Clinton 284
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Ties 47
Trump 207
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Dem 48
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GOP 52
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  • Strongly Dem (190)
  • Likely Dem (65)
  • Barely Dem (29)
  • Exactly tied (47)
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  • Likely GOP (91)
  • Strongly GOP (93)
270 Electoral votes needed to win Map algorithm explained
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2012: NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA NV NH

The Convention Ratings Are In

The Nielsen organization has issued its final numbers for the two political conventions, and they contain good news for both sides. The Democrats will be happy to learn that they outdrew the Republicans on Days 1, 2, and 3—26 million to 23 million on Monday, 24 million to 19 million on Tuesday, and 24.4 million viewers to 23.4 million on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the good news for the GOP was that Donald Trump's speech outdrew Hillary Clinton's 32.2 million viewers to 29.8 million. Trump crowed about his numbers, of course, bragging that "we beat her by millions." This is not inaccurate, exactly, but Nielsen does not count PBS. If that channel is added in, it was 34.9 million viewers for Trump and 33.8 million for Clinton. So, "million" instead of "millions." And probably more like "hundreds of thousands" if Internet streaming is also included. Still, a win is a win. (Z)

Federal Court Strikes Down Wisconsin Voter ID Law

Another federal court has struck down another restrictive voter ID law, this time in Wisconsin. The 4th Circuit struck down a similar law in North Carolina last week. In his 119-page opinion, Wisconsin district judge James Peterson declared that a number of the law's provisions, including those relating to voter ID, were unconstitutional. He was especially skeptical of measures that made it harder to vote in Milwaukee, which has many minority voters.

The case will now go to the 7th Circuit Court. What happens depends on which judges hear the case. After that, it could go to an en banc panel of all nine 4th Circuit judges where it is likely to do well, since a 5-4 majority has expressed reservations about restricting voting. Whether this can be sorted out before the election remains to be seen. Still, the initial round is a victory for people who oppose restricting the franchise. (V)

Trump Will Concentrate on Only Four States

Republicans looking at the electoral college map are not happy. Colorado and Virginia are probably already gone, although both Donald Trump and his running mate Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) are appearing in Colorado this week. If the Democrats can hold onto the 18 states plus D.C. they have won in the last six presidential elections they have 242 electoral votes. Add in Colorado and Virginia and it becomes 264, perilously close to 270. Republican strategists say say their only path to 270 electoral votes requires Trump to win Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Obama won all four of them in 2008 and all but North Carolina, which he barely missed, in 2012. Pennsylvania hasn't picked a Republican in decades.

From a demographic point of view, Pennsylvania and Ohio are the easiest of the four, because many angry blue-collar workers live there, but both states have large black populations, and Trump's approval among blacks is close to zero. North Carolina has large rural areas that generally vote Republican, but the area around Research Triangle Park has a large number of high-tech and financial companies, as well as three major universities so the area has an increasingly large number of college graduates, a constituency that used to be Republican but supports Hillary Clinton this year.

In addition to the difficult map, Trump is going to be outspent and out organized by Clinton by a huge margin in these states. In some of the states Trump doesn't even have a state team in place whereas Clinton has many offices in all of them. (V)

Trump's Racism Could Cost Him White Votes

Since the 1960s, Republicans do not say racist things openly. Instead they use dog whistles, such as Ronald Reagan's "welfare queens." Donald Trump has changed that and is saying things out loud that no Republican presidential candidate has said out loud in recent years. It is widely thought that overt racism will help Trump with white voters. However, a study by Sean McElwee and Jason McDaniel shows that this assumption may not be true. For the study, they determined how much racial resentment the respondents had by asking if they agree or disagree with statements like:

  • Irish, Italian, Jewish and many other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Black people should do the same without any special favors
  • It's really a matter of some people not trying hard enough; if black people would only try harder they could be just as well-off as whites
  • Over the past few years, black people have gotten less than they deserve

From these questions they assigned each respondent a racial resentment score from 0 (no resentment) to 1 (maximum resentment). They then looked to see how supporters and opponents of Trump scored on this scale. Their conclusion is that among people with a very low or very high level of resentment, white Republicans and white independents are indistinguishable. But for whites with a medium level of resentment, independents are much less likely to support Trump than Republicans. As Trump's past racism is discussed in the media (or in Clinton's ads), such as his being sued by the government twice for refusing to rent his apartments to black people, this is going to negatively affect somewhat-racist independents. (V)

Trump Is Likely To Have Trouble in Colorado

Donald Trump flew into Colorado on Friday to try to make some headway in a state he lost badly to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the primaries. He definitely has some catching up to do. For an article in the Washington Post, the authors interviewed dozens of Colorado voters, and their opinion of Trump was not so high. For example, Steven Hofman, a longtime GOP activist, said he couldn't vote for someone who thinks ignorance of public policy is a virtue. Former GOP state chairman Dick Wadhams said that you can't win Colorado with just Republicans, so Trump will have to find a way to win suburban women and not get crushed among Latinos, who make up about 14% of the electorate. Other Republicans said he would have to tone it down to get their votes, but at his rallies, he brought up all the old controversies. Mike Pence will visit Colorado Springs and Denver on Wednesday, but Colorado is probably a lost cause already for Trump. Clinton is so sure of winning Colorado that she pulled all of her ads last week to redirect the money to other states. (V)

Why Trump Might Avoid the Debates

Yesterday we pointed out that Donald Trump seems to be preparing a possible way to get out the debates by claiming the timing is unfair, since the debates would conflict with NFL football games. A reader suggested that he might want out for fear of questions like these:

  • In a debate, you boasted of your close relationship with Jordan's King Hussein, who had died 20 years ago. What is your relationship with his son and heir, King Abdullah?
  • You have confused Virginia's Tim Kaine with New Jersey's Tom Kean, as you did Hamas with Hezbollah, the Quds force with al Qaida, etc. Should a president have difficulty distinguishing things with similar names?
  • The most respected nonpartisan fact-checking organization finds less than one out of every six things you say to be true. In one of your books, you wrote about the advantages of exaggerating, of saying things that are not true. Why should anyone believe what you say?
  • You have said that you are 100% pro-choice. You even asked your pregnant mistress if she was going to have an abortion. More recently you said that the law should punish any woman who has an abortion. What do you believe now and why?
  • You have accumulated wealth by stiffing contractors, saddling investors with the burdens of your bankruptcies, manufacturing products overseas, and importing workers for your casinos. How have you demonstrated your concern for American workers?
  • Why do you think Americans will be safer if Japan and South Korea develop nuclear weapons?
  • Why would you like Vladimir Putin to absorb the Crimean peninsula and the Baltic countries into Russia?

If he is unwilling to put in the many, many days of preparation, including poring over briefing books prepared by his staff and participating in mock debates, he could easily say something disastrous that could dominate the news for days and give many voters the feeling that he is not ready for prime time. His primary debate strategy of mocking his opponents and trying to bluff his way through will never work against a skillful, well-prepared opponent, or with moderators not from Fox News. The foreign policy debate could be an unmitigated disaster for Trump since he will be debating a former secretary of state who visited 112 countries and is on first-name terms with every leader in the entire world. (V)

Trump in War of Words With Khizr Khan

On Friday, Donald Trump took exception to Michael Bloomberg's speech at the DNC. And on Saturday, it was Khizr Khan—the Muslim-American father of a soldier killed in Iraq. Responding to Khan's declaration that Trump had made "no sacrifices" for his country, Trump said that he has sacrificed because he has created many jobs. Moving on to Khan's question about whether or not Trump had read the Constitution, The Donald said, "Mr. Khan, who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things." How creating jobs is a form of sacrifice, and whether or not Trump understands what a rhetorical question is are both unclear. The Republican nominee, as is his habit, also took aim at Khan's spouse:

If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. Maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.

In fact, as several newspaper accounts revealed, she was struggling to keep back tears at the sight of her son's picture.

As anyone who saw the address might have predicted, Khan did not take Trump's counterattack lying down. Responding specifically to the attack on his wife on Saturday, Khan said that Trump's words were, "typical of a person without a soul." He continued:

[A]ll the snake oil he is selling, and my patriotic, decent Americans are falling for that. Republicans are falling for that. And I can only appeal to them. Reconsider. Repudiate. It's a moral obligation. A person void of empathy for the people he wishes to lead cannot be trusted with that leadership. To vote is a trust. And it cannot be placed in wrong hands.

We can only assume that Trump will issue forth with another reply on Sunday. Meanwhile, besides annoying the billionaire, Khan's speech has had another effect: A pocket version of the Constitution, similar to the one he pulled out of his jacket at the DNC, has become a bestseller on Amazon. (Z)

The Luddites Strike Back

Despite his many tweet-a-thons, Donald Trump has almost no knowledge of modern ICT technology. He asks his staff to print out news from the Internet for him. Hillary Clinton is just as bad. She hasn't even made it up to fax-machine technology yet, to say nothing of email servers. A month after she was given an iPad as secetary of state, she asked one of her staff members: "Do I need to charge it? If so, how? I have no cords." One of these two technoramuses will be president come January. This will be a huge change from Barack Obama, who fought to keep his smartphone when entering the White House and who wrote about the Internet in his 2006 book. This wouldn't be the first time a president wasn't exactly up to date: George H.W. Bush expressed surprise when he encountered a supermarket scanner for the first time during his 1992 campaign.

This ignorance of modern technology might be amusing were it not a serious problem when the president is called on to make decisions involving technology. Take, for example, strong encryption. What happens when the FBI, citing the San Bernadino shooter, argues that encryption should be banned to make law enforcement's job easier, and the State Dept., citing the Russian hack of the DNC, argues that strong encryption should be mandatory everywhere to keep out foreign enemies. If the president's first question is: "What is encryption, exactly?" we are not off to a good start.

What happens when the president is told that the Website or has obscene material on it and the Secretary of Commerce asks a detailed question about cybersquatting to a very befuddled president?

What if Trump follows through on his campaign promise and calls up Bill Gates and orders him to close down that part of the Internet that ISIS uses? What is Gates supposed to do? Send him a copy of The Internet for Dummies?

What would either of them do if all trade agreements were canceled and after a year thousands of new factories were opened in the U.S.—with all the work being done by robots, and the only new jobs being created were for people with a master's degree in computer science or mechanical engineering? The list is endless and will only continue to grow as technology becomes more and more relevant in so many aspects of life. (V)

How Should the U.S. Strike Back at Russia's Hacking?

U.S. intelligence officials have described to President Obama why they think that Russia is behind the DNC hacking. Obama has some knowledge of the Internet, so he probably understood what they told him (although it is far from clear that Trump or Clinton would understand the same briefing, as discussed above). In particular, CIA director John Brennan believes that trying to interfere with an election ratchets up the normal spy vs. spy stuff considerably, so now Obama has to decide what to do.

This is precisely the point the previous news item alludes to: understanding the options and their consequences. How about a counterattack? But what kind? What if we get caught? What if the Russians notice the counterattack and escalate by hacking the voting machines in November so Americans can't be sure who won, leading supporters of the loser to riot and worse? An alternative to a counter-cyberattack is a military response of some kind, but to get public support for that the president would have to present evidence to Congress of what the Russians did, and this would leak out and let the Russians know how deeply the CIA was in their systems. Dealing with cyberwarfare requires difficult decisions and, at the very least, enough knowledge of the subject matter to understand what the CIA and military are trying to explain. (V)

How Does Steve King Keep Getting Elected?

Rep. Steve King (R-IA), now serving his seventh term, may well be the most conservative member of Congress. He represents a moderately Republican district (R+5), so his repeated electoral victories aren't entirely surprising. What is surprising, however, is that he manages to say and do some very controversial things without suffering any fallout. In just the last two weeks, for example, he has declared that white Christians made more contributions to civilization than "any other sub-group" and has revealed that he keeps a Confederate flag on his desk (despite the fact that Iowa sided with the Union during the Civil War). Pat Rynard, of the blog Iowa Starting Line, wondered how King seems to be scandal-proof, particularly when it comes to saying and doing overtly racist things, and decided to look into it.

Now, this site is much more focused on the presidency (and the Senate) than it is on the House. Nonetheless, Rynard's conclusions may offer some insights that are broadly applicable. He found two main reasons that King is able to say whatever he pleases without recrimination. The first was that most Iowans simply weren't aware of his controversial comments. Much of Iowa is served by small newspapers that don't have the resources for in-depth political coverage. Meanwhile, those Iowans who get their news from television tend to rely on Fox News, which generally does not report on Republicans' more outrageous comments.

King's second "get out of jail free" card is that, even when voters had heard about his controversial statements, they simply didn't believe the story, having learned not to trust the media. As one respondent explained, "[N]o offense to the media, but it does get skewed. So until I can research it and find out exactly what was said and the context it was said in, I'll reserve judgment."

These two phenomena, applicable not only to the Midwest, but also to much of the South and the Mountain West, may help us to explain not only King's apparent teflon shield, but also how other politicians who are courting voters in those sections of the country manage to weather controversy after controversy without dropping much in the polls. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul30 General Election Expected To Be the Ugliest in Memory
Jul30 Trump Attacks the Democrats in a Massive Tweet Storm
Jul30 Will Trump Show Up For Debates?
Jul30 Federal Court Strikes Down North Carolina Voter ID Law
Jul30 Manafort Explains Why Women Will Vote for Trump
Jul30 Do Republican and Democratic States Brag About Different Things?
Jul30 Bernie-or-Bust Delegates Are Not Conceding
Jul30 Sanders Delegates Blame Him for DNC Chaos
Jul30 Koch Brothers Reject the Idea of Meeting with Trump
Jul30 The World Wide Web Is Like the Wild, Wild West
Jul30 One of the Women Who Said Yes to Roger Ailes Give Long Interview
Jul29 Democratic Convention, Day 4: Clinton Gets the Job Done
Jul29 Has Trump Violated the Logan Act?
Jul29 Trump to Dems: Your Worldview is a Fantasy
Jul29 Billionaires Urge Koch Brothers to Back Trump
Jul29 Rubio Thinks Trump Will Learn on the Job
Jul29 How Asian-Americans Became Democrats
Jul29 New Stars Shine at the Democratic Convention
Jul29 Joe Biden Loves the Word 'Malarkey' but Americans Don't Know What It Means
Jul29 Tim Kaine Plays the Harmonica
Jul28 Democratic Convention, Day 3: Another Good Night for the Blue Team
Jul28 Trump Calls for Russia to Find Hillary Clinton's Deleted Emails
Jul28 Security Expert: Russian Hackers Could Target Voting Machines in November
Jul28 Suburban Women Are the Big Prize
Jul28 Soros Getting Back in the Game
Jul28 Are the DNC and RNC Being Held in the Same Country?
Jul28 Trump Will Definitely Not Release His Tax Returns
Jul28 Historic Event Noted with Photos of ... Bill
Jul27 Democratic Convention, Day 2: Cracking the Glass Ceiling
Jul27 New Poll: Trump Gets a Convention Bounce
Jul27 The 2016 Election in One Chart
Jul27 Evidence Mounts that DNC Hack Was Done by Russians
Jul27 Wikileaks Will Release a Lot More Material Relevant to the Election
Jul27 Sanders May Work for Senate Candidates
Jul27 Clinton Stops Advertising in Colorado
Jul27 O'Reilly Thinks Slaves Had it Pretty Good
Jul27 Trump Supports a $10/hr Minimum Wage
Jul27 Alan Grayson's Ex-Wife Says He Abused Her Repeatedly
Jul26 Democratic Convention, Day 1: Hillary Can Sleep Well Tonight
Jul26 Trump Gets a Big Bounce
Jul26 FBI Investigating DNC Email Hack
Jul26 DNC Vice Chair Apologizes to Sanders
Jul26 Sanders Can't Control His Supporters
Jul26 Bill Clinton Will Campaign in Utah
Jul26 Clinton Hires Wasserman Schultz
Jul26 Big Money Didn't Do So Well This Year
Jul25 Daily Tracking Starts Today
Jul25 Democrats Are As Divided as Republicans as Convention Opens
Jul25 Bloomberg to Endorse Clinton at Convention
Jul25 Debbie Wasserman Schultz Will Resign This Week