Clinton 352
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Trump 186
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Click for Senate
Dem 49
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Ties 1
GOP 50
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  • Strongly Dem (184)
  • Likely Dem (85)
  • Barely Dem (83)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (21)
  • Likely GOP (78)
  • Strongly GOP (87)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: FL ME MI MO NV OH WI
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA

Trump Accusers Coming Out of the Woodwork

P***ygate looks like it is playing out in a manner similar to what happened to Bill Cosby. Cosby's scandal began with one accuser, then two, then three, then four, and at some point a tipping point was reached and the floodgates opened. Very rapidly, there were so many accusers that Cosby's career was over, based on the (surely correct) presumption that there couldn't be that many women willing to lie, particularly since the statute of limitations had run (in most cases), and they had no particular civil or criminal motivation to invent tall tales.

The Tape story is just one week old, and already five Trump accusers have gone public with their stories. It started with Jill Harth and the friend of CNN's Erin Burnett, both accusing Trump of assaulting them in just the manner he described to Billy Bush. Now, three more women have joined the list. Jessica Leeds spoke to the New York Times and told them about an incident 30 years ago, when she sat next to The Donald on an airplane flight and he repeatedly endeavored to fondle her breasts and put his hand up her skirt. She ultimately fled to the back of the aircraft for the duration. The Times also spoke to Rachel Crooks, who in 2005 was working as a receptionist for one of Trump's business partners. She recalls that when she encountered the billionaire outside an elevator, she introduced herself, only to have him force himself upon her, trying to kiss her. Both Leeds and Cook chose not to go to police, but did tell their stories to relatives, who confirmed them for the Times. Finally, 2001 Miss USA contestant Tasha Dixon sat for an interview with CNN, and told them that Trump often barged into the dressing room to greet the young women there while they were in various states of undress.

Trump, for his part, denied all of the accusations and—as is par for the course—threatened to sue the Times. The problem for him is that he all but dared any potential victims to identify themselves, with the result that this quintet are surely not going to be the only ones to come forward. (Z)

Some Republicans Are Recanting Their Unendorsements of Trump

Some software programs have "undo" and "redo" buttons. Some politicians have them as well. For example, Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) was a Trump supporter. Then when The Tape came out, she called for him to quit the race and let Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) be the presidential candidate. She got some blowback from Trump supporters, so yesterday she said: "I support the Republican ticket, and it's a Trump-Pence ticket ... To me, it's not a tough choice." At this point, one can ask if Fischer belongs to the subphylum of vertebrata (animals with backbones). And Fischer isn't the only one to change her mind twice in a week.

Fischer's behavior, and that of other Republican politicians behaving the same way, is due to a simple fact: The Republican electorate is badly split, and any position the politicians take is going to strongly offend a lot of voters. It is impossible for anyone to take a position on Trump and make both the college-educated voters and the non-college voters happy. But acting like a human weather vane isn't going to build up a lot of trust either, no matter which way it ends up pointing, as many voters tend to prefer at least some consistency in their politicians. (V)

Evidence that the Tape Was Disastrous

Marquette University Law School has been polling Wisconsin regularly all year. By accident, the most recent poll began last Thursday and ran through Sunday. The tape with Trump's vulgar comments was released Friday, so the poll covered a period both before and after the tape came out. An analysis of the polling data shows a huge drop from Thursday to Friday to Saturday/Sunday. Here is the graph from the Washington Post's article on the poll:

Tape effect

The effect is dramatic. "White with a college degree" dropped 42 points, "women" dropped 24 points, even "evangelicals" dropped 24 points. This is only one poll in one state, but if similar effects occur in other polls in other states, it is not good news for The Donald. (V)

Trump Sinking in Utah

Utah is one of the reddest states in the union, having gone Republican in 16 of the last 17 elections (1964 is the exception). But now, it looks like the Beehive State might actually be in play. A new poll from a Republican pollster has Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tied at 26%, with independent (and Mormon) Evan McMullin trailing the duo by just 4 points. We haven't included it in our database due to the pollster's working for Republicans, but when Republican pollsters start showing Utah as a tie, Trump has a problem there.

What is going on here? The answer, of course, lies largely with the Mormons, who make up 55% of Utah's population. While the LDS Church embraces the family values, anti-abortion stance of the GOP, there is much about Donald Trump that they find abhorrent. His immodesty, his past involvement with gambling, and his treatment of women are all major problems. Further, as a once persecuted minority themselves, the Mormons don't much care for scapegoating of other groups, like Mexican immigrants and Muslims. Consequently, Utah's leaders have been holding The Donald at arm's length throughout the campaign, and with the release of The Tape, they're deserting him in droves. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has rescinded his endorsement, as have two-thirds of Utah's Congressional delegation: Sen. Mike Lee (R), Rep. Mia Love (R), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), and Rep. Chris Stewart (R). Only Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) and Rep. Rob Bishop (R) remain. Mitt Romney is also not a fan, as you may have heard. And, over the weekend, the Deseret News published a scathing not-Trump endorsement, declaring:

What oozes from this audio is evil. We hear a married man give smooth, smug and self-congratulatory permission to his intense impulses, allowing them to outweigh the most modest sense of decency, fidelity and commitment. And although it speaks volumes about sexual morality, it goes to the heart of all ethical behavior. Trump's banter belies [sic] a willingness to use and discard other human beings at will. That characteristic is the essence of a despot.

This is notable for two reasons. First, because the paper has not made an endorsement of any sort in 80 years. Second, because it is owned by and presumed to be a mouthpiece for the LDS Church, and so has enormous influence on Mormon voters.

Now, if Hillary Clinton wins Utah, that's the cherry on her EV sundae. But Trump's collapsing support among Mormons could also affect several other races. In the swing states of Arizona and Nevada, Mormons make up 5% of the population—enough to tip a close race. They are also 5% of the population in Alaska, where the latest poll (taken before p***ygate broke) had Trump up by only 3 points. We could very well be headed for the strangest electoral map in a generation. (Z)

Trump Supporters Not Willing to Face Reality

Despite numerous polls showing Donald Trump nose-diving both nationally and in the swing states, many of his fervent supporters are trapped in a bubble and refuse to acknowledge what everyone else plainly sees: He is in trouble. Dismissing his various statements is one thing ("So he grabs women by the p***y. So what? Sounds like as good a place as any to grab 'em"). But ignoring all the polls and Republican officials telling him to quit the race is something completely different. The latter shows an unwillingness to see the world as it is, and is reminiscent of Karl Rove's refusal to accept Fox News' call that Obama won Ohio in 2012. This is going to lead to some unpleasant surprises on Nov. 8. (V)

Early Indications From Florida Favor Democrats

Yesterday, we noted that in North Carolina, the number of GOP absentee ballots is way down this year, while the number of Democratic ballots is slightly up. That is hardly definitive, but it is promising for the blue team. Now, a similar kind of information is coming out of Florida. Democrats are requesting 50% more absentee ballots than in 2012, with the biggest spikes coming from the heavily Latino areas around Miami and Orlando. Latinos are also registering in large numbers, and are breaking Democratic much more substantially than they did four years ago (84% now, 72% then). Most analysts, of course, believe the Latino vote will determine which candidate takes the Sunshine State.

The linked article also makes one other interesting observation: As much as 40% of the electorate is going to vote absentee this year. Depending on how they break, it is possible that Hillary Clinton will have the election effectively won before the polls even open on November 8. In fact, the Times suggests the job might be done by Halloween. Which, of course, would be the ultimate trick-or-treat, depending on which side of the aisle a person is on. (Z)

Five Takeaways from the WikiLeaks Emails

Another batch of the emails sent to or from Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, has been released. So far, 6,500 of the 50,000 emails that have been stolen have been released. U.S. intelligence officials have said that the email hacking was done by the Russians to help Donald Trump be elected president. There are many interesting nuggets in the emails. The Hill has made a list of the most important takeaways from the email dump so far:

  • The Wall Street transcripts contain damaging statements.
  • The Clinton campaign was tipped off to a debate question during the primaries.
  • A Clinton aide discussed an e-mail case with the Justice Department.
  • Political considerations were front and center when deciding Clinton's positions.
  • The campaign has choreographed its messaging carefully, down to the tweet.

Some of these are not unexpected. If there were nothing damaging in Clinton's speeches to Goldman Sachs, she would have released them a year ago, just as she released her tax returns. Clinton is very careful. Who knew? Finally, the big shocker is that politicians consider politics before announcing their positions on the issues. How dare they! Don't they know that if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he'd be on Twitter every morning at 3:00 a.m., telling the country what's what—Radical Republicans be damned? (V)

Topics for the Third Debate Announced

The third and final presidential debate, to be held at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, will take place on Oct. 19. Fox News' Chris Wallace will be the sole moderator. Yesterday, Wallace announced that the 90-minute debate would be divided into six 15-minute segments, one each on the following topics:

  • Debt and entitlements
  • Immigration
  • The economy
  • The Supreme Court
  • Foreign hotspots
  • The candidates' fitness to be president

It should be exciting, as there are many potential collisions between the candidates here. No doubt Donald Trump's proposed wall on the Mexican border will come up, as will Syria. Probably the most important topic is the Supreme Court, which has gotten almost no publicity this year, despite the fact that making Supreme Court nominations is probably the most important thing a president does. The next president and Congress can rescind a tax measure, but a Supreme Court justice can be on the court for 40 or 50 years. Very few other things that a president does have effects for such a long time. (V)

Whither the Senate?

While the presidential race gets the most ink, pixels, and air time, control of the Senate is hugely important. If the White House and Senate are controlled by different parties, the president will get almost nothing done. The Republicans demonstrated that they could obstruct almost everything President Obama wanted, starting when they got the majority in January 2011. If Clinton wins and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is the majority leader come January, expect more of the same. In the unlikely event that a President Trump has to deal with a Democratic Senate, he'll have trouble getting his cabinet approved, let alone passing any laws. So the Senate races are tremendously important. The Click for Senate link in the blue bar above the map takes you to an alternative front page, with a map of the Senate races, Senate polls, Senate tipping-point chart, and more. It is worth looking at it regularly. Here are the polling graphs for seven states which we see are the closest this year. In our view, barring something even more unexpected than we already have seen, the Democrats are going to win Illinois and Wisconsin, and the Republicans are going to win Florida and Ohio. But the Senate seats below are up for grabs.

Indiana Senate graph

Missouri Senate graph

Nevada Senate graph

New_Hampshire Senate graph

North_Carolina Senate graph

Pennsylvania Senate graph

Remember that the Democrats need to pick up four seats if Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) is elected vice president, and five if Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) gets to live at the U.S. Naval Observatory. If you want to make a donation that has the most impact, probably donating to your favorite Senate candidate in one of the above races is the way to go. (V)

How to Read the Polls

While most people never get behind the top line in national or state polling, there is more information available. This article gives you a good guide for better understanding polls. Some of the factors to consider are as follows:

  • Where is the candidate compared to 50%?
  • Are there a lot of undecideds still?
  • Is the poll registered voters or likely voters (the former group has more Democrats)?
  • Are the minor parties included?
  • Is there a big shift since the last survey by the same pollster?
  • Does the pollster have a good track record, or any track record?
  • Was it a live interviewer poll or a robo poll?
  • Were cell phones called?
  • How many days did the poll cover (one day is too short)?
  • How big was the sample size?

Margin of error is a term you hear a lot, but is not a good measure of political polls. When sampling something that is fairly unambiguous—like trying to determine what fraction of airline flights are more than 15 minutes late by picking 1,000 flights at random and seeing if they were late, margin of error is meaningful. It measures the statistical error because the sample size was much smaller than the number of events. With political polling, so many other factors play a role that the statistical (sampling) error is only a small part of the overall error. All polls are corrected so the sample matches the model electorate, which could be wrong. People don't always know how they will vote (or if they will vote at all). They lie. The order of the questions matters. The wording: "Are you going to vote for Hillary Clinton?" gets a different result than asking "Are you going to vote for the Democrat Hillary Clinton?" There are dozens of other factors. One study showed that the actual margin of error is closer to 6-7%, rather than the 3-4% normally reported. Sad but true. (V)

About That LA Times/USC Tracking Poll...

According to RealClearPolitics' database, there have been roughly 100 national Trump-Clinton preference polls. The Donald has come out ahead in only about a dozen of them, and nearly all of those were either Rasmussen Reports, Fox News, or the LA Times/USC Tracking poll. Rasmussen and Fox both have Republican house effects, so the fact that they were out of step with the others was not too surprising. The LA Times/USC results, by contrast, were more of a mystery. Tracking polls—where the same individuals are contacted over and over during the course of the campaign—have certain inherent problems: Any errors in the original sample are necessarily carried through all future results, for example, while participants (who know they are going to have to answer questions) pay much closer attention to political news, making them inherently non-representative of the general populace.

Anyhow, given the weaknesses of tracking polls, it was hard to take the wonky LA Times/USC results too seriously, even if we did not know exactly why they were wonky. But now, thanks to the New York Times' Nate Cohn, we know what the problem is. It's one voter in Illinois, who is 19 years old, black, and a devoted Trump supporter. Political polls are accomplished, as noted above, by taking responses and weighting them depending on what the pollster thinks the electorate will look like. Because black people and young people are almost invariably underrepresented among poll respondents (including the LA Times/USC sample), their answers tend to be overweighted. In this particular case, the black Illinoisan was one of 3,000 panelists, but his vote counted 30 times as much as the average panelist and 300 times as much as the least-weighted panelist (likely an older, white man from California). And because he is a Trump fan, the LA Times/USC poll has consistently pegged Trump's support among black voters at 10%, which runs contrary to nearly all the other existing polls. The other polls put number at more like 1-2%. In any case, it is worth reading Cohn's entire analysis for a primer in some of the major challenges that emerge as pollsters try to design accurate polls. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

One or two or even five polls might be outliers. But the evidence is now overwhelming that Donald Trump's Rust Belt strategy is failing. And if he can't crack the blue wall, he won't be moving to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A new poll in Maine puts Clinton up 8 points. That is probably enough for her to win both congressional districts, and thus get all four of Maine's electoral votes. (Z)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Florida 47% 44% 5% Oct 10 Oct 11 Opinion Savvy
Maine 44% 36% 9% Oct 07 Oct 09 Maine Peoples Res. Ctr.
Michigan 42% 31% 10% Oct 10 Oct 11 Glengariff Group
Missouri 41% 46% 5% Oct 09 Oct 11 Monmouth U.
Nevada 47% 43%   Oct 10 Oct 11 PPP
Ohio 43% 34% 10% Oct 09 Oct 11 Baldwin Wallace U.
Wisconsin 44% 37% 9% Oct 06 Oct 09 Marquette Law School

Today's Senate Polls

Missouri is getting close to sending two Democrats to the Senate for the first time since the 1960s. They also did that for a few years in the 1940s, when one of the two was a fellow named Truman. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Florida Patrick Murphy 44% Marco Rubio* 48% Oct 10 Oct 11 Opinion Savvy
Missouri Jason Kander 44% Roy Blunt* 46% Oct 09 Oct 11 Monmouth U.
Nevada Catherine Cortez-Masto 43% Joe Heck 39% Oct 10 Oct 11 PPP
Ohio Ted Strickland 36% Rob Portman* 48% Oct 09 Oct 11 Baldwin Wallace U.
Wisconsin Russ Feingold 46% Ron Johnson* 44% Oct 06 Oct 09 Marquette Law School

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct12 Trump Unbound
Oct12 Trump Does What No One Else Could
Oct12 Trump Is Blowing Up the Republican Party
Oct12 Trump Releases Dangerous Video
Oct12 That Apprentice Footage Isn't Going Away
Oct12 Republican Absentee Ballots Are Down in North Carolina
Oct12 Gore Campaigning with Clinton in Florida
Oct12 It's All about Demographics
Oct12 Clinton's Main SuperPAC Is Starting to Desert Her
Oct12 Pelosi Liking Her Chances
Oct11 Second Presidential Debate Postmortem
Oct11 Second Poll Says Clinton Won the Debate
Oct11 Clinton Leads by Double Digits Nationally
Oct11 Body Language Experts Analyze the Debate
Oct11 Republican Candidates for Congress are Boxed In
Oct11 Conway: Comment about Jailing Clinton was just a Quip
Oct11 Professional Athletes Deny That They Denigrate Women in Their Locker Rooms
Oct11 Federal Judge Extends Florida Voter Registration Deadline
Oct11 Five Things Clinton Needs to Do to Keep Her Lead
Oct11 Jeff Sessions: Grabbing a Woman by Her P***y Is Not Sexual Assault
Oct11 Mark Burnett Holds Trump's Fate in His Hands (or Hard Disk)
Oct11 What's a Lepo?
Oct11 #MuslimsReportStuff
Oct11 Trump Taj Mahal Closes its Doors
Oct10 Mud Flies in Nastiest Debate in American History
Oct10 Five Takeaways from Politico about a Brutal Debate
Oct10 Seven Takeaways from CNN about the Debate
Oct10 Four Takeaways from the L.A. Times
Oct10 Six Takeaways from NBC
Oct10 Initial Post-tape Pre-debate Poll: GOP Voters Want Party to Keep Trump
Oct10 Initial Post-tape, Pre-debate Poll: GOP Voters Want Party to Keep Trump
Oct10 Conventional Wisdom May Be Wrong about Clinton's Problem with Millennials
Oct10 Republican Insiders Speak Out Now
Oct10 Why Are Top Evangelical Leaders Sticking by Trump?
Oct09 Many Republicans Want Trump to Drop Out, but He Says Zero Chance of That
Oct09 Did Trump Just Blow the Election?
Oct09 Could We Have a President Pence?
Oct09 Trump and Clinton Face Off in the Second Debate Tonight
Oct09 Email Leaks Give Glimpse of How Clinton's Campaign Works
Oct09 Pence Supposedly Upset over Trump's Remarks on Tape
Oct09 About Candidate Pence...
Oct09 At Least One Bettor Is Convinced the Election is Over
Oct08 Trump Was Recorded in 2005 Saying Gross Things about Women
Oct08 Portions of Clinton's Wall Street Speeches Appear to Have Been Leaked
Oct08 Trump Says the Border Patrol Is Letting Undocumented Immigrants in to Vote
Oct08 Trump Cratering with Independent Voters
Oct08 Planned Parenthood Planning $30 Million Effort Targeting Millennials
Oct08 If Trump Loses, Republicans Will Not Be Able to Come Together Easily
Oct08 Giuliani's Daughter Is a Strong Clinton Supporter
Oct07 Trump Abandons the Rust Belt, Aims at the West