Wednesday—"Make America First Again": Radio host Laura Ingraham, businessman Phil Ruffin, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R), astronaut Eileen Collins, businesswoman Michelle Van Etten, Kentucky State Senator Ralph Alvarado, Jr. (R), Pastor Darrell Scott, businessman Harold Hamm, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Trump family personal assistant Lynne Patton, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Eric Trump, Former Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN)

Thursday—"Make America One Again": Motivational speaker Brock Mealer, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN-7), Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK), National Diversity Coalition for Trump member Dr. Lisa Shin, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, Jr., businessman Peter Thiel, businessman Tom Barrack, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump

A few stray observations:

  • For a convention that was supposed to be eschewing "boring" politicians in favor of "more entertaining" athletes and performers, there are an awful lot of the former and very few of the latter. If we break the list into categories, far and away the largest group is politicians who are currently in office (25). That's followed by activists and lobbyists (9), Trump family members/employees (8), entrepreneurs and politicians not currently in office (6 of each), entertainers (5), military veterans (4), people from the world of sports and religious leaders (2 of each), and motivational speakers and astronauts (1 of each).

  • When it comes to sitting officeholders, Trump did a pretty good job of lining up U.S. Senators (8), Representatives (6), and state governors (5). The remainder hold other statewide offices (3), are RNC officials (2), or are a sheriff (1).

  • In terms of athletes and entertainers, by contrast, Trump scraped the bottom of the barrel. The most notable names in those groups are probably Dana White and Willie Robertson, both of whom are well known to their fan bases, but are largely unknown outside of that.

  • Trump's wife is not comfortable with public speaking, and speaks with a fairly heavy accent, sometimes making her a bit hard to understand. No surprise that she's being buried on Monday, while Ivanka gets the prime slot leading into The Donald's acceptance.

  • Surprise omissions include NFL quarterback Tom Brady, whose name was regularly mentioned by Trump, and Carly Fiorina, who has been toting a lot of Trump water lately. Probably, he remembers her last-second effort to sign on to Ted Cruz's ticket as his VP candidate. The most surprising inclusion is Marco Rubio, who spent all of last week insisting he would be too busy campaigning to attend.

  • Who knows how the niceties of these things work, but one wonders how Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell will feel getting billing below Trump's 22-year-old daughter, or what Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will think about the fact that they are not "headliners" but Trump's personal assistant and Newt Gingrich are.

  • It is very hard to believe that these speakers, with only a few exceptions, are going to hold Americans' attention for multiple hours in a row. Of course, the Democrats' list will likely be nearly as boring, outside of the occasional Lenny Kravitz or Taylor Swift.

In any case, for reasons that should be obvious, the major broadcast networks stopped carrying the conventions several years back. So, for those who want to get in on the "fun," it will be necessary to tune to CNN, Fox News, C-SPAN, or MSNBC. (Z)

Whither the Republican Party?

Up until this year Republicans could talk about high-minded conservative principles while at the same time sending dog whistles to blue-collar men saying "we're against minorities and immigrants, just like you." Donald Trump ended that strategy by using a bullhorn instead of a dog whistle, and it worked very well, thank you very much. Now the Republican Party is at a crossroads. Does it want to try to sell conservatism to all Americans (as the 2013 "autopsy report" recommended), or does it want to become an out-and-out white nationalist party? Post Trump, it will be very hard to go back to the old ways. We are about to witness a fight for the soul of the Republican Party, starting today at the convention.

Many top Republicans, spearheaded by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), essentially reject Trumpism and want to have a big-tent party in which Latinos, blacks, women, and others feel comfortable. But achieving that would require rejecting many of the core principles that Trump supports, especially on immigration, banning Muslims, etc. If the party rejects those principles explicitly, it will risk losing up to a third of its base.

What GOP leaders don't really know is what to do if Trump loses in November. Is Trump sui generis or will a new Trump-like politician pick up the mantle in 2020 and assemble the same coalition as Trump? Some leaders are secretly hoping that Trump is utterly crushed in November so they can safely conclude that Trump's approach to politics is a bad one and they can abandon it in favor for a more inclusive one that offers hope for the future. (V)

Convention Pitfalls Are Not All that Unusual

The political parties want their conventions to come off smoothly, but historically that has not always been the case. Sometimes things went badly awry. Here are three reasons why conventions have gone off the rails in the past:

  • Third-party insurgencies. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman took a strong stance in favor of civil rights for blacks. Many Southern Democrats didn't like this one bit and bolted the convention, creating the States Rights' Democratic Party, often called the "Dixiecrats." Then-governor of South Carolina Strom Thurmond was its presidential candidate and he won four Southern states and 39 electoral votes. The Republicans also had a third-party revolt once, but it is further back. In 1912, former president Teddy Roosevelt challenged President William Howard Taft at the convention. He lost, but formed the Bull Moose Party, ran as its candidate and won six states and 88 electoral votes. Could a split occur in either party this year? It seems unlikely, but the Bernie-or-bust people and the #NeverTrump people are not happy and who knows what could happen.

  • Violence could flare. There was violence at both the 1964 Republican convention and the 1968 Democratic convention. In both cases, the party lost badly. In 1964, Goldwater delegates jeered at then-governor Nelson Rockefeller in the most vulgar language and made threats of physical violence. In Chicago in 1968, there were pitched battles between anti-Vietnam War protesters and the police, all of which was televised. Could battles break out this year at either or both conventions? It is definitely possible.

  • Incompetent convention management. The 1972 Democratic candidate, then-senator George McGovern was the Bernie Sanders of his day, with many young supporters. Unlike Sanders, though, he won the nomination. Unfortunately, he picked a vice presidential candidate with a history of mental illness and scheduled his acceptance speech for 3 a.m. ET. In 1992, George H.W. Bush allowed Pat Buchanan to speak at the convention, and his inflammatory, misogynistic, and homophobic rhetoric played a big role in Bush's defeat. Might anyone say something stupid this year? The possibilities are too numerous to even list.

Maybe everything will come off as smooth as glass, but maybe not. (V)

Do Conventions Give Parties an Edge in the States Where They Are Held?

This year's conventions are being held in Ohio and Pennsylvania. In 2012, it was Florida and North Carolina. In 2008, they were in Minnesota and Colorado. Most of these were swing states when the conventions were held. Clearly, the parties are intentionally holding their conventions in states where they think that a little bit of extra attention will carry them across the finish line first. However, a study of the election results since 1980 shows almost no effect in terms of where the convention is held. Thus for the Republicans, Ohio will be as difficult to win as if the convention were held in Nevada and for the Democrats, being in Philadelphia is no better than being in Los Angeles. But despite the lack of evidence that the location matters, the parties keep trying. (V)

Pence: Disney Film Is "Liberal Propaganda"

By all accounts, Mike Pence was a fairly late addition to the Trump VP sweepstakes. Whenever this happens, the folks who do the vetting are left scrambling, trying to follow up on every lead in a compressed time frame. Now, the media are on the job, and we will soon learn how effectively Trump's vetting team did their work.

The first embarrassing thing to have leaked out is a Pence-authored editorial about the Disney movie Mulan, the story of a Chinese girl who disguises herself as a man so as to fulfill her family's conscription quota. When the movie came out in 1999, Pence argued that it represented, "Walt Disney's attempt to add childhood expectation to the cultural debate over the role of women in the military," and that, "Despite her delicate features and voice, Disney expects us to believe that Mulan's ingenuity and courage were enough to carry her to military success on an equal basis with her cloddish cohorts."

Presumably, Pence knows that Walt Disney actually died 30 years before the movie came out, and that he himself was a political conservative who would never be confused with a feminist. Less clear is whether or not Pence realizes that Mulan is based on a real story, and that nearly every culture has some variant (Joan of Arc in France; Loreta Janeta Velázquez or Deborah Sampson in the United States; Mary, Queen of Scots; etc.) In any case, the editorial is a bit embarrassing, particularly given how badly Trump-Pence needs to reach out to women voters. With that said, if this is the very worst the dirt-diggers can come up with, then Trump's vetting team should be very pleased with themselves. (Z)

Clinton's Joint Committee Outraises Trump's Joint Committee

Marijuana legalization is on the ballot in at least seven states (Arkansas, California, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, and Nevada), but the joint committees aren't about that. Peculiar FEC rules allow presidential candidates to jointly raise money with the DNC and RNC national committees. Hillary Clinton's joint committee raised $82 million during the second quarter of 2016. She is keeping $21 million of it and letting the DNC have the rest. By contrast, Donald Trump's joint committee raised only $32 million and kept only $2 million. The allure of the joint committees is that they allow individuals to donate up to $449,400 with a single check—basically, one-stop political shopping for big donors. Donations to the actual campaigns are limited to $2,700. (V)

Johnson Surges in New National Poll

CNN/ORC have released a new poll in advance of the Republican Convention. In it, Hillary Clinton takes 42% of the vote, Donald Trump 37%, Libertarian Gary Johnson 13%, and Green Jill Stein 5%.

We've noted that national preference polls, particularly those taken in July, are not very predictive. Far and away the most important number here, then, is Johnson's 13%. There is virtually zero chance that he will actually get that percentage of the vote on Election Day, but if he is at (or maybe even approaching) 15% as the presidential debates draw near, he will be entitled to a podium. And if he is given that kind of national exposure, it is likely bad news for the Republicans, from whom he will draw most of his support. So, Trump had better hope he has a post-convention bounce that lingers, and that comes at Johnson's expense. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul17 Trump Formally Introduces Pence
Jul17 Pence Got the Nod Due To Aircraft Malfunction
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