Clinton 298
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Ties 29
Trump 211
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Click for Senate
Dem 49
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Ties 1
GOP 50
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  • Strongly Dem (162)
  • Likely Dem (63)
  • Barely Dem (73)
  • Exactly tied (29)
  • Barely GOP (35)
  • Likely GOP (34)
  • Strongly GOP (142)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: CA KS ME TX VA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: CO IA NM

The Deplorable Duel

Hillary Clinton's remark last week that half (she later retracted the "half" part) of Donald Trump's supporters was big news until Clinton got pneumonia. Nevertheless, both sides think the issue of "the deplorables" is important enough that each one has made an ad about it.

Donald Trump's "Deplorables" ad

Hillary Clinton's "Deplorables" ad

Most of the Trump ad is footage of Clinton making the comment, including her listing all the categories of deplorability, not unlike Dante giving a lesson on the geography of Hell. Then it goes on to say she was talking about people like "you, you, and you." It ends with: "You know what's deplorable? Hillary Clinton viciously demonizing people like you." Anyone who identified with the categories Clinton listed was almost sure to vote for Trump anyway, so it is far from clear what good the ad does.

Clinton's ad begins with Trump saying: "You can't lead this nation if you have such a low opinion of its citizens." Then it goes on with clips of Trump insulting many groups of people, followed by the original clip again. It ends with: "Exactly." (V)

About Clinton's "Unforced Error"

The politicians and pundits are still wrestling with Hillary Clinton's "deplorables" remark. And as the various pundits opine, it is clear that the absolute heart of the matter can be reduced to just two words: "unforced error."

Right-leaning partisans (for example, Ed Rogers in Tuesday's Washington Post) are relying heavily on that notion in their analyses. If the statement was indeed accidental, then Hillary Clinton absolutely had a moment like Mitt Romney's 47% comment—she inadvertently revealed a secret, deeply-held disdain for a significant portion of the citizenry she hopes to lead. On the other hand, if the remark was considered and deliberate, then it merely becomes an argument about Trump's coalition, one that can potentially be supported with evidence.

For the record, we have both argued that it was not an unforced error. The case for this point of view essentially comes down to three things. First, after 40 years in politics, Clinton is too much a seasoned veteran to say something like this by mistake. Second, it was not a one-time remark, delivered behind closed doors. She used the line before it became a headline, and has declined to repudiate it since (other than saying her estimate of "half" might not be correct, as noted above). Third, there was an obvious tactical benefit to the line, since the people who are outraged are not voting Clinton anyhow, while those who are on the fence might be persuaded to think twice about what basket they are in. Needless to say, reasonable people can disagree, but we would submit that the weight of evidence is against its being an accident. (Z)

Candidates and Aides Get Sick All the Time on the Campaign Trail

The media have treated Hillary Clinton's pneumonia as something akin to a 100-year storm. In reality, the business of working extremely intensive long days, seven days a week, never sleeping in the same bed two nights in a row (except for Donald Trump, who flies home every night), and being cooped up in the campaign plane or bus for many hours every day, plus kissing assorted babies, none of whom are ever vetted for disease, often leads to illnesses for candidates and aides. In 2008, Brooke Buchanan, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)'s press secretary, had to visit the emergency room in Beaufort, SC, during a stop there. In Aug. 2008, Barack Obama sneezed through a rally and commented on his cold. In 2012, Mitt Romney developed a respiratory illness just days before delivering his acceptance speech in Tampa. His senior adviser, Stuart Stevens, said: "I was scared to death that he wouldn't be able to speak." The grueling schedule led Stevens himself to get pneumonia right after the election. During the 2016 primaries, a senior adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Alice Stewart, coughed her way through news conferences that she was recording. She called the Cruz plane "a flying Petri dish."

Unhealthy food is another hazard for candidates. Campaigns run on junk food, although Mitt Romney used to pick the cheese off his pizzas and the skin off his fried chicken. Also, candidates are expected to eat any ethnic food given to them. Not doing so would be taken as an insult to the voters who cherish that food. All in all, campaigning is a very unhealthy activity.

Sick candidates are one thing. What about sick presidents? Pneumonia is not something that only candidates get. President William Henry Harrison gave a 2-hour inaugural speech on a blustery day, got pneumonia, and died a month into his term. Woodrow Wilson had a major stroke in 1919. His wife, Edith, and his doctor orchestrated an elaborate cover-up to keep the public from learning about his condition. Most historians believe that Edith was the de facto president for the rest of Wilson's term. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had polio and used a wheelchair, but he went to enormous efforts to make sure nobody ever saw the wheelchair. John F. Kennedy suffered from an autoimmune disorder, Addison's disease, but managed to keep it quiet so few people knew about it. Ronald Reagan had cancer surgery in 1985 and made decisions while hospitalized that he didn't remember later. So disease and politics have been connected for quite a while. (V)

Supreme Court Refuses to Reinstate Ohio's Golden Week

After the 2004 election, when some people were forced to wait 12 hours to vote, the Ohio legislature passed some election reforms. One of these was to have 35 days of early voting and a period of 7 days, known as "Golden Week," when people could register and cast a ballot at the same time. In 2013, the Republican-controlled Ohio state legislature reduced early voting to 28 days and eliminated Golden Week. Democrats sued. The district court ordered the state to reinstate Golden Week, but the 6th Circuit Court reversed the lower court's decision by a 2 to 1 vote strictly along partisan lines. Now the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the decision of the 6th Circuit Court. This is a blow to Ohio Democrats, because black voters tend to rely on Golden Week more than white voters. (V)

Middle-Class Incomes Grew at a Record Pace in 2015

Real median income went up from $53,700 in 2014 to $56,500 in 2015, the largest percentage increase since records started to be kept in the 1960s. Growth was not uniform, however. It grew faster in cities than in rural areas, and faster in the West than in the South.

The report is going to be a problem for Donald Trump, who has maintained that America is in decline and people's lives are getting worse. Making it even more troublesome for him is that the most growth occurred in the bottom fifth of the population, and the least growth occurred at the top. Trump relies on low-income workers for much of his support, and if they perceive their lives as getting better under a Democratic administration, the need for a change won't be as great. (V)

Trump Unveils Childcare Plan

Appearing in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Donald Trump unveiled a fleshed-out version of the childcare plan he promised at the Republican National Convention. As he laid out his proposals, he was accompanied by his daughter Ivanka, who is herself a working mother, and who was reportedly the impetus for the plan.

While presenting his ideas, Trump also found time to take a swipe at Hillary Clinton, saying that when it comes to childcare, the Democratic nominee has, "no policy, no solutions, and no new ideas." This is true, if by "true" you mean "a bald-faced lie." Clinton is a woman, a Democrat, and the owner of a wonky website full of policy proposals. The odds that she wouldn't have a childcare policy are roughly equal to the odds that Elvis is still alive. In fact, her proposal is right there at, ripe for the Googling. Anyhow, now that Trump and Clinton have both announced their plans, we can compare them:

  • Maternity Leave: Trump would grant six weeks of federally-funded maternity leave for mothers. He believes that the cost to the government would be offset by a reduction in fraudulent disability claims. Clinton would grant twelve weeks, for both mothers and fathers, and would pay for it with a tax hike on the wealthy.

  • Childcare Costs: Trump would allow a tax deduction based on the average cost of child care. He would also facilitate the creation of dependent care savings accounts, into which families could put $2000 a year, tax free. Critics say that these ideas overwhelmingly favor the well-to-do—as childcare activist Vivien Labaton puts it, they are "designed for the Ivanka Trumps of the world, not the majority of working Americans." To address that problem, at least to an extent, Trump's plan also calls for a $500 matching grant to be awarded to poor families who manage to put $1,000 into their savings accounts. Clinton's plan would cap childcare expenses at 10% of household income, using block grants to cover overages.

  • Preschool: Clinton would make preschool universal for every four-year-old in America, thus adding an additional year to the standard K-12. She would also double the amount of money budgeted for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which sends social workers and/or nurses to visit, assist, and educate new mothers. Clinton's proposal does not specify how she will pay for this. Trump has no equivalent proposals.

  • More Pay for Childcare Workers: Both Clinton and Trump favor an increase in the wages paid to childcare workers, but neither has been specific about how they plan to accomplish that.

  • Student Parents: Clinton would award scholarships of up to $1,500 to college students who are paying for child care, and would expand childcare services at the nation's colleges and universities. Again, no source of funding is specified. Trump has no equivalent proposals.

In short, Clinton's ideas are more exciting to activists, and are more likely to help the people who need it the most. However, getting them through Congress (if necessary) and paying for them could be sticking points. Trump's proposals are, from the activists' point of view, only "a start," and are too heavily skewed in favor of the well-off. Of course, Trump's target is not the activists, it's suburban mothers. So, these concerns may not be such a big problem for him. (Z)

Details of Trump's "Dr. Oz" Appearance Revealed

If there was any doubt that Donald Trump is a reality TV star at heart, this story should put them to rest. Last week, Trump took a physical exam. The doctor who conducted that exam sealed the results in an envelope and will deliver them to the staff of "The Dr. Oz Show." Then, in an interview that is being taped on Wednesday for Thursday broadcast, Oz will reveal the results to the candidate. The staging is reminiscent of the "You are not the father" bit, utilized by many reality shows, but most closely identified with Maury Povich.

There are so many filters being applied to Trump's "revelation" that it is hard to count them all. To start, there is the doctor who is conducting the physical, and surely knows not to put anything troublesome into that envelope if he wants to keep collecting fat fees and to avoid lawsuits. Then there is Dr. Oz, who apparently will only have a few seconds to examine the results before announcing them. Not exactly thorough, especially since Oz is not an internal medicine specialist (he's a cardiothoracic surgeon, which means he's more of a cutter than a diagnostician), and was not present for the examination. Further, Oz acknowledges that one of the conditions of the interview is that certain questions are verboten. "I'm not going to ask him a question he doesn't want to have answered," said the doctor while promoting Trump's appearance. And if that were not enough, the fact that the interview will be taped means plenty of time for edits before it airs, in case the Trump camp is unhappy with anything. Point is, anyone who thinks that we will have a full and complete picture of Donald Trump's health by the end of the day Thursday might be interested in purchasing the very nice art deco bridge in San Francisco that we currently have for sale. (Z)

Today in Dissembling: Kellyanne Conway

It would seem that Matt Lauer's disastrous, softball-laden examination of Donald Trump is emboldening his colleagues in the media. Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was on CNN on Tuesday, and she faced some tough questions from Alisyn Camerota. Instead of answering, Conway responded by turning the questions around on Camerota. For example, the journalist twice asked, "Will Donald Trump release anything from the IRS proving that he's under audit?" Conway grew angry, and sneered "Are you calling him a liar? Seriously, we're running against a Clinton, and we're going to challenge someone's veracity?" Later in the interview, Camerota twice asked if the Trump campaign would be releasing specifics about its candidate's charitable giving. Conway responded angrily: "I doubt it. This is like badgering. I don't see it as journalism, I see it as badgering."

Until recently, these kinds of questions generally did not get asked in interviews. And if they did, the matter certainly wasn't pressed. Now, it is being pressed. And in the short term, Conway's misdirection strategy worked—we don't know any more now than we did a week ago about Trump's taxes, or his audit, or his charitable giving. However, you can bet this footage is making the rounds of other political journalists, particularly the four who will be moderating the presidential debates. And with some time to decide on a strategy/response, misdirection and dissembling is likely to be far less effective. (Z)

Republicans Privately Panicking about a Possible Trump Win

Officially, no Republican wants Hillary Clinton to win, although a number have said they are not voting for Donald Trump. Most of the #NeverTrump crowd have not said who they are voting for, whether it is Gary Johnson, Evan McMullin, or a write-in candidate. But as the polls are getting closer and Clinton has had a bad week, privately, quite a few Republicans are becoming very nervous about a Trump presidency.

Some are worried about what he might do as president. Few are convinced he is really a conservative at heart. No doubt the House Freedom Caucus, whose slogan is "No," are worried that the Great Negotiator might just start making deals with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the new Democratic leader in the Senate, and someone he knows very well. Others are worried about what would happen to the Republican Party if Trump were president. Would it become a racist, sexist, xenophobic, populist party, with no hope of getting back to traditional conservatism? Donors are worried about missing the boat. Trump is known to bear grudges, and if a wealthy Republican gives a lot of money to Senate candidates but nothing to Trump and Trump wins anyway, there will be hell to pay. This is the kind of stuff that keeps Republicans up at night. (V)

More DNC Documents Leaked

Julian Assange promised that more DNC documents were coming. And on Tuesday, courtesy of Guccifer 2.0, they came. The first leak, roughly six weeks ago, revealed that the DNC had been favoring Hillary Clinton at the expense of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). This caused heads to roll, including that of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Tuesday's release, by contrast, was just a tad less consequential. Among the highlights are Sen. Tim Kaine's (D-VA) old cell phone number, and the DNC's 2010 holiday card list. Apparently, the August 2011 menus for the DNC Headquarters' cafeteria were not available. If there were a digital equivalent of dumpster diving, this would be it.

Hillary Clinton and the DNC pooh-bahs have to be breathing a sign of relief. If this is the best that Assange has got, then he and Wikileaks are a nonentity for the rest of this election. Meanwhile, since the leak has nothing juicy, the focus this week is going to be on the Russian-Wikileaks-Trump connection. Assisting that narrative is the fact that Russian hackers, angry about their nation's semi-exclusion from the Olympics, also leaked confidential medical information about American Olympians on Tuesday. All in all, it's a surprisingly good turn of events for the blue team. (Z)

Colin Powell Gets Hacked, Too

Colin Powell just can't keep his e-mail out of the news. On Tuesday, a trove of recent messages—some of them as recent as August of this year—was leaked to BuzzFeed. Powell did not deny the veracity of the e-mails, but said he otherwise had no comment.

The juiciest bits of the messages have to do with Donald Trump—Powell is definitely not a fan. The General describes Trump as "a national disgrace" and an "international pariah." He also blasts Trump's embrace of the birther movement as "racist," says the billionaire's rise in politics is a byproduct of the "celebrification" of politics, and declares that "To go on and call [Trump] an idiot just emboldens him." Another recurring theme in the messages is Powell's insistence that he bears no blame for Hillary Clinton's e-mail issues as Secretary of State. In one message from 2015, for example, he wrote: "Been having fun with emailgate. Hillary's Mafia keeps trying to suck me into it." In a subsequent e-mail, Powell says that he, "warned [Clinton's] staff three times over the past two years not to try to connect it to me."

So, both Democrats and Republicans got a few hammers to wield on Tuesday. The big question is: Who was responsible for the hack? It may have been the Russians, though the evidence is unclear. If they were proven to be behind it, it would certainly weaken the narrative that Putin & Co. are trying to give an assist to Trump. (Z)

Senate Democrats Already Worried about 2018

Whether or not Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, 2018 is probably going to be a dreadful year for Senate Democrats. There are 23 Democratic Senate and 2 independent seats up for reelection vs. 8 Republican Senate seats. To make it worse, five Democrats are up in very red states in a year when Democratic turnout will probably be low, as it always is during midterm years. Here is the list of senators up for reelection in 2018. The two independents caucus with the Democrats.

State Senator Party
California Dianne Feinstein Democratic
Connecticut Chris Murphy Democratic
Delaware Tom Carper Democratic
Florida Bill Nelson Democratic
Hawaii Mazie Hirono Democratic
Indiana Joe Donnelly Democratic
Maine Angus King Independent
Maryland Ben Cardin Democratic
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren Democratic
Michigan Debbie Stabenow Democratic
Minnesota Amy Klobuchar Democratic
Missouri Claire McCaskill Democratic
Montana Jon Tester Democratic
New Jersey Robert Menendez Democratic
New Mexico Martin Heinrich Democratic
New York Kirsten Gillbrand Democratic
North Dakota Heidi Heitkamp Democratic
Ohio Sherrod Brown Democratic
Pennsylvania Bob Casey Democratic
Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse Democratic
Vermont Bernie Sanders Independent
Virginia Tim Kaine Democratic
Washington Maria Cantwell Democratic
West Virginia Joe Manchin Democratic
Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin Democratic
Arizona Jeff Flake Republican
Mississippi Roger Wicker Republican
Nebraska Deb Fischer Republican
Nevada Dean Heller Republican
Tennessee Bob Corker Republican
Texas Ted Cruz Republican
Utah Orrin Hatch Republican
Wyoming John Barrasso Republican

The senators most in danger are Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). If Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) is elected vice president this year, there will be an exhausting special election in 2017 and then a reelection campaign in 2018.

The 2018 race is already casting a shadow on a possible Clinton presidency. If Clinton veers too far to the left, for example with Supreme Court appointments, then even if the Democrats cobble together a bare majority in the Senate, she won't be able to automatically count on all the above senators supporting her nominee out of the gate. In the end, they probably will, because if any Senate Democrat votes against a Clinton appointee, the Democrats in that state will be angered beyond belief, and the Republicans won't be impressed enough by one negative vote to pick that person over an actual Republican. Knowing this, a President Clinton might try to hew to the center rather than face a rout in 2018.

Some senators are already working on their 2018 campaigns, in various ways. For example, Tester knows that if a Republican is the state's lone representative, that person is likely to challenge him in 2018. So what better way to prevent that than by working very hard to make sure that representative is a Democrat? Consequently, he is working hard for the campaign of Denise Juneau, who is running for the House in Montana against Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT). If Juneau wins, Tester can breathe a sigh of relief. In North Dakota, Heitkamp frequently meets with farmers about the farm bill, which expires in 2018. Manchin has coal on the brain, which will certainly put him at odds with any Democratic initiative to curb coal use. (V)

Absentee Ballots Are the Weak Link Fight against Voter Fraud

While there has been a tremendous amount of attention to in-person voter fraud (which basically doesn't exist), there has been almost no attention to absentee-ballot fraud, which does exist. One of us (V) just received his absentee ballot. Among other things, this means that voting has already started in some states, and votes cast this week and this month cannot be changed by subsequent events. More importantly, the lack of security measures is appalling. The voter has to sign a piece of paper that is part of the multipage ballot (or the return envelope) and that is it. There is nothing, in practice, to prevent the voter from selling his or her ballot and giving the buyer the signed page or envelope. This is illegal, of course, but there is virtually no way for anyone to detect this crime.

None of the dozens of laws that purportedly attack the problem of voter fraud deal with absentee-ballot fraud. The reason for this omission is simple: The goal of requiring photo ID when voting in person has nothing to do with fraud. It has to do with disenfranchising groups of voters that tend to vote Democratic, such as students, poor people, minorities, and others who often lack the required ID. The most egregious example is the Texas law allowing gun permits as ID, but disallowing student photo ID cards issued by state universities.

Tightening absentee voting requirements, such as requiring voters to show up at the registrar of voters' office some time before the election with ID, would affect people who travel on business a lot as well as infirm elderly voters, and many of these are Republicans. So applying the voter ID requirements to absentee voters would depress Republican turnout, and that was certainly not what the legislatures passing the laws had in mind. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Maine is a bit closer than usual, but otherwise nothing special. There is a very small chance that Trump could get one electoral vote in ME-02, but most likely not. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
California 49% 29% 11% Sep 01 Sep 08 Los Angeles Times
Kansas 36% 48% 8% Sep 06 Sep 11 SurveyUSA
Maine 42% 39% 9% Sep 04 Sep 10 SurveyUSA
Texas 36% 42% 10% Sep 07 Sep 10 Emerson Coll.
Virginia 45% 39% 6% Sep 09 Sep 11 PPP

Today's Senate Polls

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) is safe. No surprise there. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Kansas Patrick Wiesner 34% Jerry Moran* 50% Sep 06 Sep 11 PPP

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep13 No Chicken Little, The Sky is Not Falling
Sep13 Clinton Will Release More Information on Her Health
Sep13 David Axelrod Hits Clinton for Her Obsession with Secrecy
Sep13 The Looming Debate Disaster
Sep13 Trump Faces New Type of Pressure on Tax Returns
Sep13 Why Does Donald Trump Get a Pass from the Media?
Sep13 NCAA Pulls Championship Games from North Carolina over Bathroom Bill
Sep13 Obama's Approval Numbers Are Soaring
Sep13 Nate Silver Gives GOP Donors a Secret Presentation
Sep13 Pence Doesn't Want Duke's Support, but Doesn't Think He's Deplorable
Sep13 Bill Clinton's CIA Director Endorses Trump
Sep13 Why Are Some Red States Turning Pink?
Sep12 Clinton Stumbles at 9/11 Memorial
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