Biden 350
image description
Trump 188
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description
  • Strongly Dem (223)
  • Likely Dem (61)
  • Barely Dem (66)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (62)
  • Likely GOP (18)
  • Strongly GOP (108)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2016 2012 2008
New polls: MN
Dem pickups vs. 2016: AZ FL GA MI NC PA WI
GOP pickups vs. 2016: (None)
Political Wire logo Quote of the Day
WHO Warns First Wave Not Over
Whitmer’s Husband Tries to Jump the Line
Florida Republicans Would ‘Welcome’ Convention
Steve King Fights for His Seat
Campaigning In a Crisis

Trump Spends the Weekend Golfing

The story that Roman Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned is not true, as the fiddle wasn't invented until 1,400 years after Nero died. However, when future historians see contemporary stories about Donald Trump spending a weekend golfing during a pandemic that was killing over 1,000 Americans a day, no one will say that can't be true. After all, golf was invented about 400 years before Trump was born. In fact, if it survives, there will be plenty of video showing Trump having a mini-vacation at his Virginia golf club while the rest of the country suffered. Trump is undoubtedly trying to send the message that the coronavirus has been beaten and everything is back to normal. However, if there is a second wave of COVID-19 deaths later this year, this will probably seem as tone deaf as George W. Bush's attending the birthday party of then-senator John McCain in sunny Arizona, while New Orleans was drowning during Hurricane Katrina:

John McCain and George W. Bush celebrting in Arizona during Hurricane Katrina

In fact, it might well seem pretty tone deaf to voters right now. Joe Biden understands that Trump golfing instead of being at the White House trying to get supplies to hospitals to save American lives doesn't look great, so he sent out this tweet:

If Biden plans to base his campaign on the theme that Trump has no empathy for all the people who are suffering from COVID-19 or who have died from it, this is a pretty good start.

But maybe Trump just thinks that the president playing golf during an epidemic is just fine? After all, a president needs to rest and recreate sometimes, right? Actually, when Barack Obama was president and Ebola was raging and ultimately took the lives of two Americans, Trump teed off on Obama for—brace yourself—playing golf:

But that was then and this is now and while Trump is quick to blame others for doing things, he never, ever blames himself for doing the same thing. (V)

Many States Have Changed Voting Procedures Already

A study by the Washington Post shows that nearly 30 states have already changed their voting procedures, either for primary elections or the general election or both. The new rules affect 87 million registered voters. What is surprising is that the changes have been made all over the country, in both blue states and red states.

Most of the changes make it easier to vote. Now 168 million of the nation's 198 million registered voters are eligible to vote absentee if they want to. How many actually do that remains to be seen, of course. In 2016, 33 million of the 135 million votes cast (24.4%) were by absentee ballot. This year with the new rules it could be much higher.

The process of completely changing the way people vote is complicated and is not likely to go smoothly (see story on Pennsylvania below). The first real test is on June 2, when eight states and D.C. hold primaries for federal and state offices. Roxanna Moritz, Scott County (IA) auditor, said: "We're all looking at it like this is our dry run and multiplying it by what could happen in November." Undoubtedly those states not holding a primary on June 2 are going to be watching the process very carefully to see what might go wrong in their states in November.

The change in voting procedures came rapidly, starting on March 13 when Louisiana postponed its primary due to a shortage of poll workers (most commonly civic-minded but elderly women), who were concerned about the coronavirus, as well as a shortage of sanitation supplies. The decision was made by Louisiana's secretary of state, Kyle Ardoin (R). A dozen other states soon followed and postponed their primaries as well.

Postponing primaries is only part of the story. Eleven states that normally require an excuse to vote by absentee ballot have said that being afraid of dying is a valid excuse this year. This change alone affects 40 million people. In addition, 12 other states plus D.C. are sending absentee ballot request applications to all voters. About 35 million voters will receive these applications.

Finally, four states (Maryland, Montana, Nevada, and New Jersey) are going whole hog and sending actual absentee ballots out for their primaries. This puts them in the same category as Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Utah, and Colorado, which conduct all elections by mail. If sending out primary ballots to all voters works well in the four new states to try this, they might well do it for the general election as well.

In addition to the states that have changed their procedures, 34 states already allow any voter to ask for an absentee ballot without giving a reason. Millions of voters are expected to take advantage of this form of voting this year. In Georgia, 1.5 million people have already requested an absentee ballot for the June 9 primary and officials expect this to grow to 50% of the total primary vote. In the past, 5-7% of Georgia voters used an absentee ballot.

As to November, so far four states (California, Michigan, Connecticut, and New Hampshire) have announced changes, but many more are expected to follow. California, as it often does, will take the lead, sending more than 20 million actual absentee ballots to registered voters in the fall. Here is a graphic from the Post showing the changes so far.

Which states have changed voting procedures

All these changes have stirred controversy. Donald Trump claims (without any evidence) that absentee voting leads to fraud. However, states can take measures to prevent fraud. First is to use a two-envelope system. With it, after the voter has filled out the ballot, he or she inserts it into a plain envelope with no markings on it (other than possibly a raised state seal or something else hard to reproduce). The envelope could also be a nonstandard size and/or color that can't be bought in stores (to reduce fraud). This envelope is then inserted into an outer postage-paid envelope on which is printed the voter's ID number. There is also a box for the voter to sign.

If done right, when the envelope arrives, the ID number (or a bar-code representation of it) is scanned and an image of the voter's signature is brought up on an election worker's monitor for comparison to the signature on the envelope. If all is well, the inner envelope is then inserted into a ballot box to be counted on Election Day. As an extra added attraction, the state could send an e-mail or text message to the voter to verify that the ballot was received and validated. Of course, getting all the equipment and software to do this takes time and money, so the process has to begin now. And, of course, election workers will be needed to process the incoming ballots, but with nearly 40 million people unemployed, finding workers shouldn't be too hard. But finding the money to pay them could be.

The second security issue concerns the chain of custody. Once a ballot is received in the mail or inserted into a pick-up box somewhere in the voter's county, there have to be very specific rules about who can open the boxes and ballots and who has possession of them, to prevent political operatives from removing ballots or stuffing the ballot box with fake ballots. With all these measures in place, it would be exceedingly difficult for any one to change more than a handful of votes at most.

A recent Pew Poll showed that 87% of Democrats but only 49% of Republicans support the idea of allowing everyone to vote by absentee ballot. No polls of public officials have been taken, but many Republican officials are fighting tooth-and-nail against widespread absentee voting. Wisconsin, Texas, and California are three of the biggest battlegrounds and, in fact, the RNC (which, recall, is just a branch of the Trump Organization these days) just filed a new suit in the Golden State. Expect partisan battles over voting until Election Day. The strange thing is that Republican fears that absentee voting helps Democrats may not be true this year, because the demographic group most likely to use absentee ballots consists of seniors, who have historically skewed Republican. That said, there is some evidence that they like Joe Biden better than they liked Hillary Clinton in 2016 (see below). (V)

Federal Judge Says Florida Felons Can Vote

Speaking of adding more voters to the rolls, Florida Republicans got some bad news this weekend, as U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle (a Bill Clinton appointee) issued his ruling on the question of whether or not newly re-enfranchised felons can be compelled to pay outstanding judgments and court costs before they are allowed to vote. The short answer: no, they cannot.

The long answer is slightly more complicated. Hinkle found that felons can be compelled to pay outstanding judgments and court costs before they vote, but only if they can afford them. Beyond that, he also said that the state must provide an accounting of exactly what is owed (which they have not done, previously), that this accounting must be made available in a timely manner (20 days, and the clock starts today), and that there must be a procedure by which would-be voters can demonstrate an inability to pay. If the state fails to adhere to any of these obligations, then felons' votes will be restored automatically. And even if the state does what it is ordered to do, and a felon shows they cannot pay, then they have to be allowed to vote. Otherwise that constitutes an unlawful poll tax in Hinkle's view.

The state is expected to appeal the ruling; it may be that they can get the case before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and that they can get a favorable ruling, before the November election. However, the odds of both of these things happening, particularly the latter, do not appear to favor Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) & Co. Assuming that the current state of affairs remains in place on Nov. 3, there are roughly 775,000 convicted felons who will regain the franchise. If they vote at roughly the same rate that the general populace does in a presidential election (55%), that's about 426,000 votes in November. If that vote breaks 60% to 40% for the Democrats, which is consistent with the handful of studies of the matter, then the Democrats would gain about 85,000 votes relative to the Republicans. As a reminder, Donald Trump won Florida by fewer than 115,000 votes in 2016. (Z)

Seniors Like Biden

Politicians don't come much more senior than Joe Biden, who will turn 78 years old 2 weeks after Election Day. And, as mentioned above, Joe Biden appears to be doing better with senior-citizen voters than most Democrats have done in the past. A Quinnipiac University poll gives some insight into what's going on here. Among women ≥ 65, Biden leads Trump by 22 points. Among men ≥ 65, Trump has an 11-point lead. That is an enormous 33-point gender gap. Also noteworthy is that among independent seniors, Biden's lead has gone from 7 to 20 points since February. Could it be that Biden's sudden popularity with seniors has something to do with Trump's plan to reopen the economy so young people can go to restaurants, even if this means granny will die because her caregiver went out for dinner last night and caught COVID-19? Sorry, Quinnipiac didn't ask that.

A related issue is the large number of deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes. In addition to the seniors living there, many have friends and relatives there as well who are worried about their health.

Since 2000, Republicans have won seniors by 5-12 points. Furthermore, seniors have an extremely good voting record and always turn out in large numbers. So Biden's overall 10-point lead among seniors has to be worrisome for the Republicans, and may be part of the reason Trump is so against absentee voting, something he interrupted his golf game this weekend to remind us of yet again:

Not only are these assertions unsupported with evidence, but it's not clear what some of them even mean. For example, what does "forcing" people to sign ballots mean, and why would that be necessary if thousands of forgeries are being produced (per the first part of the claim)? Does the president dream these conspiracy theories up himself, or does he have a team of staffers or interns working day and night to dream them up?

In any event, also working against Trump is that some of the swing states have populations older than the national average. These include Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In these states, a shift of 10-15 points toward the Democrats among seniors would likely flip the state's electoral votes and could also doom Republican candidates for the Senate, the House, and state offices. (V)

Possible Winner of the Election on Nov. 3: Nobody

One potential issue with having large numbers of ballots mailed back is that if the election is close, the results may not be known on the evening of Nov. 3. And maybe not on Nov. 4 or Nov. 5, either. For example, election officials in one of the larger swing states, Pennsylvania, have warned that it could take "a while" to count the ballots. And in states where any ballot postmarked by Election Day counts, it could be a week or more before the winner is known. The chairman of the board of elections in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County, Ken Lawrence, says that his nightmare is that the White House depends on Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania depends on Montgomery County. It is not for nothing that the election administrator's prayer is: "Lord, let it be a landslide."

Montgomery County is not the only Pennsylvania County where officials are worried. Allegheny County election board member Bethany Hallam noted that there have been problems with the rushed June 2 primary. Some people got the ballot for the wrong party, others for the wrong district, and some people got multiple ballots or no ballot. The problem is that none of the elections offices were prepared for the deluge of requests. As of last Thursday, there were 225,000 requests for absentee ballots in Allegheny County and a backlog of 80,000 requests that hadn't been processed yet. Normally in a primary, the county gets 10,000 requests. Hallam said: "I'm worried that, if Donald Trump loses in November, do the Republicans use all these examples of errors with mail-in voting as their excuse to invalidate election results?"

Philadelphia isn't much better. Officials expected 70,000 to 90,000 requests. By last Thursday, they already had 158,000 and they were still pouring in. Their backlog is 18,000. The previous high for the number of requests was 23,000. Pennsylvania voters have until tomorrow to request a primary ballot, but the chance that a request mailed tomorrow results in getting a ballot in time to cast it by June 2 is basically zero.

And getting the ballots sent out is only half the problem. Counting them is the other—and much more visible—half. By law, election officials in Pennsylvania cannot begin to count absentee ballots until the morning of Election Day. If there are millions of them, it could take days. No doubt, if Donald Trump is ahead at the end of Election Day, he will declare victory and say the count should stop, analogous to what happened in Florida in 2000. (V)

Why Does Trump Want Churches to Open?

Public-health officials everywhere are against gatherings where dozens of people are confined to a room for fear that this will enhance the spread of the coronavirus. This includes gatherings of people in churches, even if they are praying for the virus to kindly go away. Donald Trump, in contrast, is actively pushing churches to open. Why?

It's electoral politics, of course. Recent polls have shown that not only is Trump in trouble with seniors, he is also in trouble with another of his key demographic groups: religious conservatives. An April poll from the Public Religion Research Institute shows a huge decline in his approval rating from March, including white mainline Protestants (-18%), white Catholics (-12%), and white evangelicals (-11%). One person close to the campaign called that "pretty concerning."

So, in an attempt to improve his standing with these voters, Trump wants to reignite the culture wars that have moved to the back burner in the Age of COVID. Well, a different aspect of the culture wars than the ones everyone's been focusing on for the last month. Hence his call for churches to open, calling them "essential," something that most religious voters probably agree with. Of course, the issue is not whether they are essential, but whether they are safe. Also in the background is the fact that many churches are hurting financially, since passing the plate doesn't work as well online. Trump even threatened to override the orders of governors that are keeping churches closed, something he has no authority to do. To show how much he cared about religious voters, the President even went to the trouble of attending an online worship service hosted by St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York (meaning he turned on his iPhone and went to its website, almost certainly while golfing).

A spokesman for the campaign noted that he has appointed over 180 solid conservative judges and is the most pro-life president ever, something George W. Bush might dispute if he wanted to pick a fight with Trump.

Trump's view on reopening churches is not in line with the CDC guidelines issued last week. They described how to reopen schools, child-care facilities, and public transit systems, but not churches. So once again, Trump is fighting the administration he himself is leading.

Church closings probably aren't the reason religious voters are starting to sour on Trump. In the Pew survey, white evangelicals are evenly split on whether the current restrictions on public activity are proper or should be relaxed. Among white Catholics, far more (52%) want to keep the current situation than want to open up more (31%). So it doesn't look like religious voters are up in arms about closed churches (especially since many churches have online services), but Trump needs something to get their attention, and opening churches it is.

Of course, if churches do open up, the coronavirus might spread there, possibly making many churchgoers sick. Then Trump will have to find something else to rev them up. Possibly a national day to pray for people who got sick when they went to church to pray away the virus. (V)

The Veepstakes Are Heating Up

Running for president is pretty straightforward: You collect money, buy TV and digital ads, and ask people to vote for you. Running for veep has different rules. You try to please the presidential nominee without acting like you are trying to please the presidential nominee. Unless you are Stacey Abrams.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is going the conventional route. She is going to try to please the candidate by raising a lot of money for him. Candidates like that a lot. Her plan is to hold a high-dollar fundraiser online on June 15. During her own campaign, she made a big deal about not holding high-dollar fundraisers for herself, but this one is not for herself, so it doesn't count.

Another way to please the candidate is to defend him from criticism. On Friday, when Joe Biden said "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black," he got a lot of blowback. So in comes Rep. Val Demings (D-FL), who definitely is black and who would very much like to be veep, to the rescue. She told CNN's "State of the Union": I really think the gall and the nerve of President Trump to try to use this in his campaign—he who has since day one done everything within his power, of course supported by his enablers, to divide this country, particularly along racial lines." She went on to attack Trump on race concerning housing, voting rights and health care. Biden's comment is not likely to lose him a lot of votes and Trump's campaign to exploit Biden's gaffe is not likely to win him many votes. Still, by demonstrating that she can play the attack dog expected of a running mate, Demings strengthened her case. Her other big pluses, in addition to being black and being able to go on the attack, are (1) being from Florida and (2) being the former chief of police of Orlando. The latter, in particular, may appeal to moderate law-and-order Republicans and older voters in the Sunshine State.

Meanwhile, another veep hopeful, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN), is reeling from attacks by black activists demanding that Biden not pick her. They say that she won't attract any minority voters and could be a drag on the ticket. Consequently, she is frantically trying to make nice to black voters. She introduced a voting rights bill in the Senate, took part in an NAACP town hall, and gave black journalists interviews. Many black activists say it is too little too late and doesn't make up for her time as the Hennepin County district attorney when she was tough on black defendants.

Yet another would-be veep, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI), thinks the best way to run for veep is to do her day job well, stay popular in her state, and hope the candidate notices. Like Klobuchar, Whitmer is from the Midwest, but unlike Klobuchar, does not have any organized opposition from black groups. She is also 11 years younger than Klobuchar, so if Biden wants to pass the torch to a new generation, she would be a better pick.

Probably the leading potential veep candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), isn't doing anything to attract the candidate's attention. He knows who she is and what her strengths and weaknesses are. Nothing she can do in the next 2 months will change any of that. (V)

Will Trump Dump Pence?

While various Democrats are auditioning for the #2 slot on the ticket, each in her own way, what is taking place on the GOP side? Is Mike Pence a shoo-in for being on the ticket with Donald Trump again? A strong argument for Trump keeping Pence around is that Pence has been unswervingly loyal, and Trump values personal loyalty to himself above everything else. Trump has even said that Pence will be on the ticket, but given the enormous turnover in the administration, that alone doesn't mean very much.

History suggests that Pence is safe. The last time a sitting president dropped the incumbent veep for someone new was in 1976, when Jerry Ford passed over Nelson Rockefeller for Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS). But that was an unusual situation. Ford became vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace and then became president when Nixon resigned in disgrace. Ford picked Rockefeller as the new vice president, but they didn't have much history together. The last time a president dumped a vice president who had actually been on his ticket was in 1944, when FDR dumped sitting veep Henry Wallace for Harry Truman. Bummer for Wallace, because Roosevelt died 3 months into his fourth term and Truman got to sit in the big chair.

Nevertheless, there are a few circumstances in which Trump could decide to replace Pence:

  • Trump decides the benefit Pence brings is no longer needed: Trump picked Pence in 2016 because he was worried that evangelicals would be suspicious of a thrice-married industrial-strength adulterer who never went to church and whose only religion was worshipping the Almighty Dollar. By choosing Pence, he hoped to send them a signal that despite his not acting like a Christian for 70 years, he was one of them. It worked. Trump/Pence won the votes of 80% of white evangelicals, a better record than George W. Bush, who actually was an evangelical. It is possible that Trump figures he doesn't need Pence any more because the evangelical vote is in the bag. Although recent polling shows that maybe it isn't in the bag (see above), so maybe Pence is still needed.

  • Trump often shuffles the deck: Trump burns through cabinet secretaries, NSAs, intelligence chiefs, chiefs of staff, and more at an unprecedented pace. He gets bored with personnel fast, and Pence has been around now since Jan. 20, 2017. That's longer than anyone else. The only other top official who has still been around from the day he started is Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, although some less-important cabinet officials are still around, namely Sonny Perdue at Agriculture, Wilbur Ross at Commerce, Betsy DeVos at Education, Ben Carson at HUD, and Elaine Chao at Transportation. And the latter batch have survived only because Trump doesn't know what a farm is, Ross tried to rig the census and it wasn't his fault that he failed, DeVos is a fellow billionaire, Trump needs a token black member in the cabinet, and Chao is the wife of the Senate majority leader.

  • Trump gets desperate: If polls in late August show Trump losing badly, he might try a Hail Mary and replace Pence with someone a bit more exciting. The obvious (and really, only) candidate is former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. This would give him not only a woman, but a woman of color, and that could pick off some votes from Biden. Of the three reasons Pence might have to go, this is the most likely.

Speaking of Haley, and of auditioning for VP by showing off your attack skills, she was all over the place this weekend criticizing Joe Biden's "you ain't black" remark. For example, she posted this to Twitter:

As the rather poor ratio (more comments than likes plus retweets) indicates, Haley is being excoriated for the obvious opportunism of hitting Biden for his remark given that she looked the other way on dozens of occasions when Trump made comments that were just as problematic, or more so. The former governor and ambassador also has her own less-than-pure track record in this area, having been an apologist for Confederate flags and other such symbols on more than one occasion. All of that said, her tweet was intended for an audience of one, and if he saw it, he presumably liked it.

In the end, there is little Haley can do except make herself into the most acceptable option possible, should Trump sour on Pence. And on the whole, we think Pence is fairly safe unless something fairly radical changes between now and August. (V)

Dr. Joanne Jorgensen Is the Libertarian Party Nominee for President

The Libertarian Party is the first major minor party to pick a presidential nominee. For a couple of weeks, it looked like Rep. Justin Amash (L-MI) was going to get it, but then he suddenly discovered he was unlikely to be elected president and so he dropped out. That opened the way for a contested convention. In the end, the LP picked Dr. Joanne "Jo" Jorgensen at its online convention. The fourth and final ballot was a three-way race among Jorgensen, Jacob Hornberger, and perennial candidate Vermin Supreme, with Jorgensen getting 51% of the vote. Here is the winning candidate:

Jo Jorgensen

Jorgensen (63) has a BS in psychology from Baylor University, an MBA from Southern Methodist University, and a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from Clemson University. She worked for IBM for a time and later became part owner and president of Digitech, which made peripheral equipment for bands recording digital music. In 1996, she was the LP candidate for vice president, on the ticket with Harry Browne. They came in fifth with 0.5% of the vote, after Bill Clinton (49.2%), Bob Dole (40.7%), Ross Perot (8.4%), and Ralph Nader (0.7%).

The LP platform supports:

  • Personal liberty: privacy, no government role in personal relationships or abortion, parental rights
  • Economic liberty: respect for property, no government role on the environment, repeal of the income tax, no minimum wage, no licensing for any occupation, legalization of prostitution, no role for government in education
  • Securing liberty: military only for defense, avoid international alliances, pro-free trade, and pro-unrestricted immigration

The central organizing principle of the LP is that the government should be as small as possible and do as little as possible, with the people and the private sector in charge of almost everything. The only legitimate functions of government, in their view, are things that cannot be done any other way, like national defense. (V)

Third-Party Vote is Likely to Be Smaller This Time

Step one for the Libertarians is picking a candidate. Mission accomplished. Step two is getting people to vote for them. Might not be so easy this time. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball sees the vote for minor parties being smaller in 2020 than it was in 2016, when Gary Johnson (L) and Jill Stein (G) together got 4.35% of the vote. Here are the reasons:

  • The parties are more unified this time: In 2016, many supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) felt they had been cheated and voted for Johnson or Stein. Also, they expected Hillary Clinton to win, so a vote for a third party was intended just to send President Clinton a message. This time, very few Sanders supporters are going to assume Biden will win easily, affording them the luxury of using their vote to send a message with no consequences.

  • The parties like their candidates better this time: The Republican Party has been replaced by the Trump Party. Never-Trumpers are scarce on the ground now. Also, there were many Democrats in 2016 who really disliked Hillary Clinton and saw her as arrogant and entitled. Some Democrats see Joe Biden as goofy, but few see him as arrogant, so he is at least marginally acceptable to all but a small chunk of die-hard Sanders supporters (who are willing to watch the country burn for four more years in hopes that will start their much-desired revolution).

  • Third-Party candidates will be weaker: Jill Stein was well known in 2016 because she was the Green Party candidate in 2012. Not a lot of people know Howie Hawkins, the likely 2020 Green Party candidate. The Libertarian Party has the same problem. Their 2016 candidate, Gary Johnson, was the former governor of New Mexico. Their 2020 candidate is Dr. Jo Jorgensen (see above), who is virtually unknown nationally.

  • The minor parties may not be on the ballot in every state: In 2016, the Libertarian Party was on the ballot in every state. The Green Party was on the ballot in all but a handful of states. So far in 2020, the LP is on the ballot in only 36 states and the GP is on the ballot in a mere 23 states. And due to fear of COVID-19, party volunteers trying to buttonhole passersby to get them to sign a nominating petition is going to be very tough. At the moment, neither party is on the ballot in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Virginia.

  • Voters are much more aware of the stakes this time: In 2016, probably several million voters used their votes as a protest. It is very unlikely that will happen again. The only people voting LP or GP this time will be true dyed-in-the-wool supporters of those parties, and their numbers aren't that large. In 2016, Jill Stein got more votes in Michigan than Donald Trump's margin of victory. It is likely that if those Stein voters had realized they were de facto voting for a Trump presidency, many would have affixed a clothespin to their noses, put on rubber gloves, and voted for Clinton. Similarly, Republican voters who voted for Johnson have largely jumped on the Trump bandwagon and really want to give him a second term because although he has acted like a fool, he has governed at least somewhat like a standard Republican on most issues (Gorsuch! Kavanaugh! tax cut!).

For these reasons, it is likely that this election will be more like 2012, when the top third-party candidate was Gary Johnson, who got 1.0% of the vote. (V)

Biden Wins the Hawaii Primary

The Hawaii Democratic Party ran a ranked-choice mail-in primary that ended on Saturday. The voters ranked Joe Biden as their #1 choice. He received 63% of the vote to 37% for Bernie Sanders. In 2016, Hawaii Democrats held a caucus and Sanders wiped the floor with Hillary Clinton, getting 70% of the vote to her 30%.

Sanders did better in Hawaii than he did in the Oregon primary, which concluded earlier last week. There Biden got 66% to Sanders' 20%. In 2016, Sanders won Oregon with 56% of the vote to Hillary Clinton's 42%. (V)

Tara Reade's Lawyer Drops Her

Tara Reade, the woman who accused Joe Biden of a 1993 sexual assault, was represented by Doug Wigdor, a top lawyer who handles sexual assault cases. He has previously represented women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and was a big supporter of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

On Friday, Wigdor dropped Reade after CNN came out with an extensive investigation of her past. To start with, she has claimed to have graduated from Antioch University in Seattle with a Bachelor of Arts degree. When CNN asked the school about this, they said she attended but never graduated from the school. This means she lied about something that could easily be checked (and eventually was checked), and clearly that was a huge red flag to Wigdor. Lawyers know that when people lie about one thing, they often lie about other things as well.

As a sidebar, universities are significantly constrained about what they can reveal about a former student, particularly without that student's permission. Basically, they can give a yes/no to: "Did they attend?" and "Did they graduate?" That means that the range of possibilities here is pretty broad. Reade might have enrolled for one class in one semester and not shown up for a single meeting. Or, she might have failed the final exam of her final class with a 69.9%, thus coming within a whisker of graduating. Anything in between those two extremes is covered by the information Antioch released.

Anyhow, Reade's lie about her educational credentials started the ball rolling in other areas. Reade has appeared as an expert witness on domestic violence in court cases for a decade. At least three of those cases were in the past 2 years. In those cases, she stated—under oath—that she had a degree that she did not have. Not only is this perjury, but it could have given her credibility with juries that she was not entitled to have. Lawyers for the defense in some cases where she testified are now looking to reopen the cases and possibly overturn convictions due to a tainted witness.

In addition, in these cases, before letting her start her testimony, the judge asked her to explain to the jury why she qualified as an expert witness. In her response, she noted that she previously worked as a "legislative aide" for Biden, who co-sponsored the "Violence against Women Act" along with then-senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). In truth, she was actually a "staff assistant," which is a different (and lower) position, one usually supervised by a "legislative aide." So she lied about her past employment under oath as well. In a podcast, Reade once said that she worked with the interns and helped distribute the mail, which is consistent with the job description of a staff assistant. In contrast, legislative aides do research for a senator or representative concerning proposed legislation. In her testimony in court, Reade seemed to praise Biden for his work supporting women who had experienced violence. One time she mentioned that he had stroked her neck and played with her curly hair, but nothing else.

In addition to the CNN piece, there was also one from Politico last week that may have raised some other red flags for Wigdor. It's focused on interactions that Reade had in her private life. One sentence in the story pretty much says it all: "A number of those who crossed paths with Biden's accuser say they remember two things: She spoke favorably about her time working for Biden, and she left them feeling duped." Undoubtedly, most people have a few enemies in their past who would be happy to speak ill of them if asked. However, the pattern of behavior that these folks (who have never met one another) describe is exceedingly consistent. They all paint a picture of Reade as someone who is charming and friendly while money and other favors are forthcoming, but who turns nasty and goes scorched earth when the money and favors are cut off.

In many cases, Reade's acquaintances whom Politico talked to had e-mails, screenshots of Facebook Messenger, text messages, invoices, court records, and other evidence to back up their claims. Politico also reviewed dozens of public records, including court documents, her divorce filings, and her 2012 bankruptcy records. The case that she is an untrustworthy person is extremely strong, backed up by multiple witnesses and documents. The Politico article linked to above is long and detailed, with direct quotes from many people who knew her well. The case that she is a truthful and trustworthy person is...well, that she says she is.

All in all, Wigdor, who has sympathy for assaulted women and experience representing them, decided he didn't want to help Reade. While he didn't say why he was dropping her in his statement, it certainly looks like he came to the conclusion that he doesn't believe her story. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Occasionally the Republicans talk about winning Minnesota, but that is extremely unlikely. In reality, there is probably no state that Trump lost in 2016 that he can win this year. So he will be playing defense everywhere. Michigan is probably a lost cause, so it may come down to Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. However, if Arizona goes blue, that is as bad for Trump as losing Wisconsin (actually 1 EV worse). (V)

State Biden Trump Start End Pollster
Minnesota 49% 44% May 18 May 20 Mason-Dixon Polling

If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.
Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
May24 COVID-19 Diaries, Sunday Edition
May24 Sunday Mailbag
May24 Today's Presidential Polls
May23 Saturday Q&A
May22 Ratcliffe Confirmed as DNI
May22 U.S. To Pull Out of Another Treaty
May22 A COVID-19 Train Wreck Is Looming
May22 There's No 3-D Chess Going on Here, Part I: Trump vs. Obama
May22 There's No 3-D Chess Going on Here, Part II: Voting by Mail
May22 Warren Likes Obamacare Again
May22 Republican Party Abandons Its Candidate in CA-10
May22 Loeffler Doesn't Know She is Toast
May22 Today's Presidential Polls
May21 Quinnipiac Poll: Biden Has 11-Point Lead Nationally
May21 Michigan Sent Absentee Ballot Applications to All Voters
May21 Senate Will Subpoena Company that Did Work for Burisma
May21 Local Officials Are Now Battling Governors about Reopening the Economy
May21 House Will Allow Proxy Voting
May21 Supreme Court Blocks House from Accessing Mueller Documents
May21 Florida Health Data Specialist Fired for Refusing to Alter Data Website
May21 Arpaio Is Back
May21 Firm That Lobbied Trump Got a $1.3 Billion Contract to Build Some Fencing
May21 Today's Presidential Polls
May20 Trump Continues to Earn Low Marks for Handling of COVID-19 Pandemic
May20 Will Trump Really Try to Hold Rallies This Year?
May20 Donald Trump, Military President
May20 The Legal Blotter, Part I: Voting Wars Continue in Texas
May20 The Legal Blotter, Part II: Oregon Stay-at-Home Orders Are Back on, for Now
May20 The Legal Blotter, Part III: Another Trump Family Lawsuit
May20 Loeffler is Toast
May20 The COVID Diaries
May20 Today's Presidential Polls
May20 Today's Senate Polls
May19 Pompeo Plot Thickens
May19 Burr Plot Thickens, Too
May19 Trump Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine
May19 The One-Two Punch: Eric Trump...
May19 ...and Donald Trump Jr.
May19 Trump Is Doing Well in Swing States...or Not
May19 Oregon Stay-at-Home Order Is Struck Down
May19 Biden Will Cancel Keystone Pipeline
May19 Val Demings' Star Is Rising
May19 Today's Presidential Polls
May18 Bloomberg Is Planning to Support Democrats
May18 COVID-19 Deaths Will Pass 100,000 by June 1
May18 Democratic Governors Hit with Lawsuits
May18 Behind the Scenes It Is Birx, not Fauci, Who Is the Real Power
May18 We Need to Move on to Stage Five
May18 The Response to COVID-19 Is Just Class Warfare in a New Form
May18 Texas Supreme Court Halts Expansion of Mail-in Voting