Clinton 317
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Trump 221
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Click for Senate
Dem 50
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GOP 50
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  • Strongly Dem (132)
  • Likely Dem (74)
  • Barely Dem (111)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (56)
  • Likely GOP (78)
  • Strongly GOP (87)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2012 2008
New polls: CA CO FL NC PA SC VA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: NC
GOP pickups vs. 2012: IA NV OH

Trump Wanted Fat Women Fired

As if Donald Trump doesn't have enough trouble dissing women he considers overweight (see Machado, Alicia), the Los Angeles Times is now reporting that when Trump visited his golf club in Rancho Palos Verdes in 2008 and again in 2012, he told the manager to fire any women who were not young enough or attractive enough. Initially, the manager complied, but it didn't take long for the fired employees to file lawsuits. Firing people for being fat is probably not illegal, but firing them for being too old is. In sworn declarations, some employees described the club's workplace culture and how Trump made patronizing and inappropriate comments when he visited. Once when he visited and saw a young hostess named Nicole, he directed management to bring her to him. When she came over, he asked: "Do you like Jewish men?" It seems like an odd question, given that Trump is a Presbyterian, but he might have had a Jewish business partner with him. In any event, Nicole felt this was inappropriate. Another woman in her forties complained that Trump referred to her as a "girl" and wanted her to pose for photos with him.

The 2012 lawsuit also accused the club of violating California labor law because employees were not allowed to take the breaks prescribed by law. The club was also accused of age discrimination; the suit also included the allegations that Trump told management to fire fat people and also to meet all potential employees to see if they were pretty enough. One woman complained that she was refused a promotion to server because she had acne on her face. Eventually, the club's management began to figure out how to deal with Trump. When it was known that he was going to visit, they changed everyone's work schedules to make sure only thin, pretty hostesses were on duty when Trump was present. (V)

Trump Just Can't Cut His Losses

Donald Trump does not like the feedback he has been getting on his debate performance, or the blowback he has been getting about Alicia Machado. Angry, and wanting very badly to change the narrative, he's decided to ignore the advice of the pros and to use the semi-nuclear option: Monica Lewinsky. At a rally on Thursday he spent time harping on Bill Clinton's infidelities (and Hillary's alleged participation in the coverup of said infidelities). He has also instructed his surrogates to raise the subject. This despite the enormous risk that such talk could backfire with women voters in a big way. When the affair played out in the 1990s, women condemned Bill but strongly supported Hillary. That could easily happen again. Not to mention, Clinton surrogates could start talking about Trump's very public affair with Marla Maples while he was married to Ivana Trump.

Trump's response speaks to a campaign that is, at least at the moment, in some disarray. Some insiders—Trump among them, obviously—are searching desperately for something, anything that will allow them to push the debate/Machado out of the news, and to again capture some headlines. Attacking Bill Clinton is one option, another is a surprise trip to Israel (which would hypothetically have the same effect as his trip to Mexico). Rudy Giuliani has even crafted his own, personal strategy, declaring that someone (perhaps even Russian hackers) saw to it that Hillary Clinton got the debate questions in advance. Maybe that mysterious bump on his head last month was from his tinfoil hat.

Meanwhile, other Trump campaign pooh-bahs want The Donald to dial it down, let the storm pass, and focus on the long game—in particular, trying to even things up at the second debate. But that is simply not Trump's style—he's not a person who can easily cut his losses. And so, he puts excessive emphasis on winning the battle (even if that battle is already lost) while hurting his chances of winning the war. (Z)

Online Polls: Shady Behavior All Around

As we and others have pointed out, online insta-polls are not worth the pixels they're written on. There is a fair bit of difference between the demographics of "Internet users" and of "the voting public." Since the insta-polls don't collect demographic data, there is literally no way to adjust their sample so that the results reflect the latter group rather than the former. Making things worse is the fact that partisans often make a deliberate effort to skew the outcome, not unlike the Modern Library poll that "discovered" that seven of the top 10 works of fiction of the 20th century were written by either Ayn Rand or L. Ron Hubbard. So much for those hacks Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Faulkner.

Of course, a poll of "best books" is just for fun, and has no real impact. Nobody looked at that result and decided they just could not go another day without reading Atlas Shrugged or Battlefield Earth. The political polls, by contrast, do have an impact. Donald Trump, his surrogates, and his friends in the media (Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, etc.) have been using his "success" as evidence that he won the debate after all, and that anyone who says otherwise is just in the bag for "Crooked Hillary." Not only does this eat at the foundation of her candidacy; such talk can (and probably will) undermine her presidency, should she win.

With that said, the politicians' behavior may not be admirable, but it is understandable. After all, spin is what they do. More distressing, in many ways, is the response of the various media outlets that run these polls. One would hope that Time, Fox News, et al. would value their journalistic reputations enough that they would strike obviously hokey polls. But posts on reddit and 4chan that tell users to vote early and often will steer big-time traffic to these media outlets' websites. So, they hide behind the notion that the polls are "for entertainment purposes only," and then continue to collect and publicize meaningless and misleading data. (Z)

Clinton's Newest Ad Focuses on Trump Flip-Flops

Donald Trump's past indiscretions and his present-day behavior present a veritable treasure trove of riches for oppo research teams. There have already been ads built around the not nice things he's said about women, about veterans, and about the handicapped. Now, the latest Team Clinton production, presumably inspired (at least in part) by the "I never claimed the Chinese were behind global warming" moment from the debate, is a montage of Trump saying (or tweeting) things, each one followed by a clip of him insisting he never said those things.

The ad is only 1:43 long, so presumably there's enough material left for a sequel. And just in case, Trump has been working hard to keep up his end of the bargain. For example, he's played quite a game of Twister with his opinions of German chancellor Angela Merkel. In December, when she beat The Donald out for Time's Person of the Year, he said she was "ruining Germany." Then, two months later, he did a 180 and described Merkel as a "great world leader." In August, Trump changed his tune again, and declared Merkel a "catastrophe." Then, in an interview with New England Cable News, he said that Merkel "is a really great world leader" that he would like to emulate. Here is hoping that readers do not get whiplash from the dramatic changes in direction. (Z)

New York Attorney General Widens Probe of Trump Foundation

The New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been looking into whether Trump University committed fraud by misrepresenting itself to potential students. Earlier this month, Schneiderman also began investigating whether Trump used money from his charitable foundation to buy himself personal gifts. After the Washington Post reported that Trump had paid fines related to his business activities from his foundation (which is called self-dealing and is illegal), Schneiderman announced that he is looking into that as well. Trump's foundation is based in New York, so Schneiderman has the authority to investigate it, even though some of the allegedly illegal payments occurred in Florida. If the attorney general finds that the foundation has violated state law, he can go to court to seek fines, removal of the director, or even close down the foundation if it is determined that it is not a charity at all.

On that latter point, a new headache for Trump presented itself late Thursday. It turns out that The Trump Foundation never acquired the certification that the state of New York requires for any charity that wishes to ask for donations, and that raises more than $25,000 per year. So what we have here is a Foundation that is effectively unlicensed, and seems to spend much of its cash on buying gifts and settling lawsuits on behalf of its founder. Schneiderman's investigation may take a while to complete, so that he can dot all the i's and cross all the t's, but it's hard to see how he avoids the ultimate conclusion that this is not really a charity. (V & Z)

Appeals Court Strikes Down Law Prohibiting Photos of Ballots

The big problem with buying someone's vote (other than going to prison if you are caught) is how do you know that the voter did as instructed? New Hampshire, among other states, has long had a law prohibiting people from photographing their marked ballot and showing it to others. In 2014, the state updated its law to specifically prohibit people from taking digital photos of themselves with their marked ballot and then distributing them on social media. The ACLU sued the state and yesterday, the Boston-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit struck down the New Hampshire law as an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner strongly disagreed with the court, saying that people don't need to photograph their ballots to announce for whom they just voted; they can leave the polling place and yell as loud as they want. The state can appeal to the Supreme Court, if it so desires. And this is the kind of nonpartisan case that might actually get decided, even in a 4-4 court, since there is no clear Democratic or Republican position on ballot photos. (V)

More Newspapers Dump Trump

In its 143-year existence, the conservative Detroit News has endorsed the Republican candidate every time, except for twice in the 1930s and 2004, when it didn't endorse anyone. Nevertheless, even for the News, Donald Trump is a bridge too far. In a video editorial published yesterday, the paper endorsed Gary Johnson. This is what the paper had to say about Trump.

The 2016 nominee offered by the Republican Party rubs hard against the editorial boards values as conservatives and Americans. Donald Trump is unprincipled, unstable and quite possibly dangerous. He can not be president.

As to Clinton, the News admitted that she is competent and qualified to be president, but that her character is troubling. Johnson was praised as a true conservative, an honorable man, and a person fit for the presidency.

We're not done yet. In its 34-year history, USA Today has never endorsed anyone for president. It has also never disendorsed (?) anyone either. This year it gave a strong argument why Donald Trump is unfit for the presidency. Among the highlights:

  • He is erratic
  • He is ill-equipped to be commander in chief
  • He traffics in prejudice
  • His business career is checkered
  • He isn't leveling with the American people
  • He speaks recklessly
  • He has coarsened the national dialog
  • He's a serial liar

OK, don't vote for Trump. What now? The editorial board was split on for whom you should vote. The members recognize Clinton's abilities and competence, but also see her flaws, including her sense of entitlement, her lack of candor, and her carelessness in handling classified information. In the end, the board couldn't come to a unanimous conclusion and suggested a Cruz V1.0 solution: "Stay true to your convictions." (V)

Christie May Be Put in Charge of Prepping Trump for Second Debate

Most of Donald Trump's top campaign staff is aware that he did badly during the first debate, even if the candidate is convinced that he did great. CNN is reporting that the people running the campaign realize something has to be done before the second debate, and one of the options being considered is putting Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) in charge of debate preparation. Christie is one of the few people who can look Trump in the eye and say: "You screwed up royally. If you do that again, you'd better get used to the phrase 'Madam president.'"

It is not clear, though, what Christie could do to help Trump. Getting him to sit down with a briefing book and absorb its contents is extremely unlikely, as Trump has an extremely short attention span. Christie could force Trump to have a mock debate, possibly with Carly Fiorina playing Clinton. However, because the next forum is a town hall, with members of the audience asking questions, it is especially difficult to prepare for, since voters are far less predictable than professional journalists. In 1992, a voter asked George H.W. Bush about how the national debt affected him personally, and he didn't have a clue what to say.

In addition, the town hall format favors Clinton. Trump is strongest when talking to a crowd about whatever pops into his mind. Clinton is not especially good at giving stump speeches, but she has held many meetings with a small group of people where she personally interacts with each person. That is what happens at a town hall. Trump never does this, so she has far more experience with this format than he does. There is little Christie can do to change things in less than two weeks. (V)

Trump Is Not Going to Like These Google Search Results

The odds are good that the "X factor" in this election will be the Latino vote. If those voters turn out in force, it could save Hillary Clinton (or help give her a landslide). It could also carry some candidates in hotly-contested Senate races—Ann Kirkpatrick and Catherine Cortez Masto, in particular—to victory.

This being the case, GOP partisans got some bad news this week, courtesy of Google search results. Since the presidential candidates' debate, there has been a sizable increase in the number of searches for information about voter registration. And the lion's share of those searches come from heavily Latino markets in Texas, California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. Some of these areas have, historically, had the lowest rates of voter participation in the country before 2016. Needless to say, this is indirect evidence, but in the past a correlation between Google searches and actual registrations has been documented. So, there is a good chance that Donald Trump's debate performance—highlighted by his attacks on "Miss Housekeeping" Alicia Machado—brought some new Latino voters into the Democratic fold. (Z)

Many Republican Leaders Are Hoping Trump Outsources the Presidency to Pence

One of the reasons that Republicans who can't stomach Donald Trump haven't revolted is their hope that Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) will make a good president. Officially, Pence is not running for president, but earlier this year Donald Trump, who is officially running for president, tried to induce Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) to be his running mate by promising that he could run domestic policy and foreign policy. Kasich said no. What Republicans are hoping is that Trump offered Pence the same deal. They pray that in the event of a Trump victory, he will quickly lose interest in governing and travel around the country holding rallies, while Pence sits in the vice president's office in the White House and actually runs the government.

Unlike Trump, Pence is not a fighter. During his 12 years in the House, he generally got along with members of both parties and he knows how government works. Pence has said that his role model for being vice president is Dick Cheney, who served a president, George W. Bush, with no Washington experience, something Cheney had a great deal of. In the end, the role of the vice president, absent an evenly divided Senate, is whatever the president wants it to be. (V)

Stein Mocks Johnson's Ignorance and Shows Her Own

Gary Johnson got a lot of bad publicity when he was asked to name the world leader he most respects and couldn't name a single leader. Jill Stein tried to take advantage of his flub by tweeting the names of her top three world leaders: Elizabeth May, João Stédile, and Jeremy Corbyn. The only problem is that none of them leads a country. May is a member of the Canadian House of Commons, Stédile is an economist, and Corbyn is the leader of the opposition in the British parliament. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Good news for Hillary Clinton today. She has solid leads in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Virginia plus tiny (statistically insignificant) leads in North Carolina and Florida. If Clinton can hold the 242 electoral votes in the "blue wall" states (and there is no evidence that she will lose any of them), the 28 EVs from Virginia and North Carolina add up to 270, so she can lose Ohio, Florida, and all the other swing states and still win.

Despite the daily ups and downs, if you look at the big picture by clicking on the Electoral vote graphs link on the menu to the left of the map, you'll see that there hasn't been a single day in 2016 when Clinton was below 270 and not a single day when Trump was at 270 or more. Trump is ahead in South Carolina, but when South Carolina becomes a swing state, the Republicans need a new business plan. (V)

State Clinton Trump Johnson Start End Pollster
California 59% 33% 3% Sep 27 Sep 28 SurveyUSA
Colorado 46% 40% 6% Sep 27 Sep 28 PPP
Florida 45% 43% 3% Sep 27 Sep 28 PPP
North Carolina 44% 42% 7% Sep 27 Sep 28 PPP
Pennsylvania 45% 39% 6% Sep 27 Sep 28 PPP
South Carolina 38% 42% 6% Sep 18 Sep 26 Winthrop U.
Virginia 46% 40% 7% Sep 27 Sep 28 PPP

Today's Senate Polls

Good news and bad news for both parties in the Senate races. Marco Rubio has an excellent shot at keeping a job he can't stand, except for the $174,000 salary. Also good news for Republicans is that Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) is barely hanging on, although North Carolina is going to get a massive amount of attention right down to the finish. For the Democrats, the good news is that Katie McGinty looks like she is going to send Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who was never a good fit for Pennsylvania, into retirement. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
California Kamala Harris 40% Loretta Sanchez (D) 29% Sep 27 Sep 28 SurveyUSA
Colorado Michael Bennet* 44% Darryl Glenn 34% Sep 27 Sep 28 PPP
Florida Patrick Murphy 35% Marco Rubio* 42% Sep 27 Sep 28 PPP
North Carolina Deborah Ross 39% Richard Burr* 41% Sep 27 Sep 28 PPP
Pennsylvania Katie McGinty 40% Pat Toomey* 35% Sep 27 Sep 28 PPP

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Sep29 Trump Fell into a Trap in the Debate
Sep29 Trump's Advisers Have a Plan for the Second Debate
Sep29 Trump Has a Cranky Wednesday
Sep29 The Online Polls Are Rigged
Sep29 President Trump Will Have a Busy First Day in Office
Sep29 Cybersecurity Expert Testifies that the Election Could Be Hacked
Sep29 Hacking of State Election Databases Worse than Originally Thought
Sep29 What if Trump Disputes the Election?
Sep29 Gary Johnson Has Another Aleppo Moment
Sep28 What Did We Learn from the First Debate?
Sep28 Democratic Debate Postmortem
Sep28 Presidential Debate Postmortem
Sep28 Insiders Say that Clinton Won the Debate
Sep28 Trump Didn't Bring Up the Bill and Monica Show--for a Good Reason
Sep28 Trump Goes on the Attack, Makes it Worse
Sep28 Arizona Republic Endorses Clinton
Sep28 Early Voting is Now Underway in the United States
Sep27 Clinton Doesn't Score a Knockout, But Wins Convincingly on Points
Sep27 Trump's Website Crashes During Debate
Sep27 Trump Can't Find a Mosque to Visit
Sep27 Beck Apologizes for Supporting Ted Cruz
Sep26 Trump Keeps Debate Prep Secret
Sep26 The Candidates and Moderator Will Be on Stage, but the Audience Also Matters
Sep26 Lester Holt Has the Toughest Job of All
Sep26 Priebus Predicts Trump Will Be Consistent and Measured
Sep26 Will the Debate Matter?
Sep26 Could This Be the Only Debate?
Sep26 Mook: Republicans Are Coming Home to Trump
Sep26 Maybe Democrats Shouldn't Be Nervous
Sep26 Politico Fact Checked Both Candidates for a Week
Sep26 Trump Campaign Hopes To Buy $140 Million in Ads
Sep26 HB-2 Has Already Cost North Carolina Almost $400 Million
Sep26 Bush May Make Another Run in 2020
Sep25 Nevada Is Proving Difficult for the Democrats
Sep25 Trump Accepts Cruz's Endorsement
Sep25 Cruz Begins 45-day Walk Along a Fine Line
Sep25 No Fortune 100 CEO Is Backing Trump
Sep25 New York Times Endorses Clinton
Sep25 Clinton Is Actively Chasing the Biggest Minority Group
Sep25 Philippe Reines Is Playing Trump in Clinton's Mock Debates
Sep25 Trump Might Put Gennifer Flowers in the Front Row Monday
Sep25 Trump Could Be a Harbinger Rather than an Aberration
Sep25 Appeals Court Strikes Down Ohio Voter Purge
Sep24 Ted Cruz Caves and Endorses Trump
Sep24 Cincinnati Enquirer Endorses Clinton
Sep24 Clinton's E-mails Will Not Be Released Before the Election
Sep24 Each Candidate Has Different Things to Think about before the Debate
Sep24 Trump's Money Woes Are Causing Internal Squabbles
Sep24 Trump Campaign: No Hablamos Español
Sep24 Eric Trump Says His Father Began With Just About Nothing