Clinton 334
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Trump 204
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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Ties 3
GOP 47
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  • Strongly Dem (218)
  • Likely Dem (55)
  • Barely Dem (61)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (87)
  • Likely GOP (36)
  • Strongly GOP (81)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: FL GA IN LA ME VA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: AZ NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA OH

Early Ballots in Swing States Favor Democrats

Over 4 million Americans (ca. 3% of the total) have already voted. While no one knows for whom they voted, since the votes haven't been counted yet, some of the states do release information about whether the ballots came from registered Democrats or registered Republicans. The Washington Post has obtained some of this information from Catalist, a firm that collects and sells political data. The results of 2016 early voting compared to early voting 20 days out in 2012 is shown in the chart below:

Early voting

For example, take Arizona. In 2012, the early voting favored Mitt Romney by about 9 points. This year it favors Hillary Clinton by 12.7 points. The Democrats have also gained enormously in Colorado and North Carolina. In Nevada, the Republicans have gained a little and in Iowa they have gained a smidgen. Only a small fraction of all voters have already voted, but the fact that early voters in a number of key states appear to be voting for Hillary Clinton in much larger numbers than they are for Donald Trump can't be a good sign for The Donald.

Also of note is that Trump's endless stream of attacks on women have not gone unnoticed. In two crucial states, North Carolina and Florida, women are casting ballots in disproportionately large numbers. In North Carolina, for example, 87,000 Democratic women have already voted, vs. 60,000 Republican women. Among men in the Tarheel State, 52,000 Democrats and 50,000 Republicans have already voted. The number of early votes cast is just a small indicator, but not one that looks favorable to Trump. Clinton is pushing her advantage with women to the hilt, deploying high-profile women in a number of key states. (V)

Trump Math Just Doesn't Add Up

No media outlet or pundit wants to be left with Dewey Defeats Truman-colored egg on their face. However, as the election draws close, and as the gap between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton grows, the commentariat is becoming more willing to predict an outcome. Larry Sabato made his call Thursday. And on Friday, Politico's Steven Shepard and Charlie Mahtesian effectively did the same.

Their conclusions are based, as they should be, on electoral math. There are 11 swing states that will decide the election. In six of them—Colorado, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin—Hillary Clinton currently enjoys, and has enjoyed for an extended period, a lead of five or more points in polls. Those states added to the reliably Democratic states like California, New York, Hawaii, etc. (where she enjoys huge leads) gives more than 270 electoral votes, and thus the presidency. Even if Trump swept the other five swing states—Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio—it would not be enough. And he's not even leading in all of those five. As you can see from the map above, he's only ahead in two of the swing states: Ohio and Iowa.

Trump's only hopes are either (1) That the mother of all October surprises presents itself tout de suite, or (2) That all the pollsters are making serious errors in their models of the electorate. Both of these are longshots, and so get ready for lots of Clinton victory predictions in the next week or so. (Z)

Money Talks

That money is very very very important in politics is not exactly news, but financially speaking, this has been quite a different year than, say 2012. The Hill has made a list of five important things to observe about how money has played a role in this year's presidential race:

  • Clinton has crushed Trump in the money race, raising $618 million to his $278 million so far
  • Trump is finally starting to spend on TV ads, but Clinton still outspent him $66 million to $20 million in September
  • Clinton has a massive ground operation, with 814 paid people on the ground to Trump's 168
  • Trump is just starting to spend on polling, digital ads, and analytics; Clinton has been doing all of these things for months
  • A new Donald just entered the race: hedge fund manager Donald Sussman just gave $21 million to Hillary Clinton's superPAC

All in all, it is very unusual for the Democrats to completely dominate Republicans in the fundraising and spending business. In part this is due to both new Democratic donors (Sussman, for example), but also because established Republican donors (the Koch brothers, for example), don't seem to care much for the Republican nominee. This difference matters a lot in the final weeks, and doesn't always show up in the polls because some of the money is being spent on data analytics and the ground game, which often results in an extra point or two above what the polls show. (V)

Trump to Speak at Gettysburg

It's been four score and seven days since Donald Trump last led in national polls (July 26, the first day of the DNC). Things have turned against him since then, and—in an attempt to right the ship—he will deliver a speech on Saturday that will lay out his plan for the first 100 days of a Trump presidency.

The address will be given in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Reportedly, that was the site of another prominent speech by a politician, but our researchers are still working on that. It may have involved something about grabbing the Confederacy by the p***y. In any case, it should be interesting, given how much Trump has promised to do on just his first day in office, much less his first 100 days. Whatever The Donald is planning, presumably the theme will not be "all men are created equal." (Z)

Only Half of Republican Voters Would Accept Clinton as President

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that only half of Republican voters would accept Hillary Clinton as a legitimate president. And 70% said that if she wins, it is because she cheated or there was illegal voting. On the other side, 70% of Democrats said that they would not accept Trump as a legitimate president if he won, but less than half would attribute his win to cheating.

A major concern of Republicans is noncitizens voting, with fully 80% worried about this. Lonna Atkeson, an expert on voting at the University of New Mexico, said that the level of mistrust in the process is completely unprecedented. She said that such mistrust completely undermines the nature of democracy. The Ipsos poll surveyed 1,192 adults online. (V)

What Would Happen if Trump Loses and Does Not Concede?

Losing candidates are not required to formally concede, although in recent decades they always have once the votes have been counted. Legally, the results announced on election night are always preliminary, since absentee and provisional ballots must also be counted. In some states, if the margin is within half a percent (e.g., Florida and Pennsylvania), there is an automatic recount. In other states (e.g., Ohio), the margin has to be within a quarter of one percent to trigger an automatic recount. In most other states, the losing candidate can request a recount, but has to pay the costs that entails.

The next step after a recount would be to file lawsuits in state or federal court, charging irregularities with the election (e.g., massive voter fraud). Traditionally, however, the courts are extremely hesitant to overturn election results. Of course, each contested state would require a separate lawsuit, probably in a separate court, and possibly in different appellate courts later on. If a case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, the result would likely be a 4-4 split, meaning that the appellate court ruling would be binding.

Another way to contest the election would be to try to get the presidential electors to vote for someone other than the state's winner when they meet in their respective state capitals on Dec. 19. For example, Donald Trump could try to get the Democratic electors to cast their electoral votes for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in an attempt to deny Hillary Clinton the required 270 electoral votes.

Finally, when a joint session of Congress counts the electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2017, one or more members of the newly elected Congress could object to the electoral votes from some state or states, saying that they aren't valid. What would happen next is uncharted territory. A situation with disputed electoral votes happened in 1876, but the solution used then is probably not applicable today. In the Compromise of 1877, Democrats agreed to award the disputed electoral votes to Republican Rutherford B. Hayes, and in return, President Hayes would remove all federal troops from the South, thus ending the Reconstruction Era. (V)

Clinton Preparing for the Possibility that She Wins but Trump Won't Concede

Hillary Clinton is seriously concerned about the possibility that Donald Trump won't concede if he loses the election and is preparing to deal with it. One thing she is already doing is telling audiences that she will need their help to heal the country. Another thing she is doing is trying to win more electoral votes, for example, in Arizona and Georgia, to force Trump to claim elections in half a dozen states were rigged. Finally, she would try to get many Republican leaders to repudiate Trump, effectively conceding for him. (V)

Clinton Releases Devastating New Ad

Hillary Clinton's campaign has released a new ad, and it's a killer. It features, and is narrated by, Gold Star father Khizr Khan. Khan talks about his son, Humayun, and the circumstances of his heroic death in Iraq. At the conclusion, eyes brimming with tears, Khan wonders, "Mr. Trump: Would my son have a place in your America?"

The ad moves one of Donald Trump's biggest missteps back to the forefront, after it might have been eclipsed by The Tape, and the debates, and other, more recent stories. Further, as Slate's Jeremy Stahl observes, it has messaging for both moderates and independents ("You should be embarrassed to vote for Trump") and for Sanders-supporting millennials ("Trump hates diversity"). That's a lot of bang for the advertising buck. (Z)

Clinton Transition Team Gets to Work

The electoral calendar forces presidents-elect-to-be into a delicate dance. On one hand, if they do or say anything that implies they've got the election in the bag, that seems arrogant and presumptuous, and could turn off voters. On the other hand, there's limited time and much to do between Election Day and Inauguration Day, and the problem has only gotten worse over time. Abraham Lincoln, for example, had 118 days to staff up, at a time when the entire federal government was only 5,837 employees. The 2016 winner, by contrast, will have 73 days, at a time when the government has 5 million employees.

Hillary Clinton knows how this game is played, of course, as does her transition chair, former Interior Secretary and Colorado Senator Ken Salazar. Salazar and two dozen staffers are now gearing up, doing what they can without putting their candidate in a delicate position. That means making lists of potential appointees, building dossiers, doing vetting, and talking to prominent Democrats who might be able to offer useful advice. It also means avoiding direct contact with any potential nominees, to the extent that is possible, and making sure no actual names leak out. Donald Trump has a transition team too; his is five times as large, and is chaired by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). However, it is unclear if they have begun getting down to details the way Clinton's team has. Maybe they smell the coffee. (Z)

Wikileaks Claims Responsibility for Internet Outage

Friday saw a massive denial-of-service attack that knocked many high-profile websites offline, among them Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, Airbnb, Vox, and Etsy. Late in the afternoon, Wikileaks supporters took responsibility for the attack, claiming it was payback for cutting founder Julian Assange off from the Internet. The hacktivists also implied that Friday's incident was a "trial run" for a larger assault.

At the moment, U.S. government officials are skeptical of these claims, noting that Wikileaks and its affiliated groups do not appear to have the resources to pull off this sort of attack, and that they have falsely claimed credit for such incidents before. Why would they lie? Well, they like attention, and presumably would say anything that might get Assange back online. Meanwhile, their implied threat of a larger attack—presumably some sort of Election Day disruption—is even harder to take seriously. Even if Wikileaks, perhaps aided by some vodka-swilling comrades from the East, could make good on their promise, Internet service is not terribly necessary for conducting an election. Returns are transmitted in person or via telephone call, not via the Net. And while citizens might want Internet access to keep on top of the latest news, they can always follow the returns the old-fashioned way: on TV. So, those who worry that computer hackers might end democracy as we know it can rest easy. (Z)

Back-room Maneuvering for the DNC Chairmanship Is Starting

When Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) stepped down as chairwoman of the DNC, she was replaced by Donna Brazile as interim chair. Now the contest for the permanent replacement is starting. If Hillary Clinton is elected president, by tradition she can name the chair, although technically the DNC picks its own leader. The early front runners are thought to be former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, and South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison. Several members of Congress are jockeying for position, but if Clinton wins, she is going to pick someone close to her, and the DNC will operate as an extension of the White House. If Clinton loses, all bets are off. The DNC chair's job is raising money for the party and appearing on television a lot.

The 57-year-old Canadian-born Granholm has a lot to recommend her. She won a beauty pageant as a teenager and later graduated from Harvard Law School with honors. After working as an assistant U.S. attorney in Michigan, a job in which she prosecuted drug dealers and child pornographers, she was elected Michigan attorney general in 1998 and governor in 2002 and 2006, when she was term limited. Since then, she has been a professor at Berkeley. She is a powerful public speaker, and having a woman as the fourth consecutive DNC chair (Tim Kaine was the last man) would certainly make a point for Clinton. (V)

Evan Bayh Under Fire

Former Indiana senator Evan Bayh is trying to get his old job back, and his success or failure may well determine which party controls the Senate in January. The AP has reported that in 2010, the last year Bayh served in the Senate, he didn't stay at his condo in Indiana even one night. His Republican opponent, Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), has said Bayh has lost touch with Indiana.

Also a problem for Bayh is that as a senator, he used $3,000 of taxpayer money to travel to New York to line up a job for his post-Senate career. Bayh said the published story is incomplete, and he repaid his debt and returned an unused $2 million from his Senate office budget to the treasury. The Indianapolis Star, the state's biggest newspaper, has endorsed Young. The race is considered a tossup. (V)

Richard Branson Describes a Tale of Two Lunches

Billionaire Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, which controls 400 companies, yesterday wrote that several years ago, Donald Trump, whom he had never met, invited him to Trump's apartment in Manhattan for lunch. The entire time, all Trump talked about was how he wanted to destroy five people who refused to help him after his most recent bankruptcy. Branson was afraid Trump was going to ask him for money, which would have made him #6, but he didn't.

Branson also talked about the lunch he had with Hillary Clinton. They discussed education reform, the war on drugs, women's rights, conflicts around the world, and the death penalty. Branson said she listened in addition to talking. Branson is now supporting Clinton, saying that the president has to be involved with world issues, not with petty personal quarrels. (V)

Presidential Candidate Released from Hospital after Bout with Pneumonia

No, not Hillary again. Jill Stein this time. The Green Party candidate was in an Austin hospital with pneumonia and was released yesterday. Upon release, she complimented the hospital on her care and said she was more determined than ever to fight for good health care for all Americans. (V)

Senate Starting to Look Brighter for Democrats

The battle for the Senate has been one of the few bright spots for the Republicans this year, but at the moment it is looking a little less bright. Our current prediction is for 50 Democrats (including the two indepenents who caucus with the Democrats), and 47 Republicans. Three states are tied: Missouri, North Carolina, and Florida. Even if the Republicans win all three, the Democrats will control the Senate if Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) gets a promotion to president of the Senate. While Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is still favored to get another term in a job he detests, North Carolina is a true tossup. Also, we currently have Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) leading in Pennsylvania, but many slightly older polls have put challenger Katie McGinty ahead there. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Hillary Clinton continues to lead in two states that Donald Trump absolutely must win: Virginia and Florida. Virginia is a lost cause for him. He has led in exactly one of the 33 Virginia polls this year, and that one was back in July. In contrast, Clinton has had double-digit leads in nine of them, including the most recent three. Florida is also a problem for Trump, although not as bad as Virginia. He has trailed in 35 of the 51 polls this year and led in only 13 of them. Of the most recent dozen polls, Clinton has led in 10 of them. At least Trump might be able to salvage Georgia, but that shouldn't have been in play in the first place. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Florida 49% 45% 3% Oct 20 Oct 20 Opinion Savvy
Georgia 42% 44% 9% Oct 17 Oct 20 AbtSRBI
Georgia 46% 50% 3% Oct 20 Oct 20 Opinion Savvy
Indiana 37% 43% 9% Oct 10 Oct 16 Ball State U.
Louisiana 34% 54% 2% Oct 17 Oct 19 Mason Dixon
Maine 42% 36% 9% Oct 14 Oct 15 Maine Peoples Res. Ctr.
Virginia 45% 33% 8% Oct 16 Oct 19 Christopher Newport U.

Today's Senate Polls

A new poll says the Florida Senate race is tied, but most previous polls have shown that Marco Rubio will get to keep the job he so dislikes, thus keeping his 2020 hopes alive. Unless Clinton has substantial coattails, probably Rubio will pull this one out of the fire. A Ball State University poll shows that Evan Bayh is leading Todd Young by 6 points, but other polls have indicated that the race is much closer. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Florida Patrick Murphy 46% Marco Rubio* 46% Oct 20 Oct 20 Opinion Savvy
Georgia Jim Barksdale 32% Johnny Isakson* 47% Oct 17 Oct 20 AbtSRBI
Georgia Jim Barksdale 42% Johnny Isakson* 51% Oct 20 Oct 20 Opinion Savvy
Indiana Evan Bayh 49% Todd Young 43% Oct 10 Oct 16 Ball State U.
Utah Misty Snow 25% Mike Lee* 57% Oct 14 Oct 16 Rasmussen

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct21 Debate Takeaways Galore
Oct21 Third Presidential Debate Postmortem
Oct21 Why Clinton Went for the Kill
Oct21 Trump Tweeted That He Won the Debate
Oct21 Betting Markets Don't Look Good for Trump
Oct21 Could the Election Be Rigged?
Oct21 Whither the GOP?
Oct21 What Would Trump TV Look Like?
Oct21 Facebook's Algorithm May Kill Democracy
Oct21 Larry Sabato Shocks CNN with a Prediction of 352 Electoral Votes for Clinton
Oct20 Third Debate is Dangerously...Presidential
Oct20 Clinton Aiming at Breaking 50%
Oct20 Clinton Leading with White Catholics
Oct20 Write-in Votes Do Not Count in Most States
Oct20 McMullin Leads in Utah
Oct20 New Landmark: 200 Million People Are Registered to Vote
Oct19 The Final Debate Is Tonight
Oct19 Six Witnesses Corroborate Natasha Stoynoff's Story of Being Assaulted by Trump
Oct19 Millennials Are Starting to Come Around to Clinton
Oct19 Trump Will Host Obama at Debate
Oct19 Trump Wants Term Limits for Congress
Oct19 Clinton Gets Another Endorsement
Oct19 Who Are the People Who Will Choose the President?
Oct19 Partisanship Rules
Oct19 Obama to Trump: Stop Whining
Oct19 NRSC Has Another $30 Million for Senate Races
Oct19 Ecuador Cuts Off Julian Assange's Internet Connection
Oct19 Obama Reveals Post-Presidency Project
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