Clinton 323
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Trump 215
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Click for Senate
Dem 51
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Ties 1
GOP 48
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  • Strongly Dem (152)
  • Likely Dem (108)
  • Barely Dem (63)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (32)
  • Likely GOP (96)
  • Strongly GOP (87)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: CO DE FL NC NJ OH PA VA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA OH

Vice Presidential Debates Rarely Matter Much

Tonight, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) will face off, but historically the debate between the Veep candidates doesn't matter much. This year, it is hard to imagine its having any effect, given that the presidential candidates are both larger than life and the vice presidential candidates are barely known and are evenly matched. Nevertheless, once in a while the debates between the Number Twos does produce a line that is long remembered. Surely the most famous one is then-senator Lloyd Bentsen's jab at then-senator Dan Quayle. When Quayle compared himself to President Kennedy, Bentsen said:

Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy. I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy.

Quayle came back with "That was really uncalled for, Senator," but Bentsen then pointed out that Quayle was the one who made the comparison and Bentsen was the one who knew Kennedy. Despite the exchange, which Bentsen clearly won, the Democratic ticket was crushed in a landslide.

In 1976, after Bob Dole asserted that 1.6 million Americans died in "Democrat wars," Walter Mondale shot back with: "I think Senator Dole has richly earned his reputation as a hatchet man tonight. Does he really mean that there was a partisan difference over our involvement in the fight against Nazi Germany?" The "hatchet man" tag stuck with Dole forever.

In 1984, George H.W. Bush was a little bit too patronizing when he went up against Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman on a major-party ticket. Bush said: "Let me help you with the difference, Mrs. Ferraro, between Iran and the embassy in Lebanon." She didn't like that at all and came back with: "I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy."

Finally, probably the oddest remark came in 1992, when Vice Admiral James Stockdale made it onto the stage as Ross Perot's running mate. He started with: "Who am I? Why am I here? I'm not a politician." His performance was an unmitigated disaster and it followed him to the grave. Tonight, with two experienced politicians on the stage, most likely nothing spectacular will occur, but we might get a solid debate about the issues for a change. (V)

Trump Offends Veterans Again

First, it was disparaging Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for getting captured by the enemy. Then, it was attacking the Gold Star family. And now, Donald Trump has stepped in it again. Appearing at an event organized by the Retired American Warriors PAC, the candidate was asked his views on faith-based programs aimed at preventing suicides and managing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He replied:

When you talk about the mental health problems—when people come back from war and combat, and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over, and you're strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can't handle it.

Presumably, Trump did not recognize what he was implying: That the veterans who suffer from PTSD or commit suicide are the weak ones. Nonetheless, veterans' advocates immediately pounced. For example, PTSD Foundation of America executive director David Maulsby said, "Our veterans who are struggling with post-traumatic stress as a result of their combat need to be encouraged to seek help, and not be told they are weak or deficient in character in any way, shape or form." In response, Trump surrogates began to circle the wagons, with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (Ret.) blaming the controversy on the media, and their desire "to deceive voters and veterans." The lesson of the McCain and the Khan family fiascos would seem to be "apologize, say you misspoke, and quickly move on," but apparently Trump & Co. don't see it that way. (Z)

Trump Ordered to Stop Raising Money for his Foundation

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has ordered Donald Trump's foundation to stop raising money because it is not properly registered as a charity. Schneiderman's office said that if Trump continues raising money, it "shall be deemed to be a continuing fraud upon the people of the state of New York." Trump's foundation has been in hot water for weeks, first for a donation to the Florida attorney general who was investigating Trump University, and then for several cases of self dealing, which is illegal. The Trump Foundation had no comment on the order. (V)

Clinton Hammers Trump More on the Billion-Dollar Loss than on the Tax Avoidance

Hillary Clinton has apparently decided that Donald Trump's billion-dollar loss is a bigger club than his tax avoidance. In her speeches since the New York Times published part of Trump's 1995 tax returns, Clinton seems to feel that going after Trump's strength—his business acumen—is a better weapon than attacking his failure to pay taxes. Yesterday she said: "What kind of a genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?" Her new ad also emphasizes the loss over the tax avoidance, but nonetheless mentions the latter, as well. He can parry the tax angle by simply saying: "I just took the deductions I was entitled to by law. What's wrong with that?" It is a lot harder to defend failed casinos, a failed airline, and many other failed businesses and still claim to be a great businessman.

In addition, Trump is proud of the fact that he may not have paid any taxes for two decades. It shows that he is smart. Losing a billion dollars hits at the core of who he is and clearly gets under his skin. At the next debate, she is likely to bring up the loss to needle him. When he feels under attack, he often goes off script and says things that make his advisers scream. (V)

Today's Trump Skeleton #1: He Rented to an Iranian Bank with Terrorist Ties

It's a great time to be an investigative journalist, it would seem, because every Trump-related lead turns to headline gold. On Monday, for example, it was discovered that one of Donald Trump's former tenants was Bank Melli, an Iranian institution with ties to both terrorist groups and to the nation's nuclear program.

On one hand, Trump does business with a lot of different people and entities, and it's not surprising that a few baddies might slip in without his knowing. On the other hand, he's held Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to a very high standard in terms of their interactions with Iran. If he has been something less than perfect on that issue, it certainly seems hypocritical for him to deny others a little leeway. Of course, he has slammed people many times for not paying their fair share of taxes, so he certainly seems to be a devotee of the "do as I say, not as I do" school of thought. (Z)

Today's Trump Skeleton #2: He Harassed Women on His TV Show

The Associated Press has interviewed more than 20 people associated with Donald Trump's TV show "The Apprentice" and learned that he demeaned women and judged them by the size of their breasts. He also talked about which ones he would like to sleep with. The AP interviewed crew members, editors, and contestants individually, and their stories all agreed. For example, eight crew members said he repeatedly made lewd comments to a camerawoman whose rear was "as good as Ivanka's." One season he told all the women to wear shorter dresses and show more cleavage.

Former producer Katherine Walker said that Trump frequently talked about women's bodies during the five seasons she worked for him. He often speculated about which ones would be tigers in bed. Once he turned to her during a break and asked whom he should fire. She replied that team members told her that one contestant caused her team to lose their business task. Trump then cupped his hands to his chest and asked whether it was the contestant with large breasts.

The Trump campaign issued a general denial when told about the story, pointing out how popular the show was. However, the campaign didn't deny the specific allegations. When the AP asked who the interviewees were voting for, the majority of those willing to answer the question said it would not be for Trump. (V)

Trump Offices Open in Israel

Donald Trump has relatively few campaign offices compared to Hillary Clinton, but he does have a few of them in a place that Clinton doesn't: Israel. The Israeli chapter of Republicans Overseas is doing the field work, with offices in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other Israeli cities. Formally, the group is not part of the Trump campaign, but has coordinated with it. American Jews have historically given 70-80% of their votes to Democratic candidates for president, but Americans in Israel may not share those views. Part of the reason is that President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have clashed over many issues, especially the peace process with the Palestinians and Iran.

This year, the Republican platform moved even farther to the right than in the past, not even mentioning the possibility of creating a Palestinian state. This view will probably play well with Americans living in the occupied territories. It is estimated that probably a quarter of American expats in Israel live there.

American citizens who live abroad vote in the state they last lived in. Only 16% of American Jews live in a swing state, mostly Florida and Ohio, plus Pennsylvania (which is not really a swing state). It is not known where the Americans in Israel vote, but if it is New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, and California, it won't do Trump much good to have them vote, even if they vote for Trump, because those states are not in doubt. (V)

Republicans Anxious About Trump's Impact

Whenever Donald Trump drops in the polls, as he is doing right now, Republicans (understandably) get very antsy about the impact he might have downballot. Each GOP pooh-bah has had to develop their own approach to coping with The Donald. Some, like Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges, have simply thrown up their hands. "My God," he says, "what a nightmare." Others, like Speaker Paul Ryan, keep Trump at arm's length. The Speaker talks to Trump via phone about once every two weeks. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), by contrast, tries to avoid Trump entirely, and will not answer reporters' questions about the Republican presidential candidate. GOP Chairman Reince Priebus has remained on board the S.S. Trump, and sink or swim, he's committed to the bitter end. That's the kind of freedom that comes from being out of a job in four months, either way.

For those who are not facing meaningful challenges this year, the concern is as much 2018 or 2020 as it is 2016. They know that whatever way they engage (or don't engage) with Trump, it could come back to bite them (see below). For those who are in the middle of a heated race right now, the problem is even more acute. For example, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) is fighting for her political life against challenger Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH). She needs pro-Trump Republican votes, she needs anti-Trump Republican votes, and she needs some independent votes. During a televised debate with Hassan, Ayotte was asked if Trump is a role model, and if she would tell children to "be like Donald Trump." She said yes, and immediately regretted it. After the debate, she promptly issued a statement backpedaling:

I misspoke tonight. While I would hope all of our children would aspire to be president, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have set a good example and I wouldn't hold up either of them as role models for my kids.

In short, Republicans running for office in 2016 better make sure their shoes are in good condition, because they've still got 34 days of tap dancing left. (Z)

Politicians Supporting Trump Will Be Targeted for Years to Come

If Donald Trump loses in November, all the Republican politicians who supported him, from governor down to dogcatcher, are going to hear about it for years to come. The Democrats have trackers all over the country recording statements by Republican politicians supporting Trump. All of these, plus press releases and other items, are going into a big database that will be used to tar these politicians in 2018 and 2020. Trump will be like a giant albatross hung around their necks, with a test run next year in Virginia's gubernatorial race, where all three likely Republican candidates currently support Trump. The database may even be open source, since the Democrats want as many people to see it as possible. It even has a URL already, (V)

Trump Grabs

The Democrats are not the only ones who like to play website games. The Trump campaign has laid their (digital) hands on the URL Those who visit the site will find a Drudge Report-style collection of links, each of them highlighting a story unflattering to the Democratic ticket.

This may seem to be carelessness on the part of the Clinton campaign, but it's not. There was a time when political campaigns allowed obvious domain names to flail in the wind, but that time has passed. Today, squatters generally grab any viable option long before it might be needed, hoping to make a quick buck. To take a few examples,,,,,,, and even are already gone. The URL was offered to the Clinton campaign, but they declined, feeling that there are so many possible domain names that trying to collect them all is just a game of whack-a-mole. At that point, the Trump campaign swooped in with $15,000 and secured the prize. These kinds of domain-related shenanigans are already forbidden when they involve private individuals and businesses; it would not be surprising to see legislation about political domain squatting sometime soon. (Z)

The Spin Room Is Dying

Traditionally after a debate, all the reporters covering it rush to the spin room to hear each of the candidates announce that he or she won big time. The importance of the spin room may be ending, however, because much of the spin is moving to social networks and happening in real time. By the time the debate is over, everything has been spun out already.

But new-style spin differs in an important way from old-style spin. Someone watching on television sees reporters talking to both sides and hearing both of their stories. On social media, (especially Facebook) people tend to interact only with like-minded people, so they never hear what the other side said at all. This just makes the silos worse. Another difference is that on social media, anyone can chime in, whereas the spin room is populated by the candidates, their handlers, and their favorite celebrities. Depending on how both sides spin it, some voters may change their opinions after hearing both sides give their impressions. On social media, few voters switch sides after looking at Facebook, and probably not after looking at Twitter, either. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Lots of good news for Hillary Clinton, except in Ohio. The way things are going, however, she won't need the Buckeye State. North Carolina alone is enough to effectively offset Ohio, and North Carolina plus Florida are equal to two-and-a-half Ohios. (Z)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Colorado 49% 38% 7% Sep 29 Oct 02 Monmouth U.
Delaware 51% 30% 7% Sep 16 Sep 28 U. of Delaware
Florida 46% 41% 5% Sep 27 Oct 02 Quinnipiac U.
North Carolina 44% 43% 6% Sep 29 Oct 02 Selzer
North Carolina 46% 43% 7% Sep 27 Oct 02 Quinnipiac U.
New Jersey 50% 29% 6% Sep 06 Sep 10 Rutgers-Eagleton
Ohio 42% 47% 6% Sep 27 Oct 02 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania 45% 41% 5% Sep 27 Oct 02 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania 47% 38% 5% Sep 28 Oct 02 Franklin+Marshall Coll.
Virginia 42% 35% 12% Sep 27 Sep 30 Christopher Newport U.

Today's Senate Polls

It certainly looks like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) will keep his seat, while Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) will lose his. North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Nevada are headed for a photo finish; Clinton coattails could be the key to all three. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Colorado Michael Bennet* 53% Darryl Glenn 35% Sep 29 Oct 02 Monmouth U.
Florida Patrick Murphy 40% Marco Rubio* 47% Sep 27 Sep 29 Mason Dixon
North Carolina Deborah Ross 46% Richard Burr* 44% Sep 29 Oct 02 Selzer
New Hampshire Maggie Hassan 48% Kelly Ayotte* 46% Sep 27 Sep 29 MassINC
Nevada Catherine Cortez-Masto 45% Joe Heck 47% Sep 27 Sep 29 Bendixen
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty 41% Pat Toomey* 35% Sep 28 Oct 02 Franklin+Marshall Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct03 Surrogates Defend Trump's Not Paying any Taxes
Oct03 What Has Happened to Rudy Giuliani?
Oct03 Could Donald Trump Do Worse in Second Debate?
Oct03 Attacking Bill Clinton May Not Work with Women and Millennials
Oct03 Could Poll Watchers Give Pennsylvania to Trump?
Oct03 Arizona Republic Gets Death Threats for Endorsing Clinton
Oct03 Is Ohio Still a Bellwether?
Oct03 Clinton Pulls in $154 Million in September
Oct03 Brown Signs Law to Radically Change Voting in California
Oct03 Vice Presidential Candidates Face Off Tomorrow
Oct03 Stone: Wednesday, Hillary Clinton is done
Oct02 NYT Bombshell: Trump May Not Have Paid Taxes for Decades
Oct02 Trump's Staff Can't Save the Candidate from Himself
Oct02 College-Educated White Women Are This Year's Swing Voters
Oct02 Asian Americans Could Be a Problem for the Republicans
Oct02 Trump Chases Sanders' Supporters
Oct02 SNL Hits Trump Hard
Oct02 Marginalized Haters Are Now Emerging from the Shadows
Oct02 Untrustworthy Voting Machines Are Still Widely Used
Oct01 Trump Can't Sleep, Starts Tweeting Attacks on Alicia Machado
Oct01 Evangelicals Are Scared, but Still Support Trump
Oct01 More Skeletons Found in Trump's Closet
Oct01 Clinton Is Now Focusing on Turning Out Her Base
Oct01 Ivanka Trump Stars in Trump Ad Aimed at Women
Oct01 Trump Has an Automated Army of Tweeters Working for Him
Oct01 Clinton Enjoying Post-Debate Polling Bump
Oct01 Weld: Clinton Most Qualified to be President
Oct01 San Diego Union-Tribune Breaks 148-Year Streak and Endorses the Democrat
Oct01 Trump May Not Accept Election Results After All
Oct01 There Actually Were Issues with Trump's Microphone During the Debate
Oct01 Saturday Night Live Returns
Sep30 Trump Wanted Fat Women Fired
Sep30 Trump Just Can't Cut His Losses
Sep30 Online Polls: Shady Behavior All Around
Sep30 Clinton's Newest Ad Focuses on Trump Flip-Flops
Sep30 New York Attorney General Widens Probe of Trump Foundation
Sep30 Appeals Court Strikes Down Law Prohibiting Photos of Ballots
Sep30 More Newspapers Dump Trump
Sep30 Christie May Be Put in Charge of Prepping Trump for Second Debate
Sep30 Trump Is Not Going to Like These Google Search Results
Sep30 Many Republican Leaders Are Hoping Trump Outsources the Presidency to Pence
Sep30 Stein Mocks Johnson's Ignorance and Shows Her Own
Sep29 Trump Fell into a Trap in the Debate
Sep29 Trump's Advisers Have a Plan for the Second Debate
Sep29 Trump Has a Cranky Wednesday
Sep29 The Online Polls Are Rigged
Sep29 President Trump Will Have a Busy First Day in Office
Sep29 Cybersecurity Expert Testifies that the Election Could Be Hacked
Sep29 Hacking of State Election Databases Worse than Originally Thought
Sep29 What if Trump Disputes the Election?