• Trump Says He Will Answer "Some" of Mueller's Questions
• Most of Trump's Day is "Executive Time"
• Trump to Rally Like It's Going out of Style
• Larry Sabato Changes Gubernatorial Ratings
• State Legislatures Are Also Up for Grabs
• SCOTUS Won't Overturn Pennsylvania Map
• Carter Calls for Kemp To Resign
• Today's Senate Polls
Trump Looks For Anything That Might Stick
Trump’s Nationalism Backfires
Republicans Fear Some Voters Are Losing Enthusiasm
Blackburn Takes the Lead In Tennessee
Bonus Quote of the Day
Mueller Probes Stone’s Interactions with Trump Campaign
By all evidences, Pittsburgh does not want Donald Trump to visit in the aftermath of this weekend's deadly terrorist attack that left 11 people dead. Jewish leaders told him he is not wanted. Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto (D) said that this week is not a good time, as the families of the victims are focused on their loved ones' funerals (which, in accordance with Jewish tradition, are happening very quickly). Their sentiments are undoubtedly prompted by a combination of at least three factors: (1) These folks don't care for Trump anyhow; (2) They hold him responsible, on some level, for what happened (between his rhetoric and his lack of action on guns); and (3) A presidential visit is, pretty much by definition, a "look at me" moment that deflects attention from others, even if those others may be a little more worthy of focus.
Of course, Trump does not care about any of this. He relishes an opportunity to be in the limelight, and to look "presidential." Undoubtedly, Rudy Giuliani also shared a few thoughts about how politically useful a tragedy can be. And so, the President and the First Lady will travel to Pennsylvania today "to express the support of the American people and grieve with the Pittsburgh community," according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. It is unclear exactly what the visit will entail, and whether or not he will attempt to visit Tree of Life Synagogue (or even the city of Pittsburgh).
Given that Trump does not generally make a personal visit to the scenes of tragedies, this decision is surely prompted by the proximity of the midterms and the fact that Pennsylvania is the site of some very closely contested House races. However, the question with Trump is always: Will this do more harm (by ginning up the opposition), or good (by impressing the base and/or independents). In this case, the odds are it will be the former. The mayor and a gaggle of high-profile rabbis have made clear their wishes, and to trample roughshod over them is rather tone deaf. George W. Bush's infamous Hurricane Katrina flyover did not show willful disregard for the wishes of the victims like this, but is an example of how a badly-handled attempt at "sympathy" can backfire. (Z)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has sent Team Trump a bunch of questions that he would like answers to. And, we learned on Monday, Team Trump (that is, the President's lawyers) have written answers to some of them, which they will deliver after the midterms. But, Trump made clear that he is certainly not going to answer all of them. His exact words, as given on Laura Ingraham's Fox News program, were, "I mean, it's ridiculous that I have to do anything because we didn't do anything. But we will probably do something, yes, where we'll respond to some questions."
One wonders about a legal strategy that involves answering "some" questions, as opposed to all of them, or none of them. Normally, a high-powered, high-priced team of lawyers would be given the benefit of the doubt that they know what they are doing, but this particular high-powered, high-priced team has pretty much forfeited that supposition long ago. In a formal court proceeding, a person's refusal to answer questions cannot be used against them, but this is not a formal court proceeding. And so, will it really work to Trump's benefit if Mueller issues his report, and it contains a passage like this?
In his written responses, Donald Trump acknowledged that on June 9, 2016, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and several members of the Trump campaign met at Trump Tower. Trump was asked by the special counsel's office if he knew of this meeting in advance. He declined to answer. The President was asked if his campaign was trying to collect information about Hillary Clinton. He declined to answer. He was asked if he attempted to cover up the purposes of the meeting afterward. He declined to answer.
Put another way, any unanswered question is like a flashing red light that says, "We have something to hide here!" The better part of discretion, it would seem, would be to refuse all answers and dare Mueller to take it to court, or else to answer everything and to try to control the narrative as best as is possible, keeping in mind that impeachment is much more a political decision than it is a legal decision. (Z)
Despite the upcoming midterms (or maybe on account of them), Donald Trump spends most of his day upstairs at the White House, rather than in the Oval Office doing his job. According to his schedule, last Tuesday, for example, he spent just three hours in his office meeting with officials and giving them directions—the core business of the president. Instead, he spent 9 hours on "Executive Time," a euphemism for tweeting, watching television, and calling his friends. No recent president has taken so much time off and worked so little on the nation's business.
Politico has obtained Trump's schedule for the period of Oct. 22-26, a full work week. Presidents can set their own schedules. George W. Bush was an early bird, and Barack Obama was a night owl. But both spent most of their day in the Oval Office talking to senior officials and working on policy. Trump doesn't do that. If he reads something in the newspaper or sees something on television, he can call an impromptu meeting on the subject, pushing his regularly scheduled work into the background.
Trump's official work day rarely begins before 11 am, and sometimes as late as 1 pm, even when bombs and shootings are dominating the news. And when he is in his office, much of the time is devoted to PR stunts, like signing ceremonies and media interviews. According to his schedule, last week he spent only 2 hours on policy briefings. Previous presidents spent many hours a day hearing from senior officials about tough policy decisions that had to be made, seeking advice. Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk reading "The buck stops here." If Trump were to have a sign, it would read: "The buck stops somewhere else." (V)
Donald Trump is not a patient man. This is why he can barely tolerate his presidential briefings more than once or twice a week. It is also why he cannot bear to sit in the White House and let the elections unfold—he feels an urgent, basically primal, need to be in the fray. On top of that, he loves, loves, loves holding rallies. And in fairness to him, who wouldn't love being surrounded by an adoring crowd of 6,000 or 7,000 people, who stomp and whistle and cheer at your every word?
These things being the case, it is the least surprising news of the week that Team Trump is going to ratchet up the number of rallies as midterm season heads to the finish line. In the six days leading up to November 6, he will have 11 of them. That, of course, is nearly two a day. States that will be graced with a presidential appearance: Florida, Missouri, West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, Florida (again), Georgia, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana (again), and Missouri (again), in that order. One notes that all of those states have hot gubernatorial and/or Senate races, and are not exactly House battleground states (except Florida), setting the President up to take credit for the Senate while blaming the House on Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), or Chief of Staff John Kelly, or AG Jeff Sessions, or the Cookie Monster, or whomever the target will be. Meanwhile, it has been a long time since a president cared so little about the half of the county that lies beyond the Mississippi River (or, as Trump calls it, "Montana"). (Z)
Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia, like Charlie Cook, rates individual races. He has now changed his gubernatorial ratings, moving Kansas, South Dakota, and Oregon to toss-ups and Rhode Island to likely Democratic. Here is his map for all the gubernatorial races:
Nine races are listed as toss-ups, indicating the enormous volatility and uncertainty of next week's election. On the other hand, Sabato expects the Democrats to pick up the governorships of New Mexico, Illinois, and Michigan, something almost all prognosticators have also predicted. He doesn't expect the Republicans to take over the governor's mansion in any state except Alaska (it is currently held by an independent). Thus the Democrats could pick up between three and 12 governorships and the Republicans are likely to pick up exactly one. All governors, except those of New Hampshire and Vermont, serve 4-year terms, and 29 of the ones elected next Tuesday will be able to veto any 2020 congressional district maps they don't like. The result will certainly give the Democrats more seats in Congress for a decade than they would have had with the current governors. (V)
A lot of attention is being paid to the 435 House seats and 35 Senate seats up next week. Some attention, albeit a fair bit less, is being paid to the 36 gubernatorial races (but see above), which are also important. But practically zero attention is being paid to the over 6,000 seats in the state legislatures also up next Tuesday. In addition to making many laws that affect people's daily lives, state legislatures make laws concerning redistricting, voter eligibility, abortion, and many other hot-button topics, so they ought to get more attention than they do. Bloomberg News has a good summary of the state of play for the 99 state chambers.
During Barack Obama's tenure as president, the Republicans made massive gains in the state legislatures. When he took over, Republicans controlled 14 states; now they control 31. Democrats now control only 14. The rest are split, except for Nebraska, which has a nonpartisan unicameral legislature. Still, everyone knows that it's controlled by the GOP, so you can really up the Republicans' tally to 32.
If the mythical blue wave turns out to be an actual blue wave, that could change. Democrats are targeting 17 state legislative seats that together could flip eight chambers. In three states (Maine, Colorado, and Minnesota), a single net seat could flip an entire chamber. In Florida, a net pickup of five seats could flip the state senate.
Matthew Walter, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, said the strong economy will help the Republicans hold the 67 state chambers it already holds. He named Connecticut, where the Democrats currently have the trifecta, as a state where the Republicans could make some pickups and get the trifecta themselves. That is about as likely as the Democrats winning all the marbles in Utah. Nevertheless, the RSLC is giving it a good shot, spending at least $45 million on state races this year. (V)
GOP pooh-bahs in Pennsylvania are not pleased about the new, non-gerrymandered map of congressional and assembly districts that the courts insisted upon. Even absent a blue wave, the map would cost them seats, and with a blue wave it could be a bloodbath. To that end, the Party filed yet another legal challenge, asking the Supreme Court to overturn the new map. SCOTUS said, in so many words: "No." In fact, they refused to even consider the case.
There was zero chance that the Court would actually get involved here. First, Pennsylvania Republicans already had their day in court and lost. Several days in several courts, in fact, including the Supreme Court. Second, the current Court is going to do everything it can to avoid looking partisan, at least for a few months, and taking this case does not jibe with that agenda. Third, the Court so thoroughly dislikes the idea of messing around with elections at this late date that they are letting a map that has already been deemed illegal to stand in North Carolina until after the midterms, just to avoid changing horses midstream.
In any event, this was pretty much the last gasp for Republican gerrymandering in Pennsylvania for a long while; with a Democratic governor in Tom Wolf, who is expected to win reelection easily (he's up an average of 17 points in the polls), the state GOP will not be in a position to ram through a gerrymandered map for years, if they ever are again. (Z)
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) has gotten himself in the position of overseeing an election where he is on the ballot, running for the highest office in the state. It's remarkable that state law, or else situational ethics, do not cause him to immediately resign his office or recuse himself, but they do not. And, as we and others have noted repeatedly, this is an unusually dubious election, given all the voters who have been deprived, or may be deprived, of their right to vote. On, Monday Jimmy Carter offered up his two cents, penning a letter calling on Kemp to resign immediately.
It is true that Carter and Kemp are members of different political parties. However, it is also true that Carter is the single-most distinguished citizen of Georgia, is a Nobel Peace laureate, and has a reputation for honesty and integrity that is unparalleled among politicians (and has few analogues even among non-politicians). In other words, if you find yourself on the opposite side from the Peanut Farmer on an issue like this, the time has come to pause and reflect on whether you have the right of it. Beyond that, Kemp would probably do himself more good right now by resigning, and making a statement about his "commitment" to fairness (even if it's pretty hollow), than by hanging on to the bitter end and encouraging the notion that his gubernatorial term (if he wins it) is lacking in legitimacy. After all, if he's mucking around with the election (and he probably is), he's already done what he set out to do. That said, the odds that he actually resigns this week are right up there with the odds that Donald Trump says, "Ah! Enough Rallies." (Z)
We have seven new polls today, but nothing surprising. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is corrupt, but so is the other guy, and New Jersey is a blue state so all other things being equal, a corrupt Democrat will beat a corrupt Republican. And in Texas, a likeable Democrat is going to go down to a very disagreeable Republican simply because Texas is as red as New Jersey is blue. (V)
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Massachusetts||Elizabeth Warren*||56%||Geoff Diehl||34%||Oct 24||Oct 28||Suffolk U.|
|Michigan||Debbie Stabenow*||52%||John James||43%||Oct 24||Oct 26||Emerson Coll.|
|Michigan||Debbie Stabenow*||53%||John James||36%||Oct 25||Oct 27||Glengariff Group|
|New Jersey||Bob Menendez*||47%||Bob Hugin||42%||Oct 24||Oct 26||Emerson Coll.|
|New Mexico||Martin Heinrich*||48%||Mick Rich||32%||Oct 24||Oct 26||Emerson Coll.|
|Rhode Island||Sheldon Whitehouse*||55%||Robert Flanders||36%||Oct 20||Oct 24||Fleming and Assocs.|
|Texas||Beto O`Rourke||46%||Ted Cruz*||51%||Oct 22||Oct 28||Quinnipiac U.|
* Denotes incumbent
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct29 Half a Dozen Cabinet Officers Could Leave after the Elections
Oct29 Whatever Happens in the Midterms, GOP Is Going to Get More Extreme
Oct29 Voter Enthusiasm Is Sky High
Oct29 Democrats Raise More in October, but Republicans Have More Cash on Hand
Oct29 Factors that Could Determine Who Wins the Missouri Senate Race
Oct29 Monday Q & A
Oct29 Today's Senate Polls
Oct28 Terrorist Attack on Pittsburgh Synagogue
Oct28 CNN, Cook Political Report Update House Ratings, Mostly in Democrats' Direction
Oct28 Keith Ellison Is Flailing
Oct28 Gas Tax Hail Mary Is Falling Flat for California GOP
Oct28 This Week's Senate News
Oct28 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Terry McAuliffe
Oct27 Bombing Suspect Arrested
Oct27 Trump Is Worried about a Florida Wipeout
Oct27 Trump to Hold Rallies in Eight States before Election Day
Oct27 Newt Gingrich Says What Everyone Was Thinking
Oct27 There Are Obstacles to Voting in Many States
Oct27 More Shenanigans in Georgia
Oct27 Eleven Megadonors Have Plowed $1 Billion into Super PACs
Oct27 Today's Senate Polls
Oct26 More Bombs, More Finger Pointing
Oct26 Trump Doubles Down on Border
Oct26 China May Be Ready to Play the Long Game
Oct26 A Different Way to Parse the Data
Oct26 Voting Against Brett Kavanaugh, for Fun and Profit
Oct26 Alaska Gone Wild
Oct26 Avenatti Runs Another Play from the Trump Playbook
Oct26 Today's Senate Polls
Oct25 American Politics Almost Turns Explosive
Oct25 When Trump Calls His Friends, the Phone Rings in Russia and China, Too
Oct25 Takeaways from the Georgia Gubernatorial Debate
Oct25 Rick Scott against the Pollsters
Oct25 The Races That Will Determine The Democrats' 2020 Strategy
Oct25 Oprah Is Running for President...on Facebook
Oct25 Thursday Q & A
Oct25 Today's Senate Polls
Oct24 Saudi Government Is Losing the PR War
Oct24 Takeaways from the Gillum-DeSantis Debate
Oct24 Gillum May Have Taken Illegal Gift
Oct24 New House Poll of Battlegrounds Shows It to Be Very Close
Oct24 What Happens the Day After?
Oct24 Trump Quietly Prepares for Bad Election News
Oct24 Virginia Is the Election-Night Bellwether
Oct24 Iowa Democrats Fume at Ballot Change
Oct24 Pro-Trump Farmers Are Being Sorely Tested
Oct24 Today's Senate Polls
Oct23 Trump Says U.S. Will Increase Nuclear Stockpile
Oct23 Trump Rallies With Cruz, Calls Himself "Nationalist"