Biden 228
image description
Ties 4
Trump 306
image description
Click for Senate
Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description
  • Strongly Dem (134)
  • Likely Dem (61)
  • Barely Dem (33)
  • Exactly tied (4)
  • Barely GOP (71)
  • Likely GOP (134)
  • Strongly GOP (101)
270 Electoral votes needed to win This date in 2020 2016 2012
New polls: NH WA
the Dem pickups vs. 2020: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2020: AZ GA ME MI NV PA
Political Wire logo Trump Falsely Claims Biden Was Trying to ‘Take Me Out’
Most Wrongly Believe the U.S. Is in Recession
House GOP Group to Spend $141 Million on Ads
Biden Trails in Key Battlegrounds
Another Mike Johnson Aide Eyes the Exit
Biden Widens Student Loan Relief

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 19)
      •  Lots of News from the Middle East
      •  Who Is Winning the Money Race?
      •  Trump Has Identified an Ideal AG Candidate
      •  TMTG Is Losing Money Hand Over Fist
      •  Today's Sports Report
      •  Today's Presidential Polls

Trump Legal News: The Trial (Day 19)

The Trump criminal fraud trial is nearing the end. Here are the big stories from what was likely the second-to-last day of testimony:

  • Cohen the Thief: Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen completed his testimony on Monday, ultimately clocking a total of 17 hours on the stand across 3 days. And the defense managed to land one body blow during the hearing yesterday, getting Cohen to admit that he stole money from the Trump Organization, taking $60,000 for work he did not do. This obviously does not help with Cohen's already shaky reputation.

    Indeed, let us pause for a moment to reiterate how important Cohen is to the case. For a felony conviction, it is necessary to show that Trump: (1) was trying to keep the Daniels story secret for political reasons, and (2) utilized phony bookkeeping in service of that goal. The first part of the case has been proven very thoroughly, and by witnesses going beyond Cohen (e.g., David Pecker). But there are really only three people who can plausibly speak to the second part—that is to say, Trump's involvement in the phony bookkeeping. The first of those is Michael Cohen, who has obviously testified that Trump knew and was trying to cover things up, but who has credibility issues. The second of those is Allen Weisselberg, who also has credibility issues, and whose testimony might well be hostile to the prosecution. And the third of those is Trump, whom the prosecution cannot call, and who will only be accessible to them if he chooses to take the stand in his own defense.

    The point is, the prosecution played their hand as best they could, given the huge risks involved with calling Weisselberg. But that means it all rides on Cohen. If one juror does not believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Cohen was being truthful, there could well be a hung jury here.

  • The Prosecution Rests: Clearly, the Cohen bombshell did not hurt him enough in the prosecution's eyes to make it worth the Hail Mary pass of calling Weisselberg, as they rested their case on Monday after Cohen left the stand.

  • One Defense Witness, One Angry Judge: After Cohen was finished, the defense called its first (and possibly only) witness, a lawyer named Robert Costello who has served as an advisor to Cohen. The purpose of Costello's testimony was to further poke holes in Cohen's account of events, specifically Cohen's claims that he felt enormous pressure after the FBI raided his offices in 2018. As a former federal prosecutor, Costello apparently felt entitled to express his opinion on the conduct of the trial, and several times rolled his eyes/sighed/said "geez" when Judge Juan Merchan sustained an objection or made other procedural rulings. Eventually, Merchan had the jury removed from the courtroom and chewed Costello out. Costello responded to that by... rolling his eyes. And so, Merchan had the press removed, and gave another chewing out that included the warning "I'm putting you on notice that your conduct is contemptuous. If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand." Costello basically behaved after that.

  • The Defense Rests?: Costello will be back on the stand when the trial resumes today. And it is entirely possible that he will be the final witness, and that the defense will rest after he is cross-examined by the prosecution.

  • Trump Testimony: Donald Trump continues to claim he really wants to testify. But that really raises two questions: (1) Is he being truthful, or is he just peacocking for the faithful?; and (2) Even if he is being truthful, is he really stupid enough to ignore his attorneys' strong advice not to take the stand? Let's not forget how many times he's claimed he wanted to testify, or even that he would testify, but he didn't—the Mueller investigation, the Trump University case, the case against the 1/6 Committee, the various "election fraud" cases, the various cases involving his accountancy firms, etc. In short, we've seen this song and dance before, and it generally ends with Trump NOT testifying. We assume that general pattern will hold here. Only Trump knows for sure, however, and whatever his plan is, today is probably "put up or shut up" day.

If testimony does indeed conclude today, then it is likely that closing statements will not be given until next Tuesday. The trial is dark on Wednesdays, of course, while the Friday session has been canceled because a juror has to travel, and Monday is a holiday. Merchan doesn't want the jury to hear closing statements on Thursday, and then have to remember them for 4 days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday), hence the (likely) decision to push everything to Tuesday of next week. (Z)

Lots of News from the Middle East

When it comes to the Middle East, the last few days have witnessed some pretty big developments. Here are the four that have, or could have, a direct impact on American politics:

  1. Trouble in the Knesset: Two key members of the Israeli government have taken PM Benjamin Netanyahu to task in the past week. The first is Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who says that Netanyahu's lack of strategic vision is leading Israel on the path to disaster. The second, and more recent, is National Unity party leader Benny Gantz, who went further, and on Saturday night announced six goals that Netanyahu must embrace, or else Gantz and his seven fellow National Unity colleagues in the Knesset will leave the governing coalition.

    Some of the six goals are pretty weedy, but the two that matter for purposes of this discussion are #3, which is to "create an international civilian governance mechanism for Gaza" and #5, which is to "advance normalization with Saudi Arabia." Those actually go hand-in-hand, as Saudi Arabia has made clear it won't normalize relations without some movement towards Palestinian statehood. And there's no way Netanyahu is going to do that, first because he doesn't believe in it, and second because his far-right Knesset colleagues would jump ship and his government would collapse.

    So, Gantz isn't going to get what he has demanded. Will he follow through on his threat? He certainly could, but it would be counterproductive, at least in the short term. It takes 61 seats to control the Knesset, and without Gantz and his colleagues, Netanyahu would still have 64—all of them representing far-right parties. Netanyahu has already been kowtowing to the right-wingers, since the PM is himself right-wing, and since 64 is eight times as many as 8. But if Gantz and his non-right-wing colleagues leave the governing coalition, then there will be nobody pushing back against the PM. And without further defections, Gantz & Co. just don't have the numbers to cause the Netanyahu ministry to fall.

    Anyhow, this speaks to how many moving parts there are when it comes to Israel and Gaza, and why it's nearly impossible for outsiders, including U.S. presidents, to move things in a peaceful/permanent direction.

  2. Not That Biden Isn't Trying: This story has gotten relatively little coverage compared to the other items on this list, which certainly doesn't argue against the notion that the media has adopted a "today's bad news for Joe" narrative. In any case, NSA Jake Sullivan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had a long talk over the weekend, with an eye toward establishing a security agreement between the two countries. Reportedly, great progress was made. They also discussed Saudi recognition of Israel, which would be a big deal, but as we note above, is predicated on some version of a two-state solution. That will not be happening under the current Israeli regime.

    The people who govern Saudi Arabia are, on the whole, bad guys. But in some parts of the world, perhaps many, you don't get to choose between "good guys" and "bad guys." No, you get to pick your poison between one set of bad guys and a different set of bad guys. And the fact is that Saudi Arabia is the biggest and richest country in the Middle East. If the international community, and if the key players in the Middle East, make clear that Palestinian statehood is not optional, that can and will eventually put enormous pressure on the Israeli government. That said, keep reading...

  3. Yahya Sinwar and Benjamin Netanyahu... War Criminals?: The headlines for this news story, which broke yesterday, may give the wrong impression. Prosecutors for the International Criminal Court have requested that arrest warrants be issued against Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and Benjamin Netanyahu for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Note, first of all, that no warrants have yet been issued (some headlines suggest otherwise). Prosecutors can ask for whatever they want, but it's up to the judges of the ICC to actually grant (or deny) the request. On top of that, it's all symbolic anyhow, since the ICC is not in a position to arrest either man and drag him back to The Hague for a trial.

    We will also point out that you can see the dilemma that the ICC was in. Sinwar is a legally elected leader of a group that has held onto power extralegally, and he bears responsibility for violent acts against noncombatants. Netanyahu is a legally elected leader of a democratic government, but he has personally held onto power while bending the law to its breaking point, and he too bears responsibility for violent acts against noncombatants. On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is "pure as the driven snow" and 10 is "the heart of darkness," Sinwar surely gets a considerably higher number than Netanyahu. But indictments are not a 1-10 scale, they are binary. That is to say, you can have a zero, or you can have a one. And you can argue that assigning both men a one is a fairer representation of reality than giving Sinwar a one and Netanyahu a zero.

    In any case, even if the ICC prosecutors' move is only tentative, and will never have any real teeth, and is potentially justifiable, it was nonetheless counterproductive. Because the most concrete impact it will have is to rally the Israeli people around their leader, and to insulate him, at least for a while, from the pressure being put upon him by the U.S., the Saudis, Benny Gantz, Yoav Gallant, etc.

    Certainly, the ICC's maneuvering had the effect of rallying support for Israel in the United States. Congressional Republicans are fuming, and are talking about yanking all U.S. funding for the ICC. Joe Biden issued a statement that reads:
    The ICC prosecutor's application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous. And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence—none—between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.
    We understand the ICC wanted to make a statement, but maybe they would have been better off saying and doing nothing.

  4. Over in Iran: Finally, and as most readers have probably heard by now, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. He was definitely not a nice guy, but was the second-highest-ranking person in Iran, and was in line to move up to the big chair (Supreme Leader) once the 85-year-old Ali Khamenei shuffles off this mortal coil.

    You can never be sure how instability in Iran might reverberate internationally. Surely, it depends a lot on the person who assumes Raisi's place in the pecking order. However, there is one immediate concern. It is all but certain that, to the extent that any nation is to be blamed here, it is Iran, since the helicopter was old and since the crash was apparently due to pilot error. However, Iran does not like to accept blame for things. So, the White House is concerned that the Iranians might try to blame Israel or the U.S., which in turn could lead to a "response" of some sort. One can only hope the administration's concerns do not come to pass.

And that's the latest from everyone's favorite corner of the globe. (Z)

Who Is Winning the Money Race?

Fundraising reports for April are in, and the question of which major-party candidate is doing the best has gotten a bit more hazy.

The good news for Donald Trump is that he had a better April than Joe Biden, as he and his affiliated PACs brought in $76 million as compared to $51 million for Biden and HIS affiliated PACs. However, that comes with a couple of caveats. First, $50.5 million of the $76 million came from that chichi Palm Beach fundraiser. Second, Trump has not reported his cash-on-hand total. There is no question it will be lower than Biden's ($192 million). And since Trump has a very high burn rate, it's probably way lower. And that might not be a big problem if Trump was spending the money in a constructive manner. However, as we noted yesterday, his biggest expenses are raising more funds and legal fees.

As to Biden, his $51 million is rather less than the $90 million raised in March, but the $90 million figure was goosed from the Democrats' chichi fundraiser, the one with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. If we correct for the chichi factor, it looks like Trump is pulling in around $25 million a month and Biden is pulling in around $45 million a month. Also, most of Biden's haul last month was powered by small-dollar donors. That is much more repeatable than the chichi stuff, since the fat cats' beneficence only goes so far.

Incidentally, the Trump campaign points out that Trump is bringing home the bacon despite being in court all day, 4 days a week. Maybe, but let's not forget that he is raising money off the whole martyr bit like there's no tomorrow. Plus, being in court doesn't stop him from attending a fancy dinner with millionaires and billionaires on a Saturday night. In any event, we add this because readers may think it's an important part of the story. We, however, do not think so. (Z)

Trump Has Identified an Ideal AG Candidate

Should Donald Trump be reelected, there are several things he'll be looking for in an attorney general. Experience would be nice, if only because that will grant a veneer of legitimacy. A track record of corrupt behavior is a major selling point, of course. And a demonstrated commitment to being a Trump toady is essential.

If you think about it for a couple of minutes, there is someone who most certainly checks all the boxes. That would be Texas AG Ken Paxton, who does have experience, who is as corrupt a politician as any in office today (non-U.S. Senate division), and who is one of the biggest Trump sycophants in the country. In the off-the-rack world of political appointments, Paxton fits like a custom-made suit.

It would appear that Donald Trump is well aware of Paxton's "qualifications." This weekend, a reporter in Texas asked the former president if he would consider Paxton for AG in a second Trump administration, and Trump said: "I would, actually. He's very, very talented. I mean, we have a lot of people that want that one and will be very good at it. But he's a very talented guy." "Talented" is not the word that we would use for it, but it's exactly the word Trump would use.

Trump has a long history of dangling appointment carrots, only to yank them away, for various reasons. After all, who can forget this image?

Donald Trump and Mitt Romney have an uncomfortable dinner

Sometimes Trump does it for sadistic purposes, sometimes he does it because it's a way of buying "loyalty" without having to actually pay anything. That said, Paxton makes so very much sense, since he's so very sleazy, and since he would so obviously tote whatever water Trump ordered him to tote. The only real problem is that some Senate Republicans might rebel against confirming him. But that's only a maybe, and if Trump turns the screws... (Z)

TMTG Is Losing Money Hand Over Fist

The Q1 financials for publicly traded companies were due to the SEC last week, and the numbers for Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG) were grim. The company made $770,500, while spending $327.6 million. That's a loss of $327 million. TMTG claims that $311 million of that was a one-time expense due to merging with Digital World Acquisition Corporation, though even if you accept that, we're talking losses that are 22x revenues. That's no way to stay in business.

TMTG also claims that things are going to turn around eventually, and the only reason the company is losing money is because it is focused on long-term product development. So, what long-term products are going to put the company in the black? Here is the answer from TMTG's press release:

By adding features to Truth Social, launching live TV streaming, and building out its ecosystem, the Company aims to first develop a slate of best-in-class products that can then be leveraged to increase revenue and drive long-term value.

Sounds like a bunch of corporation-speak to us; the only things missing are references to "synergy" and "core competencies." The only thing there that represents some actual, new product is "live TV streaming," which is an area already dominated by a number of behemoths, and where it takes billions to get any market share whatsoever.

The stock price for DJT is still holding fairly steady; it closed at $48.38 yesterday. But there are so few shares available for trading, and those that do exist are so tied up in shorts and maneuvers like that, it's impossible to know what the shares will actually be worth once the floodgates open. There will be one more SEC filing, due August 9, before Donald Trump can start selling shares on October 6. And on that day, we will learn if this company is going to end up as his financial lifeline, or if his house of cards remains in danger of falling. (Z)

Today's Sports Report

We know that some readers do not like to hear about the world of sports, but there are a couple of news items from that arena this weekend that crossed paths with the world of politics. So...

First up is Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker. A couple of weekends ago, he delivered the commencement address at Benedictine College, a small Catholic school in Kansas. And although the custom is to keep such addresses politically neutral, Butker instead decided to go for a "greatest hits" of far-right talking points that would not have been out of place on, say, the Nick Fuentes podcast. Among the "insights" that Butker shared: abortion is evil, Joe Biden is not a real Catholic because he supports abortion, LGBTQ people are evil, DEI is evil, and the best (and really only) place for women is barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. If you would like to read the speech for yourself, it is here. It would seem that the 28-year-old Butker hasn't yet gotten to the New Testament in his Bible studies, as that's the part where it says "Judge not, that ye be judged" (Matthew 7:1).

So, what makes this a political story? It's not that some meathead said mean things about Joe Biden. No, recall that the Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champions, and the reigning Super Bowl champions get an invite to the White House. Since Butker is a retrograde jerk, many have suggested that his invitation should be yanked. Of course, the administration does not want to get within a country mile of that, since there are roughly 80 players on an NFL roster (along with coaches, trainers, etc.), and if you pull the invitation for one, then you set yourself up for things like "Wait. It's not OK to exercise your First Amendment rights, but it's perfectly fine to drive drunk?" Or "Wait. It's not OK to say that a woman's place is in the kitchen, but it is OK to say that professional sports are like slavery?" So, Team Biden has already made clear that the invitation is for the entire team, and it's up to the team to decide who does, and does not attend. Maybe that will be the end of it, particularly if Butker skips out, since he hates Biden anyhow.

Next up is Nate Silver. His work was once very good. These days, it is sometimes good, sometimes not so good. And the sports story that involves him is that he sent a cheap-shot tweet out over the weekend:

As the WNBA gains more attention, it's time to confront an uncomfortable reality: It's kind of weird to name a sports team (or anything really) the Fever?

The Indiana Fever is the team that drafted phenom Caitlin Clark, which means they are now the hottest ticket in the WNBA.

It is very difficult to understand why this particular team name sticks in Silver's craw. Certainly, there are plenty of team names that are more questionable than this. Just in Los Angeles alone, you have a basketball team in the Lakers that no longer plays in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and a baseball team in the Dodgers that hasn't had to dodge a single trolley in the last 70 years. Two different pro teams are named after fires that destroyed a city, the Chicago Fire and the Calgary Flames (which were originally in Atlanta). The Baltimore Ravens are named after a poem. The Buffalo Bills are named after a (fake) cowboy. The Cleveland Guardians and New York Liberty are both named after statues. The New Orleans Saints represent the original "Sin City" (before the name was largely appropriated by Las Vegas). The New York Red Bulls are named after a caffeinated beverage. The Utah Jazz (having moved from New Orleans) represent a city where there is no jazz, and where there are hardly any Black people.

The point here is that Silver has definitely moved into the "pundit" phase of his career. He may still produce good analysis, but when you can either do 30 hours of number-crunching or 30 seconds of tweet-typing to get some attention, well, the math there is pretty easy, even for someone without Silver's background. He also has a book coming out soon, which means the more attention the better.

Our point here is that there are still plenty of folks in the media who treat Silver's pronouncements like manna from heaven, but you should really take them with a few grains of salt, given where he's at these days. The same thing happened, incidentally, with Bill James, the baseball number-cruncher whose work effectively provided the springboard for Silver's career. James was once a visionary, and these days he's sometimes still a visionary, but he is also sometimes a crank. (Z)

Today's Presidential Polls

Praecones were, in effect, the town criers of Rome. So, Praecones Analytica? Seems a little precious to us. However, they are academics trying to build up a polling concern, so we allow it, since we see no evidence of partisan bias. Although a poll in which 26% are undecided/third-party doesn't really tell us much. As to Washington, if Joe Biden is ever in trouble there, the game is over. (Z)

State Joe Biden Donald Trump Start End Pollster
New Hampshire 37% 37% May 15 May 20 Praecones Analytica
Washington 55% 39% May 15 May 16 PPP

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

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
May20 Unhappy Birthday, Rudy
May20 Is Nevada in Play This Year?
May20 Trump Wants a Third Term
May20 Judge Merchan Will Soon Be on the Spot
May20 Trump: RFK Jr. Is a Fake Anti-Vaxxer
May20 Trump's Top Two Expenses Are Fundraising and Legal Fees
May20 Trump May Help the Democrats Capture the Governor's Mansion in Florida in 2026
May20 Republicans Think That If Biden Wins, They Will Lose the House
May20 Today's Presidential Polls
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)