Clinton 339
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Ties 18
Trump 181
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (201)
  • Likely Dem (72)
  • Barely Dem (66)
  • Exactly tied (18)
  • Barely GOP (75)
  • Likely GOP (19)
  • Strongly GOP (87)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
Dem pickups vs. 2012: GA NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA

The Final Debate Is Tonight

Las Vegas has often hosted heavyweight boxing matches, and the one there tonight is about as heavyweight as they come. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face off in a match that is almost sure to have the Marquess of Queensberry spinning in his grave. The rules he endorsed were designed to instill a sense of sportsmanship and fair play in the sport, neither of which is likely to be evident tonight. From Trump's point of view, this is the last chance to move the needle, so he is likely to go after Clinton in ways large and small to throw her off her game. What she needs to do is avoid taking the bait and act presidential. As usual, anything is possible. (V)

Six Witnesses Corroborate Natasha Stoynoff's Story of Being Assaulted by Trump

Yesterday, People Magazine published a story in which six colleagues and close friends of People reporter Natasha Stoynoff have corroborated the story that Stoynoff told of Donald Trump sexually assaulting her in 2005. Stoynoff called her former journalism professor, Paul McLauglin, in tears, the night of the attack. He cautioned her to keep it quiet for fear of reprisals. Marina Grasic, who has known Stoynoff for over 25 years, says that she got a call from her friend the day after the attack relating all the details. Stoynoff confided in People editor Liz McNeil, who said she was shocked at how scared Stoynoff was. Stoynoff also opened up to People editor Mary Green, who related that Stoynoff was shaking at her desk. Another coworker, Liza Hamm, also confirmed Stoynoff's story.

Trump has denied that the incident ever happened. But now that six people have come forward saying that Stoynoff told them about it immediately after it happened, he has to call seven people liars. In similar situations in the past (think, Bill Cosby and Tiger Woods) when enough women and friends of the women come forward, public opinion began to turn against the accused. (V)

Millennials Are Starting to Come Around to Clinton

Millennial voters largely supported Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) during the primaries and have an extremely low opinion of Donald Trump. Nevertheless, many of them have been loath to support their former nemesis Hillary Clinton. That appears to be slowly changing, as Election Day approaches. A new USA Today/Rock the Vote poll shows that they are moving away from third-party candidates and towards Clinton. The results are Clinton 68%, Trump 20%, Gary Johnson 8%, and Jill Stein 1%. Among the millennial voters who are planning not to vote at all, the main reason is that they dislike all the candidates. (V)

Trump Will Host Obama at Debate

No, not that one. The President's half-brother Malik. Though Malik was once close enough with Barack to serve as best man at his wedding to Michelle, their relationship has since cooled. The primary issues appear to be Malik's difficulty in getting an appointment when he wants one, and the President's lack of enthusiasm for the Barack H. Obama Foundation, which is named after their father. Consequently, Malik has endorsed Donald Trump, and now will be the GOP nominee's guest at the third presidential debate.

It is difficult to figure out exactly what the purpose is here. Bringing Gennifer Flowers, et al. to the last debate did not throw Clinton off her game, so why would Obama's brother faze her? Does Trump imagine that voters care about the opinions of the president's kooky sibling? If so, he might want to read up on Roger Clinton and Billy Carter. Perhaps the GOP nominee has fully embraced the idea that this whole campaign is a reality show, and he's just doing his part to drive up ratings for this week's episode. Maybe Malik is in the running for a plum host's job at the Trump News Network. Who knows? (Z)

Trump Wants Term Limits for Congress

Donald Trump made another policy speech on Monday, this time offering five proposals—all of them various kinds of limits on lobbyists—aimed at "draining the swamp" that is Washington. Then, on Tuesday, he added to that a sixth idea: He wants to impose term limits on Congress via a constitutional amendment.

This, of course, is not going to happen. Trump is a longshot for the White House at this point, and even if he does move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, passing constitutional amendments is very difficult. And in this particular case, it goes beyond difficult, because the amendment would have to pass Congress, which is made up of many people who aspire to having long careers in Congress. If they all developed mass hysteria, and decided to fire themselves, then the amendment would have to pass 3/4 of the state legislatures, which are made up many people who dream of one day being elected to Congress and then having long careers there.

Beyond that, however, term limits—while popular with the voting public—have been adopted at the state level in 15 different places, and have proven over and over to be a supremely bad idea. It's very difficult to learn the ropes of political office these days. Just the basics of legislating are tough enough, and on top of that is committee work, which often requires a decade or more to develop the requisite expertise. The constant turnover that results from term limits serves primarily to weaken legislators at the expense of the executive branch, the career bureaucrats, and, that's right, the lobbyists. So, pairing a proposal to rein in lobbyists with a proposal to impose term limits is like rewarding people who recycle with a free coal-burning stove. (Z)

Clinton Gets Another Endorsement

East Cupcake Middle School has yet to weigh in on the 2016 election; it is probably waiting for the third debate. Not so the students of Colorado's Palmer Ridge High School, however. In its monthly newspaper, the Bear Truth, the school's journalism club made their preference known: It's Hillary Clinton.

That, in and of itself, is not so remarkable. What is remarkable is that people actually cared—a lot. Trump-supporting parents at the school howled with outrage, lambasting the newspaper's adviser, English teacher Tom Patrick, as a communist and a socialist. "I am in complete and utter disgust at this blatant attempt to sway the minds of impressionable young voters," said one angry parent, while so many others flooded the principal's office with phone calls that it became necessary to send a school-wide e-mail of explanation. Trump supporters not affiliated with the school flooded the Facebook pages of the newspaper's co-editors—who are 16 years old—with threats and personal attacks.

A small matter, yes. But for those who are hoping that the defeated candidate and his or her supporters will behave reasonably, and will accept the election results gracefully, it's not a good sign. (Z)

Who Are the People Who Will Choose the President?

If you ask the man or woman on the street who will choose the next president, likely they will say "the American people." That's wrong, of course. It is the 538 presidential electors who do the picking, and not on Nov. 8, but on Dec. 19. Who are these people, and how did they acquire their very special status? Politico has a nice article about some of the electors. It's definitely a mixed bag. Here are a few of them:

  • Cherilyn Eagar (R-UT) thinks the people should have no role in choosing the president; that's the electors' job
  • Sybrina Fulton (D-FL) is the mother of the slain Trayvon Martin; she thinks all Americans must work together
  • Foster Morgan (R-AZ) is 19 and thinks Trump is just a normal Republican politician
  • Hazel Ingram (D-NY) is 93 and has cleaned offices near one of Trump's buildings for 61 years but detests him
  • Jim Rhoades (R-MI) is a pro-motorcycle lobbyist who has fought for higher speed limits and weaker helmet laws
  • Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) was the first woman elected to Congress from New Hampshire
  • Donald Trump, Jr. (R-NY) will be most pleased to cast an electoral vote for his Dad if he gets the chance
  • Bill Clinton (D-NY) will be proud to cast his electoral vote for his wife—and move back into the White House

Many of the electors are high-profile Democrats, including Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo, Eric Schneiderman, and more. High-profile Republicans include Pam Bondi, Michael Steele, and Sean Spicer. There are also Republican electors who oppose Trump, Democratic electors who support Sanders, people who believe in every known conspiracy theory about the Clintons, and Roy Cockrum, who once took a vow of poverty and then won a $260 million Powerball prize. In short, it is a mixed bag. Electors are generally either picked by the state parties or are elected at state conventions. There is only one requirement for being an elector: not working for the federal government. If one of the parties wanted Queen Elizabeth or a seven-year-old as elector, there is no constitutional barrier to that. (V)

Partisanship Rules

Many voters cannot comprehend how half the country could possibly vote for that terrible, unfit liar the other party has nominated. The answer is simple: partisanship. That determines everything. A WaPo/ABC News poll released this week shows that 89% of self-identified Democrats back Hillary Clinton and 86% of self-identified Republicans back Donald Trump. A tiny slice of each party is up for grabs, as well as an increasingly small number of so-called independents who could go either way. Basically, the race is mostly about getting your own partisans to the polls, rather than convincing undecided voters to join your team. The billions of dollars in ads, thousands of rallies, debates, interviews, and controversies mean almost nothing. It is all about partisanship.

A recent study from Rutgers and the University of Delaware shows that most voters fall into one of four categories:

  • Rational voters who consider all the positions of all the candidates and then make a careful choice
  • Partisan voters who simply look at the (D) or (R) and vote based on that
  • Single-issue voters, for example anti-abortion or pro-gun voters
  • Low-information voters who don't follow politics and can be easily swayed

The second and third categories are by far the biggest and also the most partisan. About a third of all voters claim to be independents, but they can be sorted into three categories. First are Democrats who don't want to be called Democrats. Second are Republicans who don't want to be called Republicans. Finally there are the true independents, who represent at most 10% of the electorate. With so few votes really up for grabs, it becomes clearer why neither candidate is likely to fall below 40% of the vote, no matter what disastrous details emerge during the campaign. (V)

Obama to Trump: Stop Whining

In response to Donald Trump's continuing attacks on the integrity of an election that hasn't happened yet, President Obama yesterday told Trump "to stop whining." Obama added:

I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history any presidential candidate trying to discredit the election and the election process before votes have even taken place. It's unprecedented. It happens to be based on no facts.

The President made his remarks at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the White House. The President brought up the subject at a press conference with a foreign leader because Trump's main topic of discussion of late has been how the election is rigged, without giving a whit of evidence of how the rigging is supposedly taking place, especially in states like Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina, where Republicans control the election machinery. More than two dozen of the RNC members agree that it is rigged. However, not all Republicans agree. Mark Braden, an RNC lawyer from 1979 to 1989, said: "There is no nationwide conspiracy because there is no way to do it."

If this idea gains traction—and it appears to be doing so— it will have grave consequences for democracy down the road. Whenever a Democrat wins, Republicans will scream that it was because millions of illegal votes were cast. Whenever a Republican wins, Democrats will claim it was because illegal armed goon squads intimidated voters and drove them from the polls. No future president may be accepted as legitimate from now on, and the losing party will feel fully justified in using every possible weapon and trick to prevent the winner from carrying out the party program. (V)

NRSC Has Another $30 Million for Senate Races

The National Republican Senate Committee raised $15 million in September and set up a line of credit for an additional $15 million, so it can spend up to $30 million in the next 3 weeks to preserve the Republicans' Senate majority. Currently, Florida is the only competitive state in which the Republican is outspending the Democrat. In Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Indiana, Nevada, and Missouri, the Democrats are spending more. The $30 million will help level the field. The NRSC's counterpart, the DSCC, hasn't announced its September haul yet. (V)

Ecuador Cuts Off Julian Assange's Internet Connection

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 to avoid being extradited to Sweden on rape charges. He has been leaking information, most likely supplied by the Russian government, from his room in the embassy. His most recent dump may be his final one, however, as the embassy has cut off his Internet connection. The embassy has declined to explain why it took this action, but it is certainly imaginable that the U.S. and/or U.K. government threatened Ecuador, a poor and defenseless country, with dire consequences unless it cut off Assange. At the very least, the U.K. government could have threatened to close the embassy, expel the diplomats, and force everyone, including Assange, to leave the building. Since Assange is not an Ecuadorian diplomat, he would then have been subject to arrest once outside the building.

There have been rumors that Secretary of State John Kerry told Ecuador to cut of Assange's Internet, but the State Dept. has denied the rumors. Needless to say, even if the rumors were true, the State Dept. would deny them anyway. That's how governments work. (V)

Obama Reveals Post-Presidency Project

Jimmy Carter built the Carter Center, which promotes democracy throughout the world. George H.W. Bush has the Points of Light project, which encourages voluntarism and community service. Bill Clinton founded the Clinton Foundation, which you may have heard about. George W. Bush...paints. Point is, ex-presidents have to find something to do with all that spare time once they leave the White House. Now, Barack Obama has announced what he will be doing in terms of post-presidential activism: He's going to fight back against gerrymandering.

More specifically, Obama will partner with former Attorney General Eric Holder to chair the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The plan is to recruit strong Democratic candidates to run for, and get elected to, state legislatures. That, of course is where district maps are generally drawn. Past anti-gerrymander efforts have gone nowhere, but this one is backed by a lot of money and a soon-to-be ex-President, so maybe this time it will be different. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

The Washington Post partnered with SurveyMonkey, an Internet polling company, to poll 15 states, as shown below. Normally, we don't accept Internet polls, but when a major media outlet is behind the polls (this one, CBS/YouGov), etc. we will cross our fingers and hope the media outlet watched carefully and did the necessary quality control. In any event, with so many polls of the key states now, even one bad poll won't affect the results much. Unlike the Ipsos Internet polls, which were completely wacky, nothing below seems strange except for Texas becoming a swing state. On the other hand, a conventional poll from the University of Houston confirms the SurveyMonkey poll, giving us more confidence in it. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Arizona 35% 34% 7% Aug 17 Aug 31 Arizona State U.
Arizona 41% 44% 10% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Colorado 44% 37% 12% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Florida 43% 45% 7% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Georgia 45% 41% 9% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Iowa 40% 45% 10% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Massachusetts 54% 28% 7% Oct 13 Oct 16 MassINC
Michigan 45% 37% 11% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
North Carolina 46% 40% 9% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
North Carolina 46% 44% 6% Oct 14 Oct 17 SurveyUSA
New Hampshire 47% 36% 10% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
New Jersey 49% 35% 6% Oct 12 Oct 16 Fairleigh Dickinson U.
New Mexico 41% 33% 18% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Nevada 40% 44% 9% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Nevada 47% 40% 7% Oct 14 Oct 17 Monmouth U.
Ohio 41% 44% 9% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Oregon 43% 36% 7% Oct 06 Oct 13 DHM Research
Pennsylvania 46% 40% 8% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Texas 38% 41% 4% Oct 07 Oct 15 U. of Houston
Texas 42% 44% 8% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Virginia 49% 38% 8% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Wisconsin 43% 38% 12% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Wisconsin 47% 39% 1% Oct 13 Oct 16 St. Norbert Coll.

Today's Senate Polls

Same story for the Senate polls. The half dozen close races that will determine control of the Senate are still close. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Ann Kirkpatrick 45% John McCain* 48% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Colorado Michael Bennet* 52% Darryl Glenn 42% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Colorado Michael Bennet* 56% Darryl Glenn 38% Oct 10 Oct 16 Quinnipiac U.
Florida Patrick Murphy 45% Marco Rubio* 51% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Florida Patrick Murphy 47% Marco Rubio* 49% Oct 10 Oct 16 Quinnipiac U.
Georgia Jim Barksdale 46% Johnny Isakson* 50% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Iowa Patty Judge 40% Chuck Grassley* 56% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
North Carolina Deborah Ross 43% Richard Burr* 45% Oct 14 Oct 17 SurveyUSA
North Carolina Deborah Ross 48% Richard Burr* 42% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
New Hampshire Maggie Hassan 47% Kelly Ayotte* 42% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Nevada Catherine Cortez-Masto 42% Joe Heck 45% Oct 14 Oct 17 Monmouth U.
Nevada Catherine Cortez-Masto 47% Joe Heck 48% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Ohio Ted Strickland 39% Rob Portman* 56% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Ohio Ted Strickland 41% Rob Portman* 54% Oct 10 Oct 16 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty 45% Pat Toomey* 49% Oct 10 Oct 16 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty 47% Pat Toomey* 47% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Wisconsin Russ Feingold 51% Ron Johnson* 46% Oct 08 Oct 16 SurveyMonkey
Wisconsin Russ Feingold 52% Ron Johnson* 40% Oct 13 Oct 16 St. Norbert Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct18 Why Is Trump Running?
Oct18 Melania Trump Speaks Out About The Tape
Oct18 Could This Be a Realigning Election?
Oct18 Clinton Is Faced with a Tough Choice
Oct18 What Is Russia's Next Move?
Oct18 ISIS Is in Big Trouble
Oct18 No Large Newspaper Has Endorsed Trump
Oct18 Election Officials Scoff at Trump's Claim of a Rigged Vote
Oct18 4-in-10 Think Election Might Be Fraudulent
Oct18 McCain Promises Ongoing SCOTUS Obstruction
Oct18 GOP SuperPACs Getting Nervous About the House
Oct18 Evangelicals Are Breaking Apart
Oct18 Why Is Trump Running?
Oct18 Melania Trump Speaks Out About The Tape
Oct18 Could This Be a Realigning Election?
Oct18 Clinton Is Faced with a Tough Choice
Oct18 What Is Russia's Next Move?
Oct18 ISIS Is in Big Trouble
Oct18 No Large Newspaper Has Endorsed Trump
Oct18 Election Officials Scoff at Trump's Claim of a Rigged Vote.
Oct18 4-in-10 Think Election Might Be Fraudulent
Oct18 McCain Promises Ongoing SCOTUS Obstruction
Oct18 GOP SuperPACs Getting Nervous About the House
Oct18 Evangelicals Are Breaking Apart
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