• Michelle Obama Makes Emotional Pitch to Women
• Donald Trump Has a Double Standard
• Trump: If Clinton Falls in China, They'll Just Leave Her There
• Total TV Time Bought by the RNC for Trump to Date: $0
• Trump Pulls Out of Virginia
• "Only Trump Will Protect You"
• Daily News Pushes Another Trump Scandal
• Democratic Elector May Refuse to Vote for Clinton
• Whither the GOP?
• Could Nonvoting Republicans Affect the House?
• Bad News for Christie
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
After more than half a dozen women have come forward saying that Donald Trump groped them, Trump has now fired back, saying: "These vicious claims about me of inappropriate conduct with women are totally and absolutely false." He also attacked the media outlets that published the stories, which is basically, all of them. In particular, his lawyer Marc Kasowitz sent the New York Times a letter demanding a retraction. The Times replied with: "We welcome the opportunity to have a court set him straight."
A list of the women who have accused Trump of improper behavior, with background material and Trump's side of the story, can be found at Jezebel.com. Here is a brief summary:
- Jessica Leeds claims that Trump groped her on an airplane in the 1980s
- Ivana Trump, Trump's first wife, said in a 1989 court deposition that Trump raped her
- Jill Harth said that Trump repeatedly groped her in business meetings in the 1990s
- Temple Taggart says that Trump assaulted her when she was Miss Utah in the 1997 Miss USA pageant
- Mindy McGillivray alleges that Trump groped her during a photo shoot at Mar-a-Lago in 2003
- Rachel Crooks claims that Trump kissed her on the mouth in Trump Tower in 2005
- Natasha Stoynoff says that Trump forced his tongue down her throat at Mar-a-Lago in 2005
- Cassandra Searles wrote in Facebook that Trump groped her off stage when she was Miss Washington in 2013
Trump said that he has evidence that all of these allegations are false, but he didn't supply any of that evidence.
On the other hand, Barbara Res worked for Trump for 18 years as a construction executive, and when asked yesterday if she believed the accusations against Trump, she replied: "I do believe it. Yes, absolutely. He's a blatant sexist." Res pointed out that sexual assault is really about abuse of power, not about sex. She also said that during her nearly two decades working for him, his personal treatment of women got worse as he became more successful. (V)
Campaigning for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire yesterday, Michelle Obama called upon women to rise up against Donald Trump, saying:
And last week we saw this candidate actually bragging about sexual assaulting women. I can't believe I'm saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women.
The first lady drew a clear line between normal campaign rhetoric and what Trump has been saying. She said that political discourse is fine, but this was about basic human decency, something Trump lacks.
Trump hasn't shot back at the First Lady yet, but still could. In a shot across the bow, the White House warned Trump that if he did, his standing with women would plummet even further. There may be some truth in that, since the First Lady has approve/disapprove ratings of 79%/8% according to Gallup. It is possible that Trump knows this, and it is certain that campaign manager Kellyanne Conway knows this, so that may be the reason Trump is giving Michelle Obama a pass, at least for the moment. (V)
When a woman comes forward and claims that she was sexually assaulted by a man 20 years ago, should she be believed? According to Donald Trump, it depends. If the woman is accusing Bill Clinton, then she absolutely should be believed. If the woman is accusing Donald Trump, it is just a blatant lie. It is a bit of an awkward position, but Trump clearly doesn't see any inconsistency here as he continues to go after Bill Clinton as a kind of "everyone else does it, too" defense. A key difference, of course, is that Bill Clinton is not running for president; Donald Trump is.
Trump realizes that the situation is not exactly symmetric, so he blames Hillary for enabling Bill's behavior. He doesn't seem to realize that the message he is broadcasting to women whose husbands have strayed is: "It's your fault." That is not likely to go over well with them. Men who hear "It's your wife's fault" are likely to already be in the Trump camp.
Republicans know very well that attacking Bill Clinton is a bad idea. During Rudy Giuliani's brief Senate bid in 2000, pollster Frank Luntz ran focus groups asking about how voters felt about Bill's extramarital affairs. The results were disastrous. Just bringing up the subject made people more sympathetic to Hillary. Luntz discovered that there was no way to present the scandal in a way that helped Republicans. In 2008, the Republicans tried again and got the same results. The issue didn't help the Party at all. In 2014, the right-wing American Rising PAC commissioned more research on the subject, this time focusing on Hillary's role in the affairs. Bad idea. Among women, the whole business just generates sympathy for her and makes her seem human, something she has a lot of trouble doing on her own. While they were at it, they also discovered some other lines of attack that didn't work at all: going after age, stamina, health, and looks. Donald Trump is trying them all. He seems to have no idea or interest in how women will react to what he says.
Some Democrats are already speculating that Trump's strategy, which is most likely being driven by Steve Bannon now, is no longer focused on winning the election, but on building a movement Trump could lead after Clinton assumes office. The woman who ran the 2014 focus groups for the America Rising PAC, Christine Matthews, said: "If your strategy is not to win, and only appeal to the base to get them more rabid, OK. If your strategy is trying to win the election or message to women, this would not be the strategy." But neither Trump nor Bannon have any interest in research or focus groups, so they are going down a road that more experienced Republican strategists say leads to a dead end. (V)
At a rally in Ohio yesterday, Donald Trump went after Hillary Clinton's health again, saying
When she's over in China, if she goes down, in Tiananmen Square, they'll just leave her there. They're tough people. They're just going to leave her there. They're not going to help her up. They'll say 'Let her come up when she's ready.' These are tough people.
Trump is probably unaware that about 10% of the U.S. population has a serious disability, and saying that if someone has a health issue, you should just leave them lying on the ground may not be the best way to win their hearts and minds. (V)
The RNC has not spent a single penny on TV ads for Donald Trump since he was formally nominated as the Republican presidential candidate. Zero. In 2008 and 2012, the RNC spent tens of millions of dollars for the Republican presidential candidates, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Mitt Romney, respectively. But this year they haven't put up a single ad. As a result, the well-funded campaign of Hillary Clinton is drowning Trump on the air. Clinton and her allies have spent $189 million on TV ads through the end of last week. Trump and all his allies combined have spent $50 million, so the Democrats have outspent the Republicans more than three to one. The decision not to take part in the air war may reflect the RNC's dislike for Trump, but it could also be something more mundane: lack of money. This year the RNC has taken in $231 million, compared to the $356 million it had raised at this point in 2012. To make it even worse, many of the big donors, such as the Koch brothers, are not contributing anything to the Republican presidential effort.
TV advertising isn't everything, of course. The ground operation is also important, and there, too, Clinton has a huge head start, with far more offices and paid staffers on the ground than Trump. (V)
In a tacit acknowledgement that the Old Dominion State is a lost cause, the Trump campaign has pulled its staff and resources out of Virginia. On one hand, given the polling data, the writing has been on the Virginia wall for many weeks, particularly once the campaign decided to fire its Virginia state chair for staging an unauthorized protest against the RNC. On the other hand, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) campaigned there as recently as Tuesday, and Republican operatives in the state had been given no indication the end was nigh until the news was sprung upon them Thursday. So, the actual decision appears to have been made very quickly and very recently.
Naturally, this narrows Trump's path to the White House quite a bit. If we add Virginia's 13 EVs to the 242 in the Democrats' blue wall (and there's been no particular reason to believe that Trump will crack the wall), then that puts Hillary Clinton at 255. She can get over the top with Florida (29), or Ohio (18), or Georgia (15), or North Carolina (15), or Arizona plus New Mexico (16), or Missouri plus Utah (16), or Colorado plus Nevada (15). Barring the mother of all October surprises, or a Reaganesque performance by Trump in the third debate, the most dramatic campaign in recent memory looks like it will end with a whimper. (Z)
Central to Donald Trump's case for the White House, particularly in the last month or two, is that he will keep Americans safe. At least one commercial that his campaign is running right now is extremely unsubtle on this point, ending with the ominous pronouncement: "Donald Trump will protect you. He is the only one who can." And, of course, Trump's #1 bugaboo, that he will protect you against is ISIS, so much so that he wove the terrorist organization into his semi-apology for The Tape at the second presidential debate.
Not that it seems to matter much in this post-factual world, but there's a rather serious problem with Trump's argument, as CNN's national security analyst Peter Bergen points out. Namely, that the Democrats and President Obama are already doing a pretty good job of keeping America safe, particularly from ISIS. In the last two years, 135 key leaders of the organization have been killed, while its overall numbers have dropped from 45,000 to less than 25,000 (and perhaps less than 20,000). The 2,000 new volunteers per month that showed up two years ago has been reduced to a trickle of less than 50 per month. Barring a major change in fortunes, then, ISIS is on the path to total destruction. Trump has claimed to have a secret strategy for dealing with this particular problem; maybe the secret was "let's keep doing what we're doing." (Z)
The New York Daily News,, which endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012, has definitely had enough of Donald Trump, calling him a "perv" on the front page yesterday. Here is a shot of the front page:
The story inside the paper begins with:
Donald Trump, exposed Wednesday as an alleged serial groper, once said he'd spotted his future girlfriend on an escalator when she was only 10.
The would-be sexist-in-chief made the stomach-turning joke in 1992 when "Entertainment Tonight" taped a Christmas special in Trump Tower.
Then, the article goes on to note that he said that he would be dating her in 10 years. Trump has threatened to sue the New York Times, but not the Daily News. The Daily News is owned by billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman, himself once a playboy real estate tycoon like Trump. If Trump were to go after Zuckerman, Zuckerman would fight back—and he owns the newspaper with the fourth highest circulation in the country. (V)
A Supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Robert Satiacum, Jr., who is on the Democratic slate of presidential electors in the state of Washington, has said that if Hillary Clinton wins Washington (which is virtually certain), he may not cast his electoral vote for her. He said: "How can I say and do and be who I am and then cast a vote for somebody that's the same as Trump?" He also called her "a clown," "a rat," and "a criminal." If Satiacum carries though his promise to be a faithless elector, his electoral vote for Sanders (or whomever he votes for) will be valid, but he could be subject to a $1,000 fine under Washington state law. (V)
This year, there have been a raft of people offering predictions that the Republican Party is doomed beyond 2016. The latest include "The GOP is history" from Fareed Zakaria and "Is the GOP imploding?" from Chris Matthews. Are they right, or are these just a bunch of Chicken Littles who think (hope?) the sky is falling?
To start, we must observe that the verbiage used in these stories is imprecise (or, at very least, misleading). The GOP isn't going to die, or disappear, or what have you, because that does not happen to American political parties any more. What does happen is that they reshuffle (or, to use the scholar's term, they re-align). The most recent instances of this took place in the 1960s, when the GOP abandoned black voters and New England moderates in favor of white Southerners, and the Democrats abandoned white Southerners in favor of black voters and New England moderates. This had the effect of moving the Democrats a bit further to the left, and moving the Republicans quite a bit further to the right. Among the consequences of this was that Barry Goldwater—at one time the unquestioned leader of the GOP's conservative wing—was no longer far-right, or even particularly close to being far-right. Late in his life, the Arizona Senator turned to his colleague Bob Dole and said, "We're the new liberals of the Republican party. Can you imagine that?"
It is unquestionably the case that the GOP is in the midst of another such transformation right now, with two major wings doing battle for control (sorry, Rand Paul, the Republitarians are a minor fringe, not a major wing). The first of these wings is the Reagan Republicans, who are led by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and care primarily about tax reform, reduced government, vigorous defense, and combating the welfare state. The second of these is what will surely be known as the Trump Republicans, who care primarily about securing the borders, torpedoing trade agreements, resisting the social changes of the last 20-30 years, and combating Islam.
Presumably, Ryan and the Republican establishment are hoping that Trump gets crushed on November 8, allowing them to retake the reins of the GOP and proceed as usual. The problem is that this is not remotely realistic. To start, party leadership has shown no ability whatsoever in the last 10 years to calm insurgent movements and bring them back into the tent (see Party, Tea). On top of that, Trump is not going away. Assuming he loses the election (an assumption that is on par with assuming that the Pope is Catholic), he's not going to disappear into the mists. Staying on the political scene in some form affords The Donald two of the things that he loves most: attention, and score-settling. We can only speculate about whether that means founding his own Fox News-like network, or building some sort of national organization like the New Tea Party, or appearing at rallies of Trump-friendly candidates, or something else.
Of course, the Democrats are also evolving, turning their backs on blue-collar workers in favor of college-educated urbanites, young people, and minorities. However, as the majority party, and the one that controls the White House, their growing pains (or, more accurately, their reshuffling pains) are a bit less obvious and considerably less debilitating. The bad news for the GOP is that the kind of makeover they are in the midst of takes quite a bit of time, historically. The best-case scenario is likely something akin to the 1960s Democrats, whose reinvention (beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964) meant only one Watergate-aided presidential victory between 1968 and 1992 before a return to majority status with the rise of Bill Clinton. And the worst is the 1860s Democrats, who stubbornly held on to their pre-Civil War alignment for seven decades (electing just two presidents) before FDR built the New Deal coalition in the 1930s. (Z)
Yesterday, we had a story about the close Senate races. However, 16 states do not have a Senate race, and 13 of these don't have a gubernatorial race, either. There could be consequences to that. In particular, imagine a Republican voter who can't stand Donald Trump and refuses to vote for him. Some of these people may vote for Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, or Evan McMullin (in states where that is possible). Very few Republicans are going to vote for Jill Stein.
Now consider the plight of the Republican who can't stomach Trump and is not especially keen on any of the alternatives, either. In states with a competitive senatorial race, the voter might show up at the polls simply to vote for senator or governor, and possibly other state or local offices. But in states with no senatorial election (and especially in states with no senatorial or gubernatorial election), many disenchanted Republicans might just decide that standing in line to vote for a member of the House is too much trouble. If enough Republicans decide to skip voting, it could depress Republican turnout for the House and help Democrats. Here is the list of states with no Senate race this year:
|State||Senate race?||Governor's race?||Dem||GOP|
The fourth and fifth columns are the number of current House seats controlled by each party.
The top three states in terms of the number of Republican seats in the House at stake are Texas, Virginia, and Michigan, with 24, 10, and 9, respectively. It is easy to imagine Republicans in the highly-educated (read: non-Trump) state of Virginia not bothering to vote, which could put some of its 10 Republican House seats in danger, despite the gerrymandering. But even in Texas and Michigan, depressed Republican turnout due to voters who don't want to vote in the presidential race, and don't think it is worth the trouble voting in the lower-profile races, could cost the GOP some House seats. (V)
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is finished in New Jersey, and so aspires to a position in the hypothetical Trump Cabinet. "Attorney General Christie" has a nice ring to it, for example. But now, there's a possibility that he'll be making a move that's a bit less lateral: to prison. A judge has allowed a Bridgegate-related complaint against Christie to move forward. This will allow state prosecutors to investigate, charge, and try the Governor should they choose to do so.
Even with the judge's decision, there are still many hurdles to a Christie prosecution. Putting a sitting governor on trial would generate enormous attention, and would de facto require that the prosecution have a near-ironclad case, which they do not currently appear to have the evidence to support. So, "inmate Christie" is still kind of a longshot. Of course, so is "Attorney General Christie." (Z)
Pennsylvania, the keystone to Donald Trump's plan to win the Rust Belt, is looking increasingly hopeless by the day. Yet another poll puts him almost 10 points behind there. North Carolina isn't so great for him either. All three polls there today put Hillary Clinton a tad ahead. It is not much, but everyone always expected the Tarheel State to be close. Florida isn't so great for Trump either. That Ohio is close is no surprise, but that Texas and Utah are close is shocking. (V)
|Florida||49%||43%||1%||Oct 05||Oct 09||Florida Atlantic Univ.|
|North Carolina||45%||41%||9%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Marist Coll.|
|North Carolina||45%||43%||5%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Suffolk U.|
|North Carolina||46%||42%||5%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Emerson Coll.|
|New Hampshire||45%||39%||9%||Oct 07||Oct 11||UMass Lowell|
|Ohio||41%||42%||9%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Marist Coll.|
|Ohio||45%||43%||7%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Emerson Coll.|
|Oregon||48%||38%||6%||Oct 10||Oct 12||SurveyUSA|
|Pennsylvania||48%||39%||6%||Oct 07||Oct 11||Selzer|
|Texas||43%||47%||3%||Oct 10||Oct 12||SurveyUSA|
|Utah||28%||34%||9%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Monmouth U.|
|Virginia||46%||43%||6%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Emerson Coll.|
The Republicans do have some good news today. Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) is barely hanging on in North Carolina, but Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is running away with what could be a landslide victory. If Trump loses Ohio but Portman wins in a landslide, there could be a message here: A moderate Republican who favors gay rights in general and same-sex marriage in particular can win elections in swing states. The message is unlikely to be heeded, though. (V)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|North Carolina||Deborah Ross||36%||Richard Burr*||40%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Suffolk U.|
|North Carolina||Deborah Ross||43%||Richard Burr*||45%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Emerson Coll.|
|North Carolina||Deborah Ross||46%||Richard Burr*||46%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Marist Coll.|
|Ohio||Ted Strickland||30%||Rob Portman*||47%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Emerson Coll.|
|Ohio||Ted Strickland||37%||Rob Portman*||55%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Marist Coll.|
|Oregon||Ron Wyden*||54%||Mark Callahan||32%||Oct 10||Oct 12||SurveyUSA|
|Pennsylvania||Katie McGinty||47%||Pat Toomey*||45%||Oct 07||Oct 11||Selzer|
|Utah||Misty Snow||31%||Mike Lee*||60%||Oct 10||Oct 12||Monmouth U.|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct13 Trump Supporters Not Willing to Face Reality
Oct13 Trump Accusers Coming Out of the Woodwork
Oct13 Evidence that the Tape Was Disastrous
Oct13 Trump Sinking in Utah
Oct13 Early Indications From Florida Favor Democrats
Oct13 Five Takeaways from the WikiLeaks Emails
Oct13 Topics for the Third Debate Announced
Oct13 Whither the Senate?
Oct13 How to Read the Polls
Oct13 About That LA Times/USC Tracking Poll...
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 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