• Clinton's Bad September Could Help Her in the End
• Trump Supporters Respond to Fake Story about Trump's Taxes
• Trump Would Boost National Debt by More Than $5 Trillion
• Trump Endorses "Stop-and-frisk" as Solution to Inner-City Crime
• Cruz Considering Trump Endorsement
• About a Third of All Voters Are Voting Against Rather Than for a Candidate
• Trump Attacks Yellen for Helping Clinton
• Trump Could Continue to Run His Business from the White House
• Democrats Advise Clinton to Let Trump Hang Himself in Debate
• Political Commentary Is Full of Myths
• Billionaire Republican Commits $2 Million to Defeat Trump in Florida
• Today's Presidential Polls
• Today's Senate Polls
On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump spent over $250,000 from his foundation to settle lawsuits related to his for-profit businesses. Taking money from a charity for personal use is a violation of federal law. Trump immediately attacked the Post for the story, saying that it was peppered with inaccuracies. However, Trump did not deny any of the specific payments the Post described. So while there might have been some errors in the story, Trump didn't deny that he had used the Trump Foundation's money to get out of paying a fine for violating a town ordinance, settling a lawsuit, and so on. That information would be hard to refute since it came from the foundation's tax returns, which are public. (V)
Hillary Clinton has had a very bad September. She had trouble walking at a memorial service on 9/11, and hid her pneumonia from public view for over a day, and has taken a big hit in the polls as a result. In many national and state polls, Donald Trump is now within striking distance of her. This could be the best thing that has happened to her all year. There were very few undecided voters left, so the whole campaign on both sides is about getting one's supporters fired up so they actually vote. Trump's supporters will walk overs molten glass for him (see below), but a lot of progressives, especially young ones, turn up their noses at her because she's not as progressive as their hero, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Many of them were planning to vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein as a way of protesting Clinton's moderate views.
However, these planned protest votes are all predicated on the idea that she will win anyway. Now that the race has become close, many of these voters are seriously beginning to contemplate a President Trump and are scared witless. Clinton and her surrogates, Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), are now openly saying that while voting for a third party may feel good on Election Day, how are you going to feel when a President Trump does exactly the opposite of everything you hold dear, and his Supreme Court appointees uphold all of his actions? When that wasn't a realistic threat, millennials could pooh-pooh it, but now that the race is tightening, many of them are going to have to confront the fact that as much as they dislike Clinton, they really, really hate Trump, and don't want him in the Oval Office. (V)
Many of Donald Trump's supporters are so supportive of him that nothing can shake their faith. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel demonstrated this when he sent a member of his staff out onto the street to find Trump supporters. The staffer told the interviewee that Trump had just released his tax returns (which isn't true) and asked what they thought about some specific "items" it revealed, including these:
- Was it legitimate to write off all his previous marriages as entertainment?
- What do you think of Trump listing his primary occupation as farmer?
- Are you surprised that Trump's net worth is only $42,000, not $10 billion?
- What do you think of Trump's donating $100,000 to the dentist who killed Cecil the lion?
- What do you think of Trump's donating $50,000 to the defense fund of Jared Fogle?
- Were you surprised that Trump wrote off $100,000 for breast pumps for his family?
- Do you think that gold plating a toilet is a business expense?
- Were you surprised that Trump spent $38,000 for a Siberian tiger for Vladimir Putin's birthday present?
Every one of the supporters approved of the deduction or donation he or she was asked about. Clearly, Trump's support is rock solid and nothing is going to shake ti. (V)
The non-partisan analyses of the two candidates' policy proposals are coming fast and furious these days. The latest comes from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), which estimates that Donald Trump's policies would increase the national debt by $5.3 trillion over the next decade. They calculate that his spending cuts would save $1.2 trillion in spending, but that his tax cuts would reduce revenue by $5.8 trillion. That's a difference of $4.6 trillion; the other $700 billion comes is interest on the money that would have to be borrowed to make up the shortfall. Hillary Clinton's plan increases spending, but balances that by also raising taxes by $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The CRFB anticipates that 10 years of Clinton's economic policies would increase the national debt by $200 billion over the next decade.
Needless to say, such estimates are based on a lot of assumptions, and so they are only very broad, ballpark figures. On top of that is the fact that Congress would never implement a candidate's entire economic program lock, stock, and barrel. Nonetheless, it is clear that with his current proposals, Donald Trump can hardly claim to be the candidate of fiscal responsibility and economic growth. Not that his supporters care (see above). (Z)
Donald Trump appeared at a town hall event on Wednesday, hosted by journalist/Trump supporter Sean Hannity. And, as he did at a rally on Tuesday, The Donald spent some time opining on what could be done to "save" America's black communities. His suggestion on Wednesday was to implement "stop-and-frisk" policing (also known as "Terry stops"), wherein pedestrians deemed suspicious are detained by police and searched for weapons and other contraband.
This isn't a real policy proposal, in the sense that the procedures followed by police are set at the local level and not the federal level. What it is, however, is more evidence that Trump's "outreach" efforts that seem to be aimed at the black community are really aimed at white voters. To start with, though the Town Hall was staged in a black church, it aired on Fox News, a channel where less than 1% of viewers are black. Beyond that, stop-and-frisk is essentially an engraved invitation to police to engage in racial profiling. Black voters know this, and so overwhelmingly oppose the technique (the audience response confirmed this). To many white voters, by contrast, double-checking anyone who looks "suspicious" or "dangerous" sounds pretty good.
There was a Los Angeles Times tracking poll last week that suggested that Trump was gaining ground with black voters, but Trump's statements and ideas made that hard to swallow. Now, the Times has released the latest iteration of the poll, and it's clear that the spike was just statistical noise. Trump is back in the low single digits with black voters, which is where he's been all along. There's no real reason to expect that to change before Election Day. (Z)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is currently campaigning for president. Not in 2016, but in 2020. And given that, he's facing a bit of a dilemma: Whether or not to endorse the GOP's current nominee, Donald Trump.
There are two primary reasons that Cruz might consider doing so. The first is that he wants to appear strongly anti-Hillary. He may not actually be strongly anti-Hillary; his 2020 chances are probably better if she wins than if Trump does. Nonetheless, the appearance is important. Even more significant than that, however, is that Reince Priebus is threatening vaguely-defined future sanctions against any Republican who does not support Trump. If those sanctions become something like, "no invitations to the Republican candidates' debates." Cruz knows his goose would be cooked.
On the other hand, there are also two good reasons that Cruz would prefer not to endorse Trump. The first is that the Senator loathes the billionaire, and he would not be thrilled to assist the man who smeared both his wife and his father. The second is that many of Cruz's supporters would be furious, regarding a Trump endorsement as a sell-out and a complete repudiation of Cruz's outsider/maverick image. As former Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler observes, "Endorsing now for no reciprocation? He would just end up being a Trump Chump."
Of course, if Cruz does end up endorsing Trump, he may be turned down. In July, after Cruz's pointed non-endorsement at the Republican convention, Trump declared that, "I don't want his endorsement. If he gives it, I will not accept it." And as we all know, once Donald Trump says something, he sticks with it. (Z)
A new Pew poll asked voters why they are voting for their chosen candidate. Here are the top three reasons for each candidate.Trump supporters
- He is not Clinton
- He is a political outsider who will bring change
- His issues and policies
- She is not Trump
- She is experienced and will get things done
- Her issues and policy positions
It is noteworthy that in both cases, the top motivator is keeping the other candidate out of the White House. Expect even more mud to fly. (V)
Yesterday the Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Bank Janet Yellen announced that interest rates would not be increased until December at the earliest. The stock market was happy, with the Dow, S&P 500, and NASDAQ all up. Donald Trump was not happy, even though he has previously said that he likes low interest rates (which are very good for the real estate business, an industry built almost entirely on borrowed money). He attacked Yellen for trying to help Clinton.
Yellen shot back almost immediately, saying: "I can't recall any meeting that I have ever attended where politics has been a matter of discussion." Many economists had predicted that the Fed would not increase interest rates because that could hurt the not-yet-complete recovery and support the idea of keeping interest rates where they are. (V)
Every president from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush put his assets into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest. Barack Obama sold his assets and used the proceeds to buy U.S. treasury bonds. But all of this was voluntary. In fact, nothing in federal law says that the president can't run a business while sitting in the Oval Office. Of course, the conflicts of interest would be legion. Low interest rates help the real estate business, so a President Trump could appoint a devotee of low interest rates to replace Janet Yellen when her term as Fed chair is over in Feb. 2018. If Vladimir Putin were to offer him lucrative business opportunities in Russia, he might decide to remove some U.S. troops from Europe, claiming he was doing that to save the taxpayers money. If China were to offer him a large low-interest loan, he might decide that defending Taiwan wasn't really worth the risk of war with China. None of this would be illegal. Trump has already said that if he is elected, he would let his children run his business. Of course, that wouldn't make the conflicts any less.
Hillary Clinton also has a potential conflict-of-interest problem, but it is much easier to solve. All she, Bill, and Chelsea would have to do is give up control of the Clinton Foundation by having all the board members be completely independent and severing all connections to the Foundation. That wouldn't be hard to do. (V)
A number of Democrats have advised Hillary Clinton to go easy on Donald Trump at the debate on Sept. 26 and just let him say cockamamie things on his own. In recent weeks, he has been less outrageous than in the past, but that is because he has been using a teleprompter to read speeches written by his speechwriters. In the debate he can't do that, and on his own he tends to say controversial things. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) summarized what Clinton has to do by saying: "Give him the rope."
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) agrees with this strategy, and told Clinton to propose a vision for the country and not spend the whole time attacking Trump. People want to know what she is for, not whom she is against. They already know that. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) has advised her to act presidential at all times, so people can begin to trust her. So these senators, at least, are advising her not to spend her 45 minutes attacking Trump, but are saying that she should instead be positive. (V)
Journalist John Judis has an interesting piece about two myths that are widely believed about American politics. The first myth is that the states are neatly divided into red states and blue states. The second myth is that red state voters like Republicans because the two groups share the same racist attitudes. Neither is entirely true. Red Louisiana and Red West Virginia both have Democratic governors. West Virginia has a gubernatorial election in November and Democrat Jim Justice is positioned to win. How can this be? The answer lies in the Democrats' position on fossil fuels (coal in West Virginia and oil in Louisiana). National Democrats are against fossil fuels but local Democrats are not. If the national Democrats can find a way to replace jobs in the fossil fuel industry, these states would be in play, since they are not fundamentally opposed to any and all Democrats. It's the economy, stupid.
The mirror image can be found in very blue Massachusetts and equally blue Maryland. Both have popular Republican governors. Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA) is the most popular governor in the country, with an approval rating of 72%. Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) is second at 71%. Both are centrist Republicans who don't agree with the national Republicans on social issues and try to govern in a pragmatic way.
In other words, Democrats can win in red states if they address the voters' economic concerns, and Republicans can win in blue states if they stop obsessing about abortion and same-sex marriage and try to be pragmatic. (V)
Mike Fernandez is a wealthy man, a devoted Republican, a close associate of Jeb Bush, and a Latino. He also loathes Donald Trump. "As a lifelong Republican, I cannot support a Party I no longer recognize," Fernandez said that when he announced his intention to vote for Hillary Clinton. But now, he's upping the ante, pledging $2 million to be spent getting Latino voters out to the polls. Addressing that community, Fernandez declared, "I specially call on all Latinos to reject a man who encourages violence against you [as] he has done in Iowa and other places." It is not clear exactly how the money will be spent, but there are a number of outreach groups that will be pleased to receive any help they can get. (Z)
Generally good swing-state news for Donald Trump. Though keep in mind that Fox News has a Republican house effect (tending to err about one point in that direction), so adjust accordingly. (Z)
|California||47%||31%||10%||Sep 09||Sep 18||Public Policy Inst. of Calif.|
|Louisiana||33%||49%||8%||Sep 15||Sep 17||Opinion Research|
|North Carolina||40%||45%||6%||Sep 18||Sep 20||Fox News|
|North Carolina||43%||45%||6%||Sep 18||Sep 20||PPP|
|North Dakota||32%||43%||8%||Sep 12||Sep 17||DFM Research|
|New Hampshire||47%||38%||10%||Sep 17||Sep 20||Monmouth U.|
|Nevada||40%||43%||8%||Sep 18||Sep 20||Fox News|
|Ohio||37%||42%||6%||Sep 18||Sep 20||Fox News|
|Wisconsin||41%||38%||11%||Sep 15||Sep 18||Marquette Law School|
|Wyoming||19%||54%||10%||Sep 06||Sep 11||DFM Research|
Democrat Ted Strickland is running a fiasco of a campaign. Down 14 points in a swing state to a not-terribly-popular incumbent? Not good. (Z)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|California||Kamala Harris||32%||Loretta Sanchez (D)||25%||Sep 09||Sep 18||Public Policy Inst. of Calif.|
|North Carolina||Deborah Ross||37%||Richard Burr*||43%||Sep 18||Sep 20||Fox News|
|North Carolina||Deborah Ross||41%||Richard Burr*||41%||Sep 18||Sep 20||PPP|
|New Hampshire||Maggie Hassan||45%||Kelly Ayotte*||47%||Sep 17||Sep 20||Monmouth U.|
|Nevada||Catherine Cortez-Masto||36%||Joe Heck||43%||Sep 18||Sep 20||Fox News|
|Nevada||Catherine Cortez-Masto||40%||Joe Heck||44%||Sep 16||Sep 18||Rasmussen|
|Ohio||Ted Strickland||37%||Rob Portman*||51%||Sep 18||Sep 20||Fox News|
|Wisconsin||Russ Feingold||44%||Ron Johnson*||39%||Sep 15||Sep 18||Marquette Law School|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep21 Ethics Lawyers, Scientists Speak Out Against Trump
Sep21 Terrorist Acts Don't Help Trump
Sep21 Times Editor Confirms Change in Approach
Sep21 Donald Trump, Jr. Gets More Blowback about Skittles Tweet
Sep21 Trump Disparages Black Communities
Sep21 Local Issues Dominate North Carolina Races
Sep21 Karl Rove: Electoral Map Favors Clinton
Sep21 Trump Says that Holt Will Be Fair
Sep21 Senators Sniping at Each Other Over Judicial Nominees
Sep21 We Are Removing the Ipsos Polls from the Database
Sep20 50 Days and Counting
Sep20 Most Americans Never See How Nasty the Campaign Is
Sep20 Bush 41 to Vote for Clinton
Sep20 Trump Smashes GOP Small-Donor-Fundraising Record
Sep20 Trump Calls U.S. Leaders Stupid
Sep20 Journalists May Be Shifting Gears on Trump
Sep20 Topics for the First Debate Announced
Sep20 Trump's Tax Plan May Cost $1.5 Trillion More than He Says
Sep20 Trump, Jr. Compares Refugees to Skittles
Sep20 Politics Makes It Unlikely that Garland Will Be Confirmed
Sep20 Senate Races Updated
Sep20 Why Clinton Lost
Sep19 RNC May Penalize Republicans Who Don't Support Trump
Sep19 Republicans Embrace Trump's Approach to the Truth
Sep19 Clinton Struggles in Florida
Sep19 Democrats Concerned About Clinton's Latino Strategy
Sep19 Will Black Voters Turn Out for Clinton?
Sep19 North Korea Nuke Test Has Foreign Policy Experts Speaking Out About Trump
Sep19 Trump Campaign Last Stand for White Supremacists?
Sep19 Martha Stewart Will Vote for Clinton
Sep19 Could Weld Drop Out to Stop Trump?
Sep19 Worst President Ever?
Sep18 Trump Says Clinton Should Disarm Secret Service Detail
Sep18 Robert Gates Says Trump Is Beyond Repair
Sep18 Trump Has Received $885 Million in Tax Breaks
Sep18 Trump Threatens to Sue the New York Times
Sep18 New York Times Criticized for Coverage
Sep18 Silicon Valley Donors Are Flexing Their Political Muscles
Sep18 Veep Debate Stand-ins Named
Sep18 How the Cartels Will Defeat Trump's Wall
Sep18 Mark Cuban Offers Trump $10 Million for an Interview
Sep18 Ryan's Tax Plan May Slightly Favor the Rich
Sep17 Trump Concedes that Obama Was Born in the United States
Sep17 Response to Trump Birther Announcement is Swift
Sep17 Johnson and Stein Don't Make the Cut
Sep17 Bob Schieffer Gives Advice to Debate Moderators
Sep17 The Biggest Issue of the Campaign Is Entirely Missing
Sep17 Hillary Clinton Wasn't Always Like She Is Now
Sep17 Democrats Rallying Around Clinton