Clinton 2800
Sanders 1881
 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)
      •  Support for Trump is Cratering
      •  Trump's Donor List is Grim
      •  Trump's Economic Plan Would Explode National Debt
      •  Rubio Faces a Wealthy Challenger on the Right
      •  O'Malley Is Back
      •  McConnell Won't Say If Trump Is Fit To Be President
      •  Sanders Will Continue the Platform Fight
      •  SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Coming on Monday
      •  Obama, Clinton Embrace LGBT Community
      •  One No Trump

Support for Trump is Cratering

It's only June, national polls don't mean much, and all the other disclaimers, but something is going on and it is not good for Donald Trump. Multiple polls are showing Hillary Clinton with a double-digit lead. An Ipsos poll done for Reuters has Clinton ahead of Trump by an astonishing 47% to 33%, a 14-point lead. And there is also the WaPo/ABC poll that puts it at 51% to 39% for Clinton, a 12-point lead. Let's split the difference and call it a 13-point lead for Clinton. However you slice it, it is unlucky for Trump, although he blasted the WaPo/ABC poll for having too many Democrats. If he loses in November, he'll probably say too many Democrats voted.

Stuff happens and in politics a week is a long time, blah, blah, but every time there is a big news story, Trump seems to step in it. After the Orlando shooting he blamed President Obama. After Brexit he said a lower pound would attract more Americans to his Scottish golf courses. Clinton, of course, knows how to respond to these things, as do Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mitt Romney, and every other Republican who has ever held public office. But Trump doesn't have a clue and there is no reason to think this is going to change any time soon.

In a normal year, even if the candidate is gaffe-prone, his handlers would run ads with him reading a professionally written speech from a teleprompter. With enough money, that could change the public's perception of the candidate. That won't happen this year because Trump's campaign is broke, so he can't advertise at all. To make it worse, as Trump plummets in the polls, it is going to be next to impossible to get big donors to throw away their money on what they perceive as a lost cause (more on this below). Finally, Hillary Clinton has more money than Uncle Scrooge and is starting to launch massive advertising campaigns in all the swing states, which could include Utah, Mississippi, Arizona, and Georgia this year.

Then there is the narrative. If the media begin to see Trump as an incompetent oaf who shouldn't be dogcatcher of East Cupcake, let alone the guy with the nuclear codes, how is he going to shake that image, especially when Clinton is going-to-outspend him 6-to-1 or 7-to-1 on television?

Finally, Trump hasn't even been nominated yet. Polls like the ones cited above and the very public defections of long-time serious Republicans like Brent Scowcroft and George Will are going to make even more delegates to the Republican National Convention say to themselves: "Are we the Republican Party or the Lemming Party?" (V)

Trump's Donor List is Grim

Everyone knows, by now, that the Trump campaign has very little non-Trump money. However, USA Today decided that they really wanted to get down to the nitty gritty. So, they took a look at how many of the donors to the campaigns or main Super PACs for Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush have also given money to Donald Trump's campaign or to his main Super PACs. Their assumption, probably valid, is that these individuals represent the core of the GOP donor base.

The numbers, needless to say, are not pretty. Of 1,400 Romney donors, 29 have given to Trump. That's about 2%. Of 3,400 Bush donors, 23 have given to Trump—considerably below 1%. Veteran GOP consultant Charles Spires describes this as "fundraising malpractice," arguing that Trump should already have hooked these individuals for low dollar amounts, so that he can then go back and hit them a few more times before Election Day. The overall picture it paints is that Trump's avenues for raising money are closing very rapidly. (Z)

Trump's Economic Plan Would Explode National Debt

A new study reported in the Wall Street Journal—hardly a bastion of left-wing activism—has determined that Donald Trump's tax and spending proposals would have quite the effect on the national debt, increasing it to 127% of the entire economy over eight years, up from 75% today (in other words, plus $11.5 trillion). The study's authors, the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, feel this would be a very bad thing.

The Committee also took a look at Hillary Clinton's proposals. Observing that current laws will grow the national debt to 86% of the entire economy over the next eight years, they conclude that a President Clinton would increase that number to 87% (in other words, plus $250 billion). They characterize this impact as "nominal," as it is within the margin of error for the study. These conclusions, which have been echoed in reports by Moody's and by the Tax Policy Center, certainly call into question the argument that a businessman is the best choice for managing the economy. (Z)

Rubio Faces a Wealthy Challenger on the Right

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) changed his mind at the last minute and decided to run for reelection after all, despite his earlier pronouncements that he wasn't going to do it. Several of his primary competitors have dropped out, but unfortunately for Rubio, one of them didn't. His remaining challenger is Carlos Beruff, a wealthy real estate developer who is somewhat Trumpish. For example, not only does he want to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., he wants to ban everyone from the Middle East except Israelis from entering the U.S..

Beruff is not well known outside the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, but he has a couple of things going for him. First is his bank account. He has already spent $4 million on the race and has let it be known that there is at least another $15 million where that came from. Rubio could be seriously outgunned in a state with around 8 to 10 very expensive media markets. On the other hand, if enough big Republican donors dump Trump, they could pour, say, $100 million into Rubio's primary campaign, thus neutralizing Beruff's financial advantage.

Beruff's other trump card [sorry] is Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL), another wealthy outsider who bought himself a good job. Beruff has deep ties to Scott, who doesn't especially care for Rubio. Scott understands very well how to run an outsider campaign and some of his former staffers have joined Beruff's campaign.

Rubio's dislike for the Senate has been extremely well documented. So why does he want the job? Most likely because (1) it pays $174,000 per year and you don't have to show up for work if you don't want to, and (2) it makes a good springboard for his 2020 presidential run. Or so he thinks. If he knew his history he might think otherwise. To start with, only four people have been elected to the White House directly from the Senate: Warren Harding, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama. More to the point, only three people have run for the White House, failed, returned to the Senate, and then tried to grab the big brass ring again. None of them got it. One was Henry Clay, who ran for president against Andrew Jackson in 1832, lost in a landslide, returned to the Senate, than ran against James K. Polk in 1844 and lost again. Another was Daniel Webster, who was a perennial presidential candidate and served multiple terms in the Senate. All of his Senate experience never really helped him though.

A more recent example is Hubert Humphrey, who was the Democratic nominee in 1968, a year torn by social unrest and urban violence. He lost to Richard Nixon, went back to Minnesota, and was elected to the Senate again in 1970. He took a shot at it in 1976, but was already marked as a loser and wasn't able to overcome that perception. He died 2 years later.

Finally, Sen. McCain (R-AZ) ran in 2000, lost the primary, went back to the Senate, ran again in 2008, won the primary, but lost the general election.

Getting back to 2016, Rubio is far better known than Beruff but the Florida primary is August 30, which means there will be two months of mud flying in Rubio's direction, and he may enter the general election with his approval rating deeply under water. Beruff or Rubio will face the winner of the Democratic primary, in which left-wing firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is slugging it out with Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), the establishment favorite. (V)

O'Malley Is Back

Remember former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley? He ran for president this year as a Democrat. If you missed that, don't feel bad. Many other people didn't notice either. Yesterday, he appeared on CNN and really lit into Donald Trump, saying: "Donald Trump is a bigot. Donald Trump is a racist. Donald Trump is in fact making fascist appeals." Not much subtlety there. Hillary Clinton is unlikely to pick O'Malley as her running mate, but ever since endorsing Clinton he has been campaigning hard for her. All surrogates are welcome, especially ones who pull no punches. He is only 53 and no doubt hopes to have a future in office. A nice cabinet post, perhaps? (V)

McConnell Won't Say If Trump Is Fit To Be President

Speaking of surrogates, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is not interested in the job of campaigning for Donald Trump. In fact, yesterday on ABC he refused to take a stand on whether Trump is qualified to be president. Saying that the de facto leader of your party is qualified to be president isn't setting the bar very high, but McConnell wasn't jumping. He did have something good to say about Trump, though. He praised Trump for firing his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. When the best thing the second-highest ranking Republican in the country can come up with is that you fired your campaign manager, you are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

McConnell, whose caution makes Hillary Clinton look like a daredevil, also made a gaffe in the interview (in the sense of telling the truth). When asked if Trump could win the election without raising a lot more money, he bluntly said: "No." But he hoped Trump would have more money in the fall, one way or another. (V)

Sanders Will Continue the Platform Fight

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) still hasn't tossed in the towel, although he has said he will vote for Hillary Clinton in November, which tacitly implies she will be the Democratic nominee (although theoretically he could be the nominee and nevertheless write her in). But his fight is certainly not over. Now he is battling for a Democratic platform that his supporters want. The initial draft of the Democratic platform contains some major concessions to Sanders, notably a call for a national $15/hr minimum wage and a modernized version of the Glass-Steagall Act. Nevertheless, there are battles he lost but will continue to fight for. He didn't elaborate on what he wants, but no one doubts he will keep going until the platform has been approved by the convention. (V)

SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Coming on Monday

In case there weren't already enough hot-button issues in 2016, the Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt today. At issue are a pair of laws passed by the state of Texas requiring that (a) abortion clinics meet the same standards as surgical trauma centers, and (b) doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital (within 30 miles). Proponents of the laws say that they make abortions as safe as is possible. Opponents believe that the laws' primary purpose is to make it all but impossible for clinics to stay in business. It is being called the most important abortion rights case in a generation.

There is little doubt that the four liberal justices—Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer—will vote to strike down the laws. There is similarly little question that Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and John Roberts will vote to affirm. So, we are once again in a situation where swing voter Anthony Kennedy will be the decider. He has generally upheld laws that imposed restrictions on abortion, so the odds are good that we're headed for a 4-4 decision. Which would mean that the Fifth Circuit's ruling, that the laws are acceptable, would remain in effect for Texas, but that no precedent would be set for the other states that have adopted similar laws. And in case that non-decision decision won't be controversial enough, it turns out that Texas withheld key information from the Court about the impact of the laws. So, this one's likely going to be back on the docket sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, Merrick Garland is about two weeks away from setting the record for longest wait for a confirmation hearing. (Z)

Obama, Clinton Embrace LGBT Community

Early last week, President Obama declared the area around New York City's Stonewall Inn to be a national monument, the first to commemorate the struggle for LGBT equality. On Sunday, Hillary Clinton made a similar gesture, dropping in on New York's LGBT pride parade for some surprise marching (Secret Service in tow).

It is remarkable how quickly the LGBT community have become a key Democratic constituency. We are less than a decade removed from a time when candidate Obama and candidate Clinton were both opposed to LGBT marriage equality (at least, officially). Indeed, there has been some speculation that, in the LGBT community, the NRA may have met its match. The thinking is that LGBT activists know how to organize, know how to apply political pressure, and so are able to get things done. This week's events certainly give some credence to that thesis. (Z)

One No Trump

In the card game of bridge, the teams bid to have one suit rank higher than the others. This is called the trump suit. However, a contract of, say, one no trump means that the bidders will aim to win seven tricks (rounds) if there is no trump suit. Statisticians Andrew Gelman and Jonathan Falk undertook a study to see if professional bridge players were now consciously or unconsciously bidding "no trump" more often as a result of Donald Trump's campaign. To draw their conclusions, they studied a major American tournament, whose players are presumably keenly aware of The Donald, and a major Dutch tournament, where the players are presumably much less aware of him. The conclusion of their paper is that the Americans bid "no trump" 29% of the time, vs. 26% for the Dutch.

Actually, the paper was a satire on how people lie using statistics, although the data are real. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun26 About Those Donald Trump-Brexit Parallels
Jun26 What is Trump Doing in Scotland?
Jun26 Clinton Super PAC Will Spend Over $10 Million in Pennsylvania
Jun26 Republicans Alarmed by Trump's Lack of Money
Jun26 Clinton up Double Digits on Trump Again
Jun26 George Will Leaves the GOP
Jun26 Dobson Justifies Support for Trump
Jun26 Lewandowski's Head Rolled Due to Attacks on Federal Judge
Jun26 Israel Could Take Center Stage at DNC
Jun25 Striking Parallels between Brexit and U.S. Politics
Jun25 Dump Trump Probably Doesn't Have the Votes on RNC Rules Committee
Jun25 Sanders Sorta, Kinda, for Clinton
Jun25 Sanders Getting Much of What He Wants
Jun25 Clinton Picks Up Two High-Profile Republicans
Jun25 Republican Insiders: It's Kaine
Jun25 Polling the Veepstakes
Jun25 Potential Clinton Donors Are Afraid of Scaring Trump
Jun25 Clinton Happy To Let Trump Dominate the News
Jun25 Duckworth Dodges a Bullet
Jun25 Striking Parallels between Brexit and U.S. Politics
Jun25 Dump Trump Doesn't Have the Votes on RNC Rules Committee
Jun25 Sanders Sorta, Kinda, for Clinton
Jun25 Sanders Getting Much of What He Wants
Jun25 Clinton Picks Up Two High-Profile Republicans
Jun25 Republican Insiders: It's Kaine
Jun25 Polling the Veepstakes
Jun25 Potential Clinton Donors Are Afraid of Scaring Trump
Jun25 Clinton Happy To Let Trump Dominate the News
Jun25 Duckworth Dodges a Bullet
Jun24 The Supreme Court Just Injected Itself into the Election
Jun24 Trump Donates $50 Million To His Campaign
Jun24 Corey Lewandowski Joins CNN as Political Commentator
Jun24 Trump Can't Back up Claims About Clinton Server
Jun24 Kirk Running Against Trump
Jun24 Democratic Insiders: It's Kaine
Jun24 Federal Judge Throws Out Cleveland's Anti-Protest Plan
Jun24 Democrats End Sit-In
Jun24 Brexit Will Proceed
Jun23 Rubio Changes His Mind and Files for Reelection
Jun23 Why Clinton Might Not Pick Warren as Veep
Jun23 House Democrats Stage Sit-In
Jun23 Trump Prepares to Fight the Dump Trump Movement
Jun23 Trump Says Clinton is Corrupt and a Liar
Jun23 Trump's Foreign Experience: A Failing Golf Course
Jun23 Sanders Acknowledges that He Will Not Be the Nominee
Jun23 Libertarian Party Is Gaining Support
Jun23 Brexit Vote is Today
Jun22 Anti-Trump Movement Grows To Hundreds of Delegates
Jun22 Clinton Is Planning To Turn Convention into an Entertaining Show
Jun22 Clinton Really Doesn't Like Press Conferences