Clinton 312
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Ties 29
Trump 197
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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 (52)
  • Exactly tied (29)
  • Barely GOP (46)
  • Likely GOP (50)
  • Strongly GOP (101)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: NC PA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Trump Made Millions from Saudis
      •  A Tale of Two Scandals
      •  Even Trump's Advisers Are Unclear on His Deportation Plans
      •  About that "Tightening" Presidential Race...
      •  Who Supports Gary Johnson?
      •  Major Virginia Newspaper Endorses Johnson
      •  What's Trump Doing in Michigan?
      •  Kellyanne Conway: We Don't Need Pennsylvania
      •  Pence to Release Tax Returns This Week
      •  FiveThirtyEight: An Assessment
      •  What Happened to Rudy Giuliani?
      •  Today's Presidential Polls
      •  Today's Senate Polls

Trump Made Millions from Saudis

Donald Trump has taken to bashing Hillary Clinton for the Clinton Foundation's willingness to accept money from Saudi Arabia (technically, a U.S. ally). Although the donations may have bought access to the Clintons, none of it ended up in the Clintons' own pockets. All of the Foundation's money is used for good works around the world. Now the New York Daily News has discovered that the Saudi government bought the entire 45th floor of Trump World Tower, for which it paid $4.5 million. None of that money was used for good works around the world, and a decent chunk of it ended up in Trump's own pocket. To make things worse, one of the people who lived in Trump's building was Osama bin Laden's half brother.

Recently, Trump has been denying that he does business with the Saudis, but last year in Alabama, before he was running for president, he said: "Saudi Arabia and I get along great with all of them [sic]. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much." The Saudis have been using some of the apartments to house diplomats from their U.N. mission. Attacking Clinton for taking donations from the Saudis for good works while he has personally profited from them seems a bit hypocritical. It will be interesting to see if (1) other media outlets pick up this story, and (2) if Clinton batters Trump over the head with it. (V)

A Tale of Two Scandals

The Washington Post's Paul Waldman notes that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had a bit of dirt (or possible dirt) spill last week. For Clinton, it was a story about how an executive at the Clinton Foundation requested a special passport from the Clinton-run State Department. The passport was not actually issued. For Trump, it was a penalty he had to pay to the IRS, after "donating" $25,000 to the campaign of Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, who was—at that time—investigating Trump University, and any frauds that may have been committed. The investigation was dropped, which makes that $25,000 look an awful lot like a bribe.

Waldman suspects, probably quite correctly, that the former scandal is going to stick around much longer than the latter, despite the fact that Trump's actions appear to be the much more venal of the two. He stops short of speculating as to why that might be, so we'll pick up the slack and offer a few theories:

  1. The GOP tends to be rather better at getting mileage out of dirt, and keeping the outrage level high. This includes the right-wing media.

  2. The left-wing media, on the other hand, fears accusations that they lack "balance." There are already so many Trump stories with a negative bent that anti-Clinton stories are latched onto and squeezed for all they are worth to create this "balance."

  3. The Trump story has too many moving parts. Shady university leads to investigation leads to payment, etc., etc. The Clinton story is fairly simple; by contrast, and can be boiled down to a headline or a tweet: "Clinton Foundation Asks Secretary for Special Favors."

  4. There is a public perception that if Clinton allowed money to buy access, she's out of the norm and corrupt. But the other side of that equation—a businessman like Trump, who uses his cash to grease the skids with a politician—is doing nothing particularly problematic or out of the ordinary.

Again, these are just theories. Readers can decide for themselves if there seems to be a germ of truth in any of them. (Z)

Even Trump's Advisers Are Unclear on His Deportation Plans

Last week, Donald Trump delivered an address on immigration policy in which he (theoretically) made his stance crystal clear. He said that all 11 million of the undocumented people in the United States would have to go, but that he would prioritize the deportations of individuals who have committed crimes, and those who have overstayed their visas. It's estimated that the former group numbers about 690,000 and the latter totals about 4.5 million, meaning that Trump would start by focusing on about half of the overall total.

This seems to be a pretty clear statement of Trump's stated intentions. However, his various surrogates were on the Sunday morning talking head shows, and they seemed unable to agree on much of anything. Chris Christie was on CBS' "Face the Nation" and said:

After the 2 to 3 million get put out of the country because they're committing crimes, hurting Americans, selling drugs, doing things that are illegal, once those people are dealt with first—and I think everyone agrees on that issue—then we can deal with the remaining 8 million people.

This overstates the number of criminals by a factor of three or four, while ignoring the "overstayed" group entirely.

Kellyanne Conway, meanwhile, had an even harder time being specific, explaining to George Stephanopoulos that:

Once you enforce the law, once you get rid of the criminals, once you triple the number of ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] agents, once you secure the Southern border, once you turn off the jobs...and benefits magnet, then we'll see where we are.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) was unwilling to say anything at all about the subject while on "Meet the Press," declaring that, "I think Donald Trump's been completely consistent and I think he did [explain]." This may have something to do with Pence's plans for 2020, when he hopes to run for president and to collect something more than 19% of the Latino vote.

Rudy Giuliani, also on "Meet the Press," offered yet another interpretation of the Trump plan, asserting that The Donald left a, "big opening for what will happen with the people that remain here in the United States after the criminals are removed and after the border is secure." He also said that he doubted Trump would break up families.

So, there you have it. If you're feeling a bit confused about Donald Trump's deportation policy, well, you're not the only one. (Z)

About that "Tightening" Presidential Race...

For the last week or so, Hillary Clinton has been slipping in both national and state polls. This would seem to be good news for Donald Trump, and literally hundreds of stories have been written about how the race is "tightening." NBC News' Dante Chinni has taken a closer look at the numbers, however, and concluded that they don't really support the tightening narrative.

It is true that, by all accounts, Clinton's numbers are down over the last 7-10 days, very possibly a response to stories about the Clinton Foundation and her e-mails. Overall, it appears as if she's dropped about 3-6 points. However, Trump hasn't seen a 3-6 point increase. In fact, his numbers have risen only slightly in some cases, and have actually fallen in others. The beneficiaries of Clinton's slippage are actually third-party candidates, Gary Johnson especially, and to a lesser extent Jill Stein. So, Trump's position is not really improving. Meanwhile, voters who say they plan to vote third party in September often get cold feet by November. So, it may be the case that Clinton hasn't slipped that much at all. (Z)

Who Supports Gary Johnson?

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is on track to get more votes than any third-party candidate since Henry Ross Perot got 8.4% in 1996 on the Reform Party ticket. Johnson might even beat that mark, but it seems unlikely. Johnson certainly won't beat Perot's 18.9% in 1992. Johnson is currently polling around 10%.

But even 10% is a lot for a third-party candidate, so the question arises: "Who is supporting Johnson?" A recent survey shows that the former Republican governor of New Mexico is attracting largely younger voters, with 32% under 30 and 70% younger than 50. Also, about 60% are independents. Johnson has equal numbers of men and women behind him. He does well with people who attended college (74%), and less well with voters who never attended college (26%). The income distribution of his supporters is somewhat closer to that of Trump's supporters than of Clinton's, except he does better with people earning less than $30,000 than Trump.

The survey shows that many of his supporters don't support him at all. They just hate Clinton and Trump, and he is an alternative. While the questions didn't include, "Do you actually know what he stands for?", it is very likely there is enough in his platform to repel many of his supporters if they knew. Republicans supporting him aren't going to like his view that the government has no business regulating morality. If someone wants to have an abortion, Johnson thinks it is none of the government's business to get involved. If a man wants to marry two other men, all consenting adults, that's up to them.

Young idealistic supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who think that Hillary Clinton is a corporate stooge and want a $15/hr minimum wage, would be appalled to learn that Johnson wants to repeal the minimum wage law. If a company offers a job at $4/hr and someone accepts it, it is not the government's business to say that they can't enter into this deal, according to the Libertarians. Young Sanders supporters, who want higher income taxes on the rich, would probably not be so favorable to Johnson if they knew he wants to abolish the income tax altogether. Oddly enough, if Johnson makes the first debate, this stuff will come out because Trump will "ask" him about abortion and Clinton will "ask" him about income taxes. He might actually be better off not being in the debate so his supporters don't learn what he stands for. (V)

Major Virginia Newspaper Endorses Johnson

Newspaper endorsements don't have anywhere near the clout they used to, but nevertheless, they keep trying. It is extremely rare for one to endorse a third-party candidate for president, but the Richmond, VA Times-Dispatch yesterday endorsed Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, saying that both Clinton and Trump were unfit for the presidency. It also had positive things to say about Johnson himself. He built a construction company from scratch that eventually employed 1,000 people, and later was twice elected governor of New Mexico. He is also the youngest of the four "major" candidates running, at 63. While one endorsement is not such a big deal, if many more are forthcoming, it could make a bit of a difference.

In particular, in Arizona and Utah, Johnson is well known. It is inconceivable that he could win either of them (or any other state), but it is conceivable that he could pull enough votes from Trump in either one to flip the state to Clinton. (V)

What's Trump Doing in Michigan?

Donald Trump appears to be making a play for Michigan. He's been campaigning there this weekend, including his speech before a black congregation in Detroit. He's also indicated his intention to begin advertising in the state, as soon as next week. This despite the fact that polls consistently put him down 5 to 10 points.

So, is there method to the madness? The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza has taken a look at the matter, and he thinks there is. Or, if not method, then desperation. If The Donald follows through on his pronouncement, he'll be airing advertising in Colorado, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. These are all swing states, and all places where he's trailing, often quite badly. His problem is that they are still his best investments of time and money. Iowa and Nevada are closer and therefore more winnable, but don't have enough electoral votes to matter. And he simply can't afford to play defense in Georgia, Utah, and Arizona—he has to hope those states take care of themselves. Therefore, he's left chasing longshots, like Michigan. (Z)

Kellyanne Conway: We Don't Need Pennsylvania

Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, went full sour grapes yesterday, noting that her candidate is being crushed in Pennsylvania and then saying that he could be elected president without the Keystone State. In theory, that is true, especially if he won New York, New Jersey, and California, but none of that is going to happen. Conway is a pollster and knows very well that without Pennsylvania, Trump's chances are extremely low. She has become the public face of the campaign, so her official job is to predict that Trump will win, no matter what the polls say. (V)

Pence to Release Tax Returns This Week

Republican vice-presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) this weekend announced he will release his tax returns this week. He also added that they would be a quick read. The governor said that after 16 years of public service, he is not a wealthy man. (V)

FiveThirtyEight: An Assessment

There was a time when FiveThirtyEight was the gold standard in political analysis. However, since its move to ESPN's family of websites, reviews have been mixed. One of us (Z) has written a review for our features page of the work being done these days by Nate Silver & Co., along some thoughts as to why things may have gone off the rails.

Note that we have written longer feature stories on other items during the year. You can find them by clicking on the "Feature stories" link to the left of the map. We are also open to other people submitting feature stories. If you have an idea, please contact us. (Z)

What Happened to Rudy Giuliani?

Former New York city Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been one of Donald Trump's strongest (and some would say meanest) supporters. Only Chris Christie comes close. It is likely that both are angling for the job of attorney general in a Trump administration. Nevertheless, Giuliani wasn't always like this. In fact, he wasn't like this at all for years. Politico has written a long biography of Giuliani, which can be briefly summarized as follows. He grew up in Brooklyn as a Democrat and was drawn to JFK. He later defended Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty, and called Barry Goldwater "an incompetent, confused, and idiotic man." After Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, Giuliani called him "irreplaceable." Giuliani voted for George McGovern, not exactly a conservative Republican, in 1972. Only after president Richard Nixon gave him a job as an assistant U.S. attorney did he begin to like the GOP. In Dec. 1980, he finally took the step of registering as a Republican. His mother, Helen Giuliani, was quoted in 1988 saying: "He's definitely not a conservative Republican." When he was promoted to U.S. attorney, he went after a mixed bag of crooks, including Wall Street executives, as well as mobsters.

When the mild-mannered David Dinkins, who is black, was elected mayor of New York, Giuliani saw his chance and began a nonstop campaign of race baiting. Actually, Dinkins did an excellent job on crime, adding 6,000 new cops and setting a record with 36 consecutive months of decreasing crime, but Giuliani just tore into him constantly, and polls showed that people believed that crime had increased during Dinkins' administration. In 1993, Giuliani was elected mayor, and was reelected in 1997. He had an affair that was all over the tabloids, just as Donald Trump's affairs were. After 9/11, he suddenly became a hero for visiting lower Manhattan and condemning the terrorists. After he left office, he formed a security firm and made lots of money. He ran for president in 2008 and amassed a total of zero delegates. Now he is running for attorney general. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

We have a bit more evidence that Clinton is ahead in North Carolina. We also have evidence that she is ahead in Pennsylvania. No impartial observer thinks Trump has a shot there. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
North Carolina 46% 42% 4% Aug 30 Sep 02 YouGov
Pennsylvania 45% 37% 6% Aug 30 Sep 02 YouGov

Today's Senate Polls

In contrast to the presidential elections in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the Senate races there are very close. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
North Carolina Deborah Ross 41% Richard Burr* 40% Aug 30 Sep 02 YouGov
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty 39% Pat Toomey* 39% Aug 30 Sep 02 YouGov

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep04 Clinton Has Huge Lead over Trump Among Latinos
Sep04 Clinton Foundation Gets Best Possible Rating from Watchdog Group
Sep04 Trump Speaks at a Black Church
Sep04 Is Clinton Repeating LBJ's Mistake?
Sep04 40 Down, 10 to Go
Sep04 Clinton Backs Regulation of Drug Prices
Sep04 Johnson and Stein Getting on the Ballot in More States
Sep04 Trump Visit a Disaster for Mexican President
Sep04 Don't Forget to Register
Sep03 Debate Moderators Named
Sep03 Clinton E-Mail Report Released
Sep03 Trump's Campaign Is Run by Volunteers
Sep03 About Trump and Roger Ailes...
Sep03 New Poll: Clinton Is as Unpopular as Trump
Sep03 Democratic Advisers Are Expecting a Landslide Victory
Sep03 Fallout From Trump Immigration Speech Continues
Sep03 The Real Trumpettes of Bel Air
Sep03 North Carolina Republican Concedes Purpose Behind Voter ID Laws
Sep02 Most Clinton Voters Will Vote for Republicans for Congress
Sep02 Most Clinton Voters Will Vote for Democrats for Congress
Sep02 Are There Millions of Secret Trump Voters Out There?
Sep02 Trump Hires Head of Citizens United
Sep02 Trump Is Given a Script to Memorize for Interview at Black Church
Sep02 A Wall Wouldn't Work
Sep02 Reid: Maybe It's Time to Curtail the Filibuster
Sep02 Clinton Really Should Be Talking More About Climate Change
Sep02 Clinton Raised $143 Million in August
Sep02 Blue States Make Voting Easier
Sep02 Gary Johnson Is Doomed
Sep02 Could the House Be in Play?
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