Clinton 352
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Trump 186
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Click for Senate
Dem 49
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Ties 2
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (194)
  • Likely Dem (104)
  • Barely Dem (54)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (70)
  • Likely GOP (29)
  • Strongly GOP (87)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA

Why Is Trump Running?

We are only three weeks from Election Day, so it might seem a bit odd to start asking "Why is Donald Trump running for president?" But the question needs to be asked because normal candidates do the things that will help them win. Trump isn't doing them. Is he irrational, or does he have a different agenda? Yesterday, the Financial Times reported that Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has approached some top people in the media industry about the possibility of setting up a Trump television network after the election. It is also noteworthy that the person actually running his campaign now is media mogul Steve Bannon, and one of his closest advisers is former Fox CEO Roger Ailes. If the television network story turns out to be true, the joke would be on the Republican Party for nominating someone with no actual interest in being president, who just misused the party for his own personal gain.

The other explanation—that he is simply a loose cannon—is also plausible. A normal candidate doesn't trash the leaders of his party, but instead talks about the issues most of the time. For Trump, those issues would be immigration, jobs, and trade agreements, which are perfectly legitimate issues to run on. But he seems more focused on attacking Bill Clinton than anything else.

No matter which theory is true, win or lose, he is going to leave the Republican Party with a gigantic hangover that no autopsy report can fix. The genie is out of the bottle. The base now knows that most Republican voters want to ban immigrants and cancel trade agreements, whereas the leadership wants to encourage immigrants and have more trade agreements. It is hard to imagine any leader in the foreseeable future who can bridge the divide. So Trump's real legacy is going to be causing a civil war within the Republican Party. (V)

Melania Trump Speaks Out About The Tape

Other than releasing a brief statement of concern, Donald Trump's wife Melania has been noticeably silent about what was said on The Tape. On Monday, however, that changed. Sitting for an interview with Anderson Cooper, and having had the benefit of a week to think about things, Mrs. Trump made clear that she does not think the recording is all that big a deal, and is certainly not The Donald's fault. Describing her husband's words as "boy talk," Trump said:

And as you can see from the tape, the cameras were not on—it was only a mic. And I wonder if they even knew that the mic was on ... he was led on—like, egged on—from the host to say dirty and bad stuff.

Trump also declared that she does not believe the women who have accused her husband of sexual misconduct, and that she thinks her husband is the victim of a vast conspiracy.

So, it seems Donald Trump will not be suffering too much in the way of consequences, at least not on the home front. At least one person has paid a price, however: Billy Bush, who was on the other end of Trump's lewd conversation, was given his walking papers by NBC. His pain will likely be assuaged, however, by the rumored $5 to $10 million the Peacock Network will give him to go away. (Z)

Could This Be a Realigning Election?

The Republican and Democratic Parties have been around as the two major parties since 1856. However, what they stand for and who votes for them have changed multiple times. Back in the mid-19th century, the Republicans were the party of nationalists, abolitionists, and free soilers (who opposed slavery on economic grounds), and the Democrats were the party of the slave owners and immigrants. By the 1930s, the Republicans had become the party of big business and the Democrats were the party of the working man (and woman). After Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy, the Republicans became the party of whites in the South and interior West, and the Democrats became the party of the coastal elites. This election may bring a new realignment, with the Republicans becoming the party of the working class and the Democrats becoming the party of affluent professionals and minorities.

The implications for the electoral map are profound but it is straightforward to see how that might play out. The New York Times has an article on the subject that contains the following chart:

New map

The states from Pennsylvania on up to Iowa all have populations in which whites with no college degree represent half the electorate. They could become the bulwark of the new Republican Party. The states from Nevada down to Georgia have an electorate in which college-educated whites plus minorities are a majority. They could become the base of the new Democratic Party. To some extent we are already seeing this. In Virginia and Colorado, states with relatively few non-college whites, Trump is basically toast. In contrast, in Ohio and Wisconsin he has a fighting chance. Of course, other factors play a role. Minnesota has a long tradition of good government and a strong liberal lean, such that even though 54% of the electorate lacks a college education, Minnesota is not going to turn red any time soon, if ever. Nevertheless, if Clinton wins Colorado and Virginia decisively, and Georgia and Arizona by a hair, while Trump wins decisively in Missouri and Ohio and comes close in Wisconsin and New Hampshire, we could be seeing the initial movement to the new map. (V)

Clinton Is Faced with a Tough Choice

As more and more national polls come in showing Clinton with leads in the 5-10% range or even more, and state polls come in showing her with certain victory in New Mexico, Colorado, and Virginia, as well as consistent leads in North Carolina and Florida, she has a tough call to make now. Basically, there are three options:

  • Spend all her time in Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, and Nevada to seal the deal
  • Spend time and money in Georgia, Arizona, and Utah to expand her Electoral College victory
  • Devote time and money helping Democrats capture the Senate

The first option—don't change course—is the most cautious and is the one to choose if all she cares about is getting 270 electoral votes and nothing else. However, if she wants a big mandate and a way to refute Donald Trump's expected "the election was rigged" claim, winning some red states would help. Finally, if her main concern is governing, then getting a Democratic Senate has to be the top priority. (V)

What Is Russia's Next Move?

It seems clear that Russia is deliberately interfering with the U.S. election. So far, it has merely released some emails from the DNC and John Podesta. The DNC emails showed that the Democratic National Committee favored an actual Democrat over someone who wasn't even a Democrat. Everyone was shocked! Shocked! The Podesta dump really didn't have anything earth-shattering in it. Hillary Clinton gave speeches to Wall Street companies in which she praised Wall Street companies. If she had given a speech to the National Pigeon Association, she would have praised pigeons. That's what politicians do.

But we are not done yet. Suppose the next batch of emails from Russia to WikiLeaks to the American media contains a number of forgeries; that is, emails that Vladimir Putin's staff wrote that purport to come from Clinton but are completely fictional. Clinton would claim the emails are forgeries, Trump would claim they are real, the media would simply repeat them, and many voters would probably believe them, which could hurt Clinton. Of course, Putin would know that he is engaging in high-stakes gambling here. If he went all out for Trump and Clinton won anyway, he would not be pleased to hear next April that the U.S. and Latvia had agreed to build a major NATO base in eastern Latvia, right by the Russian border and only 400 miles from Moscow, where hundreds of NATO bombers were to be stationed. Clinton is something of a hawk to start with, and if she decided that Putin had to be taken down a peg or two as tit-for-tat for his interference in the election, it could be something like that. (V)

ISIS Is in Big Trouble

The current incarnation of ISIS is in bad condition, and is nearing the end of the line. This weekend, they lost the important (to them) city of Dabiq. In Libya, the group has been nearly obliterated. An offensive against Mosul is underway, with 30,000 Iraqi government troops, 4,000 Kurdish Peshmerga, Sunni tribal fighters, Iranian-backed Shiite paramilitaries, and American air support. That city will fall, eventually, and after that the de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria will fall as well. ISIS will not disappear, but it will be transformed from a "state" capable of holding territory into a loose collection of terrorist cells, much like Al-Qaeda.

Hillary Clinton is, of course, running for Barack Obama's third term. As with the economy, "more of the same" looks pretty good in foreign policy when things are going well. If it becomes clear that ISIS is dying, and in particular if Mosul falls before November 8, that can only serve to boost Clinton's electoral chances, and perhaps also those of her fellow Democrats. (Z)

No Large Newspaper Has Endorsed Trump

Newspaper endorsements are not what they used to be, but it is still telling that not a single one of the 100 largest newspapers in the U.S. has endorsed Donald Trump. Thirty-five of these papers endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012, so they are clearly not all oriented towards the Democrats. This year 43 have endorsed Hillary Clinton, three have endorsed Gary Johnson, and the rest haven't endorsed anyone (yet). Here is a complete list of the top 100. (V)

Election Officials Scoff at Trump's Claim of a "Rigged" Vote

Election officials are pushing back on Donald Trump's claims of a "rigged" election. Election expert Rick Hasen, a professor of law at the University of California at Irvine, noted that there isn't a single election on Nov. 8. There aren't even 51 elections. There are about 14,000 separate elections, each with its own equipment, procedures, and administration. Every state delegates voting to the counties, and many counties delegate it to cities and towns. Each of these chooses its own way of voting. This enormous diversity—while often criticized—does have the property that there is no single hack anyone could pull off that would affect the whole country or even a whole state.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, was among those who pushed back against Trump, stating: "I am in charge of elections in Ohio, and they're not going to be rigged. I'll make sure of that." He challenged Trump to do more than just tweet that the elections are rigged. He told Trump that if he (Trump) knows of a problem, he should tell the secretaries of state what it is and they will fix it.

Furthermore, representatives of both parties are present in many precincts at the start of voting (to make sure the ballot boxes are empty), throughout the day (to make sure no one stuffs them), and when they are opened and the votes are counted (to make sure the count is accurate). The only places an election could be rigged are the states that use electronic voting machines with no paper trail. Only three states (South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana) use such machines statewide. Seven other states partially use them, but only three of these are swing states (Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida). In short, while rigging could be done piecemeal, it would be very hard to rig the election nationwide. Furthermore, someone trying to rig the election wouldn't know in advance which state in 2016 might be the new Florida. Will the election hinge on a near-tie in Ohio? In North Carolina? In Florida again? Someone trying to rig it would have to know where to attack. Trying to attack in many states greatly increases the number of people who would have to be in on the plot and who potentially might spill the beans, either accidentally or otherwise.

As to voter fraud, there are almost no cases of in-person voter fraud known, despite what Republicans have often claimed. In local elections, a small amount of absentee-ballot fraud exists, but this has rarely affected anything more than a local election in a small town, and the occasional mayoral contest in Miami. (V)

4-in-10 Think Election Might Be Fraudulent

A new Politico/Morning Consult poll released on Monday reveals some disheartening news. Respondents were asked this question:

Donald Trump has said that this election could be 'stolen' from him as a result of widespread voter fraud. Do you agree or disagree with his statement?

41% of respondents overall, and 73% of Republican respondents, answered in the affirmative. By contrast, only 17% of Democratic respondents were worried about the prospect of massive fraud.

It seems clear that Donald Trump's followers believe whatever comes out of his mouth, facts be damned. If he sticks with the "rigged" shtick to the bitter end, nothing the Democrats point to will really dissuade them: not election officials explaining that rigging is impossible (see above), not a Clinton landslide, nothing. At that point, assuming Trump loses, the matter will largely be in the hands of Republican leadership in Congress, especially if they retain control of at least one of the two chambers. If Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) & Co. accept the legitimacy of President Clinton, then Trump's rhetoric should do fairly minimal long-term harm. On the other hand, if Congressional Republicans take this as an opportunity to delegitimize Clinton and to resist/obstruct her on everything, it could be a real problem. The good news is that Ryan and other leading Republicans have been saying the right things this week, forcefully rejecting talk of a "rigged" election. On the other hand, their behavior in recent years—government shutdowns, Merrick Garland and other judicial appointees, consistent filibusters, etc.—certainly gives some cause for concern. (Z)

McCain Promises Ongoing SCOTUS Obstruction

Speaking of causes for concern, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) may have inadvertently revealed more than he intended to on Monday. Appearing on Dom Giordano's radio show in Philadelphia, the Senator declared that he and his GOP colleagues would be certain to obstruct any and all Supreme Court nominees that may be sent to The Hill by President Clinton, were she to win the election. His exact words: "I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up."

Now, this may just be red meat for the base, given that McCain is facing the re-election fight of his life. And later in the day, the Senator tried to soften his verbiage a bit. Still, it seems unlikely he would have made the original statement if he didn't have some basis for it. And if Senate Republicans endeavor to keep Antonin Scalia's one-time seat open for years if Hillary Clinton is elected, they may be within the letter of the law (depending on whom you ask), but they certainly would not be acting consistent with its spirit. Indeed, there is an argument to be made that in that circumstance, they would be as guilty of undermining the democracy as Donald Trump is with his talk of "rigged" elections. After all, the voters would have spoken in that scenario, giving Clinton a job whose responsibilities include choosing Supreme Court justices. Refusing confirmation would be placing a few dozen Senators above tens of millions of voters. That would be many things, but democratic is not one of them. (Z)

GOP SuperPACs Getting Nervous About the House

The deck is stacked against the Democrats this year, as it comes to control of the House of Representatives. The blue team would have to win nearly every competitive seat to retake the lower chamber and give House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) her job back as Speaker. This being the case, the main superPACs supporting GOP House candidates—American Action Network and the Congressional Leadership Fund—were feeling pretty good about things. Not any more, though. With Donald Trump trending downward, and potentially taking the GOP ticket with him, the two superPACs are now planning to invest millions of dollars in Congressional districts once thought to be safe.

Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) will be one beneficiary of this new spending, to the tune of $500,000. For her, the problem is that Mormon voters appear to be abandoning Trump in droves, and she may get swept along with the tide. Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) have a different problem: Latino-heavy districts that could be energized by Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric. They will get $700,000 and $2 million, respectively. Investments are also going to be made in upstate New York, Michigan, western Colorado, and several other California districts.

Party officials say that they are being cautious, and that these expenditures do not mean that these districts are actually competitive. Yeah, right. There's nothing a superPAC loves more than blowing a million or two on a candidate who doesn't actually need it. The odds remain good that the red team will hold the House, but developments like these make clear that outcome is not the slam dunk it once appeared to be. (Z)

Evangelicals Are Breaking Apart

For decades, evangelicals were one of the Republican Party's strongest bulwarks. No longer. While the old guard is still a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, younger evangelical leaders aren't always on the same page as traditional leaders such as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and Ralph Reed. For example, Jen Hatmaker, who fills stadiums with Christian women, recently said:

Trump has consistently normalized violence, sexual deviance, bigotry and hate. I wouldn't accept this from my seventh-grade son, much less from a potential leader of the free world.

Her views could represent a one-time rejection of Donald Trump, or it could represent the start of a new era, with younger evangelical leaders taking over, complete with different political views. For starters, Hatmaker, 42, has called for a complete acceptance of LGBT Christians and does not regard homosexuality as a sin. She and many younger Christian leaders see a Christian duty in caring for immigrants, refugees, the poor, the environment, and share many of the goals of Black Lives Matter. They are generally opposed to abortion, but are more accepting of same-sex marriage.

Politically, these new leaders as well as their new followers could cause an electoral earthquake. One recent poll from LifeWay Research, which specializes in surveys of churches and Christians, found that non-white evangelicals support Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by a margin of 62% to 15%.

When Jerry Falwell, Jr., the president of Liberty University, endorsed Trump, students there circulated a petition criticizing Falwell for "actively promoting the very things that we Christians ought to oppose." Within 2 days, 2,500 people had signed the petition. In the words of Nobel Laureate Bob Dylan, "The times they are a changin'." (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Lots of good news for Hillary Clinton today. Minnesota and California are out of reach for Trump (no surprise), and Pennsylvania is getting there. She's doing well in swing states, and is clearly putting some surprise states in play (i.e. Arizona). (Z)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Arizona 39% 37% 8% Oct 14 Oct 14 HighGround
California 56% 30% 4% Oct 13 Oct 15 SurveyUSA
Colorado 45% 37% 10% Oct 10 Oct 16 Quinnipiac U.
Florida 48% 44% 4% Oct 10 Oct 16 Quinnipiac U.
Idaho 30% 40% 10% Sep 28 Oct 09 Dan Jones
Minnesota 48% 35% 4% Oct 10 Oct 13 SurveyUSA
North Carolina 48% 47% 4% Oct 10 Oct 15 Opinion Research
Nevada 46% 44% 7% Oct 10 Oct 15 Opinion Research
Ohio 44% 48% 4% Oct 10 Oct 15 Opinion Research
Ohio 45% 45% 6% Oct 10 Oct 16 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania 47% 41% 6% Oct 10 Oct 16 Quinnipiac U.

Today's Senate Polls

The Arizona senate poll seems a little fishy; most polls have that race much closer. Nevada's a bit of a surprise, too, in that Opinion Research found the presidential race to be close but the Senate race to be not as competitive. Most pollsters have had it the other way around. California, North Carolina, and Ohio are all same old, same old. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Ann Kirkpatrick 35% John McCain* 45% Oct 14 Oct 14 HighGround
California Kamala Harris 45% Loretta Sanchez (D) 24% Oct 13 Oct 15 SurveyUSA
North Carolina Deborah Ross 47% Richard Burr* 48% Oct 10 Oct 15 Opinion Research
Nevada Catherine Cortez-Masto 52% Joe Heck 45% Oct 10 Oct 15 Opinion Research
Ohio Ted Strickland 40% Rob Portman* 56% Oct 10 Oct 15 Opinion Research

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct17 Clinton Has Lead in Multiple National Polls
Oct17 Trump Continues to Claim the Election is Rigged
Oct17 Trump's Newest Target: Saturday Night Live
Oct17 Are the States Realigning?
Oct17 Latino Registration Is Not Surging
Oct17 Pence Contradicts Trump on Several Issues
Oct17 Five Republican Megadonors Ponied Up $24 Million in the Past 3 Months
Oct17 Psychological Warfare Is Causing Big Problems for Clinton
Oct17 An Interview with Steve Schmidt
Oct17 Rudy Giuliani is Becoming Unhinged
Oct17 Friend Backs Zervos' Account
Oct16 Trump's Strategy is to Depress the Millennial Vote
Oct16 Trump Raises $100 Million in September
Oct16 Trump Breaks Ties with Ohio Republican Party
Oct16 Trump Wants Pre-Debate Drug Test
Oct16 Another Day, Another Trump Accuser
Oct16 Summer Zervos Cousin: She's Making It Up
Oct16 Why Does Putin Oppose Clinton?
Oct16 Wikileaks' Drip, Drip, Drip Continues
Oct16 Conservative Women Are Still Supporting Trump
Oct16 Democrats Have Big Cash Advantage in Senate Races
Oct15 More Women Say that Trump Groped Them
Oct15 Desperation Sets in for Trump
Oct15 Ryan Getting Desperate, Too
Oct15 How the Clinton Campaign Is Playing Its Hand
Oct15 Insiders Think Trump's Chances Are Fading Fast
Oct15 Trump Didn't See It Coming--but Should Have
Oct15 Democrats Sue North Carolina over Voter Registration Deadline
Oct15 CNN: Eight Republicans Sent into Distant Orbit by Trump's 2016 Odyssey
Oct15 Charlie Cook Calls the Election for Clinton
Oct15 The Debates as Boxing Matches
Oct14 Trump Calls the Claims of Sexual Advances Vicious and Absolutely False
Oct14 Michelle Obama Makes Emotional Pitch to Women
Oct14 Donald Trump Has a Double Standard
Oct14 Trump: If Clinton Falls in China, They'll Just Leave Her There
Oct14 Total TV Time Bought by the RNC for Trump to Date: $0
Oct14 Trump Pulls Out of Virginia
Oct14 Only Trump Will Protect You
Oct14 Daily News Pushes Another Trump Scandal
Oct14 Democratic Elector May Refuse to Vote for Clinton
Oct14 Whither the GOP?
Oct14 Could Nonvoting Republicans Affect the House?
Oct14 Bad News for Christie
Oct13 Some Republicans Are Recanting Their Unendorsements of Trump
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