Clinton 298
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Ties 4
Trump 236
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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Ties 1
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (144)
  • Likely Dem (82)
  • Barely Dem (72)
  • Exactly tied (4)
  • Barely GOP (56)
  • Likely GOP (74)
  • Strongly GOP (106)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA NV OH

Ad Spending Reveals the Campaigns' Priorities

You can tell a lot about a campaign's priorities by where it is spending money. Here is the breakdown for the television spending per electoral vote by state for the week beginning Sept. 13. Total spending for advertising in that week was $11.5 million for Clinton and $2.4 million for Trump.

State EVs Clinton Trump
Nevada 6 $106,000 $0
Florida 29 $94,000 $31,000
North Carolina 15 $69,000 $29,000
Pennsylvania 20 $67,000 $25,000
New Hampshire 4 $61,000 $0
Ohio 18 $58,000 $29,000
Iowa 6 $37,000 $0
Nebraska 1 $25,000 $0
Arizona 11 $17,000 $0

As in the Sherlock Holmes story "Silver Blaze," in which the dog that didn't bark gave Holmes the clue to the case, sometimes a lack of spending tells you a lot. Clinton isn't spending in California because she knows she will win there. She also isn't spending in Texas, because she knows she will lose there. But what is missing from the above list? Yes, Virginia and Colorado. Her polling tells her that these states are not in danger, so her money is better spent in places like Nevada, Florida, and North Carolina. Note that Clinton's spending in Nebraska is entirely focused on Omaha, where she has a shot at winning one electoral vote, just as Barack Obama did in 2008.

Clinton has also spent $35 million on national ads; for example, during the Olympics Trump didn't spend anything on national ads. National ads can help drive up her national polling, which doesn't affect the Electoral College, but does affect the media's perception of who is ahead, and that is also important. She would prefer headlines like "Clinton still ahead" to headlines like "Trump passes Clinton nationally." (V)

Why Isn't Clinton 50 Points Ahead of Trump?

A lot of people, especially Democrats but also some Republicans, are wondering why Hillary Clinton isn't 50 points ahead of Donald Trump, given how many people hate him. She even wondered about it herself in public on Wednesday. Aaron Blake at the Washington Post has a few ideas:

  • Partisanship: First comes simple partisanship. Either party could nominate a rabid yellow dog and 45% of the voters would vote for it. Since Ronald Reagan, both parties have gotten at least 45% of the vote in two-candidate races. Democrats vote for the Democrat and Republicans vote for the Republican and that is the way it is. The candidates don't matter much and neither do the billions of dollars in ads. All of that effort is aimed at the maybe 10% of the electorate that is truly up for grabs.

  • Enthusiasm: If a candidate has more supporters but they are not enthusiastic enough to actually vote, the candidate could lose. A recent WaPo/ABC News poll showed that 46% of Donald Trump's supporters were enthusiastic about him, vs. only 33% of Hillary Clinton's supporters. The poll also showed that 93% of Trump backers were certain to vote vs. only 80% of Clinton backers. This disparity shows up in the polls. A lot of Clinton's trouble is with millennials, who are still angry that their candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who got 12 million votes, didn't win the Democratic nomination. Many of them believe that he was cheated. Some think a Trump presidency would cure the Democratic Party of nominating moderates once and for all. Most of them are too young to realize that the Democrats' reaction to Ralph Nader in 2000 was to move to the right, to capture more centrist votes in 2004, rather than to the left.

  • Hillary Clinton: If Joe Biden were the Democratic nominee, he would certainly have a lead of 10 points or maybe more. But he is not the nominee. Hillary Clinton is the nominee, and she is widely disliked. In the poll mentioned above, her unfavorable score was 59%, almost as bad as Trump's score of 60% unfavorable. The Republicans have been hammering on her for 25 years and that has taken its toll.

A point Blake didn't make is that while political junkies have been following every detail for months, for many Americans, the race starts after Labor Day. Things could change quickly after the debate on Monday, in either direction. (V)

75 Ambassadors Endorse Clinton

Just this week, Donald Trump has been lambasted en masse by scientists and ethics lawyers and by the intelligence community. Now, the diplomats have joined the party. 75 of them, including 57 GOP appointees, signed an open letter endorsing Hillary Clinton. They spend only a few sentences on Clinton, however, focusing most of their verbiage on the reasons they believe Donald Trump is ill-suited to the presidency:

One of the candidates—Donald J. Trump—is entirely unqualified to serve as President and Commander-in-Chief. He is ignorant of the complex nature of the challenges facing our country, from Russia to China to ISIS to nuclear proliferation to refugees to drugs, but he has expressed no interest in being educated. Indeed he has recently demonstrated he entirely misunderstands and disrespects the role of the very officials who could educate him: the senior career officers of our intelligence services and of our military services (whom he has characterized as "rubble").

In his frequent statements about foreign countries and their citizens, from our closest friends to our most problematic competitors, Mr. Trump has expressed the most ignorant stereotypes of those countries; has inflamed their people; and has insulted our allies and comforted our enemies. Shockingly, he has even offered praise and admiration for Vladimir Putin, the leader of Russia whose international activities and reported intrusions into our democratic political process have been among the most damaging actions taken by any foreign leader since the end of World War Two.

If Trump does win, he'll need to appoint about 200 ambassadors. If Thursday's letter is any indication, he's going to have a hard time filling those posts. He's only got five kids, after all. (Z)

Trump's Primary Opponents Give Advice on How to Debate Him

The Hill talked to some of Donald Trump's primary opponents and their top aides to get advice on how to debate him. Here is what they had to say:

  • Be authentic, not overly scripted
  • Push back, but don't get into the mud
  • Lean on your policy strength
  • Don't be overly wonky
  • Don't prepare for a weak opponent

Trump is a particularly difficult opponent to prepare for because sometimes he is wild and hits hard, but other times he is more reserved. It's hard to tell which Trump will show up. (V)

How Trump Can Win the Debate

Veteran GOP operative Frank Luntz has written an article for Time in which he offers Donald Trump some suggestions for what he should do at the first debate on Monday. He proposes, first of all, a humble and even apologetic tone, wherein Trump communicates what an honor it is to be running for president, and also avers how very sorry he is for his remarks about the Khan family, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), etc. Luntz also stresses the importance of clear, concise, and thorough explanations of Trump's policy positions, as well as restraint in attacking Hillary Clinton. It's very interesting advice, though one is left to wonder if Luntz has actually been watching the campaign. If Trump actually apologizes for anything, viewers should immediately run to their windows to look for the pigs up in the sky.

The advice of Rich Lowry, writing for Politico, is a bit more grounded in reality. He observes that Trump does not need to win, so much as he needs to not lose. The goal should be to convince Americans that, contrary to what Hillary Clinton and all of her ads say, he is plausible as president. In service of that goal:

Trump doesn't need to be the aggressor. As long as he's firm and calm, he is implicitly rebutting the case against him on temperament. And then he can look for a big moment or two that will be memorable and drive the post-debate conversation in the media that is arguably as important as the debate itself.

This is vastly more plausible than a plan that involves apologies, and humility, and clear and concise policy explanations. (Z)

Trump Warns Lester Holt About Fact-Checking

Donald Trump was on "Fox and Friends" Thursday morning, and was asked how he thinks moderator Lester Holt should manage the first debate. He would prefer, presumably for obvious reasons, that Holt not be in the business of fact-checking. Said Trump:

Well, I think he has to be a moderator. You're debating somebody, and if she makes a mistake, or if I make a mistake, we'll take each other on. But I certainly don't think you want Candy Crowley again.

The Candy Crowley reference is an implied threat. In 2012, Crowley presumed to correct Mitt Romney when he erroneously accused Barack Obama of being unwilling to call Benghazi an act of terror. Crowley was than savaged on social media, in the right-wing blogosphere, on Fox News, and so forth. And in case Holt missed the message, Trump also helpfully reminded him that, "a lot of people are watching." It's hard to imagine that Holt will be cowed by this, though; you don't reach the heights he has without being able to manage a little pressure from a politician. (Z)

Running for President for Fun and Profit

In 2000, Donald Trump bragged that, "I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it." He certainly seems to be making good on that braggadocio. Most obviously, his campaign has already paid his company $8.2 million for food, office space, staffing of events, and the like. Generally, candidates don't do business with their own businesses, for fear of breaking the law or of looking shady to voters. Trump is unaffected by these concerns.

The payments from the campaign to the the business are not the only way he's profiting, either. The Secret Service has paid Trump $1.6 million for transportation on his airplane. They've also paid Hillary Clinton $2.6 million for transportation on her plane, but she does not own hers, while he owns his. Further, Trump has utilized his presidential run to highlight some of his real estate projects, like the new Trump-branded hotel in Washington, netting untold millions in free advertising. And, win or lose, Trump will undoubtedly claim (with some justification) that his presidential run has increased the value of his "brand" by untold billions of dollars. So, even if he loses on November 8, he could be crying all the way to the bank. (Z)

Judge Rejects Attempts to Unseal Trump's Divorce Records

The New York Times and the Gannett Corporation sued to have the records from Donald Trump's first divorce unsealed. They lost. Generally divorce records are sealed, but judges can make exceptions if they see exceptional circumstances. The two parties to the lawsuit said Trump's running for president created an exceptional situation since the public has a right to know what the records might show about his first wife's claim that Trump raped her, and also about his finances. The judge disagreed. The plaintiffs have not yet decided whether to appeal the case. (V)

Heck's Son Embarrasses Campaign

Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) is in a tooth-and-nail race for Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) senate seat. And on Thursday, he got some bad news (on several levels). It would seem that his son Joey is in the habit of lurking in some unpleasant corners of the Internet, where he makes vulgar remarks about Hillary Clinton and registers his support for various racist and anti-Semitic sentiments.

Joey has already released an apology, and says he is getting counseling. On one hand, it's hard to think that the online indiscretions of a 19-year-old should be a consideration in a U.S. Senate race. On the other hand, it's a very close race, and the votes of Latinos and Asians could be decisive. On November 8, Heck senior could be left wishing that Heck junior chose his usernames a bit more carefully. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

School is back in session across America, as indicated by all the polls from universities. The pros will get serious again in a week or two; it will be interesting to see if they generate different results. (Z)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
Colorado 41% 34% 12% Sep 14 Sep 18 CMU-RMPBS
Colorado 44% 42% 10% Sep 13 Sep 21 Quinnipiac U.
Florida 44% 45% 3% Sep 19 Sep 21 Suffolk U.
Georgia 40% 47% 9% Sep 13 Sep 21 Quinnipiac U.
Iowa 37% 44% 10% Sep 13 Sep 21 Quinnipiac U.
Illinois 45% 39% 6% Sep 19 Sep 21 Emerson Coll.
Louisiana 33% 49% 8% Sep 15 Sep 17 SMOR
Maryland 58% 25% 6% Sep 17 Sep 20 Goucher College
North Carolina 41% 41% 11% Sep 16 Sep 19 Siena Coll.
Virginia 44% 37% 8% Sep 11 Sep 20 Roanoke Coll.
Virginia 45% 39% 8% Sep 13 Sep 21 Quinnipiac U.
Wisconsin 45% 38% 11% Sep 19 Sep 20 Emerson Coll.

Today's Senate Polls

North Carolina is going to be a real barnburner; it's possible we won't know the winner until after November 8, since the state allows for recounts if the result is within 1%. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Colorado Michael Bennet* 45% Darryl Glenn 32% Sep 14 Sep 18 CMU-RMPBS
Florida Patrick Murphy 34% Marco Rubio* 43% Sep 19 Sep 21 Suffolk U.
Illinois Tammy Duckworth 41% Mark Kirk* 39% Sep 19 Sep 21 Emerson Coll.
Maryland Chris Van Hollen 54% Kathy Szeliga 24% Sep 17 Sep 20 Goucher College
North Carolina Deborah Ross 46% Richard Burr* 42% Sep 16 Sep 19 Siena Coll.
Wisconsin Russ Feingold 52% Ron Johnson* 42% Sep 19 Sep 20 Emerson Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep22 Trump Attacks Washington Post Story about His Foundation
Sep22 Clinton's Bad September Could Help Her in the End
Sep22 Trump Supporters Respond to Fake Story about Trump's Taxes
Sep22 Trump Would Boost National Debt by More Than $5 Trillion
Sep22 Trump Endorses Stop-and-frisk as Solution to Inner-City Crime
Sep22 Cruz Considering Trump Endorsement
Sep22 About a Third of All Voters Are Voting Against Rather Than for a Candidate
Sep22 Trump Attacks Yellen for Helping Clinton
Sep22 Trump Could Continue to Run His Business from the White House
Sep22 Democrats Advise Clinton to Let Trump Hang Himself in Debate
Sep22 Political Commentary Is Full of Myths
Sep22 Billionaire Republican Commits $2 Million to Defeat Trump in Florida
Sep21 $258,000 of Trump Foundation's Money Went to Settle Personal Legal Issues
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