• Clinton Will Release More Information on Her Health
• David Axelrod Hits Clinton for Her Obsession with Secrecy
• The Looming Debate Disaster
• Trump Faces New Type of Pressure on Tax Returns
• Why Does Donald Trump Get a Pass from the Media?
• NCAA Pulls Championship Games from North Carolina over Bathroom Bill
• Obama's Approval Numbers Are Soaring
• Nate Silver Gives GOP Donors a Secret Presentation
• Pence Doesn't Want Duke's Support, but Doesn't Think He's Deplorable
• Bill Clinton's CIA Director Endorses Trump
• Why Are Some Red States Turning Pink?
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
Hillary Clinton's health is the story du jour, and quite a few pundits are falling all over themselves in their rush to declare this to be an absolutely critical, earth-shattering, campaign-changing development. Here are some of the headlines:
- The Wall Street Journal: Hillary Clinton's Pneumonia Jolts the Presidential Race
- ABC News: Hillary Clinton's Health Scare Creates Major Campaign Moment
- Fortune: What Happens if Hillary Drops Out for Health Reasons
- The Heavy: Who Would Replace Hillary Clinton If She Had to Drop Out?
- The Financial Times: Hillary Clinton's health adds new twist to presidential race
- The Salt Lake Tribune: Clinton's health now a real issue in the presidential race
- The Independent (UK): What happens if Hillary Clinton's health problems force her out of the race for the White House?
Interestingly, the story has all segments of the political spectrum abuzz. You have Republicans who are hoping that this will mean disaster for Clinton. You have moderate Democrats nervous that this will mean disaster for Clinton. You even have progressive Democrats who hope that, just maybe, this will open the door for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to make his triumphant return. The media—who, as we have noted before, benefit enormously from a plausible "horse race" narrative—are happy to egg everyone on.
Not all of the media, however—there are a few voices of reason (hopefully, this site included). Yesterday, we observed that a case of pneumonia is hardly a health crisis. Yesterday, Politico's Edward-Isaac Dovere points out that this race is really not all that fluid. The large majority of voters have already made their minds up, and something this minor is not likely to change their thinking. He writes:
There are the people who hate Clinton, hate the changes they see in the country which they think Clinton would only accelerate. They're voting for Trump. Then there are the people who hate Trump, are disgusted by his race-baiting and terrified about him actually being president. They're voting for Clinton. The slice of people in between is and remains very, very thin.
Putting it on a numerical basis: 70% of voters say they have "definitely" chosen their candidate already, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sunday. And 60% of voters say Clinton is qualified to serve as president, according to the same poll, while only 36 percent think Trump is qualified. It is nearly inconceivable that someone would say, "Well, I don't think Trump is capable of being president, but at least he never gets a cold, so I guess I'll have to vote for him."
And though they would not say so openly, even the Trump campaign agrees with this assessment. While Trump and his surrogates made much of the coughing spell last week, they were downright compassionate about Sunday's events. Appearing on "Fox and Friends" on Monday, Trump said:
I hope she gets well soon. I don't know what's going on. I'm like you. I just see what I see—the coughing fit was a week ago, so I assume that was pneumonia also. So something is going on, but i just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail, and we'll be seeing her at the debate.
Orders came from Trump Tower on Monday that anyone speaking on behalf of the campaign should offer a similar response. This is not because Trump & Co. have turned over a new leaf and decided to embrace a kinder, gentler approach, however. It's because they think that the pneumonia angle isn't much of a winner, particularly once Clinton releases detailed health records (see below). Instead, they think that the "deplorables" remark is their real avenue of opportunity, so they prefer to invest their energies in keeping that in the headlines.
Our guess, then, is that a week from now Clinton will be back on the campaign trail, having released enough medical records to write a decent-sized textbook, and the only people who will still be focusing on her health will be those who were never going to vote for her, anyhow.
This episode reveals (once again) a fundamental problem with a huge amount of political reporting: Todayism. Whatever happened today (or for publications that come out in the morning, yesterday), is the most important development since the human species figured out how to slice bread. Everything that happened on the campaign trail in the previous year is suddenly erased and all that is left is what just happened. Few media outlets like to publish an item that says: "X happened today, but it really isn't all that important." (Z)
As a result of her weakness at the 9/11 memorial and subsequent admission that she has pneumonia, Hillary Clinton is feeling the heat and has decided to release more of her medical history. She really should have done this months ago, just as she released decades of tax returns, and then battered Donald Trump over the head with his failure to release his tax returns and also his failure to release his medical records.
The real damage to her is not being done by streptococcus pneumoniae, but by her once again dissembling and trying to hide potentially (slightly) damaging information. Back in the 1970s, she was a staffer on the Watergate investigation team. She seems to have forgotten the message of Watergate: The coverup is worse than the original incident. (V)
David Axelrod, Barack Obama's chief strategist in 2008 and 2012, tore into Hillary Clinton yesterday for her unhealthy penchant for trying to keep far too much about herself secret. He said that her fierce sense of privacy is a big problem, constantly. If she wants to be a private citizen, that works, but if she wants the most public job in the entire world, she has to be much more open. (V)
There will be a lot of pressure on the two candidates when they take the stage for the first debate on September 26. Hillary Clinton needs to appear personable and accessible. Donald Trump needs to appear presidential, and to pray he doesn't get any "What is Aleppo?" type questions. But the most pressure of all may be on the moderator, NBC News' Lester Holt. Following the disastrous performance of his colleague Matt Lauer at last week's Commander-in-Chief forum, Holt will have to be careful. If he is too aggressive, he runs the risk of being criticized for partisanship, or for sexism, or for being overly interested in "gotcha!" questions, or for all of the above. If he is too passive, he runs the risk of being excoriated, as Lauer was, for tossing softballs. To have any hope of succeeding, it will require massive preparation, perhaps even more prep than the candidates themselves will put in (certainly, more than one of them will put in). The New York Times calls it: "A Debate Disaster Waiting to Happen," while Esquire says it is, "the biggest test political journalists have ever faced."
Of course, it is not Hillary Clinton that makes for such a great challenge. Whatever her strengths or weaknesses may be, as a debater she's not markedly different from Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama, or John Kerry, or Al Gore, or even her husband. Gore's probably the best parallel, actually—former senator and White House insider, very wonky, not great in front of the cameras, a reputation for being a bit aloof.
The real challenge for Holt (and later, Martha Raddatz, Anderson Cooper, and Chris Wallace) comes in the form of one Donald J. Trump, who does not play by any set of debate rules known to man. He drifts off topic, he says outrageous things, he obfuscates, he tells outright lies. The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin—who is a conservative, but not a Trump fan—puts it thusly:
The task with Donald Trump is entirely different. His biggest flaws include his character, attitudes toward women and minorities, his ludicrous policy proposals, and his jaw-dropping ignorance. Allowing Trump to demonstrate those, removing the mask of bravado and stripping the veneer of business prowess, should be the moderators' goal.
The most important question for Trump will no doubt be: "But you didn't answer the question. Can you do so please?" It's critical for the questioner to listen carefully to Trump's responses both to detect when he is refusing to answer and to fact check his blatant falsehoods.
Rubin also suggests a number of questions that the moderator should consider asking. Among them:
Will you renounce birtherism?
Your steak, football, airlines, chocolate, magazine, vodka, casino, mortgage and university businesses all failed. Don't these failures show your lack of executive skills?
You refuse to release your taxes since you claim to be under audit. Why have you not released the audit letter to prove this and why can't you release the returns anyway—since there is no legal restriction on doing so?
You said you "regret" things you have said. Please name some.
You've insulted a lot of lawmakers and other people. How can you work with people you have already offended?
Yes or no, do all the Dreamers get deported under your scheme? What about a grandmother who has been here for 40 years? What about a working parent whose kids were born in the United States?
In the end, the Matt Lauer debacle could prove to be the best thing that could have happened for Lester Holt, since it will give him the cover to come out strong. And if that is what he does, then Trump is likely to have a very long evening. (Z)
Last week businessman and Marine Corps veteran Peter Kiernan launched a very interesting crowdfunding initiative: He proposed to collect $1 million in contributions, to be donated to 10 veterans' charities as soon as Donald Trump releases his tax returns (he's up to $63,762 as of Tuesday night). Now, in a development that gives the plan a lot more exposure and a lot more heft, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman says he will match donations on a 5-to-1 basis. In other words, the hypothetical donation is currently $382,572, and could reach as much as $6 million.
This effort is not good news for Donald Trump, particularly if it comes up during the debates. If the moderator(s) were to observe that there is no legal reason he cannot release his tax returns even if he is under audit, and were to point out that his intransigence is depriving veterans of millions of dollars, that would put him in a very tight spot, indeed. Clearly, Trump & Co. have decided the costs of releasing the returns are very high—they undoubtedly reveal that (a) he isn't as rich as he says he is, or (b) he gives nothing to charity, or (c) he pays very little in taxes, or (d) all of the above. However, there may come a point where the costs of not releasing them may become even more burdensome. But don't count on it. (Z)
During his 2012 trip to Europe, Mitt Romney was savaged by the media for some very minor gaffes. This year, Donald Trump can tell bald-faced lies, be confronted with proof that he is wrong, and continue telling the lies, with the media basically leaving him alone. Why? An article in Politico looks at that question and comes up with several plausible reasons. The first one is commercial. Television networks live or die by their ratings, and any time Trump is on the air, ratings soar. So Trump is good for business and no network wants to alienate him lest he stop appearing on that network. Print media have slightly different considerations since he revokes the press credentials of newspapers he doesn't like (although he recently restored some that had been revoked).
A second reason is that no one has ever seen anything like this before. He is a candidate who, above all else, tries to dominate everything and everyone he touches, and doesn't care what he has to say or do to achieve this. Previous candidates would be embarrassed if a fact checker said they had lied 30 times in 30 minutes, but Trump doesn't care.
A third reason is that his following is so loyal that nothing he does, literally nothing, upsets them. In previous campaigns, if a candidate behaved really badly, he would lose support. For Trump, that simply doesn't hold. He said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and he wouldn't lose any support, and it is probably true. (V)
When Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) signed House Bill 2, which restricts bathroom usage of the LGBT community, he no doubt saw it as a way to strengthen his support among conservative rural voters with not a lot of downside. He probably wasn't counting on a massive national reaction that may cost him his job. Already, a number of companies have said they will not expand their offices in the tech and financial center of Research Triangle Park. Now the NCAA has announced that it won't hold the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Greensboro, as originally planned, on account of HB 2. This is not the first athletic event to be moved out of state on account of HB 2. The NBA already said that the 2017 All-Star game will not be held in Charlotte.
As a consequence of all the attention to HB 2, McCrory is in trouble, which also means trouble for Donald Trump and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). With HB 2 now becoming a bill about prestige, economics, and job loss, Democratic turnout in North Carolina is no doubt going to be up this year, which will affect all three races. While conservative voters might otherwise be enthusiastic about restricting transgender people to the bathroom corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates, they are probably a lot less enthusiastic about the economic consequences of the numerous boycotts the bill has caused. (V)
A new ABC News/WaPo poll puts President Obama's approval rating at 58%. This is 14 points higher than it was just before the 2014 election, when the Democrats were blown out of the water. In fact, the last time it was this high was six months after he took office.
The number is important because when the incumbent president is popular, his party historically keeps the White House, and when he is unpopular, the message all over the land is "Throw the bums out." This is clearly good news for Hillary Clinton, since she is running for Obama's third term and if people like Obama, they are not going to be hostile to more of the same. Ironically, some of Obama's new-found popularity may be due to the lack of popularity of Trump and Clinton. By comparison, he looks pretty good. (V)
The election guru Nate Silver is monetizing his fame. This week, he gave a closed-door presentation on the election to a select group of very wealthy GOP donors in Manhattan. It wasn't revealed how much he was paid, but it probably covered more than subway fare. Attendees said it was an interesting talk. The donors attending the presentation have given hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican candidates in the past. This year, many are not funding the presidential race, and may have wanted Silver's insights into which Senate races they should put millions into. Actually, to find this out, all they had to do was look at our Senate tipping-point page. The states close to the two hands are the ones where donations will have the most effect. And our site is free and updated every day! (V)
Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) continued to thread a very fine needle on Monday. He appeared on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, and was asked if he found David Duke to be "deplorable." The Governor said that he doesn't engage in name-calling, but that he definitely doesn't want Duke's support.
Pence, as a veteran politician, knows that his 2016 vice-presidential hopes—and, perhaps more importantly, his 2020 presidential hopes—rest with two types of voters. The first are people who are openly racist; he doesn't want to aggravate those people. The second are people who are conservative, but don't want to be in the same party as the racists. He doesn't want to aggravate those people, either. This is the precise situation that dog-whistle racism was created for: subtle enough for the non-racists to overlook, but obvious enough for the racists to grab onto. The problem is that Trump went so far beyond dog whistles that it got the KKK and the white supremacists very excited, and caused them to be very loud and very active. Now, Pence, et al. are left trying to convince the non-racist conservatives not to flee, but without losing the racists. Hence, disavowing Duke's support without actually disavowing Duke himself. Duke, for his part, understood completely, thanking Pence for avoiding the term "deplorable," and making clear that he's still on board with Trump 2016. (Z)
James Woolsey, who ran the CIA from 1993 to 1995 and who described himself as a life-long Democrat, has not only endorsed Donald Trump, but joined his campaign as an adviser. He said he can't support Hillary Clinton on account of her use of a private email server. He also said that she lacks the ability to protect our government's sensitive and classified information (V).
Bill Schneider has an interesting piece on a demographic collision that is making some of the very red states, like Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia, less red. In 2012, Mitt Romney was the prince of money and Barack Obama was the prince of education. The wealthy generally voted for Romney and the Republicans to defend their economic interests. The well-educated generally voted for Obama to protect their cultural values. This year, there is a big battle for high-income, well-educated suburban voters. In the past, their economic interests generally prevailed and they voted Republican, but so many of them are so disgusted with Donald Trump that the whole group is in play. Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" remark was aimed squarely at this group. It was a dog whistle. The underlying message was something like this:
There is nothing wrong with being a Republican. I don't agree with many of the Republican Party's policies, but many Republicans are fine upstanding, decent people. However, a whole bunch of Trump supporters are just pond scum. They are sexist bigots and worse. Do you really want to be associated with these people? Aren't you ashamed of yourself for even thinking about voting for the sleazeball they worship? Or as Army counsel Joseph Welch put it in 1954: "Have you no sense of decency?"
History may give the Republicans some pause. In 1896, 1900, and 1908, Democrats nominated a full-blown populist, William Jennings Bryan. He was an economic radical, a religious fundamentalist, and a foreign policy isolationist. He ran well in rural areas, especially in the South, but was crushed in the cities, where immigrants mixed with educated elites. Democrats became the minority party for 36 years as a result. Republicans should take note. (V)
We have a whole slew of Ipsos (Internet) polls today, some of them not very believable (like New Mexico). Ipsos is a big, publicly traded company and has been around for over 40 years. All pollsters realize that with response rates under 10% and a ban on automated dialing of cell phones, something has to change about the polling business, or it will be laughed out of existence. Some of the more innovative pollsters, including Ipsos, are turning to Internet polling as a possible answer.
The big problem is that the demographics of Internet users are not all that close to national demographics, so corrections are needed to get the right balance of gender, age, partisanship, income, race, and much more. Thus, the pollster needs a model of the national population. If the model is off, the corrected results will be off.
Many states have demographics that are close to the national average, so the corrections work well for polls in those places. Some states are way off, so national corrections don't work at all. In particular, something like 45% of the voting age population of U.S. citizens in New Mexico is Latino, although not all are registered to vote. Nationally, the figure is less than half of this. The Ipsos poll shows Trump leading Clinton by 10 points in New Mexico. This is inconceivable. Other polls show Clinton ahead by 8-10 points in Land of Enchantment. This is not a statistical fluctuation; it is almost certainly due to applying national demographics to a state that has very different demographics from those of the country as a whole. Colorado has a similar problem, with Latinos probably being underrepresented in the Ipsos poll below.
The big question for us is whether to include Ipsos polls or just throw them in the garbage heap, along with partisan pollsters. The main factor arguing for including Ipsos is that a careful study by FiveThirtyEight gives Ipsos an A- rating, with a mean bias of D+0.1. Consequently, with a great deal of hesitation, we will include today's batch of Ipsos polls. The power of our method is aggregation, and the more polls we have, the better. So we will tend to err on the side of including pollsters where there are some doubts about the methodology, except "pollsters" that are really just partisan campaign consultants. (V)
|Alabama||42%||51%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Arkansas||41%||50%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Arizona||40%||46%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|California||49%||29%||11%||Sep 01||Sep 08||SurveyMonkey|
|California||57%||32%||3%||Sep 08||Sep 11||SurveyUSA|
|California||60%||32%||Sep 02||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Colorado||40%||43%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Connecticut||46%||40%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Delaware||46%||24%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Florida||42%||46%||3%||Sep 07||Sep 08||JMC Analytics|
|Florida||47%||47%||Sep 02||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Georgia||38%||48%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Iowa||39%||40%||10%||Sep 06||Sep 08||RABA Research|
|Iowa||41%||44%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Idaho||30%||56%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Illinois||52%||34%||Sep 02||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Indiana||32%||56%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Kansas||38%||52%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Kentucky||37%||53%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Louisiana||33%||60%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Massachusetts||53%||30%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Maryland||54%||30%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Maine||52%||33%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Michigan||43%||41%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Minnesota||42%||31%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Missouri||34%||53%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Mississippi||35%||58%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Montana||30%||60%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|North Carolina||46%||45%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Nebraska||28%||56%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|New Hampshire||49%||36%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|New Jersey||47%||35%||Sep 02||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|New Mexico||38%||48%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Nevada||43%||41%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Nevada||45%||42%||Sep 06||Sep 07||PPP|
|New York||52%||30%||Sep 02||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Ohio||47%||46%||Sep 02||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Oklahoma||33%||52%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Oregon||47%||35%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Pennsylvania||49%||44%||Sep 02||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|South Carolina||45%||49%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Tennessee||28%||49%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Texas||31%||48%||Sep 02||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Utah||24%||39%||13%||Sep 01||Sep 09||Dan Jones|
|Utah||29%||46%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Virginia||50%||37%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Washington||45%||37%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|Wisconsin||38%||40%||Aug 26||Sep 08||Ipsos|
|West Virginia||39%||54%||Aug 19||Sep 08||Ipsos|
Fortunately, Ipsos didn't poll Senate races, so we don't have that problem here as well. (V)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|California||Kamala Harris||44%||Loretta Sanchez (D)||27%||Sep 08||Sep 11||SurveyUSA|
|Florida||Patrick Murphy||38%||Marco Rubio*||43%||Sep 07||Sep 08||JMC Analytics|
|Nevada||Catherine Cortez-Masto||42%||Joe Heck||41%||Sep 06||Sep 07||PPP|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep12 Clinton Was Wrong: Only 42% of Trump's Supporters Are Racist
Sep12 Trump, Jr. Shares Questionable Deplorables Parody
Sep12 Group May Give Real-Time Reports on Election Day
Sep12 More Wikileaks Could Come This Week
Sep12 Trump Got Award, Painting for Donating Other People's Money to Charity
Sep11 Clinton Says Fraction of Trump Supporters Who Are Racist Is Not 0.5
Sep11 Obama Will Not Hit the Campaign Trail until October
Sep11 Trump Speaks at the Values Voters Summit
Sep11 Pence Visits 9/11 Memorial
Sep11 Pence: About that Putin/Obama Comparison...
Sep11 Kaine Believes Catholic Church Will Change Position on Gay Marriage
Sep11 Weekly Standard Attacks Washington Post's Deplorable Behavior
Sep11 The White House Phone Rarely Rings at 3 a.m.
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