Clinton 2309
Sanders 1539
 Needed   2383
Trump 1239
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237

Trump Won't Debate Sanders after All

On Thursday, Donald Trump was open to debating Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) before the June 7 California primary. On Friday, he was against the idea. His original excuse was that the plan involved donating the advertising revenue to charities, and the networks balked. But then, several outsiders—including a New York tech firm, and boxing promoter Bob Arum—offered to put up the money that Trump demanded. At that point, Trump's excuse became that he didn't want to face a second-place finisher. In reality, he was probably afraid that since Sanders has nothing to lose at this point he would just rip Trump to bits, call him a brazen liar to his face over and over, and possibly goad him into saying things he might later regret. In any case, the deal is off. Sanders responded to the news by calling Trump a "bully" and asking, "what are you afraid of?" (V)

Clinton Leading Trump among Middle-Income Rust-Belt Voters

The heart of Donald Trump's Electoral College strategy is to win blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt, especially Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. A new Purple Strategies poll shows that this may be easier said than done. Among voters with family incomes of $30,000 to $75,000 in these states, Hillary Clinton is leading 46% to 39%. If Trump can't win over these voters by large margins, he is unlike to win any of these states or break through the "blue wall" of 242 electoral votes that the Democrats have won in 18 states + D.C. in the past six presidential elections.

The poll illustrates how racial dynamics are playing out in the Rust Belt. Among white voters, Trump beats Clinton 44% to 40%, but among blacks he loses badly. None of the voters are especially happy with the choice of Trump vs. Clinton, though. When asked to describe how they feel about the election in one word, the winning word was "afraid" with "disillusioned" second and "pessimistic" third. (V)

Cruz Vows to Fight Trump on the Platform

While the fight for the Republican presidential nomination is over, the fight over the Republican platform is just starting. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said yesterday that he will fight for a conservative platform, especially on issues like abortion. There is every reason to think that he means it. Since Cruz is already working on his 2020 campaign, forcing a big floor flight over the platform—with him trying to get in the most conservative possible planks and Trump balking—would be just what he needs, no matter whether he wins or loses. By positioning himself to Trump's right, if Trump loses the general election, Cruz can than say it was because Trump was too liberal and only a true conservative like himself can win in 2020. (V)

What Trump's Energy Speech Tells Us

Vox's David Roberts has taken a close look at Donald Trump's energy speech this week, delivered at a petroleum conference in North Dakota. His conclusion is that it "reveals [Trump's] scariest qualities," among them his inability to stay on script, his total ignorance of energy policy, his complete lack of pragmatism, and his fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants approach to everything.

The central concern that Roberts focuses upon, however, is Trump's gullibility. His argument is that, given Trump's ignorance and lack of interest in getting up to speed, he effectively just believes whatever his (haphazardly chosen) inner circle tells him. In that way, the article suggests, a President Trump would be like a President Bush, who often deferred to his staff (and to their cronies and to their financial supporters) on matters of policy, including energy policy. Needless to say, Roberts is not enthused about what will happen to the environment if Trump becomes president. (Z)

Trump's Managerial Style Is Becoming a Problem

Trump's approach to energy isn't his only problem. Two months ago, the Trump campaign said that The Donald would become more presidential after he secured the nomination. Yesterday, he locked down enough delegates to guarantee the nomination, but his campaign is the same fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants campaign it has always been. Trump is clearly not aware that he is now the titular head of the Republican Party and his words and actions affect about 6,000 Republican candidates running for offices from U.S. Senator down to city councils. Not only are there internal GOP battles daily, but they are broadcast for all to see. Promised resources for state campaigns have yet to be allocated. Trump's data operation is nonexistent. The financial operation has barely started. Probably worst of all, Trump doesn't even seem to care about unifying the party, as evidenced by his trashing Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM), a rising Latina star from a Western swing state. (V)

Trump Collecting Poisonous Endorsements

Not all endorsements are created equal—some help a lot, some help a little, some have no impact, and a few actually do harm. Certainly, Donald Trump's support from various white nationalist and KKK groups falls in the latter category. As do his endorsements/support from Indian Hindu nationalist organization Hindu Sena, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and disgraced former baseball player Curt Schilling, among others.

On Friday, Trump collected yet another endorsement that no politician should want: Martin Shkreli. The youthful Shkreli is a Wall Street mover and shaker who is currently under indictment, and has attracted much controversy due to his profit-driven decision to increase the price of an essential AIDS treatment by 5000%. For this, he has been called "The Most Hated Man in America."

Meanwhile, for someone who is his party's presumptive nominee, The Donald is still not doing so well in the "helpful" endorsements department. While he's got Dick Cheney, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, and Dan Quayle (several of whom may be in the "more harm than good" category), he has not landed (and apparently will not land) either of the two living GOP presidents, nor the party's two most recent nominees. He has only 13 U.S. Senators (of 54 Republicans currently in the U.S. Senate) and only 28 representatives (of 246). In fact, Jeb Bush still has more Congressional endorsements than Trump does. There is a notion that, in 21st century politics, endorsements no longer matter very much. Trump better hope that's right. (Z)

Clinton Broadens Her Money Network

Since the start of 2016, Hillary Clinton has added 125 major fundraisers, which she calls "Hillblazers," to her list. These are people who have pulled in at least $100,000 for her, and together they have raised $41 million. Nearly all of them are new to fundraising. In fact, 114 of the 125 were not doing this for either Clinton or Obama in 2008. These bundlers raise money for the campaign itself, which is different from raising money for super PACs. There are certain expenses a super PAC may not pay, such as staff salaries, office space, phone bills, computers, and candidate travel. In addition, candidates can buy television time at far lower rates than super PACs, often one quarter the price. So having lots of actual campaign cash is important. If a Republican megadonor writes a check for $100 million to Trump's super PAC, Clinton needs to raise only $25 million in actual campaign cash to buy as much television time. (V)

There Is a Lot of Bad Political Analysis Right Now

We are in something of a lull right now when it comes to election news. The primaries are close enough to being over that they're generating fairly few sparks, but they're still ongoing enough to prevent direct engagement between the two major parties' candidates. That is a recipe for a lot of bad political analysis.

Take, for example, CNN's Julian Zelizer. He's usually fairly solid, but on Friday he issued forth with something like the 10,000th piece about how the GOP is coming together while the Democrats are falling apart. Not only is this angle utterly lacking in originality, it doesn't stand up to even the mildest scrutiny. Do we not remember how hopeless GOP unity seemed just three weeks ago? Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are still contesting the nomination, and at the moment they (especially Sanders) have every motivation to tilt at one another. Once California (and perhaps DC) vote, they have every motivation to mend fences and build bridges. So, let's wait until the primaries are over, plus add two or three weeks, and then see how divided the Democrats really are. Meanwhile, as noted in the endorsements item above, the GOP has not actually unified yet, and may not do so in a truly meaningful way. Furthermore, while we focus on the possibility that some of the Bernie Bros. may not vote for Clinton, we seem to forget that Trump has a similar problem with the Libertarians and their soon-to-be nominee former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. That issue does not go away just because Trump and Johnson aren't currently locking horns the way Sanders and Clinton are. In short, Julian Zelizer—and so many others—are grasping onto a narrative that may not actually exist.

A related category of bad political analysis is the search for a horse race that may not actually exist. The current Democratic contest in California is an excellent example of this. Because of a Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll released a few days ago, in which Hillary Clinton had a lead of only two points over Bernie Sanders, nearly all media outlets are now describing the race as a "dead heat." If this was the only available poll of California, then that would be correct, but it is not. In fact, there have been four major polls of the Golden State in the last month, and they—in order, from oldest to newest—had Clinton +12, +2, +18, and +2. There's nothing that tells us that the recent +2 result is any more or less valid than the recent +18 result and indeed, if one had to pick, the +2 came from a minor firm with limited presidential polling experience (PPIC), while the +18 came from well-known and battle-tested SurveyUSA. Furthermore, a single +2 result is a statistical dead heat, but four positive results in a row effectively eliminate the margin of error, even if it had been +2, +2, +2, and +2 for Clinton. In short, while there is time for things to tighten up, and for us to get new and better information, the current evidence does not actually indicate California is a dead heat.

The point, then, is that political stories, which should always be read with a critical eye, deserve particular scrutiny right now. Alternatively, you can chuck the other sources overboard, and just read this blog. (Z)

Republicans Continue Putting Pressure on Rubio To Run for Reelection

Republicans are not happy about the quality of the candidates running for the seat that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is vacating and want him to change his mind and run for reelection. The filing deadline is June 24. Rubio famously dislikes the Senate and the glacial pace at which it operates, even under the best of conditions, let alone the way it is operating now. Rubio has now said it is "unlikely" he will change his mind, which his supporters see as progress, since his past position was outright refusal. It is far from clear that he could win an election against the Democrats' preferred candidate, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), though. After all, Rubio was unable to win the Republican primary in his own state earlier this year. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May27 Trump Clinches the Republican Nomination
May27 Trump Wants White, Male Veep
May27 Sanders and Clinton Almost Tied in California
May27 Sanders Not Actually Winning True Independents
May27 Trump to Top Aide: You're Fired
May27 About that Trump-Sanders Debate...
May27 Maybe the Presidency Isn't the Toughest Job in the World
May27 Fundamentals Still Favor Clinton in the General Election
May27 How Clinton Could Lose
May26 State Dept. Report Criticizes Clinton on Email Server
May26 Trump Won't Get To Write the Republican Platform
May26 Trump Lashes Out at Susana Martinez
May26 Internal Struggles Roil Trump's Campaign
May26 When Should You Start Paying Attention to the National Polls?
May26 Wasserman Schultz Has a Fight on Her Hands
May26 GOP Wants Rubio to Run for Senate Again
May26 Ryan Continues to Say He Is Not Ready to Endorse Trump
May25 Clinton Crushing Sanders in California
May25 Ohio Judge Stymies Republican Plans
May25 Libertarian Party Could Hurt Trump
May25 Unions Are Split on Which Candidate They Prefer
May25 Why Is Hillary Clinton So Disliked?
May25 Wasserman Schultz May Soon Be Out as DNC Chair
May25 Starr Apologizes
May25 Trump Scoring Some Big Donors
May25 There May Be Another Debate After All
May24 Sanders' Success Has Little To Do with His Policies
May24 Pro-Sanders Lawyers Sue California over Ballot Procedures
May24 Final Democratic Candidates' Debate is Dead
May24 Corker Meets Trump but Denies He Is Being Vetted for the Veep Slot
May24 Ryan Says Trump Has a Chance
May24 Univision Draws 100,000 Latinos to Voter Registration Events
May24 Asian-Americans Don't Like Trump
May24 Kim Jong-un Doesn't Like Trump, Either
May24 McAuliffe May Be in Hot Water
May23 Bernie Sanders Supports Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Primary Opponent
May23 Early National Polls of the General Election Are Likely Misleading
May23 Trump and Cruz Win More Delegates
May23 Clinton Is Willing To Talk To Sanders When He Is Ready
May23 Trump's Connections to Organized Crime Are Starting To Become an Issue
May23 Clinton Foundation May Become Campaign Issue
May23 Trump Quietly Working on Muslim Vote
May23 Soon It Will Suck to Be Donald Trump
May23 Party House Committees Have Lots of Money
May22 The Platforms May Matter This Year
May22 Clinton's Campaign Machine Dwarfs Trump's
May22 Many Major Republican Donors Won't Give to Trump
May22 Sanders' Cash is Running Out
May22 Clinton and Trump Have Very Different Messages to Latinos
May22 Obama Is Popular Again