• Melania Trump Violated Immigration Law
• Unemployment Down, Wages Up
• Clinton's Ground Game Could Sink Trump
• Latino Early Voting Is Way Up This Year
• Judge Orders Voters Restored to North Carolina Rolls
• What Will Trump Say If He Loses?
• How Would a Contested Election Work?
• Catholics Voting for Democrats Risk Eternal Damnation
• Ryan Might Step Down as Speaker
• Polarization Has Become Geographic
• If Clinton Wins, She Will Face a Tough Choice on the Supreme Court
• More Nails Pounded into Christie's Coffin
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
When news broke earlier this week that an indictment of Hillary Clinton over Clinton Foundation business was "likely," we were skeptical. It turns out that the skepticism was well founded, because the story isn't true. As the story has unraveled, it's brought to light a lot of unsavory behavior, and none of it by Clinton.
To start, it has become clear that there is a vocal faction within the FBI that really dislikes Clinton and wants to see her candidacy derailed. Some of these individuals read a takedown of the Clinton Foundation entitled Clinton Cash, and that book was much of the impetus behind the Bureau's investigation into the Foundation. The problem is that the book was written by Peter Schweizer, a partisan "journalist" whose accuracy has been called into question many times in the past. Oh, and the book was also bankrolled by one Steve Bannon, then publisher of Breitbart News, now chair of the Trump campaign. Ultimately, the FBI's investigation uncovered very little that would be of interest to prosecutors, leaving the anti-Clinton faction within the Bureau very frustrated.
Then, of course, FBI Director James Comey went public with the news of the e-mails found on Anthony Weiner's computer. Apparently, this emboldened the agents investigating the Clinton Foundation, and so they ran to Fox News to tell their not-so-truthful tale. Bret Baier, the anchor who reported the news, acknowledged on Friday that it was a "mistake" and apologized for reporting the story. The pairing of one obvious case of FBI partisanship (the Clinton Foundation story) with another possible case of FBI partisanship (the new emails) is not a good look for the Bureau, particularly its director. Comey may well have been acting with integrity, but it's hardly certain, under the circumstances.
Meanwhile, this whole story has also put the Trump campaign in a bad light, corruption-wise. There's the Bannon connection, of course. And as we and others noted yesterday, it certainly seemed that Rudy Giuliani was aware of Comey's email announcement days before it actually came. On Friday morning, the former New York mayor confirmed on "Fox and Friends" that he did indeed know. His exact words:
Did I hear about it? Darn right I heard about it. I can't even repeat the language I heard from the former FBI agents.
Apparently, someone pointed out to "America's Mayor" that he was making it look an awful lot like the FBI and Trump campaign were in cahoots with each other, because later on Friday he went on Wolf Blitzer's program and insisted that he knew nothing about the e-mail announcement:
In my case, it's real simple: I've talked to no FBI agent, I've talked to no Justice Department official. I have no idea about who's leaking information.
That's a rather remarkable change of story in a mere three hours.
In any event, it's been a long time since the FBI has had a week this bad—assuming they've ever had one this bad. The editorialists have their poison pens out, and they're pulling no punches. For example, the Washington Post's editorial board writes:
We can only guess at the motives of the FBI agents behind this politicization of law enforcement, but their behavior is sickening. The campaign has been hard enough with the ugly chants of "lock her up." The last thing we need is to find the fingerprints of the nation's premier law enforcement agency all over an 11th-hour smear of Ms. Clinton.
We stand by our belief that James Comey's position has become all-but-untenable. In fact, he really should be rooting for a Clinton victory, since the negative optics of terminating him might be the only thing that could save him. If Trump wins, on the other hand, there would be nothing stopping Barack Obama from calling the Director on November 9 and saying, "To use a phrase popularized by our president-elect: You're fired." (Z)
Back in July, when questions were raised about Melania Trump's immigration history, the Trump campaign promised that they would release extensive documentation proving she had done no wrong. What we actually got, however, was a letter from a lawyer on the Trump payroll. And now, we know why the documentation was never produced: According to information procured by the Associated Press, she did indeed violate immigration law.
The violations occurred over the course of about two months, when Mrs. Trump collected more than $20,000 for modeling jobs before she had the necessary paperwork to be employed in the United States. This may not seem terribly serious, but it's technically enough for her citizenship to be revoked. That is very unlikely to happen, but it does make clear that the Trumps were lying back in July, and that their position on undocumented immigration is, "Do as I say, not as I do." (Z)
Yesterday's final economic report before the election was mostly good news for Hillary Clinton. Unemployment is down to 4.9% and wages are up 2.8% compared to a year ago, the fastest growth in 7 years. In addition, the trade deficit is down almost 10% from September.
Both major-party candidates responded immediately to the news. Clinton said: "I believe our economy is poised to really take off and thrive. When the middle class thrives, America thrives." Trump said that the data were skewed due to the large number of people who had given up searching for jobs, adding: "Nobody believes the numbers anyway. The numbers they put out are phony." (V)
Politico's panel of operatives, strategists, and activists think that Hillary Clinton's ground game will sink Donald Trump on Tuesday. Democrats on the panel believe that Clinton has done a better job with get-out-the-vote than Trump in Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin. They are less sure about Florida and Iowa. Republicans were split about which party was doing better. In Colorado, Democrats have turned out in greater numbers than Republicans so far, which is different from previous years when Republicans took the early lead. On the other hand, Republicans are bullish on Iowa. Florida is a draw. Democrats are optimistic about North Carolina, where they have a large ground operation and Republicans do not. Ohio is unclear. More Democrats than Republicans have voted so far, but it may not be enough to win this state with so many conservative, older blue-collar voters.
The big unknown, of course, is James Comey's letter. No one really knows how much it will affect the final results. One Democrat on the panel thought it would bring the results back to normal. Before the letter, he thought Clinton might get close to 400 electoral votes. Now that seems very unlikely. (V)
Latino Decisions, a polling firm that specializes in polling Latinos (in English and Spanish), is reporting that Latino early voting is up 100% in Florida, 60% in North Carolina, and 35% in Colorado and Nevada, compared to 2012. The firm projects that 14.7 million Latinos will vote this year vs. 11.2 million in 2012. This is extremely good news for Hillary Clinton, as 79% of Latinos are expected to vote for her and only 18% are expected to vote for Donald Trump. That means an extra 2.8 million votes for her and an extra 0.6 million votes for Trump. A net gain of 2.2 million votes could push her over the top in some key swing states. (V)
North Carolina law allows citizens to challenge the propriety of other citizens' registrations, often with the barest of evidence. Taking advantage of this "opportunity," a small handful of voters challenged thousands of registrations in three North Carolina counties. In a surprise to no one who has been paying attention, most of the challenged registrations just happened to belong to black voters. So, the NAACP filed suit on their behalf earlier this week, asking for an emergency injunction. And on Friday, Judge Loretta Biggs granted the request. The Justice Department, meanwhile, announced that it would be sending monitors to the affected counties to make sure that citizens are able to vote.
After several years of coordinated activity by the GOP to block as many Democrats (particularly minorities) from voting as is possible, the justice system has largely struck back with a vengeance. Judges in various states have also taken the pro-active step of warning the Trump campaign against voter intimidation on Election Day. It's a pretty good civics lesson in why the framers of the Constitution divided up the powers of government among three branches. (Z)
Every previous losing candidate for president has made a gracious concession speech, sometimes after a recount. While the circumstances differ, all the speeches have four components. Whether Donald Trump will even concede at all if he loses is very much unknown, but here are the standard components of traditional concession speeches.
First, thank your supporters. In 2012, Mitt Romney said: "You gave deeply from yourselves and performed magnificently, and you inspired us and you humbled us. You've been the very best we could have imagined." The loser can be disappointed, but not too disappointed.
Second, concede and congratulate your opponent. In 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said: "Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day." It is important that it sounds sincere. If Trump were to say that Hillary Clinton looks presidential and isn't really crooked, no one would believe a word he said. Trump could quote Richard Nixon after Nixon's loss in the race for governor of California in 1962, however: "Now that all the members of the press are so delighted that I have lost, I'd like to make a statement of my own."
Third, the loser is expected to praise the democratic system, as George H.W. Bush did in 1992: "Well . . . here's the way we see it and the country should see it: that the people have spoken and we respect the majesty of the democratic system." Every concession speech is expected to have some variant of: "The people have spoken," not: "The system is rigged and I actually won."
Fourth, point out your successes, as John Kerry did in 2004: "When we began, no one thought it was possible to even make this a close race. But we stood for real change, change that would make a real difference in the life of our nation and the lives of our families." Here the candidate can inspire his supporters not to give up their ideals and to carry their fight forward in subsequent years.
If Clinton loses, she will be despondent and stunned, but she will almost certainly make the standard speech. If Trump loses, well, he has broken with tradition so many times in the past, he could do it again. (V)
Suppose Donald Trump loses on Tuesday and refuses to concede. What happens next? There is a fairly well-defined procedure for what happens next, as follows:
- State law determines how recounts work, when they are required/allowed, and who pays
- Losing candidates can contest voting or counting irregularities in court
- The Electoral College meets this year on Dec. 19. Class is not canceled for snow
- By law, Congress must count electoral votes, if disputes have been settled, 6 days before the electors meet
- If a dispute continues after the 6-day deadline (Dec. 13 this year), it's Congress's call
Of course, this only describes the machinery, not what could happen. If a case ends up in court, the judge or judges have a fair amount of discretion. Suppose a losing candidate can prove five cases of voter fraud or intimidation. What can/should they do? Order a new election? What is the appeals route? In 2000, the fight in Florida began in the state courts and got to the Florida Supreme Court. After that it went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Other routes are also possible. However, with the Supreme Court likely to break 4-4 on any case, it could matter whether the previous court was a state supreme court or a U.S. court of appeals. (V)
God is apparently a Republican, at least when he visits San Diego. A flyer passed out at a Catholic Church in San Diego said that anyone voting for Democrats next week would be committing a mortal sin, the penalty of which is consignment to Hell for eternity.
That may or may not be true, since it is difficult to run a properly controlled experiment, but federal law takes a dim view of churches and other 501(c)(3) nonprofits taking political stands. Also, Pope Francis said earlier this year that Donald Trump is not a Christian, so for observant Catholics in San Diego, it looks like Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are the only options. (V)
Why Paul Ryan (R-WI) accepted the thankless job of speaker is anyone's guess. He knew very well why the previous speaker, John Boehner, was forced out, and that the underlying fundamentals hadn't changed. Basically, House Republicans are badly split between mainstream Republicans and the Freedom Caucus, which wants only to obstruct everything the Democrats try to do. The speaker is elected by the entire House, and if the number of mainstream Republicans in the new House is less than 218, he might not be able to win the speaker's election. In addition, Ryan's treatment of Donald Trump has angered many Trump supporters, and the representatives from Donald-loving districts may be afraid to vote for Ryan as speaker. As a consequence, if the Republicans end up with a bare majority in the new House, say 10-12 seats, Ryan may announce just after the election that he will not run for another term as speaker in January.
Conceivably, this could end the gridlock in D.C., provided the Democrats win the Senate. According to Charlie Cook's partisan voting index, there are 43 congressional districts that are fairly evenly matched (R+2 through D+2), meaning they are basically swing districts. Most of the representatives in these districts are moderates, and 27 of them are Republicans. Suppose that the Democrats have 205 seats in the new House. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) could invite these 27 Republicans to lunch and offer them a deal: They choose one of their members as the new speaker and all the Democrats will vote for that person. In return, the Democrats and the 27 moderate Republicans agree to work together on a number of issues where they are not too far apart, such as immigration. In swing districts, voters love bipartisanship, so working with the Democrats won't hurt these members in 2018. Will it happen? Probably not, but if Ryan doesn't run for speaker, there will be a huge power void and anything could happen. (V)
The country is not only strongly polarized politically, but increasingly geographically as well. In 1992, 38% of the population lived in a county that went for a candidate in a landslide (defined as a margin of at least 20%). Now that number is 50%, as shown below:
People rarely move to be near more Democrats or more Republicans, but politics has become so encompassing that almost everything about life now correlates with politics, and people want to be with other people who share their worldview. However, this only reinforces the divide. If all your neighbors and the people you meet at your children's school and your church and everywhere else vote for the same party, you are going to hear a lot of arguments about why that party's views are the right ones, and some of it may rub off.
The strongly Democratic counties differ from the strongly Republican ones in many demographic ways. The Democratic counties tend to be wealthier and better educated but less religious and less white. The Republican ones are poorer, less educated, more religious, and whiter. They are also the location of older industries, such as manufacturing. E pluribus unum? Not so much any more. (V)
If Hillary Clinton is elected president next week and if the Senate does not hold a lame duck session to confirm Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court—two big ifs—then Clinton will be in a huge bind about filling the seat of the late Antonin Scalia. Some Republicans are talking about keeping it open until the next Republican president, but that is just 2020 campaign talk. It would be suicide for the entire Republican caucus to block an appointment for 4 years.
Here is Clinton's dilemma in a nutshell: Much of the Democratic base—and all of the supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), want her to nominate a nonwhite or female justice who is much younger and more progressive than Garland. California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu (46) checks all the boxes and would be perfect as the first Asian American on the Court. On the other hand, half a dozen Senate Democrats in red states are up for reelection in 2018, and if she picks a progressive like Liu and they vote for his confirmation, they could all be toast if the Republicans make that the main campaign issue in that year. That said, they could all be toast anyway, so she might as well at least please her own base.
Furthermore, there will be an epic battle in the Senate, no matter whom she chooses. It's unavoidable, so she has to pick someone she really, really supports and is willing to go to the mat for. It will probably be the biggest fight of her presidency, but putting a 46-year-old progressive on the Court for the next 40 or so years could also be her biggest legacy. It is going to be a tough call for her if she wins. (V)
Two of Gov. Chris Christie's (R-NJ) lieutenants, including his former deputy chief of staff, have been on trial for their roles in Bridgegate—mucking around with the George Washington Bridge in 2013 to punish Democratic mayor Mark Sokolich for not supporting Christie's re-election bid. On Friday, the verdicts came in: guilty on all counts.
Although Christie was not technically on trial, he was still on trial. The testimony given portrayed him as a callous, calculating, megalomaniacal near-dictator. So, his image took a big hit. Further, although he denies any knowledge of the scheme, those familiar with his hands-on, overbearing approach are very skeptical. He could still be indicted (the jury on that is, quite literally, still out) and, in any case, his political career is over. (Z)
The polls are coming fast and furious these days. After all, there's only three days left for the pollsters to pay for their kids' Christmas presents. The most interesting number here is Pennsylvania. Clinton has led there consistently, but if it's really that close, then maybe Trump can pull it out. And if so, then maybe he's got at least a puncher's chance. Those are some pretty big maybes, though. There have been 39 major polls of the Keystone State since the conventions, and Clinton is 38-0-1 in those. (Z)
|California||54%||30%||4%||Oct 22||Oct 30||USC|
|Colorado||48%||43%||4%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|Georgia||45%||49%||6%||Nov 02||Nov 03||Opinion Savvy|
|Iowa||41%||44%||5%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Emerson Coll.|
|Indiana||37%||48%||9%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Howey Politics Indiana|
|Kansas||34%||58%||7%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Fort Hays State U.|
|Massachusetts||56%||26%||8%||Oct 23||Nov 02||Western New England U.|
|Michigan||46%||41%||6%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|North Carolina||49%||47%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
|New Hampshire||48%||43%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
|New Jersey||51%||40%||3%||Oct 27||Nov 02||Stockton Polling|
|New Mexico||46%||43%||7%||Nov 01||Nov 02||ZiaPoll|
|Nevada||48%||45%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
|Pennsylvania||48%||44%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
|Virginia||45%||38%||5%||Oct 29||Nov 01||Roanoke Coll.|
|Virginia||48%||43%||4%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|Washington||50%||38%||4%||Oct 31||Nov 02||SurveyUSA|
|Wisconsin||44%||38%||7%||Oct 31||Nov 01||Loras Coll.|
|Wisconsin||48%||41%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
The half-dozen or so contests that will determine control of the Senate are largely looking good for the blue team. Well, except for Indiana, where Evan Bayh appears to be headed for another reminder that Hoosiers don't want him representing them in Washington. (Z)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|California||Kamala Harris||48%||Loretta Sanchez (D)||31%||Oct 22||Oct 30||USC Dornsife|
|Colorado||Michael Bennet*||50%||Darryl Glenn||40%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|Georgia||Jim Barksdale||39%||Johnny Isakson*||50%||Nov 02||Nov 03||Opinion Savvy|
|Iowa||Patty Judge||32%||Chuck Grassley*||60%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Emerson Coll.|
|Indiana||Evan Bayh||41%||Todd Young||46%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Howey Politics Indiana|
|Kansas||Patrick Wiesner||13%||Jerry Moran*||77%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Fort Hays State U.|
|North Carolina||Deborah Ross||45%||Richard Burr*||48%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
|New Hampshire||Maggie Hassan||48%||Kelly Ayotte*||45%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
|Nevada||Catherine Cortez-Masto||47%||Joe Heck||44%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
|Pennsylvania||Katie McGinty||46%||Pat Toomey*||44%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
|Washington||Patty Murray*||53%||Chris Vance||41%||Oct 31||Nov 02||SurveyUSA|
|Wisconsin||Russ Feingold||47%||Ron Johnson*||45%||Oct 31||Nov 01||Loras Coll.|
|Wisconsin||Russ Feingold||49%||Ron Johnson*||44%||Oct 31||Nov 01||PPP|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Nov04 Uncomfortable Questions Being Asked About FBI's Ties to Trump
Nov04 Early Voting in Nevada Dominated by Democrats
Nov04 Trump Promises in Federal Court Not to Intimidate Voters
Nov04 Trump May Not Be as Rich as He Claims to Be
Nov04 Eric Trump Wants David Duke Shot
Nov04 Vote Trading Is Back
Nov04 Trump Tower in Toronto Is Bankrupt
Nov04 Trump International in Las Vegas Violated Labor Laws
Nov04 Vote by Text Message? Not So Fast
Nov03 Top Democrats Have No Confidence in Comey
Nov03 Obama: We Don't Operate on Innuendo
Nov03 Clinton Indictment Reportedly Likely
Nov03 GOP Congressmen Predict a Constitutional Crisis
Nov03 Trump Viewed as More Honest than Clinton
Nov03 Trump Raised $100 Million in Small Donations in October
Nov03 Judge to Rule on Voter Purges in North Carolina
Nov03 Republicans Have Given Up Trying to Win in the Cities
Nov03 Newspaper Owned by Trump's Son-in-Law Won't Endorse Him
Nov03 Trump vs. Tur
Nov03 Legality of Ballot Selfies Depends on Where You Live
Nov03 Bettors Are Betting on Trump
Nov03 Cubs Win the World Series
Nov02 How Predictive Are the Polls One Week Out?
Nov02 Don't Read Too Much Into Polling Changes
Nov02 Seven Questions about Turnout Could Determine Who Wins
Nov02 Early Voting Tells Some Important Tales
Nov02 Another Former President May Be Voting for Clinton
Nov02 Weld Defends Clinton
Nov02 Clinton Raises $11 Million after FBI Announcement
Nov02 Union Workers Could Hand the Election to Trump
Nov02 Trump Asks Early Clinton Voters to Change Their Vote
Nov02 Sleeping Like the Enemy
Nov02 House Freedom Caucus to Hold Secret Meeting Today
Nov02 Republicans Have a Good Senate Map in 2018
Nov01 Sheldon Adelson Set to Donate $25 Million to Trump's Campaign
Nov01 Trump Stiffs His Pollster
Nov01 Trump Avoided Taxes by Stretching a Loophole
Nov01 Last Four Attorneys General Have Now All Criticized Comey
Nov01 Girl Who Starred in the Daisy Ad Makes a New One
Nov01 Kasich Votes for John McCain
Nov01 Computer Scientists Uncovered a Digital Hotline between Trump Servers and Moscow
Nov01 Donna Brazile Gave Clinton a Debate Question in Advance
Nov01 Brazile Shouldn't Be the Only One to Go
Nov01 Schumer Is Helping Democratic Senate Candidates
Nov01 Democratic Senate Candidates Get a Black Eye
Nov01 Desperate Times Apparently Call for Desperate Measures
Oct31 A Third of All Voters Less Likely to Support Clinton Due to FBI Announcement
Oct31 Comey May Find Himself Out of a Job
Oct31 A President Clinton Would Have a Very Tense Relationship with FBI Director Comey