Polls

Most Americans Think Trump Won’t Keep His Promises

Gallup this morning:

 

Trump Loses Ground on Key Characteristics
Percentage who think each of the following applies to Donald Trump

 

Feb 1-5 Apr 5-9 Change
% % pct. pts.
Keeps his promises 62 45 -17
Is a strong and decisive leader 59 52 -7
Can bring about changes this country needs 53 46 -7
Is honest and trustworthy 42 36 -6
Cares about the needs of people like you 46 42 -4
Can manage the government effectively 44 41 -3
GALLUP

Yeah, that’s not good.

Maybe that explains the Trump tweets this morning.

He starts off by taking shots at Obama. Then he takes a shot at Democrats by recommending a book (it’s his kind of book because it has blank pages), gripes about “fake media” (which is, to Trump, anything factual that puts him in a bad light), and weighs in on an election with lies.  And finally, he touts a poll which isn’t that good, even it were from a reputable polling company, which Rasmusson is not.

It’s going to be a long week.

UPDATE:  On the other hand, according to Pollster his approval rating has been improving for the past couple of weeks:

The Very Uneventful 2016 Election

Yeah. I was in Europe for a couple of weeks.  They weren’t following the election as much as I thought they might have been.  And so I took a break from it too.  I can’t remember what was going on when I left, but it sure was big and sure isn’t a headline now.  I think it was about how Donald Trump had denied groping women and then a parade of them were coming forward saying how they were groped or kissed without consent.

Then there was, last Friday, another BOMBSHELL (the media’s word) which, at first blush, seemed like the FBI was going to look into more emails that they had discovered on Anthony Weiner’s shared computer with Huma Abedin (a Hillary Clinton aide).  In other words, it WAS a bombshell — a shell without a bomb.  On closer examination, it turned out to be just what it LOOKED like — nothing (at this point).  Apparently, if you can create a headline with the word “Clinton” and “email” in close proximity, that is enough to send the media into apoplectic fits, even if there is no actual email contents to report on.

I am reminded about what I heard last week, and heard again today.  Despite the crazy rollercoaster of news and constant scandals and non-scandals, this is STATISTICALLY a rather dull election.  Since the conventions, Hillary has been roughly 5 points ahead of Trump, give or take 5 points.  That means she has been close to even and sometimes has a double digit lead.  But Trump really has never held a secure lead…. not once.   In fact, while Hillary cannot get below 42%, Trump cannot get above it.

And it is worse when you switch from the popular vote to the electoral college.  Clinton has a thick blue line: all the New England states, NY, PA, DE, MD, VA, and DC.  And to that Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois, and the Pacific Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii) and you have a total of 249 SOLID BLUE electoral votes.  With only 270 needed.


Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

That’s how lopsided this thing is.  Hell, a win in Florida puts her on top.

But she has significant leads in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

At the end of the day, this is Clinton’s election.  And what you’re hearing now is a lot of wind and drama.  The Cook Political Report:

However, despite the recent tightening, Trump remains behind in the polls. And, his path to 270 electoral votes remains decidedly and almost impossibly narrow. Polling taken over the weekend suggests that voters are reacting to the FBI story in a typically partisan manner. Could it have an impact on enthusiasm? Perhaps. And, it also could get reluctant GOPers to show up to cast a vote for down ballot GOPers to give a “check” on Clinton. But, it hasn’t upended the normal pattern/trajectory of the campaign.

The most recent polls suggest that Trump’s best chances to flip a state Obama carried in 2012 are Iowa, Ohio and Florida. Even so, North Carolina — a state Romney carried in 2012 — is looking tougher and tougher for Trump. Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado also look out of reach. Without North Carolina or Pennsylvania, it is almost impossible for him to hit 270.

The Trump campaign remains hopeful that the Rust Belt — with its white, working class voters — will be their savior. The Trump campaign says they have polling showing a tight race in Michigan as does the Survey Monkey 50-state survey. All other polling taken in the state shows Clinton with a pretty healthy lead. Democrats aren’t panicking there either, suggesting they feel confident in the numbers they are seeing.

At the end of the day, the map may not look all that different from what we are used to seeing. But the margins of victory may be the more surprising. In blue states where the white working class vote is more significant — Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin — the Democratic share of the vote is likely to be smaller than we’ve seen in the last eight years. But, in red states that are more diverse — Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina — the GOP margin is likely to be narrower than we’ve seen in recent years.

***

Bottom Line: The race has tightened to its “natural resting place” with a 2-4 point lead for Clinton. However, the Electoral College math continues to favor Clinton. While she may lose Obama-held states in the Midwest like Ohio and Iowa, she’s been able to build up a pretty solid lead in states that Trump needs to win to hit 270 like Virginia and Pennsylvania. At the end of the day, voters are well-aware of the two less than ideal choices in front of them. They don’t trust Clinton. But, they don’t think that Trump has the temperament or judgment to be president. Baring any new or indictable information, it’s hard to believe that these new batch of emails will change this calculation.

Trump’s campaign managers seem to know that the math is not in their favor.  They are gambling on a “second tier” win — giving up on Pennsylvania, and buying ads in New Mexico and hitting Michigan hard.

Burning Down The House

It should be easy, I hope, to understand my blog’s reliance on Twitter, rather than these more thoughtful posts.  It’s not because we live in a Twitter world where everything is reduced to sound bites (although, we do).  It’s because events move so incredibly fast this political season that there is no time to pause and realize exactly where we are.

Last Friday morning, for example, Trump made the incredible statement that the Central Park Five — five young black men who were accused, jailed and exonerated for a Central Park rape — were actually guilty, even though DNA evidence matched the known rapist who admitted to the crime.  Amazing.  Stunning that a presidential candidate would take this position in the absence of DNA evidence and common sense.  And yet, before anybody could digest that, there came the Access Hollywood tape of Trump admitting to sexual assault of women (and using bad language while making that admission).  And although that was widely covered, it was done breathlessly, because very soon we were into the debates.

So…… puff, puff, pant, pant…. here we are.

The effect of late last week on the race cannot be underestimated.  The tape destroyed Trump.  But he only made it worse.  Rather than do a heartfelt mea culpa (what I am sure was the Kellyanne Conway approach), Trump read unconvincingly from a prompter in a taped apology, within which he chastised Bill Clinton for being worse.

It did not work.

Recall how easily provoked he was with Hillary Clinton’s mere mention of Alicia Machado in the first debate (which seems like an eternity ago).  He doubled and tripled down on the attacks on her.  But that was nothing compared to how flustered and knocked senseless he was by the Access Hollywood “grab ’em by the pussy” tape.  By the time of the debate, Trump was full-on Breitbart.

He threatened to jail his opponent.  He called her the devil.

Pundits said it was red meat to shore up his base.  I could not disagree more.  Trump’s base was never bleeding out.  As Trump correctly said months ago, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and his base would support him.

No, this was not strategic anything.  This was testosterone.  This was Steve Bannon, editor of Breitbart.com and Trump adviser.  He got Trump to set aside the Kellyanne Conway approach.

Has it worked?  Of course not.  Bannon brought Trump into the bubble where, like Trump rallies, it looks like Trump is winning and can do no wrong.

But being in the bubble requires vigilance.  You have more enemies than Hillary.  Your enemy now is reality.  So you attack CNN.  You attack the “biased” polls, except for the online ones which show you crushing your opponent.

Does Trump believe this?  Or is this a scam?  Does he know he is burning down the house?

I suspect he does, but he believes it is a movement.  And he will burn down the Republican party and build something greater from the ashes.  I am pretty sure that is the hope of Steve Bannon.

 

And the first step in that?  Attack the GOP party.  And that’s is where Trump is going to now.  Check out these two tweets:

cufxxkxwyaaoi_y

First he says that Paul Ryan and others are not giving support, then he attacks Paul Ryan.  The truth is, Trump — despite being the nominee — has given very little support to the party and others running in it.  Trump only knows loyalty one way — the hallmark of a dictator.

Whooops.  AS I WROTE THIS, TRUMP TWEETS SOMETHING THAT PROVES MY POINT…..

That’s right.  This is Trump the way he wants to be.  Up until now (apparently) he’s been “shackled” by… I’m guessing… political correctness (or what many of us call “decency”)

Naturally, it is dividing the GOP.  Do they stand with Trump or not?  And it seems to be…. not.

The consequence?  Trump is losing…. badly.  Here are the prediction sites this morning:

prediections10-11

Note that the most bullish for Clinton — Nate Silver’s 538.com — gives her an incredible 83% chance of winning.

Here’s the breakdown for each state:

predictions-by-state

All the prediction sites give Hillary the 270 EVs needed to win without even winning a swing state!  And that is because some states are no longer swing states — most notable, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Colorado.

Can Hillary still lose?  Sure.  I wouldn’t want to bet against ANYTHING in this election.  But Trump’s new “unshackled” strategy?  Well, while it may feel good to Trump, Bannon, the alt-right, and Russia — it’s a losing strategy.

UPDATE:

All Looking Good

If you look at all the statistical prognosticators, this election (as of today) is Hillary’s to lose.

forecasts-10-6

Nate Silver’s 538 forecast is the most cautious, placing HRC’s chances at 77%.  But it’s a 77% and rising…

10-6odds

And here’s 538’s electoral map as of today…

538on10-6

I’m actually not as bearish on Ohio as 538 seems to be — I might even put that in the Trump column.  Also, it is interesting that Colorado is a “tipping point” state.  Never expected that.

All this is from the fallout of the first debate.  It just seems that whenever the nation tunes in for these big events (the conventions, the debates), Trump plummets. People like me who follow politics have forgotten how grating he is — we’re used to it by now, but a lot of non-political voters, they might be experiencing Trump full-on for the first time.

The Veep debate earlier this week does not appear to have moved the needle at all.

The upcoming debate on Sunday October 9 is town-hall style.  A moderator is there, but the questions come from a small crowd of 100 or so.  A chance for the candidates to relate to real people face-to-face one-on-one.  For Trump, it may be his first time – in his life – relating to real people who make under $100,000.  Can he do it?  Obviously, the format benefits Clinton, but again, the bar is so much lower for Trump that he might “win” the debate just by NOT insulting someone.

Still, things are looking good for the Dem nominee.

AND… bonus… for the Senate.  From 538 again:

demssenate10-6

Definite whoop.

Trump and Clinton Neck and Neck in NC

Yeah, it is exciting to be in a semi-big swing state.  The candidates keep coming through.  It’s like the New Hampshire primaries in the old days.

A new PPP poll on North Carolina came out this morning.

Bottom line: Donald Trump 45, Hillary Clinton 43, Gary Johnson 6.

Clinton/Trump head to head is tied at 47:

That’s okay news since Trump had pulled ahead in some NC polls these past few weeks.

The PPP poll took some deep dives and discovered a few things:

(1)  Undecideds.   Among undecideds for President in NC, 62% would take 4 more years of Obama to only 5% who prefer Trump. If undecideds in NC voted Clinton/Trump the same as their Obama/Trump preference, Clinton would lead state 50/48.  The problem for Clinton with undecideds in NC, even though they like current direction of country, is her favoritism rating is 10/75.  Trump’s favorability among undecideds in North Carolina is literally 0, with 79% seeing him unfavorably.

(2) More Obama Please.  The key to the race in NC is voters who want to continue Barack Obama’s direction, but dislike Hillary Clinton. Overall in NC 51% of voters would prefer continuing Obama’s leadership to 46% who prefer Trump’s direction.

(3) Equally (dis)lilked.  Clinton and Trump have identical favorability numbers in NC: 40/55.

(4) Bigots Be Here.   30% of Trump supporters have a higher opinion of David Duke than Hillary Clinton. 47% of Trump voters were “not sure” who they prefer.  Meanwhile, 44% of Trump supporters are “not sure” about their opinion on LGBT people. 29% unfavorable. Only 27% favorable.

(5) Idiots Be Here Too. 71% of Trump voters in NC think if Clinton wins it will only be because the election was rigged, 17% say it will be because she got more votes

(6) Release The Tax Returns. 63% of voters in North Carolina think Trump needs to release his tax returns, only 24% don’t think he needs to.

(7) Governor’s Race Is Solid Democrat.  For first time ever, there is a clear leader for Governor- Roy Cooper 46, Pat McCrory 41, Lon Cecil 2. Independents are the story here: McCrory won them 2:1 in 2012. This time Cooper leads 44-33 with them.  11%

(8) HB2 Wildly Unpopular.  52% of voters in North Carolina want HB2 repealed, only 32% support keeping it on the books.  This has less to do with the economic harm than with acceptance of th4e LGBT community. Only 19% of NC voters view LGBT people negatively. 47% positive, 34% don’t care.

(9)  Senate Race Has Gotten Tight.  The NC Senate race tied – Richard Burr and Deborah Ross both at 41%, Libertarian Sean Haugh at 4%:

(10) In fact, everything tight.
cs4zrf0w8aaslhb

(11)  This.

cs4rkccxyaezmh_

 

62 Days And Counting

Summer is over. Labor Day has past.  And now, says conventional wisdom, is when people start paying attention to the election.

So where are we?

Well, we were all greeted this morning with a bunch of polls, including a 50-state poll from NBC/SurveyMonkey.  Several of them are grabbing headlines, most notably, the CNN/ORC poll (rated A- by 538.com) which has Trump up nationally by +2.  And that is likely voters (more accurate than registered voters).

The SurveyMonkey poll (registered voters; rated C- by 538.com) gives Clinton a +4 lead nationally.  She seems to be doing well in most swing states, although Michigan, North Carolina and Georgia are close.  And…. get this… it has the candidates tied in Texas.

When you step back and look at these polls in the aggregate, one thing is for sure… Hillary’s post-convention lead of 7-8 points has definitely evaporated.

What do the election prediction sites say?  This:

win prez 9-6

And actually, 538 has revised its forecast to 68.5% Dem.

So…. still good, not great.  There are about 248 electoral votes in Hillary’s pocket, compared to only 111 in Donald’s.  That leaves 179 from 13 competitive states.  Since the magic number is 270, Clinton needs only 22 EVs from 13 contested states.

Nate Silver says that although things are still favoring Hillary, there is a high amount of uncertainty at this point:

Higher than people might assume. Between the unusually early conventions and the late election — Nov. 8 is the latest possible date on which Election Day can occur — it’s a long campaign this year. But just as important, many voters — close to 20 percent — either say they’re undecided or that they plan to vote for third-party candidates. At a comparable point four years ago, only 5 to 10 percent of voters fell into those categories.

High numbers of undecided and third-party voters are associated with higher volatility and larger polling errors. Put another way, elections are harder to predict when fewer people have made up their minds. Because FiveThirtyEight’s models account for this property, we show a relatively wide range of possible outcomes, giving Trump better odds of winning than most other statistically based models, but also a significant chance of a Clinton landslide if those undecideds break in her favor.

So what does he think Clinton should worry about?

My first question would be whether the race has settled into a 4-point Clinton lead, as the polls have it now, or is continuing to trend toward Trump. If I’m still ahead by 4 points or more at the time of the first debate on Sept. 26, I’ll feel reasonably good about my position: A Trump comeback would be toward the outer edges of how much trailing candidates have historically been able to move the polls with the debates. If the race gets much closer, though, my list of concerns gets a lot longer. It would include geopolitical events that could work in Trump’s favor, third-party candidates who seem to be taking more votes from me than from Trump, and the tendency for incumbent candidates (since Clinton is a quasi-incumbent) to lose ground in the polls after the first debate.

And what should Trump worry about?

As the polls have ebbed and flowed, I’ve been 8 or 10 points behind Clinton at my worst moments, but only tied with her at my best moments. I’ve also never gotten much above 40 percent in national polls, at least not on a consistent basis, and I’ve alienated a lot of voters who would allow me to climb higher than that. In other words, maybe that dreaded Trump ceiling is there after all, in which case I’ll have to get awfully lucky to win the election, probably needing both a favorable flow of news in the weeks leading up to Nov. 8 and a large third-party vote that works against Clinton.

As for me, I worry about the press coverage.  Clinton had a coughing fit last night, and the media treated it like she was on her deathbed.  Seriously, that LEAD the news on NBC today.

I keep telling myself that the debates are really where it is at.  But a lot of it is expectations.  The bar for Trump is on the floor.  As long as he doesn’t urinate on Clinton, some will say he is “presidential”.  The media again is totally skewing this thing.

Media False Equivalence Watch – Example No. 35442

I’m really tired of hearing from the media that “both candidates” are wildly unpopular.  Historically unpopular.

I don’t have historical figures of previous presidential candidates for comparison, so I will assume that the assertion is technically accurate.

But look at this:

CrMqv06WYAA9aZzCrMqv02WYAA9NeH

Since May 2015, Trump’s unfavorable has never gone BELOW 60% and this favorable has never gone ABOVE 40%.

In that same period of time, Clinton’s favorable AND unfavorable rating has never dipped/rose into Trump territory.

In other words, she has NEVER been as unfavorable as Trump at his BEST, and he has NEVER been as favorable as Clinton at her WORST.

Yet the press would have you think they are both equally unpopular.  Just not so.

PPP Poll Trolls Trump Voters

A new national PPP poll of likely voters puts Hillary Clinton 5 points ahead of Trump nationally, about on par with other polls of late (especially ones that follow likely, as opposed to registered, voters).

But deep down in their survey results, it seemed they planted an interesting question to Trump supports:

PPP_Release_National_83016.pdf

Well done, PPP.

UPDATE:  Speaking of the PPP poll, Trump retweeted an obvious fake tweet.

PPP

PPP Puts Clinton Up In NC…. Barely

While Hillary Clinton is enjoying a 8-10 lead in Georgia, her lead locally has always been in question.  A new PPP poll just released shows it still very close in North Carolina:

PPP’s newest North Carolina poll finds Hillary Clinton leading in the state, albeit by a narrow margin, for the first time since March. She’s at 43% to 41% for Donald Trump, 7% for Gary Johnson, and 2% for Jill Stein. In a head to head contest just between Clinton and Trump, she leads 47/46.

Voters haven’t changed their feelings much about Clinton since our June poll in the state- her favorability rating was 39/55 then and it’s 40/55 now. But Trump- already unpopular- has become even more so. He’s seen a 7 point decline in his net popularity from -14 at 38/52 down to -21 at 37/58. His missteps from the last few weeks may be further damaging his reputation.

One finding from the poll that bodes particularly well for Clinton is that voters would prefer a continuation of the Obama administration to Trump’s vision for the country, 50/45. When you look at who the undecideds are in the Clinton/Trump head to head it fits what we’ve found in our other recent polls. By a 33 point margin they prefer Obama over Trump and they have a positive view of Bernie Sanders, giving him a 45/28 favorability. They hate Trump- giving him a 1/94 favorability- but they’re not much more favorable toward Clinton who comes in at 2/75. Because of the direction these folks prefer for the country it seems much more likely that they’ll end up voting Clinton than Trump- or perhaps more likely than anything else staying home. At any rate it’s more likely that they’ll build Clinton’s lead than eat into it when they come off the fence, and that’s good news for Clinton given the advantage she already has.

Donald Trump said a lot of different things last week so we polled to what share of his supporters bought into each of them:

-69% of Trump voters think that if Hillary Clinton wins the election it will be because it was rigged, to only 16% who think it would be because she got more vote than Trump. More specifically 40% of Trump voters think that ACORN (which hasn’t existed in years) will steal the election for Clinton. That shows the long staying power of GOP conspiracy theories.

-48% of Trump voters think that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton deserve the blame for Humayun Khan’s death to 16% who absolve them and 36% who aren’t sure one way or the other (Obama was in the Illinois Legislature when it happened.) Showing the extent to which Trump supporters buy into everything he says, 40% say his comments about the Khans last week were appropriate to only 22% who will grant that they were inappropriate. And 39% of Trump voters say they view the Khan family negatively, to just 11% who have a positive opinion of them.

-Even though Trump ended up admitting it didn’t exist 47% of his voters say they saw the video of Iran collecting 400 million dollars from the United States to only 46% who say they didn’t see the video. Showing the extent to which the ideas Trump floats and the coverage they get can overshadow the facts, even 25% of Clinton voters claim to have seen the nonexistent video.

-Trump said last week that Hillary Clinton is the devil, and 41% of Trump voters say they think she is indeed the devil to 42% who disagree with that sentiment and 17% who aren’t sure one way or the other.

We’ve been writing for almost a year that there’s a cult like aspect to Trump’s supporters, where they’ll go along with anything he says. Trump made some of his most outlandish claims and statements yet last week, but we continue to find that few in his support base disavow them.

The public as a whole is a different story though. A number of the things Trump has been in the news for lately have the potential to be very damaging to his campaign overall:

-Vladimir Putin has a 9/63 favorability rating with North Carolinians, and Russia as a whole comes in at 14/51. By a 49 point margin they’re less likely to vote for a candidate Russia is perceived to prefer for President, and by a 33 point margin they’re less likely to vote for a candidate seen as friendly toward Russia. This issue is not doing Trump any favors.

-58% of voters think Trump needs to release his tax returns, compared to only 31% who don’t think it’s necessary for him to. In every state we’ve polled recently we’ve found an overwhelming sentiment that he needs to release them- independents say he needs to 54/33.

-Even though Trump’s own voters might support the approach he took to the Khan family, only 19% overall think it was appropriate to 54% who think it was inappropriate.

-And after his reported comments last week only 38% of voters think Trump can be trusted with nuclear weapons, to 54% who think he can’t be trusted.

Trump is already in a hole – and none of those issues are doing him any favors in trying to get out of it.

Full results here

Let’s reflect on how stupid this state is by focusing on one paragraph above:

69% of Trump voters think that if Hillary Clinton wins the election it will be because it was rigged, to only 16% who think it would be because she got more vote than Trump. More specifically 40% of Trump voters think that ACORN (which hasn’t existed in years) will steal the election for Clinton. That shows the long staying power of GOP conspiracy theories.

Clinton Lead Still Strong Over Weekend

Halfway through law week, Donald Trump seemed to have gotten the message that his attacks on the Khans was costing him in the polls.  He tightened up.  He started reading more from a script at rallies.  He endorsed Ryan and McCain and Ayotte.

That stopped the poll plunge.  But it doesn’t look like it turned the boat around.

Today, Trump is to give a major policy speech, also known as “Trump to Awkwardly Read Off TelePrompTer Set of Positions He Does Not Care About Because They Are Not About How Great He Supposedly Is.”  He is coming out with an economic plan which, by all accounts, is pure Republicanism.  Tax breaks for the corporations and the wealthy.  Scaling back financial regulations. And it doesn’t add up (it creates huge deficits).

The plan also contains childcare tax deduction, not expanded child-related credits. That’s a bone to the middle class (and upper middle class).  The deduction won’t affect the poor because their income (and hence, their taxes) are too low for the deduction to make a difference.

And repealing the “death tax”.  Can’t be a Republican plan without that.

But it is, no question, a *plan* — and that alone makes it unusual for the Trump campaign.

Also, the nation’s focus will be on the Olympics for a while.  People get back into politics mode again on Labor Day, when we gear up for the debates.

So where are we? Clinton is still enjoying a post-convention bounce, or perhaps this is a post-Trump-gaffe plummet.  She has strong numbers in both national and state polling released this weekend:

  • A new ABC News/Washington Post national poll published on Sunday showed Clinton up 8 percentage points among registered voters. Clinton’s lead jumped 4 points compared to the previous ABC News/Washington survey, conducted before the conventions.
  • A Morning Consult poll, also published Sunday, also found Clinton up 8 points among registered voters. Clinton was up 5 percentage points in the same poll last weekend, conducted after both conventions. That is, Clinton’s post-convention surge has continued in Morning Consult’s polling.
  • Two national tracking polls which have generally shown good numbers for Trump also found Clinton building or holding onto her post-convention bounce. Clinton led by 1 percentage point in the latest USC Dornsife/LA Times survey, and by 6 points in the CVOTER International poll — both matching her largest leads from those pollsters.
  • The only poll showing any real sign of decay in Clinton’s lead is the Ipsos tracking poll, which had Clinton up 2 percentage points as of Friday, down a few points from earlier in the week. For now, it is an outlier, and most polls have Clinton’s bounce holding or expanding.

The newest state polls have been a little more mixed for Clinton, but they basically tell the same story:

538.com (Nate Silver) says she  is an 83-percent favorite to win on Nov. 8, according to their polls-only model. Their polls-plus model — which accounts for the “fundamentals,” as well as the tendency for a candidate’s numbers to temporarily rise after his or her convention — gives her a 76 percent chance.

And…

So this all looks good.  And…. hello…. what’s this?

Evan McMullin, the former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference, will launch an independent presidential bid, according to his campaign website. Several media outlets reported his bid early on Monday morning. “In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up,” McMullin said in a statement to ABC. “It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us. I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for President.”

Better for America, the group that is allegedly facilitating McMullin’s run,“will likely have to sue to get on the ballot” in some states.

On Monday, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said on Twitter that McMullin has “the backing of key $$ contributors in the Republican Party,” citing sources. Nate Hodson, a spokesman for the House Republican Conference, released a statement, saying, “the House Republican Conference has zero knowledge of his intentions.” An aide added that McMullin no longer works for the conference.

Well, at least NeverTrump Republicans have a place to put their vote.  I’m not sure he’ll be a big factor unless he really gets serious money in campaign contributions.  But if he does, it only works to Hillary’s benefit. Trump would be smart to NOT EVEN MENTION the guy right now.

UPDATE:  Here’s Trumps *prepared* remarks:

New Polls Confirm Trump Downfall

Fox News has Clinton up nationally over Trump 49-39 among registered voters (+10 points).

The internals are also bad for Trump:

It’s a draw on “terrorism and national security,” as the candidates receive 47 percent apiece. In May, Trump led Clinton by 12 points on doing a better job on “terrorism” (52-40 percent).

Equal numbers of voters say the economy and terrorism are the most important issues facing the country today (22 percent each). Education is the only other one to receive double-digit mentions (11 percent). Here’s the rest of the list: race relations (9 percent), the federal deficit (5 percent), health care (5 percent), climate change (4 percent), immigration (3 percent), foreign policy (3 percent), and drug addiction (2 percent).

Clinton beats Trump by wide margins on education (+23 points), and on the lower priority concerns: climate change (+31 points), race relations (+28 points), drug addiction (+19 points), foreign policy (+16 points), and health care (+11 points). She also has the advantage on one of Trump’s signature issues — immigration (+7 points).

Who would do better picking the next Supreme Court justice? That’s a hot topic this election. Voters trust Clinton over Trump by eight points. They also think she’s more likely to “preserve and protect the U.S. Constitution” (+7 points).

Trump beats Clinton on the issues of the economy (+5 points) and the deficit (+5 points), which explains why Trump is trying to stay on message about the economy and the deficit.

The McClatchy-Marist poll this week has Clinton up nationally over Trump 48-33 among registered voters (+15 points).  When Johnson and Stein are thrown into the mix, it is +10 points.

Again, there are bad internals.

Clinton beats Trump with whites 41-39.  That’s bad when you consider that Romney had white voters by 20 points, and still lost the election. Also:

Clinton wins moderates, 50-27 percent. She is far ahead with black voters, 93-2 percent, and with Latinos, 55-26 percent.

More encouraging for Clinton, 57 percent of her backers say their vote is for her, while 40 percent say it’s largely an anti-Trump vote.

***

Most of Trump’s backers – 57 percent – say their vote is against Clinton, while only 36 percent called it a pro-Trump decision.

On issue after issue, Clinton ranked ahead of Trump. She’s up by 8 when asked who can best handle the war on terror. She’s ahead 21 on immigration, 14 on gun violence, 14 on trade and 4 on creating jobs, which had been one of Trump’s strengths.

And the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has Clinton up nationally over Trump 47-38 among registered voters (+9 points).

Internals also strong for Clinton:

Clinton enjoys a significant advantage among women (51 percent to Trump’s 35 percent), African Americans (91 percent to 1 percent), all non-white voters (69 percent to 17 percent), young voters (46 percent to 34 percent), and white voters with a college degree (47 percent to 40 percent).

Let’s stop there, and reflect on that 1 percent.  Ok, done.  Going on….

Trump leads among white voters (45 percent to Clinton’s 40 percent), seniors (46 percent to 43 percent), independents (36 percent to 32 percent) and white voters without a college degree (49 percent to 36 percent).

The two candidates are running nearly even among men, at 43 percent for Clinton and 42 percent for Trump.

***

Asked which candidate would be better at dealing with economy, voters still give the advantage to Trump, with 46 percent selecting the Republican as the best candidate for economic matters and 42 percent picking Clinton. But in June, Clinton suffered a 10-point deficit to Trump on the same question, 47 percent to 37 percent.

The candidates are also now statistically tied on the question of which one would better handle terrorism and homeland security, compared to a five-point advantage for Trump in June.

Clinton has also improved her scores against Trump on dealing with immigration (49 percent for Clinton compared to 39 percent for Trump), having the ability to handle a crisis (51 percent to 33 percent) and having the ability to unite the country. (43 percent to 26 percent.)

Respondents also chose Clinton as the better candidate when it comes to “caring about people like me” (45 percent to 29 percent.)

All in all, terrible for Trump.

The state polls that came out yesterday are even more bleak.

Clinton leads Trump by 6 in the pivotal swing state of Florida

Clinton leads Trump by 8 in the pivotal swing state of Pennsylvania

Clinton also leads Trump by 17 in New Hampshire and by 9 in Michigan.

ALL OF THIS gives us this map from 538.com — their “polls-only” forecast:

538-8-5-2016

What works in Trump’s favor?  The fact that it is August 5.  This thing starts to get real on Labor Day.  The Olympic are going to get people to focus elsewhere, and perhaps Donald Trump can reboot.

Has The Trump Ship Been Righted? Or Is It Too Late?

Yesterday, it seems that Trump (and everybody else) got past the Khan story, and much of what was discussed was the “intervention” story, wherein GOP leaders (or maybe Trump’s staff) sit down with Trump and get him to pivot to the general election instead of going full-blown tinfoil hat.

Intervention or not, Trump held to rallies yesterday and a couple of local news interviews which veered closer to sanity than anything else Trump has said or done int the past couple days.

Today, with more polls coming in, we get a real clear idea of the post-convention damage.

Last night, we got a preview, with a Fox News poll putting Clinton up by 10 points.

Worse for Trump were some state polls that came in this morning.  Clinton up 9 in Michigan.  Clinton up 15 in the small swing state of New Hampshire.  And Clinton up 11 in the important swing state of Pennsylvania (among likely voters).

Those are bad numbers.  They show that if the election was held today, it would be a Clinton blowout.

BUT…. the election isn’t being held today.

Now, most believe there is an equilibrium, a point where, absent significant events (like a debate or convention or scandal or major faux pas), one candidate resides in relation to another.  Many have floated that equilibrium as +5 Clinton, nationally.  That sounds about right to me.  So I expect Clinton’s lead to come down a little, assuming nothing happens in the interim.

But maybe that equilibrium point has changed.  As new numbers come in today, we’ll see.

UPDATE — And her come the bad numbers.

Another big swing state….

Sidenote: Both the NH and Pennsylvania polls show that Trump’s slide down hurts the GOP senators of those states running for re-election.

Post-DNC: Is There A Bounce?

Of course there is.

It’s only been a few days, and only three polls are out containing JUST data gathered after the end of the Democratic National Convention.  But there are all good.

PPP has Clinton +5 (includes Johnson), Morning Consult has Clinton +3; CBS has Clinton +6 (with Johnson added, +5).

PPP measured likely voters, the other two measured registered voters.

Nate Silver:

Before we continue, a quick note or two about terminology. When we refer to a candidate’s “bounce,” we mean the net gain in her standing in the polls, including changes to her opponent’s vote share. For example, if the previous XYZ News poll had it Clinton 42 percent, Trump 40 percent, and their new poll has it Clinton 44, Trump 39, we’d call that a 3-point bounce for Clinton, since Clinton gained 2 percentage points and Trump lost 1 point.1

Also, when evaluating the gains a candidate has made, it’s important to note when the previous poll was conducted. Based on our models, Clinton led by 6 to 7 percentage points throughout most of June, but her lead dissipated to around 3 percentage points by mid- to late July, just before the conventions. Then, after the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Trump pulled into an approximate tie with Clinton. It’s those post-RNC polls that make for the best comparison when describing Clinton’s bounce.

So far, however, the post-convention polls have been strong enough for Clinton that there isn’t a lot of need to worry about semantics. They suggest that she possibly holds a lead over Trump in the mid- to high single digits, instead of being tied with him.

What’s remarkable is that Trump seems to have gone down as much as Clinton has gone up.

Here is a Gallup poll released today.  It isn’t a Trump v. Clinton poll, but it asked if the DNC/RNC convention made you more/less likely to vote for the Democratic/Republican presidential candidate.  The results are telling.

gallupconventions

If you look, it shows that — for the first time since this has been polled — Republicans were LESS likely to vote for their presidential candidate (Trump) after watching the RNC.

That is off-the-charts bad news.

Presidential Race Even – Time To Panic?

For the first time ever this presidential season, my Polltracker graph (in the right column) shows Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton.  According to the Polltracker poll averages, Trump has 41.1% to Clinton’s 40.2%.

A couple of things to note.

Most importantly, Trump’s poll numbers have not gone up.  Almost no national poll places Trump above 45%.  It is, and always has been, his ceiling.  And nobody has ever been elected President with 45% or lower.

Clinton, however, has gone down, and understandably so, given her bad week.  Yes, she outspent Trump with ads 15-to-1, but that only managed to buffer the bad news of the email scandal.

Also, one should note that other poll averages are not as bleak.  Real Clear Politics average still has Clinton up by 2.7 points.

In addition, a lot of political events are coming that will change the landscape.  For example, this just happened:

…and pretty soon we get into the conventions with the convention bounces.

Also, the statewide polls still look good.  This came out just this morning:

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump in four of the most diverse presidential battleground states, according to brand-new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls.

Clinton is ahead of Trump by eight points among registered voters in Colorado, 43 percent to 35 percent; a combined 21 percent say neither, other or are undecided.

In Florida, which decided the 2000 presidential election, she’s up seven points, 44 percent to 37 percent; the rest are undecided or prefer someone else.

In North Carolina, a state Obama won in 2008 but lost in 2012, Clinton leads by six points, 44 percent to 38 percent.

And in Virginia, Clinton’s advantage is nine points, 44 percent to 35 percent.

When we go to 538, which not only focuses on state polls, but also weights pollsters based on their past predictive success, we see that it gives Clinton a 62% chance of winning.

So panic?  No.  But Hillary has some work to do.  She has to deliver a few body blows to Trump, and she can’t count on Trump making self-inflicted wounds.

But I expect Trump to get a post-convention bounce, and then Hillary to get her bounce afterward.  If they are this close when the debates start (on September 26), then I might start to panic.

UPDATE: Like clockwork, Nate Silver answers my query….

What would keep me up late at night if I were Clinton?

We’ve gone over most of the reasons for concern. I’d be worried about those trend lines. I’d be worried about my numbers in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, especially after having spent a lot of money on ads. In a big-picture sense, I’d be worried that Americans come to view the race as one between two equally terrible choices, instead of Trump being uniquely unacceptable.

What would keep me up late at night if I were Trump?

I’d be worried that after a bunch of events that would seem to play to my strengths — Brexit, Orlando, Dallas and the resurfacing of Clinton’s email problems — the best I could do was to narrow Clinton’s lead. I’d be worried that some of those undecided and Johnson voters will gravitate toward Clinton now that Sanders has endorsed her (although I’d be hopeful that I have some room to grow among my own base). And I’d be worried about my ground game. Maybe FiveThirtyEight’s model says that I’m more likely to win the Electoral College than the popular vote — but a disorganized turnout operation could eventually yield problems in the swing states.

Damage Report: Clinton Email Scandal Fallout

From the latest set of Quinnipiac polls, it seems that the recent attention on Hillary Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state has taken a toll. The Department of Justice has dropped the case, but several of Mrs. Clinton’s statements were disputed by the F.B.I., which said she was “extremely careless” with classified information.

Specifically, surveys from Quinnipiac University show the two candidates statistically tied in the states going into their party conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia this month. Trump leads Clinton in Florida by a margin of 42 percent to 39 percent. In Pennsylvania, he is ahead, 43 percent to 41 percent. And in Ohio they are tied, with each having support of 41 percent of voters.

When Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, and Jill Stein, the Green Party’s candidate, are included in the polls, Trump does even better, leading Clinton by five points in Florida, six points in Pennsylvania and one point in Ohio. Johnson is expected to be on ballots in all 50 states.

The polls, which have margins of error of plus or minus three percentage points, show improvement for Trump in Pennsylvania and Florida, where he is starting to do better with women and independent voters while gaining more support among men. In June, Clinton held small leads over Trump in Florida and Pennsylvania and they were tied in Ohio.

Perhaps the most significant finding in the new poll is that Trump now leads among Independents in all three states:

  • Florida – Independent voters shifted from 44 – 35 percent for Clinton last month to 43 – 30 percent for Trump today;
  • Ohio – Trump leads 43 – 31 percent among Independent voters;
  • Pennsylvania – Trump leads 39 – 36 percent.

Nationally, Clinton still leads by 3 over Trump according to a McClatchy/Marist poll released today.  That number goes to +5 when you include third party candidates.  The RCP average has Clinton at 45.0 and Trump at 40.7

Arguably, it could have been worse.  Maybe if Clinton hadn’t outspent Trump 15-to-1 over these past few weeks, it would have been a disaster.

Over at FiveThirtyEight’s General Election Forecast, Hillary Clinton’s victory chances have dropped to 68.7% (in the most pessimistic view).  So, it’s still good, but not in the mid-seventies like it was a couple weeks ago.

Am I worried?  Not yet.

A little.

A bit.

But we have some more poll results coming out today, VP picks coming up (Trump’s will be this week sometime), and the conventions.  Plenty of time for more unforced Trump errors.

UPDATE:  NBC/Marist polls are quite different for PA:

Also:

Pennsylvania white voters:
Trump, 40%
Clinton, 40%

Pennsylvania black voters:
Trump, 0%
Clinton, 91%

Same with Ohio — Trump has zero percent black voters

Pew Poll Looks At Demographics Of 2016 Race

The summary chart is too big to cut-and-paste, so I will just link to it.

Basically, it is another Clinton-Trump poll and it shows Clinton leading Trump by 9 points.  But then it compares this presidential race to the polling in June of 2012 and June of 2008 to see where the demographics of the electorate have changed.

Here are a few takeaways that jump out at me:

  • Young women have, and continue to be strong pro Democrat, but this has leaped a lot this time around (D+14 in 2008, D+15 in 2012, D+24 in 2016)
  • Huge shift in higher education to Democrats. For those with postgrad degrees, it’s D+3 in 2008, D+10 in 2012, D+27 in 2016.  College grad: D+1 in 2008, D+3 in 2012, and D+16 in 2016.
  • Also a huge shift in upper income from Republicans to the Democrats.  For those making >$100,000, it’s R+10 in 2008, R+3 in 2012, and D+8 in 2016.
  • Sadly, there is no comparative data for 2008 and 2012, but Hispanics are D+42 this time around.

 

Tough Days For Trump Continue

I pointed out here that Trump’s campaign is sending solicitation emails to members of Parliament.

But it is worse than that:

Members of parliament in Australia, Iceland, Denmark, and Finland have all received the emails, according to news reports and tweets from the politicians.

For example…

The Trump campaign has also asked members of parliament in Iceland for campaign contributions, according to Icelandic media. At least three Icelandic members of parliament have received a Trump fundraising email, according to the Iceland Monitor. A couple members of parliament told the Morgublaðið newspaper that they had received emails, according to a report in Iceland Magazine.

Guess what? That’s illegal.

So there’s that.

And then there is the possibility that Trump is lying about his contributions to his campaign.  Back on June 23rd, on the heels of the Trump campaign’s catastrophic and humiliating May FEC report, he grandly announced that he was forgiving the debt and that he would file the relevant paperwork with the FEC that day.

When Donald Trump said last Thursday he was forgiving over $45 million in personal loans he made to his campaign, the announcement drew plenty of coverage. Many even reported Trump’s statement as if the deal was done.

But it’s not.

A week later, NBC News has learned the FEC has posted no record of Trump converting his loans to donations. The Trump Campaign has also declined requests to share the legal paperwork required to execute the transaction, though they suggest it has been submitted.

Last week, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks said Trump was submitting formal paperwork forgiving the loan on Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Reached by NBC this week, she said the paperwork “will be filed with the next regularly scheduled FEC report,” and declined to provide any documentation.

The delay could matter, because until Trump formally forgives the loans, he maintains the legal option to use new donations to reimburse himself. (He can do so until August, under federal law.)

So there’s that.

And that Trumpian behavior — saying he will do a noble thing with this money and then not doing it — is coming back to haunt Trump in other ways:

Trump has a long-standing habit of promising to give to charity. But Trump’s follow-through on those promises was middling — even at the beginning, in his early days as a national celebrity.

In the 1980s, Trump pledged to give away royalties from his first book to fight AIDS and multiple sclerosis. But he gave less to those causes than he did to his older daughter’s ballet school.

In recent years, Trump’s ­follow-through on his promises has been seemingly nonexistent.

The Post contacted 188 charities searching for evidence of personal gifts from Trump in the period between 2008 and this May. The Post sought out charities that had some link to Trump, either because he had given them his foundation’s money, appeared at their charity galas or praised them publicly.

The search turned up just one donation in that period — a 2009 gift of between $5,000 and $9,999 to the Police Athletic League of New York City.

And then there is his campaign which still isn’t staffed:

Nearly everyone can agree that Donald Trump’s path to the White House goes through Pennsylvania.

But local party leaders in some of the state’s most pivotal counties say there’s been almost no outreach from his campaign so far, and there’s scant evidence of any Trump-driven ground organization. What infrastructure is in place lags behind the Democratic coordinated campaign on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

And then there’s this – eavesdropping on private persons’ phone calls:

At Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach resort he runs as a club for paying guests and celebrities, Donald Trump had a telephone console installed in his bedroom that acted like a switchboard, connecting to every phone extension on the estate, according to six former workers. Several of them said he used that console to eavesdrop on calls involving staff.

Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks responded to written questions with one sentence: “This is totally and completely untrue.”

The managing director of Mar-a-Lago, Bernd Lembcke, did not respond to emails. Reached by phone, he said he referred the email query to Trump’s headquarters and said, “I have no knowledge of what you wrote.”

At the 126-room Mar-a-Lago mansion, Trump keeps an apartment set aside for himself and his family, and rents the rest out to guests and members.

BuzzFeed News spoke with six former employees familiar with the phone system at the estate.

Four of them — speaking on condition of anonymity because they signed nondisclosure agreements — said that Trump listened in on phone calls at the club during the mid-2000s. They did not know if he eavesdropped more recently.

They said he listened in on calls between club employees or, in some cases, between staff and guests. None of them knew of Trump eavesdropping on guests or members talking on private calls with people who were not employees of Mar-a-Lago. They also said that Trump could eavesdrop only on calls made on the club’s landlines and not on calls made from guests’ cell phones.

Each of these four sources said they personally saw the telephone console, which some referred to as a switchboard, in Trump’s bedroom.

None of the four supports Trump’s bid for president. All said they enjoyed their time working at Mar-a-Lago.

And then the polls… oh my God the polls.

First you have predictor extraordinaire saying that as it stands today, Trump has a 20% chance of winning.

538today

The latest polls are overwhelming for Clinton….

latestpolls today

… except for one outlying Rasmussen poll.  Apparently, they are continuing their streak of being wrong and GOP-biased.

And there’s all kinds of other knocks out there.  Like the fact that Trump ties are made in China.

Or the constant exposure of his lies by Politifact.

pantsonfire

And on and on and on — another bullshit “university” before Trump University that was just as fraudulent.    Large GOP donors openly NON-endorsing Trump.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce openly saying that Trump’s policies will start a trade war and cause loss of millions of jobs, inflation, etc.  The revelation that Hillary Clinton spent $20 million in advertising this past month compared to Trump’s….. zero dollars.  How nobody wants to speak at his convention.

These are DAILY hits on Trump.

But there’s more.  Believe it or not, I actually listened to Trump’s speech in Bangor, Maine yesterday and I found it perplexing.

First of all, why Maine?  He’s not going to take Maine.

Secondly, 70% of the speech was whining.  Seriously.  Whining about one particular brief second of a Clinton ad which supposedly showed him golfing in Turnberry Scotland (never mind that Clinton nor that ad said anything about Trump golfing in Turnberry Scotland).  Whining about how the GOP candidates he beat were not adhering to the GOP “pledge” to support the GOP nominee (never mind that Trump did the same thing 3 months ago).  Whining about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce saying how terrible he was (Rule No One from The West Wing — don’t keep on repeating what your critics say; it only cements the criticism).

When he finally got to some substance, he read from his prepared bullet points about trade.  That was about 50 minutes and 30 seconds into a 85 minute speech

As you can see, the crowd gets pretty subdued as he says things like:

I’m going tell our NAFTA partners that I intend to immediately renegotiate the terms of that agreement to get a better deal for our workers. And I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better. If they do not agree to a renegotiation, then I will submit notice under Article 2205 of the NAFTA agreement that America intends to withdraw from the deal.

Can I hear it for Article 2205???? Whoop-whoop!!

Then he did the wall shtick and then out the door.

It was the same red meat we’ve seen a thousand times but now with 15 minutes of dry policy read from a script.  This cannot actually be his plan for winning.

20 percent chance, Nate?  Hey, I get how everyone needs to hedge their bets because this is an odd election.  But I can’t believe it is that high.  Not with all the dings Trump and his campaign take on a daily basis.

UPDATE:  Trump is speaking in Manchester NH right now.  The crowds?

CmOZgQSWMAA6NUN

Americans Reaction To Orlando Shootings

Here are the major take-aways, as I see it

  1. Most Americans see Orlando massacre as an act of terrorism and a hate crime
  2. Americans are divided on whether the massacre could have been prevented
  3. Most Americans approve of Obama’s response to the massacre
  4. Americans are split on Hillary’s response to the massacre
  5. Most Americans, including Republicans, disapprove  of Trump’s response to the massacre.

Read for yourself:

How Much Do People Love Trump

Very very very much not.

In mid-May, Trump was underwater by barely more than 20 points—a disaster for most politicians, but an improvement for Trump. Now the percent of people with unfavorable views of Trump is on the rise again, and by a lot, if a new Washington Post/ABC News poll is a harbinger: It finds that “70 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Trump, including a 56 percent majority who feel this way ’strongly.’” Perhaps most significantly, he’s suffering with groups that were supposed to help him:

Trump’s net favorable rating (favorable minus unfavorable) among non-college whites has flipped from a plus-14 in May to slightly negative minus-7 in the latest survey. Among independents, Trump’s net rating has shifted from from -19 last month to -38 in the latest survey, returning him to roughly the same standing as in April (-37).

The poll was conducted as the controversy over Trump’s attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel erupted, but before the Orlando mass shooting. So as more polls come out, we’ll see if Politico’s right that Orlando is Trump’s “terrain” and will strengthen his hand.

In the meantime, he is underwater with every demographic.  Even white men.

Fav_Unfav_table-REV

Hillary Clinton also had more negative impressions among the public than positive ones, but her problems pale in comparison with Trump’s, the survey indicates.

Among all American adults surveyed, 55 percent had a negative view of Clinton, and 43 percent viewed her positively. Only 29 percent of adults had a positive view of Trump.

UPDATE:  An entirely different poll shows something even more remarkable.  Trump is so unpopular that he is actually suppressing the GOP vote.

According to Marquette’s latest polling out of Wisconsin, they have Hillary Clinton leading +7 among registered voters, but +9 among likely voters. They also have Russ Feingold leading the Senate race +4 among registered voters, but +9 again among likely voters.

Both Clinton and Feingold will win Wisconsin in November, but what’s interesting here isn’t that they’re winning a state they’re supposed to win but rather the gap between the registered and likely voter screens. In short, Democrats always do better among registered voters. The likely voter screen always looks better for Republicans. Always.

Until now.  Now “likely voters” looks better for Democrats.  Yes, if anyone could defy the laws of physics, it would be Donald Trump. He’s doing what no Republican before him has managed—suppress his own vote.

Good Political News: Polls Show Trump Falling Behind

Hillary Clinton’s advantage over Donald Trump grew over the course of the last week, according to the results of the latest NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll released today.  The survey was conducted in the same week that Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination and Trump continued his criticism of federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel,

Clinton leads Trump 49 percent to 42 percent.

Clinton narrowed Trump’s lead among men and white voters to single digits over the past week and now leads Trump by 25 points — 58 percent to 33 percent — among voters describing themselves as moderate. Trump led men by 14 points in last week’s survey but now leads by only 9 points in this week’s poll — 51 percent to 42 percent. Among white voters, Trump’s lead also shrank to 9 points, 50 percent to 41 percent.

But what I find more interesting is what is happening to Trump in a couple state polls:

Kansas last went Democratic in a presidential election in 1964, joining 43 other states plus the District of Columbia in choosing Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had ascended to the presidency after the assassination of John Kennedy less than a year before, over conservative firebrand Barry Goldwater. As of Friday, Hillary Rodham Clinton led Donald Trump in Kansas by seven points in the Zogby poll, respondents to which were 44 percent Republican and 28 percent Democratic.

Clinton leads Trump by seven points….. in Kansas?  And how about Utah:

Clinton and Trump are knotted at 35 percent, with five months of campaigning remaining before the election, according to the survey conducted for The Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah.

Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson draws 13 percent, a remarkably strong showing for the candidate who garnered 1.2 percent as the party’s candidate four years ago.

Now, granted, these are not states with large electoral college numbers.  But if Trump has a problem throughout all the prairie states, this is incredibly bad for him.

UPDATE [5:05 pm]:  A new Bloomberg poll published just now shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 49 percent to 37 percent – that’s 12 points.  Libertarian candidate Johnson has percent.

The Angry Voter

Pundits say that America is mad with the government this election cycle, and that informs how they will vote.

The Cook Political Report examined this theory and found that Americans are no more “angry at government” now than they were before:

In fact, according to data from the Pew Research Center, the percent of Americans who say they are “angry at the federal government” has remained rather consistent over the last six years, ranging from a high of 32 percent in October 2013, to a low of 13 percent in March 2011. Today, 22 percent of Americans say they are “angry.” Even when asked their feelings about the broader category of “politics” just 21 percent say they are angry.

So, why the obsession with anger? Well, like just about everything else we talk about this year, it has an association with Donald J. Trump. Among Trump supporters, Pew found in March, 50 percent said they were angry with the federal government. Forty percent said they were angry with politics. Meanwhile, just 30 percent of Cruz and 18 percent of Kasich backers described themselves as angry with government. Even those who support Sanders, who is often described as the angry candidate on the left, are not any angrier about “politics today” than Clinton supporters are – 18 percent to 14 percent.

Americans are – and quite frankly have been for a while – frustrated. According to the same Pew data, 57 percent of Americans consider themselves “frustrated” with the federal government. But, this 57 percent isn’t that out of the ordinary either. In fact, since 1997, a majority of Americans – between 51 percent and 62 percent – have described themselves as frustrated. The one dip, of course, was in the immediate wake of 9/11.

So how does anger/frustration affect the vote?

[P]eople who are angry with government (21 percent of all voters) have their candidate – Trump. People who are content with government (20 percent of all voters) have theirs – Clinton. But, for the vast majority who are frustrated, Clinton has a small edge. Or more accurately, those who are frustrated with government view Trump more negatively than they do Clinton.

There is a racial component to this as well.  The ones who tend to be angry are the white voter, while black voters seem to be more content.  Party and education level make a difference.

Point being, that different groups of people are angry, other groups are frustrated, and they might be angry/frustrated at different things.  Or as Cook says:

Trump’s anger message has limited appeal. But, with most Americans disappointed in both the direction of the country as well as the frustrated with government in general, a “stay the course” message isn’t a winning one for Clinton. The challenge for the media is to avoid characterizing those voters who are throwing chairs or punches as typical. Or that what frustrates or challenges Americans is universal. It looks different to different groups of Americans. There is no “real America” but a series of real Americas. Americans are indeed looking for change, and frustrated with the system. But, please stop saying they are all angry.

Read the whole thing.

Polls, Polls, Polls

I don’t think any Democrat is complacent about the general election.  After all, most Democrats — pundits, politicians, and laymen alike — are still surprised by Trump’s nomination.  But most seem to believe that a Hillary Clinton victory will be the likely outcome.

Do the first round of polls bear that up?  Not as well as I had hoped. A new PPP Poll shows Republicans quickly unifying against Donald Trump.  Yes, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a modest lead — raising the real prospect that Bernie Sanders supporters who decide to stay home and teach their party a lesson could be helping to elect the next President (Trump). Sanders continues to do better than Clinton when matched up against Trump.

Details:

PPP’s new national poll finds that Republicans have quickly unified around Donald Trump, making the Presidential race more competitive than it has previously been perceived to be.

Hillary Clinton leads Trump 42-38, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 4% and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 2%. In a match up just between Clinton and Trump, her lead expands to 47-41. That’s because supporters of Johnson and Stein would prefer her over Trump 36-18. Although there’s been a lot of talk about third party candidates drawing support away from Trump, they’re actually taking a little bit more from Clinton at this point.

Clinton leads Trump 78-9 among Democrats in the full field at this point, while Trump leads Clinton 78-7 among Republicans.

And there’s the important point: the Republicans are JUST as unified now with some who don’t like Trump as the Democrats are with some who don’t like Clinton:

Although much has been made of disunity in the GOP, it is actually just as unified behind Trump as the Democrats are behind Clinton. 72% of Republicans now say they’re comfortable with Trump as their nominee to only 21% who they aren’t. Those numbers are little different from the ones among Democrats that find 75% of them would be comfortable with Clinton as their nominee to 21% who say they would not be.

Bernie Sanders continues to do the best in general election match ups, leading Trump 47-37 with Johnson at 3% and Stein at 1% in the full field, and leading Trump 50-39 head to head. The difference between how Clinton and Sanders fare against Trump comes almost completely among young people. In the full field Clinton leads 46-24, but Sanders leads 64-18 with voters between 18 and 29. In one on ones with Trump, Clinton leads 49-27, but Sanders leads 70-14.

The undecideds in a Clinton-Trump match up right now support Sanders 41-8 in a match up with Trump, so the bad news for Clinton is that she has work to do to win over a certain segment of Sanders supporters in the general, but the good news is that they are at least somewhat Democratic leaning and she has the potential to increase her advantage over Trump by a couple points if she is eventually able to get them in her corner. Democrats lead a generic question about which party people would vote for President 49-41, so that may be somewhat of a forecast for where the race could be headed if/when Sanders supporters unify around Clinton for the general.

The poll also checked to see what Trump supporters thought of various conspiracy theories about Obama and found this:

-65% think President Obama is a Muslim, only 13% think he’s a Christian.
-59% think President Obama was not born in the United States, only 23% think that he was.
-27% think vaccines cause autism, 45% don’t think they do, another 29% are not sure.
-24% think Antonin Scalia was murdered, just 42% think he died naturally, another 34% are unsure.
-7% think Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of JFK, 55% think he was not involved, another 38% are unsure.

Plus this aside:

And closing the loop on the greatest conspiracy theory of this election- a rare one that Trump didn’t embrace- 5% of voters nationally think Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer, 18% are unsure, and 77% find Cruz not guilty of the charge of being a serial killer in diapers. So at least he has that going for him.

And how do voters think Trump compares with various maladies or unpleasant experiences?

Do you have a higher opinion of Donald Trump or

________________

Results (Trump +/-)

Hemorrhoids — Trump, 45/39 (+6)

Cockroaches — Trump, 46/42 (+4)

Nickelback — Nickelback, 39/34 (-5)

Used Car Salesmen — Used Car Salesmen, 47/41 (-6)

Traffic Jams — Traffic Jams, 47/40 (-7)

Hipsters — Hipsters, 45/38 (-7)

DMV — DMV, 50/40 (-10)

Root Canals — Root Canals, 49/38 (-11)

Jury Duty — Jury Duty, 57/35 (-22)

Lice — Lice, 54/28 (-26)

Yup, Lice beat out Trump by 26 percentage points.

But all silliness aside, Trump can still win this thing. A 4 to 8 point margin is not a lot.

And then there are the latest Quinnepeac polls in three important swing states:

RCPpolls

Those are all within the margin of error.

But NBC/WSJ/Marist battleground polling  looks better for Clinton:

FL: Clinton 49, Trump 41
OH: Clinton 48, Trump 42
PA: Clinton 54, Trump 39

but that looks at the past 2 months.  Clearly, the unification thing has happened.

Obviously, if Trump keeps what Romney took in 2012, and adds Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, he’s won.

But can he?  Florida has a heavy Hispanic population, larger now than it was four years ago.  And more liberal.  And (one hopes), more motivated.

Ohio… I say Hillary can take care of that by nominating Sherrod Brown.

There are other purple states in play.  I live in one.  North Carolina’s electoral votes are nothing to sneeze at, and we have a local elections to contend with.  HB2 has got the electorate charged, which means a good voter turnout (just 36% of voters in the state support HB2, to 45% who are opposed)

But the point is…. this thing is not a done deal.  Trump is unpredictable, and even though the GOP rank and file are not all lining up behind him, there does seem to be some unity among the GOP voters.  Dems need to work to win this, and not just depend on Trump to implode and offend.

Bad Week For Trump To Culminate In Likely Wisconsin Loss

Women.  Turns out THEY are the Donald’s Achilles Heel.

Trump’s campaign was rocked last week by the fallout from his suggestion that women be punished for getting abortions if the procedure is banned.  Trump dialed that back in Trump style — basically he did a 360 on it, saying OF COURSE women should not be punished, and that his views on that have been inconsistent since the Reagan era (but never explaining why he said what he said in the first place)

Also, Trump also acknowledged that he made a mistake retweeting an attack on Cruz’s wife, according to the New York Times.  That was interesting in that he simply acknowledged it as a mistake.  Maybe even he could not make up some justification.

The there was his campaign manager who was caught on tape (after denying it many times) committing misdemeanor battery against a female reporter.  Trump stood by his manager out of loyalty, but then – very quietly over the weekend when nobody was paying attention — he rolled back some of the campaign manager’s duties.

He also drew some fire last week for saying he would not rule out using nuclear weapons in Europe, and that Japan and South Korea might need their own nuclear arsenals to ease the U.S. financial commitment to their security.  Yup.  He thinks a nuclear arms race in Korea would be a good thing for us.

Tuesday is another primary day and the prize is Wisconsin.  A blue collar state, it should be a Trump haven.  But it isn’t.  Cruz is up in all the recent polls…

Wiscpolls

… and even Kasich does well.  The fact that Kasich is still in the race prompted Trump to make the odd claim to the RNC Kasich should “not be allowed to run” because he is taking “his” (meaning Trump’s) votes.   Apparently, Trump wants the RNC to make up rules on the fly — rules which favor Trump.

Hmmm.  The response from the Kasich campaign was nice.

And speaking or rules, there has been a lot of talk about the rules of the RNC (Republican National Convention), for the obvious reason that there may not be a Republican candidate with a majority going in to the election.

So what are the RNC rules?  Well, that’s the fun part.  Nobody knows.  Not even the RNC.  Here’s what the RNC says:

Convention Facts   GOP

You see, the rules are decided by the convention delegates themselves.

A week before the Convention, the 2016 Convention Rules Committee must convene to put together a package of rules to recommend for consideration by all delegates.

Delegates from each state and territory elect two representatives from within their own delegations to the Convention Rules Committee – 112 delegates in total.

The Convention Rules Committee, after debate and discussion, adopts by majority vote a package of recommended rules that moves to the convention floor.

Once a majority of the convention delegates adopt the report, the rules become the permanent rules governing that Convention.

That package, called a Rules Report, is adopted by the Convention Rules Committee by majority vote.

It’s the 2016 Convention Rules Committee Meeting — the hotel ballroom or whatever — THAT’S the room where it happens.

You can be sure that Cruz will be trying to get “his people” on that committee.  So would Trump, if he has even thought about this and has the ground game to do the same.

Put another way, whoever gets the delegates on the rule committee is the one who ultimately gets the nomination, IF it is an open convention.  112 delegates are going to become VERY important.

Anyway, this might be moot if Trump gets the 1237 delegates needed.  Wisconsin could be bad for him, but after that comes New York and Pennsylvania, where he is expected to trounce Cruz (and Kasich of course).

Trump’s Weekend Foray Into Fascism

“Fascism” is a word that rarely appears in modern political discourse, and when it does, it usually is in an Internet flame.  It’s intended to be incendiary — it is hyperbole.

But not this time.  When I say that Donald Trump — GOP presidential candidate and likely nominee for the Republicans — flirted with fascism this weekend, I mean it.

It started with re-tweeting Mussolini quote:

The @ilduce2016 feed is a parody account by Gawker, with a profile picture that is a composite of Trump’s hair and Mussolini’s face. “Il Duce” was how Mussolini was known by Italians.  The account was set up basically to troll Trump, and it worked.

Trump, in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said he was unaware that it had been a quote from Mussolini. But he didn’t seem to care, saying “It’s a very good quote.  I didn’t know who said it, but what difference does it make if it was Mussolini or somebody else — it’s a very good quote.”  Asked whether he wanted to be associated with Mussolini, Trump replied, ‘No, I want to be associated with interesting quotes.” And he added, “Hey, it got your attention, didn’t it?”

As if that wasn’t enough, Trump went on CNN and was interviewed by Jake Tapper.  He was asked if he would denounce David Duke and white supremacist groups — a softball question really — and Trump just wouldn’t denounce.

Here’s the relevant part:

And while it is true that Trump had denounced David Duke before (even as recently as last Friday), the fact that he claimed not to know who Duke was or to denounce him yet again (on CNN to a broader audience) is giving everyone pause.  It is not unusual for a candidate to get asked the same question many times, and they know to give the same answer (how many times has Trump himself been asked about how he will pay for the wall).  So one has to wonder why the refusal to denounce the Duke/white supremacist endorsement here.

But this morning, Trump offers a lame excuse:

Donald Trump blamed CNN for providing a “lousy earpiece” in explaining his non-answer to the network on Sunday when asked to disavow the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke.

“I’m sitting in a house in Florida with a very bad earpiece that they gave me, and you could hardly hear what he was saying. But what I heard was various groups, and I don’t mind disavowing anybody, and I disavowed David Duke and I disavowed him the day before at a major news conference, which is surprising because he was at the major news conference, CNN was at the major news conference, and they heard me very easily disavow David Duke,” the Republican presidential frontrunner explained on NBC’s “Today.”

“Now, I go, and I sit down again, I have a lousy earpiece that is provided by them, and frankly, he talked about groups,” Trump said, referring to the question from CNN’s Jake Tapper, who asked him about a call from the Anti-Defamation League to denounce the groups endorsing his presidential run. “He also talked about groups. And I have no problem with disavowing groups, but I’d at least like to know who they are. It would be very unfair to disavow a group, Matt, if the group shouldn’t be disavowed. I have to know who the groups are. But I disavowed David Duke.”

The problem with that is that Trump clearly understood the question:

TAPPER: “Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?”

TRUMP: “Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.  So, I don’t know. I don’t know, did he endorse me or what’s going on, because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.”

He repeated Duke’s name twice and mentioned white supremacists three times.  And he understood it was about endorsements.  So Trump is BSing.

Not that this is likely to hurt him.  Trump is doing better than ever — the latest poll (from CNN) shows him with a 33 point lead over the remaining four candidates — Trump is at 49%:

cnnpoll

That’s an uptick in the poll averages since the last debate (where Trump supposedly got beat up):

RCP polls 2-29-16latest gop polls

On a state by state basis, Trump leads every poll except Texas, where he is tried with Cruz.  And if Cruz can’t win Texas (his home state) tomorrow, he’s done.

Trump’s unfavorables remain extremely high, which is good news for the general election.  And John Oliver did the ultimate Trump takedown this weekend:

If the Clinton people are smart, this will be the template to fight Trump in the general election.

South Carolina Primary Outlook

A the Republican debate last Saturday, which I didn’t see, this occurred:

TRUMP: George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.
DICKERSON: But so I’m going to — so you still think he should be impeached?
BUSH: I think it’s my turn, isn’t it?
TRUMP: You do whatever you want. You call it whatever you want. I want to tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.
(BOOING)
DICKERSON: All right. OK. All right.
Governor Bush — when a member on the stage’s brother gets attacked…
BUSH: I’ve got about five or six…
DICKERSON: … the brother gets to respond.
BUSH: Do I get to do it five or six times or just once responding to that?
TRUMP: I’m being nice.
BUSH: So here’s the deal. I’m sick ask tired of Barack Obama blaming my brother for all of the problems that he has had.
(APPLAUSE)
BUSH: And, frankly, I could care less about the insults that Donald Trump gives to me. It’s blood sport for him. He enjoys it. And I’m glad he’s happy about it. But I am sick and tired…
TRUMP: He spent $22 million in…
(CROSSTALK)
BUSH: I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind.
(APPLAUSE)
BUSH: And while Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I’m proud of what he did.
(APPLAUSE)
BUSH: And he has had the gall to go after my brother.
TRUMP: The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign, remember that.

Now, it is gospel on the left that (a) the notion that Bush 43 “kept us safe” is laughable when you take into account, as you should, 9/11/01 and (b) the justification for the Iraq War was based on known lies.

What’s remarkable is that these things were said (a) by a Republican candidate for President (b) on national television (c) to Bush’s brother (d) just before a primary in a Southern state which loves the Bushes.

For any other candidate, that would have been political suicide.  But the first post-debate poll, and from a reliable polling firm, too, tells us this:

Donald Trump is the clear front-runner heading into Saturday’s South Carolina Republican primary.

A new Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday found Trump leading in the crucial third-nominating state by a large margin.

According to the poll, 35% of likely Republican voters supported Trump. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tied for second with 18%.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) trailed in fourth with 10%, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson each captured 7% of the support.

So once again, the notion that Trump “went too far” never proved reliable.  I’m not particularly surprised anymore.  Also, as the transcript above shows, Bush didn’t really hit back so much as clutch his pearls (“Oh, how dare he!”).

I still believe that Trump has a ceiling.  But we won’t know what it is until the establishment candidates — who remain at this point to be Kasich, Bush and Rubio — unite behind one candidate.  I don’t see that happening before Super Tuesday, which may just mean that Trump will have the momentum to be unstoppable.

The Trump Backlash Continues

A $6 billion golf community under construction in Dubai is removing his name from the project. Trump was tossed from a respected business network in Scotland, where the billionaire says he invested more than $300 million in golf courses and other developments. And Lifestyle, a retailer that does business in an enormous marketplace spanning the Middle East, India and Africa, stopped selling Trump branded products. Trump lost his honorary doctorate at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Scotland.

Trump says that these nations are “caving to political correctness”.

In the national media, Tom Brokaw, the veteran NBC News anchor, has called Trump’s proposal “dangerous,” and likened it to the Holocaust and the Japanese internment. On its front page, The New York Times has said Trump’s idea is “more typically associated with hate groups.” Dan Balz, of The Washington Post, has called Trump’s rhetoric “demagogic,” while BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith has informed staff that it is acceptable to refer to Trump on social media as a “mendacious racist,” because, he said, those are facts.  Thankfully, journalism has moved into the ‘have you no shame’ mode, rather than the typical “he-said she-said”.

Muslim-Americans are speaking out.  The prize goes to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for his Time editorial, which begins:

The terrorist campaign against American ideals is winning. Fear is rampant. Gun sales are soaring. Hate crimes are increasing. Bearded hipsters are beingmistaken for Muslims. And 83 percent of voters believe a large-scale terrorist attack is likely here in the near future. Some Americans are now so afraid that they are willing to trade in the sacred beliefs that define America for some vague promises of security from the very people who are spreading the terror. “Go ahead and burn the Constitution — just don’t hurt me at the mall.” That’s how effective this terrorism is.

I’m not talking about ISIS. I’m talking about Donald Trump.

This is not hyperbole. Not a metaphor. Webster defines terrorism as “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal; the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.”

If violence can be an abstraction — and it can; that’s what a threat is — the Trump campaign meets this definition. Thus, Trump is ISIS’s greatest triumph: the perfect Manchurian Candidate who, instead of offering specific and realistic policies, preys on the fears of the public, doing ISIS’s job for them. Even fellow Republican Jeb Bush acknowledged Trump’s goal is “to manipulate people’s angst and fears.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, however, defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” Now, we don’t require by law that our candidates tell the truth. They can retweet (as Trump did) racist “statistics” from a white supremacist fictional organization that claimed 81% of murdered whites are victims of blacks, when the truth is 84% of whites are murdered by whites. They can claim (as Trump did) to have seen on TV thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheering on 9/11, even though there is no evidence of this. They can say (as Trump did) Syrian refugees are “pouring” into the country when only 2,000 have come (out of 4.3 million U.N.-registered refugees). Then, when caught lying (as Trump has been over and over), they can do what every belligerent child does: deny, deny, deny.

While Trump is not slaughtering innocent people, he is exploiting such acts of violence to create terror here to coerce support. As I have written before, his acts could be interpreted as hate crimes. He sounds the shrill alarm of impending doomsday even though since 9/11, about 30 Americans a year have been killed in terrorist attacks worldwide — as The Atlanticpointed out, “roughly the same number as are crushed to death each year by collapsing furniture.” Trump’s irresponsible, inflammatory rhetoric and deliberate propagation of misinformation have created a frightened and hostile atmosphere that could embolden people to violence. He’s the swaggering guy in old Westerns buying drinks for everyone in the saloon while whipping them up for a lynching.

About 30,000 foreign fighters have gone into Syria to join ISIS, thousands of them from Europe and at least 250 from the United States. What most of us in these bountiful countries can’t understand is how our young, raised with such opportunity, choose to abandon our values to embrace a culture of pitiless violence. Before going, many of these recruits spend much of their time on social media being brainwashed by propaganda videos. One 23-year-old woman, a devout Christian and Sunday school teacher, was recruited via Skype. The recruiter spent hours with the lonely woman teaching her the rituals of Islam. Maybe that’s because, according to some psychologists, the brain’s default setting is simply to believe because it takes extra work to analyze information.

The same process works for Trump’s supporters. They are impervious to facts or truth because their (understandable) frustration and anger at partisan greed and incompetence have fatigued them out of critical thinking. Like deranged newscaster Howard Beale in Network, they are mad as hell and they aren’t going to take it anymore. To express their outrage, they have rallied around a so-called “outsider” with no political experience, no detailed policies, and whacky ideas that subvert the very Constitution that he would be required to swear to uphold. Electing him would be like asking the clown at a child’s birthday party to start juggling chainsaws.

Muhammad Ali hit Trump with this released statement:

I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion.

We as Muslims have to stand up to those who use Islam to advance their own personal agenda. They have alienated many from learning about Islam. True Muslims know or should know that it goes against our religion to try and force Islam on anybody.

Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam and clarify that these misguided murderers have perverted people’s views on what Islam really is.

Even Ted Cruz, who has taken pains to avoid critiquing Trump, remarked at a private fundraiser that he would have problems with Trump as President and having his finger on the button.

None of this, of course, has affected Trump in the polls.  He leads in NH and SC by quite a bit.

Interestingly, there is an article in the New York Times today which reads

Fear of Terrorism Lifts Donald Trump in New York Times/CBS Poll

I am among the many who thinks it should read

Donald Trump Lifts Fear of Terrorism in New York Times/CBS Poll

The San Bernadino shootings (and to a lesser extent, the Paris attacks), of course, started the fear, but Trump is exploiting that fear in a way that even ISIS couldn’t.

On the other hand, not everyone is in Trump’s grip.  He is viewed as strongly negative by the electorate in general.  Here are some graphics from a WSJ/NBC poll released today:

WSJNBC1

WSJNBC2

Again, I think Trump has a ceiling and he’s a media phenomenon, but I don’t think he has a chance in hell to be the GOP nominee.  That’s almost irrelevant though, as his behavior this week is actually damaging to national security.  This is the culmination of years of anti-government right wing radio and TV — an actual honest-to-God fascist candidate who doesn’t see what he advocates as fascism.  In the guise of rejection of political correctness, he rejects the US Constitution and American values.

He’s yuge among white supremacists and crazy people.  The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Trump traffic spike.

This typifies a Trump fanatic/.  This lady, I am embarrassed to say, is a state representative in New Hampshire:

This is an interesting chapter in American politics, like the McCarthy Era was at one time.  I can’t wait until it is over.

UPDATE: It’s getting ugly too.  Here are Trump protesters being forcefully removed from a Trump event at the Plaza Hotel


UPDATE #2:  The first poll conducted entirely after Trump’s Muslim remarks just came out.  It was conducted by Reuters/Ipsos:

Trump led the pack of candidates seeking the Republican Party’s nomination in the 2016 election with 35 percent of support from Republican voters, the opinion poll released on Friday found, the same lead he held before Monday, when he said Muslim immigrants, students and other travelers should be barred from entering the country.

Most Republican voters said they were not bothered by his remarks, though many said the comments could still hurt Trump’s chances of becoming president. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans, who will pick the party’s nominee for the November 2016 election, said they found Trump’s remarks offensive against 64 percent who did not.

***

Still, in a sign of how Trump’s rhetoric has polarized the electorate, 72 percent of Democrats and 47 percent of voters overall said they were offended by Trump’s comments.

Forty-one percent of Republicans polled said Trump’s remarks could hurt his chances of becoming president; that figure was higher among all respondents.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson came in second among Republicans with 12 percent in the Reuters/Ipsos poll, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush tied with 10 percent.

NC-GOP Poll: Carson Over Trump By Double Digits

GOP Presidential Primary – Respondent’s First Choice

Registered voters who were self-identified Republicans or Independents who lean Republican were asked who they planned to vote for if the presidential primary were held today. Fourteen candidate names were read to respondents, with names randomly rotated to prevent primacy and recency effects. The survey found Carson in the lead with 31 percent. Carson gained 10 percentage points from the prior Elon Poll conducted between September 17th and September 21st. Donald Trump dropped to second place with 19 percent (compared to 21.5% in the last poll). Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are now in third place. Cruz was previously in 6th place with 6.2 percent but currently has 9.7 percent support. Rubio was in 4th place in the previous poll with 7.4 percent, but now has 9.7 percent support as well. Jeb Bush’s support has dropped from 7 percent to 4.6 percent and Carly Fiorina, previously in 3rd place, has dropped to 6th place with only 3.4 percent (a 6.5 point drop in support). Not a single respondent in our sample mentioned Bobby Jindal, George Pataki or Rick Santorum as a candidate for whom they intend to vote for. Twelve percent of Republican voters are still undecided.

ncpoll

GOP Presidential Primary – Respondent’s Second Choice

Republican respondents were also asked a follow-up question: “If [Respondent’s first choice] dropped out of the race for president which Republican candidate would you vote for?” Ben Carson leads the GOP field in this question as the second choice for 15% of Republican voters, which is similar to what we found in the September 2015 poll. Trump was the second choice for 14% of Republican voters (also similar to the prior poll). Nearly 14 percent said they would vote for Marco Rubio if their first choice dropped out (approximately a 3 point gain). Only 4.4 percent said Carly Fiorina was their second choice (compared to 11.4% a month ago).

2016 Democratic Presidential Primary

Registered voters who are self-identified Democrats or Independents who lean Democratic were asked who they would vote for if the presidential primary were held today. Three candidate names were read to respondents with names rotated randomly. Hillary Clinton is still the clear favorite among Democratic voters in North Carolina. Fifty-seven percent said they planned on voting for Clinton, a 33 point lead over Bernie Sanders’ 24 percent. Clinton’s support is up 4 points from the September survey. Martin O’Malley had less than 3 percent support. Nearly 14 percent of Democrats or Democratic leaning Independents are still undecided.

Hypothetical Match-Ups in the 2016 Election

Respondents were given five hypothetical races they might see in the 2016 election. For each they were asked to say which candidate they would support. Matchups were rotated randomly.

Clinton v. Bush

Between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, Clinton has a three and a half point advantage (46.6% to 43.0%). This is a reversal from the September Elon Poll which found Jeb Bush beating Clinton by about 3 points (46% to 42.6%). Bush does better with whites (55% to 33%), but Clinton does much better with African Americans (90% to 4%). Men tend to favor Bush over Clinton (47% to 42%), while women favor Clinton (51%) over Bush (40%).

Clinton v. Carson

When Clinton faces Ben Carson, Clinton loses by over 4 points (48% to 44%). Clinton has gained some ground against Carson since September when Carson was leading Clinton by 11 points. Some of these gains seem to come from women who now support Clinton over Carson, but just barely (46% to 45%). This is a shift from September when Carson did better with women than Clinton (48% to 44%). Independents still favor Carson over Clinton by a noticeable margin (57% compared to 32%). In September Carson had support form 15% of Black respondents, which although low was twice as much as any other Republican. That support has been cut to 7% in this recent poll.

Clinton v. Fiorina

Clinton leads Fiorina by 6 points in a hypothetical matchup. Clinton does better with women (51% to 38%) and African Americans (89% to 3%), but Fiorina does better with Independents (47% to 39%). Men prefer Fiorina over Clinton, but only slightly (46% to 44%). Only 3 percent of African Americans said they would support Fiorina. 5

Clinton v. Trump

In September Clinton led Trump by 7 points (47% to 40%). Clinton has now expanded that lead to nearly a 10 point lead (50% to 40%). Compared to the other 4 hypothetical matchups, Trump seems to get the lowest level of support from women (33%) and the lowest level of support from African Americans (2%). Trump fares worse than all other tested Republicans in matchups against Clinton.

Clinton v. Rubio

Besides Carson, Rubio is the only other Republican candidate in our 5 hypothetical matchups who beats Hillary Clinton. Rubio has a 1 point advantage of Clinton (46% to 45%) and does better among men, whites, and Independents.

Monday Presidential Outlook

Slow news day but it is well worth mentioning that the sheen has come off the Trump, at least in Iowa.  Now we have three polls showing a substantial lead by Ben Carson over Trump:

Ben Carson has overtaken Donald Trump in Iowa, surging to a 14-point lead, according to a new poll.

A Monmouth University survey released on Monday found Carson taking 32 percent support in Iowa, followed by Trump at 18 percent.

That’s a 9-point gain for Carson from the same poll in late August, while Trump has fallen five points in that time.

The poll found Carson with the best favorability rating in the field, with an astounding 84 percent of Iowa Republicans having a positive view of him, compared to only 7 percent who view him negatively.

Trump’s favorability rating is at 53 percent positive and 38 percent negative. His favorability rating is essentially unchanged from late August, although the percentage of those who view him unfavorably has increased by 5 points in that time.

Trump has led in nearly every poll of Iowa since early August, but the Monmouth survey is the third recent poll to show Carson with a healthy lead over the field in the Hawkeye State.

A Des Moines Register-Bloomberg poll released last week showed Carson with a 9 point lead, and a Quinnipiac University survey found Carson ahead by 8.

Carson is ahead among all demographic groups in Iowa, according to Monmouth. He leads among Republicans who describe themselves as “somewhat” and “very conservative,” as well as self-described moderates.

Carson also leads among evangelicals, non-evangelicals, men and women in the poll.

It is difficult to say what happened.  Trump “won” both debates.  He didn’t gaffe (or at least, there was nothing that seemed like a gaffe).

Personally, I think two things happened.  First of all, he simply grew tiresome to some people.  Secondly, the Democratic debates showed what serious candidates looked like, and people saw Trump in a new light.  Iowa is getting closer and now the Republicans there are getting more serious about who they want.  Carson was always slowly rising, and that made him a safer bet (especially among evangelicals).

As a Democrat, this is fantastic news.  Democrats would love to run against Trump, but the one person even better than Trump, is Carson.  A nice guy, but politically dumb.  Really dumb.

2016 Election Tidbits

biden-hat-ring-reporter-luckovich1)  Biden His Time.  I have written much about Joe Biden entering the Democratic race because I think it is a news story ginned up by the media.  Oh, I’m sure he has considered it, but I took him at his word that he was wiped out by his son’s death and that he might not have the emotional energy for a campaign.  And Hillary, I’m sure he knew, was not going to disappear in a sea of scandal.  So I don’t think he wants to get in the race; I don’t think he’s politically any difference from Hillary.  He also doesn’t have the organization in place.  He’ll make it interesting for a while, and then he’ll lose.  Anyway, the media is thinking he might announce today.  In fact, the Washington Post accidentally put the “Joe’s Running!” story online:

The Washington Post accidentally published the article it had prepared in the event Vice President Joe Biden announces his presidential campaign on Monday night, due to a “technical glitch” when someone was attempting to embed a video. The story included background and analysis, if Biden were to become a candidate.

The article was quickly replaced with an editor’s note: “This file was inadvertently published.”

2)  Jim Webb is out of the race.  He might run as an independent, which means he gets all the debate time for the Independent nomination to himself.

Jim, we hardly knew ye.  No, seriously.  Nobody knew who you were, which is why you never hit 1%.

3)  Trump not fading.  Despite predictions from me and other, Trump doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, if the polls are accurate.  NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey, released last night, says:

1. Donald Trump: 25% (up four points from September)
2. Ben Carson: 22% (up two points)
3. Marco Rubio: 13% (up two points)
4. Ted Cruz: 9% (up four points)
5. Jeb Bush: 8% (up one point)
6. Carly Fiorina: 7% (down four points)

The remaining candidates are at 3% or lower, including Chris Christie, who has seen his support steadily drop in recent months, falling to just 1% in this poll. Trump’s 25% showing, meanwhile, represents the strongest support any GOP candidate has in any NBC/WSJ poll this year.

A new CNN poll offers similar results:

1. Donald Trump: 27% (up three points from September)
2. Ben Carson: 22% (up eight points)
3. Jeb Bush: 8% (down one point)
3. Marco Rubio: 8% (down three points)

The remaining candidates are at 5% or lower. Fiorina, in particular, has seen her standing collapse, dropping from 15% to 4% in the CNN poll just over the course of one month.

National Review published a striking piece yesterday noting that the GOP establishment, long confident that Trump’s backing would be fleeting, is starting to reevaluate its assumptions.
It began as whispers in hushed corners: Could it ever happen? And now, just three months from the Iowa caucuses, members of the Republican establishment are starting to give voice to an increasingly common belief that Donald Trump, once dismissed as joke, a carnival barker, and a circus freak, might very well win the nomination.
“Trump is a serious player for the nomination at this time,” says Ed Rollins, who served as the national campaign director for Reagan’s 1984 reelection and as campaign chairman for Mike Huckabee in 2008.
The same piece quoted Steve Schmidt, an MSNBC political analyst who managed John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, saying, “Trump has sustained a lead for longer than there are days left” before voting begins in Iowa.

Yes, Trump will take Iowa.  And probably New Hampshire too.  But I still say Trump will fade, as will Carson, and every will settle for Rubio. The blue collar GOP riff-raff have consolidated on Trump.  That is why he leads.  The white collar GOP is still fragmented.  When the field thins out, Trump will see a decline.  Wait for it.

4)  My campaign advice to Jeb!  Jeb Bush, in one of the GOP debates, got the loudest applause line when he defended his brother saying, “He kept us safe.”  Now, the Jeb campaign seems to be doubling down by continuing to embrace Bush 43.  I think that is a terrible mistake.  For one thing, I don’t think the audience was applauding Jeb’s brother during that debate, but the fact that Jeb retorted at all.  It was an unscripted moment from Jeb that pleased the audience.  It wasn’t an endorsement of Bush 43, who — I think the record is clear — did NOT keep us safe.  I think this explains why Jeb! is going down in the polls — his running as a Bush.  Big mistake.

5)  Liberals take Canada.  The centrist Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, started the campaign in third place but in a stunning turnaround now command a majority.  Mr Trudeau, the 43-year-old son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, said Canadians had voted for real change. Incumbent Conservative PM Stephen Harper – in power since 2006 – has congratulated his rival.  Justin Trudeau is son of late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, considered the father of modern Canada.

Maybe that’s why Scott Walker proposed building a wall on our northern border.

For what its worth, this was the longest-lasting federal election campaign in Canada since 1872 – 78 days (By contrast, the US campaign began when Ted Cruz declared himself a candidate on Mar 23, 2015. Elections will be held on November 8, 2016. – 596 days or 1 year, 7 months and 16 days)

Preliminary results show voter turnout in Canada to be in excess of 68% of eligible voters (In 2012 election, 53.6% of US eligible voters cast a ballot)

Republicans Don’t Really Want “Religious Freedom”

Someone at Daily Kos pulled certain results of this PPP poll and turned it into this revealing bar graph:

religion

What does it mean?

While most Republicans want religious freedom, almost half of them mean they want religious freedom for Christians only (and/or no freedom for followers of Islam).  Perhaps they don’t understand what “freedom” means, or perhaps they think “religion” means Christianity only.

Planned Parenthood, the Abortion Debate, and 2016 Elections

There is very little to recommend being over the age of 50, but one of the nice things is that it gives perspective and wisdom — the kind of experience that can’t be taught, but can only come from having lived several decades.

There is one thing I have learned – abortion rights are not going away.

notdifficultThat wasn’t always a certainty.  Roe v Wade was seriously challenged in the 1980s and 1990s, not only in the political arena, but also in the courts.  But that nadir of the conservative anti-abortion movement came in 1992, with the case of Casey vs. Planned Parenthood.  The Supreme Court was, like today, leaning conservative.  You had Scalia, you had Thomas, you had Alito, you had Rehnquist for crying out loud.  And they were handed, on a silver platter, a case in which Roe v Wade could have been overturned, or at least seriously curtailed.  The result was 5-4, with the conservatives losing.  The Casey case actually strengthened abortion rights.

Having lost in the legal arena, the anti-choice forces spent the next two decades challenging abortion in the political arena.  They have had some success there.  There was the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape, or to save the life of the mother.  That was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1993.  At the state and local levels, a hodgepodge of laws have restricted access to abortion through laws requiring waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, and over-regulation of abortion clinics (like requiring wide hallways).  But abortion itself remains legal.

The recent attempt to defund Planned Parenthood is probably the strongest national push against abortion since the Hyde Amendment.  It is quite obviously punitive in nature — since the Hyde Amendment already restricts federal funds to go to Planned Parenthood for abortions, the current legislative push seeks to defund Planned Parenthood of federal funds for everything else they do (cancer screening, etc.).  And why?  Because they sell “baby parts”, which of course is a crass and not-altogether-honest way of saying that Planned Parenthood provides fetal tissue to medical research facilities in the hopes of curing disease.  Conservatives want to kill Planned Parenthood (the largest abortion provider) even if it means killing women’s health.

Of course, this dovetails nicely into the “war on women” meme.  And Hillary Clinton is right to pound Republicans on this.  This issue was a gift to her — she was sagging in the polls and Bernie Sanders has been making a serious play for the nomination (coming within 8 points of Hillary in New Hampshire).  Now she can talk about women’s health, and the Republican efforts to kill it.

I am perplexed as to why Republicans want this debate.  They seems to care more about two-celled zygotes than million-celled actual women.  After they lost the 2012 Presidential elections, they performed an autopsy of their failures, which included statements like this:

When it comes to social issues, the Party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming.

If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues…

The RNC must improve its efforts to include female voters and promote women to leadership ranks within the committee. Additionally, when developing our Party’s message, women need to be part of this process to represent some of the unique concerns that female voters may have. There is growing unrest within the community of Republican women frustrated by the Party’s negative image among women, and the women who participated in our listening sessions contributed many constructive ideas of ways to improve our brand with women throughout the country and grow the ranks of influential female voices in the Republican Party.

But rather than do that, they seem to be doubling down on losing the women vote — going so far as to threaten a government shutdown.  At first I thought the talk of government shutdown was an empty threat, but maybe I am wrong.  Stan Collender at Forbes puts the odds of a government shutdown at 60% (up from his previous prediction of 40% ). Here’s his wonderfully descriptive way of saying what happened.

But the biggest change from last week in the odds of a government shutdown is because of the emergence of the one big thing that has been missing so far from the appropriations debate: a highly emotional, politically toxic and take-no-prisoners issue.

Even the front-runner in that contest right now – Donald Trump – declared his support for a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood. Any candidate who had doubts about whether or not a government shutdown would be good for their campaign will now have to weigh in with that in mind.  Also, we’ve already seen one example of a candidate making a mess of that when, in commenting about Planned Parenthood funding, Jeb Bush said yesterday that he was “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” His campaign pretty immediately tried to walk that one back. Overall it’s very likely that, in order to win the GOP primary, these candidates will all wind up taking positions that their own autopsy suggested were one of the causes of their defeat in 2012.

The craziness of the high rhetoric of this 2016 election campaign is causing Republicans to shoot themselves in the face.  It is interesting to watch.

Everybody Hates Everybody

From First Read:

From the new NBC/WSJ poll we released last night: Almost everyone is in lousy shape. Hillary Clinton’s fav/unfav numbers dropped from 44%-40% (+4) in June to 37%-48% (-11) now — which gives her a worse popularity rating than President Obama has ever had during his presidency. Jeb Bush’s fav/unfav rating, at 26%-40% (-14) is even worse — and it’s worse than Mitt Romney ever had at any point in the 2012 race. And Donald Trump, who leads the GOP horserace, is at 26%-56% (-30). Ratings for other Republicans: Chris Christie (-13), Ted Cruz (-12), Rand Paul (-10), Mike Huckabee (-8), Scott Walker (-1), and Marco Rubio (+1). Even President Obama, who has enjoyed a renaissance in his poll numbers as of late, has seen his overall job-approval rating tick down three points to 45%.  So the American public is down on almost every political figure and institution in our NBC/WSJ poll. 

America is full of malcontents.

The site did offer some exceptions: Bernie Sanders (+5), John Kasich (+5), the NRA (+11), and Planned Parenthood (+15).

We’ll call that a wash, I guess.

I’m not terribly concerned about the defunding of Planned Parenthood.  This is all grandstanding and political theater.  This happened in 2011, too, and it hurt the GOP.  They were called (and rightly so) anti-woman’s health throughout the 2012 elections.  And it had a serious negative impact.  This is why Boehner doesn’t want the issue on his plate.  So Republicans in the House will debate and make speeches and threaten, but they know — and everybody knows — that there are not enough votes in the Senate.  And even if, by some miracle, it passes the House and the Senate, does anyone in their right mind think Obama will sign such a thing?  Of course not.

The problem for Planned Parenthood, initially, were the videos.  Conservatives thought they could do to PP what they did to ACORN — secretly film them doing bad things, and get Congress to defund.  After all, if the videos genuinely exposed a criminal organ harvesting operation, eliminating its federal funding would be an on-point response. In reality, the effort to defund Planned Parenthood is completely unresponsive to the full content of the videos. In an admirably clear-eyed analysis of the Planned Parenthood controversy, Robert Tracinski of The Federalist (which has otherwise been a reliable outpost of rote anti-Planned Parenthood disinformation) admits, “The case wasn’t about what it seemed to be about based on the selected excerpts we had been offered.” The most plausible rationale for this is that conservatives, who have a permanent axe to grind with Planned Parenthood, are using deception to threaten its viability, and make it more difficult for women to obtain abortions as a consequence.  And that is what they are left with: conservatives with an axe to grind.

I mean, the anti-choice crowd sent this issue gift-wrapped to Senator Warren:

So it is all kabuki theater.  Republicans get to grandstand and provide red meat for their base.  Planned Parenthood gets to fundraise off of being attacked again (which is fine).  But this too shall pass.

And not to sound like an old fogie, but I can remember a time when political satire in movies would have featured a political ad like this…. for laughs!

This just makes me embarrassed for my country.

The Trump Problem

Quinnipiac Poll (emphasis mine):

Twenty percent of registered Republican voters said they would vote for Trump in the Republican primary, with 13 percent favoring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and 10 percent choosing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R).

However, Trump also dominated the “no way ” list, with 30 percent of Republican voters saying they would never vote for Trump in the presidential primary, while 15 percent said they would never vote for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and 14 percent said they would not vote for Bush. The real estate mogul also has a low favorability rating, with just 27 percent of voters viewing him positively.

You just can’t win if 30% of your own party will “no way” vote for you.

Trump Surge Continues Unabated

A new Economist/YouGov poll finds Donald Trump way ahead of the GOP presidential field with 28% support, followed by Jeb Bush at 14%, Scott Walker at 13%, Ben Carson at 7% and Rand Paul at 5%.

Key finding: “There is clearly a core group of registered voters who identify as Republicans that has coalesced around Trump’s tough talk and proposals. He is even more clearly in first place than he was two weeks ago”

Also interesting: “A separate YouGov poll completed Wednesday suggests a reason why the McCain controversy may not have affected Trump as much as some expected. Two out of three Republicans view McCain as a war hero. But fewer say they have a favorable opinion of him.”

A new CNN/ORC poll is the latest showing Trump at the top of the gigantic GOP field nationally, at 18%, with Bush at 15% and Walker at 10%.

I still maintain that Trump will not be the nominee.  He simply cannot go for months on end without saying something — eventually — that permanently puts his foot in his mouth, and offends even the base.

But if you want to hear some “experts”, read this Politico article: “HOW DOES TRUMP END?  16 experts from across the political spectrum share their visions”.  Surprisingly, a lot of think he can and will stick around as long as he wants, even becoming an independent third-party candidate.

Whatever happens, when historians try to explain how Trump could have happened at all, I think David Atkins has hit the nail on the head.  It is one of the best, most coherent explanations of the Trump phenomenon that I have ever read:

The Republican Party is locked into an autocatalytic cycle of increasing and self-reinforcing extremism.

The blue-collar white males who make up the GOP base are struggling more and more as business-friendly trickle-down economic policies continue to rob them of their economic security–but their inherent racism, sexism and distrust of government leads them to inherently reject reasonable liberal solutions in the fear that someone they don’t like might get a “handout” with their tax dollars. Hardcore political Republican partisans are slowly realizing that they no longer hold a silent majority in the country if they ever did, that every passing year demographic change makes their electoral prospects increasingly difficult, and that only a combination of gerrymandering, small-state-favoritism and accidental geographic political self-selection allows them to hold onto the House and Senate for now. And conservatives of all stripes can feel the ground shift underneath them irrevocably as liberals continue to win battles on social issues even as unfiltered left-leaning economic populism becomes increasingly mainstream.

Unwilling and unable to moderate their positions, the Republican base has assumed a pose of irredentist defiance, an insurgent war against perceived liberal orthodoxy in which the loudest, most aggressive warrior becomes their favorite son. It is this insurgent stance that informs their hardline views on guns: many of them see a day coming when their nativist, secessionist political insurgency may become an active military insurgency, and they intend to be armed to the teeth in the event that they deem it necessary. The GOP electorate isn’t choosing a potential president: they’re choosing a rebel leader. The Republican base doesn’t intend to go down compromising. They intend to go down fighting.

That’s why Donald Trump is so popular. That’s why the Republican Party’s brand is weak even among conservatives–because it’s too extreme for everyone else, but not extreme enough for them. And that’s why every other Republican candidate is saying increasingly outrageous things just to get noticed.

Liberals = Conservatives

Finally.

Starting with Rush Limbaugh in the 1980’s (and helped by Reagan), the word “liberal” was viewed as a dirty word,  because being a liberal was viewed as being, well, a communist or something.

The damage to both the word and ideology was profound, and even liberals had a hard time self-identifying as “liberal” (hence, the word “progressive”).  I knew it wouldn’t last forever, though.  Eventually, the older generation would die out and a newer one – one not raise on Limbaugh and Beck – would come in.

We’re there.  Gallup has new numbers today:

Thirty-one percent of Americans describe their views on social issues as generally liberal, matching the percentage who identify as social conservatives for the first time in Gallup records dating back to 1999.

And check out this chart…..

libconsev

 

And notice the uptick in Democrats willing to admit being liberal.  The chart below is just Democrats…

demlibs

And Republicans are LESS willing to admit being conservative.  The chart below is just Republicans…

repcon

Gallup concludes:

Americans’ growing social liberalism is evident not only in how they describe their views on social issues but also in changes in specific attitudes, such as increased support for same-sex marriage and legalizing marijuana. These longer-term trends may be attributable to changing attitudes among Americans of all ages, but they also may be a result of population changes, with younger, more liberal Americans entering adulthood while older, more conservative adults pass on. Gallup found evidence that population replacement is a factor in explaining changes in overall ideology using an analysis of birth cohorts over time.

The 2016 presidential election will thus be contested in a more socially liberal electorate — and a less economically conservative one — than was true of prior elections. Economically and socially conservative candidates may still appeal to the Republican Party base in the primaries, but it may be more important now than in the past for the GOP nominee to be a bit less conservative on social issues in order to appeal to the broader general electorate.

And while Americans are less economically conservative than in the past, economic conservatives still outnumber economic liberals by about 2-to-1. As a result, Democrats must be careful not to nominate a candidate who is viewed as too liberal on economic matters if their party hopes to hold the White House beyond 2016.

Crosstabulation on Crazy

Democratic firm Public Policy Polling released a survey that found 32 percent of Republican primary voters believed the government was trying to take over Texas under the guise of the U.S. military’s planned “Jade Helm 15” training exercise. Forty percent of GOP primary voters did not believe the federal government was trying to take control of the Lone Star state while 28 percent were unsure, according to the survey.

Before you have time to contemplate the horror that only 40% of voting Republicans reject the conspiracy theory of a military takeover of Texas…. let’s crosstabulate that data with the GOP candidates to find out who the crazies gravitate to:

crazies

It looks like Scott Walker is far and away the favorite of the nutjobs, although he polls well with the reasonable Republicans.  Ted Cruz seems to have the largest insane-to-sane ratio, as does Rick Perry (although the latter polls pretty low all around).  It would be nice if Fiorina was in the picture, but oh well.

All Hail The Fastest Growing Religion In The United States

Eight years ago, more Americans considered themselves “Evangelical Protestant” than any other religion — a full 26.3%.  Next was Catholic (23.9%) and then “Mainline Protestant” (18.1%) in third.

Today, Evangelical Protestant is still Numero Religion Uno, although its adherents have dropped to 25.4%.  And in second?

An upstart.  The number two religion in the U.S. is now “NONE”.  It jumped up 6.7% in the past eight years — now at 22.8%

From Pew Survey:

PF_15.05.05_RLS2_1_310pxThe Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, according to an extensive new survey by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, these changes are taking place across the religious landscape, affecting all regions of the country and many demographic groups. While the drop in Christian affiliation is particularly pronounced among young adults, it is occurring among Americans of all ages. The same trends are seen among whites, blacks and Latinos; among both college graduates and adults with only a high school education; and among women as well as men.

To be sure, the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, and a large majority of Americans – roughly seven-in-ten – continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith. But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%. And the share of Americans who identify with non-Christian faiths also has inched up, rising 1.2 percentage points, from 4.7% in 2007 to 5.9% in 2014. Growth has been especially great among Muslims and Hindus, albeit from a very low base.

I’m sure someone will view this as an evidence of an “attack on Christianity”, although it is hard to say exactly who is doing the attacking.

Maybe the United State has finally gone the way of Europe.  Finally.  We no longer believe in myths and fairy tales.

Read the whole thing

Everybody Running Is Unliked Or Unknown (Or Both)

This graphic from Nate Silver is interesting, but I don’t agree with its title:

nobody2016

Yes, most candidates are more unpopular than popular, but I think the story is that Hillary Clinton is more well-known AND more popular than all her possible GOP opponents… with the exception of Dr. Carson who is really unknown and who isn’t going to run anyway.  I guess the good news for Walker and Rubio (the latter who got in the race today officially) is that they are so unknown that they have room to bring up their popularity as people get to know them.  It might be harder for Jeb Bush to that.

Post Shutdown Polls

Post-shutdown polls are coming in and they are brutal:

The numbers:

* Dems lead in the generic ballot matchup by 49-38. Among independents — a key midterm constituency — those numbers are 46-35.

* Only 21 percent of Americans approve of the way the Congressional GOP is handling the federal budget, versus 77 percent who disapprove. Among independents: 20-78. Among moderates: 14-85.  Among seniors: 18-79. Fewer than one in three regard the GOP favorably.

* Only 20 percent think Republicans are “interested in doing what’s best for the country,” while 77 percent think they’re “interested in what’s best for themselves politically.” Among independents: 14-83. Among moderates: 18-81. Among seniors: 24-74.

* Americans blame the GOP for the shutdown by 53-29; moderates by 60-24; indys by 49-29; and seniors by 46-35.

Crucially, large majorities think the shutdown damaged the country. Eighty six percent say it has damaged the U.S.’s image in the world, and 80 percent say it damaged the U.S. economy.

Will all this change by the time of elections?  Many say yes.  And perhaps that is true.  But coming up from a disadvantaged position is worse than coming from an advantaged one, and this is bad news for the GOP.

UPDATE:

Check out these numbers from the latest ABC/Washington Post poll (Sep. 15 results) on what Republicans did to themselves during their government shutdown:

Barack Obama, net approval: -1 (0)

Democratic Party, net favorability: -3 (+7)

Republican Party, net favorability: -31 (-14)

Tea Party, net favorability: -33 (-14)

So while Democrats and President Obama saw their net ratings drop by 10 and 1 points, respectively, Republicans and tea partiers saw their ratings drop by 17 and 19 points, respectively.

Government Shutdown Is Over (For Now); “Nobody Won” Says Obama…

… and he's right in a sense.  The Democrats didn't have to concede anything and they didn't gain anything; the Republicans didn't have to concede anything and they didn't gain anything.

On the other hand, the Democrats weren't trying to gain anything, and the House Republicans were (they wanted to defund Obamacare), sosomebody did lose in all this.

New_demandsx

And then there's public opinion:

The Tea Party's standing with Americans is at its lowest point since the movement took shape in 2010, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday.

The survey, conducted from Oct. 9-13, reports that nearly half (49 percent) of the public now view the Tea Party unfavorably, compared with 30 percent who view it favorably. Since February 2010, when Pew first began gauging opinion on the Tea Party, unfavorable views have nearly doubled, and the number of "very unfavorable" views has tripled.

In June, when Pew last polled on the Tea Party and before the latest Washington budget battle fully ratcheted up, 45 percent said they held an unfavorable view of the Tea Party, while 37 percent reported they had a favorable view.

Michael Dimock, the director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, told All Things Considered host Audie Cornish that one of the issues is that people don't really know what the Tea Party is about.

"There's not really a consensus about what the Tea Party is, whether it's kind of an outside group trying to steer policy or whether it's working within the Republican Party itself," Dimock says.

The poll, which was in the field as congressional Republicans continued their push to remove financing for President Obama's health care law as part of a deal to reopen the government, found that the Tea Party's popularity is falling even among Republicans.

Pew reported that 53 percent of Republicans now view the Tea Party favorably, down from 62 percent in June; and 27 percent view it unfavorably, up from 23 percent in June.

To show you just how crazy the far right has gotten, they've even lost Ross Douthat.  Even him!

But with tonight’s vote done and the government open once again, I want to return to the theme of my Sunday column, and stress once more the essential absurdity of the specific populist gambit we’ve just witnessed unfold, drag on, and now finally collapse. However you slice and dice the history, the strategery, and the underlying issues, the decision to live with a government shutdown for an extended period of time — inflicting modest-but-real harm on the economy, needlessly disrupting the lives and paychecks of many thousands of hardworking people, and further tarnishing the Republican Party’s already not-exactly-shiny image — in pursuit of obviously, obviously unattainable goals was not a normal political blunder by a normally-functioning political party. It was an irresponsible, dysfunctional and deeply pointless act, carried out by a party that on the evidence of the last few weeks shouldn’t be trusted with the management of a banana stand, let alone the House of Representatives.

This means that the still-ongoing intra-conservative debate over the shutdown’s wisdom is not, I’m sorry, the kind of case where reasonable people can differ on the merits and have good-faith arguments and ultimately agree to disagree. There was no argument for the shutdown itself that a person unblindered by political fantasies should be obliged to respect, no plausible alternative world in which it could have led to any outcome besides self-inflicted political damage followed by legislative defeat, and no epitaph that should be written for its instigators’ planning and execution except: “These guys deserved to lose.”

And it’s important for conservatives and Republicans to recognize this, and remember it, because what just happened can happen again, and next time the consequences may be more severe. The mentality that drove the shutdown — a toxic combination of tactical irrationality and the elevation of that irrationality into a True Conservative (TM) litmus test — may have less influence in next year’s Beltway negotiations than it did this time around, thanks to the way this has ended for the defunders after John Boehner gave them pretty much all the rope that they’d been asking for. But just turn on talk radio or browse RedState or look at Ted Cruz’s approval ratings with Tea Partiers and you’ll see how potent this mentality remains, how quickly it could resurface, and how easily Republican politics and American governance alike could be warped by it in the future.

Biggest Scandal Ever!!

PPP poll:

… there's no doubt about how mad Republicans are about Benghazi. 41% say they consider this to be the biggest political scandal in American history to only 43% who disagree with that sentiment. Only 10% of Democrats and 20% of independents share that feeling. Republicans think by a 74/19 margin than Benghazi is a worse political scandal than Watergate, by a 74/12 margin that it's worse than Teapot Dome, and by a 70/20 margin that it's worse than Iran Contra.

OMG.

*facepalm*

Do these people even remember Watergate or Iran-Contra?

They are of course history impaired.  Once again, facts don't matter.  In fact, most people don't even KNOW the facts about Benghazi:

One interesting thing about the voters who think Benghazi is the biggest political scandal in American history is that 39% of them don't actually know where it is. 10% think it's in Egypt, 9% in Iran, 6% in Cuba, 5% in Syria, 4% in Iraq, and 1% each in North Korea and Liberia with 4% not willing to venture a guess.

That's right.  Of the people who think it is the BIGGEST. SCANDAL. EVER., over one-third can't even say where it took place.

Meanwhile, among non-insane Americans:

 

PPP's newest national poll finds that Republicans aren't getting much traction with their focus on Benghazi over the last week. Voters trust Hillary Clinton over Congressional Republicans on the issue of Benghazi by a 49/39 margin and Clinton's +8 net favorability rating at 52/44 is identical to what it was on our last national poll in late March. Meanwhile Congressional Republicans remain very unpopular with a 36/57 favorability rating.

UPDATE:  Pew's research poll also makes it clear this story doesn't have legs.

Republicans Are Revolting

Buried deep in a just-released depressing poll from Fairly Ridiculous University, lies this question/result:

Revolt

That's right. 44% – a plurality — of Republicans think we need an armed revolution in the next few years.  You know, to protect our liberties.  I would like to know what liberties they think are being taken away.

Of course, that result explains the reasoning behind the rest of the poll, which concludes the 73% of Democrats think we need better gun control laws, while 65% of Republicans think the laws we have are fine.

I don't know how you reconcile that poll with this one from Gallup which says that 73 percent of Republicans would vote in favor of a national referendum that would "require background checks for all gun purchases." However, in the very same survey, 50 percent of Republicans said they didn't want the senate to approve legislation to "expand background checks for gun purchases."

It's almost like Republicans want a background check, but they don't want to give Obama a "win".  Which is what Toomey thinks:

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed that some members of his party opposed expanding background checks for gun sales recently because they didn't want to "be seen helping the president."Two weeks ago, only three Republican senators voted for the bipartisan background checks amendment sponsored by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), despite overwhelming popular support for such a measure."In the end it didn’t pass because we're so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it,” Toomey admitted on Tuesday in an interview with Digital First Media editors in the offices of the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pa.

IN OTHER GUN NEWS: 2 year old girl shot and killed by 5 year old brother with rifle he received as gift.

Backlash Against Gun Vote

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who championed a bipartisan compromise on gun reforms, has seen his approval rating reach new heights.

On the other, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has seen her support back home drop sharply, so much so that she is "underwater" (disapproval is higher than approval).

Yesterday, PPP came out with a poll showing that gun vote hurt others too:

After just 3 months in office Jeff Flake has already become one of the most unpopular Senators in the country. Just 32% of voters approve of him to 51% who disapprove and that -19 net approval rating makes him the most unpopular sitting Senator we've polled on, taking that label from Mitch McConnell.

***

When we polled Alaska in February Lisa Murkowski was one of the most popular Senators in the country with a 54% approval rating and only 33% of voters disapproving of her. She's seen a precipitous decline in the wake of her background checks vote though. Her approval is down a net 16 points from that +21 standing to +5 with 46% of voters approving and 41% now disapproving of her. Murkowski has lost most of her appeal to Democrats in the wake of her vote, with her numbers with them going from 59/25 to 44/44. And the vote hasn't increased her credibility with Republican either- she was at 51/38 with them in February and she's at 50/39 now.

Mark Begich is down following his no vote as well. He was at 49/39 in February and now he's at 41/37. His popularity has declined with Democrats (from 76/17 to 59/24) and with independents (from 54/32 to 43/35), and there has been no corresponding improvement with Republicans. He had a 24% approval rating with them two months ago and he has a 24% approval rating with them now.

***

We saw serious improvement in Rob Portman's poll numbers in the second half of 2012 following his consideration as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, but he's taken a nose dive in 2013. Portman's approval has dropped a net 18 points over the last 6 months from +10 (35/25) in October to now -8 (26/34) in April. Portman's popularity decline has come across the board with Democrats (from 15/39 to 8/50), Republicans (62/11 to 46/19), and independents (28/23 to 24/32) alike.

***

And in Nevada Dean Heller has seen a more modest decline in his approval numbers, from 47/42 right before the election to 44/41 now. However with the independent voters who were critical to his narrow victory in November, his approval has dropped from 52/37 then to now 42/42.

Taken together these results make it pretty clear that this issue could be a serious liability for the Senators who opposed overwhelmingly popular background checks in the Senate vote earlier this month.

Let's hope the voter resentment stays until election day.

Pundit Quote Of The Week

WaPo columnist, Jennifer Rubin:

It took less than 4 1/2 years of the Obama presidency for President George W. Bush to mount his comeback. While doing absolutely nothing on his own behalf (he’s been the most silent ex-president in my lifetime), his approval is up to 47 percent according to The Post/ABC poll. That’s up 14 points from his final poll in office.

Well, sure.  Even my approval of George Bush goes up when he is silent and does nothing.

Good News: Despite The Nuts, Most Common Sense Gun Control Solutions Poll Well

Pew Research released today:

1-14-13-12While the issue of gun control remains divisive, there are clear areas of agreement when it comes to a number of gun policy proposals. Fully 85% of Americans favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks, with comparable support from Republicans, Democrats and independents. Similarly, 80% support laws to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing guns, with broad support across party lines.

But this bipartisan consensus breaks down when it comes to other proposals. Two-thirds of Americans (67%) favor creating a federal database to track gun sales, but there is a wide partisan divide between Democrats (84%) and Republicans (49%). A smaller majority of the public (55%) favors a ban on assault-style weapons; Democrats (69%) also are far more likely than Republicans (44%) to support this. Similar partisan divides exist when it comes to banning high-capacity ammunition clips or the sale of ammunition online.

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults also tested two specific school-safety proposals, with widely different results. By a two-to-one margin (64%-32%), most favor putting armed security guards and police in more schools. But when it comes to more teachers and school officials having guns, most are opposed (40% favor vs. 57% oppose). The latter option is particularly divisive across party lines: 56% of Republicans would like to see more teachers and school officials armed, compared with just 23% of Democrats.

1-14-13-4

There are a lot more graphs and information at Pew.  A good read.

Will Congress have the courage to be just as common-sensical?

Guns In School and NRA: How They Lookin’ To Us?

Not good:

PPP's newest national poll finds that the NRA's image has declined over the last three weeks following Wayne LaPierre's controversial press conference the week before Christmas.

The NRA now has a negative favorability rating, with 42% of voters seeing it positively while 45% have an unfavorable view. That represents a 10 point net decline in the NRA's favorability from the week before the press conference when a national poll we did found it at 48/41. Its image has taken a hit with both Democrats (from 29/59 to 22/67) and Republicans (71/19 to 66/18).

The NRA's focus on putting more guns in schools is likely what's driving the decline in the organization's image. Only 41% of voters support the organization's proposal to put armed police officers in schools across the country, with 50% opposed. Democrats (35/57) and independents (38/51) both oppose the push and even among Republicans only a narrow majority (52/39) supports it.

On the broader issue of giving teachers guns, only 27% of voters are supportive with 64% opposed. There's bipartisan opposition to that concept with Republicans (35/50), independents (31/59), and Democrats (19/77) all standing against it. Gun owners (37/52) oppose it as well.

Thank God reason and sanity haven't left this country, powerless as those things may be.

Congress: Better Than Ebola, Worse Than Cockroaches and Nickelback

From PPP:

Our newest national poll finds that Congress only has a 9% favorability rating with 85% of voters viewing it in a negative light. We've seen poll after poll after poll over the last year talking about how unpopular Congress is but really, what's the difference between an 11% or a 9% or a 7% favorability rating? So we decided to take a different approach and test Congress' popularity against 26 different things. And what we found is that Congress is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, and evenNickelback.

Here's what we found:

It's gross to have lice but at least they can be removed in a way that given the recent reelection rates members of Congress evidently can't: Lice 67 Congress 19

Brussel sprouts may have been disgusting as a kid, but evidently they're now a lot less disgusting than Congress: Brussel Sprouts 69 Congress 23

The NFL replacement refs may have screwed everything up, but voters think Congress is screwing everything up even worse: Replacement Refs 56 Congressmen 29 (the breakdown among Packers fans might be a little bit different).

Colonoscopies are not a terribly pleasant experience but at least they have some redeeming value that most voters aren't seeing in Congress: Colonoscopies 58 Congress 31

And you can make the same point about root canals: Root Canals 56 Congress 32

You might get a bad deal from a used car salesmen, but voters evidently think they're getting an even worse deal from Congress: Used Car Salesmen 57 Congress 32

Being stuff in traffic sucks, but voters are even less happy about being stuck with this Congress: Traffic Jams 56 Congress 34

America might have had to bail out France multiple times over the years but voters still have a more charitable opinion of it than Congress: France 46 Congress 37

Carnies may use loaded dice, but voters still think they have a better chance of winning with them than Congress: Carnies 39 Congress 31

It may be true that everyone hates Nickelback, but apparently everyone hates Congress even more: Nickelback 39 Congress 32

Genghis Khan did a lot of bad stuff but I guess it's faded from voters' minds in a way that Congress' recent misdeeds haven't: Genghis Khan 41 Congress 37

DC political pundits and Donald Trump aren't held in very high esteem by the population, but they still both manage to just barely edge Congress: DC political pundits 37 Congress 34 and Donald Trump 44 Congress 42

Cockroaches are a pretty good reason to call the exterminator but voters might be even more concerned if their homes were infested with members of Congress: Cockroaches 45 Congress 43

Now the news isn't all bad for Congress:

By relatively close margins it beats out Lindsey Lohan (45/41), playground bullies (43/38), and telemarketers (45/35). And it posts wider margins over the Kardashians (49/36), John Edwards (45/29), lobbyists (48/30), Fidel Castro (54/32), Gonorrhea (53/28), Ebola (53/25), Communism (57/23), North Korea (61/26), and meth labs (60/21)

 Chart of things people like more and less than Congress.

Fiscal Cliff Notes #2

I'm not writing about this much, in part because I think much of what is going on is theater.  Lots of posturing on both sides.

I will note, however, that Republicans are playing a losing game.  Most polls show that they are not trusted to avoid the fiscal cliff, and if we do go over it, the GOP will be blamed.

Popularity for raising taxes on the upper 2% remains solid.

It's just embarrassing to watch this play out.  Everyone knows what needs to be done — tax increases on the wealthy, and slashes to the budget (particularly within the military), and some entitlement reform.  Everybody in Washington just needs to hunker down and do it.

The problem, of course is the Republicans, who have to satisfy a based which is still not tethered to reality.

And speaking of reality, were you aware that 49% of polled Republicans believe that the presidential election was stolen by ACORN?  This, despite the fact that ACORN (the community organizing group) has been non-existent since 2010.

A9UTAlCCcAADNIW

Good Pollster, Bad Pollster

Fordham University has published a ranking of the most accurate pollsters of the 2012 in terms of national trends, and (both) top spots were held by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, the North Carolina-based firm.

Director of Fordham's Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy, Dr. Costas Panagopoulos, based the study on pre-election polling and compared it against the results from election day.

"For all the ridicule directed towards pre-election polling, the final poll estimates were not far off from the actual nationwide vote shares for the two candidates," Panagopoulos said in a statement. Here's the whole list:

1. PPP (D)*

1. Daily Kos/SEIU/PPP*

3. YouGov*

4. Ipsos/Reuters*

5. Purple Strategies

6. NBC/WSJ

6. CBS/NYT

6. YouGov/Economist

9. UPI/CVOTER

10. IBD/TIPP

11. Angus-Reid*

12. ABC/WP*

13. Pew Research*

13. Hartford Courant/UConn*

15. CNN/ORC

15. Monmouth/SurveyUSA

15. Politico/GWU/Battleground

15. FOX News

15. Washington Times/JZ Analytics

15. Newsmax/JZ Analytics

15. American Research Group

15. Gravis Marketing

23. Democracy Corps (D)*

24. Rasmussen

24. Gallup

26. NPR

27. National Journal*

28. AP/GfK

It should be noted that Rasmussen, the favorite pollster of Fox News and right wing blogs, was close to the bottom of the list.  They were bad last election cycle, which is why I ignored them this year.

As for poll aggregators, CNET reports that the best one was 538, i.e., Nate Silver. But TPM PollTracker, HuffPost Pollster, the RealClearPolitics Average, and the Princeton Election Consortium — successfully called the election for Obama, and save for TPM PollTracker and RealClearPolitics handing Florida to Romney, the aggregators were spot on across the board when it came to picking swing state victors.

Then, there is this:

Dean Chambers, the man who garnered praise from the right and notoriety on the left for his “Unskewed Polling” site, admitted today that his method was flawed.

 “Nate Silver was right, and I was wrong,” Chambers said in a phone interview.

Chambers’ method of “unskewing” polls involved re-weighting the sample to match what he believed the electorate would look like, in terms of party identification. He thought the electorate would lean more Republican when mainstream pollsters routinely found samples that leaned Democratic.

But as it turned out, the pollsters were right — self-identified Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 6% in election exit polls.

The bigger question is why on earth he ever thought just changing numbers in a poll until you liked the outcome was going to actually reflect the reality on the ground. That’s the power of the bubble working. When every source you hear, whether it be Clown Hall or Faux News or the National Review or whatever else ells you over and over and over that the media is biased or that statistics have a left-wing bias, chumps like Chambers start to really believe it. And then they do predictably laughable stuff like this- just rejiggering polls until the numbers put you in your happy place.

What’s even more astounding than some lone nitwit doing this is all the people who linked to it, repeated this nonsense until significant portions of the right wing believed it. That’s what is really astounding. You can find people doing really stupid things every where you go in the world. You don’t expect their stupidity to be elevated. And there was just no one, no one at all in the GOP feedback loop who stood up and said “Good lord, you people are morons.”

Nate Silver Wins

I urge everyone to read this Politico piece from last week, slamming Nate Silver ("Nate Silver: One-term celebrity?")

Now, look at this:

This is how punditry ends

That is Nate's map of his final predictions.  Just like the real thing.

The creepiest thing about Nate’s prediction is that the only state that he didn’t claim better than 79% certainty about was Florida, which he called as an almost exact tie (probability of going for Obama: 50.3%). Naturally Florida is, as of this writing, leaning towards Obama but still too close to call.

Prediction isn't an exact science, but it's not voodoo either.  Silver has already shown what he can do with math and sports (see the movie "Moneyball").  He'll be the first to tell you that he can be wrong.  But to be so dismissive of number-crunching — well, that comes from the same place as people who are dismissive of global warming.

Hopefully the right wing pundits who bashed Nate Silver, and the polls in general, will be a little cowed this morning.

Along those lines, if you want some good post-election reading about why so many on the right were delusional about Romney's chances, read this article.  An excerpt:

Some Romney aides were surprised too, especially since they had put an enormous amount of effort into tracking the hour-by-hour whims of the electorate.  In recent weeks the campaign came up with a super-secret, super-duper vote monitoring system that was dubbed Project Orca.  The name “Orca,” after the whale, was apparently chosen to suggest that the project was bigger than anything any other campaign, including Barack Obama’s in 2008, had ever imagined.  For the project, Romney aides gathered about 34,000 volunteers spread across the swing states to send in information about what was happening at the polls.  “The project operates via a web-based app volunteers use to relay the most up-to-date poll information to a ‘national dashboard’ at the Boston headquarters,” said a campaign email on election eve.  “From there, data will be interpreted and utilized to plan voter turnout tactics on Election Day.”

Orca, which was headquartered in a giant war room spread across the floor of the Boston Garden, turned out to be problematic at best.  Early in the evening, one aide said that, as of 4 p.m., Orca still projected a Romney victory of somewhere between 290 and 300 electoral votes.  Obviously that didn’t happen.  Later, another aide said Orca had pretty much crashed in the heat of the action.  “Somebody said Orca is lying on the beach with a harpoon in it,” said the aide.

Also, very good readingHow Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File

Also… here's 34 wrong election predictions

  1. Before the election, Karl Rove predicted Mitt Romney would win 279 electoral votes.
  2. Rove gets two mentions because after the election, he continued to predict a Romney victory—even as everyone else concluded Romney had lost. Which he had.
  3. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, John McCain's top economic adviser, thought turnout would win it for Romney.
  4. House Speaker John Boehner said Romney would win Ohio.
  5. Steve Forbes said the polls were wrong and that Romney would win.
  6. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Romney would carry Virginia.
  7. Dick Morris said Romney would win 325 electoral votes.
  8. Dean Chambers, inventor of the unskewed polls nonsense, said Romney would take 311 electoral votes.
  9. Michael Barone predicted a Romney landslide.
  10. George Will said Romney would win big.
  11. John Bolton said he was "very confident" Romney would win.
  12. Wayne Allen Root predicted a Romney landslide.
  13. Stu Rothenberg said the race was too close to call, even though it was clear from all available data that President Obama had a significant advantage.
  14. Pat Toomey said Romney would win Pennsylvania.
  15. Peggy Noonan said "vibrations" told her Romney was about to win.
  16. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge said Romney would carry Pennsylvania.
  17. Charles Krauthammer said Romney would win a close victory.
  18. Suffolk stopped polling in Virginia and Florida because they decided Romney had locked those states up.
  19. The head of Mason-Dixon polling said Mitt Romney had nailed down Florida.
  20. Fred Barnes confidently explained to everyone why Romney will win.
  21. Joe Scarborough mocked Nate Silver for relying on data and said he would rather be in Mitt Romney's shoes than President Obama's.
  22. Eric Cantor declared Romney would win Virginia.
  23. Romney's own campaign predicted he would win 300 electoral votes.
  24. Glenn Beck predicted a Romney landslide.
  25. Jeb Bush said Florida would go Romney's way.
  26. Ohio Gov. John Kasich not only said Romney would win Ohio, but that he'd seen internal polls showing Romney ahead.
  27. David Brooks mocked analysis like Nate Silver's.
  28. Dylan Byers treated Nate Silver's partisan opponents with equal credibility as Silver himself.
  29. Bill Kristol predicted a Romney victory.
  30. Ari Fleischer said Romney would win comfortably.
  31. James Pethokoukis of American Enterprise Institute predicted a Romney win.
  32. Newt Gingrich guaranteed Romney would win by at least six points.
  33. Dave Weigel predicted a Romney victory.
  34. Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard claimed Romney would win.

 

Ohio Looking Good

The state of Ohio is perhaps the most critical swing state this election, and the latest polls are strong evidence that President Obama's got it locked up.

Via Nate Silver on Twitter:

7 polls released in Ohio in past 48 hours: Obama +2, Obama +3, Obama +3, Obama +3, Obama +5, Obama +5, Obama +5. #notthatcomplicated

— Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) October 31, 2012

Another sign things are looking good?  Republican pundits are complaining about biased polling again.

Harry Enten addresses this:

I learned a powerful lesson eight years ago: polling averages work. The averages have correctly predicted all state presidential contests except for five since 2000. They have accurately projected every Senate winner, save a few, over the last few years. The state polling averages say Obama is going to win.

There is a crowd, however, that believes the polls have too many Democrats. They look at the polling data and see the same, or even higher, percentage of poll respondents in states like Ohio self-identifying as Democrats than the polls had in 2008 – a year of record high enthusiasm for Democrats.

My personal opinion is that the polling averages are likely correct. I witnessed Democrats making the "skewed" argument in 2004 when polls showed "too many Republicans". The averages won, and George W Bush served another term. We'll see, though, if I'll be eating my words.

 

Romney-mentum? Nope.

Yes, Romney clearly did have things going for him for the two weeks following the first debate.  But that's all gone now…

Nate Silver looks at the daily tracking polls for today, and it's Obama's gain:

Fivethirtyeight-1025-wedpolls-blog480

Silver writes:

Take Wednesday’s national tracking polls, for instance. (There are now eight of them published each day.) Mr. Romney gained ground in just one of the polls, an online poll conducted for Reuters by the polling organization Ipsos. He lost ground in five others, with President Obama improving his standing instead in those surveys. On average, Mr. Obama gained about one point between the eight polls.

The trend could also be spurious. If the race is steady, it’s not that hard for one candidate to gain ground in five of six polls (excluding the two that showed no movement on Wednesday) just based on chance alone.

What isn’t very likely, however, is for one candidate to lose ground in five of six polls if the race is still moving toward him. In other words, we can debate whether Mr. Obama has a pinch of momentum or whether the race is instead flat, but it’s improbable that Mr. Romney would have a day like this if he still had momentum.

Silver gives Obama a 71% chance of winning the electoral college, and his math projects a 50.2% to 48.8% popular vote win.

I'm a little less optimistic, but the polls today are good (Obama up in Virginia!), and Dems have every reason to stop despairing.

PPP: Obama Wins Debate by 11 Points in Swing States

Good polling news:

PPP's post debate poll in the swing states, conducted on behalf of Americans United for Change, finds that Barack Obama was the big winner in tonight's face off. 53% of those surveyed in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin think Obama was the winner to 42% who pick Romney.

Obama's winning margin among critical independent voters was even larger than his overall win, with 55% of them picking him as the winner to 40% for Romney. The sense that Obama was the winner is pretty universal across different demographics groups- women (57/39), men (48/45), Hispanics (69/29), African Americans (87/13), whites (49/45), young voters (55/40), and seniors (53/43) all think Obama came out ahead tonight.

Maybe even more important than the sentiment on who won the debate is who folks in these swing states are planning to vote for now: 51% of them say they're going to support Obama to 45% who stand with Romney. That includes a 46/36 advantage for Obama with independents, and Obama also seems to have made a lot of progress with groups he was previously down by wide margins with. Among men (50/47) and whites (50/46) he is trailing only slightly and with seniors he's actually ahead 52/47.

Tonight's debate was more a win for Obama than a loss for Romney. Romney, despite losing, came out with 38% of voters now saying they're more likely to vote for him to 35% who say they're less likely to for a +3 positive spread. Obama just came out even better with 37% of voters saying they're more likely to vote for him to 31% who are less likely to for a +6 spread.

Interestingly Obama only came out of the debate as the candidate trusted more on foreign policy by a 51/47 margin, much closer than his overall victory in the face off. That suggests the points Obama scored on 'off topic' issues might have been more important than anything he said about foreign policy.

Full results here

 

Don’t Fear The Pollster

Don't worry about national polls.

Early this week, Gallup came out with a national polls showing that Romney was over Obama by 51 to 45.

You would think that is badm but you needed to look at the poll crosstabs from the previous day (when it was 50-46) and compare:

Romney's entire advantage in the poll comes from a massive lead in the South. Now sure, some of that may be Florida, but the state-level polling certainly doesn't show that. So Romney is driving up big margins in Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi and other such presidentially irrelevant states? Good for him! I'm sure that'll be cold comfort as he loses the states that actually matter in the Midwest and West.

So my advice is to either ignore the national polls, or, if you must, look closely at the crosstabs.

Latest Polls All Over The Place

Polls that show Obama gaining: ABC, IBD/TIPP, RAND, Rasmussen (swing states), Reuters/Ipsos,

Polls that show Romney gaining: Gallup, PPP, Rasmussen (all states)

Polls that can be methodologically dissembled if someone doesn't like the results: All of them.

National Composites
Huffington Post: Obama +0.5
TPM: Romney +1.1
RCP: Romney +0.4

So what does all this tell you? That regardless the toplines, no poll is methodologically pure and perfect. And they disagree with each other. A lot. And substantively at times.

Doesn't matter.  Things will change (for better or worse) tonight.