Biden 303
image description
Trump 235
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description
  • Strongly Dem (208)
  • Likely Dem (18)
  • Barely Dem (77)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (46)
  • Likely GOP (63)
  • Strongly GOP (126)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2019 2015 2011
New polls: (None)
the Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020: (None)
Political Wire logo The View from Inside the Room
Herschel Walker Mum on Campaign Finances
Jamie Raskin’s Senate Decision Isn’t Easy
U.S. Sends Abrams Tanks to Train Ukrainians
Democrats Fracture Over Immigration
Sununu Leaning Towards Presidential Bid

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Lucky Number 13 for "George Santos"
      •  Trump Goes to Town on CNN
      •  Interesting Information about "Juror No. 77"
      •  GOP Launches Latest Smear Campaign against Biden
      •  Tuberville's Staff Clarifies His Comments on White Nationalists

Lucky Number 13 for "George Santos"

Rep. "George Santos" (R-NY) appeared in court yesterday, as expected. He entered a plea of "not guilty" and posted $500,000 bail. His indictment was also unsealed; you can read it here, if you wish.

Santos is charged with 13 separate criminal acts, including wire fraud, money laundering and theft of public funds. Too bad it's boring, garden-variety stuff, because readers wrote in with a bunch of much more interesting guesses. Here are some of those, starting with the two we got at least a dozen times:

  • C.K. (and friends) in Santa Fe, NM: Obviously, the feds finally cracked the case of D.B. Cooper.
  • S.S. in West Hollywood, CA: Jimmy Hoffa. 'Nuff said.
  • S.K. in Sunnyvale, CA: The original decision to use excessively-large 8-space indentation in the Linux kernel codebase.
  • T.B. in Richardson, TX: He shot his old lady—caught her messin' round with another man.
  • J.P. in Horsham, PA: "Santos" must have shot the sheriff (but he did not shoot the deputy).
  • E.P. in Tillson, NY: He let the dogs out! Woof-woof-woof-woof!
  • J.K. in Albany, OR: He talked about Fight Club.
  • E.W. in Wauwatosa, WI: Is his unexplained presence on the USS Maine on a certain night in Havana finally coming under the microscope?
  • C. the Cat in Danby, NY: Stepping on my tail while stealing my breakfast.
  • K.E. in Chicago, IL: He framed Roger Rabbit.
  • B.B. in Buda, TX: He stole Christmas, that grinch.
  • T.R. in Hillsborough, NC: "Santos" changed enough votes (in every state) to give Biden the presidency.
  • A.W. in Keyser, WV: I think the charges will reveal that "George Santos" is actually the Zodiac Killer, Ted Cruz.
  • A.G. in Plano, TX: Wearing white after Labor Day? Ordering red wine with fish?
  • J.C. in Mullinsville, KS: Performing drag in Tennessee.
  • M.M. in Plano, TX: I will not make a charge against George Santos because he has been my friend for twelve decades. I was with him when he raised the American flag on Iwo Jima and the Soviet flag over the Reichstag, simultaneously. I had the honor of welcoming him when he returned from the Apollo XXXVIII mission. This was the longest Apollo mission because of a detour to Jupiter so that George could visit his parents.

In our insta-poll, about 2% of respondents had "Santos" lasting less than a week. On the other end, nearly 30% think he will make it through his entire term. The average guess is that he has just under 280 days left before he exits, stage right. If correct, that would have him leaving office on... Valentine's Day of next year. Really. Isn't it romantic?

In any event, one day in the not-too-distant future, Santos is toast. Recall that the feds don't file charges unless they believe they have an overwhelming chance of success. And not only did they file charges here, they filed a baker's dozen of them. Oh, and it's the sorts of things that leave lots of nice, juicy paper trails. Fortunately for "Santos," he's used to hard time, after sitting all those years in the Bastille wearing that uncomfortable iron mask.

When Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he was taking a wait-and-see approach, and he'd decide what his opinion is once he sees the charges, we were rather skeptical that he would actually back "Santos'" ouster. And whaddya know, the Speaker says he thinks "Santos" should keep his job. McCarthy did, however, announce that he will not support "Santos'" reelection bid. That is very bold leadership, Mr. Speaker. In other news, McCarthy also announced he will not be backing Captain Ahab vs. Moby Dick, the New Jersey Generals vs. the Harlem Globetrotters, or Shazam! Fury of the Gods for this year's Best Picture Oscar.

The basic problem is that McCarthy, whatever his other strengths or weaknesses might be, knows how to count. "Santos" was, quite literally, the deciding vote that got the debt-ceiling bill over the line. The Speaker will need every vote he can get for future budget stuff, an anti-China bill his conference is working on, and a couple of immigration bills that are in progress, at the very least.

That said, many Republicans are weary of this story sucking up all the oxygen, and they think that if "Santos" isn't going to survive anyhow, it's best to put as much distance as possible between his exit and next year's elections. It's certainly within the realm of possibility that McCarthy keeps "Santos" around for another month or two and then, once the debt-ceiling mess is past and all the show bills have made their way through the House, he cuts bait. (Z)

Trump Goes to Town on CNN

When CNN announced that it had arranged to host a town hall for Donald Trump, we weren't quite sure what to think. On one hand, this business of "Republicans go on Fox and OAN and Democrats go on CNN and MSNBC" is not great for democracy and for breaking down people's bubbles. On the other hand, we're a little leery of CNN's tendency to perform "balance," and we also don't know what on earth Donald Trump might plausibly say that everyone hasn't heard a thousand times before.

Now that it's happened, however, we've reached our conclusion: Badly done, CNN. The former president was, of course, the same old Trump. He bullied host/moderator Kaitlan Collins. He told baldfaced, easily disprovable lies, like that he never called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and demanded Raffensperger find 11,780 votes (Pro tip, Donald: There's an audio recording of the call). He raged against anyone and everyone, with E. Jean Carroll the favorite target. And even when he deigned to answer questions, he gave answers that you could have predicted with 100% certainty, For example, when asked if he would accept the results of the 2024 election, he said he would only do so if he believed it to be an "honest" election. Since the only honest election, in his mind, is one that Donald Trump wins, then it means he'll only accept the results if he comes out on top. This is something we all knew long before last night.

All of this said, our criticism of CNN is not based merely on the fact that the event was a blend of "useless" and "fiasco." No, it's mostly based on the fact that the network made what are, in our view, three unacceptable choices. Choices problematic enough that we would consider them to be breaches of journalistic ethics. The first of these was choosing Collins as the moderator. The reason given was that she covered the Trump White House, and so he is "familiar" with her. But what it really looks like is that CNN is about to, in effect, give Collins the slot that Don Lemon vacated, and they wanted to get potential viewers interested in her show. What the network should have done is send their toughest bulldog in there, someone who can go toe-to-toe with Trump. And, truth be told, that probably means a male moderator (John King?) since The Donald is such a misogynist and CNN doesn't have that many on-air women staffers. That said, there's no rule that CNN has to use someone on its payroll for an event like this. Katie Couric could handle him, we think, and so could Meredith Vieira.

The second unacceptable choice was the timing of the event. CNN may not have known for sure it would be the day after the Carroll verdict came down, but they knew it would be in the vicinity, and that there was every chance that it would work out something like this. It's inexcusable to give Trump such a big platform to air his grievances, especially since Carroll has taken enough abuse. The network should have put at least a week between the verdict and the appearance, even if that meant rescheduling at the last minute. Of course, CNN does not want to do that. They undoubtedly chose this timing in hopes that it would work out like this, and that ratings would be goosed by people tuning in to see Trump's reaction to being found liable for sexual assault and defamation.

The third, and final, unacceptable choice is that, apparently in order to lure Trump in, CNN agreed to extremely Trump-favorable conditions. At very least, the audience was made up entirely of Republicans and "undecided" voters—no Democrats. He couldn't have a better home-field advantage if they had held it at Mar-a-Lago. It's very likely that other boons were granted; Trump might well have had veto power over the choice of host, and he may well have insisted that the event happen in close proximity to the Carroll verdict.

In short, in search of ratings, publicity and "balance," CNN effectively made itself into a cog in the Trump propaganda machine. Perhaps unwittingly; if so, we believe the term is "useful idiot(s)."

Once we had formed and written down our impressions, we took a look at what others were saying, and found that... there are a lot of commenters out there who agree with us. A selection:

  • The Lincoln Project: "Tonight's disaster must be a lesson that every other news organization on earth must learn: DO NOT NORMALIZE DONALD TRUMP. CNN gave Trump 90 minutes of uninterrupted air time to rewrite history and reset his own narrative. If democracy is to survive, then the media cannot follow CNN down the rabbit hole and treat Donald Trump like a ratings booster."

  • Justin Peters, Slate: "[Trump] also happens to be the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and that fact was all it took for CNN to ignore literally everything else and give Trump a full hour live Wednesday night as part of a breathtakingly ill-conceived "town hall" with New Hampshire voters. The discussion, moderated poorly by CNN's Kaitlan Collins, was simultaneously a triggering flashback to the bad old days of Trump's presidency, a frustrating preview of what we can likely expect over the next eighteen months, and a conclusive repudiation of CNN CEO Chris Licht's doomed plan to restore the network's fortunes by tacking to the imagined middle."

  • Oliver Darcy, CNN: "It's hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening... It felt like 2016 all over again. It was Trump's unhinged social media feed brought to life on stage. And Collins was put in an uncomfortable position, given the town hall was conducted in front of a Republican audience that applauded Trump, giving a sense of unintended endorsement to his shameful antics."

  • Prem Thakker, The New Republic: "Despite CNN's Kaitlin Collins valiant effort with the conditions she was given, the fundamental structure of the night was not complementary to what anyone might imagine "good journalism" looking like. The network gave Trump a friendly audience of voters who seemed to largely agree with him on most things; seldom a "battleground of ideas," the night's only challenges came from Collins. But Trump sprayed lie after lie after lie, which is difficult for anyone to fact-check in real time."

  • Niall Stanage, The Hill: "Trump did not so much win the event as CNN lost it—catastrophically.

    "Not all of the blame can be placed on Collins, though there were clearly moments when she could have pushed back faster or more strongly.

    "A far bigger problem was a decision, presumably taken by producers, to have a live audience 'made up of Republicans and undeclared voters who tend to take part in New Hampshire's Republican primary,' as Collins put it in her introductory remarks.

    "What that meant was an audience loudly supportive of Trump at every turn—and plainly disdainful of Collins."

  • Amanda Carpenter, The Bulwark: "What the town hall really revealed is how committed the establishment media and the Republican party are to normalizing a political leader who has provably glorified violence against our American institutions and his political opposition. Even with all the fact-checks and critical analysis surrounding the event, what was laid bare is that even a former president under criminal investigation, one who just one day earlier was held liable for a sexual attack and defamation, will still be treated like any other popular candidate...

    "CNN wanted a show. And they sure got one. No one should pretend it was some kind of public service."

We also took a look at the mailbag, and found that frequent commenter B.C. in Walpole, ME, has weighed in: "Riddle me this: What was CNN thinking when they decided to put the world's most notorious and best-documented liar on TV with an audience filled with his supporters and a host whom he could walk over? Did they not think that his being impeached twice, being the only President to refuse to accept the results of an election, the only President to use force and violence to prevent a transfer of power to his successor, the only President credibly accused of rape by more than a dozen women, a man for whom The Washington Post logged over 30,000 lies (where by their count, if he tells a single lie 100 times, it still only counts as 1 lie, and he still clocked in at over 30,000), might be a good reason not to give him a platform to promote himself? Are they really that desperate for ratings? Or is it that they want to drive away the audience they have?"

B.C. later wrote in to add: "A bad night for Kaitlin Collins, a bad night for CNN, a bad night for the Republican Party, a bad night for America, a bad night for democracy."

Keep in mind, also, that the town hall wrapped up around 9:30 p.m. ET, so these are all insta-responses. We anticipate a veritable avalanche of pieces today observing that CNN did not clothe itself in glory last night. And meanwhile, everyone gets to start bracing themselves for "The 2016 Presidential Campaign, Vol. III: The Song Remains the Same." (Z)

Interesting Information about "Juror No. 77"

As everyone knows by now, a New York jury has affirmed that Donald Trump is a sexual predator. It is our view that the fault for that lies with one Donald John Trump. It is the view of Donald Trump that the fault for that lies with, pretty much, everyone else. He's spent the last 36 hours or so raging against everyone involved in the process, including plaintiff E. Jean Carroll, Judge Lewis Kaplan, and the "partisan" jurors who he believes should be "ashamed of themselves."

Because the trial is over, a bunch of records related to it have already been unsealed, and at least one interesting thing has turned up. Remembering that the identities of the jurors are being protected, and so names do not appear in public documents, it turns out that "Juror No. 77" is a big fan of podcaster Tim Pool. Pool is far-right, pro-Trump, and an ally of Steve Bannon.

In view of this, Carroll lawyer Roberta Kaplan tried to get Mr. 77 booted from the jury pool. Trump "lawyer" Joe Tacopina took great exception to that, and filed a brief in which he strongly objected to that move. The key quote, among several along these lines, is: "A juror's political affiliation is not grounds for dismissal, even in cases involving a political figure." Tacopina won on that motion; very possibly the last win he recorded during this whole process.

We pass this news along for two reasons. First, everyone knows it's B.S. that Trump was targeted by some sort of raving liberal, Clinton-loving, anti-MAGA jury, but now we have firm proof. At the same time, we also know that Trump knows he's full of it, and that he's just bloviating. Again, this is something that could have been inferred with great confidence, but now it's right there in black and white.

The second reason we mention this is that when we first wrote about the jury being seated, we suggested that the plaintiff had a two-juror pincushion, by virtue of New York civil law. We then updated that to a one-juror pincushion, on learning that the jury had only nine members. Both of those statements were based on NY CPLR § 4113 (2022), which says: "Disagreement by jury. (a) Unanimous verdict not required. A verdict may be rendered by not less than five-sixths of the jurors constituting a jury." Five-sixths of 12 is 10; Five-sixths of 9 is 8. Fortunately, that is basic enough math that even the staff historian can handle it, as World Cocktail Day is on Saturday.

Anyhow, based on this, particularly the part that says "Unanimous verdict not required," we concluded a unanimous verdict was not required. But we've now seen six different stories that report that a unanimous verdict was, in fact, required. We don't know why, but in any case, clearly a unanimous verdict was reached, including the Tim Pool-loving guy that Tacopina worked so hard to keep in the jury pool. The lesson here is that there are many potential jurors who are friendly to Trumpism, but there are far, far fewer who are willing to put aside the evidence and corruptly refuse to vote for the correct verdict. (Z)

GOP Launches Latest Smear Campaign against Biden

House Oversight Committee chair James Comer (R-KY) and his GOP colleagues want so very badly to dig up some really juicy dirt on Joe Biden. They have made very little progress, however, which is making Republicans antsy. And so, yesterday, Comer held a press conference in which he asserted confidently that the President had committed terrible, and very possibly impeachable, acts of malfeasance. There's only one small problem here: a total lack of proof.

The basic argument goes something like this. The Chair says he's got evidence that several members of Biden's family received millions of dollars in payments from foreign nationals, money they were only able to get thanks to their family name. Given the number of Biden family members involved (allegedly nine) and the amount of money involved (allegedly $10 million), Comer says it's impossible that the President didn't know about it.

Thus far, although he is full of big, confident claims, Comer has yet to provide even a shred of documentation that attests to his assertions about the family members. And then, proving his "the President must have known" supposition is an even bigger hill to climb. There is no evidence, thus far, that Joe Biden was aware of any of this or that it influenced his decision-making in any way. Keep in mind also that cashing in on one's prominent and well-connected name, particularly if that name is presidential (or vice-presidential), is a longstanding (if icky) part of American politics. It does not make the famous and powerful holder of that name guilty of... anything.

We might also note that on Tuesday, Donald Trump was found liable for a sexual assault and "George Santos" was indicted for what turn out to be financial crimes. If you think it's a coincidence that Comer is pounding his chest and talking up a storm on Wednesday, well, we hope you're seeking treatment for any injuries you might have suffered when you fell off that turnip truck.

What it boils down to is this: Once you've actually got something, Mr. Comer, then please do share it. Until then, shut the hell up. Oh, and if you want to use your time more productively, and engage in some oversight of a presidential family where there might be some serious fishiness going on, there is the small matter of the multiple billions the Saudis gave Jared Kushner to manage. (Z)

Tuberville's Staff Clarifies His Comments on White Nationalists

With a headline like that, whatever we might write here will surely reflect poorly on Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), right? Good, because he deserves some poor reflecting. And you don't have to take our word for it; we can let him hang himself. The Senator sat for an interview with his local NPR affiliate, and was asked: "You mentioned the Biden administration trying to prevent white nationalists from being in the military. Do you believe they should allow white nationalists in the military?" This was his reply:

Well, they call them that. I call them Americans. What happened after January the sixth—and I was here on January the sixth—we were attacked on the Senate floor. Saying all these people that came into the Capitol were extremists, they were against the country. There was a lot of people. There were probably a hundred of them that came in, broke windows and broke doors that should have been locked up. That's not how we do it in America. But there were hundreds of thousands that didn't come in, outside, that were true Americans that believe in this country. But right after that, we, our military and Secretary Austin, put out an order to stand down and all military across the country, saying we're going to run out the white nationalists, people that don't believe how we believe. And that's not how we do it in this country. We have got so much division up here that, not for the country. You know, this is not for any individual, this country. This country is for all of us. And we're all the same. It doesn't make any difference if you're rich, poor, black, white. It doesn't make any difference. Everybody's an American, has opportunity to make this country better. We've made it 247 years. But I'm going to tell you what, we're walking a tightrope right now, at how much longer this country is going to make it, as we all know it.

Nobody is going to confuse Tuberville with, say, Thomas Jefferson when it comes to talent for expressing ideas. That said, it would seem that the Senator believes we cannot be running white nationalists out of the armed forces because the country's already divided enough. Very sensible—if you want to heal the national divide, you can't be making scapegoats out of people just because they happen to believe their race is superior to the rest, right? Much better to keep them as armed, active members of a military force that is, these days, 43% non-white.

As soon as the interview aired, Tuberville's staff knew they had a problem. And so a spokesperson got on the phone with to explain what the Senator really meant: "Sen. Tuberville's quote that is cited shows that he was being skeptical of the notion that there are white nationalists in the military, not that he believes they should be in the military."

That, if we may say so, is horse crap. First of all, there was a Pentagon report in 2020 that revealed that white supremacists had made significant inroads into the U.S. Armed Forces. That would be the same 2020 where Donald Trump was still president and the Dept. of Defense was being run by Republican appointees, so this news wasn't some sort of commie socialist pinko CRT antifa wokeness. And Tuberville is certainly not in a position to know the composition of the Armed Forces better than the Pentagon is.

Second, even if Tuberville believes (without evidence) that there are no white supremacists in the military, then the answer to NPR's question is: "I don't actually believe there are white supremacists in the military." No matter how badly you bungle that sentence, it simply does not morph into: "Well, they call them that. I call them Americans." He very clearly doesn't think that being a white supremacist is a big deal; he just happened to let that slip on the wrong radio station. We'd be pretty comfortable in guessing that he appears on more... "friendly" radio programs all the time, and he just forgot that he wasn't on one of them this time.

All of this said, there's no reason to think Tuberville is going to suffer any actual damage from this. After all, the seat he occupies now belonged for 20 years to Jeff Sessions, who was also a none-too-secret bigot. What cost Sessions his job, in the end, was not his statements about minorities, it was his statements about Donald Trump. As long as Tuberville is careful not to besmirch The Donald, he'll have his job for as long as he wants it. (Z)

If you wish to contact us, please use one of these addresses. For the first two, please include your initials and city.

To download a poster about the site to hang up, please click here.

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster and Zenger
May10 Trump's a Loser
May10 "Santos" Is Indicted
May10 DeSantis unPACs
May10 She's Baaaaaack!
May10 He's Baaaaaack!
May10 Lake Is Maneuvering for a Senate Run
May09 The Daily Debt-Ceiling Drama
May09 What Is McConnell Doing?
May09 Disney Returns Fire, Yet Again, In Its Pissing Match with Ron DeSantis
May09 Wall Street Has Soured on DeSantis
May09 Rabbit Food or Junk Food?
May08 Game of Debt-Ceiling Chicken Continues
May08 A Bad Poll for Biden
May08 Biden Follows His Press Coverage, Too
May08 Trump Legal News, Part I: No Testimony in E. Jean Carroll Suit
May08 Trump Legal News, Part II: Eight Phony Electors Have Been Granted Immunity in Georgia
May08 There's an Election This Week
May05 E. Jean Carroll Case Nears Its End
May05 Carlson Toying with "Alternate Debate" Plan
May05 Today's Shady Clarence Thomas Behavior
May05 North Carolina Legislature Adopts Ban on Abortions after 12 Weeks
May05 Raffensperger to Democrats: We're Sticking with the Schedule
May05 This Week in Schadenfreude: It's a (Seditious) Conspiracy
May05 This Week in Freudenfreude: Los Angeles Super Chargers
May04 Republicans Think Yellen Is Crying Wolf
May04 Trump Legal Blotter: You Lose Some and You Lose Some
May04 Joe Biden: Guilty
May04 NYT Reveals (Allegedly) Fatal Tucker Carlson Text
May04 No Presidential Run for Youngkin?
May04 No Fourth Term for Inslee
May04 Talking About Abortion, Part II: T.C.'s Story
May03 House Democrats Unveil "Secret" Debt-Ceiling Plan
May03 Supreme Court May Be Preparing to Kill the Chevron Doctrine
May03 Make Freedom Mine?
May03 Manchin For President? Yeah, Right
May03 Hogan Makes It Official
May03 D.F. Headed back to D.C.?
May03 Tracking Poll, May 2023, Presidential Edition
May02 The Game of Debt Ceiling Chicken Just Got Real
May02 E. Jean Carroll Is Finished... And Trump Might Be, Too
May02 Let the Senatorial Games Begin, Part I: Justice for West Virginia
May02 Let the Senatorial Games Begin, Part II: Can a Blue Brown Win Again in Red Ohio
May02 Let the Senatorial Games Begin, Part III: Cardin Will Avenge the Patriotic Gore No More
May02 Let the Senatorial Games Begin, Part IV: No Left Turns in New York
May02 Let the Senatorial Games Begin, Part V: Will Cruz Cruise in Texas?
May02 Tracking Poll, May 2023, Senate Edition
May01 Incumbent Presidents Are Tough to Beat
May01 Does Biden's Age Give Him an Advantage?
May01 Welcome to 2016
May01 North Carolina Supreme Court Approves Gerrymandering