Biden 220
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Trump 318
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Dem 51
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GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (134)
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270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2020 2016 2012
New polls: VA
the Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020: AZ GA ME NV NH PA VA WI
Political Wire logo Presidential Race Remains Essentially Tied
Where’s the Party?
Trump Allies Loved Biden’s Press Conference
Ex-Obama and Clinton Aides Plot to Push Biden Out
The Night Biden Lost George Clooney’s Support
Is Kamala Harris a Stronger Candidate Than Biden?

Progressive House Democrats Are Backing Biden

The mess around who will be the Democratic nominee for president is ongoing, with contradictory signs abounding. Some things work for Joe Biden continuing and some work against him. One thing that works for him is the clock. The longer he can hang on, the better for him. The Democrats really can't replace him the day before the convention. That would be an unmitigated disaster. If he survives the next 2 weeks, he's probably safe. Biden is a little bit like a sports team with a small lead and the clock is ticking. He is just running out the clock.

One thing working in Biden's favor (but which nobody will say out loud) is that many Democrats believe if he is replaced by Kamala Harris, the ticket will lose droves of older working-class white men who have no interest whatsoever in a Black woman as president. But if he is replaced by someone other than Harris, Black women will be furious. There is no Plan B. "Someone Else" was born in Toronto 33 years ago and is not eligible.

On the other hand, progressives are sticking with Biden, not sticking it to Biden. It's interesting now because, in the past, progressives have been critical of him for not pushing harder for change. Now some of the members of the House who have been his biggest critics on Middle East policy are his strongest supporters. Rep. Ilhan Omar (DFL-MN), not exactly a big fan of Israel, said: "He's been the best president of my lifetime and we have his back." And Barack Obama was definitely president in her lifetime. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said: "The matter is closed. He is in this race and I support him." Other Squad members, including Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Greg Casar (D-TX), are also strongly supportive of Biden. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said Biden is one of the most progressive presidents since FDR.

All of these progressives point to the fact that Biden has actually gotten a lot done, maybe on account of his bipartisanship. He got an infrastructure bill through; he got Medicare permission to negotiate drug prices; he appointed Lina Khan, a consumer advocate, to lead the Federal Trade Commission; they like his support for Julie Su as acting secretary of labor, and much more. All of a sudden, the guy they were lukewarm about has become their hero. They are not demanding that he step aside for a more progressive ticket. It's the moderates, like Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), who are wetting their pants, not the progressives.

New among the pants-wetters is actor George Clooney. Yesterday, he asked Biden to drop out in an op-ed in—wait for it—The New York Times. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is urging Biden to make a decision soon. Of course, he has said 100 times that he is staying in and Pelosi has surely heard it, but this could be her way of politely suggesting to him that it's over. Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT) said that an "uphill race" has become an "up-mountain" race.

Biden probably won't listen to them, but he might listen to his campaign finance manager. The problem is that donations are drying up. The July haul looks to be less than half the June haul. The donors don't think he can win and don't want to waste their money on him. That sends a strong message. And donors are the most loyal, diehard Democrats. (V)

Could the Republican Convention Help Biden?

Usually, a national convention helps the person nominated there. This year might be different. The Republican National Convention could actually help Joe Biden more than it helps Donald Trump. Trump will be preaching to the choir and is likely to throw lots of red meat to the base. This won't get him any new voters and might alienate moderate Republicans watching. If, however, he moderates himself—for example, by emphasizing that abortion should be up to the states, that could infuriate some abortion hard liners who decide to stay home, to "teach the Republicans a lesson." Progressives try to "teach the Democrats a lesson" all the time. Two can play this game.

But whatever, the national spotlight will be on Trump and his veep all week. It won't be on Democrats telling Biden to drop out. Those stories will be pushed far into the background. It may be hard to restart them in 2 weeks, with the Democratic National Convention so close.

When Trump announces his plans for a second term, Democrats will have an easy target, explaining why those plans would be a disaster for the country. That would be too good an opportunity to miss. It would be political malpractice for Democrats to be attacking Biden as weak when Trump was busy saying things they abhor and possibly touting a running mate Trumpier than Trump, if it is Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH). All their fire next week will be aimed at Trump and Biden could join in, making him look strong rather than weak. Going back to attacking him a week later would be very difficult. If Biden survives until the week after the Republican convention, he's probably safe.

That said, Biden is definitely risking his legacy by being so stubborn. If he were to drop out now, no matter who was nominated and who won, his legacy would be: "He put the country above his personal interest. A true patriot." If he stays in and Trump wins, a lot of backseat drivers (and history book writers) are going to be saying: "The signs were so clear. He was behind in all the polls. He botched the debate. He made a half-baked attempt to recover. Much of his party wanted him out. Donations dried up. How could he have been so blind?" It's a huge gamble. (V)

Biden Is in Deep Trouble with Black, Latino, and Young Voters

The Cook Political Report has an article out entitled: "Trump's current numbers among Black and Latino voters are incompatible with any plausible Democratic victory scenario." Cook and his colleague, David Wasserman, are long-time observers of politics and generally call it like it is.

Here's the problem: Democrats don't do well with white voters, and especially with white men. They have to make that up with nonwhite voters to win. Sometimes they can and have done so. It is not impossible by any means. The final pre-election polls in 2020 had Biden ahead of Trump 84% to 9% among Black voters. The exit polls showed Biden winning among these voters 87% to 12%, which just says the undecided Black voters split evenly. Currently, Biden is leading among Black voters 71% to 21%. This is a huge change since 2020 and is much of the reason Biden is doing so poorly in the national polls and the polls of the more diverse swing states.

Now on to Latino voters. The final preelection polls in 2020 had Biden ahead with Latinos 58% to 32%. The exit polls showed that he did slightly better than that, 65% to 32%. Current polls have Biden leading among Latinos by the shockingly low 48% to 31%. This is also huge.

Next up are young voters. The 2020 pre-election polls had Biden leading Trump 60% to 31% among 18-34-year-old voters. The exit polls for 18-29-year olds was 50% to 40%. Part of that is the slightly different age ranges, but both are substantial leads. Now the polling average among 18-to-29-year-olds has Biden ahead by only 5 points, 46% to 41%.

There is some overlap, of course, since young Latino and Black voters cannot be double counted. Still, this shows serious weakness with groups Biden must absolutely win by very large margins to offset his expected loss with middle-aged white voters.

One small bright light is that Biden is doing better than usual with older voters. Republicans usually win this cohort by large margins, but Biden is trailing Trump only by 46% to 48% now.

It is not clear how Biden can reset himself with these groups with so little time left. He does have a few weapons, though. One of them is Kamala Harris. She can be sent out to talk to Black groups large and small and make her case. She can go to Black churches and, in the fall, HBCUs, and other groups trying to get everyone to vote. She can also talk about abortion day and night to almost any group of young voters. Television and online ads can harp on the near-certainty that if the Republicans get the trifecta they are likely to abolish the filibuster and ban abortion nationally. Then they will start working on banning contraception. That will certainly boost turnout among women and young voters. There are other things the campaign can do, but it has a lot of work to do. (V)

The RNC Is Already Filing Frivolous Lawsuits to Interfere with the Election

The RNC, which is now a de facto wholly owned subsidiary of Donald Trump's campaign, is pulling out all the stops to win this one. One front is the judiciary. Since Lara Trump took over as vice chair, the RNC has greatly expanded its program of filing preemptive lawsuits hither and yon.

For example, in Arizona, Michigan, and Nevada, the RNC is suing to force local officials to remove voters from the rolls—despite federal law limiting such actions in the months before an election (when there is no time left for due process to play out). It is also suing to prevent absentee ballots that arrive after Election Day from being counted, even in states where state law clearly states that ballots postmarked before or on Election Day must be counted if they arrive within some period of time after Election Day, typically 3-7 days. These are frivolous lawsuits that the RNC will surely lose because the laws are clear. But the goal isn't to win. It is to convince the public that elections are rigged, so that if Trump loses and claims that the election was fixed against him, his supporters will easily believe it (and possibly riot again).

One of the reasons Trump wanted to remove Ronna Romney McDaniel was her refusal to waste RNC money on pointless lawsuits simply to prime the public not to accept the election results. She wanted to spend the money running ads for Republican candidates, not throwing it away on lawsuits she knew had no chance. RNC Co-chair Lara Trump thinks differently about this and notes that there are currently over 90 lawsuits in progress about "election integrity," which is a euphemism for making it harder (or impossible) for some people to vote. The party platform approved Monday had a plank about election rules. It calls for voter ID everywhere, paper ballots, proof of citizenship and voting only in person on Election Day. All of these are areas where Donald Trump has falsely claimed there is fraud. The lawsuits always fail because they can't prove that which is not true. There is hardly any election fraud.

Another thing the RNC is doing is trying to delegitimize Democratic election officials in swing states. Many of the secretaries of state in the swing states are elected Democrats, so the RNC is attacking them for rigging the elections. Of course, they can't show a whit of proof because there isn't any. But, again, the goal is to convince its voters that the election process is fixed.

Still another battleground is the presence or absence of a date on the envelope absentee ballots use. There is no valid reason for asking the voter to fill in a date. If it postmarked before or on Election Day, that is sufficient evidence the vote was before or on Election Day. The voter's date is irrelevant. Some voters forget to put in the date, and the RNC wants those ballots thrown out, even though the date is pointless.

The Biden campaign is fully aware of all this. A campaign spokesman, Charles Lutvak, said: "Every MAGA Republican lawsuit taking aim at our right to vote looks like another brick in the foundation of their efforts to try to steal this election when they lose in November." (V)

The Debate Didn't Change the Electoral Vote Map Much

It has been 2 weeks since the debate now. The dust has mostly settled. Did it change anything? Well, there have been lots of national polls, but here we track the electoral vote, not the national polls. If you click on the link Electoral-vote graphs to the left of the map, you see the time series for the electoral vote scores on a daily basis for elections going back to 2004. This one doesn't look so rosy for Biden at the moment, but what about the debate? Did he crash after it? Here is the top graph from that page:

Electoral votes over time for all states

This graph shows the electoral votes from every state, even those states where it is a statistical tie. If a candidate is ahead 46% to 45%, he gets the electoral votes for the state.

The second graph of the page counts only those states where the difference is at least 5 points, that is, outside the margin of error. 46% to 45% tells us nothing (besides it is close), but 46% to 41% means one of the candidates is really ahead. Here is that graph.

Electoral votes over time but only for states outside the margin of error

This one gives a different picture. While Trump is ahead, neither candidate has been consistently at or above 270 for more than a couple of days. Since the close states could go either way, the election is far from over.

Getting back to our point about the debate, it doesn't seem to have had an enormous effect. In the top graph, Trump had 306 EVs the day of the debate. Yesterday he had 305, but with today's new Virginia poll he has 318, thus up slightly. In the lower graph (where statistical ties are omitted), Trump had 240 EVs on June 27 and now has 233 EVs. Of course, being ahead by 1 point in Wisconsin now is better than being behind by 1 point on June 27, even though both are statistical ties. All in all, it doesn't seem that the debate changed a lot. Here you can see the June 27 map and today's map side by side. Comparison of June 27 and July 11 maps (V)

Is New York in Play?

Joe Biden's weakness is showing up in all the swing states, but also in states that are not supposed to be swing states—like New York. Four years ago, Biden won the Empire State by 23 points. Recent polls put him only 8 points ahead. That would be fine in, say, Minnesota or Virginia, but it is not fine for him in New York. It is not like there is any danger of Biden losing New York, but there are nine House races in the state that could determine control of the House. A weak top of the ticket with no coattails could cost the Democrats the House. Here are the nine races, sorted by PVI and color coded by the incumbent's party:

District PVI Incumbent
NY-11 R+6 Nicole Malliotakis (R)
NY-01 R+3 Nick LaLota (R)
NY-02 R+3 Andrew Garbarino (R)
NY-17 D+3 Mike Lawler (R)
NY-19 EVEN Marc Molinaro (R)
NY-18 D+1 Pat Ryan (D)
NY-22 D+1 Brandon Williams (R)
NY-03 D+2 Tom Suozzi (D)
NY-04 D+5 Anthony D'Esposito (R)

As you can see, Democrats could potentially pick up as many as seven House seats if they run the tables in New York in the competitive districts. Biden +8 won't do it, though. He has to do better. Maybe he has to campaign there, but that takes time away from campaigning in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, not to mention Arizona, which might be winnable on account of Rep. Ruben Gallego's (D-AZ) coattails and the toxic Republican candidate, Kari Lake. As an aside, the Trump campaign recently said that they believe these are the only four real swing states. They think they have Nevada, Georgia, and North Carolina locked up. (V)

What Happened When the Democrats Changed Horses Midstream in the Past?

There aren't any examples of either party changing its presidential candidate this late in the game, but there are two examples of swapping out a Senate candidate this late. How did that go?

  • New Jersey, 2002: The Democratic Senate nominee in New Jersey in 2002 was incumbent Bob Torricelli. He was corrupt. He was Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)-level corrupt. He had endured a federal investigation involving a donor, David Chang, who showered Torricelli with luxury gifts and cash. The feds were not 100% sure they could prove their case and declined to indict Torricelli. The Senate Ethics Committee sprung into action and admonished Torricelli. By September, the Republican nominee, Doug Forrester, had drawn even with him—in New Jersey.

    In the last week of September, there was an early Octoberish Surprise. A court ordered the feds to release a memo that said there was plenty of evidence showing that Torricelli had taken bribes from Chang. This led to Forrester taking a 13-point lead over Torricelli. The Democrats had a single-seat majority in the Senate and a loss in New Jersey would have blown it. Party leaders sat on Torricelli until he yelled uncle. He dropped out on Sept. 30.

    With just 5 weeks to go, what could the Democrats do? They convinced former three-term Democratic senator Frank Lautenberg, who had retired in 2001, to go for one last hurrah. The Republicans screamed but the state Supreme Court allowed the swap. It turns out that voters were furious with the corrupt Torricelli, but not with the Democratic Party. Lautenberg crushed Forrester, was reelected in 2008 and served most of one more term, then died in 2013.

  • Minnesota, 2002: On Oct. 25, 2002, just days before the election, Sen. Paul Wellstone (DFL-MN), who was a folk hero to progressives, died in a plane crash along with his wife, daughter, and five others. Again, control of the Senate was at stake. Democrats had to find a new candidate within, say, 24 hours or so. They asked Walter Mondale, Jimmy Carter's veep and by then an elder statesman who was well known in the state, to run. He refused to say whether he was in until after Wellstone's memorial service on Oct. 29.

    The service was held and 20,000 people showed up. It got political fast, and some speakers urged everyone to vote Democratic to continue Wellstone's legacy. Some people didn't like that. The independent governor, Jesse Ventura, walked out to protest the political tone. Mondale did jump in, but Republican Norm Coleman won by 2 points.

So it was a split decision. In one case, the new candidate pulled it off, but in the other, he didn't. Maybe it was the timing. Who knows? Would Kamala Harris or someone else do better than Joe Biden? The polls now don't mean much. No one knows. (V)

What Will Tanya Chutkan Do?

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that presidents are sort of like kings, Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is handling the Jan. 6 case, has some tough calls ahead. The Court ruled that presidents are completely immune for acts where the president's power is spelled out specifically in the Constitution. Thus a president who solicits and accepts bribes in exchange for pardons is apparently completely safe. For private crimes, unrelated to their official duties, such as shooting his annoying brother-in-law, a president can be prosecuted after he leaves office.

For official acts not listed in the Constitution, a president is presumptively immune, but prosecutors can overcome that immunity if they can show it would not result in intrusions on the Executive Branch. Chutkan now has to decide which of the 1/6-related charges against Donald Trump fall in which category.

Trump is charged with trying to overturn the election in multiple ways. If Chutkan rules any of these out of bounds, Special Counsel Jack Smith would have to modify the indictment accordingly. Here is a list of the ways Trump tried to overturn the election:

  • Strong-arming the DoJ: Trump asked acting AG Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, to state that the election had been tainted by fraud. That would have given Trump cover to tell Congress the count was rigged. Both refused. Trump wanted to replace Rosen with Jeffrey Clark, who was willing to do Trump's bidding. The Supreme Court ruled that as head of the Executive Branch, Trump was free to talk to any Executive Branch official and replace any one he chose to replace. This charge will have to go.

  • Pressuring Mike Pence: Trump tried to get President of the Senate Mike Pence to throw out some electoral votes. This is less clear because, according to the Constitution, when the vice president is acting as President of the Senate, he is not carrying out an executive branch function. Also, the president plays no role whatsoever in counting the electoral votes, so interfering with the process can't be considered an official duty. Chutkan could allow this charge to stand, but her decision would be sure to be appealed.

  • The fake electors scheme: Trump has claimed that calling state election officials, like Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and state legislators was part of his ensuring that the laws are faithfully executed. It's possible, except that his job is enforcing federal laws, not state laws. To the extent that Trump can be tied to the fake electors scheme directly, that is certainly not part of the job description, but Trump will try to argue that he didn't even know about it. Ken Chesebro might testify otherwise though.

  • Riling up the Crowd on Jan. 6: Did Trump address the crowd on Jan. 6 in his capacity as president or as a presidential candidate? In the former case, he might be immune. In the latter, probably not.

Chutkan could hold hearings in August if she wishes, to have each side present its case on each charge. That could be quite damaging to Trump, so his lawyers will probably argue that each side should submit briefs by, say, Nov. 6, and then she should read them and make a decision based on them. It's her call how to proceed. (V)

Judge May Throw Out Giuliani's Bankruptcy Case

Federal Judge Sean Lane held a hearing yesterday in the case that Rudy Giuliani brought asking for bankruptcy protection. The judge said "the difficulties that we've encountered in this case in terms of transparency will continue and dog the case." What he means is that he is tired of Giuliani stalling and refusing to obey his direct orders, such as presenting a complete list of all his assets and liabilities. Many of them are sheltered in a series of LLCs owned by other LLCs.

Lane has said he will issue a ruling by tomorrow. That almost certainly means he has made up his mind and probably already has the ruling in Microsoft Word ready to go and merely needs to click on "Print." If Lane dismisses the case, Giuliani would be required to immediately liquidate his assets and use the proceeds to start paying his creditors, including the two Georgia election workers who won a $148 million judgment against him. If Giuliani refuses, Lane could appoint a trustee to do it for him. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Joe Biden won Virginia 54.1% to 44.0% in 2020. Now he is down 3 points there. That is a 13-point drop. If Virginia is competitive, Biden has a very, very severe problem.

State Joe Biden Donald Trump Start End Pollster
Virginia 44% 47% Jul 06 Jul 10 SoCal Research

As an aside, in our (near-)daily listing of the new state polls, the state name is always in blue and hyperlinked to the time series for the polls for that state this year. To save you one click, here it is for Virginia. Tomorrow, clicking is up to you. If you want to see graphs of all states on one page, use the Graphs of all polls link on the menu to the left of the map. (V)

Virginia polls
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
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