Clinton 2293
Sanders 1533
 Needed   2383
Trump 1161
Cruz 567
Rubio 166
Kasich 160
Needed 1237

Big Republican Donors Will Focus on the Senate

While no one is willing to say so in so many words, many top Republican donors are abandoning the presidential race as a lost cause and are focusing on holding the Senate in order to prevent presumed President Hillary Clinton from doing too much damage. Karl Rove's American Crossroads group, for example, has set up a separate unit that is entirely aimed at helping Republicans hold the Senate. By making this the only goal of the group, Rove can tell donors that their money won't be wasted trying to prop up Donald Trump's candidacy. In addition, the Koch network, which so far has not spent any money in the presidential race, announced a plan to spend $30 million in September alone in states with critical Senate elections.

Rove and the Koch brothers understand that their only hope is separating the Senate candidates from Trump. They will emphasize how independent they are and how their real mission in Washington is to bring home boatloads of bacon for their constituents. Tip O'Neill once said that all politics is local, but in the modern age the reverse seems to be true: All politics is national. A strategy in which Republican senators just talk about how many dams and airports they have brought into their states and ignore national politics is risky, especially when the Democrats will be hammering on the fact that a vote for a Republican senator is a vote for supporting Trump. They will also remind people that the "independent" GOP Senators are certainly establishment enough to take marching orders from the national party on Merrick Garland. Furthermore, they have videos of many Republicans saying that they support their presidential nominee. (V)

Latinos Don't Like Trump

OK, that's not exactly news. What is news is exactly how badly Donald Trump is doing with Latino voters. A new Fox News poll reveals that Trump trails Hillary Clinton among that demographic by a staggering 39 points, 62% to 23%. And most of the 15% that did not state a preference nonetheless have an unfavorable view of The Donald.

Trump is thus well on his way to doing worse than the dismal 27% of the Latino vote that Mitt Romney claimed in 2012. Then, when we add in ongoing efforts to increase the number of Latino voters on the rolls, by perhaps as many as 3 or 4 million, it spells big trouble in the seven states where Latinos make up 20% or more of the population (New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, and Colorado). At the moment, only Texas among those is safe for Trump; even Arizona is looking like it's in play. If Trump does lose Arizona, along with the five Latino-heavy states that went Democratic in 2012, his electoral map becomes utterly impossible. He could take all the states Romney took in 2012, plus flip Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and he'd still be one electoral vote short. Even if he holds Arizona, he would need Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and either Wisconsin or Minnesota to get to 270. The upshot is that if Trump doesn't do something to improve his standing among Latinos—and it's hard to say exactly what he might do—then he can have all the angry, white working-class voters in the world and it won't do him much good. (Z)

Oklahoma Governor Vetoes Bill that Would Ban All Abortions

In a surprise move, Gov. Mary Fallin (R-OK), vetoed a bill passed by the Oklahoma legislature that would make performing an abortion a felony in Oklahoma. If the bill became law it would almost certainly be found unconstitutional in the courts and would cost Oklahoma a lot of money to defend. The national significance of Fallin's decision is that many people felt that Fallin is a smarter version of Sarah Palin and excellent vice presidential material for Trump. She was popular with evangelicals, a group that has little affinity for Trump, but now she is about to become a lot less popular with them. As a consequence, she effectively just took herself out of the running for being on the Republican ticket. Most likely, she vetoed the bill due to the substantial cost of defending a law that she knew would never stand up to court challenges at a time when her budget is deeply in the red. (V)

NRA Endorses Trump

The National Rifle Association has endorsed Donald Trump, who thanked it, argued that gun rights are essential to fighting terrorism, and said that Hillary Clinton would abolish the Second Amendment. Of course, the President has no such authority. A change to the Constitution requires two-thirds of the Senate and House to approve it and then getting three-quarters of the states to ratify it. The President plays virtually no role here, other than perhaps acting as a cheerleader. Clinton has never even argued for changing the Second Amendment. She has argued for background checks for gun buyers and stricter controls on firearms. Trump also said that Clinton would release violent criminals from prison. She has never said anything remotely like that, but he doesn't seem to care what she has actually said.

Trump's position on guns, like his position on so many issues, is new. In the past he supported a ban on military-type assault weapons and argued for longer waiting periods for anyone to buy a gun. (V)

Trump Paid No Taxes in the Late 1970s

A 1981 report to New Jersey gambling regulators shows that Donald Trump took advantage of loopholes in the tax laws to avoid paying any income tax for several years in the late 1970s. Now he is attacking the use of tax loopholes and says that corporate executives who use loopholes "get away with murder." Many of the blue-collar workers who like Trump find this position appealing. If it now turns out that Trump regularly avoided paying taxes himself, some of the shine may come off his candidacy. The reason that he refuses to release his tax returns may well be that they show he made extensive use of loopholes to avoid paying any taxes. Joe Thorndike, a director at the nonpartisan group Tax Analysts, pointed out that if Trump becomes President, he would supervise the IRS, so his own behavior would become a big issue. If he himself uses every trick in the book to minimize his tax bill, would he accept that from others? Trump's refusal to release his tax returns is going to be a major issue in the campaign, with the Democrats saying: "What's he hiding?" and possibly making some suggestions. (V)

Trump Did Not Raise $6M for Vets After All

Perhaps you will recall the Fox News debate that Donald Trump skipped; instead opting to hold a rally to raise funds for veterans. After, Trump proudly and loudly proclaimed that he had collected $6 million in donations. Now, it turns out that there's just one small problem: It's not true.

Trump's right-hand man Corey Lewandowski says that he's figuring out the real number, and he'll release it as soon as he can. Perhaps it is written in Trump's tax return somewhere. The campaign's explanation for the "misunderstanding" was that the original donation tally was above $6 million, but then some of the donations didn't actually come through. This story does not appear to stand up to scrutiny, however, since most of the "donations" came from just three people: Trump himself, businessman Carl Icahn, and pharmaceutical billionaire Stewart J. Rahr. These sorts of scandals, which break on nearly a daily basis, don't seem to dent The Donald's armor very much, so this too will probably pass. Though it is worth noting that Republican voters do not generally take kindly to perceived mistreatment of veterans. (Z)

Democratic Insiders Worried about a Nasty Convention

Politico asked its panel of Democratic operatives, activists, and strategists about the party's ability to come together after the convention. Only 35% weren't worried about party unity, 42% were somewhat worried, and 23% were very worried. Some of them cited what happened recently in Nevada, with chairs being thrown and much yelling as a possible foreshadowing of what could happen at the convention. The fear is that supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will claim the process was rigged and supporters of Hillary Clinton will say they are just sore losers. Many of the insiders felt that while Sanders' goals are legitimate, his scorched earth policy and temperament are not apropos. One Democrat said "it's 1968 in the making," referring to the riots in the streets during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Another insider said that the young people now involved in Sanders' campaign are fighting for their ideals, not for the Democratic Party, which means they may not fall in line if Clinton is the nominee.

Democrats on the panel agree that the best line of attack against Donald Trump is that he is too risky, especially as commander-in-chief. The argument is that he knows nothing about national security or foreign policy and could do great damage to America as a result. Another popular line of attack is to exploit his weakness with women and minorities and repeatedly bring up the negative things he has said about this to create a visceral dislike of the man, separate from his policy positions. But until the Democrats all get on the same page, it will be hard to make these points stick. (V)

Democrats Considering a Change to State Convention Rules

In view of the concerns outlined above, the Democratic National Committee is thinking that they will try, in cooperation with the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, to ban interruptions of any kind at the remaining Democratic state conventions.

On its surface, this seems like an overreaction to one blow-up, and also like a supremely bad idea. Even if Sanders gives his seal of approval (which is unlikely), it will feed into the narrative that the Democratic machine is working hard to silence critics. Meanwhile, what if conventioneers get unruly and interrupt anyhow, rules be damned? Is the Party ready to back their threats with force? Possibly have police arrest miscreants and drag them away? Then it really would be 1968 all over again. The Party and the Sanders camp have now done their week of posturing after the nastiness in Nevada; better to just let it go until we have further evidence that there's actually a problem needing to be solved. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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