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      •  Saturday Q&A
      •  Today's Senate Polls

Saturday Q&A

An unusually small number of questions about this week's news, and an unusually large number of questions about the site itself (some of them with something of an edge). That's how it runs sometimes.

Current Events

C.A.G. in Athens, GA, asks: I recently saw that Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for Russia to be stripped of its veto power on the United Nations Security Council. Is that possible, and if so, how would that occur?

Furthermore, as it's currently waging war on another sovereign nation, could Russia actually be stripped of its status as one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council?

What do you think would be Russia's response to either of these occurrences (assuming they are possible)?

V & Z answer: There are two possibilities here. The first would be to amend the U.N. Charter to remove Russia from the Security Council. However, amendments to the Charter require a two-thirds vote of all members, plus a unanimous vote of the permanent Security Council members. Since Russia is unlikely to vote for its own removal, this approach seems unlikely to yield the desired result.

The second option is for the U.S. and other nations to declare the question of Russia's membership on the Security Council to be a "procedural matter." The most likely way to do this would be to argue that the U.N charter actually grants permanent Security Council membership to a nation called the Soviet Union, which no longer exists, and that it is not clear that Russia is legally entitled to claim status as the U.S.S.R.'s successor nation. According to Article 27, votes on procedural matters require just 9 votes from the members of the Security Council (there are 5 permanent members and 10 rotating members).

There are two downsides to this approach, however, beyond the fact that it would amount to legal hocus-pocus. The first downside is that Russia would surely quit the U.N. entirely in protest of being expelled from the Security Council, which would significantly limit the efficacy of the U.N. The second downside is that it would be problematic to establish a precedent that 9 members of the Security Council can expel any member they wish. What if, in the future, the Council ends up with 9 members who are hostile to the U.S.?

D.E. in Lancaster, PA, asks: Maybe I'm missing some nuisance in the reporting but I don't understand: Why, if NY Attorney General Letitia James has over 200 instances of the Trump Organization inflating and deflating the value of their property, did she go with just a simple civil suit and not charge the Orange Jesus with a felony? Is everyone so scared of charging an ex-president with a crime that this Criminal on Multiple Issues is just going to skate free?

V & Z answer: Per New York State law, James does not have the power to bring criminal charges. Her own website says as much:

In general, the law states that this Office does not have jurisdiction over most criminal matters. The Attorney General prosecutes fraud in the sale of securities, anti-trust violations, the unlicensed practice of a profession, and other types of fraud, when the case is referred to the Attorney General by the head of a State agency...

If you have a complaint about a criminal matter, we recommend that you contact your local District Attorney's Office. If you need legal advice, we recommend that you contact your county bar association for a referral to an attorney.

So, if there are going to be criminal charges here, they will have to be brought by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg or by the federal government. James has referred the matter to the feds, as she announced this week. As to Bragg, James' office has been working with him, but he's clearly reluctant to move forward with a criminal case.

What might be the reason for that? One possibility is that Bragg knows Trump will drag this out forever—a full decade is a real possibility—and the DA might think that is not a good use of his (limited) resources, especially since there look to be other prosecutions of the former president that will soon be in the queue. A second possibility is that Bragg has observed that a criminal conviction will require persuading a jury that the Trumps are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That's a pretty high bar, given the circumstances. James, on the other hand, will merely have to convince a single judge, and the standard is "more likely guilty than not."

S.B. in Los Angeles, CA, asks: In your summary of Judge Raymond Dearie's filing, you noted he wants to appoint retired federal judge James Orenstein to assist with document review. You went on to state that Judge Dearie wants Judge Orenstein's work to be billed out at $500/hour.

I am a lawyer, but do not practice in federal court and have never had occasion to utilize a special master. How is payment for Judge Orenstein's services coordinated? Trump is notoriously stingy and is known for stiffing vendors and lawyers. Surely the federal courts wouldn't brook this kind of behavior. How do they get Trump to pay up?

V & Z answer: Dearie is clearly quite familiar with the Trump playbook. On his order, Orenstein will submit weekly invoices to both the Court and to Trump's legal team. Trump has one week to raise any objections, and another week to pay up. If he does not pay, he will be subject to "sanctions." As you know, since you're a lawyer, that means contempt of court, additional fines and costs, and the possibility of being jailed.

J.H. in Boston, MA, asks: You wrote about how bad the special master has been for Trump's classified documents legal strategy. I'm sure all of that is potentially true, but didn't the appeals court overturn Cannon's order for a special master? I saw the new order from Cannon last night, which I thought was striking her own order for a special master, to comply with the appeal court ruling. I was expecting the headlines this morning to be about how Dearie's role in this is over. No one is saying this, so I must have misunderstood. Why does Dearie even still have a job?

V & Z answer: On one level, very little has changed. The Eleventh Circuit merely struck Aileen Cannon's ruling that the Department of Justice could not work with the classified documents until the special master process is complete. Judges Dearie and Orenstein will still review everything with an eye toward attorney-client privilege, even the classified stuff (though there is zero chance they actually conclude that any of the classified material is privileged).

As a practical matter, however, the Eleventh Circuit's ruling absolutely guts this particular stunt by Team Trump. The DoJ cares very little about copies of The Art of the Deal or Time Magazine covers or birthday cards from Kim Jong-Un. Dearie and Orenstein can take their sweet time reviewing those things (and at $500/hour in Orenstein's case). As long as access to the classified stuff is unfettered, then the DoJ's investigation can proceed, full-steam ahead.

As to Cannon, her new order was a relatively minor one that reduced the demands placed upon the special master and that rescinded the requirement that Team Trump be given access to the classified documents. The Judge did both of these things because the Eleventh Circuit told her she had to.

R.E.M. in Brooklyn, NY, asks: The Trump team's designation of Judge Raymond Dearie as Special Master is blowing up in their faces. Dearie reportedly was listed because he signed FISA warrants regarding Carter Page that were subsequently vacated, leading the Trump team to conclude that the Judge would be skeptical of the FBI (and presumably all of DOJ).

Christopher Kise, who came on board just as Trump was suggesting him to Judge Aileen Cannon, was active in the campaign and subsequent transition team for Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) in 2018. What do you think of the possibility that Kise is a DeSantis Fifth Columnist undermining Trump to eliminate him as a competitor to DeSantis for the 2024 presidential nomination? Trump and his lackeys are stupid enough to believe the "FBI skeptic" nonsense, but Kise is, I think, too smart and knows better. I know this sounds like a nutty conspiracy theory, but these are Republicans we're talking about.

V & Z answer: We wouldn't put anything past DeSantis, though Kise would be risking a lot of money, not to mention his license to practice law, if he was really just a mole.

That said, just because we are disinclined towards a conspiracy doesn't mean that Kise is completely loyal to Trump here. Doing everything possible to drag this out serves Trump's needs, but it also serves DeSantis' needs as well. Similarly, if Trump is convicted despite having clearly competent, handpicked counsel, it makes it harder for the former president to argue he was treated unfairly and that the whole thing is a sham.

G.R. in Iqaluit, Baffin Island, NU, Canada, asks: Regarding your recent post "C.I.A. Losing Informants at an Alarming Rate."

I had asked previously what are the odds of Donald Trump receiving the death penalty for his handling of classified information. This questions stemmed from seeing lots of posts online about what seemed like conspiracy theories about dead CIA assets. While I honestly don't believe the U.S. would execute a former president, what would the punishment be for a regular person who took classified information and then either through carelessness or by giving/selling the information caused the death of multiple U.S. assets at home or abroad? Assuming the prosecutors could demonstrate that this definitively happened in court what would a regular person be in for? As always it seems like the former guy will get off much lighter than anyone else would under these circumstances.

V & Z answer: In our answer to your previous question, we mentioned Robert Hanssen, whose actions most definitely led to the deaths of multiple U.S. informants. He got 15 consecutive life sentences. So, if Trump were to get off much lighter—say 10%—then that would be 1.5 consecutive life sentences. Our guess is that most people who would like to see the former president behind bars would take that.


D.R. in Kensington, MD, asks: Suppose the 2024 election is pretty similar to 2020: Joe Biden beats Donald Trump. Biden wins the popular vote broadly, and narrowly wins enough states that even if Georgia "finds" many thousands of votes it wouldn't matter. Soon after, in early 2025, Trump vows to run again in 2028. Who, if any, Republican would be the first to basically say: "Trump lost the popular vote three times in a row, the electoral vote two times in a row. We need to move on. If we want to win elections, we need to move on from Donald Trump"?

V & Z answer: At this point, we don't think that a Trump run in 2024 is a sure thing. In fact, he's probably more likely to sit it out than to throw his hat into the ring. He will almost certainly be busy with his legal problems, his ego couldn't handle losing again (and losing the popular vote for a third time), and The New York Times' Maggie Haberman reported just this week that Trump insiders say his heart isn't in campaigning or rallies anymore.

That said, if Trump tried to run a third, and then a fourth time, the two people most likely to stand up in 2026 or 2027 and say "no more" are Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX). They would have different motivations for piping up, but those are the two we'd expect to say it.

D.K. in Iowa City, IA, asks: In terms of finding the best Democrat to run for President in 2024, I was not impressed with the five lists you presented. I was reminded of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton surprising people. Do you think there is someone like that now who has a good chance of appearing and getting the nomination? That could be our best hope.

V & Z answer: We have consistently suggested that the person who is not currently on the presidential radar, but who could be soon, and who might actually be able to claim the nomination, is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA).

But if you want a real dark horse, someone we've never mentioned as presidential timber, and someone who rarely makes headlines or enters into "presidential" conversations, then we'll go with... Mitch Landrieu. Like Carter and Clinton, he's a charismatic Southern Democrat who is popular with Black voters and well connected to key players in the Democratic Party.

D.S. in Fort Collins, CO, asks: Although Wednesday's item about the 2024 Democratic presidential field didn't include his name, you and others have suggested John Fetterman could be a possibility as well. Should he run and win, I know he'd be the tallest president ever by a good several inches. Would he also be the first tattooed president?

V & Z answer: Fetterman would be the tallest president by about 3 inches, beating out the 6'4" Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon B. Johnson for the record. He would also be 4 inches taller than Donald Trump claims to be, and 6 inches taller than Trump actually is.

As to the tattoos, there is one president who is known for certain to have a tattoo, and it's the president who should really be your first guess for "most likely to have a tattoo." We'll let folks think about it; the identity of that president is at the bottom of the page.

A.B. in Claremont, CA, asks: We talk so much about the Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin Senate races, but something is happening in Nevada. What felt like should have been a solidly lean-Democratic race (with incumbency, Nevada's blue tilt, etc.), is suddenly looking like a lean-Republican without any major news about what's going on. What is dragging Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) down?

V & Z answer: First, Latino voters are overall moving in a Republican direction. In this cycle, the Democrats' messaging on abortion is reaching them, but so too is Republican messaging on the economy. So, that demographic may not be quite the slam dunk for Cortez Masto as it has been in the past.

Also, the Republican super PACs have decided that the path to retaking the Senate runs through Nevada and Georgia. So, they have been spending lots of money in those two states—north of $10 million, in each case. Since Nevada has only one major media market, $10 million goes a long way.

Those, at least, are our guesses. If readers have further insight, we are happy to pass it along.

S.P. in Harrisburg, PA, asks: Do you know how many total candidates will be on the ballot for the Georgia Senate race? This is the state where the candidate needs at least 50 percent or it will go into a runoff. Recall in 2020, the Republican candidates were slightly ahead of Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff (both D) in the general but short of 50 percent. It wasn't until the runoff that the Democrats picked up the seats. We could see a repeat of that, with Walker in a slight lead after the November election and Warnock winning the runoff depending on the number of candidates on the ballot in November.

V & Z answer: There will be three people on the ballot; Warnock, Herschel Walker (R), and Chase Oliver (L). It is very plausible that a runoff will be necessary, as the race is neck-and-neck and Oliver is polling at around 3%.

D.T. in San Jose, CA, asks: Is there any specific piece of legislation that you think Democrats would try to pass in a lame-duck session of Congress?

Depending on the election results, can you imagine any scenario where Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) suddenly finds himself open to the idea of reforming the filibuster, during the final weeks of the term?

V & Z answer: It's already known that the Senate is going to vote on (and presumably pass) legislation protecting same-sex marriage during the lame-duck session. They will also certainly be passing some legislation related to the budget, since they always do so in December. If you want a curveball, they might pass legislation to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs.

It is not plausible that Manchin would decide to kill the filibuster. There's no way the Democrats could get enough done in 8 weeks (many of them holiday weeks) to justify that change of position.

J.S. in Manchester, CT, asks: I have a question that came up recently. I have a game night with three friends weekly. At last week's game night, our discussion turned to politics, as it often does, and we found ourselves asking, "Has the GOP ever passed a program that was designed to make the life of the working class and middle class better?"We ruled out tax cuts because that is not a program. One of us thought about the Interstate Highway System, but again that was ruled out, as it is not a program, it is infrastructure. Try as we might, we could not think of a program that had been passed by the GOP that is there to help the working class. Keep in mind we all might be a little biased, because we are all Democrats. But we really did give it our all. One of us has a bachelor's in history and a masters in American Studies and he was at a loss. He's even gone back to his history books but has come up dry. What do you think?

V & Z answer: Well, you are defining the question in Democratic terms. That is to say, the Republican philosophy, for at least 75 years, has been trickle-down (even if that name wasn't used until the 1980s). That is to say, the Party argues that things like building freeways and cutting taxes benefit all people, but especially laborers. Keep in mind how many times Donald Trump bragged about how this initiative or that one was going to create "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!"

If you're looking for Republican-backed legislation specifically targeted at workers, then you're right, the pickings are pretty slim. But there are a few things, here and there. For example, the Republican-controlled Congress passed, and Donald Trump signed, the American Miners Act of 2019, which secured pension benefits for about 100,000 miners.

D.M. in Alameda, CA, asks: I am puzzled by your reliance on and use of polling averages, especially in grading statuses "lean." Consider the following:

  1. Your averages diverge from at least one other site that averages polls: FiveThirtyEight. Why? For instance, as of today, FiveThirtyEight rates Nevada as +3 Democratic. You have it as "Barely GOP." You have Ohio and Wisconsin as light pink, but FiveThirtyEight has them at +1 Democratic.

  2. You seem to give Emerson and Trafalgar a significant amount of importance in your averaging, but both polls are polling well to the GOP side as compared to other polls.

  3. Why are your state rankings swinging in the course of a week or even a day—from light blue to light pink—when I can find no new Senate polls.? Are you using generic favorability polls, which are notoriously inaccurate?

  4. Most importantly, you seem to have faith in polling while the Democratic/pro-choice results have made almost a mockery of polling... consider the special elections and the Kansas abortion vote. Over and over, the Democrats over-performed their predicted results.

V & Z answer: To take your questions in order:

  1. We use a different, and overall simpler, approach than FiveThirtyEight does. Our model averages the last week's worth of polls (from pollsters we deem reliable), and that is it. FiveThirtyEight uses a vastly more complicated algorithm, and one they do not share openly. This said, margins of error being what they are, our numbers are not meaningfully different from theirs. We make very clear that any state on our map that is white in the middle is basically a toss-up.

  2. We do not give any pollster more or less weight. If we deem them to be reliable, we include them. If we deem them to be unreliable, we don't. Emerson has a strong enough track record to make the cut for us. Trafalgar is a partisan (R) outlet and is thus excluded.

  3. We use the most recent poll in every state and any other polls within a week of it. It can't happen that a state changes unless there is a new poll.

  4. It is entirely plausible that pollsters this year are not accounting properly for the impact of Dobbs. It is also entirely plausible that pollsters this year have not yet figured out how to account properly for Trump voters who don't answer the phone. It is further entirely plausible that these two dynamics will cancel each other out. There is no way to know until the ballots are counted.

In the end, we can only work with the materials available to us. If we start excluding polls or tweaking numbers just because they don't seem right to us, then what's the point of utilizing the polls at all?

J.I. in Drexel Hill, PA, asks: I was listening to a New York Times podcast on Evangelical pastors being driven out of their churches by right-wing extremist agendas. In it. Barna research was referenced. When I was active in an Evangelical church, I followed the studies of this company because it seemed as though they actually seemed to "do their homework" and appeared much more scholarly than any other researchers that described themselves as Christian. Now that I no longer attend what most Evangelicals would call an Evangelical church, I wondered whether or not I was correct in thinking this organization is reputable and reliable for their survey findings.

Do you know whether or not this is a "fair" polling company, in terms of following traditional and reliable methodologies of obtaining surveys? Or is this, too, another organization whose findings should be suspect? Also, are there any reputable pollsters that have an Evangelical bent whose findings are reliable?

V & Z answer: There is a big difference between a pollster who announces they are Evangelical, and a pollster whose speciality is polling/analyzing Evangelical issues. The first is, effectively by definition, unreliable. The second is much less problematic, even if it's run by people who identify as Evangelical.

As to Barna, we don't encounter them very often because they don't do the kind of polls that we use. However, their work appears to be appropriately rigorous, on the whole. The main problem is that the organization polls on questions and issues that are highly subjective, and so imposes its particular definitions of terms on the exercise. That happens, for example, on the (somewhat regular) occasions that Barna polls to see what percentage of Evangelicals have a "Biblical worldview."

We don't know any Evangelical pollsters that are more reliable than Barna. However, the non-Evangelical Pew Research often conducts polls on Evangelical issues.

E.W. in Skaneateles, NY, asks: Could you please expand on your assertion that ranked choice voting (RCV) is so much harder to poll than regular first-past-the-post voting? After all, RCV is itself a poll, as the voter simply indicates all of their choices in rank order. I assume that the pollsters could ask potential voters the same thing, so what else makes RCV extra tricky to poll? Is it something intrinsic to RCV or something about how polling itself is currently conducted? I imagine that reading a lot of names and then asking for a ranking might be more taxing on the respondent's working memory, for example, which might make internet polling better than phone polling (i.e., visual vs. auditory medium). What else am I missing?

V & Z answer: Most voters are considerably lower information than the readership of this site. And so, while many of them can generally identify their favorite candidate (often based on the R or D after the name), they often aren't really in a position to meaningfully evaluate their second, third, fourth, etc. preferences. They might well get there a week or two before the election, but not a month or two out. Even if the pollster had everyone's first, second, and third choices, expecting the pollsters to do the math, remove the third place finishers, etc. is asking too much. Just getting head-to-head races right is difficult enough.

R.T. in Arlington, TX, asks: Who funds the polls that come out of colleges and universities? Even student employees aren't free, so where is the money coming from? How do polling colleges maintain quality from election to election when grad students turn over every 2-3 years? I once worked for an engineering professor who told me "We blow something up around here every 10 years of so because we've forgotten something important that we used to know."

V & Z answer: Most universities fund research centers that focus on something highly specialized. UCLA, for example, has more than 40 of them, including the Pourdavoud Center for the Study of the Iranian World, the Staglin Music Festival Center for Brain and Behavioral Health, the California Nanosystems Institute, the Bedari Kindness Institute and the Luskin Center for History and Policy. As you can probably infer from these names, often some/much/all of the money is kicked in by outside donors. And the purpose of these centers, beyond contributing to the corpus of human knowledge, is to give the universities a "brand" and some valuable PR.

The universities that have gotten into the polling game are no different. They generally fund their polling operations as research centers, under the guidance of one or more faculty members, who might remain as chair or director for years or decades. For example, the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute is managed by director Doug Schwartz, and has a budget of $2 million a year. This is a bargain; nobody outside of Connecticut would have ever heard of Quinnipiac if not for their polls. And Quinnipiac is very well aware of this. Normally, research centers are attached to one or more academic departments at a university. However, Quinnipiac's polling operation answers to the university's PR department.

R.K. in Mill Valley, CA, asks: I seem to remember a comment at some point about a strategy of rapidly asking a wide variety of questions, or making a similar high quantity of statements, which may or may not include lies, that makes it very hard for the responder to systematically respond to each one, before something else (immediately) comes along that derails the conversation and forces the responder to recalibrate. The responder can't get to everything in time, because the "rules" of the dialogue continuously change, which energizes (and potentially even antagonizes) the questioner, as they feel they are stumping or "owning" the responder.

Is there a phrase for this approach? It explains a lot of the dialogue and the whole concept of owning the libs, when the kitchen sink approach is used and the 'lib' only has two hands to juggle all the garbage.

V & Z answer: This is known as a Gish gallop, named in honor of Duane Gish, who frequently used the technique to "win" debates about evolution.


L.S. in Greensboro, NC, asks: I have two questions about judges. First, you've made it clear that the only way a federal judge can be removed is through impeachment, and that is highly unlikely. However, the wording of the appellate court decision makes it very clear that those judges thought that Judge Loose Cannon's decision was unsupported by the law and the facts and totally without merit. So, my first question is whether there is any way for higher Federal courts to discipline a judge who is completely off base? Maybe a stern talking to, or required training with a senior judge who actually knows the law and how the courts are supposed to act. It just seems that the higher-ups in the system would want some means to curb a judge who is an embarrassment.

The second question is this. We know that lawyers are allowed to question potential jurors to determine if they hold beliefs that make it impossible for them to be impartial. Is there any such way for lawyers to question judges? I mean, I think it might be worthwhile for a lawyer to know if a judge worships Donald Trump as a god!

V & Z answer: There is a process by which someone can file a complaint against a federal judge they deem to be guilty of misconduct (you can read about it here). If the chief judge of the circuit finds that the complaint has merit, then an investigation is ordered. Should the investigation reach an adverse finding, there are a few potential sanctions available, including a reprimand, non-assignment of new cases for some period of time (effectively a suspension), and referral to Congress for consideration of impeachment proceedings. Generally speaking, it is not easy for a judge to get in trouble for misconduct due to crummy rulings, but it's not impossible.

And allowing lawyers to question judges before a proceeding would be problematic in many ways, not the least of which is that it would encourage venue-shopping even more than already happens. So, it's not done. If a lawyer wants to know about a judge, they can look at past rulings or they can consult the grapevine. If the judge proves to be problematic once things get underway, counsel can also ask for a recusal or move for a mistrial.

D.C. in Portland, OR, asks: Can you imagine a U.S. in which political parties were banned? Is that possible within the context of a legitimate democracy?

Today, it seems political discourse is made practically impossible because of the number of people who consider themselves to be either a Republican or a Democrat. Such identification is a barrier to communication.

What would the U.S. electoral system look like without political parties?

V & Z answer: It is not plausible to ban political parties. Beyond the fact that trying to do so would violate the First Amendment, it is also the case that human beings are tribal animals. They are going to find ways to connect with like-minded interest groups, even if doing so is somehow made illegal.

And we know what happens when there are no political parties, since there basically weren't any for a decade or so in the 1810s-1820s. Politicians begin to define their loyalties in some other way, based on their home state, or their home city, or the professional group that powered their victory, or their ethnicity, or their religion, or whatever. The result is a Congress that has, in effect, dozens of political parties. This makes it almost impossible to get anything done. Also, if there are no parties, then it is virtually impossible for a presidential candidate who is not a Founding Father to claim a majority of the electoral vote. That throws it to the House of Representatives, and can leave the "winner" with something less than full legitimacy. John Quincy Adams might be able to say a few things about this, if he were still alive.


D.P. in Oakland, CA, asks: I've enjoyed your site for decades. Now I'd like to donate but I can't figure out how. I enter a dollar amount and am told to enter a valid amount.

V & Z answer: For the record, this is a real question that fortuitously arrived this week. It's not a plant.

You just hit some rare software bug. We have received many donations this year via PayPal, for which we are very grateful. The PayPal link normally works fine. However, this week we will add a way for readers to support the site om an ongoing basis if they would like to do so. We've mentioned it a few times, and the time has come to pull the trigger. So, watch for an announcement, and thanks for the support!

A.G. in Los Angeles, CA, asks: In the past few weeks the incidence of typos and outright mistakes has increased. In the past they were fixed immediately, but I still see a quote attributed to the wrong person and an elected representative whose name is incorrect. Why are the errors not being corrected and has something in the editing process changed?

V & Z answer: We're stretched a bit thin, at the best of times, and when something happens to stretch us even thinner—like, say, an illness—things fall by the wayside. We fell behind on corrections, though we're getting close to being caught up. And, as noted above, we're going to make it easier for readers to support the site financially. One thing that will allow us to do is enlist some help with tasks like error correction, where our personal labor is not necessarily required.

M.V. in San Francisco, CA, asks: You characterized House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) platform like this:

  • Fight inflation
  • Strengthen Social Security and Medicare
  • Repeal the Democrats' bill to reduce drug prices for seniors
  • Deal with the voting crisis, basically by making it harder to vote

Huh? The page linked to has the following:

  • Uphold free speech
  • Protect the lives of unborn children and their mothers
  • Guarantee religious freedom
  • Safeguard the Second Amendment

These are completely different things. If this is a crass error or a deliberate "creative" write-up, (V) is either incompetent (hard to believe) or a propagandist no different from Tucker Carlson.

If the site makes errors like these, it makes it hard to take it seriously as a factual-based one, and makes me think I should stop reading it.

V & Z answer: Our list was a summation of the news story we linked to. The text of that story includes the following passages:

  • "The GOP document promises to 'fight inflation and curb the cost of living.'"

  • "The platform also promises to 'save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare.'"

  • "It also criticizes a provision in Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act that cut the price of some prescription drugs for Medicare patients."

  • "A section on elections and voting rights nods to former President Donald Trump's election lies by stating that there is a 'crisis among voters who have lost faith in our elections. It then promises to enact new restrictions on voter access including mandating voter ID, loosening rules on voter roll purges and increasing access for observers during elections."

You will note that these passages, which are presented here in the order they appear in the linked article, correspond exactly with the list we published.

What you are referring to, by contrast, is an illustration that appeared within the article. We decided that the text written by the author was more likely to be on target than a screen capture that was accidentally posted to McCarthy's website. This is a justifiable choice.

We will agree with you about one thing. If you've read this site for more than 2 minutes, and concluded that we're no different than Tucker Carlson, then this might not be the site for you.

N.G. in New Orleans, LA, asks: I have been a visitor to your website since John Kerry ran for president in 2004 and I was in college. This is not meant to be a critique. Rather, it is to express my fatigue with Donald Trump. I know you guys pass along news articles/items because they are making headlines. That said, Trump is always in the news for something. I grow tired of hearing about him and his cronies. Do you guys not get tired or fatigue with writing about Trump and his many issues?

These days, when I visit your website and see all the Trump filled headlines I do not bother stick around to read anything. It is simply too much of that attention-seeking man. From a loyal reader (and I am sure am not the only one who is likely to be asking this): Is there any chance o you guys could limit your Trump "news"to one article per day? Or create your own non-Trump day? Trump is just superfluous at this time.

I am sure you guys have plenty of other materials to cover than Trump. Please give us readers a break and focus on anything but Trump.

V & Z answer: We have made no secret of the fact that we would be thrilled if we never had to write about Donald Trump again. But our raison d'être is politics, especially presidential politics, and he's a factor whether we like it or not. We also know from the mailbag that when there is news about him, many readers who share our wish that he would go away nonetheless want to know what our thoughts are about this court case or that argument with [prominent Republican X].

All we can tell you is that we think long and hard about every Trump item before we include it. And there are a lot of Trump news stories that we don't cover because they are just "Can you believe what he said?" stuff, and not relevant to anything.

M.M. in San Diego, CA, asks: Why is there a horizontal line running through Oklahoma on your map?

V & Z answer: Because there are two U.S. Senate elections this year, one a regular election and one a special election to fill the seat being left vacant by the resignation of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). If you mouse over or click on either half, you get information about that race. A slightly confusing aspect is that Mrs. Horn is the Democrat in both races. Only they are two different people: Kendra Horn and Madison Horn.

C.P. in Silver Spring, MD, asks: Since (Z) mentioned his familiarity with Just Dance 2, I have to ask, do either of you gentlemen play many video games? If so what's one game you really enjoy?

V & Z answer: (V) isn't really a gamer, but (Z) is. And his favorite is the Civilization series; he's logged at least 1,000 hours with each of the six titles in that series.

(Z) was once a big fan of console games, and aspires to be again. However, they have largely grown too complicated relative to the amount of time he has available to play. He very much enjoyed Red Dead Redemption, for example, but barely played the sequel because it was just too difficult to retain memory of the correct controls and of the overall storyline when only playing an hour here and an hour there, and sometimes going a couple of weeks without playing at all.

Answer to the above question: Theodore Roosevelt is the only known tattooed president; he had a family crest on his chest. There are two other presidents rumored to have had tattoos. Andrew Jackson supposedly had one of a tomahawk on his thigh; this is definitely the kind of thing he'd do, but it's also the kind of rumor his enemies would have spread about him. And James K. Polk reportedly had a tattoo of a Chinese character somewhere on his person. There's also a pretty good chance that at least one of the presidents who served in World War II had a tattoo, since all of them except Ronald Reagan were Navy men, and there are certain naval customs involving getting tattoos (for example, sailors often get a tattoo to commemorate having crossed the equator). However, none of the World War II presidents ever admitted to having a tattoo, and nobody who might have seen those hypothetical tattoos ever said anything.

Today's Senate Polls

Arizona is looking increasing like a lost cause for the Republicans, which will make it even less likely that anyone will pour money into Blake Master's campaign. And if he goes down, it is very possible that the Democrats sweep the governorship and probably the Secretary of State office. Ohio, however, is a tossup.

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Mark Kelly* 50% Blake Masters 42% Sep 08 Sep 15 Fabrizio + Anzalone
Ohio Tim Ryan 48% J.D. Vance 45% Sep 12 Sep 15 Baldwin Wallace U.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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Sep20 The Pandemic Is Over?
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Sep20 Dearie Is No Loose Cannon
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Sep19 DeSantis' Move Is Working Perfectly So Far, But It Could Yet Backfire
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Sep18 Sunday Mailbag
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Sep17 Saturday Q&A
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Sep16 One, Two, Three Strikes--You're Out!