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  • Strongly Dem (168)
  • Likely Dem (97)
  • Barely Dem (69)
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270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
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Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA OH

Trump Was Recorded in 2005 Saying Gross Things about Women

David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post seems to have made a career of digging up information about Donald Trump that The Donald would prefer not to have dug up. First, he wrote about Trump's foundation, and how it may have broken the law multiple times. Now, he has another story, this time about a video tape he obtained in which Trump talks about how he tries to seduce (married) women. He boasts to Billy Bush that he just goes over and kisses them and "grab[s] them by the p***y." The tape, which is quite lewd, was made in Sept. 2005, a few months after Trump married his third wife, Melania Trump. It's unclear how exactly Fahrenthold got the tape (he's not telling), but even if he had not broken the story on Friday, "Access Hollywood" (Bush's employer) was planning—after a week of soul-searching—to air the tape on Monday.

This is very, very bad for Trump. In fact, it is hard to imagine anything that could come to pass that would be more damaging. To start, it affirms in spades the already widespread perception that The Donald is a misogynist. In particular, it gives much more credence to the claims made by Jill Harth, the makeup artist who sued Trump for attempted rape. She says that the billionaire approached her, tried to kiss her, and groped her—pretty much an exact match of the description Trump gave to Bush. Late Friday night, CNN's Erin Burnett revealed that Trump had done the same to her friend in 2010. For many months, it has been clear that Trump badly needs the votes of suburban women; given how many of them have undoubtedly dealt with unwanted advances from men (not to mention sexual violence), that demographic is now a lost cause.

The timing of this new revelation is disastrous, too. Trump was already in the midst of a swoon, and now the bleeding—which Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) might have stopped briefly with his debate performance—is going to get worse. It's only 30 days to the election and, even more problematic, two days before the town hall debate. Assuming Trump shows up Sunday, he's surely going to face multiple questions about this, delivered by women voters. There is no good response to these questions.

Trump has survived scandal after scandal, of course, but this one looks to be different. To start, the candidate—who rarely expresses even the mildest of regrets—made an emergency apology early Saturday morning, in the form of a 90-second video posted to his Twitter account. In it, Trump declares, "I said it, I was wrong and I apologize." There are two problems, however. The first is that for quite a few voters, no apology, regardless of how heartfelt, is going to pass muster. The second is that it would be hard to characterize this particular apology as "heartfelt," or anything close to it. Of the 90 seconds, Trump spends about 10 actually apologizing. Then, another 15 seconds are dedicated to excuses, like that the video is 10 years old. 40 seconds go to reiterating why Trump is still a great presidential candidate. And the last 25 seconds are devoted to attacking the Clintons. His concluding thought:

I've said some foolish things, but there's a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims.

Clearly, someone persuaded Trump that he was in deep doo-doo. But apparently there was no one who could convince him to rein in his instinct to deflect, make excuses, and counterattack.

The other thing that appears to be different this time—beyond Trump's semi-apology—is the response from his Republican supporters. He was already A-bomb level radioactive, but now it's moved to H-bomb level. Any politician who remains on board the S.S. Trump now risks being interrogated about their views on sexual violence and the treatment of women for the rest of their careers. On Saturday, Trump was supposed to campaign with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), but now Ryan—who was already holding Trump at arm's length—has put the kibosh on that. Several Republicans have already rescinded their endorsements, including Gov. Gary R. Herbert (R-UT), former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA). Conservative radio host Erick Erickson "came to terms" with Trump two weeks ago, but late Friday he jumped ship again, and suggested that many evangelicals may do the same.

Meanwhile, Trump's opponents absolutely unloaded on him. Hillary Clinton weighed in, of course, calling the video "horrific" and insisting that, "We cannot allow this man to become president." The GOP nominee's opponents within the party were even less restrained than that. Jeb Bush wrote: "As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump's reprehensible comments degrading women." Mitt Romney chimed in with, "Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America's face to the world." Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) recorded and posted a video late Friday night in which he called for Trump to drop out of the race. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) both seconded the motion.

Is Trump's departure from the race a realistic possibility? This year, you can never say never, but it seems improbable. Either he would have to choose to step down, which does not appear to be his style, or the GOP would have to substantially amend its rules. Party officials insist that the latter option is not being contemplated.

If Trump did somehow exit, Republicans should not get their hopes up about a white knight riding to the rescue and vanquishing Hillary Clinton. Early voting has already begun in many states, and 34,000 GOP votes are already cast, including 8,000 in the battleground state of North Carolina and another 5,000 in Florida. In many states, including Florida, Texas, and Virginia, the deadline has passed for candidates' names to be put on the ballot. So, even if Trump drops out, he is going to collect millions of votes. Therefore, the GOP plan would have to involve gaming the Electoral College—giving Trump electors marching orders to vote for Mike Pence, or whomever the replacement might be. Even if the Pence-Trump hybrid somehow collected 270-plus electoral votes, they surely wouldn't go beyond that total by much, which means little margin for error. The odds are not good that all 270 or 275 or 280 electors would be persuaded to go along with the plan, especially since some of them would still be Trump supporters.

But what if, by some chance, the GOP did cobble together 270 EVs for Mike Pence? Well, there are still big problems. In many states, it is illegal for electors to behave faithlessly. Sometimes the penalty is a fine or a jail sentence, but in other cases it is invalidation of the disputed electoral votes. These laws may or may not be constitutional; they have never been challenged in court. If faithless electors cost the Democrats the election, however, then Hillary Clinton's lawyers will be on the case so fast there will be sonic booms from their matching blue neckties. The question would go before the Supreme Court where, presumably by a 4-4 vote, no decision would be made. The general rule is that when the Supreme Court declines to take a case or divides evenly, the decision of the appellate court from which the case came is binding, but only on its circuit.

If you really want to get into the weeds on this, see this article. In short, suppose a Democratic Party official in a state where elector faithlessness is illegal were to send to the President of the Senate, Joe Biden, a set of electoral votes for Trump (assuming Trump won the state). Now the Senate would have two sets of electoral votes, one corresponding to what the electors cast and one corresponding to what the electors should have cast. According to 3 U.S.C. 15, the governor should resolve that. Suppose Pennsylvania is one of the states in question and Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA) supported the rogue electoral votes for Trump in order to deny Pence 270 EVs. You can probably see where this is going. Oh, wait, you can't? Neither can we. With a Supreme Court split 4-4, we would be in deep trouble.

In short, then, the GOP would have to dump Trump (or get him to dump himself), somehow win an election in which they currently trail badly and would have less than 30 days to organize, convince all (or nearly all) of the 150 or so Trump-bound electors to behave faithlessly, then get at least one of the liberal SCOTUS justices to sign off on the whole thing, while various Democratic governors just sit on their hands and watch. This is not going to happen. As a purely tactical matter, the best (and really only) option the GOP has at this point is to give Trump the Dole treatment. In 1996, about 30 days before the election, the Party made clear that Dole was on his own, and devoted their entire focus to the downballot races. This option has been bandied about for the last several months, but now it's time for Reince Priebus & Co. to pull the trigger. (V & Z)

Portions of Clinton's Wall Street Speeches Appear to Have Been Leaked

It was a day full of October surprises on Friday. While Donald Trump was reeling from the revelation of his lewd "Access Hollywood" interview (see above), Hillary Clinton got some unpleasant news of her own: Wikileaks posted 2,000 e-mails that it stole from the account of Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta. The messages contain extensive passages from the candidate's private speeches delivered before Wall Street banks. This is presumably the bombshell that Roger Stone and others had promised on Wednesday. The authenticity of the messages has not been confirmed, but the Clinton campaign pointedly did not issue a denial, so the presumption is that they are legitimate.

Put bluntly, the leaked excerpts look very bad for Clinton, and essentially confirm what Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was saying about her during the primary season: That she's too close to Wall Street, and that she has one persona in public and another when rubbing elbows with her banker friends. Slate has an excellent breakdown of the messages, dividing them into three broad categories: (1) Things that would have looked bad in the primaries, (2) Things that would look bad up against Donald Trump, and (3) Things that are not so bad. In the first category, for example, is her declaration that in politics, "you need both a public and a private position." So too is her suggestion that bankers know best how to regulate the banking industry—dangerously close to an endorsement of crony capitalism. The second category, which is much smaller, includes Clinton's support for a "hemispheric common market," aka the ultimate trade agreement. She also had quite a bit to say about the importance of cybersecurity, which raises some additional uncomfortable questions about her email server. In the third category are statements that are positively Sanders-esque, like her criticisms of Citizens United and of wealth inequality.

The timing here, of course, is exceedingly transparent. The Trump video story broke, and just hours later, Wikileaks was on the attack, trying to keep at least some headlines focused on something other than The Donald's boorish behavior. So, will it work? Well, the Wikileaks will probably drive some ambivalent millennials/Bernie Bros. permanently out of the Clinton camp and into the arms of Jill Stein, though their numbers are likely to be offset by the independents and Republicans who can't stomach the thought of voting for a candidate who thinks sexual assault is a subject of merriment. The impact of the revelations will also be blunted by the White House's announcement that they are "confident" Russia is responsible for the leaks, and is trying to manipulate the 2016 election. Still, Clinton will surely face some questions about this new information on Sunday; she had better have good answers ready, and not mealymouthed excuses like she had for so many months with the e-mail server. (Z)

Trump Says the Border Patrol Is Letting Undocumented Immigrants in to Vote

Sometimes it seems that Donald Trump's teleprompter is getting its feed from the satirical publication The Onion. Yesterday (before the p***ygate story broke) he said that the U.S. Border Patrol is letting in undocumented immigrants so they can vote in November. He didn't offer a shred of evidence for his claim. However, statements like this may be laying the groundwork to explain a possible loss, claiming that he was cheated by hordes of undocumented immigrants voting. (V)

Trump Cratering with Independent Voters

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump nationally by 5 points, 45% to 40%. That by itself is not so interesting; other recent polls have shown that as well. What is very surprising is that Clinton has now opened a 14-point lead over Trump with independents. In its September poll, Trump led with independents by 7 points. This is a net shift of 21 points away from Trump in a month. And, of course, this poll was completed before Friday's revelations. Presumably, those independents won't be back. (V)

Planned Parenthood Planning $30 Million Effort Targeting Millennials

In an unprecedented effort, the political arm of Planned Parenthood is about to put $30 million into a campaign to get young voters to the polls for the Democrats. It has 800 paid staff and 3,500 volunteers going door to door in Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Part of the message is about Donald Trump's views on abortion, but the group is also trying to educate young voters about what Hillary Clinton did as senator from New York before many of them were paying attention to politics. (V)

If Trump Loses, Republicans Will Not Be Able to Come Together Easily

David Frum, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, and a conservative commentator, has written a piece about what is likely to happen to the Republican Party in the event of a Donald Trump loss next month. Many conservatives are going to tell the Trump supporters that they lost, so it is time to get back to the traditional conservative agenda of free trade, more immigration, tax cuts for the rich, less regulation of business, and constitutional amendments banning abortion and same-sex marriage. The trouble is that Trump's fans are going to point out that he beat 16 Republicans in the primaries, including well-funded current and former governors and senators, and he got 4 million more primary votes than did Mitt Romney in 2012. They are definitely not going to admit defeat and get with the program. There could be civil war within the party for years to come. (V)

Giuliani's Daughter Is a Strong Clinton Supporter

While Rudy Giuliani has been a very strong supporter of Donald Trump, his daughter Caroline is just as strongly pro-Hillary Clinton. She has posted multiple comments and photos on her Facebook page showing her support. She said that her father knew of her views. She didn't say whether he approved of them, however. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

The entire Pacific Coast is a lost cause for Donald Trump. Nothing new here. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Washington 47% 31% 10% Sep 29 Oct 03 Strategies 360

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct07 Trump Abandons the Rust Belt, Aims at the West
Oct07 Clinton's Debate Performance Made Supporters More Enthusiastic
Oct07 Trump: I Was Being an Entertainer When I Insulted Women
Oct07 Trump Preps for Debate...Maybe
Oct07 What Trump Needs To Do in Sunday's Debate
Oct07 Clinton Readies a Final Push
Oct07 Six-year-old Wants to Ask a Question at the Town Hall Debate
Oct07 Hurricane Matthew Could Help Trump
Oct07 How Millennials Describe the Candidates
Oct07 Not All Evangelicals are For Trump
Oct07 Obama's Approval Rating Reaches New High
Oct07 We Are in the Age of the Insta-Ad
Oct07 It's a Civil War at Fox News
Oct06 Vice-Presidential Debate Postmortem
Oct06 Kaine May Have Lost the Debate, but Winning Was Never His Goal
Oct06 You Don't Win the Second Debate by Relitigating the First One
Oct06 Clinton Up 10 Points in National Poll
Oct06 Could the October Surprise Be Trump's 2015 Tax Return?
Oct06 Trump Often Donated to Attorneys General Investigating Him
Oct06 Dope Is on the Ballot All over the Country
Oct06 Vice-Presidential Debate Postmortem
Oct06 Kaine May Have Lost the Debare, but Winning Was Never His Goal
Oct06 You Don't Win the Second Debate by Relitigating the First One
Oct06 Clinton Up 10 Points in National Poll
Oct06 Could the October Surprise Be Trump's 2015 Tax Return?
Oct06 Trump Often Donated to Attorneys General Investigating Him
Oct06 Dope Is on the Ballot All over the Country
Oct05 Vice-Presidential Debate a Tense Affair
Oct05 GOP Website Gives Pence the Win--a Bit Early
Oct05 Politico Insiders: My Team Won
Oct05 Changes in the Swing States of the Past 2 Weeks
Oct05 Trump's Accountant Says He, Not Trump, Was the Genius
Oct05 Poll: Not Paying Taxes is Selfish
Oct05 Candidates' Strategies Differ on Early Voting
Oct05 Trump May Have Illegally Used His Foundation to Bootstrap His Campaign
Oct05 Bill Clinton Attacks ObamaCare, Pitches Medicare for All
Oct04 Vice Presidential Debates Rarely Matter Much
Oct04 Trump Offends Veterans Again
Oct04 Trump Ordered to Stop Raising Money for his Foundation
Oct04 Clinton Hammers Trump More on the Billion-Dollar Loss than on the Tax Avoidance
Oct04 Today's Trump Skeleton #1: He Rented to an Iranian Bank with Terrorist Ties
Oct04 Today's Trump Skeleton #2: He Harassed Women on His TV Show
Oct04 Trump Offices Open in Israel
Oct04 Republicans Anxious About Trump's Impact
Oct04 Politicians Supporting Trump Will Be Targeted for Years to Come
Oct04 Trump Grabs
Oct04 The Spin Room Is Dying
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?