Clinton 294
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Trump 244
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (164)
  • Likely Dem (56)
  • Barely Dem (74)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (89)
  • Likely GOP (41)
  • Strongly GOP (114)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2012: NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: FL IA OH

Clinton Says Fraction of Trump Supporters Who Are Racist Is Not 0.5

On Friday, Hillary Clinton said that half of Trump's supporters are racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or Islamaphobic. Not surprisingly, she got a lot of negative feedback from the Trump campaign, including demands for an apology. So she apologized, in her way. On Saturday, she said it was wrong to say it was "half." After all, she has no statistics. Maybe it is 60% or 90%, or perhaps less than 50%. She certainly did not take back the idea that there are plenty of deplorable Trump supporters. She only conceded it might not be exactly 50% of them. She also said that she will not stop calling out bigotry and racism in the campaign.

It is almost inconceivable that her original comment, or her slight change of position, was a gaffe. She knew what she was doing. Philip Bump of the Washington Post examines how different groups of voters are likely to interpret her remarks:

  • Clinton supporters: They will agree with her and not be incensed at all.
  • Racist Trump supporters: They will hate her even more than than do now, but they weren't going to vote for her.
  • Non-racist Trump supporters: Some will be insulted, but others will think about who they are in bed with.
  • Undecided voters: Some will be insulted, but some may think twice about hopping on the Trump train.

Bump doesn't believe that the remark will drive many undecided voters to Trump, but it may make some of them think carefully about what kind of people they are joining and who a President Trump might hire. He also thinks that some non-racist Trump supporters might get off the train. He doesn't see any downside to calling Trump's supporters out, which is probably her conclusion as well. Note that she didn't retract the comment, she merely said maybe it is not 0.5; it might even be more.

Sen Tim Kaine (D-VA) responded to the controversy by saying there was no need for Clinton to apologize because Trump has given a platform to white nationalists. He did point out that some of Trump's supporters are not racists, but simply have economic anxieties, and Clinton is aware of that and will govern to help those people. (V)

Obama Will Not Hit the Campaign Trail until October

Earlier this year, President Obama was clearly chomping at the bit to get started campaigning. He will visit Philadelphia and New York on Tuesday, but for the most part will not be in full-blown campaign mode until October. Nevertheless, between now and October he will do fundraising for Hillary Clinton, as well as doing media events and having a digital presence. When he starts campaigning, he will focus on Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Depending on how the race develops, he might also visit New Hampshire, Iowa, and Michigan, but he probably won't spend much time in any of them, as the real action is in the first four. (V)

Trump Speaks at the Values Voters Summit

Donald Trump addressed about 2,000 evangelicals at the Values Voters Summit on Friday, but had a lot of trouble maintaining a focus on things they care about, like religion and Jesus. He frequently went off on tangents, talking about topics like how the country is becoming less religious because clergy members are not allowed to endorse candidates for public office from the pulpit. Then he quickly switched to his polls.

When Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) spoke to the group, he knew exactly what to say. He gave a full-throated declaration that the Trump administration will fight to protect the life of the unborn. It was much easier for Pence, since he is actually religious and knows what evangelicals want to hear. In his speech to the group, Trump never mentioned any hot-button issues, like abortion and same-sex marriage.

The embrace that many evangelicals have given Trump is strange, to say the least. When Republican pollster Frank Luntz asked Trump in July 2015 if he had ever asked God for forgiveness, Trump said no, because he had never done anything wrong. That is not the answer evangelicals want. Trump has almost never talked about his faith, and he never goes to church. What is more surprising is that despite the fact that Hillary Clinton talks about her Methodist faith all the time and was once a member of a Bible-study group, few evangelicals like her. A Pew poll in July showed that 78% of evangelicals planned to vote for Trump. The conclusion has to be that a lot of them are just political conservatives who use their religion as a cover to support the most conservative candidate, not the most devout one. (V)

Pence Visits 9/11 Memorial

On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) visited the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon. He and his wife laid a bouquet of white roses at the portion of the memorial that honors Lt. Gen. Timothy Maude, a Hoosier, and the highest-ranking military official who died on 9/11. Pence was a member of the House when the attacks took place. In a short speech, he said that as soon as Donald Trump becomes president, we will be rebuilding our military. (V)

Pence: About that Putin/Obama Comparison...

Earlier this week, Mike Pence seconded his running mate's assertion that Vladimir Putin is a better leader than Barack Obama. We suggested, at the time, that Pence would come to regret that remark. Apparently, that process played out very quickly, since he walked back his remarks on Saturday. Well, sort of. Specifically, he said:

When Donald Trump and I said that the small and bullying president of Russia was a strong leader on the world stage, that wasn't an endorsement of Vladimir Putin, that was an indictment of the weak and feckless leadership of this president and [Hillary Clinton].

The careful reader will note that Pence did not actually change his mind, and say that Obama is better than Putin. What he said is that Putin is really bad, and Obama is worse. So the "new" opinion is mostly just Pence reminding people that he hates the leaders of both countries, not just the leader of the United States. Perhaps that's enough to get him out of the doghouse, at least for now, though the prediction here is that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will be keeping this incident in his oppo research file for 2020. (Z)

Kaine Believes Catholic Church Will Change Position on Gay Marriage

As a Democrat and a practicing Catholic, Tim Kaine has a few issues that are a bit sticky for him. One of those is gay marriage, which is supported by the Party, of course, but forbidden by the Church. He has chosen to side with the Party, at least for now, but in a speech to the 20th Annual Human Rights Campaign National Dinner in Washington he predicted that he may not have a dilemma for much longer. He said:

My full, complete, unconditional support for marriage equality is at odds with the current doctrine of the church that I still attend. But I think that's going to change, too. My church also teaches me about a Creator in the first chapter of Genesis who surveys the entire world including mankind and said, 'It is very good. It is very good.'

Needless to say, as with the "Values Voters" (above), people tend to find ways to interpret their religious beliefs to support their political predispositions. So, perhaps Kaine's theologizing is merely a matter of convenience. On the other hand, he could be correct. Pope Francis, while not a liberal, is certainly the most progressive pontiff in a long time. Further, scriptural support for anti-gay teachings is not terribly substantive (especially compared to the Bible's clear prohibitions against divorce), while younger people tend to be dismayed by overt displays of discriminatory behavior. The Church abandoned Latin in order to keep young people in the fold, so big changes governed by practical considerations are not unprecedented. Point is, Kaine's prediction is not outlandish. And if the Catholic Church does make this change, well, that really will be about the final nail in the coffin of gay marriage as a political football. (Z)

Weekly Standard Attacks Washington Post's "Deplorable" Behavior

The Weekly Standard is a right-wing publication. The Washington Post is left-leaning (though not as far to the left as the Standard is to the right). Not surprisingly, the two publications have rather different opinions on Hillary Clinton's email. The WaPo says that the story is "out of control," and is getting far more attention than it deserves. The Standard believes it's the critical story of this election, and finds the Post's criticism to be "deplorable."

A shouting match between two publications on alternate ends of the political spectrum is not all that interesting. What is interesting is the Standard's use of the word "deplorable" in its headline, apparently without irony, and less than 24 hours after the Clinton "basket of deplorables" comment made headlines. The Holy Grail of politics is the killer catchphrase—a word, or slogan, or brief sentiment that encapsulates a candidate's pitch, and finds its way into discourse on both sides of the aisle. The most recent truly successful examples come from 2004: "flip-flopper" and "swiftboat." Prior examples include "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" (1980 and 1984), "Stagflation" (1976), "In your heart, you know he's right—far right" (1964), and "I Like Ike" (1952). What we may be seeing is the first evidence that Clinton's "deplorable" line is taking hold, and could be on its way to being the next "Lincoln and Liberty, Too!" (1860) or "Happy Days are Here Again!" (1932). (Z)

The White House Phone Rarely Rings at 3 a.m.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton made an ad in which the narrator asks the viewers who they want to answer the White House phone when it rings at 3.a.m. It is arguably one of the three most famous political ads ever made, another being Lyndon Johnson's 1964 daisy ad, and third being Lee Atwater's Willie Horton ad that ran for George H.W. Bush in 1988. The reality, however, is that presidential aides and advisers almost never awaken the president at 3 a.m., because it almost never happens that there is a decision that must be made immediately. When the president is awakened in the middle of the night, it is often for PR reasons, as when President Nixon was awakened after the Apollo 13 spacecraft crisis. The public likes to think the president is on top of any emergency, even when there is absolutely nothing he can do about it.

The first sitting (or more accurately, prone), president to be awakened in the middle of the night was President John Tyler. In 1841, an armed mob of Whigs, angry that Tyler had vetoed a national bank bill, stormed the White House and woke up everyone. In 1861, military secretary Daniel Butterfield woke Lincoln six times to report on the Battle of Rich Mountain. Lincoln was not amused.

Vice presidents also get awakened on occasion. In 1923, Vice President Calvin Coolidge was awakened to take the oath of office after President Warren Harding had died. Coolidge was in Vermont at the time, on his father's farm. When the telegram arrived, Coolidge's father—a justice of the peace—administered the oath of office, then they both went back to bed at 2:47 a.m. There are a few other times when a president was awakened in the middle of the night to inform the president that something bad had happened somewhere, but no case on record (yet) where the president had to make a snap decision. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep10 Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Straight-Ticket Voting in Michigan
Sep10 Trump Also Donated to Try to Stop New York's Investigation of Trump University
Sep10 Election Could Get Even More Unpredictable
Sep10 Trump Calls CNN an Arm of the Clinton Campaign
Sep10 Will Trump Be on the Ballot in Minnesota?
Sep10 Trump to Reveal Personal Health Regimen to Dr. Oz
Sep10 Pence Releases His Tax Returns
Sep10 Clinton Says Half of Trump's Supporters Are in the Basket of Deplorables
Sep10 Putin Closes Down Russia's Only Independent Pollster
Sep10 Michele Bachmann Says that Clinton Will Jail Christians If She Wins
Sep09 Colin Powell Advised Clinton to Use a Private Email Server
Sep09 Gary Johnson Has a Rick Perry Moment
Sep09 Trump Makes a Proposal on Education
Sep09 Clinton Holds a Formal Press Conference
Sep09 Twelve Governors Will Be Chosen in November
Sep09 Trump Made Nine Controversial Statements in 24 Minutes
Sep09 Trump's Teleprompter Gap
Sep09 Intelligence Official Challenges Trump
Sep09 Pence Agrees with Trump on Putin/Obama
Sep09 Anti-Trump Super PAC files DOJ Bribery Complaint
Sep09 Divorce Rate May Spike after the Election
Sep08 Clinton's Campaign Is Entirely Data Driven
Sep08 Trump's Spending Reveals His Priorities
Sep08 Trump Raised $90 Million in August
Sep08 North Carolina Reduces Early Voting
Sep08 Trump Speech on Military Readiness Fails to Impress
Sep08 Everyone Loses at Commander-in-Chief Forum
Sep08 Bad News for E-mail Scandalmongerers
Sep08 Be Careful about Trusting the August Polls
Sep08 Trump Held Fundraiser for Bondi after She Dropped Trump University Case
Sep08 Cornyn Refuses to Endorse Cruz in Senate Primary
Sep08 Evan McMullin Picks a Running Mate--by Accident
Sep07 Kasich Refuses to Help Trump in Ohio
Sep07 Has Trump Hit His Ceiling?
Sep07 Clinton Is Now Holding Press Conferences
Sep07 The Trump Campaign Is a Black Box
Sep07 The Road to the White House Runs Past Disney World
Sep07 Dallas Morning News Rejects Trump
Sep07 Koch Brothers Are Preparing for the Long Haul
Sep07 McCarthy Wants to Impeach Clinton
Sep07 Chaffetz To Hold More E-mail Hearings
Sep07 Today in Irony: Gingrich Has Coughing Spell While Blasting Clinton's Coughing Spell
Sep06 How Trump Might Do on His Campaign Promises
Sep06 Trump Denies Having Spoken to Bondi
Sep06 Trump Evolves on Amnesty, Again
Sep06 Banks Want No Part of Trump Wall Plan
Sep06 Trump: Voters Don't Care About My Taxes
Sep06 Trump Commits to Debating
Sep06 Clinton Blames Coughing Fit on Allergy to Trump
Sep06 Hillary Clinton's New Plane Takes Off