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 Sanders Will Announce White House Bid Tomorrow
Rosenstein Will Leave Justice Department
Harris Supports Renaming Columbus Day
Majority Disapprove of Trump’s Emergency Declaration
Stone Posts Photo of Judge With Crosshairs
Investigators Find Fraud In North Carolina Election

Schiff: Evidence of Collusion with Russia Is in Plain Sight

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) told CNN yesterday that there is already ample public evidence that Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Russia. By saying this, he is contradicting his Senate counterpart, Richard Burr (R-NC), who didn't see any collusion. To be nice to Burr, Schiff suggested that perhaps Burr uses a different word than "collusion." Schiff did note that seeing evidence is not the same thing as being able to prove a criminal conspiracy in court beyond any doubt.

Schiff also said that Trump's national emergency is clearly unconstitutional because the law on which Trump's declaration is based was not intended to provide funding for a project that Congress has explicitly rejected. He also said that Trump is daring the courts to tell him he can't do it. (V)

Republicans Complain about Trump's Emergency

A number of Republicans have complained about Donald Trump's decision to declare an emergency in order to repurpose appropriated-but-not-yet-spent funds to build his wall. Some of them are unhappy about violating the Constitution, since Congress, not the president, is supposed to decide how to spend the government's money. Others are upset about the precedent this sets and what will happen when a future Democratic president declares a health-care, gun, voting-rights, or other "emergency" and decides to fix the problem using an executive order. The Bulwark has a list of Senate Republicans who are unhappy about the emergency. Here is the list, with a brief summary of their objections.

  • Susan Collins (ME): Such a declaration would undermine the role of Congress and the appropriations process
  • Lisa Murkowski (AK): I don't think this is a matter that should be declared a national emergency
  • Pat Toomey (PA): My view is that this is better to be resolved through the legislative process
  • Ben Sasse (NE): I don't want a future Democratic President unilaterally rewriting gun laws or climate policy
  • Marco Rubio (FL): A future president may use this exact same tactic to impose the Green New Deal
  • Ron Johnson (WI): It would be a pretty dramatic expansion of how this was used in the past
  • Thom Tillis (NC): I don't believe a national emergency declaration is the solution
  • John Cornyn (TX): My concern about an emergency declaration is the precedent it would establish
  • Mike Rounds (SD): [What] If you get another president who believes climate change is the crisis of the day
  • Chuck Grassley (IA): I wish he wouldn't have done it
  • Roy Blunt (MO): I think it sets a dangerous precedent
  • Mike Lee (UT): We [Congress] should use this moment as an opportunity to take that power back
  • Lamar Alexander (TN): Declaring a national emergency is unnecessary, unwise, and inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution

The article also cites half a dozen Republican representatives and three dozen conservative pundits who are against the use of an emergency declaration to build a wall.

The pundits will get off easy here, but the senators and representatives won't. The Democrats are almost certainly going to bring up a resolution to cancel the emergency, which will force all members of Congress to vote on it. Republicans, including those above, who have spoken out against the emergency and who then vote to sustain it will look like hypocrites. Those who have the courage of their convictions and vote to end the emergency may face a primary from the right next time they are up. It is not a situation they want to be in, but the law governing national emergencies is going to force them to take a stand. (V)

Two Witnesses Told Congress that Rosenstein Considered Recording Trump

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told CBS yesterday that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein once considered wearing a wire to record his interactions with Donald Trump in order to collect evidence that might be used if the Vice President and a majority of the cabinet considered invoking the 25th Amendment. Rosenstein has denied the charge. However, two FBI lawyers have testified before Congress that the allegation is true.

It is certainly plausible that Rosenstein might have believed that Donald Trump was unfit to be president. First, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for refusing to drop his investigation of whether then-NSA Michael Flynn might be in cahoots with the Russians. Rosenstein clearly believed that Trump was treading on thin ice here, if not openly obstructing justice. Second, after the firing, Trump forced Rosenstein to write a (false) memo justifying the firing. Rosenstein was very upset by having to lie in a memo and say that he recommended Comey's dismissal. There is little doubt that Rosenstein was angered by the whole incident, but how serious he was about collecting evidence and counting noses so the 25th Amendment could be invoked is a different matter. McCabe says he was serious about it and Rosenstein says he wasn't, so somebody is lying here.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants to find out which one, so he is planning hearings. Of course, unless someone recorded Rosenstein talking about recording Trump, we may not get a definitive answer. (V)

Putin Gets His Wish

One of the Russian President Vladimir Putin's fondest desires is to break up the Atlantic alliance and drive a giant wedge between the U.S. and the nations of Europe. At the Munich Security Conference this past weekend, Putin's dream came true. American and European officials were at odds over the future, and the divide is likely to lead to more countries pursuing their own narrow interests, which will certainly lead to more conflicts down the road.

Former Veep Joe Biden tried to calm things down by saying: "This too shall pass," but the Europeans are worried that even when Trump leaves the world stage, the forces he put into motion will remain and the divide will be hard to repair. One German official said: "We fool ourselves if we think Trump is just an aberration."

We don't know yet what Donald Trump and Putin discussed in their numerous meetings and calls, but it is certainly possible that Putin encouraged Trump to follow an "American first" policy and break off with long-time allies. In any event, that is precisely what the President has done, to the detriment of the world order that has prevented WW III for 75 years.

Last year, most of the allied leaders held their tongues and hoped that Trump would be held in check by other senior officials. It is now clear, with all the generals in the cabinet and White House gone, that no one will hold him in check and it is only going to get worse from here on. The alliance is in pieces and no one knows if anyone can pick them up. (V)

Nauert Has Been Bairded

In Jan. 1993, Bill Clinton nominated Zoë Baird to be attorney general. Then it came out that she had employed an undocumented worker as a nanny and failed to pay payroll taxes. End of Baird. This incident has been immortalized as Nannygate.

Fast forward to the Trump administration. Donald Trump nominated former Fox News presenter Heather Nauert to be U.N. ambassador, despite her lack of experience in foreign affairs. Now Bloomberg News has discovered that Nauert once employed as a nanny an immigrant who was not authorized to work in the U.S. That was the end of Nauert's ambassadorship, as she quickly withdrew her name once the news came out.

It may not have made any difference in the end, though, because she would have been mercilessly attacked during her Senate confirmation hearings by senators saying essentially: "How can you possibly represent the U.S. in the United Nations when you know nothing about foreign affairs?" She is currently a State Dept. spokeswoman, which is not a policy position, of course. Trump hasn't made a new nomination yet. (V)

Wisconsin Will Get More Attention This Time

Hillary Clinton made many mistakes in 2016, but one of the worst was not even setting foot once in Wisconsin. The state has been blue for decades, so Clinton took it for granted—and lost by 23,000 votes (0.7%). If she had made a single visit to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in tow, and made a case to the 44,000 students and thousands of staff members there, she might have won the Badger State.

The Democrats aren't going to make that mistake again. They are already campaigning there. On Friday, Beto O'Rourke went to Madison to talk to the students. On Saturday, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) showed up in Eau Claire, WI. Expect all the other Democratic candidates to visit the state many times this year. They will all go before the Wisconsin primary to show the voters that unlike Clinton, they think Wisconsin is important.

The candidates will also visit Michigan and Pennsylvania—two other traditionally blue states that Clinton lost—many times between now and their respective primaries. The winner is certain to show up in all three many times during the general election campaign as well. (V)

Could a Vegan Bring Home the Bacon in Iowa?

Iowa is the #1 pork producing state in the country. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is a vegan. Is there an incompatibility here? One of the big events in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses is the Iowa State Fair, where virtually all candidates are photographed eating that local delicacy, a pork chop on a stick. Booker has already said he will go to the fair, but with 200-plus food stands, he is sure he can find some other local products to chow down. Dal Grooms, communications director for the Iowa Pork Producers Association, isn't worried about Booker's menu, however. He is more interested in what's on Booker's agenda for agriculture than what's on his dinner plate.

The issue came up on Saturday in New Hampshire, when he was asked if he would call upon Americans to become vegans. His reply: "I think that whatever you eat is a very personal decision and everybody should eat what they want to eat. That's America. That's freedom. Here it's live free or die." Nevertheless, if the general election comes down to Booker vs. Donald Trump, then Booker, who is single, is sure to be mocked by Republicans as not being a real man because real men are married and eat lots of meat. In fact, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has already fired a shot across the bow, saying: she supports PETA—"People Eating Tasty Animals." One can easily imagine that in a Trump-Booker race, a staple of every Trump rally will be for him to eat a hamburger on the podium and then challenge Booker to a hamburger-eating contest. Booker's diet could ultimately hurt him, especially in the big meat-producing states in the Midwest. (V)

Election Board Will Meet Today to Decide NC-09 Race

The newly constituted North Carolina Board of Elections will meet today to decide what to do about the contested NC-09 House race. In brief, two counties, Bladen and Robeson, had unusually high percentages of unreturned absentee ballots, as much as 2½ times as much as in other counties within NC-09. Republican political operative Leslie McCrae Dowless was active in those counties collecting absentee ballots from voters, and promising to turn them in. Democrat Dan McCready, who is currently behind Republican Mark Harris by 905 votes, has accused Dowless of discarding as many as 2,500 absentee ballots. Bladen is 38% black. Robeson is 38% Native American and 25% black. Since Dowless personally collected the ballots by going door to door, it wouldn't have been hard for him to separate and discard ballots from black and Native American voters, two groups that vote heavily Democratic.

Harris has asked for the board to certify his election. McCready has asked it to call for a new election. The board has three Democrats and two Republicans. However, a call for a new election requires four of the five votes. In addition to either certifying the election or calling for a new one, the board could also punt and let the U.S. House of Representatives decide what to do. If the board's votes break along party lines, with a 3-2 majority in favor of a new election, then the third option will come into play and the matter will be tossed into Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lap. She will most likely instruct her caucus to vote against seating Harris, in which case the seat will be declared vacant, thus forcing a special election. Whether there will also be new primaries is a matter of contention that the courts will have to decide. (V)

Monday Q&A

Today we begin with a couple of questions that are particularly challenging, albeit for different reasons.

Love the site. Been reading it for years now. But I have noticed that since (Z) joined the team, and has taken over more of the postings, E-V has taken a more liberal stance than the E-V of years past. What gives? Is it anti-Trump hysteria (which I believe is just as bad for the nation as pro-Trump hysteria)? Is it a conscious decision to cater to the left? Is it just the product of a natural West Coast liberal professor's bias? Or is it my own centrist bias that just perceives that (Z) is taking EV too far to the left? J.F., Toledo, OH

We get variants of this basic e-mail two or three times a week. Sometimes the finger is pointed specifically at (Z), sometimes the change is described as a general, years-long development with no stated cause. In any event, it's clearly a question/criticism worth answering at this point.

Let's start by telling you what is not going on. No decision was made to take the site leftward, and/or to become more antagonistic. In fact, both (Z) and (V) try their very best to be as fair and reasonable as is possible, and to keep their own personal politics from permeating their writing. We often remove phrases, sentences, or even whole items that one or the other of us feels might be problematic. Of course, no writer or site can ever be perfect in this regard.

It is also probably not the case that (Z) is more biased/lefty than (V) is. Even if you believe that West Coast universities are bastions of liberalism (a reputation that has some truth to it, but has also been overstated), we both took our doctorates from UCs (Berkeley for the Votemaster; UCLA for Zenger). It may be the case, however, that (V) is a little more artful at writing down-the-middle prose than (Z) is. After all, (V) has been doing this particular style of writing for more than a decade, whereas (Z) is only on year 3. Further, one of the distinctive aspects of the site's style is our sardonic wit and/or sarcasm. That could be read as bias, although we're more than willing to make snarky remarks at the expense of anyone, regardless of party affiliation, when the opportunity presents itself. Anyhow, if the jokes are read as bias, well, (Z) probably makes more of them, and his jokes tend to be a little more snarky than (V)'s jokes.

All that said, we would propose that the #1 reason that you (and others) perceive this change is Donald Trump. While we would agree that there is sometimes anti-Trump hysteria to be found in the media, it is also important to recognize that critical coverage does not inherently equate to bias. And Trump has fed the American people a steady diet of corruption, xenophobia and other bigotries, hypocrisy, dishonesty, and anti-Democratic behavior over the last two-plus years. If we did not point these things out when they happen (and, with him, they happen on a near-daily basis), that would not be a lack of bias, it would just be bias of a different sort.

There is a school of thought, often on display in newspapers, that every side of an issue deserves coverage. Hence, when the Times or the Post does a story about, say, a rally to raise money and save the lives of puppies, they find the one guy there who will go on the record and say that he hates puppies and thinks they deserve to die. We find this way of thinking to be facile and rather dishonest. Regardless of what the postmodernists might say, not all points of view are equally valid and equally worthy of consideration.

Something that (Z), in particular, thinks of regularly, both when writing for this site and when lecturing in the classroom, is the Civil Rights Movement. For some period of time, newspapers and scholars attempted to treat white Southerners "fairly," and to understand their perspectives and their motivations. At some point, however, it became clear that they were motivated primarily by racism and a desire to maintain white supremacy. Any effort to explain that away, or to treat it as an equally valid perspective, was just a form of apologia.

Bringing it back to Trump, let us consider his recent shutdown of the federal government as an example. By all evidences, this was a political gambit meant to secure funding for his wall. He was willing to sacrifice the well being of hundreds of thousands of federal employees, and perhaps even of the U.S. economy, in an effort to deliver on one of his most basic campaign promises, and to secure reelection in 2020. Is there another, less damning, reading of this? Do we have a duty to search for one, particularly if we do not believe that alternate reading is correct (or even plausible)? If we do point out an alternate reading, particularly one we don't believe in, are we actually being "fair" or are we merely trying to look "fair"? Is Trump entitled to any benefit of the doubt, after two years of choices that put him and his base first, and the rest of the country second? These are the sorts of questions we wrestle with every day as we try our best to be both fair and truthful. And once again, we do not claim that we always come up with perfect answers every time we grapple with these issues.

Christopher Matthews, in his introduction to Kennedy & Nixon, prefaces their first campaigns by saying, "Both antagonists had won election to the House of Representatives in that first postwar Congress. Kennedy had won as a 'fighting conservative,' a phrase he chose himself; Nixon, on a commitment to 'practical liberalism'." We know the leanings of the two parties have changed considerably over history, but has the connotation of "conservative" and "liberal" also changed as well—to the degree that we can actually accept the notion of Richard Nixon as a "liberal" in postwar America? S.J., Denver, CO

Opening caveat: Scholars of various sorts, like Arthur Schlesinger Jr., have made entire careers of exploring the meaning of terms like "liberal" and "conservative," and how they have changed over space and time. We cannot do full justice to these ideas in such a brief space. So, everything that follows is necessarily somewhat broad.

Anyhow, liberalism, as it was originally understood, emerged 300-400 years ago in response to centuries (and really millennia) of human existence where a person's place in society was determined by the circumstances of their birth. Nobility were born to nobles, peasants were born to peasants, artisans were born to artisans, and social mobility was essentially unheard of. The liberals pushed back against that state of affairs, arguing that all men are created equal and that each person should have an equal opportunity to succeed. The best way to accomplish this, as they saw it, was through limited government, a laissez-faire economic system, and a firm commitment to individual rights.

By this definition, all of the folks who waged the American Revolution were liberals, because they all believed in these things. All of the various political parties of the 19th century were liberal, as well. What divided, say, the Whigs and the Democrats was disagreement about exactly how limited a "limited" government should be, with the Whigs having tolerance for government spending on things like roads and bridges, and the Democrats saying those things should be left to private enterprise. Once the Whigs collapsed, and were replaced by the Republicans, then America's two major parties were divided in a similar fashion, except the issue was no longer roads and bridges, but instead the government's power to limit slavery.

Since the start of the 20th century, both parties have continued to embrace certain elements of classical liberalism, like a commitment to individual rights, and to everyone having an opportunity to succeed. Both have also moved away from other elements of classic liberalism; nobody particularly believes in a pure laissez-faire economic system anymore, and both parties tolerate a sizable amount of government involvement in people's lives. However, the main divide in this area, which started with the Progressive movement of the early 20th century and reached full flower with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, was the emergence of what some call "social liberalism." In essence, the Democrats and other leftist Americans embraced the notion that some people are born inherently disadvantaged (or become disadvantaged over the course of their lives), and the government has a proactive duty to try to correct for that.

In short, the liberalism of the modern Republican Party is markedly different from classical liberalism, and the liberalism of the modern Democratic Party is even more different. The closest thing to classic liberalism that we have in modern America is the Libertarian Party. You will notice that they don't win many elections.

Meanwhile, the meaning of "conservative" is both easier and harder to pin down. It's easier in the sense that it means what it sounds like, namely resistance to change. It's harder because the "change" that was being resisted is different in each era, and generally in each generation. For example, the conservatives of 350 years ago wanted to maintain the system wherein people are defined by the circumstances of their birth. American conservatives of 200 years ago wanted to keep the federal government largely powerless to build internal improvements, while those of 160 years ago wanted to keep it largely powerless to limit slavery. Today's conservatives are broadly defined by their skepticism that some people are born disadvantaged, and by their rejection of the idea that the government has a strong duty to remedy any disadvantages that might exist. One can see this basic philosophical divide playing out in other areas, as well. Liberals, broadly speaking, believe that global warming is a serious problem and that the government needs to deal with it. Conservatives, broadly speaking, believe that global warming isn't real, or that it's beyond the government's powers and/or responsibilities.

Note also that the evolution of "liberal" and "conservative" that is described here is applicable only to American political culture. The story is very different in other nations. In much of Europe, for example, the average Democrat would be considered "conservative" and the average Republican would be considered "far right."

Anyhow, having laid that groundwork, we will note that Richard Nixon was born in 1913 and John F. Kennedy was born in 1917. The meaning of "liberal" that they grew up with was different from the one that held sway by the time they were mature adults running for office. It is entirely possible that one, or both, was reaching back to an older definition of the terms "liberal" and "conservative" when they delivered the quotes you recount above. It's also possible that Nixon, who was very smart and very well read, was reaching back to the original definition of liberalism, the same one that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison embraced.

However, we do not think that is the best answer to the question. Or, at least, not the complete answer. As we noted last week, both parties had "liberal" and "conservative" factions in the early and mid-20th century. JFK had to appeal to left-wingers in his party, but he also had to get votes from the solid South. Nixon had to appeal to the right-wingers in his party, but he also had to get votes from "Rockefeller Republicans" in New England. And so, it's not too surprising that both men tried to be on both sides of the political divide.

Why do people, including you guys, keep saying that Nancy Pelosi has outmaneuvered Trump? Isn't the funding deal that was signed basically status quo, plus Trump gets over a billion dollars for the wall that he previously didn't have? It seems to me like he anchored the negotiation at $5.7B, and achieved about a quarter of that, while giving nothing, and the Democrats can no longer claim to be philosophically opposed to a wall that they're helping to fund. What am I misunderstanding? D.C., San Francisco, CA

First of all, with the possible exception of Beto O'Rourke, no Democrat opposes the existing fencing along the border, and they recognize that fencing like that requires upkeep and maintenance. Republicans agree, even those (like, say, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas) who share the Democrats' basic view that extra fencing is not advisable. This being the case, $1.6 billion for maintaining and improving and possibly even slightly expanding the existing fencing was on the table before the government shutdown. That was the amount in the bill Trump said he would sign before Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter got in his ear and told him he was folding like an accordion.

At that point, the President said that nothing less than $5.7 billion would do, and that he would shut down the government if he didn't get that much. He followed through on that threat, and ruined his own Christmas vacation (and that of a million federal employees). Eventually, when it was clear he and his party were taking the majority of the blame for the shutdown, and that no $5.7 billion was forthcoming, he was compelled to surrender and to reopen the government. The image you should be thinking of here is a dog with its tail between its legs.

With the government reopened, the bipartisan committee negotiated a deal that had some things that the GOP wanted, like money for about 40,000 ICE detention beds. The Democrats would prefer 15,000 beds, but they know you can't have everything. Meanwhile, the funding for improving and maintaining and possibly even slightly expanding the existing fencing was reduced to $1.375 billion. Trump was compelled to agree to that amount, and then declared his "national emergency" to save face.

In sum, then, Trump took the lion's share of the blame for shutting the government down, and what he received in exchange for that was $225 million less funding than if he had just signed the bill that was before him back in December. Then, he backed himself into declaring national emergency, which could lead to an embarrassing rebuke from his fellow Republicans, or from the courts, or both. And even if his national emergency declaration sticks, the best case scenario is that he gets more fencing than the Democrats wanted, and not the "beautiful concrete wall" he promised during the campaign. In short, the "art of the deal," it ain't.

Will we ever move beyond attaching -gate to every scandal that arises out of our Federal Government? B.P., Canandaigua, NY

Here is a quick exercise that (Z) sometimes does in class:

  1. Name a brilliant scientist.
  2. Name a very honest president.
  3. Name a very evil man.

The great majority of people will answer Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and Adolf Hitler, because those folks have become our archetypes of, respectively, scientific brilliance, honesty in politicians, and unadulterated evil. And when one is writing political analysis, or making a film, or composing a song, or authoring a poem, referencing these archetypes is a useful shortcut for alluding to the underlying idea.

Hopefully it is clear where this is headed. Watergate has become the United States' (and, in many ways, the world's) archetype for political scandal. And adding -gate is thus an easy shortcut for communicating the idea that whatever it is you are describing is scandalous, and venal, and wide-ranging, and so forth. So no, -gate isn't going away anytime soon. However, it is amusing to look at Wikipedia's list of -gate scandals. Our favorite is probably Gategate.

I am constantly amazed at how little participation there is in politics in the US, where turnouts of 55% (presidential) or as low as 35% (mid-terms) are common. Here in Australia, we have put in place various measures to ensure a healthy turnout. One of these is compulsory voting (since 1924), and even though it's only semi-enforced, it means we get 90%+ turnouts at most elections. Other things include that elections always take place on Saturdays (i.e., a non-work day for most people), and that pre-poll and absentee voting is very easy. Partisan meddling is another thing about the U.S. that often mystifies outsiders. Our elections are administered by the Australian Electoral Commission, who run the polling stations, count the votes, and redistrict parliamentary seats, all at arms' length from partisan politicians. My question is, given that the US has borrowed from Australian democracy in the past (most famously with the "Australian" or secret ballot), how likely is it that any or all of these measures would be adopted in the U.S.? K.W., Sydney, Australia

Well, there are three significant obstacles here. The first is that while "everyone should have an opportunity to vote" would seem to be the cornerstone of a democratic system, the country has a long history of partisans denying people the right to vote in order to maintain their hold on power. Sometimes it's the Democrats, as was the case with many of the urban political machines of the 19th century (especially New York), or in the South from the 1870s through the 1950s. Sometimes it's the Republicans, as we see with voter ID laws and purging of voting rolls and other such chicanery since the gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This "ends justifies the means" mentality has been a consistent barrier to reforms like the ones you describe in Australia.

The second problem is that Americans have historically been suspicious of change. Even things that seem commonsense to the majority, and that appear to have no downside, trigger a backlash. To take one example, there are still over a hundred cities in America that do not fluoridate their water, because they are convinced that it's dangerous or else an insidious government plot.

The third problem, somewhat related to the second, is that Americans are particularly leery of being told what to do by their government. Note, for example, that the Bill of Rights is largely a list of limits on government power. That would probably put the kibosh on mandatory voting, right there.

With that said, it would appear that the Democrats are going to make some of these kinds of changes a central plank of their 2020 campaigns. And that puts the GOP in the position of either going along, or publicly explaining why they don't want people voting. We're not holding our breaths that big changes are coming, but now that people are talking, it's at least possible.

You recently mentioned that if the GOP was wanting someone to run against Trump in 2020, they would need to find someone who Americans haven't already rejected what they're selling, like Kasich and Romney. I'm wondering why you think this is, since America has a long history of putting up the same candidates election after election—Adlai Stevenson comes to mind (1952 and '56) as well as Nixon (lost in '60, won in '68). Not to mention the long history of GOP primary losers winning the next open presidential primary (Reagan losing in '76, winning in '80; George H. W. Bush losing in '80, winning in '88; McCain losing in '00, winning in '08; and Romney losing in '08, winning in '12). My theory on why we haven't seen a repeat presidential candidate from one party in a long time is because of the Internet and social media, since most voters hear about them non-stop and make up their minds faster and more permanently than years ago—but I'd love to read your thoughts on it. D.B., Silver Spring, MD

The question seemed to be asking for someone who might not only supplant Trump as nominee, but who might also have a chance to win. Our conclusion was that a candidate who has not been rejected by the voters once represented a higher-percentage bet than one who has.

It's true that on both the GOP and Democratic sides (ahem, Hillary Clinton), candidates have mounted a presidential bid, failed, and then come back and had success on a second go-round. However, the success rate of those candidates is not high. Stevenson (x2), McCain, and Romney from your list, and Clinton from ours, failed and then failed again. Meanwhile, among those who did win in their comeback, there was generally a mitigating circumstance. Reagan, for example, lost in 1976 primarily because he was up against an incumbent. George H. W. Bush won in 1988 because he could ride the prominence of the vice presidency, not to mention Reagan's coattails. We think that Kasich and Romney were both pretty underwhelming candidates, both of them exemplifying a version of the GOP that no longer really exists, and so are more likely to follow in the footsteps of Stevenson or McCain rather than Bush or Reagan.

You're probably right that the Internet and social media make repeat candidates less likely. However, we might suggest the #1 reason is the length of the campaign season. It used to be that one could mount a pretty solid presidential campaign in six (or maybe nine) months. Now, it's close to a two-year process, with constant fundraising and speechifying and groveling of various sorts. One can understand a candidate not wanting to deal with that a second time if the voters have already turned their thumbs down a first time.

When you answered the question about a "White Knight" who might ride to the Republicans' rescue if Donald Trump should fall on his way to being renominated as the party's nominee in 2020, you did not mention Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R). As a resident of the state, I can attest to the fact that it is a very poorly kept secret that Hogan will run for President in 2024 (if not 2020). He seems to have many of the same advantages as MA Governor Baker. Other than space and time, is there some reason you left Hogan out of your speculation? M.E., Greenbelt, MD

A few people wrote in and pointed out that omission. You have correctly surmised the basic reason, namely space and time. Actually, a more accurate way to put it would be "clarity." That is to say, the more examples that one adds and discusses, the messier the prose is. And so, when we wrote that, we decided that we would mention one state governor, and one other potential candidate. And comparing Hogan to Gov. Charlie Baker (R-MA), we felt that Baker was more electable under the circumstances posed by the questioner.

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
Feb16 Houston, We Have an Emergency
Feb16 Trouble for Two Russiagate Figures
Feb16 Weld Prepares a 2020 Run
Feb15 Trump Will Sign Bill, Then Declare National Emergency
Feb15 Barr Confirmed
Feb15 FBI Officials Discussed Removing Trump
Feb15 The Democratic Frontrunners, According to the Trump Campaign
Feb15 Democratic Candidates Work to Tame the California Tiger
Feb15 The Next Justice to Go?
Feb15 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Michael Bennet
Feb14 Bloomberg Will Spend $500 Million Trying to Defeat Trump in 2020
Feb14 Judge Throws the Book at Manafort
Feb14 Klobuchar Raised $1 Million in First 48 Hours
Feb14 Trump's Approval Is Way Up after Government Reopened
Feb14 Cohen Will Testify before Three Congressional Committees
Feb14 McCarthy Blames Freedom Caucus for Loss of House Majority
Feb14 House Democrats Are Planning a Vast Probe of Trump's Russian Connections
Feb14 Nate Silver Says O'Rourke Has the Best Chance--at the Veep Slot
Feb14 Might Mexico Pay for the Wall after All?
Feb14 Thursday Q&A
Feb13 WWDD: What Will Donald Do?
Feb13 Senate Channels Its Inner Roosevelt
Feb13 McConnell to Bring "Green New Deal" Up for a Vote
Feb13 Barr Is in the Clear
Feb13 Mark Kelly Is In
Feb13 Will Another Amy Run?
Feb13 Today in Terrible Analysis
Feb13 Booker Wants a Woman
Feb12 Let's Make a Deal
Feb12 GOP Could Get Burned By Tax Cut
Feb12 Trump, Senate Republicans Spar Over Khashoggi
Feb12 Klobuchar's Abusive Treatment of Staff Has Been Going on for Years
Feb12 A 2020 Preview?
Feb12 Cohen Postpones Again
Feb12 John Dingell Bids Farewell
Feb11 Shutdown Talks Have Deadlocked
Feb11 Poll: Virginians Split on Northam
Feb11 Schiff and Waters Will Work Together Investigating Deutsche Bank
Feb11 Democrats Are Already Digging for Dirt
Feb11 Klobuchar Is Running
Feb11 Warren Makes It Official
Feb11 Harrison Is Also Running
Feb11 Rep. Walter Jones Dies
Feb11 Monday Q&A
Feb09 Things Go from Bad to Worse for Virginia Democrats
Feb09 Bezos-Enquirer Story Could Soon Get Political
Feb09 When It Comes to Mueller, Americans Wanna Know
Feb09 White House in Even More Turmoil
Feb09 Trump "In Very Good Health"
Feb08 Border Security Deal Appears to Be Near