Clinton 232
image description
Trump 306
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 47
image description
GOP 53
image description
  • Strongly Dem (182)
  • Likely Dem (27)
  • Barely Dem (24)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (90)
  • Likely GOP (45)
  • Strongly GOP (170)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2016 2012 2008
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups vs. 2016: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2016: (None)
Political Wire logo Trump Keeps Doubling Down on Bad Ideas
Congressman Ducks Questions About Resigning
Trump Privately Warned About Economic Slowdown
Justice Department Sent Racist Link to Immigration Judges
House GOP Embraces Trump’s Greenland Idea
Behind Stephanie Grisham’s Turbulent Ascent

Poll: Public Perception of the Economy Is Getting Bearish

By most measures, the U.S. economy is in good shape at the moment. In a recent CNN/SSRS poll, 65% of Americans agree that it is going very well, indeed. However, that is a 5-point drop from the CNN/SSRS poll in May. This is the first decline in years. The implication is that all the news about a possible coming recession is starting to affect people's thinking. That itself is bad for the economy.

Once people have the feeling that times may get tough and they might lose their jobs, they might just decide that a vacation trip to grandpa's farm is almost as good as a grand tour of California, and that a kitchen renovation isn't really needed after all. If the perception that hard times are ahead becomes deeply embedded in people's thinking, they spend less and save more, which hurts the economy and thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are not there by any means, but with the yield curve inverted, the stock market wobbly, Brexit on tap, and now this, there are increasing indicators that the current expansion may be over in the not too distant future. (V)

Promises Made, Promises Kept?

Like all candidates for public office, Donald Trump made a slew of promises as a candidate. As it turns out, he actually kept quite a few of them, namely:

  • Conservative judges and justices? Check.
  • Tax cuts? Check.
  • Slash regulations? Check.
  • Crack down on immigration? Check.
  • Tariffs on China? Check.
  • Declaring China a currency manipulator? Check.
  • Withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement? Check.
  • Withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal? Check.
  • Renegotiating NAFTA? Check.

Lots of boxes checked. Trump is surely going to campaign on all these items next year so when he makes new promises to his base, he can say: "You can trust me because I kept my 2016 promises." Of course, there are also a couple of things he probably won't highlight, namely that he promised that:

  • He would wipe out the national debt. Nope.
  • He would build a wall on the Mexican border. Nope.
  • He would get Mexico to pay for aforementioned wall. Nope.
  • He would repeal the ACA and replace it with something better. Nope.
  • He would reduce the trade deficit. Nope.
  • He would end the war in Afghanistan. Nope.
  • He would have the biggest infrastructure plan ever. Nope.
  • He would drain the swamp in D.C. Nope.

His failures put the Democrats in an awkward position. They can certainly point out that he didn't renew any crumbling infrastructure, and if elected they will do it. But if they also point out that he didn't build his pet wall it almost sounds like, if elected, the Democrats will get the job done. That's not the impression they want to give. So for the most part, they have to be very careful about attacking him for not fulfilling his promises, given that they don't plan on fulfilling many of them, either. (V)

Trump Wants to Go After Birthright Citizenship

Presidential adviser Stephen Miller and acting Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli both despise the fact that if people are born in the United States, they are automatically citizens (with only a few exceptions, for example, for the children of foreign diplomats), regardless of the citizenship of their parents. Both of those men have Donald Trump's ear, and at a time when Trump is trying to rally the xenophobic instincts of his base (while at the same time distracting them from the lack of wall construction). Under these circumstances, it is not too surprising that Trump threatened on Thursday to end birthright citizenship. Trump gave no information about how exactly he might do this, although the last time he made this threat, back in early 2018, he said he would just issue an executive order. The President, of course, thinks he can do anything he wants via executive order, but his thinking that doesn't make it so.

As a practical matter, should the President decide to pursue this, it will not be easy to find a way to do it. There are two key pieces of jurisprudence here. The first is the Fourteenth Amendment, which delineates who does and does not get citizenship. The second is United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), in which the Supreme Court made clear that children of non-citizens are not excluded from the terms of the Fourteenth Amendment. Changing the Constitution is a non-starter; for one thing, two-thirds of the Democratic-controlled House would have to vote to do so. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) & Co. would vote to fund 10 Mexican border walls before they would vote to end birthright citizenship.

That means that the only viable course of action would be to find a way to challenge United States v. Wong Kim Ark, get the challenge to the Supreme Court, and get them to overturn that decision. All of that is a very tall order. SCOTUS does not issue theoretical or hypothetical rulings; they have to have an actual case to consider. And it's very hard to imagine how the administration could create a situation in which the citizenship of a particular person or group of people is in dispute, and thus actionable. Even if Team Trump comes up with something, it's hard to imagine that Chief Justice John Roberts would be willing to risk the reputation of the Court by overturning a foundational legal doctrine that has been in place for well over a century. Oh, and the whole time, the Democrats would be hammering Trump and pointing out exactly how many people the President is trying to harm, since it isn't just undocumented immigrants who have birthright citizenship.

And speaking of the politics of such maneuvering, Trump might please (some of) the base, but it would otherwise be disastrous. 62% of Americans, including 45% of Republicans, favor the continuance of birthright citizenship. Even many staunch conservatives are in support. For example, the conservative think tank AEI published a piece called "Birthright citizenship makes America great," while Trump judicial appointee James Ho has written numerous articles and op-eds on the subject. So, in the end, this is probably just bloviating, and Trump will likely drop the matter. Although, with Miller and Cuccinelli in his ear, you never know for sure. (Z)

To Find Out What the Democrats Want, Turn off Twitter

If you follow the Democrats on Twitter, you know that many of them want Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free college, and many other goodies. From following Twitter, you might get the impression that Democrats represent a spectrum from liberal to very liberal. Only, it ain't so.

A new CNN/SSRS poll shows that 43% of Democrats consider themselves moderates and 11% consider themselves conservatives. According to our staff mathematicians, that's a majority. Who knew? Although Joe Biden's continued lead in the primaries might provide a hint.

Now back to Twitter. Only 22% of Americans are on Twitter at all. Also, 80% of the Twitter content is created by 10% of its users. In case you don't have a calculator handy, this means that 2% of Americans (and an unknown number of Russians) create 80% of the content on Twitter. So Twitter is not representative of anything other than the 2% of the population that spends its whole day tweeting. Yet the media act like if something is trending on Twitter, then the whole country is talking about it and it is important. Nope and nope again. (V)

Republicans Are Starting a Push to Win Back Suburban Women

The Democrats picked up 40 seats in the House, largely due to huge gains among suburban women. Republicans know this and are about to launch a major campaign to win them back. It will begin with training pro-Trump women to work in their communities and get the word out for the GOP. For example, Republicans will try to take credit for the 19th Amendment, which guarantees women the right to vote, even though it had huge bipartisan support.

Many high-profile women will be involved in trying to win back the suburban women. These include YouTube personalities, Christian podcasters, beauty pageant queens, and wives of Republican politicians. One of the women, Tana Goertz, a former "Apprentice" contestant, already has her message down pat: "It's a complete scam, a hoax, that we're going into recession."

Trying is one thing, but winning is something else. A lot of suburban women are turned off by Trump's personality and constant lying. They are not coming back because a former "Apprentice" contestant tells them that the economy is hunky dory. Nevertheless, the group is big enough that the GOP can't just write it off as lost forever, so they have to give it their best shot to win them back. (V)

Might Trump Get a Primary Opponent after All?

There are rumblings that Donald Trump might actually have to fight for the Republican nomination. They are just rumblings so far, but that could change quickly. At least four other Republicans could join former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and file for the Republican nomination. They are:

  • Former congressman Joe Walsh
  • Former South Carolina governor and representative Mark Sanford
  • Former Arizona senator Jeff Flake
  • Former Ohio governor John Kasich

All of the above are actively considering a run. We may soon know whether any of them will pull the trigger. In fact, it is expected that Walsh will throw his hat in the ring today.

Why would any of them embark on what is probably a suicide mission? Well, because it is only probably a suicide mission, not definitely a suicide mission. And for a good reason. Unexpected things can happen between now and the election that could really upset Trump's applecart. For example:

  • Trump's tax returns are released and show that he is deeply in hock to the Russians
  • Don McGahn testifies in Congress that Trump ordered him to obstruct justice
  • The economy goes so far south that Nicaragua appears in the north
  • Trump starts a shooting war somewhere in the world and many Americans are killed

And these are merely the known unknowns. There could be unknown unknowns as well. The point is that if any of the above Republicans enters the race and has filed to get on the ballot in most states and something happens to wound Trump badly, the other Republicans on the ballot might have a shot at it.

Of course Vice President Mike Pence is next in line, but if he is not on any primary ballots and, say, Kasich is, then Kasich will get delegates to the Republican National Convention and Pence won't. With ballot deadlines starting to come into focus, anyone who wants to get on the Republican primary ballot needs to begin thinking about it seriously now.

Another relevant factor is California's new law requiring primary candidates for president and governor to release years of tax returns. If the law is upheld in the courts and, say, Kasich files and releases his tax returns but Trump steadfastly refuses to release any tax returns, then Kasich will be on the ballot in California and Trump won't, so Kasich will get all of California's delegates. If other blue states follow California's example, a potential challenger could reap a large number of blue-state Republican delegates by just being in the right place at the right time. (V)

Appeals Court Rules that Presidential Electors Can Vote for Anyone They Want

Many states have laws requiring their presidential electors to vote for whichever candidate won the state's popular vote. All states (except Maine and Nebraska, which choose electors by congressional district), have an expectation that they will, even if it isn't the law.

Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit has just changed everything (for the moment, at least). It ruled 2-1 that electors in Colorado (and thus in the rest of the 10th Circuit) don't have to vote for the popular winner.

The case stems from the 2016 election. Three of Colorado's nine electors announced in advance that they were not going to vote for Hillary Clinton, who carried the state. The Colorado secretary of state, Wayne Williams, ordered them to vote for Clinton. Two of them grumpily conceded and did so, but one of them, Micheal Baca, refused and was replaced. He went to court over this. Yesterday the 10th Circuit said that Baca should not have been replaced and was free to cast his electoral vote for anyone who was eligible for the presidency. You can bet that this case is eventually going to be heard by the Supreme Court.

If the 10th Circuit is upheld, the manner in which the electors are chosen is going to come under enormous scrutiny. Normally, the political parties in each state choose their electors, but states are free to do it any way they want to. If the 10th Circuit ruling holds, there is nothing to prevent a Republican-controlled state legislature from picking diehard Republican activists as electors (or Democratic-controlled state legislature from doing the same) and letting them vote for their personal favorite candidate. The next step would be to cancel the presidential election in the state, since it would no longer matter and canceling would save the taxpayers some money.

During the course of U.S. history, there have been 179 faithless electors (that is, electors who didn't vote the way their state did). If the Supreme Court legitimizes the practice, we are headed for a very uncertain future. If the public is outraged by such a decision, that could start a real movement to abolish the Electoral College altogether. It is not out of the question that the Supreme Court could find that electors should use their best judgment in casting their electoral votes. After all, that is what the founding parents wanted. They didn't trust the people to vote for president because they thought the people were too stupid to do that, so the idea was to have the people vote for wise men who understood government and who would make wise choices. So a decision to go back to the original intent of the Electoral College wouldn't actually be so strange. (V)

Jay Inslee Is Outslee

Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) was running a one-issue campaign for the White House (climate change). As a not-too-well-known governor from a medium-sized state located in the far corner of the country, he presumably did not expect to gain serious traction in the crowded Democratic field. It is probable that he just wanted to make sure that his pet issue came up during the candidates' debates.

With funds running low, and with little hope of ever making the debate stage again, the raison d'être for Inslee's campaign no longer exists. And so, on Wednesday, he dropped out, conceding that "it has become clear I'm not going to be carrying the ball. I'm not going to become president." Inslee declined to endorse any of his rivals, and he will undoubtedly want some strong commitments on that subject from whomever he does endorse. On the other hand, his national base is (obviously) pretty small, and his home state will go Democrat even if the Party nominates Genghis Khan, so his leverage when it comes to extracting policy commitments is not too great. (Z)

Charlie Cook: Maine Senate Race Is a Tossup

Imagine a popular senator who won her last three elections by 17, 23, and 37 points, respectively. "Surely a shoo-in for her fourth run," you are thinking. Election guru Charlie Cook doesn't agree when the senator in question is Susan Collins (R-ME). He has changed his ratings on the race to "toss-up."

Collins's problem is that Maine is a bluish state and she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh after loudly expressing her concern that he once committed sexual assault. This really rubbed Democrats the wrong way. In fact, the bad feeling it left caused Democrats to cough up $4 million for a fund that will be given to the Democratic challenger for her seat, once that person has been nominated.

National Democrats are behind the candidacy of Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon. They hope she can ride the same blue wave that handed the Democrats the governor's mansion, the state senate, and Maine's lone GOP-held congressional seat in 2018. Gideon has already raised $1 million on her own, so if she gets the nomination, she will have at least $5 million. Collins currently has $5.4 million in the bank.

Gideon isn't home free yet, though. She first has to win a primary against three other Democrats, but none of them are terribly well known. One of them is activist Betsy Sweet, who is a progressive candidate running on Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. The others are lawyer Bre Kidman and a retired Air Force general, Jonathan Treacy.

Collins has another problem in addition to the Democrats' anger and money: Donald Trump. She tries to project an image of being a moderate Republican, although in the end she generally votes the way Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tells her to vote. Still, many Maine Republicans want a fire-breathing Trump supporter and Collins is not that person. Some of them may not bother to vote in the Senate race on account of that.

As we pointed out yesterday, there is also another concern for Collins, namely Maine's ranked-choice voting system. It is likely that the candidacy of Danielle VanHelsing (I), who is trying to become America's first transgender senator, will get a lot of young and/or progressive voters to the polls. Whereas in the other 49 states, those votes would take a chunk out of the Democrat's total, in Maine they are likely to become Gideon (or Sweet, or Kidman, or Treacy) votes if nobody wins outright in the first round. So, Collins needs a clear majority, and can't count on, say, 48% of the vote getting it done. Add it all up, and Cook may well be right: It looks like it will be very close in the end. (V)

Report: Pompeo Won't Run for the Senate

The Washington Examiner is reporting that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is not going to run for the seat of retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). If this is true, and if Pompeo does not change his mind, it is bad news for the GOP. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is running, and if he gets the Republican nomination, the Kansas seat, like the Maine one, may become a tossup.

The problem is that Kobach is so far to the right that even in deep-red Kansas he is seen as out of the mainstream. In 2018 he ran for governor of Kansas and was beaten by...a Democrat (Laura Kelly). Many Republican strategists fear that with Pompeo out of the way, Kobach will get the Republican nomination for the Senate and then lose to whomever the Democrats put up. Losing two solid Republican seats (Maine and Kansas), along with losses in tight races in Colorado and Arizona, could flip the upper chamber. (V)

Gina Ortiz Jones Raises $1 Million

Gina Ortiz Jones, the Democrat who nearly beat Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) in 2018, and who is running for his seat again, raised over $1 million in the first 98 days of her 2020 campaign. Given that the district is R+1 and Hurd is retiring, this is probably the Democrats' best House pickup opportunity. Since Jones is a first-generation American, a lesbian, and an Air Force veteran, it is very likely that money will come pouring in from Democrats all over the country, especially since she lost to an incumbent by only 1,150 votes last time and it is an open seat this time. No Republican has announced a run for the 800-mile long district that runs along the Mexican border from just outside El Paso almost to Laredo. (V)

Mr. Conway Blasts Mrs. Conway

James Carville, a long-time Democratic strategist, and Mary Matalin, a long-time Republican strategist, have been married since 1993. Each one knew about the other's job and political leanings when they got married. They claim they don't talk politics at home. And they certainly don't regularly attack each other in public.

That's not how it works with the Conways, George and Kellyanne. George is no Democrat. He was Paula Jones' lawyer in her lawsuit against Bill Clinton. But he cannot stomach Donald Trump in any way, shape, or form. He has co-authored numerous op-eds eviscerating the President. He also tweets a fair bit. The most recent one being:

Of course, one of the people working for Trump, whom Conway sees as a rapist, is his wife Kellyanne. That must make for some exciting dinner-table conversation, unless the Conways have some arrangement about not discussing it at home when one of them attacks the other one in public. There has been speculation about the state of their marriage for years, but so far neither of them has commented on it in public. (V)

If you have a question about politics, civics, history, etc. you would like us to answer, click here for submission instructions and previous Q & A's. If you spot any typos or other errors on the site that we should fix, please let us know at

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug21 Trump Ventures into Anti-Semitic Territory
Aug21 Administration's Messaging on the Economy Is All Over the Place
Aug21 Apparently, Trump Was Serious about Greenland
Aug21 Candidates' Age Is Just a Number?
Aug21 Presidential Polls: Great News for Biden, Bad News for Harris
Aug21 Third Debate Lineup Is Nearly Set
Aug21 Senate Polls: Almost Everything Is Coming Up Roses for the Democrats
Aug20 Trump Takes on Google
Aug20 Trump Takes on the Media
Aug20 Trump Takes on the Fed
Aug20 Trump Takes on Gun Laws...Er, Never Mind
Aug20 Luján Backs Impeachment
Aug20 Warren Apologizes to Native Americans
Aug20 Tuesday Q&A
Aug19 Biden Is Having Trouble Raising Money Online
Aug19 Foreign Diplomats Expect Trump to Be Reelected
Aug19 Stephen Miller Is Trump's Most-Trusted Adviser Other Than His Family
Aug19 How a Recession Could Start
Aug19 Judge Orders Georgia to Switch to Paper Ballots
Aug19 Poll: Americans Support Free Trade
Aug19 Sanders Is the Clear Favorite of Democratic College Students
Aug19 Republicans Want to Beat Ocasio-Cortez
Aug16 No Israel Visit for Omar, Tlaib
Aug16 This Is What Corruption Looks Like
Aug16 Trump's Folly?
Aug16 Trump Made Me Do It!
Aug16 Team Biden Works on Solution to Gaffe Problem
Aug16 Hickenlooper Exits the Presidential Race
Aug16 O'Rourke Does the Full Sherman
Aug16 King Embraces Incest, Rape
Aug16 Democratic Presidential Candidate Update: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Aug15 The Stock Market Is Nervous (Again)
Aug15 Biden Tries to Recover from Another Gaffe
Aug15 Trump Gets a Minor Win in Court
Aug15 Hickenlooper Is Having Second Thoughts about This President Thing
Aug15 Trump's State-by-State Approval Ratings Are Dismal
Aug15 California's New Tax-Return Law Could Hit Republicans Downballot
Aug15 Pelosi Calls McConnell "Moscow Mitch"
Aug15 Political Tourism Starts to Take Off
Aug15 Thursday Q&A
Aug14 Trump Blinks on China
Aug14 Abrams Announces 2020 Plans
Aug14 Epstein Story Isn't Going Away
Aug14 A Tale of Two Terrible Candidates
Aug14 This Week's Polling News, Part I: Trump vs. the Democrats
Aug14 This Week's Polling News, Part II: Trump vs. Himself
Aug14 Gabbard Takes a Two-Week Hiatus
Aug13 Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain, Part I: Immigrants
Aug13 Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain, Part II: Mobility
Aug13 Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain, Part III: Regulation