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Division Among Democrats Is Very Apparent in California

This weekend, California Democrats held their state convention in San Francisco, and impeachment was very much on the minds of many delegates. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was addressing the convention, a man screamed "Impeach Donald Trump." Without missing a beat, Pelosi said: "President Trump will be held accountable for his actions." But less than an hour later, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said: "We need to begin impeachment proceedings!" and the crowd roared.

This puts the Democratic Party leadership in a real bind. The activist base is extremely angry and either doesn't know or doesn't care what would happen if Trump were impeached by the House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already said that in the event of an impeachment, he wants a short trial. The Senate trial would probably play out like this:

  • Day 1: The House impeachment managers make their case against Trump.
  • Day 2: Trump's lawyers present their defense
  • Day 3: The Senate votes 53 to 47 along party lines to acquit Trump
  • ...
  • (repeat until Nov. 3, 2020)

Trump's base would be energized and Trump's opponents would be disheartened. Pelosi understands this very well and so does Harris, but Harris has a nomination to win, so she tells the base what it wants to hear. Pelosi's strategy is to first win a bunch of lawsuits, then get people like Robert Mueller, Don McGahn, Hope Hicks, and Trump's bankers to testify in public before Congress. Pelosi is from a political family (her father and brother were both mayors of Baltimore), and was 34 when the Watergate scandal broke. So, she undoubtedly followed it closely and knows that public opinion started to turn against Nixon only when Congress began to hold hearings with people like John Dean testifying. But getting to the point of testimony takes time and the base wants action right now. Pelosi will surely stay the course, but the split within the Party and among the Democratic presidential candidates will get worse and worse before it gets better.

Other presidential contenders also spoke at the convention. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) supports impeachment, but didn't mention it in her speech. However, she did unveil a plan to permit a sitting president to be indicted for a crime. She also said that the time for baby steps is over and that bold action is needed on many fronts. This was an implied swipe at Joe Biden, for which she was cheered by the crowd. Of course, had the convention been held in Yorba Linda, the crowd reaction might have been a tad different.

Warren wasn't the only one to bring up Biden's name. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wondered why the former VP couldn't find time in his schedule to put in an appearance at the convention. The answer, of course, is that the folks in attendance this weekend are not exactly his base, and footage of Biden receiving a tepid welcome (or, worse yet, getting booed) would not be helpful. That said, it does create the impression that he doesn't have much use for the most populous state in the country. We shall see how folks in the Golden State feel about that when they cast their ballots on Super Tuesday.

Even if Biden didn't make an appearance, however, there were other centrists in attendance. And they got a less-than-enthusiastic welcome. John Hickenlooper told the attendees: "If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer." He was booed. John Delaney said: "Medicare-for-All may sound good, but it's actually not good policy, nor is it good politics." He was booed, too. A good politician is supposed to know the room, and Hickenlooper and Delaney clearly did not. That's not to say they should have pretended to be something that they are not, but couldn't they find some issue where they have common ground with the progressives and activists? They could have stuck to safe subjects like health care, taxes, and infrastructure. Going into the lion's den and telling the people you find there how wrongheaded they are (while also, in Hickenlooper's case, parroting a Republican talking point) is hardly the way to win an election. That may help explain why those two gentlemen are barely registering in the polls.

In any event, the next big dates on the Democratic calendar are June 26 and 27, which is when the first debates will be held. That means it's just over 3 weeks until the debates, and a mere 74 weeks until the election. (V & Z)

California Democrats Elect a Union Leader as Party Chairman

In addition to providing a stage for the presidential candidates, the California Democratic Convention also elected a new chairman for the California Democratic Party. He is Rusty Hicks, president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. He got 57% of the vote, beating six other candidates. Hicks had the backing of six of the eight statewide elected Democrats as well as the backing of most of the state's unions. He will now run the most populous state's Democratic Party.

To a large extent, the contest was Bernie vs. Hillary, Part 192. Hicks was the clear establishment favorite. His main opponent was Kimberly Ellis, a black woman who is a progressive activist and who told the delegates that the system can be beat. In the end, she was the one who was beaten. And remember, this was a convention loaded with progressive activists and held in the most liberal city in the country. As no-show Joe Biden undoubtedly knows, while the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party gets a lot of media attention, the moderate wing is actually bigger. (V)

Labor and Progressives Are at Odds over the Green New Deal

Speaking of attention, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has gotten massive attention for her Green New Deal, and has become a rock star in certain quarters. She is about to discover that not everyone is on the same page as she is. Like impeachment, the GND pits Democrats against Democrats. In particular, it pits white-collar, professional elites worried about the planet against blue-collar workers worried about their jobs.

When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced his Green New Deal LA plan in May, he was cheered by environmentalists. He was also opposed by union members chanting "Garcetti's gotta go." They are afraid that the GND plans will destroy thousands of jobs in the oil and gas industry, which is important in Southern California. Vague promises that maybe somebody will build a solar panel factory somewhere, someday and it won't be staffed entirely by robots don't cut it with them. To make their point, members of the 400,000-strong Building and Construction Trades union held a demonstration outside the California Democratic convention.

Jessica Levinson, a professor who teaches politics and ethics at Loyola Law School said that while discussions about the Mueller report, impeachment, and indictment are interesting, people vote on whether or not they will lose their job if particular politicians get their way. In this context, it is noteworthy that from 1960 to 1996, West Virginia was a very blue state, voting for the Democrat in eight out of ten presidential elections, turning red only in the 1972 Nixon landslide and the 1984 Reagan landslide. Then in 2000, along came Al Gore, who wanted to stop burning coal, and that was the end of the Democratic Party in West Virginia. Democrats are going to have to think long and hard about the GND and whether the votes it may pick up with affluent suburban women more than offset the votes it will lose among men who work in dirty industries and whose jobs are at risk if the GND passes. It is not hopeless by any means, but plans to eliminate coal have to be coupled with concrete plans to provide tax incentives for companies that build plants to manufacture solar panels and wind turbines and base them on the number of workers hired in depressed areas.

As a quick aside, it is worth mentioning that green energy is much more popular in Europe than in the U.S., but its adoption comes with a little footnote. Germany announced last week that it was going to shut down all of its coal-fired electricity plants. Other countries are moving in that direction as well. Nuclear power is extremely unpopular in some European countries on account of the massive accidents at the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants. So what will those nuclear-shy countries do? They will burn cleaner, less-polluting natural gas, which is a bit better for the planet than coal. But it's not a panacea (it still releases carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming). And it may not be so great for those countries, since much of it comes from Russia, potentially giving Russian President Vladimir Putin a way to wreak havoc by cutting off the energy supply whenever he feels like it. On the other hand, such a move would also tank the Russian economy, though you never know with Vlad. Fortunately for the U.S. it is self-sufficient in natural gas. (V)

Deutsche Bank Appeal Will Be Fast Tracked

A week or so ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed to fast track the case of whether Donald Trump's accountants have to turn over his records to a House committee. On Friday, the Second Circuit made a similar decision, agreeing to hear a case in which district court Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that Deutsche Bank and Capital One must turn over Trump's banking records to two House committees as well. Lawyers for both the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee asked the Second Circuit for an expedited appeal. Trump's lawyers agreed to this, so Second Circuit Judge Ray Lohier Jr. granted their motion.

Trump's lawyers must file their brief by June 18. The House lawyers have to respond by July 11. Then Trump's lawyers get to react to the House lawyers by July 18. Next, everybody goes to the beach for a couple of weeks. Oral arguments are expected in August or September. The court is likely to rule within a few weeks of the oral arguments.

At that point, the losing side is certain to appeal to the Supreme Court, which could well consolidate the two cases since they both address the issue of whether Congress can subpoena documents related to an investigation of the president. A final Supreme Court decision is likely in early 2020, just as the primary voting starts.

If the House wins, it remains to be seen what happens next. If Trump simply orders his accountants and the banks to ignore the decision, "or else," and they do, we will certainly be in uncharted territory. If the leading Democratic candidates then announce: "Hey, accountants and banks, please take note that my administration will punish you for noncompliance to the maximum extent allowed by law, including prison time for top executives," the accountants and bankers will have to make a guess about who is going to win the election. If they guess wrong, it could be curtains for them. They might even create a new position of "vice president in charge of tracking election polls." This site might even pick up a few intensely interested new readers. (V)

Trump Will Launch His Campaign in Florida in 2 Weeks

The day he was inaugurated, Donald Trump filed the paperwork to run in 2020. He has been running informally ever since, but the official opening of his campaign will take place in Orlando, FL, on June 18. He will go there with Melania Trump and the Pences for a big rally. The fact that Mike and Karen Pence will be there answers the question of whether Pence will be on the ticket in 2020: he will.

The date for the launch is 4 years after he came down the escalator at Trump Tower in New York to announce his 2016 run to supporters. The location—Florida—is hardly an accident. Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, FL, is like a second home to him, and, of course, the Sunshine State is the mother of all swing states. If Trump loses there, his path to 270 electoral votes becomes very tight, meaning that he then can't afford to lose any of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Ohio. (V)

Iowa and New Hampshire Are No Longer the Only Games in Town

In the past, presidential candidates basically spent the year before the election camped out in Iowa, with the odd trip to New Hampshire to relieve the monotony of seeing corn fields and pig farms all day. That has changed this year. Evidence of it is that 14 of the Democratic presidential candidates spent the weekend in San Francisco, rather than in Des Moines or Manchester. The event there was the California Democratic Convention, but the candidates have been all over the map (literally) all year. Here is a map showing how many candidates have visited each state so far.

states candidates have visited

Iowa and New Hampshire have gotten plenty of visits, as have the other two early states, Nevada and South Carolina. Success in Nevada can be touted as "Latino voters like me" and success in South Carolina will scream "black voters like me." But Georgia, Colorado, and New York? We are moving slowly towards a national primary campaign, with all the states in play from the start.

Part of the change is due to the new primary calendar. In 2016, the Super Tuesday states were mostly in the South. In 2020, a dozen states, as well as Democrats Abroad, are voting. Most important, California moved its primary up to Super Tuesday (March 3, 2020), meaning that as soon as the voters in the four early states have had their say, voters from Massachusetts to California get to weigh in. That pretty much forces most candidates who can afford it to run a national campaign from the start. That is especially true of the better-known candidates. If, say, Marianne Williamson or Tim Ryan comes in around 8th or 10th in Iowa and New Hampshire, the show is over. For them, wasting time in California is a luxury they can't afford. If Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) does badly in the almost all-white states, she can keep going and get rebooted with good showings in South Carolina, Texas, and California, so she needs to run a national campaign from the get go. That also applies to the other well known candidates.

Another factor is the way Donald Trump changed the rules in 2016 and got away with it. He didn't meet with voters in small groups in Iowa diners or VFW posts in New Hampshire, the way everyone has done it for decades. He held giant rallies all over the country and voters in Iowa and New Hampshire noticed. He came in second in Iowa, just behind Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and won New Hampshire convincingly, despite not going door to door there at all. Many Democrats have taken that lesson to heart and realize that if they can get on TV often enough, voters in the early states will notice them, even if they don't show up so much in person. (V)

Trump's Approval Holds Steady but Support for Impeachment Rises

A new CNN/SSRS poll released yesterday has mixed news for Donald Trump. His approve/disapprove numbers are holding steady at 43%/52%. This is comparable to Ronald Reagan's ratings at this point in 1983 and Reagan was easily reelected in 1984. Below is a graph of Trump's approval (blue) and disapproval (red) since Feb. 2017.

approve chart

What is amazing, but no longer surprising, is how stable these numbers are. Approval is in a tight band from 35% to 45%. Disapproval is in a band from 51% to 59%. This situation has lasted since Trump's inauguration. No news—Helsinki, Kim Jong-Un, Robert Mueller—changes how people feel about Trump. Short of something truly catastrophic, like the Dow dropping 10,000 points, nothing is likely to change Trump's polling. He is one of the rare politicians who could be in bed with a live boy, a dead girl, and a goat, do it on live television, and not have it change his approval/disapproval at all.

However, the poll also has some bad news for Trump, as 41% want him impeached and removed from office, while 51% do not want that to happen. Last month 37% wanted to see him impeached. Among Democrats, 72% want to see him impeached and convicted but only 8% of Republicans feel that way. This is consistent with Trump's long-standing 90% approval among Republicans. By way of comparison, at no point in 1998 did more than 29% of the people want to see Bill Clinton impeached.

Yesterday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) told CNN's Jake Tapper that although the House is moving slowly, in the end he expects it to impeach Donald Trump. But he emphasized that first a case for impeachment has to made to the country.

The poll also asked about former special counsel Robert Mueller. Two-thirds of Americans want him to testify in public before Congress, and that includes 88% of Democrats, 62% of independents, and 49% of Republicans. (V)

Hoyer Supports Statehood for D.C.

In every term since 1991, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has introduced a statehood bill for the District. These have gotten nowhere, but she isn't giving up. At a Memorial Day event at the D.C. War Memorial, Norton pointed out that 30,000 D.C. residents are veterans, yet the 700,000 people who live there have no vote on whether the country goes to war. Norton is a member of several House committees, but she can't vote on bills. And, of course, D.C. has no senators.

This time might be different. Her bill, dubbed H.R. 51 (since D.C. would be the 51st state), has a chance to at least pass the House, since House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) now supports it. The bill also has over 200 Democratic co-sponsors. If it passes the House, it will die in the Senate because Mitch McConnell will never let a vote come up. He knows very well that if D.C. becomes a state, it would elect two black Democrats to the Senate (and one black Democrat—probably Norton—to the House). Although D.C. has more residents than Wyoming or Vermont, when it comes to votes in Congress, it has none.

Nevertheless, if the House does pass the bill, the fight for "no taxation without representation" could come back again and it could play a role in the 2020 election. If the Democrats capture the House and Senate in 2020 and the Republicans filibuster the same bill in 2021, it will be embarrassing to explain why over 700,000 Americans (of which 63% are minorities) shouldn't have senators or a voting representative.

One (weak) defense is that Art. 1 Sec. 8 of the Constitution requires that states shall cede land (not exceeding ten miles square) for the seat of government. This implies that the capital itself cannot be a state. However, the boundaries of the new state could easily be drawn to exclude the White House, Capitol, and Supreme Court, which would remain in the District. In other words, it would be possible to carve out a non-state capital, where the main government buildings would be located, and a surrounding state where most of the people actually live. That should address any possible constitutional concerns. (V)

Monday Q&A

The first question deals with today's news, then there are several that jump forward in time, and then several that jump backward in time. Don't get whiplash.

Donald Trump's being granted a state visit to the U.K. is generating a fair few headlines in Europe—especially given the policing costs of his last (non-state) visit. Do you have any insight into what visiting presidents actually discuss with the U.K. royal family? As the royal family have no real political role anymore, is it just filled with fine food and pleasantries? Likewise, with Theresa May falling on her sword, what is the value of holding talks with an immediately outgoing Prime Minister? From the European perspective, it seems as if her hosting his visit is a last act of party loyalty to save someone else the ignominy of doing it. M.S., Helsinki, Finland

As you correctly point out, the queen has no political role—by law—and so it would be entirely inappropriate for her to address any sort of political or policy issues with an American president or any other foreign leader who is granted an audience. However, that does not mean that the interaction is merely polite and is devoid of substance. The occupant of Buckingham Palace and the occupant of the White House both live in a bubble, and face pressures different from most people. They are also surrounded primarily by fawning yes-men (ahem, some presidents more than others). And so, for both the monarch and the president, this is a fairly rare opportunity to interact with an equal. For the Queen, it's also an opportunity to have something like a friend, which she can't really have many of. And so, Elizabeth has had very close relationships with some past presidents. She and Eisenhower bonded over their shared service in World War II, and corresponded regularly by letter for many years. She and Reagan loved to talk about horses. She was also apparently quite fond of Bill Clinton and of Barack Obama (and they both raved about her).

When it comes to the meeting with Trump, you can bet your last dollar that Her Majesty will follow protocol; that's what she does. Whether Trump is able to do the same is the $64,000 (well, £64,000) question. He's making headlines back home due to his snarky remarks about the Queen's new granddaughter-in-law, as well as his willingness to (inappropriately) wade into British politics (like, who should be the next PM). And on the last visit, of course, he fumbled protocol by walking in front of the Queen rather than behind.

Assuming that the President does indeed play by the rules, who knows what they will talk about? However we do not foresee a warm and long-lasting friendship. Beyond the fact that the Queen will not appreciate his snotty remarks about Duchess Meghan, they don't have too much in common in terms of interests, worldview, or personality. After all, she is refined and cultured and thoughtful, and he—well, let's just say that those words are not often used to describe him. It's probably instructive that among the presidents who have served during QEII's reign, the one who is probably most similar to Trump personality-wise—Lyndon B. Johnson—is the only one who never found time to meet with her.

As to May and Trump, there are still plenty of things they can plausibly discuss, like various intelligence-gathering activities, military operations in Syria, etc., that predated the current PM and will long survive her departure. That said, she may well be taking one for the team. Although, if the new PM is Boris Johnson, he would presumably have no qualms about meeting with Trump.

It's 2020. The conventions are concluded, and a "smoking gun" is found, or Trump inadvertently admits to something bad on national television. He refuses to resign or drop out. Support for the president and the GOP craters over the revelations. What are the GOP's options to save themselves from a historical thrashing? Does Mitch McConnell suddenly become an outspoken supporter of impeachment (and would that make Pence the incumbent president running for re-election?) or would there be no choice but to ride the president to impending doom? M.P., York, PA

Let us consider this on two levels: logistical and political. Logistically, if the GOP really wanted to kick Trump off the ticket in, say, early August of next year, they would run into many states' deadlines for making changes to the ballot. Even impeaching Trump, convicting him, and disqualifying him from future officeholding wouldn't necessarily resolve that issue. What that means is that the Party would probably have to announce that they were picking "Trump" electors who are actually committed to voting for, say, Mike Pence. In other words, they would have to try to pull off a situation where electors go faithless en masse. That is not an easy task. Furthermore, electors who vote for someone other than the winner of their state are breaking the law in most states. For the Republican party to encourage people to break the law might itself have consequences down the line.

And as difficult and messy as those logistics are, the politics are even worse. It is hard to imagine what kind of smoking gun or bad behavior would be so problematic that it would convince GOP leadership that they are better off switching horses at the last minute. Historically, even when late developments leave a candidate fatally flawed, their party just crosses its fingers and hopes for the best. In 1932, for example, any faint hope Herbert Hoover had of being reelected disappeared when he ordered the U.S. Army to attack its own veterans. Still, the GOP stayed with him. Or, to give a more recent example, the Republicans stuck with Roy Moore in Alabama, even though he was credibly accused of just about the worst crime possible. If some sort of really incriminating information about Trump were to come to light in summer or fall of next year, the great likelihood is that the base wouldn't accept it, and that the GOP pooh-bahs would hope it blows over, like all of Trump's other controversies have.

In short, we just don't see any way that your hypothetical scenario could come to pass.

It occurred to me after watching Justin Amash's town hall and reading his recent tweets, that there are an awful lot of Democrats who are enthralled with this Libertarian, Tea Party Conservative with principles. And independents too (like me!). Which makes me wonder: Since Amash is so willing to publicly place principle over party, and has not ruled out a White House bid, is there a plausible path for him to primary Trump if Democrats/Independents register as Republicans en masse to participate in nationwide state primaries? C.K., Silver Spring, MD

Something like this (or the scenario outlined in the question above) would give us a lot to write about, so we would not be sorry to see it happen. However, while this scheme is theoretically possible, we think this one is not plausible, either.

To start, recall Will Rogers' old line: "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." To pull off a scheme like this would require massive numbers of Democrats in many states to reregister, and to do so according to whatever deadline their state imposes. This would not be an issue in every state, since some do not require voters to register a party preference, or else allow same-day re-registration. However, it would be an issue in many states. And it just seems too difficult for the blue team to pull it off.

On top of that, the GOP would undoubtedly catch wind of what is going on, and—if it seemed like it might work—would enact countermeasures. For example, they could refuse any new registrations until after the primaries. Or, they could just cancel primaries and caucuses, as needed, as they are already planning to do in South Carolina.

Any chance Nancy Pelosi will get a primary challenger? I know I'm personally angry at the Democratic leadership for sitting on their hands for Trump's first two years like this is just normal politics. Now, all the handwringing over impeachment makes us look like indecisive wimps with no backbone or principles. I'd be happy to support a young Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) type who takes her on. S.S., West Hollywood, CA

This is certainly more plausible than the scenarios in the previous two questions. And there are certainly cases, in recent memory, of high-ranking members of House leadership being taken down by unknown contenders. There's AOC's victim, Joe Crowley, who was the fourth-ranked Democrat in Congress. Or, there is Eric Cantor, who was the second-ranked Republican in Congress when Dave Brat dispatched him in 2014.

With that said, if you bet against the Speaker, don't bet much. She's an extremely shrewd politician, and is not going to carelessly allow herself to be surprised on Election Day, the way that Crowley and Cantor were. She also has virtually unlimited funds at her disposal. Not only are she and her husband worth about $30 million, but her fundraising prowess is legendary and every Democrat in the House owes her big time. Also, she's actually quite popular in her home district. And, by the time she next faces voters, this whole drama will be at a very different place than it is today. Either she will have allowed impeachment to go forward, or she will have managed to hurt Trump in other ways, like making his tax returns public. All of these things argue against a successful challenge from Pelosi's left flank.

Although I really liked your answer about history classes focusing on underlying forces rather than individual avatars, I was interested that you would absolve McConnell & Co. from the "Worst In History" List, given the craven self-serving hypocrisy on continuous display. Is there any corollary in the history of Congress when unchecked abuse of power was so blatantly used for the sole purpose of simply staying in power? G.H., Richmond, VA

Let us be clear that we were predicting how the subject would be addressed in future history classes, not absolving McConnell of anything. History is full of scummy people who don't get mentioned in classrooms, in part because there are just too many of them.

As to your question, the obvious parallel is the one we've already raised: the antebellum era. Southern Democrats pulled the strings at their Party's convention for years and years to get candidates from their region, or—at the very least—favorable to their viewpoint. Anytime it seemed they would not get who they wanted, they threatened to walk out. And when that actually came to pass (Stephen Douglas in 1860), they actually did walk out.

That's not exactly Congress, but Southern Democrats engaged in all sorts of chicanery in the legislature, too. For decades, they insisted on equal representation in the Senate, and they threatened violence if they did not get it. In the 1820s, this nearly destroyed the Union (40 years before the Civil War!), until the Missouri Compromise was worked out. In the 1830s, Southerners threatened several times to "nullify" laws they did not like, and possibly even to secede, unless Congress bowed to their demands. For much of the 1840s, the Southerners managed to keep the House from even discussing the possibility of ending slavery—this was known as the gag rule. In the 1850s, even once the gag rule was gone, Southern Democrats tried very hard to physically intimidate their colleagues into remaining silent on the slave issue. Some duels were fought, many more were threatened, and Rep. Preston Brooks (D-SC) beat the living daylights out of Sen. Charles Sumner (R-MA) with a cane. Can you imagine what would happen if Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thrashed Mitch McConnell with a cane? Fox News might literally explode.

You wrote that historians mostly no longer attribute actions to great individuals, but rather historical trends. But when I look up the Great Man Theory on Wikipedia (I know, but it's a first step), it seems that there is more give here—that there are still reputable modern historians supporting the GMT, although a preponderance do not. Is this accurate? Is there more disagreement on this issue? J.A.M.C., Haimen, China

This is accurate. And note that our original answer said that it is highly negative outcomes that tend to be attributed to underlying trends rather than the actions of any particular individual. But it is clear that, in some cases, a single individual—or a small group of individuals—really did change the course of events. For example, let's give Hoover a second mention. He and Franklin D. Roosevelt faced the same basic challenge, but Roosevelt clearly handled it in a much more impactful way than Hoover did. Similarly, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis faced somewhat similar tasks during the Civil War, but Lincoln clearly did his job more effectively than Davis did his, which is a big part of the reason the North won the war. One can think of many other notable examples, from both American and world history: Isaac Newton, Muhammad, Napoleon, George Washington, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, etc.

Last week, you wrote that Trump got 8% of the black vote. How is this actually known? Exit polls? How reliable are those, and aren't they subject to the Bradley effect, too? H.M., Berlin, Germany

Exit polls are part of the equation. And it's true that they could be subject to the Bradley effect, although people are more likely to lie about what they "plan" to do, than what they actually just did. Further, since the actual results are known, it's often possible to figure out where distortions may have come from.

Also important is that we know the demographics of the districts and the precincts. There are, for example, a few precincts in Philadelphia and a couple in Baltimore that are 95% black voters. There are a handful of Congressional districts that are at least 60% black voters (MS-02, TN-09, AL-07, etc.). If Donald Trump got a similar number of votes in those places as, say, Mitt Romney and John McCain did, that is instructive.

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May31 About That Citizenship Question...
May31 Trump Lashes Out, Part I: Mueller
May31 Trump Lashes Out, Part II: Mexico
May31 Moore Punches Back
May31 Kushner Peace Plan
May31 Democratic Presidential Candidate Update: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
May30 Mueller: Congress, the Ball is in Your Court
May30 How the Media Reported Mueller's Speech
May30 Fox News Legal Analyst: Mueller Wanted to Indict Trump but Couldn't
May30 Trump Is Restructuring His Legal Team
May30 Perez Raises the Bar for the Third Debate
May30 Poll: Americans Don't Believe China Is Paying the Tariffs
May30 National Journal Ranks the Most Competitive Senate Races
May30 Trump Warns Moore Not to Run for the Senate
May30 Democrat Jaime Harrison Will Challenge Lindsey Graham
May30 Not so Fast, Bibi
May30 Thursday Q&A
May29 To Impeach or Not to Impeach, That Is the Question
May29 SCOTUS Sends Mixed Messages on Abortion
May29 McConnell to Ginsburg: Don't Die
May29 Elaine Chao Turns Out to Be Kinda Swampy
May29 The States of the Democratic Field
May29 Roy Moore Plans to Run
May29 Texas Secretary of State Falls on His Sword
May28 Trump Sides With Kim Again
May28 Bolton Under Attack
May28 Judge Halts Border Wall Construction
May28 Trump's Clumsy Legal Strategy
May28 Bernie Sanders Wants to Be President
May28 The War Against Climate Science Is in Full Swing
May28 Voter Registration Meets Voter Suppression
May28 With Women Candidates, GOP Not Putting Its Money Where Its Mouth Is
May28 Faithless Electors Hit With Fines
May27 In Japan, Trump Plays Golf and Supports Kim Jong-Un
May27 Deutsche Bank Case Will Be Expedited
May27 Some Candidates Are Betting the Farm on the Early States
May27 SCOTUS Blocks Gerrymandering Rulings
May27 Perez Is Scared Witless of the One Percenters
May27 Buttigieg Is Pushing for a Massive Q2 Money Haul
May27 Republicans Have Spent $4 Million at Trump Properties
May27 Trump Takes Steps that Hurt His Base--Again
May27 Facebook Will Not Remove Doctored Pelosi Video
May27 EU Elections Go Against Trend, Sort Of
May27 Monday Q&A
May24 D.C. Appeals Court Will Expedite Ruling on Trump's Accountants
May24 Robbing Peter to Pay Paul?
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