Biden 232
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Trump 306
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Click for Senate
Dem 51
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GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (134)
  • Likely Dem (61)
  • Barely Dem (37)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (71)
  • Likely GOP (134)
  • Strongly GOP (101)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2020 2016 2012
New polls: AZ FL
the Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020: AZ GA ME MI NV PA
Political Wire logo Trump Foreign Policy Advisers Met with Netanyahu
Tied in New Hampshire
Trump Shares Video Touting ‘Unified Reich’
Biden’s Fundraising Slipped Last Month
The MAGA Memory Hole
Aide Cooperating with Corruption Probe Into Eric Adams

Note: We made an error yesterday, with the result that a letter critical of the Washington Post was omitted, and a group of letters was duplicated instead. It's been fixed; if you want to read the temporarily misplaced letter, it is here.

Unhappy Birthday, Rudy

Rudy Giuliani will turn 80 on May 28, but the partying has already started. Last Friday, 200 of Giuliani's closest friends showed up at the home of GOP fundraiser and Kari Lake adviser Caroline Wren in West Palm Beach, FL, a 13-minute drive from Mar-a-Lago. It has not been reported what admission tickets cost. One small thing that might have dampened Rudy's mood is that he was recently indicted in Arizona in the fake electors scheme he helped carry out in 2020. On the other hand, he is an optimistic man and earlier in the day had posted this taunt:

Giuliani's taunt to Arizona AZ Kris Mayes

Given that West Palm Beach is 1,900 miles from Phoenix, as the crow flies (assuming the crow doesn't go off course due to heatstroke), Giuliani felt comfy and reveled with the guests as liquids flowed. After all, Giuliani has been actively and successfully trying to prevent being served for weeks. In fact, earlier in the week he said on his YouTube show that Arizona's inability to play a successful game of cat and mouse "is perfect evidence that if they're so incompetent, they can't find me, they also can't count votes correctly."

All that abruptly changed at 11 p.m. when agents working for Arizona AG Kris Mayes (D) formally served Giuliani with his indictment papers. Giuliani's spokesman, Ted Goodman, confirmed that service had occurred. Now all 18 indictees have been served and the legal process can continue.

This indictment may be one of the worst legal problems for Giuliani. He has also been indicted in Georgia, but that is a complex RICO case and Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis shot herself in the foot when she commenced a romantic relationship with the lead prosecutor. The fallout from that hasn't, well, fallen out yet. But the Arizona case is simpler and Mayes hasn't made any legal mistakes. Furthermore, she has said repeatedly that combatting interference with fair elections in Arizona is her top priority. And as all of our readers know, the president cannot pardon state crimes. Gov. Katie Hobbs (D-AZ) has the power to pardon Giuliani, but only after the Arizona Board of Pardons has first approved the pardon, which is not easy.

And in addition to criminal indictments in Arizona and Georgia, Giuliani owes two Georgia election workers $148 million and is being sued by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic USA Corp., among various others. Oh, and he is unemployed and nearly broke except for two properties he is trying to sell. (V)

Is Nevada in Play This Year?

Nevada hasn't gone for a Republican in a presidential race since George W. Bush in 2004. But this year might be different. Here is the Nevada polling from reputable pollsters so far:

Nevada polling in 2024

There have been 11 polls (from six pollsters) so far in 2024 and Donald Trump has led in all of them. His lead is not due to one fluke poll from a shady pollster with a weird sample. By way of contrast, there were 12 reputable polls of the Silver State in 2020 and Joe Biden led in every one of them. Something is going on.

Nevada is a highly diverse state with a young population and strong unions. This should be easy for Biden, but it is not. There is deep frustration in the state about housing costs, inflation, and gas prices, and guess what? The buck stops you-know-where, whether or not the problems are the fault of the guy sitting there. What makes the situation especially bad for Biden is that he is doing quite well with college-educated voters, but only 27% of Nevadans have at least a bachelor's degree, way below the national average of 38%. You don't need a degree in economics to work in a casino and you don't need a degree in anything to work at the Bunny Ranch. The state does not have any industries that would attract highly educated workers, the way, say, the Research Triangle does in North Carolina.

Another problem for Biden is that young voters, who used to be staunchly Democratic, appear to be moving toward the Republicans in general and Trump in particular. They don't have a lot of historical perspective (Fascism? What's that?) and are especially sensitive to economic issues. They are not the slightest bit interested in what Franklin D. Roosevelt did for the country 90 years ago but are very interested in how much it costs to rent an apartment right now. And that is more than it was during Trump's administration.

An additional problem for Biden is that 30% of Nevadans are Latino (vs. 19% nationally) and younger Latinos (especially men) are moving toward Trump. Some polls show Trump at 50% with Latinos; if that is true and it holds, it is game over for Biden. Some young Latino men like macho men who strut their stuff by bossing other people (especially female people) around. Biden doesn't do this, but Trump certainly does. That is a big plus with this group.

Finally, Nevada's economy is highly dependent on tourism and conventions, industries that were shut down during the pandemic and are only slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels. The unemployment rate is one of the highest of any state and wages are among the lowest.

One thing the Democrats are doing to try to bail Biden out is get an initiative on the ballot to enshrine the right to an abortion in the state Constitution. That could win over many younger voters who are otherwise meh on Biden.

If Trump wins Nevada, it will not only help him get to 270 EVs, it may also doom the reelection chances of Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and cost the Democrats control of the Senate. All in all, Nevada was not supposed to be a key battleground state, but it may well become one. (V)

Trump Wants a Third Term

The Fourteenth Amendment states that anyone who has sworn an oath to support the Constitution and then participated in an insurrection against the government may not hold federal office. The Supreme Court recently ruled that since Congress hasn't passed any enabling legislation, the actual words of the Constitution aren't good enough and can be ignored. Donald Trump apparently took note of that and has been talking about serving a third term, after finishing his second term on Jan. 20, 2029. After all, the Twenty-Second Amendment, which limits presidents to two terms, does not have any enabling legislation to back it up, and for the current Supreme Court, the actual words in the Constitution do not mean anything. This is called neo-originalism. Or something.

Is Trump serious? Probably not yet, he's said: "We are going to win 4 more years. "And then after that, we'll go for another 4 years because they spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of 4 years." Right, being spied on entitles you to an extra 4 years. But if Trump wins this year and then files to run in 2028, secretaries of state will have to decide if Trump can be on the ballot. If any of them rule "Nope. See Twenty-Second Amendment," then Trump will sue and argue before the Supreme Court that since Congress has not passed any enabling legislation, the Twenty-Second Amendment doesn't count (of course, if someone sued about the Second Amendment and its lack of enabling legislation, who knows what the Court might decide).

In any event, Trump clearly would love to be president for life, like various dictators in Africa and elsewhere. Maybe even he doesn't think he can pull it off, but his base loves the idea and especially loves him trolling the libs and getting the media all worked up. If he comes to realize Plan A isn't going to fly because this is a bridge too far, even for a friendly Supreme Court, then Plan B might be him rooting for the first woman president, President Ivanka Trump.

Of course all the talk about a third term first requires Trump to win a second term, and that is far from a done deal right now. (V)

Judge Merchan Will Soon Be on the Spot

The prosecution in Donald Trump's criminal fraud case in New York will probably rest its case today or tomorrow. The defense is not likely to introduce many witnesses, although there are millions of New Yorkers who could truthfully testify: "I have never seen Donald Trump falsify any business records in New York State." If the defense rests, then each side will get to make concluding remarks. That won't take even a day.

Then the ball will be in Judge Juan Merchan's court, possibly as early as tomorrow and likely by Friday. It will be up to him to give the jury instructions. Those instructions could be crucial in how the jury rules, especially since there are two lawyers on the panel who will completely understand the instructions and will be able to explain them to the other 10 jurors if need be. The lawyers will also be able to explain what "beyond any reasonable doubt" means.

Each side gets to propose instructions to the judge. He can use either proposal, mix and match them, or ignore both and write his own instructions from scratch. Merchan has been on the bench for 18 years. He has done this before and is fully aware that one of the grounds for an appeal is that the judge's instructions biased the jury one way or the other. He will be super careful to make sure no bias creeps into his wording. We would not be surprised if he spent this past weekend sitting at his computer at home running Microsoft Word or Apple Pages and editing and editing and editing some more, trying to get it right. He really doesn't need any input from the litigants. He knows the law and the legal issues about falsifying business records are well established. Other than the fact that a former president is on trial, the case is very mundane and there is plenty of jurisprudence about such cases.

Could Merchan blow it at the last minute? Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti said that Merchan picked a jury quickly, did a solid job of issuing unremarkable rulings during the trial, and refrained from putting Trump in jail for violating his gag order. Mariotti: "He has managed to get this almost to the finish line, and that's no small accomplishment." One conceivable issue that might serve as a basis for appeal is that early on, Merchan told prosecutors to stay away from explicit details about Trump's activities in bed with Stormy Daniels. Nevertheless, they did ask questions relating to the event itself, such as whether Trump used a condom. On the other hand, the defense didn't raise any objections in real time. Merchan later said he would have sustained them if they had, but it is not his job to tell the defense when to object. If they try to use the "condom defense" in an appeal, the prosecution will (rightly) note that if they felt this was prejudicial to the case, they could have objected, but they didn't. Complaining after the trial is over is a bit late. This week is when the rubber (sorry) hits the road. (V)

Trump: RFK Jr. Is a Fake Anti-Vaxxer

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is doing something that no other politician has been able to do: He makes Donald Trump squirm. Trump's problem is that he doesn't have a good position on vaccines. As president, he practically demanded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for starting Operation Warp Speed, in which the federal government doled out $18 billion to pharmaceutical companies to allow them to develop and distribute COVID-19 vaccine much faster than their own resources would have allowed. Pfizer and BioNTech didn't take any government money (to avoid the accompanying bureaucracy and reporting requirements), but Moderna took $2.5 billion in government money and used it to produce one of the two viable vaccines.

At the time, Trump bragged that his funding vaccine development was "one of the greatest miracles of the ages." He even complained later that he hadn't been given enough credit for avoiding another 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. He also went after the Biden administration later on, saying that all the credit for producing the vaccines that tamed the pandemic belonged to him and none to Biden.

Now that RFK Jr., a solid-gold, no-holds-barred anti-vaxxer, is starting to make inroads with the anti-vaxx crowd, nearly all of whom are Trumpers, Trump is trying to make all of his history as a vaccine champion go down the rabbit hole. He is seriously worried that Kennedy could pull votes from those supporters for whom anti-vaxness is the biggest issue in their lives.

So how does Trump pull this off? He is accusing Kennedy of being a "fake" anti-vaxxer, and implying that he is the only true anti-vaxxer in the race. But he has to tread lightly because the 20% of Republicans who keep voting for Nikki Haley in the closed primaries, months after she dropped out, are probably mostly normal Republicans and not anti-vaxxers and he can't afford to alienate them. In other words, to his anti-vaxxer supporters, he is the true anti-vaxxer but to his normie Republican supporters, he is the hero who developed the vaccine that ended the pandemic. Having it both ways is not going to be easy and will get only worse if and when the Democrats begin running ads highlighting Kennedy's anti-vaxx stances and telling people: "If you don't trust vaccines, Bobby is your man."

This is not Trump's first vaccine problem, but it keeps coming up. During the early primaries, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) ran on a record of being the biggest vaccine hater in town. Trump tried to deal with that by claiming, no, he hated vaccines more than the governor. After DeSantis was vanquished, Trump moved back to the center and was once again proud of Operation Warp Speed. Now with Kennedy biting his ankles, Trump again wants to be the anti-vaxxer-in-chief. The base will believe whatever they're fed, but college-educated Republicans, who are leaving the party in droves, won't be so easy to fool, especially if the Democrats start running ads showing Trump flip-flopping more than a just-caught fish dropped on the dock.

Kennedy doesn't threaten Biden on vaccines at all. Biden's position is simple: "I believe in science and support vaccination against all diseases for which a proven vaccine is available." Very few Democrats have a problem with that. (V)

Trump's Top Two Expenses Are Fundraising and Legal Fees

Usually politicians use their campaign contributions to, you know, campaign. They buy digital, radio, and TV ads. They open field offices and pay staff to work there. They buy and distribute lawn signs and posters. They fly from rally to rally. They spend money on registering voters and get-out-the-vote operations. They pay oppo teams. This is what Joe Biden does. But Donald Trump is not your standard politician in so many ways. One of the ways that "why is this one different from all the others" is that his top use of campaign money is for fundraising and number two is paying his legal fees. The people donating their last $10 to his campaign probably thought they were going to help buy him another 30-second radio ad. Uh uh. Actually spending money on campaigning is way down the list.

Politico went through all the public information about Trump's campaign finances since the beginning of the cycle and discovered several things. First, Trump's campaign finance structure is extremely complex, as shown in this chart.

Trump's campaign finance structure

There are multiple groups donors can give to, some of them joint with the RNC or other groups, and all with different legal rules about who can give, how much, what the funds can be used for, and how much has to be disclosed about donors. Trump has plenty of lawyers to make sure he gets this right. The main groups are:

  • Donald J. Trump for President is the official campaign piggybank and the most restrictive.
  • Save America is a PAC that has spent millions on his legal bills.
  • Trump Save America is a committee that donates to the campaign and also to Save America.
  • Make America Great Again PAC is his 2020 campaign organization repurposed as a PAC.
  • Make America Great Again Inc. is not directly controlled by Trump and is where the dark money goes.
  • Trump 47 is a joint committee that gives a bit of money to the RNC and state parties.
  • Trump National Committee raises money for the campaign and the RNC (which then spends the money as he directs).

This has all been carefully worked out by the lawyers to give Trump the maximum freedom and fewest restrictions. The rubes don't understand a word of it. Neither do we, so please don't ask.

The donations this cycle have been $244 million. Of that, the biggest chunk, $70 million, has gone to... raising more money. Given the high burn rate, it is important to keep the money rolling in. The joint committees are the primary vehicles for fundraising due to campaign finance laws.

The second biggest chunk of spending is $69 million for legal fees. While many of the lawyers defending Trump in his various civil and criminal cases may not be very good, they are not cheap. Most of this money came from Make America Great Again Inc., which was intentionally set up to be separate from the campaign committees to be free to pay for things not associated with the campaign—like legal fees. Needless to say, when Trump's supporters get an email from MAGA Inc. begging for money, they have no idea that none of it is going to help elect Trump. Probably the lawyers who created this complicated setup also get paid from MAGA Inc.

Finally, we come to spending item #3, actual campaigning, which got $66 million. That's not zero, but this is a very inefficient use of the donations, with only 31% going to campaigning. With Biden, half of the donations go to fundraising and half go to campaigning.

A conclusion here is that Trump is actually short of money. This is the reason there is so much buzz right now about Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) being on Trump's veep short list. He would certainly lock down North Dakota's three electoral votes, but the only other thing he could bring to the campaign is $$$ (and a bit of executive experience). Also, he has never shot his dog in the head, as others in the Dakotas sometimes do. In his youth, he formed a software company, made it successful, and sold it to Microsoft for a billion dollars. He could drop $100 million into Trump's campaign if he wanted to. That's a lot for a bucket of any warm liquid, but Burgum has probably checked out the actuarial tables and knows there is a roughly 20% chance Trump will die during a 4-year term. Of course, Trump eats badly, never exercises, and has a stressful life, but he also would have the best medical care in the entire world as president. In addition, as veep, Burgum would be next-in-line in 2028, despite what Ron DeSantis might have in mind.

Trump will have to choose soon. Does he want a pretty young woman who could bring in female voters (e.g., Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY), an angry young man who could rev up the base like no other veep (e.g., Sen. J.D. Vance, R-OH), or an older billionaire who brings in no voters, but lots of cash? We'll find out in a month or so. (V)

Trump May Help the Democrats Capture the Governor's Mansion in Florida in 2026

Remember that good old "candidate quality" thingie? Donald Trump certainly doesn't. In fact, he seems to have a nearly unbreakable habit of supporting right-wing loonies who are capable of winning the Republican primary but not the general election. It now appears he is already working on the 2026 gubernatorial race in his home state of Florida, when Ron DeSantis will be term-limited.

Trump definitely wants to be a kingmaker and is talking to potential candidates and giving them encouragement, but without making a choice yet. After all the election is 2½ years away and a lot can change between now and then. Two candidates that seem to have Trump's favor at the moment are Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), a Black man who is also an extremist, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), an even louder extremist with a history of transporting underage girls across state lines for sexual purposes. (Gaetz' district, FL-01, has a long border with Alabama, so getting out of state is easy.) Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) could be a backup if Donalds and Gaetz burn up or fizzle out.

None of this sits well with DeSantis. While he can't run in 2026, he would like to have some influence in choosing his successor, especially if he runs for president again in 2028. His nightmare scenario is having Trump pick a Republican nominee so crazy that a Democrat is elected governor in 2026.

The invisible primary is long underway, but under cover. Justin Sayfie, an adviser to former governor Jeb Bush, said: "It's something that doesn't get talked about in the open, but it's classic Donald Trump to bring out into the open what everyone is saying behind closed doors." Sometimes the wannabe governors do help out though. Donalds, Gaetz, and Waltz have all shown up at the hush-money trial to cheer Trump on (or cheer Trump up). That is the kind of fealty Trump expects of petitioners.

It's not a sure thing that Trump will get his guy, though. A couple of women are also eyeing the job, including Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez (R-FL) and AG Ashley Moody (R). Both women are inside DeSantis' innermost circle and one (or both) of them is likely to get DeSantis' endorsement. So Trump endorsing one candidate and DeSantis endorsing a different one could set the stage for a power struggle in Florida in 2026.

Trump has taken down DeSantis before and could do it again. If he gets Donalds or Gaetz nominated, there is a decent chance that the Democrats might be able to pick up the governor's mansion in 2026. We saw this happen in Pennsylvania in 2022 and may well see it again in North Carolina in 2024. Florida 2026 could be the third one in a row where a crazy Republican loses the gubernatorial race to a bland Democrat. (V)

Republicans Think That If Biden Wins, They Will Lose the House

The House is much more tied to national waves than the Senate because far more people know who their senators are than who their representative is. With the Senate, the candidate quality often matters. With the House, it's all about the (D) or (R). Consequently, Republican insiders think that their control of the House stands or falls with Donald Trump's success at the ballot box.

Republicans are confident about winning back the Senate because they have to win only one contested Senate race to get control. The most plausible way for the Democrats to retain control is for them to win every one of at least half a dozen contested races and also the vice presidency. It's not impossible, but it might take a blue wave to pull off. The House is completely different because there are dozens of contested races and winning a simple majority is enough. You don't have to win them all. For this reason, the Democrats are more confident about the House.

According to the Cook Political Report, 210 seats lean Republican or better and 203 lean Democratic or better. Twenty-two seats are true tossups, and each party controls half of them now. Gerrymandering in North Carolina will change the delegation from 7D, 7R to 4D, 10R. New York Democrats could have gone for the jugular but refrained from doing so. A couple of new maps in the deep South could help the Democrats though.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) thinks that if Trump performs well in the swing districts, his coattails will do the job for House Republicans; otherwise, no.

Of course, there are other factors, such as the GOP's infighting and its inability to govern, even with a House majority. With a similar majority, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was able to pass bill after bill due to her leadership. Democrats also have a fundraising advantage. Still, Trump could play an oversize role, both due to his own performance and whom he endorses. (V)

Today's Presidential Polls

Biden is surely going to compete in Arizona, polls or no polls. Maybe he will try to ride the coattails of Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who could possibly run ahead of him. Florida really doesn't look good for the Democrats.

State Joe Biden Donald Trump Start End Pollster
Arizona 47% 52% May 05 May 16 YouGov
Florida 45% 54% May 10 May 16 YouGov

Click on a state name for a graph of its polling history.

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May19 Sunday Mailbag
May18 Dow Closes Above 40,000 for the First Time Ever
May18 Not Again, Sam
May18 Saturday Q&A
May17 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 18)
May17 In Congress: This Week in Performative Politics
May17 The Supreme Court: Just a Minute There, Fifth Circuit
May17 Abbott: From 25 Years Down to 1
May17 I Read the News Today, Oh Boy: Heat of the Moment
May17 This Week in Schadenfreude: Giuliani about to Lose a Second Job
May17 This Week in Freudenfreude: Living in the 18th Century
May16 There Will Be a Debate?
May16 LA-06 Is Back in Black
May16 Who's Gonna Win This Thing?, Part II: Keep an Eye on William Davis
May16 Who's Gonna Win This Thing?, Part III: A Poll Gone Mad
May16 Who's Gonna Win This Thing?, Part IV: Lichtman Makes His Pick
May16 Mitt Romney: Hey, Don't Forget I'm Tone Deaf, Too!
May15 Results Are in from Maryland, West Virginia and Nebraska
May15 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 17)
May15 And Don't Forget the Other Crooks
May15 Another $1 Billion in Arms for Israel
May15 Who's Gonna Win This Thing?, Part I: The Siena Poll
May15 Carter "Coming to the End"
May15 Today's Presidential Polls
May14 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 16)
May14 Voters Head to the Polls in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia
May14 Uncovered, Part I: Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti
May14 Uncovered, Part II: Brain Food
May14 Where is RFK Jr. on the Ballot?
May14 House Republicans Tee Up Israel Bomb Bill
May14 They Doth Protest Too Much, Wethinks
May14 Today's Presidential Polls
May13 Netanyahu Is Losing...
May13 ...But What Does That Mean for Biden?
May13 Biden Makes the Ballot in Alabama... But Not Ohio
May13 Republicans Are Anti-Democracy
May13 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 16 preview)
May13 Trump May Owe a $100 Million Tax Bill
May13 And Don't Forget the Other Crooks
May12 Sunday Mailbag
May11 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 15)
May11 Saturday Q&A
May11 Reader Question of the Week: Donald's Song
May11 Today's Presidential Polls
May10 Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 14)
May10 Fallout from Biden's Decision on Israel Commences
May10 Trump Environmental Policy: We're Gonna Need a Bigger... Bottle of Sunscreen
May10 Electoral-Vote Presidential Tracking Poll, May Edition: Are We in for a Thriller?
May10 I Read the News Today, Oh Boy: Black Magic
May10 This Week in Schadenfreude: Nights In White Satin