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Trump Is in Retreat

And we don't mean he is spending some down time at Camp David, in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains. No, we mean that he insisted that Congress cut payroll taxes (which would save the Trump Organization a pretty penny)—but then he gave up. He restarted the coronavirus briefings that he himself had shut down after his advice to drink bleach was panned, but no one cared. He was forced to admit that the virus was going to get worse before it gets better, contradicting what he has being saying for months (namely, that it is already a nonissue). He demanded that all the schools in the country open on schedule—until he said, well, maybe not all of them. He was adamant that the Republican National Convention would go on as planned, with 20,000 people roaring their approval—until he decided a convention wasn't really needed. He notably told everyone that masks are not needed—until he started wearing them and said maybe they could be useful.

Timothy Naftali, a professor of history at NYU and the former director of Richard Nixon's presidential library, said: "The good ship Trump has sprung a leak, and it's leaking political capital." Trump absolutely hates to change positions, since that implies he was wrong the first time, but he has two problems: (1) He is sinking in the national polls and in the battleground state polls, and (2) Republican senators sense a blue tsunami on the horizon, and are suddenly willing to push back on ideas of his that they think will hurt them.

Backtracking on so many issues has long-range implications for Trump (where "long-range" may be 6 months). Once Republican senators fully figure out what Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) did many months ago—that if they stand up to him, he backs down—they are going to stand up to him much more often. Being a bully works only if your victims are scared of you. Once that fear goes away, your days as a bully are numbered. We may be approaching that point now. (V)

The Bill Is Due

When Congress passed the $2 trillion CARES relief act in March, the members assumed that the coronavirus would be long gone by summer, so they designed the bill and related measures to terminate then. Well, August will be upon us Saturday, and the virus is not only here, it is spreading like never before. But many of the CARES benefits are about to vanish.

A big one is the $600 per week supplemental unemployment insurance benefit, which theoretically ends on July 31, but on account of how weeks are determined, has actually already ended for most people. A lot of people are going to sorely miss that weekly $600 and will have trouble paying the rent.

Oh, and about that rent. The CARES act also imposed a moratorium on evictions until the end of July. Starting then, renters who have missed any rent payments can be evicted. Even with the $600 per week extra, many people are way behind on their rent and can now be evicted—in the middle of a pandemic. Of course, landlords have to be a bit careful. Sure, they can evict longstanding good tenants who are behind on their rent, but that means: (1) They will almost certainly never collect the back rent they are owed and (2) they have to look for a new tenants who are able to pay the rent and who have whatever security deposit they require up front. Quality tenants with a good income might not be so easy to find right now. Many states have enacted their own anti-eviction bans, but most have already expired or will expire soon.

The situation is dire. The Census Bureau reports that 9 million renters have no confidence that they can pay next month's rent and another 14 million have only slight confidence they can pay the rent. If these 23 million people are put out on the street, they will not be happy campers. The House has already passed another ban on evictions (until March of next year) from buildings with a federally guaranteed mortgage and has also allocated $100 billion for rental assistance, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to bring the bills up for a vote. Rental assistance is needed because a simple moratorium on evictions just moves the problem up the food chain. About 47% of rental units are owned by individual investors, most of whom have mortgages. If renters don't pay up, many of the investors will default on their loans, which could cause a crisis situation for the banks that issued the mortgages.

If people are evicted due to their inability to pay the rent, they could become homeless. Maybe this is a good time to note that homeless people have a legal right to vote, but few of them do on account of the hassle. They can list a shelter or even a local park as their home address, which is legal, but a bit tricky. Also, many states have some kind of ID requirement in order to register and many homeless people do not have ID. Finally, many homeless people may not be aware of their rights and may consider voting a low priority.

Another cliff is not that far down the road: student loans. The CARES Act deferred student loan payments. It didn't cancel the payments, just suspended them. This benefit ends on September 30. Then the payments must restart. With massive unemployment, many people with student loans won't be able to pay. The loans will then be turned over to collection companies, which charge steep fees. It is estimated that 43 million people have student loans and some significant fraction of them are going to go into default and be hounded by the collection companies. Many of these individuals may make their displeasure known at the ballot box.

Of course, Congress could just kick the can down the road (one of the few things Congress does really well), and extend the $600 supplement, eviction moratorium, loan forbearance, and more until, say, Nov. 4 (to pick a random date). However, McConnell has to deal with a fractious caucus in order to put together a bill and then negotiate with Nancy Pelosi, who believes she has the upper hand since the House passed a new relief bill 2 months ago and wants the Senate to just bring it up for a vote. In short, it will take weeks, at least, for a new bill to be approved by both chambers of Congress and presented to Donald Trump to sign. And if the Democrats put in things that Trump can't stand (e.g., funding for cities to hire people to tear down Confederate statues or print absentee ballots), he could veto it, although the political price would be extremely high.

Pelosi raised the stakes yesterday when she told CBS News' "Face the Nation" that Democrats will not support a provision in a new bill that makes employers immune to lawsuits if they fail to provide safe working conditions and, as a result, essential workers who must go back to work get sick and decide to sue. For McConnell, providing that immunity to employers is essential. A head-on collision is unavoidable, but in the battle for public opinion, Pelosi holds all the cards. A position of "If you go back to work and your employer doesn't provide a safe working environment and you get sick, you can sue" is always going to win out over "If you go back to work and your employer doesn't provide a safe working environment and you get sick, well, tough luck. You're on your own." (V)

Poll: The Pandemic is Not Over and the Worst Is Yet to Come

A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll about the coronavirus and its effects shows that the public is not optimistic about snuffing the pandemic out. A full 60% think that the worst is yet to come while only 20% think that the worst is behind us. These overall results mask a deep partisan divide, with 79% of Democrats, 57% of independents, and only 40% of Republicans believing that the worst is yet to come. In fact, a slight majority of Republicans believe there is not much of a problem because either the worst is behind us (31%) or the virus wasn't a serious problem in the first place (23%).

The poll also found that 53% of U.S. adults feel that the stress associated with the virus has had a negative impact on their mental health. Parents are especially worried about schools, with 60% saying schools should not reopen until it is safe for the children and 34% saying schools should open on schedule so children can get services and food and not fall behind academically and parents can go to work. Interestingly enough, white parents are more eager to have schools open on schedule (41%) than parents of color (23%), despite the latter being less likely to be able to work from home and less likely to have the computers and broadband Internet needed for remote school.

Now onto the politics of the virus. Here we have 71% who think the federal government is doing only a fair to poor job of handling it while 53% think that their state government is botching the response. It would have been interesting to see a breakdown of that for Democratic- and Republican-run states separately, but that isn't shown. In short, though, having most people thinking that the worst is yet to come and the federal government isn't doing a good job dealing with it can't help Donald Trump's election prospects much. (V)

Poll: Country Is Headed in the Wrong Direction

An AP/NORC poll out yesterday asked a different, but also relevant, question: "Is the country headed in the right direction or the wrong direction?" Only 20% said it is headed in the right direction and 80% said it is headed in the wrong direction. This is a record low for Donald Trump and an ominous sign for any incumbent. The graph below shows the answer to that question since Donald Trump's inauguration. Note how public opinion has cratered since March.

Percent of people saying country is going in the right direction.

There is always partisanship in these polls. When a Democrat is president, Republicans tend to think the country is going in the wrong direction and vice versa. But a 20% "right direction" number means that large numbers of Republicans are dissatisfied with where the country is going under Trump.

The poll also asked about Trump's handling of the coronavirus. Now only 32% think he is doing a good job, another record low. On another topic, only 38% say the economy is in good shape, down from 67% in January. None of these numbers scream "Four more years." (V)

John Lewis Crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge for the Last Time

The late Rep. John Lewis, a towering figure in the civil rights struggle, traveled across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL, for the last time yesterday. This time, his flag-draped coffin was on a horse-drawn caisson that paused when it got to the bridge. In 1965, Lewis, then 25, was one of the leaders of a march that was met with violent resistance from heavily armed police and state troopers who beat Lewis and fractured his skull. The march came to be known as Bloody Sunday. This time, scores of people lined the route to pay their respects to the Congressman. Some even threw rose petals to honor him.

Bloody Sunday in 1965 and John Lewis caisson in 2020

The bridge is named after a Confederate officer and grand wizard of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the highest-ranking Black member of the U.S. Congress, is pushing to have it renamed after Lewis. In a world where even Mississippi has seen fit to change its flag, that seems like a no-brainer. (V)

Could the Election Be a Disaster?

We don't mean "Could [fill in name of candidate you don't like] win?" We mean "Could the election process be a disaster with many people disenfranchised and with no real clarity about who won?" Remember what we have already seen. We still don't know who really won the Iowa caucuses. The night before the primary, Wisconsin voters didn't know if the polls would be open. Sixteen states moved their primary dates. Georgia had a complete meltdown where people waited in line until 1 a.m. to vote. What else could go wrong? Let Politico count the ways. They have identified eight things that could go wrong, as summarized below:

  • An uncontrolled pandemic: For starters, the pandemic is going to be here on Nov. 3. Even if a vaccine is approved by the FDA before then (exceedingly unlikely), it won't be distributed widely for months. Tens of millions of people are going to vote in person, either because they don't understand how absentee ballots work or because they are among the 54 million Americans whose state doesn't allow no-excuse absentee voting. The smart ones will vote at 6 a.m. on a Thursday a couple of weeks before Election Day if they can, but millions will still vote on Election Day. The problem here is that most poll workers are seniors and they do the work out of a sense of civic duty rather than the Big Buck$. Virginia, for example, pays poll workers $140 for the day's work. How many seniors want to risk their lives for $140?

    A shortage of poll workers means many polling places will have to close. Milwaukee (pop. 600,000) had five polling places open for the primary election, instead of the usual 180. In November, are people going to wait in line 6, 7, 8 or more hours, especially if it is cold and raining? And some states are trying to make mail-in voting harder. In its primary, Alabama fought curbside voting and required that applications for an absentee ballot include a photocopy of a valid photo ID card and the signature of a witness or notary.

  • Untested technology and processes: Around two dozen states are going to have an order of magnitude more absentee ballots than they have ever had before. Are they up to it? The states that always vote absentee, like Washington, have special high-speed ballot-counting machines. Most states don't and there is no time or money to buy them. It could take days for the results to be known, with one or more candidates claiming victory before the tallies are known and refusing to budge later. After the 2000 fiasco in Florida, many states bought electronic voting machines that can't be audited. That made things worse. Some states are still in the process of switching to newer machines that print paper ballots that voters can verify and scan—except Georgia, which bought machines that print paper ballots that voters can't verify (because the votes are in a bar code). Any IT person can tell you that going live with an untested new system that neither the users (the voters) nor the administrators (the seniors willing to risk their lives for $140) understand is probably not going to go smoothly the first time it is used. Another problem this year could be ransomware—malware that encrypts voter databases used to check in voters, vote counting machines, and other key computers unless the county sends the requested number of bitcoins (preferably in rubles) to some location in St. Petersburg.

  • Not enough funding: Elections cost money to run, even if the number of polling places is drastically reduced due to the lack of poll workers. And this year, in-person voting will require barrels of hand sanitizer, as well as millions of disinfectant wipes, masks, rubber gloves, and single-use pens. Absentee voting will run up a pretty big printing bill, not to mention the cost of all the postage-paid envelopes. Where's the money going to come from? Not from Congress if the Republicans get their way. Oh, and can the Postal Service handle the flood of ballots in both directions on time? Does it even want to? The new postmaster general, whose key qualification for the job is that he is a major Trump donor, has already announced plans to cut costs by cutting service. Ballots that are mailed on time but don't arrive by a certain date are not counted, effectively disenfranchising late mailers. In the 2020 Florida primary, 18,500 late-arriving ballots were disqualified. Imagine the reaction if Trump wins Florida by 537 votes and 18,500 ballots from Democratic-leaning counties are mysteriously delayed for a couple of days in the mail and arrive after the cutoff date. Sorry to keep picking on you, Florida, so let's pick on New York. For the 2020 primary, New York decided to use postage-paid "Business Reply" envelopes. But the Postal Service doesn't postmark these, so there is no way of telling if they were mailed by Election Day, which is required for a vote to be counted.

  • Dislocated voters: As a result of the work-at-home and study-at-home trend caused by the pandemic, come Election Day, millions of people will be nowhere near the place they are registered to vote. The University of Michigan has 45,000 students. Most of them don't live in Ann Arbor. Quite a few don't even live in Michigan. Can they vote? Where? Do they even know? Trump won Michigan by 11,000 votes in 2016. Millions of students nationwide will be living somewhere other than their campus town in November. Is this going to cause massive confusion and disenfranchise a whole bunch of them? In the immortal words of Sarah Palin: "You betcha." Remember, this is the generation that doesn't vote absentee because they don't know how to buy stamps (Hint: Google "nearest post office"). This will reduce the 18-29 year-old vote. Also, many assisted-living and nursing homes traditionally host polling places for residents. Ain't gonna happen this year for health reasons. This will reduce the 65+ vote. And pollsters have no way of taking this into account, so the electorate may be different from what they expect, with all the consequence of same.

  • Foreign interference in the election: Will Russian President Vladimir Putin sit this one out? How about Chinese President Xi Jinping? Don't bet on it. But if they do, maybe Iran or North Korea will pick up the slack. Messing with the election is tough work, but somebody's gotta do it. Could they send in millions of fake absentee ballots? Sure. Would most of them be detected? Probably. Would all of them be detected by the understaffed and overworked election workers? Unlikely. In a close election, the loser is going to point this out. Also, if the goal is merely to convince Americans that democracy is an overrated concept and doesn't actually work in practice, it isn't necessary to actually change vote totals. It is only necessary to convince half the country that the election wasn't fair. In addition, there is always that old standby of hacking the voter registration database and removing voters from carefully selected precincts so they can't vote, either absentee or in person. And of course, spreading lies on social media and having trolls post incendiary comments on mainstream media is a given.

  • Disinformation campaigns: We have already mentioned foreign disinformation campaigns in the elections, but what about domestic disinformation? How about stories explaining how Anthony Fauci created the coronavirus in his lab or how the not-yet-invented vaccine will contain microchips invented by Bill Gates so he can control the injectee from his computer? Not plausible? Then please explain why 11 Republicans running for Congress are open adherents of QAnon, which posits that some "deep state" is out to subvert Donald Trump. Disinformation can be easily automated, with bot armies sending out millions of comments, emails, tweets and likes. Imagine what would happen if key politicians' Twitter accounts were hacked and highly inappropriate (but almost plausible) tweets were sent out, like these:

    Biden tweet: I am resting comfortably after my stroke this morning and doctors think I might well recover
    Trump tweet: I just signed an executive order ordering the deportation of anyone who can't prove he is a citizen

    The purported sender would instantly disclaim the tweet but bad news can circle the globe three times before good news gets its boots on, by which time the damage has been done.

  • Declining voter protection, increasing lawsuits, and no watchdog: Voter suppression is back in style since the Supreme Court canceled a major part of the Voting Rights Act. Also, about 40 years ago, the RNC hired off-duty policemen with armbands reading "National Ballot Security Task Force" to roam polling places in minority areas and ask intimidating questions in the hope of scaring voters into leaving before they could vote. The DNC sued and the case was ended by a consent decree in which the RNC agreed to stop the practice. The consent decree has expired, so look for a return to the old ways this year as the RNC plans to hire 50,000 "poll watchers" this year. Republicans have already filed lawsuits challenging expanded mail-in voting in many states. Democrats are fighting them, of course, but the Supreme Court may get the final word here. And don't forget that John Roberts seemingly never turns down an opportunity to disenfranchise people. The Federal Election Commission is the watchdog that is supposed to keep an eye out for dirty tricks, but it lacks a quorum and can't take any action. It is true that Trump has nominated Allen Dickerson to fill a vacancy, and thus to restore a quorum. However, Dickerson comes from the Institute for Free Speech, which backed the Citizens United case and thus opened the floodgates to dark money pouring into elections. In other words, Dickerson is not exactly a beacon for election integrity, at least in the eyes of most people. Finally, the Election Assistance Commission, which is supposed to create voting system guidelines, is just getting up to speed after lacking a quorum for a decade.

  • An unpredictable volcano in the Oval Office: For most of American history, presidents just let elections run their course and didn't try to use the full powers of the presidency to help their side. As we saw in Ukrainegate, Trump was fully prepared to extort a foreign leader into helping his campaign. That didn't work, but he probably has a dozen or more other little projects in the works. Certainly he will do his best to prevent people from voting by absentee ballot, claiming it is subject to fraud. There is no evidence of this, of course. For example, one careful study of absentee ballot fraud in 2018 by Washington State's Secretary of State Kim Wyman (R) found 142 attempts at fraud out of 3.2 million ballots (0.004%).

    Many people are also wondering what will happen if Congress declares Joe Biden the winner after it counts the electoral votes on Jan. 6 but Trump refuses to concede. If Biden wins, once he has taken the oath of office at noon on Jan. 20, he can order the Secret Service to arrest Trump if he is still in the White House. But what if Trump leaves at 11:59 a.m. and begins tweeting up a storm telling his supporters to take to the streets with their AR-15s, AK-47s, and Uzis?

Will something (or multiple things) go wrong? Of course. It's the law. (V)

Cohen Sent Home

Donald Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, has been in and out of prison quite a bit lately. In Dec. 2018, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison for tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress. On May 21 of this year he was released due to concerns about COVID-19 at the prison in Otisville, NY, where he was sent. On July 9, he was sent back to prison due to his refusal to agree not to write a book about Donald Trump. On July 23, a judge found that his desire to exercise his constitutional rights was not a valid reason for him to be sent back to prison and ordered him sent home to serve out his remaining 2 years under house arrest. On Friday afternoon, he was released. His son, brother, and attorney met him and took him back to his apartment in Manhattan.

Cohen didn't announce his future plans, but writing a book about Trump is surely part of them. In a way, Cohen is more dangerous than some of the other authors who have written books about Trump. Mary Trump released a book last week calling the President psychologically unfit for office, but she doesn't know that much about his business career and the times he might have broken the law. Cohen knows all about these things, including the times he inflated his wealth to get loans and deflated his wealth to reduce his taxes. If Cohen can write fast and get a blockbuster book out there in October, it could have an impact on the election. (V)

Democrats See Path to Senate Majority

A year ago, Democrats had no hope of recapturing the Senate. They have 47 seats now and are likely to lose the one they currently hold in Alabama. This means they need to knock off four Republicans to get to 50 and five to get to 51. It is now becoming clear where they might get four or five, maybe even six.

To start with, Democratic challengers are now the clear favorites in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine. The Democrat is also leading in North Carolina, while Iowa and Montana are tied. Even Georgia (2x) and Kansas might be in play. Here are the polling results for the states where we know the candidates already (and excluding the Georgia special election, where anything is possible):







North Carolina

Nothing is a done deal until the fat lady sings, but Arizona, Colorado, and Maine are looking very bleak for the red team right now, and North Carolina isn't so great either. The other three could go either way. Our Senate page is updated whenever there are new polls or other developments. It is 100 days to Election Day. Normally that feels like a decade. This year it feels like a century. (V)

Rupert Murdoch's Son Gives $2 Million to the Democrats

Rupert Murdoch's son James is not a chip off the old block. He and his wife have just given $1.2 million to the Biden Victory Fund and another $1 million to help elect Democrats to the Senate. Clearly, he and dad are not on the same page politically. The younger Murdoch acknowledges that, and has said there have been periods when he and his father have not spoken to each other.

The significance of this intra-family disagreement may become clearer when you realize that Rupert, the co-executive chairman of Fox News, will turn 90 on March 11, 2021. His days running Fox may well be numbered and it is not clear what will happen when he is gone. The elder Murdoch has been married four times and has six children, who are the beneficiaries of a complicated trust that controls Fox News. The two youngest, Grace (19) and Chloe (17), the children of wife #3 Wendi Deng, have a financial interest in the trust, but no voting rights. That leaves the other four to fight it out after Rupert is gone. Currently, Lachlan Murdoch, James' older brother, is chairman and CEO of Fox News and is his father's intended successor, but intra-family squabbling could change that once Rupert is no longer in charge.

In particular, the sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney in 2019 brought in $71 billion, but made the News Corp. a much smaller entity, with Fox News being the main income source. This will put more pressure on the company to make money since it can no longer live off 21st Century Fox's movie library. Both Lachlan and James know very well that the median age of Fox's prime time viewers is 66. In 10 years, if no new viewers show up, that age will rise to something in the 70s, and advertisers will bolt. Thus, when Rupert is gone, the brothers are going to have to figure out what to do to broaden the audience and that could lead to big fights about the future direction of the channel, especially since Lachlan is much more conservative than James. (V)

House Republicans Are Begging the RNC for Money

No one is willing to admit it, but it appears that the RNC has quietly done a triage and determined that the House Republicans are beyond saving and not worth supporting. Senior House Republicans are pleading with the RNC for money, but so far it doesn't seem interested, even though House Democrats have greatly outraised House Republicans.

The logic here is clear. Polls show that Democrats are more likely to expand their House margin rather than lose it, so every dollar spent on a House race is a dollar that can't be spent on Donald Trump's campaign or a tight Senate race in Montana or Iowa. Given a choice between losing control of the Senate but increasing the size of the Republican minority in the House and holding the Senate, no matter how bad the bloodbath in the House is, clearly the RNC prefers the latter.

A complicating factor is that although on paper Ronna Romney McDaniel runs the RNC, first son-in-law Jared Kushner is really calling the shots there. Kushner's top priority is getting Trump reelected, with hanging onto the Senate as #2. If Trump wins, he will need the Senate to get more judges confirmed. If Trump loses, the GOP will need the Senate to block all of Joe Biden's appointees and generally make him wish he hadn't run.

It isn't like the RNC is nearly broke and turning over every penny three times before spending it. At the start of July, they had $295 million in the bank, twice what Barack Obama had at the same point in 2012. House Republicans are privately grumbling that Trump is not a team player and is just interested in what is good for him, which tells us they've actually been paying attention for the last, oh, 50 years. They can point out that the DCCC has $94 million on hand to the NRCC's $61 million until the cows come home, but if the RNC is convinced that the House is a lost cause, it is not going to send much money over there with Trump in trouble in the polls and Democrats leading in four or five tight Senate races. McDaniel pooh-poohed any kind of internal spat, saying: "Transfer requests like these are standard every cycle and final decisions typically aren't made until after Labor Day." (English translation: If you still look hopeless in September, forget it).

Making things worse is that a number of House races are deteriorating, making it even more likely that the RNC is going to throw in the towel on the House and focus on Trump and the Senate. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has now changed its ratings on eight House races. Three of them are changes from "safe" to "likely," and don't mean so much, but the other five do. Here they are:

District PVI Incumbent Old rating New rating
TX-21 R+10 Chip Roy (R) Leans Republican Toss-up
NC-08 R+8 Richard Hudson (R) Likely Republican Leans Republican
AR-02 R+7 French Hill (R) Likely Republican Leans Republican
NM-02 R+6 Xochitl Torres Small (D) Toss-up Leans Democratic
IA-02 D+1 (Open) (D) Toss-up Leans Democratic

The ratings are subjective and based on polls, fundraising, and the quality of the opponent. One district where the PVI isn't the story is TX-21, a badly gerrymandered district north of San Antonio that also includes a bit of Austin. It is a highly educated and diverse district and Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) had to struggle in 2018. The Democrat is Wendy Davis, who is well known due to a statewide run against now-governor Greg Abbott in 2014, and who has a substantial cash-on-hand advantage over Roy. She is a better match for the district than Roy.

Another district where the PVI isn't everything is NM-02. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) is a slight favorite in an R+6 district. How can this be? In 2018, Small faced former state legislator Yvette Herrell (R), who didn't run a very good campaign and Small won. This year, Herrell won a bitter primary fight to become the nominee again. But Small has $3.9 million in the bank to Herrell's $379,000. NM-02 is the largest district in the country that is not an entire state, but it doesn't have a lot of expensive media markets, just part of Albuquerque and Las Cruces.

In AR-02 and NC-08, race could play a role. Both incumbents are white and both challengers are Black. Both districts include large numbers of Black voters and large numbers of suburbanites. Neither challenger is favored, but in a blue wave, the challengers could be swept in with the tide.

A general problem the Republicans have is that the places they are raising a lot of money aren't necessarily their strongest districts. For example, the Republican challengers to Reps. Gil Cisneros (D-CA), Collin Allred (D-TX), and Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) are all raising lots of cash, but they are running in districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and may not be all that competitive.

All in all, the Crystal Ball has 229 seats at least leaning Democratic, 193 at least leaning Republican, and 13 toss-ups. If we split the toss-ups 7 to 6 for the Republicans, the Democrats would have 235 seats, the same number they won in 2018. The strategists at the RNC must know all this as well, and thus be very hesitant to spend a lot of money to hold the Democrats to maybe 226 seats and lose the Senate in the process by being overspent there.

The Crystal Ball is not the only prediction site that has moved House races toward the Democrats. Charlie Cook moved 20 races toward the Democrats last week. Others agree. Prof. Thomas Schwartz of Vanderbilt University said: "I would tend to think that unless things were to change really drastically that you're not looking at a change in the House control. The real issue is the size of the Democratic majority."

On the generic poll, Democrats lead 49% to 41%. It is hard to convert that to seats since every race has its own characteristics, but when you are 20 or so seats down, being 8 points under water on the generic poll suggests that you aren't going to flip 20 seats. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Only one of today's polls is good news for Donald Trump: Ohio is a statistical tie. But being behind in Arizona, Florida, and Michigan is definitely bad news. (V)

State Biden Trump Start End Pollster
Arizona 49% 45% Jul 18 Jul 24 SSRS
Arizona 50% 45% Jul 14 Jul 22 Marist Coll.
Florida 51% 46% Jul 18 Jul 24 SSRS
Michigan 48% 42% Jul 21 Jul 24 YouGov
Michigan 52% 40% Jul 18 Jul 24 SSRS
Ohio 45% 46% Jul 21 Jul 24 YouGov

Today's Senate Polls

If Mark Kelly is elected to the Senate, then Arizona will have two Democratic senators. In addition, it might go for Joe Biden in the presidential election. Will Arizona become a blue state, like New Mexico? It is beginning to look like that. After all, it wasn't so long ago that Virginia was a red state and now it is a blue state. Also, North Carolina is on the verge of becoming a purple state. And Georgia and Texas are slowly moving in that direction. What should be extremely worrying to long-term Republican strategists (if there are any) is that a number of large states have gone from red to purple to blue or are in the process of doing so, but no large blue states are turning red (and Trump's tiny freak victories in the Rust Belt aren't signs of a fundamental shift there). If Arizona and North Carolina become blue states like Virginia, and Georgia and Texas become the new swing states, what is the future of the Republican Party?

Republicans had hopes that John James might give Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) a run for his money. Poll after poll has now shown that is not going to happen. Peters is safe and the only Democratic seat that might flip is that of Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL). James' poor performance against a low-profile first-term senator is further evidence that Michigan isn't turning red; Trump was just lucky there in 2016. (V)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Mark Kelly 50% Martha McSally* 43% Jul 18 Jul 24 SSRS
Arizona Mark Kelly 53% Martha McSally* 41% Jul 14 Jul 22 Marist Coll.
Michigan Gary Peters* 54% John James 38% Jul 18 Jul 24 SSRS

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jul26 COVID-19 Diaries: Back to School?
Jul26 Sunday Mailbag
Jul25 Saturday Q&A
Jul25 Today's Senate Polls
Jul24 Unconventional: Trump Abandons Jacksonville Plans
Jul24 However, He's Still Pressing for Schools to Reopen
Jul24 Trump Campaign Doubles Down on Suburban Strategy
Jul24 Trump Fundraising in Disarray?
Jul24 Republicans' Aid Plan Will Wait until Next Week Due to Infighting
Jul24 Republicans Try to De-Ratf**k the Kansas Senate Race
Jul24 VP Candidate Profile: Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
Jul24 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul24 Today's Senate Polls
Jul23 Undecided Voters Are Leaning Toward Biden
Jul23 Trump Raises $20 Million at a Virtual Fundraiser
Jul23 Three-Quarters of Voters Can Vote by Mail in November
Jul23 Three Coronavirus Scenarios of What Happens Next
Jul23 Texas Voters Think That the Coronavirus is Out of Control in Texas
Jul23 Democratic and Republican Lawmakers Disagree on the Next Relief Package
Jul23 Trump Wants to Start a War between the States--and the Cities
Jul23 Four States Have the Ingredients for a Catastrophe
Jul23 Trump Tried to Pressure U.K. into Holding the British Open at His Golf Club in Scotland
Jul23 Senate May Not Pass Appropriations Bills on Time
Jul23 Barr Could Be Disbarred
Jul23 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul23 Today's Senate Polls
Jul22 Hail Mary, Part I: Apportionment
Jul22 Hail Mary, Part II: COVID-180
Jul22 Fauci's Got Balls
Jul22 Jacksonville Officials Remain Skittish about RNC
Jul22 Cell Phone Companies Reject Trump, Texts
Jul22 Lincoln Project Isn't Missing a Beat
Jul22 VP Candidate Profile: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
Jul22 Today's Presidential Polls
Jul21 (Martial?) Law and Order
Jul21 Wearing Masks Is Now Patriotic
Jul21 S.O.S. (Save Our Senate!)
Jul21 Senate Leadership Will Move to Fill Any Supreme Court Seat That Opens This Year
Jul21 Sheriff Says He Doesn't Have Enough Security for the GOP Convention
Jul21 Kasich to Address DNC
Jul21 Democrats Pick John Lewis' Successor
Jul21 VP Candidate Profile: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Jul20 WaPo/ABC Poll: Biden Ahead of Trump 55% to 40%
Jul20 Partisan Gap Is Huge and Favors the Democrats
Jul20 Biden's Strategy: Do No Harm
Jul20 North Carolina Makes Early Voting Easier
Jul20 Chris Wallace Fact Checks Trump on Fox News
Jul20 Ruth Ginsburg Has Liver Cancer
Jul20 Many Absentee Ballots May Not Be Counted in November
Jul20 Trump Is Trying to Eliminate Testing for the Coronavirus