Dem 46
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Ties 2
GOP 52
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New polls: CA TX WA
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: MO ND

PW logo Nevada GOP Plans Campaign for Dead Candidate
McGahn Out as White House Counsel
Intelligence Officials See Saudis Behind Killing
Collins Raised Just $80 After Indictment
Another Trump Building Takes Down His Name
Mueller’s Quiet Period Hasn’t Been Very Quiet

Trends That Excite and Depress Democrats

Political analyst Ron Brownstein has an interesting piece on what we can learn from the campaign so far. He points out both good news and bad news for the blue team. Here is a summary:

Encouraging Trends for the Democrats

  • White-collar suburban voters outside the South hate Trump: Affluent suburban professionals used to be Republicans, but those days are numbered, if not over altogether. The trend is strongest among women, but also noticeable among men as well. Suburban incumbent House Republicans all over the East Coast are wetting their pants as are half a dozen of their colleagues in Southern California. Suburban seats near Minneapolis, Kansas City, Denver, Detroit, Chicago, and Tucson are in play for the first time in years. If the Democrats win the House, it will be due to their taking these seats.

  • Trump states in the Midwest are in play: Democratic candidates for senator and governor throughout the Midwest are in good shape. Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (OH), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Bob Casey (PA), and Debbie Stabenow (MI) are as good as reelected. The blue team is almost certain to win governorships in Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and is at least 50-50 in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa. It could also pick up as many as four House seats in Iowa and Michigan alone. In most cases, this is due to the fact that Trump is sui generis. In other words, Trumpism works only for Trump. Republican candidates who share his policies but not his meanness and his disdain for women, immigrants, intellectuals, and Democrats don't automatically inherit his voters. Also, there has been a shift among working-class women who voted for him. Many of them are so angry at his treatment of women, that they are considering pulling the lever for Democratic candidates.

  • Democrats have new, exciting young candidates: Democrats have more women on the ballot than ever before (including a number of female veterans). They are running women for governor in three states and Latinos in three others. Gay or bi candidates are running statewide in Colorado and Arizona. All in all, these candidates are likely to excite the Obama coalition and bring them to the polls.

  • Fundraising: Democrats have built a powerful base of small donors. The financial advantage they now have over Republicans would have been unimaginable in the pre-Trump era. The poster child for this is Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) who has raised a phenomenal $38 million from 800,000 donors. But the river of money is as wide as it is deep. Over 60 House Democratic candidates have raised over $1 million. These numbers suggest that the 2020 Democratic nominee will be awash in money.

Discouraging Trends for the Democrats

  • Turnout among millennials and Latinos will be dismal, as usual: Two demographics that vote strongly Democratic—when they bother to vote—are millennials and Latinos. There are signs that they will turn out in larger numbers than usual, but they are not going to even begin to approach the turnout rates of older, white conservative voters. By 2020, millennials will greatly exceed baby boomers as a share of the voting-age population, but will probably lose out to the boomers as a share of the voting electorate. This represents a lost opportunity for the Democrats, but there doesn't appear to be any magic bullet available to fix the situation.

  • Southern suburbanites are still pro-Trump: A suburban North Carolina voter is not a suburban California voter. In one recent poll, Democratic House candidates in North Carolina were trailing their opponents by 20 points among college-educated whites. There aren't enough black voters in North Carolina to make up for that. Stacey Abrams, (D) who is black and is running for governor Georgia, isn't making a dent in that demographic. The only southern Democrat who is making progress with them is Andrew Gillum, who is running for governor of Florida.

  • Democrats are struggling in the Southwest: The Texas and Arizona gubernatorial races are lost causes for the Democrats and the one in Nevada is close, as is the Arizona Senate race. Utah is out of the question. The Texas Senate race is tough. Only New Mexico and Colorado are friendly territory.

  • Most non-college whites are strong Trump supporters: In the Midwest, Democrats are making inroads with non-college (female) voters, but elsewhere, not so much. In Texas, Ted Cruz can count on 86% of working-class men and 75% of working-class women. Across 69 battleground House districts, non-college whites support Republicans by double digits. This means that while Democrats will probably capture suburban seats on the coasts and in the Midwest, in places with many evangelicals, they are getting nowhere. This means they had better win almost everywhere in the areas where they have a chance.

To Be Determined

  • Which way in 2020? Democrats have a fork in the road for 2020. They can try to win back angry white men in the Midwest who want to time travel to 1950 or they can focus on getting minorities, millennials, and single women who normally don't vote to the polls. How well Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Beto O'Rourke do will be a key to which way to go. If they are all crushed badly, the former strategy may be the only option in 2020. If they all win, the party will turn left.

  • What would a Democratic House mean? If Democrats win the House, it won't be long before Trump's tax returns will be on the front page of The subpoenas will fly. Cabinet members will be grilled. Trump could be impeached. But will this soften up Trump in 2020 or will he blame everything that goes south (economy, North Korea, etc.) on them and make it stick?

By the morning of Nov. 7, we should have a better idea of whether Brownstein has gotten it right. (V)

It's Going to Be a Rough Few Weeks for Trump, Americans

Donald Trump has spent most of his life imposing his will on others, using a combination of his money, his lawyers, his verbiage, and his willingness to be underhanded. He (correctly) sees that disaster might be looming in three weeks, and although he's already telling anyone and everyone who will listen that it's not his fault if the GOP loses the House and/or the Senate, he will still feel it keenly as a "loss" (aka, the opposite of a "WIN!"). Consequently, he wants very badly to flex his muscles and impose his will on the voting public, but it just doesn't work that way. When he rallies, he feels better, but he can't rally 16 hours a day. A lot of people actually have to work, even if he doesn't.

And speaking of not working, on Tuesday morning Trump was scheduled for several hours' "executive time," which is the pleasant euphemism his staff uses for "Presidential goof-off time." Given Trump's generally heightened level of anxiety right now, and given the fact that he undoubtedly saw some of the bad polling news from Monday on TV, and given what he generally does when he has a bunch of spare time on his hands—well, all the circumstances were in place for an epic Twitter storm. And Trump delivered an unusually intense one, even by his standards.

Bragging about the Dow Jones, which on Monday regained nearly half of the points it lost last week? Check:

A little not-so-veiled sexism? Check:

Some railing against immigrants? Check:

A little conspiratorial thinking? Check:

A little spin on behalf of his friends in Saudi Arabia? Check:

It is safe to assume that there will be a LOT more of this in the next 21 days—on Twitter, in interviews, at rallies, and any other way that allows Trump to vent. The question is whether he will calm down after November 6 (once the other shoe has officially dropped), or if he will ratchet it up even more.

Meanwhile, for two years it has been a pretty good assumption that Trump's behavior imposes a psychological and emotional cost on Americans (at least, those who do not support him). And now, we have empirical evidence from the American Psychiatric Association. They report that 39% of folks in therapy say their anxiety level has increased considerably in the last year, while 56% said that politics are a significant source of stress in their daily lives. How are we to explain this? One theory:

Trump has been cultivating, adapting and prospering from his distinctive brand of provocation, brinkmanship and self-drama for the past 72 years. What we're seeing is merely the president's own definition of normal. It is only the audience that finds the performance disorienting.

For those who want to read more, a consortium of psychologists and psychiatrists have contributed essays to The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President, which includes extensive discussion of what some are calling "Trump Anxiety Disorder." Or, as Breitbart is reporting it, "the snowflakes are triggered." (Z)

Democrats and Republicans Are Angry about Warren's DNA Test

Pundits on the left and right seem to agree that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made a mistake releasing her DNA test that shows some Native American heritage. The Cherokee Nation issued a blistering statement attacking Warren, saying that merely having Cherokee DNA doesn't make you a Cherokee (something Warren explicitly said she was not asking for). Democrats don't want to be seen as opposing a Native American tribe.

Right-wing commentators had a field day with her, saying she was now head of the "Me Sioux" movement. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump also lit into her, saying the DNA test she took was bogus and the Cherokees don't want her.

So in almost no time at all, she alienated Naive Americans and some high-ranking Democrats who want her to talk about health care, not DNA. They also don't like her focus on 2020 instead of 2018. It also gave Republicans a talking point that could last for years, somewhat like Trump's call for Barack Obama's birth certificate—long after he produced it. Trump is certain to continue to call her Pocahontas, not because he cares about her ancestry, but because that is a dog whistle to his base that women, blacks, Latinos, Pacific Islanders, Eskimos, Native Americans, transgender people, the handicapped, and everyone except able-bodied white men benefits from Democratic policies like affirmative action. So the instant conclusion is that she shot herself in the foot. But whether this controversy lasts until 2020 is far from clear now. (V)

Julian Castro Pre-Announces 2020 Presidential Run

Just in case you weren't aware that the 2020 presidential race was already in full swing, guess what? It is. Elizabeth Warren has already thrown her spit into the ring and now former HUD secretary under Barack Obama Julián Castro has said yesterday: "I'm likely to do it." He will make a final decision in November.

He has already spent time in Iowa (hint, hint) and has campaigned for Democrats around the country, in the hope of getting some endorsements next year. Castro, who is not related to any former or current Cuban dictators, brings an interesting mix of characteristics to the race. First and foremost, he is a charismatic young Latino, the kind of person who could bring droves of young Latinos who are in principle Democrats (but don't vote) to the polls. If the Democrats decide to give up on the angry old blue-collar men in the Midwest and bet the farm on winning minorities, millennials, and single women, he could be a strong candidate. He wants to be the next Barack Obama.

Before serving in Obama's cabinet, Castro was mayor of San Antonio, so he has an attachment to Texas. If Beto O'Rourke loses to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) by only a couple of points, some Democrats may conclude that with the right candidate Texas could be in play. If Democrats were to suddenly have a real chance at winning Texas in 2020, that would scramble the best-laid plans of a lot of mice and men. (V)

Pat Cipollone Will Soon Replace Don McGahn as White House Counsel

Don McGahn will soon be out as White House counsel and Pat Cipollone will soon be in. Why he would want the job is anyone's guess. Maybe it will look good on his future resumé. He will take a big pay cut and most likely will be spending all day long handling an endless stream of subpoenas, should Democrats take the House.

Congressional Republicans don't like McGahn because he spent 30 hours talking to special counsel Robert Mueller early this year, so they are happy to see him go. Back then, people around Donald Trump believed he was telling the truth and wanted to cooperate with Mueller and get the investigation over quickly. Under those circumstances, McGahn probably thought talking to Mueller was a good idea. Now, he probably doesn't, but taking back those interviews is not possible. (V)

Republicans Are Focusing on Mike Espy's Long-Ago Indictments

The Democratic Senate candidate running for Thad Cochran's old Senate seat in Mississippi, Mike Espy, is being mercilessly attacked for the 30 indictments against him when he was Bill Clinton's secretary of agriculture even though he was acquitted on all 30 counts, but Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) are making the campaign all about the indictments.

The indictments followed upon a special counsel investigation that prompted Espy to resign from the cabinet. It seems clear now that he took a lot of gifts he shouldn't have taken, but the legal case hinged on whether the donors got their money's worth. Giving money to a cabinet secretary because you like him is not illegal. The legal question is whether he took any official actions that benefited the giver. The Justice Dept. failed to convince the jury that he upheld his end of the deal, so the jury found him not guilty.

The Republicans made up an ad: "Too corrupt for the Clintons." You can imagine how that is going over in Mississippi. Of course, Espy claims that the charges were all political and the fact that he was found innocent in court proves it. But the Republicans are keeping at it, claiming that Espy is too unethical to be in the Senate. He could make the case: "Look, I am a crook, so I would fit in well in the Senate," but he has not chosen that defense.

One thing that has come out of this is that Espy is like Spiro Agnew: A small-time operator. Espy is accused of taking $5,900 worth of tickets to a tennis tournament and some luggage, both from an agricultural company, Sun-Diamond. Apparently he didn't realize that cabinet secretaries are expected to demand bribes with seven digits. A $5,900 bribe is something a small-town city council member might ask for in exchange for a handicapped parking permit. Agnew (Richard Nixon's vice president) was also small-bore crook. He took small bribes as governor of Maryland and once accepted $10,000 in cash in the White House. Whether a governor ought to demand bigger bribes than a minor cabinet secretary is a matter we will leave to the philosophers and economists, but $10,000 is not going to get you into the Bribery Hall of Fame. (V)

No Court Shenanigans in Florida

In Florida this year, three of the seven judges on the state supreme court will reach mandatory retirement age, and so—by the terms of the state constitution—will see their terms end when the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 8, 2019. Customarily, the new governor—either Ron DeSantis (R) or Andrew Gillum (D)—would be sworn in at noon on Jan. 8 (in other words, 12 hours after the justices' terms are up). Outgoing governor Rick Scott (R), who just so happens to be running for the U.S. Senate right now, made clear that he intended to use that 12-hour gap to pick three replacements shortly before exiting his post. On Monday, the Florida supreme court put the kibosh on that plan, on the basis that Scott's term actually ends at midnight, too. So as to eliminate any ambiguity, the new governor will make sure to be sworn it at midnight this time, as opposed to the customary noontime swearing in.

Naturally, this could have a sizable impact on both the Senate and gubernatorial elections in the Sunshine State this year. As to the former, it cannot help Scott that he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, nor that he "lost" in such high profile fashion. As to the latter, voters across the state have just gotten a big reminder that 43% of the state supreme court is going to be picked almost instantaneously by whoever wins the election. Given that all three of the mandatory retirees are Democratic appointees, and that all four of the holdovers are Republican appointees, that means that the blue team will be entirely unrepresented on the court until 2023 if they don't win this election. That seems likely to provide more motivation than GOP voters will have, since they will retain a majority on the court for four more years no matter what happens. (Z)

Today's Senate Polls

Beto O'Rourke is pretty consistently coming in 5-10 points behind Ted Cruz these days. Barring an October surprise, he really needs it to be the case that all the pollsters' models are in error. And the way to make that true is to get way more Latinos than expected to the polls. If O'Rourke isn't spending nearly all of his massive warchest on that problem, including get out the vote/registrations operations in Latino communities, and vast amounts of advertising on Spanish-language stations, then he's making a mistake. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
California Dianne Feinstein* 40% Kevin de Leon (D) 26% Oct 12 Oct 14 SurveyUSA
California Dianne Feinstein* 43% Kevin de Leon (D) 30% Oct 05 Oct 06 1st Tuesday Campaigns
Texas Beto O`Rourke 45% Ted Cruz* 52% Oct 09 Oct 13 SSRS
Washington Maria Cantwell* 53% Susan Hutchison 39% Oct 04 Oct 09 Elway Poll

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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