Clinton 303
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Ties 44
Trump 191
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (198)
  • Likely Dem (62)
  • Barely Dem (43)
  • Exactly tied (44)
  • Barely GOP (46)
  • Likely GOP (50)
  • Strongly GOP (95)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: (None)

Most Clinton Voters Will Vote for Republicans for Congress

In a nationwide poll for USA Today conducted by Suffolk University, Hillary Clinton's supporters were asked who they would vote for down ballot. 32% will definitely split their votes, 20% are somewhat likely to split their votes, 20% are not likely to split their tickets and 23% will definitely vote a straight Democratic ticket. If true, this is bad news for Democratic candidates for the Senate, House, governor, and other offices.

Among supporters of Donald Trump, 33% will vote a straight Republican ticket, and another 20% said they are unlikely to vote for any Democrats.

The voters most likely to split their tickets are moderates, people with annual incomes above $100,000, residents of the Northeast, and Latinos. On the other hand, black voters, Republicans, and people who are very conservative will vote straight tickets for one party.

One flaw in the Suffolk University poll is that it was a nationwide poll. When a voter in Wyoming, Michigan, New Mexico, Texas, or 12 other states says they are planning to split their ticket, that has no effect on Senate races because there are no Senate races in those states. Those voters could split their tickets for the House, state legislature, etc., but not the Senate. But even for the House, that is dubious, because most districts are so gerrymandered that the outcome is already known and the voting is merely a formality that we have to put up with. There are maybe 30 or 40 swing districts where ticket splitting matters, but the poll didn't distinguish swing districts from solid districts. (V)

Most Clinton Voters Will Vote for Democrats for Congress

It is a rare day when any publication runs consecutive stories that directly contradict each other, but this has been a strange year. Ronald Brownstein, a very astute political observer, has a completely different take on splitting tickets. Instead of looking at a single nationwide poll (see above), he looked at historical data since the 1970s, to see how people have actually voted. His conclusion: "Voters don't split tickets any more." In the 1970s and 1980s, conservative Democratic senators could still win election after election in Southern states that had long since gone red in the presidential race. No more. The share of voters who split their tickets has declined from 23% in the 1980s to 10% in 2012.

After the reelection victories of Richard Nixon (1972) and Ronald Reagan (1984), Republicans controlled only half the Senate seats in the states that voted for each man twice. After the 2012 election, Democrats held 80% of the seats that voted for Obama twice. That is especially relevant now, because Republicans are defending seven seats in the states Obama won twice. In 2012, more than 85% of the voters chose the same party for the Senate as they did for president. So the historical data go strongly against the Suffolk University poll cited above.

One way for the Republicans to encourage ticket splitting is to basically concede that Clinton is going to win, and tell people they need to vote for Republicans in the Senate to check Clinton's ambitions. However, such a strategy is sure to anger Trump supporters who will curse the party for giving up on their hero. That is not a formula for getting them to vote at all, let alone to vote for Republicans down ticket. (V)

Are There Millions of Secret Trump Voters Out There?

Donald Trump has maintained that there are millions of people who secretly support him, but are afraid to say so in public and won't talk to pollsters, so the polls greatly underestimate the number of supporters he has. The research firm Morning Consult ran an experiment to see if Republicans were afraid to tell human beings they support Trump. They polled 2,400 Republicans on the election. One third were called by a person, one third were called by a computer, and one third were approached on the Internet. Trump scored 32% with live interviewers, 36% in automated calls, and 38% in Internet surveys, giving some credence to the idea.

However, pollsters are now aware of this, and are using sophisticated methods to correct for possible bias. Among other factors, they use the fact that people tend to live around people with the same views, so whole neighborhoods tend to vote the same way, and this knowledge can be used to correct the raw data. Only after the election will we know how good these corrections were. (V)

Trump Hires Head of Citizens United

Donald Trump has a new deputy campaign manager: David Bossie, longtime leader of the conservative lobbying group Citizens United. He is best known, of course, for the role he played in unleashing unfettered super PACs on American politics. So, he knows a bit about fundraising. He also has expertise in advertising, and has a treasure trove of oppo research about Hillary Clinton.

Reportedly, the new structure of the campaign will have Stephen Bannon at the top, Bossie managing day-to-day operations and debate prep from New York, and Kellyanne Conway serving as the public face of the campaign, particularly on talking head shows. CNN employee and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has also returned to the inner circle, albeit in an advisory role. This seems to be an awfully large number of cooks stirring the broth, though Bannon, Bossie, and Conway have been friendly for a long time, so that trio may better be able to work together than the duo of Lewandowski and Manafort did. (Z)

Trump Is Given a Script to Memorize for Interview at Black Church

To try to improve his standing with black voters, Donald Trump has agreed to an interview by a black pastor, Bishop Wayne Jackson, in Detroit tomorrow. To prevent Donald from being Donald, his staff insisted on the pastor providing the questions in advance, which he did. The staff wrote out very un-Trump-like answers for Trump to memorize. Unfortunately, the eight-page script was leaked, and the New York Times published a story about it this morning.

The first question is: "Are you a Christian and do you believe the Bible is an inspired word of God.?" Absent a script, Trump might say something like: "I'm a Presbyterian and Presbyterians are the greatest," which is probably not what the pastor wants to hear. His handlers want him to say: "As I went through my life, things got busy with business, but my family kept me grounded to the truth and the word of God. I treasure my relationship with my family, and through them, I have a strong faith enriched by an ever-wonderful God." This will go over much better, even though there is no evidence at all that any of his wives or children have the slightest interest in religion other than his daughter Ivanka, who is definitely not a Christian (she converted to Orthodox Judaism in 2009).

The interview itself is not so important, but it shows that Trump's staff, especially campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, desperately wants Trump to tone it down and start sounding like Mitt Romney. The conflict between the campaign manager and the candidate is likely to continue until election day. (V)

A Wall Wouldn't Work

We know already how smugglers would deal with Donald Trump's wall: They would tunnel under it. In fact, they are already doing that. Since 1990, the Border Patrol has discovered over 200 tunnels under the U.S.-Mexican border. Tunnels are so numerous around Nogales that the Border Patrol describes the area as "Swiss cheese." The Border Patrol has no reliable way to detect these tunnels, especially when they terminate inside a house on the American side.

The government has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into technology to find tunnels, but none of the methods work. Radar can be used to get a blurry image of what is underground, but there are cracks, water tables, caves, and tree roots down there, all of which are hard to distinguish from tunnels. Furthermore, the most sophisticated tunnels can be 90 feet deep, far beyond the range of all ground-penetrating radar systems, which work to about 10 feet deep. While the tunnels are mostly used by drug smugglers at the moment, if Donald Trump were to build his wall, they would suddenly become conduits for undocumented immigrants as well. (V)

Reid: Maybe It's Time to Curtail the Filibuster

Outgoing Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has been frustrated in the past by the Republicans' using the filibuster to make it necessary to get 60 votes to do anything at all in the Senate. Now he is saying that if the Democrats win the majority of Senate seats and the Republicans resume a systematic campaign of filibusters, it might be time to curtail the filibuster and just go with majority votes, as in the House. Of course, the retiring Reid will have no say what happens in the new Senate, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who will likely be majority leader if the Democrats control the Senate, isn't talking.

Schumer is definitely in a bind because although the Democrats may have a majority in 2017, they will almost certainly lose it in 2019. This is because (1) the 2018 map greatly favors the Republicans, and (2) tens of millions of Democrats don't bother to vote in midterm elections, whereas most Republicans loyally cast their votes in all elections. Eliminating the filibuster is not a binary proposition, though. Schumer could keep the filibuster but require filibustering senators to stand on the Senate floor talking until they drop. In this way, the minority could delay Senate business for a few weeks, but ultimately when every senator had finished reading his state's phone book, a vote would be taken. Under these circumstances, filibusters could still be used, but would become much rarer simply because many senators are elderly and do not have the stamina to stand on the Senate floor for many hours talking. (V)

Clinton Really Should Be Talking More About Climate Change

One of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) pet issues (and one of Jill Stein's) is student loan debt. Millennials flocked to his banner, fearful that getting a college degree will mean living with their parents until they're 40. It's a serious issue; estimates are that the millennial generation will graduate college with $1 trillion in debt. However, as a new study reveals, that's a relative drop in the bucket compared to climate change, which—if unchecked—is going to cost the Millennials $8.8 trillion.

If Hillary Clinton were wise, she would post a copy of this study to her website, and would talk about it at every single rally, in every single speech, and during the debates. Millennials are already the generation most likely to accept that (a) climate change is happening and (b) it is man-made (about 75% agree with both statements). It should be an easy sell to persuade them that it's not only an environmental crisis, but also an economic crisis that will hit them hard in the wallets. This would allow Clinton to make inroads with a group of voters that has held her at arm's length. It would also provide her a mandate, if elected, for working on what could prove to be the most consequential issue of our times (yes, even greater than Russia, or terrorism, or corrupt Wall Street banks). Finally, it's a subject on which the GOP literally has no answer, since the party's position is that global warming doesn't exist (their candidate specifically believes that it's a Chinese hoax). At the moment, the Clinton campaign is going almost completely negative, as they try to define Trumpism in the minds of voters. If and when they shift to an issues focus, however, this one should be front and center. (Z)

Clinton Raised $143 Million in August

The Clinton campaign announced that it raised $143 million in August. However, that total also includes money raised with joint fundraising committees. Of the $143 million, $62 million was for the campaign itself and the rest was for the DNC and state parties. The Trump campaign has not announced its August totals yet. (V)

Blue States Make Voting Easier

Since 2010, 25 states, all of them controlled by Republicans, have passed laws to make voting more difficult. A few of the laws have been overturned by the courts, but most of them remain on the books. Meanwhile, five blue states have passed laws making voting easier. Typically, these states automatically register voters when they have contact with certain government agencies, such as the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, unless they explicitly say they do not want to be registered. In Oregon, for example, automatic registration has added 222,000 voters to the rolls since January 2016. This brought about a third of the state's unregistered citizens into the fold.

In states with a Republican governor, even if the state legislature passes a bill to automatically register voters, the governor is almost certain to veto it, as happened in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) called the bill the "Voter Fraud Enhancement and Permission Act." The same thing happened in Illinois. Democrats are trying to get around this in red states by using ballot initiatives, for example in Alaska. (V)

Gary Johnson Is Doomed

Gary Johnson himself has noted that if he does not make the stage for the first presidential debate—which will be broadcast on all four major broadcast networks and 12 cable channels, and will be the most-watched debate of all time—he is in deep trouble. Well, as Politico's Steven Shepard and Daniel Straus observe, Johnson has two major problems that are all but certain to keep him off that stage.

The first issue is a polling problem. To qualify for the debate, Johnson needs to be averaging 15% in five major polls—ABC News/Washington Post, CBS News/New York Times, CNN/ORC, Fox News and NBC News/Wall Street Journal—the week before the candidates meet on September 26. Currently, Johnson is holding steady around 9%, and there's no particular reason to believe that his numbers are going to get better. However, there is a very good reason to think that they will get worse. Very soon, all five polling houses are going to shift from asking "registered voters" to asking "likely voters." Likely voters are generally much more reticent to support third-party candidates. If past precedent holds, the change in polling methodology should cost Johnson about 2 points, which would leave him less than halfway to where he needs to be.

The second problem is, to an extent, of Johnson's own doing. He is running a campaign focused on November 8, rather than one focused on September 26. Specifically, he has invested in radio advertising in a few small-to-medium states where he enjoys the most support (Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin). Since radio advertising is cheap, this allows him to conserve his limited campaign cash ($1.2 million), and at the same time gives him his best (but still tiny) chance at somehow grabbing some electoral votes. If he wants to make the debate stage, he needs to be advertising nationally, and on television. There is no way that he will be powered to 15% by voters in just a handful of states.

What it really adds up to is a Catch-22. Johnson needs big money if he wants to make the debates, but he needs to make the debates if he wants to collect big money. Hence the conclusion: He's doomed. (Z)

Could the House Be in Play?

Most experts discount the possibility of the Democrats putting the House in play unless Hillary Clinton wins the election by at least 10 points. However, Geoffrey Skelley of the respected Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, thinks that a Clinton win of only 6 points gives the Democrats a shot at taking the House, although it is by no means a sure thing. The difference between 6 points and 10 points is important, because currently she leads by around 6 points, and 10 points looks like a stretch. Skelley also thinks Clinton needs to get over 50% of the national vote to have enough coattails to pull in the House. Currently, she is several points short of that (she's around 47%, compared to 41% for Trump, with the rest going to third parties). So either threshold, a 10-point margin or 51% of the vote, requires her to move up by something like 4 points from where she is now. Of course, after the first debate, that could change.

Election guru Sam Wang comes at the issue from a historical perspective. He notes that modern elections are very polarized, and the total vote in House elections comes within 2.9% of the presidential race. This means that if Clinton wins by 6 points, the Democrats' margin in the national total vote for the House would be in the 3-9% range. At the high end, that would flip many seats. The problem with this kind of model is that even with a landslide in the national vote for House candidates, it could be hard to flip some very gerrymandered districts. Luckily for the Republicans, there are only nine Republicans in Democratic-leaning districts. So this model may not be of so much use in practice.

In short, the smart money says that absent a strong Clinton landslide, the Republicans will lose seats in the House, but will retain control. Such a result would mean a real headache for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), though, because moderate Republicans will be the first to go, leaving a more radical caucus for him to deal with. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

A new batch of PPP polls doesn't show anything new, but confirms that Clinton is still leading in all-important Ohio. Hampton University has Virginia much closer than any other pollster. It is probably just a statistical fluke. Unfortunately, PPP and Hampton didn't ask about Johnson. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Arizona 43% 46%   Aug 26 Aug 28 PPP
Missouri 41% 47%   Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
North Carolina 45% 44%   Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
New Hampshire 46% 40%   Aug 26 Aug 28 PPP
Ohio 46% 42%   Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
Pennsylvania 48% 43%   Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
Virginia 43% 41%   Aug 24 Aug 28 Hampton University
Wisconsin 48% 41%   Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
West Virginia 31% 49% 10% Aug 09 Aug 28 R.L. Repass

Today's Senate Polls

Having won his primary easily, now Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has a much tougher fight on his hands with Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ). A new PPP poll has them tied. Missouri and North Carolina are leaning Republican, while New Hampshire is leaning Democratic. In Ohio, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is pulling away from the former governor, Ted Strickland, while in Pennsylvania, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) may be a one-term senator. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)'s goose is already cooked and Russ Feingold will get his old seat back. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Ann Kirkpatrick 43% John McCain* 43% Aug 26 Aug 28 PPP
Missouri Jason Kander 43% Roy Blunt* 47% Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
North Carolina Deborah Ross 43% Richard Burr* 46% Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
New Hampshire Maggie Hassan 44% Kelly Ayotte* 42% Aug 20 Aug 28 U. of New Hampshire
New Hampshire Maggie Hassan 47% Kelly Ayotte* 45% Aug 26 Aug 28 PPP
Ohio Ted Strickland 39% Rob Portman* 48% Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty 46% Pat Toomey* 40% Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
Wisconsin Russ Feingold 49% Ron Johnson* 42% Aug 26 Aug 27 PPP
Wisconsin Russ Feingold 55% Ron Johnson* 37% Aug 25 Aug 25 Global Strategy

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep01 Trump Resumes Hard Line on Immigration
Sep01 Supreme Court: North Carolina Voter ID Law May Not Be Enforced in 2016
Sep01 Republican Senators Won Their Primaries with Amazing Ease
Sep01 Trump Is on the Air, But Less Than Advertised
Sep01 Trump Just Booting Up in Florida
Sep01 Grassley Sees the Handwriting on the Wall
Sep01 Sunnis and Shiites in America
Sep01 What Are the Candidates' Positions on All the Issues?
Aug31 Incumbents Triumph in Florida, Arizona
Aug31 Trump to Meet with President of Mexico Today
Aug31 Clinton Will Use Psychological Warfare Against Trump in Debates
Aug31 Trump Hired Foreign Models in Violation of U.S. Law
Aug31 Judge Curiel Rules that Trump University Case Can Proceed
Aug31 FBI Will Release Report of Clinton Email Investigation
Aug31 Koch Brothers Pull Portman Ads
Aug31 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Opposes Bayh in Indiana
Aug30 Election Security, Already a Contentious Issue, Is Getting Worse
Aug30 Today's Trump Campaign Management Drama
Aug30 The Trump-GOP Long Game
Aug30 Why Trump Would Hate the Presidency
Aug30 It Is Debate or Bust for Johnson
Aug30 McCain Is Fighting for His Political Life
Aug30 Could the U.S. Adopt a Multiparty System?
Aug30 Abedin, Weiner Split
Aug30 Election Security, Already a Contentious Issue, Is Getting Worse
Aug30 Today's Trump Campaign Management Drama
Aug30 The Trump-GOP Long Game
Aug30 Why Trump Would Hate the Presidency
Aug30 It Is Debate or Bust for Johnson
Aug30 McCain Is Fighting for His Political Life
Aug30 Could the U.S. Adopt a Multiparty System?
Aug30 Abedin, Wiener Split
Aug29 Trump's Feud with the Pope is Starting to Pay Dividends--to Clinton
Aug29 College Republicans Have a Real Problem
Aug29 Trump Blasted for Wade Tweet
Aug29 Was He Raised by Wolves?
Aug29 Is There Precedent for a Trump Comeback?
Aug29 Trump Immigration Speech Is Back On
Aug29 Trump Hires Bill Stepien
Aug29 Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Future Is on the Line Tomorrow
Aug29 Helping People Leave the Country Has Become a Cottage Industry
Aug28 Trump Has a Long History of Racial Discrimination
Aug28 Who is the KKK Candidate?
Aug28 The Candidates' Debate Prep Styles Couldn't Be More Different
Aug28 In New Ad, Clinton Attacks Trump for Making His Merchandise Overseas
Aug28 Pence Is Fulfilling His Attack Dog Role Well
Aug28 Republican Strategists Look Beyond Trump
Aug28 How Will Gary Johnson Do on Election Day?
Aug28 Holton's Job Is to Make People Like Hillary Clinton
Aug28 Old Polls Added to the Database