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270 Electoral votes needed to win Map algorithm explained
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GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA NV OH

Democratic Convention, Day 2: Cracking the Glass Ceiling

The main item of business at the DNC on Tuesday night was formally nominating Hillary Clinton as the Party's candidate for president. Though the conclusion was foregone, the blue team did its best to maximize the symbolism and the drama. Clinton's name was formally put into consideration by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who spoke—respectively—about the good that Clinton would do for the black community and for women as president.

The nomination became official when the delegates from South Dakota registered their preference: "We proudly cast our 25 votes—10 for the senator, Bernie Sanders, who inspired us all, and 15 for the 45th president of the United States and the first one who will be called madam president, Hillary Rodham Clinton." The process concluded with Vermont, placed last in line so that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be the one to formally move that the tally be made official and that Clinton be nominated. It was a gracious gesture on his part; Clinton performed the same service for Barack Obama in 2008. Some of the Senator's supporters were not moved, however, with several hundred of them walking out at that moment. Many were wearing hats in the style of Robin Hood—a character who fought back against oppression, but never actually knew oppression himself, since he was born into wealth and privilege (as Sir Robert of Locksley). The irony, presumably lost on the walkers out, was thick.

Once the nomination was hers, Clinton appeared via satellite link to briefly address the delegates. "What an incredible honor that you have given me and I can't believe we just put the biggest crack in that glass ceiling yet," she said. "And if there are any little girls out there who stayed up late to watch, let me just say I may become the first woman president but one of you is next." Whether Clinton wins or not, then, it was a night for the history books, coming a rather remarkable 32 years after Geraldine Ferraro became the first female vice-presidential nominee.

Other notable moments from Tuesday night:

  • Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright—at the moment, the highest ranking female member of the executive branch in American history (along with Condoleezza Rice)—spoke about the threat that Donald Trump would pose, and has already posed, to national security. She dwelled on DNC-emailgate, and the increasingly great likelihood that the Russians were behind the leak. Clearly, "Trump is the candidate of Putin" is going to be a recurring theme during the general election.

  • The RNC got mileage out of a speech from Patricia Smith, the mother of a Benghazi victim; the DNC countered with nine "Mothers of the Movement," whose children died in racially-charged incidents. The remarks from Sabrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, were particularly compelling. It was notable that while Smith's speech was viciously anti-Clinton, the "Mothers of the Moment" never mentioned Trump, preferring instead a positive message about how Clinton will help improve race relations in America.

  • Later in the evening, actress Elizabeth Banks injected some levity into the proceedings. Spoofing Donald Trump's RNC entrance from last Tuesday, she came on stage enveloped in fog and backlighting, while Queen's "We Are the Champions" played. Before introducing a video outlining Clinton's accomplishments, Banks fired off a rapid-fire string of zingers. The one that got the best reaction from the crowd:
    Some of you know me from "The Hunger Games," in which I play Effie Trinket: a cruel, out-of-touch reality TV star who wears insane wigs while delivering long-winded speeches to a violent dystopia. So when I tuned into Cleveland last week, I was like, "Hey, that's my act!"
    Not everyone was amused, of course.

  • A pair of former presidents also addressed the convention. First up was Jimmy Carter, who spoke via video link, and slammed Trump for his "lack of ethics." Then it was Bill Clinton, who had two tasks that he was trying to accomplish: personalize his wife, and make a case that she is the candidate who can get things done (his phrase was "change maker," though that sounds kind of like a machine at a laundromat). The 1992 Bill Clinton appears to be long gone, but the speech was nonetheless very effective, particularly his narrative of the Clintons' life dating back to their first meeting in 1971 (though some observers couldn't help but notice that he glossed over a few years, like 1998).

Overall, the Democrats are having a very successful convention so far, Bernie Bros. notwithstanding. The big question was whether or not people would watch. Thus far, it seems they are—the overnights for Monday revealed that the Democrats drew 26 million viewers, compared to 23 million for the Republicans on the first night of their convention. There may be a drop-off for Tuesday night, but Wednesday should be no problem, since Barack Obama is scheduled to speak, along with Vice President Joe Biden and Clinton running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). Donald Trump insists that his convention was more interesting than Hillary's; he appears to be in the minority with that opinion. (Z)

New Poll: Trump Gets a Convention Bounce

Historically, Republicans get a 4.5% bounce after their convention and that appears to be holding for Donald Trump, as well. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that nationally, Clinton's 3-point pre-convention lead has been changed to a 2-point post-convention deficit, a gain of 5 points for Trump, in line with historical averages. Noteworthy in the poll is that 24% of the respondents did not express a preference for either one, meaning they are probably up for grabs. Given how unpopular both candidates are, this is not terribly surprising, but a 24% vote for third-party candidates would be completely unprecedented. Most likely, by Election Day these people will hold their noses and vote for either Clinton or Trump. (V)

The 2016 Election in One Chart

Although the 2016 election may turn out a lot like the 2012 election once the votes are counted, the lines this year are being much more clearly drawn on education rather than on income or any other demographic characteristic. Consider this chart which shows the change in support for Hillary Clinton in 2016 vs. Barack Obama in 2012. The numbers in parentheses give how big a share of the electorate each group is.

Change since 2012

Here you have it in a nutshell. College-educated voters, especially women, like Clinton more than they liked Obama. However, Clinton is doing 14% worse with men without a college degree than Obama did. This is the reason that the election is as close as it is. Non-college men are deserting the Democratic Party in droves, in large part because the system isn't working for them and Donald Trump claims he can fix it.

In terms of geography and electoral votes, Clinton could underperform Obama in states with large numbers of blue-collar workers, especially the Rust Belt states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. These are all states Obama won easily. On the other hand, highly educated states, such as Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina, might be easier for her. Florida, which has a large Latino population, might also be easier for Clinton. Thus we could possibly end up with a different map than last time. But don't bet on it. (V)

Evidence Mounts that DNC Hack Was Done by Russians

While the FBI is still investigating the hack of the DNC servers, evidence is mounting that the hacker, known as Guccifer 2.0, (and who may well be a group of people rather than one individual) is based in Russia. Guccifer 2.0 communicates with journalists using different email accounts each time, to make it harder to trace the true origin. But it now appears the anonymity software being used is associated with a Website, Elite VPN, that is largely in Russian. When the cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect tried signing up for an account, they discovered the entire signup process was only in Russian. Guccifer 2.0 claims to be a Romanian, but when he sends messages in Romanian, they are clunky and give the impression they were produced by an online translation service.

The software used to hide Guccifer 2.0's identify is only one piece of evidence indicating a Russian connection. The service used is not free and the payment methods use Russian financial institutions. The methods, tools, and command servers used in the DNC hack have been used by Russian intelligence before. Rich Barger, CIO and cofounder of ThreatConnect, said: "The noose is tightening around Russia." If it turns out that the Russian government is trying to influence a U.S. election, the consequences could be unforeseen and severe, including a possible new Cold War. (V)

Wikileaks Will Release a Lot More Material Relevant to the Election

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, has said that his website may release a lot more material relevant to the U.S. election before Election Day. Assange refused to confirm or deny that the Russians were behind the batch of DNC emails released last week, saying that he tries to create ambiguity to protect his sources. Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. If he were to leave the embassy, he would be extradited to Sweden on charges of rape. The statute of limitations on that runs until 2020. (V)

Sanders May Work for Senate Candidates

Although Bernie Sanders is having a tough time convincing some of his diehard supporters to vote for his former nemesis Hillary Clinton, he might be far more useful campaigning for progressive Senate candidates. Going to Wisconsin and urging voters to support former senator Russ Feingold or going to Pennsylvania to help environmental activist Katie McGinty is a whole different matter than campaigning for Clinton because his supporters hold no grudges against these and other progressive Senate candidates. So Sanders may be far more effective working to flip the Senate than to help Clinton, which may be about as effective as trying to kick a dead whale along the beach. (V)

Clinton Stops Advertising in Colorado

Hillary Clinton had been advertising furiously in Colorado, but no more. She pulled her ads from the Centennial State. She didn't explain why, but the fact that the three independent polls released in July show her with leads of 6, 13, and 9 points, respectively, strongly suggests Colorado is in the bag (at least for now) and the money can be better spent in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and other swing states. Trump hasn't advertised at all in Colorado.

Colorado is going to be a very steep climb for Trump. Angry blue-collar men who watched their factory jobs move to Mexico or Asia are few and far between because Colorado is not an industrial state. The mainstays of the economy are agriculture, ranching, mining, high tech, and services. There are also many government facilities there, including NORAD, NOAA, NCAR, NIST, the Denver Mint, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Air Force Academy. None of these industries and facilities are deep wells of angry blue-collar workers. (V)

O'Reilly Thinks Slaves Had it Pretty Good

In her DNC speech on Monday night, Michelle Obama was reflecting on how far America has come, and said, "I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. I watch my daughters—two beautiful, intelligent, black young women—playing with their dogs on the White House lawn." Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly was not happy about the first part of the statement, and decided to look into it. He is a self-appointed "expert" in U.S. history, thanks to having written a series of books on assassinations and near-assassinations that—while bestsellers—are so full of errors that most national historic sites refuse to carry them. After 24 hours, he concluded his inquiry, announcing that it was true that slave labor had built the White House, but that they weren't the only ones, and that the slaves were "well-fed and had decent lodging."

O'Reilly's "analysis" is historical nonsense. "Decent" is a mealy-mouthed word that essentially means "crummy." No one ever placed an advertisement: "For Rent: Decent Apartment." And one could argue that nobody in early 19th century America was especially well-fed; certainly slaves were not, the economic model simply didn't allow for it. With that said, the point here is not a history lesson, it's that O'Reilly is in hot water for his remarks. Again. He's also nearing the end of his contract, is 66 years old, and has an audience that is even older, on average (72). Given Fox News' desire to skew younger, along with the hefty paycheck O'Reilly commands and the controversy he seems to keep attracting, it would not be surprising if he is shown the door sooner rather than later. And if Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes are both sent into retirement, that is a big game changer for Republican politics. (Z)

Trump Supports a $10/hr Minimum Wage

Yesterday on Bill O'Reilly's program on Fox News, Donald Trump announced that he is in favor of a $10/hr minimum wage, adding "you need to help people." However, he also said that the states, not the federal government, ought to be where the minimum wage law is changed. Still, it is unusual for any Republican to argue for an increase in the minimum wage, which has been $7.25/hr since 2009. Most Republicans do not believe in any minimum wage, but rather feel that in a free market, a willing company and a willing worker should be able to agree on any wage both of them find acceptable. (V)

Alan Grayson's Ex-Wife Says He Abused Her Repeatedly

The former wife of Florida Senate candidate Alan Grayson claims Grayson, a Democratic firebrand, repeatedly abused her over the course of their 25-year marriage. She says she called the police on him at least four times and sought medical attention at least twice for injuries he caused.

He has fired back that she hit him multiple times and set one of their cars on fire in 1993. He also says she was still married to her first husband at the time she married him, making her a bigamist. Grayson is currently in a tight Democratic primary against Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) for the right to challenge the Republican candidate for the Senate seat of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is battling for the nomination. The Democratic establishment is strongly for Murphy and no doubt hopes the domestic abuse flap hurts Grayson's chances in the primary. They are likely to get their wish, as progressive groups and campaign staffers began deserting Grayson in droves after the news broke. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Most of the swingier states are trending blue, including Nevada, New Mexico, and Virginia, but once-swingy Missouri is definitely becoming a red state, as today's poll suggests. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Missouri 37% 47% 08% Jul 20 Jul 24 SurveyUSA

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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