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Trump Is Being Stoned

Well, not literally. The Secret Service tends to frown on folks throwing rocks at POTUS. But certainly figuratively. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) sent out this tweet Saturday:

When was the last time you saw a senator calling a president of his own party corrupt? Maybe in 1974, but even the criticism of Richard Nixon wasn't that strong.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) seconded the thought when he said: "While I understand the frustration with the badly flawed Russia-collusion investigation, in my view, commuting Roger Stone's sentence is a mistake. He was duly convicted of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstruction of a congressional investigation conducted by a Republican-led committee."

Not surprisingly, Trump lashed out at Romney and Toomey by tweet:

What is noteworthy here is the complete silence of the other 51 Republican senators, all of whom would go completely ballistic if a Democratic president commuted the sentence of a long-time friend who lied to Congress to protect himself. And more than two dozen of the Republican senators are not up for reelection this year. So complete is Trump's power over the Republican Party that even senators who are retiring this year, or in 2022, like Sens. Lamar Alexander (TN), Richard Burr (NC), and Pat Roberts (KS) dared not speak out against him.

One former representative, Mark Sanford, did weigh in: "So much for the Republican Party being the party of law and order." On the other hand, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) defended Trump, blaming Obama in his tweet:

The other 195 sitting Republican members of the House were apparently all out fishing yesterday, since none of them had anything to say about Trump's action.

Stone was convicted by Robert Mueller, who felt that his judgment and honesty was being questioned by the commutation of Stone's sentence. So, Mueller wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post on Saturday, in which he pointed out that Stone repeatedly lied to Congress about multiple aspects of the Russian interference with the 2016 election. Stone also tampered with a witness. For these actions, he was convicted by a jury on five counts of lying to Congress, as well as witness tampering and obstructing a congressional investigation. Mueller further said that Stone was convicted on the basis of the facts and the law and rejected any claim that the conviction was in any way tainted. After Mueller's op-ed was published, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that he was planning to call Mueller to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. However, he was rather vague about the timing of the testimony.

Leading Democrats weren't at all shy about condemning Trump for commuting Stone's sentence. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called it "an act of staggering corruption." She said legislation was needed to prevent a president from pardoning or commuting the sentence of anyone who committed crimes to protect the president. That wouldn't work, of course, since the Supreme Court would never accept it. However, if Joe Biden is elected president, a constitutional amendment requiring pardons and commutations to get Senate approval might actually pass, since Republicans would be happy to rein in a Democratic president in any way they could.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) took a different approach on ABC's "This Week." He criticized Senate Republicans for not speaking out about Trump's commuting the sentence of someone who lied to a Republican-led congressional committee. Other Democrats also had something to say, including Joe Biden ("[Trump] once again abused his power") and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren ("Donald Trump has abandoned the rule of law").

Will this incident move the needle in November? It might anger some of the college-educated suburban women who haven't already fled the GOP. Will it move Trump's base? Probably not, since most of them will shrug and say what Trump did is legal. However, it is far from clear that it actually is legal. It is almost certain that if a convicted criminal offered the president a million dollars for a pardon and the pardon was granted, the pardon would be valid (i.e., the criminal would go free) but the president would be guilty of accepting a bribe and possibly obstructing justice. This has never been tested in court, but next year, it might be. (V)

Florida Sets a New Record for COVID-19 Cases

Texas may possibly be jealous, but now Florida is the new COVID-19 champion, beating all the other states. On Sunday, Florida reported 15,299 new cases of the disease, more than any other state has reported in a single day all year. About 7,000 patients statewide are hospitalized with the virus and 40 hospitals around the state are out of ICU beds. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) summed up the situation by saying: "It's out of control across the state because our governor won't even tell everybody to wear masks." And indeed, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has refused to require masks statewide, although he does allow cities and counties to impose their own restrictions. Very sporting of him.

Nationwide, 3.4 million cases have been reported with 137,000 deaths from the disease. At least 33 states are trending upward compared to last week. Delaware, Maine, and New Jersey are the only states reporting a decline in cases. Many experts expect a surge of new cases in the coming two weeks because large numbers of Americans decided to hit the road on July 4th, and undoubtedly some of them took the coronavirus with them.

If an even bigger surge in cases shows up around the beginning of August, it will exacerbate the already fiery debate over whether schools should open and how. Donald Trump wants all the schools to reopen normally so parents can go back to work and the economy can fully reopen, which he thinks will help his reelection chances. No public health expert thinks that just opening schools as if the virus is gone is a good idea. Most think that schools can reopen only if they can guarantee that students, teachers, and staff are all safe. This means intensive cleaning, social distancing, mask wearing, and much more. New Jersey has issued a list of what needs to be done before schools can open. It is 104 pages long.

Many of the recommendations cost money, from providing barrels of hand sanitizer to students, to providing PPE for at-risk teachers, to retrofitting air circulation systems in school buildings. The only suggestion about where to find the money is one that says if a school district has an emergency fund, it might want to consider raiding it. In reality, almost no school will be able to fulfill any of the requirements, but they will probably at least partially open. In all likelihood, if millions of kids are back in school in early September, even two or three days a week, the virus will start spreading even more. Then new cases will surge around in late September or early October, just when the early voting starts in many states. Oops. It looks more and more like COVID-19 will define the election. (V)

The Economic Recovery May Be Fizzling

After all the pain of the measures taken to control COVID-19, people (and voters) are not going to be happy campers if it was all for nothing. But that looks like where we are heading. When the states began shutting down in March, many economists assumed it would be only a temporary business interruption. First son-in-law Jared Kushner even spoke of hopes that "by July, the country's really rocking again." Maybe change that to "by July, the country will be on the rocks again."

The problem, of course, was that Donald Trump instructed governors to reopen their states far too early and the Republican ones followed orders and did so. Even Democratic-run states opened too early. The result was quite predictable and the chickens have come home to roost. Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California are setting records for new cases daily, with no end in sight.

As a consequence, the economy could start shutting down again. Morgan Stanley warned on Friday that small businesses that received funds to keep people on their payrolls are running out of money. This means they will have to let employees go. Bigger companies are starting to lay people off again in preparation for a long recession. Several Fed officials have noted that economic activity is starting to level off and that new business orders are off.

One other worrisome sign is that the disruption is starting to affect companies that don't require any human contact. When people are out of work, they buy less stuff. That affects the companies that make the stuff, even if their factories' production lines are largely automated and are capable of running full blast with no health risk. With fewer sales, those companies lay off marketing people, sales people, and office staff. Those people then have less money to spend, so they stop buying other stuff. The executives stop going to national and international meetings, which affects airlines and hotels, which then lay off their staff due to reduced revenue. This downward spiral is how classical recessions and depressions feed upon themselves. Just last week, United Airlines said it would lay off 30,000 employees, Wells Fargo said it will cut tens of thousands of jobs, Bed, Bath and Beyond said it will close 200 stores, and Harley-Davidson and Levi Strauss each said they will eliminate 700 jobs. As companies large and small begin laying people off, we could have the worst of all worlds: A classic recession or depression combined with a classic pandemic. Historically, recessions and depressions don't work out well for the party on whose watch it happened. (V)

The Lincoln Project Raised $17 Million in Q2

At first, George Conway, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and their band of merry men (and merry woman Jennifer Horn) were mocked as a bunch of sore loser #NeverTrumpers. Now that their Lincoln Project has announced that it raised $17 million in the second quarter, the taunts have died down a bit. All that money, combined with the brilliance of video editor Ben Howe who is making video clip after video clip viciously attacking Donald Trump and the Senate Republicans who have enabled him, are making it a force to be reckoned with.

The Lincoln Project has released 50 videos already, and they have been watched tens of millions of times so far, with no end in sight. Unlike most political ads, they really go for the jugular, calling Trump weak, sickly, a coward, and more things that really get under his skin. Most of the ads are basically ad hominem attacks on Trump personally, not discussions of his policies. They go places that the Democrats would never go, such as insinuating that he is a sick puppy. We wouldn't put it past them to pay porn star Stormy Daniels to make a few choice comments about his manhood on camera. That would set him off like nothing before.

A few of the ads are attacks on Republican senators who have enabled Trump. But now the group has so much money that it is becoming a national campaign in its own right. It has 30 employees and a growing number of volunteers on the ground. There are 2,500 in Michigan alone. The plan is to rapidly expand into Maine, Iowa, North Carolina, and even South Carolina, to target incumbent senators running for reelection there. The goal is to convince white suburban voters that Trump must be defeated at all costs and his enablers must go, too. The group thinks the Republican Party in its current form is beyond redemption. It must be burned to the ground so a new center-right party can be created from its ashes.

The Lincoln Project isn't the only group of Republicans going after Trump. Another major one is Republican Voters Against Trump. It is the brainchild of Republican pollster Sarah Longwell. She has conducted dozens of focus groups to figure out what might be effective in getting Trump supporters to dump him. What she learned is slick commercials have no effect. What works, in her view, are raw testimonials from people who say in no uncertain terms: "I voted for Trump because I hoped he would drain the swamp. He lied to me and I'm voting for Joe Biden in November." Longwell has now collected over 400 video clips, many of them unsolicited. The group's website has hundreds of them on the front page, mostly grainy, jumpy, badly lit, smartphone video selfies from every state. But the amateur production values mean they are more chilling, because these are clearly real Trump voters who are disgusted with him (in contrast to the superslick very professional stuff Ben Howe keeps pumping out).

The Lincoln Project and RVAT are different because they are aimed at different audiences. The former is aimed at affluent suburbanites who have historically been Republicans and who voted for Trump simply because he had an (R) after his name (or in some cases, because they felt Hillary Clinton was too arrogant). These people want quality products, so Ben Howe is giving them quality products they can share with their friends. The latter is aimed at true-blue (true-red?) Trump supporters who may not have much loyalty to the Republican Party but who believed Trump would take down the elites they so hate. They are innately suspicious of anything that looks like a slick corporate product, but respond to raw emotion, so that is what Longwell is serving up. Together they might swing some votes. Neither approach has ever been tried at this scale before. (V)

Primary Season Is Not Finished

One state and one territory had primaries this weekend. Three more have one tomorrow, and 20 states have primaries in August. The show finally closes on Sep. 15, when Delaware votes (again).

First, this past weekend. In Louisiana on Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) once again demonstrated why he didn't win the Democratic nomination: Black voters really don't much care for him. The state is 32% Black and nearly all Black voters are Democrats, so they dominate Democratic primaries there. That dynamic has been bad news for Sanders all over the South. He got 7% of the vote in the Louisiana primary to Joe Biden's 80%. The rest of the vote was divvied up by 12 other candidates, ranging from Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 2.4% to Deval Patrick at 0.3%. Biden won every parish (county) and all 54 delegates. Donald Trump got 96% of the vote in the Republican primary. The Senate candidates will be chosen in a jungle primary Nov. 3.

Puerto Rico voted yesterday. Although it has no electoral votes, it does get to send 59 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Well, actually, if the Democrats were to hold a national convention in Milwaukee, Puerto Rico could send 59 delegates there, but that's not happening so they won't. But they can vote from home, so the election wasn't for naught. The results were a shade better for Sanders. He got 14% to Biden's 68%. Again here, Biden won all the counties, along with 41 delegates, as compared to 2 delegates for Sanders. Obviously, that does not add up to 59; that is because about 10% of the live ballots haven't been tallied, along with the mail-in ballots. When all is said and done, Biden will likely end up with a bit north of 50 delegates and the Vermont Senator will get the rest.

Tomorrow, the last of the July states will vote. Alabama Republicans will get to choose between former senator Jeff Sessions, who wants his old job back, and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, who has the strong backing of Donald Trump. It's not that Trump cares a whit about football. It's just that he hates Sessions, who was briefly attorney general and who recused himself from investigating the Russian interference in the 2016 election. If Sessions wins the primary, Trump is going to lose it because he doesn't want to support Sessions in the general election, but also doesn't want to support Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL).

If Tuberville wins, the race will be interesting for a different reason. In 2017, Alabama Republicans ran a child molester against Jones. With Tuberville, they would be running a crook. Some years back, Tuberville was half-owner of a hedge fund that ran a Ponzi scheme and bilked investors out of millions of dollars. Tuberville's partner, John David Stroud, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for running it. Insiders have said that while Tuberville didn't actively participate in the fraud, he certainly knew about it and did nothing to stop it. Tuberville has pleaded ignorance of the whole matter, but after being sued, he reached a private settlement with duped investors in 2013. If Tuberville wins the primary, Jones' angle could be to make his slogan: "Is Tuberville stupid or is he crooked?"

Maine will also hold a primary tomorrow. The results are a foregone conclusion, but still important. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is running unopposed, so she will win, of course. On the Democratic side, the speaker of the Maine House, Sara Gideon, is facing progressive activists Betsy Sweet and Bre Kidman. Gideon is expected to win easily, by virtue of her higher statewide profile. What is important here is that after Collins expressed her usual "concern" about Brett Kavanaugh having allegedly committed sexual assault, she voted for his confirmation anyway. This vote so angered Democrats that they set up a Crowdpac fund to support whoever Collins' opponent might be. The fund now has $4.1 million in it. As soon as the winner is certified, she (and it will definitely be a "she," since all three candidates are women), will get the $4.1 million. Gideon raised $9 million on her own in Q2 and $15 million for the year, so if she wins, she will be absolutely rolling in cash, and in a state where advertising is cheap.

Finally, Texas will hold its long-delayed runoff for the Democratic Senate nomination. Mary (MJ) Hegar, a white Air Force veteran, is running against Texas state Sen. Royce West. The DSCC strongly backs Hegar, but West, who is Black, may benefit from the reaction to the killing of George Floyd. Polls have shown both of them losing to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) by 10 points, though take that with a small grain of salt or two, since candidates tend to underpoll while they are still in a competitive primary race. (V)

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Louisiana and Puerto Rico weren't the only places where some business was taken care of this weekend. Partly in New York, but mostly online, the Green Party made it official: Howie Hawkins will be their candidate in 2020. There will also be at least one Black woman running for VP this year, as well, as the party chose South Carolina transit operator Angela Walker for their #2 slot.

Both in style and in substance, Hawkins has a fair bit in common with Bernie Sanders. So, he will pick up some of the Senator's former supporters who just can't stomach the thought of voting for Joe Biden. The Green Party also has a built-in constituency that is small, but loyal. On the other hand, Hawkins isn't going to be able to do much campaigning, won't be appearing at any debates or other high-profile events, and doesn't have all that much money to work with. Being Green means getting by without much green. The biggest problem, however, is ballot access. According to the Party's own website, they've qualified in only 23 states plus D.C. so far, a list that is missing some of the biggies, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Arizona, and Wisconsin. Thanks to COVID-19, of course, going out and getting signatures (which is the path to ballot access in most of the missing states) won't be easy.

The impact of third parties is notoriously difficult to poll, in part because polls are a semi-blunt instrument, not well suited to measuring if a third-party is actually polling at 1%, or if it's more like 3%. And in part because more people always tell pollsters they are going to vote third party than actually do. The upshot is that unless the election looks to be a landslide, Hawkins/Walker will be a potential spoiler in some states, so you're likely to hear their names a fair bit. Another name to keep in mind is Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian Party candidate. She is on the ballot in more states than Hawkins and could be a bigger spoiler than Hawkins, drawing votes from lifelong Republicans who can't stand Trump. (Z)

New York Judge Speeds Up Trump's Tax Case

Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that a sitting president does not have immunity to criminal prosecutions. It then sent the case of Vance v. Trump back to the lower courts for resolution. Federal Judge Victor Marrero wasted no time and has scheduled a video conference with Trump's attorneys for Thursday and ordered them to submit any new challenges by Friday.

The reason for the unexpected speed is that lawyers from the Manhattan DA's office are in a hurry. The statute of limitations for misdemeanor falsifying business records has already passed and the 5-year deadline for a felony charge is rapidly approaching. So Vance's office wants Trump's tax returns before the clock runs out. Trump's lawyers, of course, will try to stall, then stall some more, and after that, stall even more. The judge doesn't have to put up with that, of course, and could order Mazars, Trump's accountant, to turn over the documents within a few days, if he so desired.

The tax returns may not provide the information Vance is looking for, though. What Vance wants to know is whether Trump deducted the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Playmate Karen McDougal as business expenses. But it is very unlikely that any such lines will appear on Trump's tax returns as his former fixer, Michael Cohen, actually paid them. Trump later reimbursed Cohen and might have deducted his payments to Cohen as legal fees. In principle, legal fees can be deducted, but only if they are for legal services actually provided. To prove what legal services Cohen actually provided, and for what price, would probably require more evidence, and obtaining it could take more time. (V)

The Border Wall is Crumbling Already

No, we don't mean support to build the wall is crumbling. Part of the actual wall is showing signs of erosion. Specifically, a private group called "We Build the Wall" bought up some private land along the Rio Grande in Texas and hired North Dakota-based Fisher Industries to build a wall there. Steve Bannon was on the board of the group and Kris Kobach is its general counsel. So while the group is private, it has clear ties to key allies of Donald Trump. The wall is 5 miles long, consists of steel posts just 35 feet from the river, and cost $42 million. Unfortunately, the riverbank is starting to erode, threatening the wall. Six hydrology and engineering experts who were consulted by ProPublica and the Texas Tribune said the wall was in danger of falling into the river. The CEO of Fisher Industries, Tommy Fisher, has acknowledged that there has been erosion but said that was caused by rain. Apparently Fisher did not know that it sometimes rains in Texas. In reality, it is not actually important that the wall, once constructed, lasts more than the 1/125th of a second needed for the White House photographer to get a shot of Trump standing in front of it. Nevertheless, having a $42 million piece of wall in danger of collapsing just months after its construction is a bit embarrassing.

There are a couple of complications here. First, experts warned the builders in advance that erosion would occur and were ignored. Second, a binational commission found earlier this year that the whole project violated a treaty with Mexico relating to flooding. Third, Fisher has been awarded a $1.3 billion federal contract to build 42 miles of wall in Arizona, despite its poor job with the Texas miniwall. The company was chosen not due to its expertise in building walls along rivers, and certainly not for its proximity to the border (well, not the Mexican border). It was chosen because Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) personally pitched the company to Trump. The company donated $10,800 to Cramer's 2018 election campaign. That is a return on investment of over 12 million percent and it is almost certainly legal. (V)

GOP Registrations Are Outpacing Democratic Registrations

In the old days (i.e., before March 2020), activists could stand outside shopping malls, sports arenas, and other places and register lots of new voters. Those days are gone, at least for the rest of this year. Consequently, voter registrations are plummeting. But those people who are registering during this pandemic tend to be older, whiter, and more Republican than before it. This should worry the Democrats.

For example, in Iowa earlier this year there were more registered Democrats than registered Republicans. Now that has flipped: Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in this swing state. Earlier this year, more new Democrats were registering to vote in Florida, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Nevada. That is not true anymore. The Departments of Motor Vehicles are closed and not registering new voters under "motor voter" laws. People are staying at home. College campuses are shut down. People volunteering as deputy registrars can't find crowds to wander into to sign up new voters because there aren't any crowds. In a new report, the Center for Election Innovation and Research has concluded that the steep decline in new registrations could prevent the turnout in November from setting a new record, as was previously expected. Since the election may depend on turnout more than anything else, the pandemic may end up affecting the election in ways that aren't apparent now.

Some of the effects may become visible in the fall when the pollsters start looking for likely voters. The first question is probably going to be: "Are you currently registered to vote?" If the answer is "no," the interview may end right there. The issue of enthusiasm comes up here. Donald Trump's supporters are wildly enthusiastic about him and will make sure they register to vote. Joe Biden's supporters are less enthusiastic and some of them may put off registering until it is too late. In the end, that could matter. Democratic operatives are aware of this, of course, but being aware of it alone doesn't solve the problem. (V)

Democratic House Map is Shrinking

In terms of square miles, that is. A new study from Third Way, a Democratic think tank, shows in a dramatic way how the Democrats' base in the Midwest has shifted over the past decade. What the study did was to make a list of all the House seats controlled by Democrats in 12 Midwestern states in 2008 and the ones they controlled in 2018. Then, for each Democratic House seat, Third Way determined the size in square miles and computed the average for each year. In 2008, the average Democratic district in the Midwest was 7,749 square miles (the area of a square 88 miles on edge). This is slightly smaller than New Jersey. Democratic and Republican House districts were roughly the same size in 2008.

By 2018, things were very different. The average Democratic district had shrunk to just 2,731 square miles and the average Republican district had grown to 11,875 square miles. Since none of the states changed size, it is clear that Democrats are now winning much more densely populated districts, now including largely suburban districts, and Republicans were pulling in low-density rural districts.

That the Democrats won in 2018 with tremendous support from suburban voters, especially suburban women, has been known from other studies, but this one confirms it graphically in a very visual way, state by state. As an example, here is Michigan:

Michigan House districts in 2018 and 2018

As is clear here, in 2008, the Democrats held eight districts with 57% of Michigan's land area, so each district represented about 7% of the state's area. In 2018, they held seven districts with 9% of the state's land area, so each district represents just over 1% of the state's area.

In contrast, in 2008 Republicans held seven districts with 43% of the state's land or 6% of the area per district. Now they still have seven districts, but these cover 91% of the state, so each district is 13% of the state's area. In 2010, the state lost one House district as a result of the census.

The crunching of the Democrats into very small land area has been much more extreme than the expansion of the Republicans simply because the Democrats are now picking up lots and lots of votes in high-density urban and suburban areas and the Republicans are not. Democrats have always done well in cities, but the shift of suburbia is new and potentially critical as suburban areas gain population and House seats and rural areas lose population and House seats. Part of the loss of population in rural areas is due to young people leaving and moving to cities and suburbs and part due to the rural areas having more old people and thus a greater natural mortality.

On the whole, these trends are not good for the Republican Party. Their strong areas are getting weaker and the Democrats' are getting stronger. The one bright spot here for the GOP is that Texas is expected to gain three House seats in 2022. But the downside is that the gain mostly comes from migration, both international (China, India, Mexico) and national (California, New York). To the extent that most of the newcomers are moving to cities and suburbs, not rural areas, and the citizen newcomers are Democrats, the result may ultimately be a giant purple state that is up for grabs. That is not what the GOP was hoping for. (V)

Elissa Slotkin Is Sounding the Alarm

Democrats who think the election is a done deal would be advised to read a long profile on Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) in Politico. It gives a view of a member of the House of Representatives you rarely get, including many photos of her dressed the way she normally is back on the family farm. The article depicts her as a regular person who got angry about Donald Trump in 2018, ran for Congress, and somehow won in MI-08, an R+4 district that Trump carried by 7 points. She talks to her neighbors all the time and she's worried about November.

As a former CIA analyst who had personally briefed both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, she was not surprised when she learned that Russian President Vladimir Putin had put a bounty on the head of American soldiers, but was incredibly angry when she heard that Donald Trump didn't pull out all stops to punish Putin. Her blood boiled when she realized that he didn't even care about the lives of American soldiers. So she started sending out tweets aimed at Trump saying that Americans are paying in blood for Trump's pandering to Putin.

She knows that she—and other Democrats in red districts—are at a crossroads. They need Republican votes to win in November, but attacking the President for being willing to sacrifice American lives for his personal needs may not be the way to get them. She wanted to run a hyperlocal campaign, but she can't. She said: "He's forcing my hand." If she stayed silent on grave national issues, Democrats in her district would see her as a coward. If she spoke up, Republicans would see her as the enemy of their beloved hero. But as an expert on national security, she felt she could not remain silent, even though it could put her out of a job.

Slotkin's problem, like that of many of the 40 Democrats who flipped House seats in 2018, is that her district is not homogeneous. It has cities, suburbs, and rural areas. Some counties lean Democratic and some lean Republican. Anything she says will please voters in some counties and displease voters in others. She talks to voters all the time and she doesn't believe the polls. When she had to hire a pollster, she asked all of them what they did wrong in 2016. The one she hired said that a lot of Trump voters in 2016 refused to be polled. They just hung up. Consequently, they were undercounted. They didn't vote in 2018 because Trump wasn't on the ballot. He (and Slotkin) fear that (1) they will vote this time and (2) they still won't talk to the pollsters, so they will be undercounted again.

The western part of Slotkin's district contains the enormous Michigan State University, with thousands of liberal students. The eastern part is wealthy suburban Oakland County outside Detroit. In between is Alabama. It is very polarized. In 2018, she posed as a "Midwestern Democrat" who could get things done. She didn't run against Trump. Now she is being forced to take positions on what he has said and done. Now she has a voting record that her opponent can exploit. Every time she opens her mouth, she has to think about how suburban white women, disillusioned young Black voters, farmers, and executives in Oakland County will perceive that. She doesn't know exactly how to balance everything, so she just says what she thinks. But that might lead to her being a former congresswoman come January. And if she is not the only one; control of the House could be at stake. The piece is well worth reading because it treats her like a normal 44-year-old woman who just happens to be in Congress. (V)

Washington Team Name On Its Way Out

Donald Trump is disdainful of football, at least in part because the NFL refused to let him into the club 30 years ago, and then thrashed him in court when he tried to retaliate. That said, this is our second Trump + football item today, because sports and politics so often overlap.

Anyhow, on Sunday, the very strong rumors were effectively confirmed: The Washington football team will be changing its name. They have called a press conference for this morning to formally announce the news. In addition, various league-related entities (like the league's online store) have already removed references to the current team name, in anticipation of the rebranding.

What will not happen today, reportedly, is the reveal of the new name. Yesterday, some readers wrote in and proposed some possibilities. The dominant theme was "Washington-related" (Senators, Insiders, Bureaucrats, etc.). Head coach Ron Rivera has already given two very interesting details about what the team is planning. The first is that the new name will honor both the military and Native Americans. The second is that while the decision is already made, the announcement is being delayed so the team can get its ducks in a row, trademark-wise.

Assuming Rivera is being truthful—and we see no reason to think he's not—then those details would seem to rule out anything related to politics or government. In order to get the military and Native Americans angle, they could very well be planning to go with "Warriors," although that's somewhat generic, and would also leave them sharing a name with the NBA's Golden State Warriors. There are also numerous colleges and universities using that nickname, or some variant of it (SDSU, Hawai'i, Wayne State, etc.), and so locking up trademark rights could be tricky.

If they are looking for something more distinctive, one has to assume that anything like "Sitting Bulls" or "Geronimos" or "Tomahawks" or "Comanches" is off the table. Those names would just give Washington a lesser version of the problem they have now, and also would not recognize the military. So, if it's not "Warriors," that would seem to leave us with a name that somehow honors Native Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. They could pick a specific veteran as their inspiration and, with approval from his descendants, might make it work. Ely Parker was the first Native American to rise to the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army, and was the most prominent Native to serve on the side of the North in the Civil War. Washington Elys? Ira Hayes was one of the six Marines who raised the flag at Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima. Washington Iras? Mitchell Red Cloud was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in Korea. Washington Red Clouds?

Any of these is certainly possible. However, if they don't go with Warriors, our guess is that the most likely alternative is actually...Windtalkers, which would honor the Navajo code talkers who helped win the war in the Pacific during World War II. This would be distinctive, would certainly honor both Natives and the military, and would avoid the problem of objectifying a specific individual or tribe. This is all just guesswork, of course—we don't know anything more than what's been publicly reported.

In any event, this is a political story because Donald Trump is eager to use this and other football-related stuff (like kneeling during the National Anthem) to stoke the fires of the culture wars during the last months of the election campaign. If the new Washington team name clearly does honor the U.S. armed forces, it will be a bit tough for him to kvetch about it too much. He will presumably go after the kneeling, although that puts him in the minority, public-opinion wise. Also, it's not entirely clear, given COVID-19, that there will be open-air performances of the anthem before football games, or even that there will be games. Already, two college conferences (the Pac-12 and Big 10) have canceled their non-conference schedules, and we're not even to August yet. Anyhow, point is that Trump may be denied one of his October aces in the hole, at least as he sees it. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

This is the first poll since Feb. 15 that doesn't have Joe Biden ahead in Arizona. It is probably just a statistical fluke, though. Is Texas blue? Hard to believe, but it may genuinely be in play. Spending money to defend Texas is not something the RNC was planning to do, but it may have to. (V)

State Biden Trump Start End Pollster
Arizona 46% 46% Jul 07 Jul 10 YouGov
Florida 48% 42% Jul 07 Jul 10 YouGov
Texas 45% 46% Jul 07 Jul 10 YouGov
Texas 48% 43% Jun 29 Jul 07 U. of Texas

Today's Senate Polls

The fact that Mark Kelly's lead in Arizona is so small compared to previous polls suggests that YouGov's sample didn't have enough Democrats in it, which would explain Joe Biden's poor performance there. The Texas Senate race is really too early to poll. Look at how many undecideds there are. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Mark Kelly 46% Martha McSally* 42% Jul 07 Jul 10 YouGov
Texas Mary Hegar 29% John Cornyn* 42% Jun 29 Jul 07 U. of Texas
Texas Mary Hegar 36% John Cornyn* 44% Jul 07 Jul 10 YouGov

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul12 Sunday Mailbag
Jul11 Pardon Me?
Jul11 Saturday Q&A
Jul11 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul11 Today's Senate Polls
Jul10 Trump Has a Bad Day on the Tax Front
Jul10 Stone, Meet Iron
Jul10 Time to Shift Gears on the Coronavirus?
Jul10 CDC Won't Play Ball, After All
Jul10 Maybe Jacksonville Won't Play Ball, Either
Jul10 Biden Speaks
Jul10 It Sure Looks Like the Democrats Are Unified
Jul10 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul10 Today's Senate Polls
Jul09 Supreme Court Ruling on Trump's Taxes Will Be Released Today
Jul09 CDC Capitulates to Trump and Will Issue New Guidance on School Openings
Jul09 Republicans Are Split over the Convention
Jul09 What If It Really Gets Crazy?
Jul09 Trump Has a Problem in the Suburbs
Jul09 Trump Has Coattails in the Suburbs
Jul09 Republicans Could Lose Almost Half of Their Female Senators
Jul09 Vindman Retires but Duckworth Is Not Backing Down
Jul09 Bollier Raises $3.7 Million
Jul09 House Democrats Want to Fund Election Security
Jul08 New Jersey, Delaware Vote
Jul08 Mary Trump Book "Leaks"
Jul08 White House Again Searches for Leakers
Jul08 Republicans Underwhelmed by Trump Campaign
Jul08 Democratic Senate Candidates Are Raking It In
Jul08 Carlson Launches 2024 Campaign
Jul08 Roberts Was Briefly Hospitalized Last Month
Jul08 Bolsonaro Tests Positive for COVID-19
Jul08 Trump Administration Formally Begins WHO Withdrawal
Jul07 SCOTUS News, Part I: States Can Punish Faithless Electors
Jul07 SCOTUS News, Part II: No Robo-calls to Cell Phones
Jul07 Trump Doubles Down...
Jul07 Democrats Smell Blood in the Water
Jul07 Veepstakes Is in Full Swing
Jul07 Two More States Vote Today
Jul07 Mary Trump Book Will Drop Two Weeks Early
Jul07 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul07 Today's Senate Polls
Jul06 Trump's Shrinking Map
Jul06 Republicans Are Nervous about Being the Party of White Grievance
Jul06 Was the Faustian Bargain the Republicans Made Worth It?
Jul06 Biden Has Put Together a Large Legal Team to Deal with Election Trickery
Jul06 Biden Voters Are Afraid
Jul06 President West in the West Wing?
Jul06 Bookies Are Betting on Biden
Jul06 What Is the Next Big Threat?