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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Bots, Trolls, Cyborgs

Ben Schreckinger reports at Politico:
When Donald Trump confronted revelations that he used money from his charitable foundation to settle private legal disputes and purchase portraits of himself, a tireless army of tweeters went to work to keep the focus on Hillary Clinton’s foundation instead.
Then Trump stumbled on a debate question about why he refuses to release his taxes, and the same army has since rushed to create the appearance of a grass-roots demand that Clinton be held accountable, instead.

The accounts pumping out the tweets created the appearance of authentic outrage but had all the hallmarks of fakes, according to researchers who specialize in “bot” networks — short for robot — that shower social media with phony messages appearing to spring up from the grass roots.
The pro-Trump networks tweet incessantly, but only to praise Trump and bash Clinton and the media, constantly retweeting Trump staff, pro-Trump pundits and other fake accounts, thousands of which recently added “deplorable” to their usernames.
Indeed, the Clinton Foundation tweets follow a pattern of pro-Trump Twitter activity spotted by professionals throughout the campaign — accounts made to look like real people that are instead run by software and designed to amplify a certain messages — that serves to neuter negative coverage of the New York businessman.
“The bot nets usually turn whatever the issue is back on Hillary,” said Phil Howard, a professor at Oxford University’s Internet Institute and the principal investigator at the Computational Propaganda Project, which has closely tracked the networks. Howard has noted the same pattern in response to stories about Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns, with bots alleging that Clinton is keeping even bigger secrets from the public. “They tend to be used to confused or muddy,” he said.

In addition to fully automated bots, Trump has benefited from the Twitter activities of “trolls,” dedicated, human provocateurs, and “cyborgs,” accounts that blend automated activity with human input.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trump and Buchanan

So, why did Trump succeed in leading a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, when Buchanan’s efforts came up so short in 1992? One overriding reason is that the times have indeed changed. When Buchanan warned of globalism and intervention, the successful Gulf War and the Christmas Day 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union weakened that argument. If there really was a “new world order,” America was unquestionably in charge. Today, with memories of the disastrous second Iraq War, China rising and Russia asserting itself again, anti-interventionism is a lot stronger argument. Immigration, too, is an issue far more powerful today. “Back then, there were maybe 3-4 million illegal immigrants,” Buchanan says. “Today, there are maybe 12 million.”

Perhaps the most startling parallel between Buchanan and Trump is the argument of bipartisan betrayal: They both used their pulpit to excoriate elites in both parties for leaving more vulnerable, working-class Americans behind. And on that front, the country has changed profoundly. The central American promise—that our children would live better than we live—has been thrown into grave doubt, at least for those who are part of “the white working class.” Some 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since the start of the millennium; incomes for the average factory worker have been stagnant for just about all of the 21st century.
“Those issues started maturing,” Buchanan now says. “Now we’ve lost 55,000 factories. … When those consequences came rolling in, all of a sudden you’ve got an angry country. We were out there warning what was coming. Now, on trade and intervention, America sees what’s come.”
But there’s one other major change that has made Trump’s message far more potent than Buchanan’s: the speed at which a powerful, even divisive idea can travel from one like-minded individual to another. “If Buchanan had had social media he might have done a lot better,” argues Ron Kaufman, a longtime ally of the Bush family, who has spent a lifetime as a Republican operative. “Back then in ’92, people wouldn’t have been hearing about it every 15 minutes. There was no Breitbart, no Politico.”
The rise of talk radio, cable networks and an online echo chamber for political discourse has changed the game for people with an outsider message, whether on the left or the right. Longtime Democratic operative Joe Trippi, who turned the Howard Dean campaign into an online fundraising behemoth in 2004, says: “I think one of the things we have all underestimated is how connected underground networks are these days—from Occupy Wall Street to white supremacists to conspiracy aficionados. … So if a Pat Buchanan came along today, it’s much easier to roll over a party.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Post-Debate Spin and Ballot-Box Stuffing

The Republican's campaign alternately praised and blamed the moderator; insisted Trump went easy on Clinton out of respect to her family, and doubled down on his positions, such as his refusal to release his tax returns, that provided his Democratic opponent with her fruitful attacks.
All in all, Trump turned a 90-minute event that didn't go that well but wasn't fatal, into possibly a three-day spotlight on the key weaknesses jeopardizing his White House hopes.
It was a strategic blunder, some veteran campaign veterans concluded.
"48-hour window post-debate is often just as important as debate itself," tweeted Republican strategist Kevin Madden, who experienced both the highs and lows of post-debate as top communications advisor to Mitt Romney four years ago.
He needed to demonstrate fitness.
Breathing fresh life into Clinton's attacks from the debate — on his treatment of women, how he's run his business, his refusal to release his tax returns, and role in promoting the "birther" conspiracy that President Obama wasn't eligible for the White House — undermines that goal.
Yet that's exactly what Trump did on Monday morning during an interview on Fox News, when he voluntarily defended against Clinton's attack that he once referred to an Hispanic Miss Universe candidate as overweight and "Miss Housekeeping."
The interview ensured that the clip from the debate, among Trump's worst moments, would get replayed all day on cable news, along side the celebrity billionaire trying to defend the indefensible.
Andrew Couts and Austin Powell report at The Daily Dot:
Donald Trump supporters artificially manipulated the results of online polls to create a false narrative that the Republican nominee won the first presidential debate on Monday night.
The efforts originated from users of the pro-Trump Reddit community r/The_Donald and 4chan messaged boards, which bombarded around 70 polls, including those launched by Time, Fortune, and CNBC.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Clinton Trounces Trump in First Debate

Donald Trump had one job: Don’t take the bait.
But he let Hillary Clinton get under his skin minutes into their first presidential debate Monday night, first by her suggestion that he owed his success to his father’s money, and he only got more agitated as the primetime debate at Hofstra University wore on.
Smiling, serene, egged on by each groan and grunt and interruption she goaded from her rival, Clinton provoked Trump again and again—over his refusal to release his tax returns, his years-long “racist lie” about President Barack Obama’s birthplace, his foreign-policy views, and his treatment of women. Meanwhile, Trump drew some blood on the issue of trade, specifically calling out crucial battleground states in the process, but found little on Clinton’s most vulnerable fronts: e-mail, family foundation and policy crises of her tenure as secretary of state.
JenniferAgiesta reports at CNN:
Hillary Clinton was deemed the winner of Monday night's debate by 62% of voters who tuned in to watch, while just 27% said they thought Donald Trump had the better night, according to a CNN/ORC Poll of voters who watched the debate.
That drubbing is similar to Mitt Romney's dominant performance over President Barack Obama in the first 2012 presidential debate.
Voters who watched said Clinton expressed her views more clearly than Trump and had a better understanding of the issues by a margin of more than 2-to-1. Clinton also was seen as having done a better job addressing concerns voters might have about her potential presidency by a 57% to 35% margin, and as the stronger leader by a 56% to 39% margin.
READ: The complete full CNN/ORC poll results
From PPP:
PPP's post debate survey, sponsored by VoteVets Action Fund, finds that voters nationally think Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in the debate, 51/40.

Perhaps most important for Clinton is that among young voters, who she has under performed with, 63% think she won the debate to only 24% for Trump. 47% of voters in that age group said the debate tonight made them more likely to vote for her, to only 10% who say it made them less likely to vote for her. For Trump with that group on the other hand, only 23% said the debate made them more likely to vote for him to 39% who said it made them less likely to.

Clinton also won the debate by particularly wide margins with women (54/36) and voters who are either African American or Latino (77/13). Among white voters the debate was basically a draw with Trump coming out ahead 47/45.
Clinton emerges from the debate with clear advantages over Trump on temperament, preparedness to be President, and whether she can be trusted with nuclear weapons:
-By a 17 point margin, 55/38, voters say Clinton has the temperament to be President. On the other hand, by an 11 point margin, 42/53, voters say Trump does not have the temperament to be President. Among independents the gap is even wider- by a 56/36 spread they say Clinton has the temperament for the job, while by a 41/54 spread they say Trump does not.
-By an 11 point margin, 52/41, voters say Clinton is prepared to be President. On the other hand, by a 10 point margin, 42/52, voters say Trump is not prepared to be President.
-By a 21 point margin, 56/35, voters say they think Clinton can be trusted with nuclear weapons. On the other hand, by a 9 point margin, 42/51, voters say they think Trump can not be trusted with nuclear weapons.
Full results here 
Peter Weber reports at The Week:
Every campaign wants to claim victory as soon as possible after a debate, with the hopes that the public will buy into that claim — Clinton's team also declared the night a win for Hillary. Still, if you're on the fence about who actually "won" the first debate, you could do worse that watching GOP pollster Frank Luntz's focus group of undecided voters for CBS News. The group, in Philadelphia, broke for Clinton 16 to 5, a "bigger [margin] than almost any debate I've done in a long time," Luntz said. "This is a good night for Hillary Clinton, it is not a good night for Donald Trump," he concluded, "but there is still time and there are still undecided voters." And, he didn't have to add, two more debates.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Shareblue

Jason Horowitz reports at The New York Times:
At first glance, the Clintonian grass roots seemed to have organically sprouted in anger. But closer inspection yielded traces of Miracle-Gro that led to the sixth floor of a building in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan.
There, surrounded by start-up tech companies, “Star Wars” posters and flat-screen televisions fixed on cable news, Peter Daou sat with his team at a long wooden table last week, pushing the buttons that activate Mrs. Clinton’s outrage machine. Mr. Daou’s operation, called Shareblue, had published the article on Mr. Trump’s comment on its website and created the accompanying hashtag.
“They will put that pressure right on the media outlets in a very intense way,” Mr. Daou, the chief executive of Shareblue, said of the Twitter army he had galvanized. “By the thousands.”
In the sprawling Clinton body politic, Shareblue is the finger that wags at the mainstream news media (“R.I.P. Political Journalism (1440-2016)”) or pokes at individual reporters. It is a minor appendage, but in an increasingly close race for the presidency, it plays its part.
And it is already warming up for the biggest event of the general election so far: the first debate, on Monday night. It has already published a piece calling on moderators to fact-check Mr. Trump on the spot, and will continue through debate night, whipping up support online with the hashtag #DemandFairDebates.
Shareblue is owned by David Brock, the onetime Clinton critic who remade himself into a Clinton supporter and architect of a conglomerate of organizations designed, he said, to be the liberal answer to the conservative messaging of Fox News.
The Brock network includes his Media Matters for America watchdog website; two pro-Clinton “super PACs,” the opposition research outfit American Bridge and the pro-Clinton fact-checking and reporter-spamming operation Correct the Record; and Shareblue, which filled the need, Mr. Brock said, for a progressive outlet that spoke directly to the grass roots and which “was avidly and unabashedly pro-Hillary.”

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Media Call Out Trump's Lies

Michael Finnegan reports at The Los Angeles Times:
Donald Trump says that taxes in the United States are higher than almost anywhere else on earth. They’re not.
He says he opposed the Iraq war from the start. He didn’t.

Now, after years of spreading the lie that President Obama was born in Africa, Trump says that Hillary Clinton did it first (untrue) and that he’s the one who put the controversy to rest (also untrue).
Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has. Over and over, independent researchers have examined what the Republican nominee says and concluded it was not the truth — but “pants on fire” (PolitiFact) or “four Pinocchios” (Washington Post Fact Checker).
Maggie Haberman and Alexander Burns report at The New York Times:
All politicians bend the truth to fit their purposes, including Hillary Clinton. But Donald J. Trump has unleashed a blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies in the general election, peppering his speeches, interviews and Twitter posts with untruths so frequent that they can seem flighty or random — even compulsive.

However, a closer examination, over the course of a week, revealed an unmistakable pattern: Virtually all of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods directly bolstered a powerful and self-aggrandizing narrative depicting him as a heroic savior for a nation menaced from every direction. Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist, described the practice as creating “an unreality bubble that he surrounds himself with.”

Saturday, September 24, 2016

No Fortune 100 CEOs Give to Trump

Rebecca Ballhaus and Brody Mullins report at The Wall Street Journal:
No chief executive at the nation’s 100 largest companies had donated to Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign through August, a sharp reversal from 2012, when nearly a third of the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies supported GOP nominee Mitt Romney.
During this year’s presidential primaries, 19 of the nation’s top CEOs gave to other Republican candidates, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of campaign donations.
Since then, most have stayed on the sidelines, with 89 of the 100 top CEOs not supporting either presidential nominee, and 11 backing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. A total of 66 CEOs sat out the 2012 campaign, according to the Journal’s calculation.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trump on the Declaration: "It's Not True"

In 2006, Trump did a video to promote a book that bore his name as coauthor.  (He does not actually "write" any of his books.)  At one point, he explicitly denied the central idea of the Declaration of Independence.
The world is not fair. You know they come with this statement "all men are created equal." Well, it sounds beautiful, and it was written by some very wonderful people and brilliant people, but it's not true because all people and all men [laughter] aren't created—now today they'd say all men and women, of course, they would have changed that statement that was made many years ago. But the fact is you have to be born and blessed with something up here [pointing to his head]. On the assumption you are, you can become very rich.

Senate Leadership Fund

Leigh Ann Caldwell reports at NBC:
Republican mega-donors continue to put their money not behind their presidential nominee but into super PACs focused on keeping the Senate and House in Republican hands.
The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Karl Rove-founded super PAC American Crossroads, raised an impressive $28 million in August, according to new filings to the Federal Election Commission. Most of the large-dollar donors to the super PAC are Republicans uneasy about their party's nominee and worried that he's dragging down the party's chances of keeping control of the Senate.
...
Senate Leadership Fund plans to spend $60 million on television advertisements through November 2, a massive sum for one Senate-focused super PAC. The group's counterpart that played the same role in 2012, American Crossroads, raised just $7 million the August before the election - and just $37 million total for the entire cycle.
...
Beyond the Adelsons, the Senate Leadership Fund's roster of support is full of mega-donors who don't support Trump.

New York hedge fund manager Paul Singer, who is #NeverTrump, gave $1 million to the Senate-focused super PAC in August. Other #NeverTrump Republican mega-donors who contributed in August include Arkansas' Warren Stephens, who gave $500,000, Illinois' Samuel Zell, who gave $250,000, and William Oberndorf of California, who gave $100,000.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Day in Donald Trump's America

Ben Mathis Lilley reports at Slate:
It seemed almost inevitable that Donald Trump's presidential campaign would involve some sort of shocking public utterance of the word n-----. Wednesday morning it happened when Trump supporter (and convicted murderer) Don King was introducing Trump at an event at a church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio:




screen_shot_20160921_at_10.40.36_am

McKay Coppins reports at Buzzfeed: 
Evan McMullin’s presidential campaign has taken a racist tirade recently left in a staffer’s voicemail inbox and turned it into a political ad highlighting the dangers of “Donald Trump’s America.”
The ad, which will air online in select markets, features a recording of a personal cell phone message campaign spokeswoman Rina Shah received after appearing on Fox News last Friday.
“You frothing, libtard piece of shit Islamic dog,” the caller, identified only as “Alan,” is heard saying in the ad, while a transcript of his rant runs along the bottom of the screen. “Vote for the pathological lying criminal you fucking piece of shit … and get out of our country … while you’re at it, got back and get fucked by your dirtbag Islamic terror scum friends. Slut.”
The campaign’s ad concludes with a warning: “Alan is a preview of Donald Trump’s America. We can do better.”
 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

More Trump Sleaze

David Farenthold reports at The Washington Post:
Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.
Those cases, which together used $258,000 from Trump’s charity, were among four newly documented expenditures in which Trump may have violated laws against “self-dealing” — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.
In one case, from 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club faced $120,000 in unpaid fines from the town of Palm Beach, Fla., resulting from a dispute over the height of a flagpole.
In a settlement, Palm Beach agreed to waive those fines — if Trump’s club made a $100,000 donation to a specific charity for veterans. Instead, Trump sent a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity funded almost entirely by other people’s money, according to tax records.
Maggie Haberman reports at The New York Times:
When Donald J. Trump campaigned in South Carolina in December, in a crowded and tightening Republican primary, he made a pointed declaration about one of his opponents, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
“He totally knew about it,” Mr. Trump told his supporters, referring to the2013 shutdown of the George Washington Bridge by Christie aides, allegedly to punish a political foe. “They’re with him all the time, the people that did it.”
Mr. Christie, who was not charged, has repeatedly denied such claims. But in a federal courthouse in Newark on Monday, a prosecutor from the United States attorney’s office affirmed Mr. Trump’s view of the scandal, which helped scuttle Mr. Christie’s hopes for the presidency.
The prosecutor, Vikas Khanna, said that the aides, David Wildstein and Bill Baroni, had boasted to the governor about closing several lanes of a ramp connecting Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sanchez Outreach is Flagging

Sanchez is not doing well. Sarah D. Wire reports on the CA Senate race at The Los Angeles Times:
Republicans and independents are poised to play a key role in the race — if they get involved, that is, and Sanchez has made a pivot toward the right in recent weeks.
The effort does not appear to be working. A statewide poll conducted for USC Dornsife and The Times this month by SurveyMonkey found 16% of registered voters, mostly self-described Republicans and independents, have decided to skip the first open U.S. Senate race that California has seen in 24 years — the same percentage of voters who favor Sanchez. Support for Harris came in at almost double that level at 30%.

And more than a third of California voters indicated they still “don’t know” which Senate candidate they’ll pick on Nov. 8, according to the poll.
... 
Seventeen of the state’s 39 House Democrats have backed Sanchez, nine have backed Harris, according to the campaigns, and many of the rest said they are staying out of the race entirely. The Democrats have said they’ve tried to keep the situation from becoming awkward with a colleague many have known for decades.
Among GOP House members, only Darrell Issa has explicitly endorsed Sanchez, though others have praised her.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Trump Goes Trump Again

The New York Times reports:
Donald J. Trump once again raised the specter of violence against Hillary Clinton, suggesting Friday that the Secret Service agents who guard her voluntarily disarm to “see what happens to her” without their protection.
“I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Miami, to loud applause. “I think they should disarm. Immediately.”
He went on: “Let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away, O.K. It’ll be very dangerous.”
In justifying his remarks, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that Mrs. Clinton wants to “destroy your Second Amendment,” apparently a reference to her gun control policies.
Presidential nominees are protected at all times by heavily armed teams of Secret Service agents, some uniformed and some undercover, who are devoted to the candidates’ physical safety.
Mr. Trump’s comments were a provocative echo of widely condemned remarks he made in early August at a campaign rally in Wilmington, N.C. There, he airily suggested that gun rights supporters should rise up against Mrs. Clinton if she were elected to stop her from appointing judges who might favor stricter gun regulation.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added, “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Friday, September 16, 2016

Gap Year: Clinton America v. Trump America

Danny Vinik writes at Politico:
If Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sometimes seem like they’re talking about two different Americas, there’s a reason: Their voting bases pretty much live in two different Americas. Clinton voters are concentrated in cities, in the nation’s denser and more diverse areas; Trump voters dominate rural areas and America’s wide-open landscapes.
As a lot of political observers have noted, Trump’s grim-sounding language about a downcast America makes more sense if you realize just what’s happening for his rural base. And buried in the Census Bureau’s new report on income, poverty and health insurance, released Tuesday, are two piece of further bad news for rural America—trends that could keep shaping politics well after November’s election.
For Americans living in metropolitan areas, inflation-adjusted household income rose by 6 percent from 2014 to 2015—a robust bounce back from the recession. But for those living outside those areas­—totaling more than 40 million Americans—household income actually fell by 2 percent. The numbers on poverty reveal a similar trend. The number of people in poverty in rural areas did fall by 800,000, but that doesn’t appear to be because people are escaping poverty: Instead, people are simply leaving. The rural population, in that span of time, declined by five million people. Taken in total, the rural poverty rate actually rose slightly, by 0.2 percentage points. In the rest of country, the poverty rate declined by 1.4 percentage points.
Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg report at The Wall Street Journal:
Key swing states such as Nevada, North Carolina and Florida have seen some of the weakest income growth in the country since the last non-incumbent presidential contest in 2008, new census figures show.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of state-by-state income data set for release on Thursday shows that more than half of the 13 states where the presidential race appears closely contested have seen below-average income growth since 2008. Among the eight laggards, three states saw the lowest wage growth in the U.S. during that time—Nevada, Georgia and Arizona.
Pew reports:
In Pew Research Center’s August survey, registered voters with a college degree or more education favor Clinton over Trump by 23 percentage points (52% Clinton vs. 29% Trump) in a four-way contest that included Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson (supported by 11% of voters with at least a college degree) and Green Party candidate Jill Stein (4%).
By contrast, voters who do not have a college degree were more divided in their preferences: 41% backed Trump, 36% Clinton, 9% Johnson and 5% Stein.
If the gap between Clinton and Trump holds in November, it will be the widest educational divide in any election in the last several decades. And the current gap is particularly pronounced among white voters.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Recovery? Not in the Public's Mind

The latest economic news is fairly good, but why does it not show up in the polls?  James Hohmann writes at The Washington Post:
Scott Clement, director of The Post’s polling unit, noted that the average American is making less today than he or she was 15 years ago. Real median household income was $56,500 in 2015, the Census bureau reported, up from $53,700 in 2014. But that’s below the peak median income registered in 1999 — $57,909. “While these reports are ‘good,’ some represent a return to previous economic levels before the recession, not outright improvement,” he said. “A Quinnipiac poll in May asked voters to rate the economy – 2 percent called it ‘excellent,’ 30 percent ‘good,’ 40 percent ‘not so good’ and 27 percent ‘poor.’ That’s better than the single digits seen in the depths of the recession, but it’s still a net negative.”
...

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute: "This seems to be first recovery where we haven’t seen an increase in consumer confidence that matches the increase in other objective metrics. In other words, the larger economy may have improved, but people are worried about the rug being pulled out from under them. In past (business) cycles, people were more hopeful, expecting they would have to deal with fluctuations but that there would always be an upturn at the end. This time, people are not ‘enjoying’ the recovery. Rather they are worried about an even worse downturn just around the corner because the American economy is not as resilient as it once was.”
...
Wonkblog’s Jim Tankersley notes that certain, very specific groups were left behind by the gains of 2015: “All of the income gains effectively came in cities and suburbs, while none of them flowed to rural areas,” he writes on the front page of today’s Post. “In states that expanded Medicaid, allowing more low-income people to be eligible, the uninsured rate in 2015 was 7.2 percent. In states that did not expand, the rate was 12.3 percent.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Health Issue Breaks Through

Morning Consult reports:
Following a caught-on-camera health scare for Hillary Clinton over the weekend, a new Morning Consult survey reveals widespread concerns about her health among registered voters.
The poll, taken Sept. 12 through Sept. 13, shows that eight in 10 (79 percent) said they have heard a lot or some about Clinton’s health concerns.
It’s a high figure. For comparison, at its height, roughly nine in 10 said they had heard a lot or some about Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as the country’s top diplomat.
Opinions on the former secretary of State’s health have already begun to shift since last month. Today, a little more than two in 10 (22 percent) say Clinton’s health is above average or excellent, down from 29 percent from a late August national survey. Additionally, 41 percent now say it is below average or very poor, compared to only 26 percent who said that in August. A plurality, 28 percent, rank her health as average (compared with 30 percent last month).
There are large partisan differences when it comes to opinions on the Democratic nominee’s health. For example, seven in 10 (68 percent) Republicans said Clinton’s health was below average or very poor, compared with 16 percent of Democrats.
Yet, views on Donald Trump’s health have hardly changed – 36 percent today say it’s above average or excellent compared to 33 percent in late August, despite a questionable physician’s note boasting about his health and his documented bragging about unhealthy eating.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Changes in the Parties Since 1992

Pew reports on the changing composition of the parties:

Percent of partisans and leaners with various characteristics
1992                2016
GOP white                                                                              93                    86
Democrat white                                                                      76                    57
GOP  aged 65 or more                                                            19                    25
Democrats aged 65 or more                                                    19                    19
GOP  college graduates                                                          28                    31
Democrat college graduates                                                    21                    27
GOP Noncollege whites                                                         67                    58
Democrat noncollege whites                                                   59                    32
GOP religiously unaffiliated                                                   06                    12
Democrat religiously unaffiliated                                           10                    29



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Monday, September 12, 2016

Another Neo-Nazi Trump Tweet

Tina Nguyen reports at Vanity Fair:
Just two months after the Trump campaign got into trouble for tweeting an image that was widely seen as anti-Semitic, a member of the Republican nominee’s family is at it again. On Sunday,Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of Donald Trump, proudly promoted the above Instagram post, which includes a meme frequently shared by white supremacists. “Apparently I made the cut as one of the Deplorables,” he wrote, referring to a series of controversial comments Hillary Clintonrecently made about Trump’s supporters. “All kidding aside I am honored to be grouped with the hard working men and women of this great nation that have supported@realdonaldtrump [sic] and know that he can fix the mess created by politicians in Washington.”
The image, which plays off Sylvester Stallone’s geriatric action movie The Expendables, shows Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his sons alongside such “hard working men” as prominent conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Breitbart commentator Milo Yiannopoulos—who was banned from Twitter for inciting hateful rhetoric—and Pepe the Frog, an amphibian meme that has been appropriated by Trump’s “alt-right” followers, some of whom use the image to peddle racism, anti-Semitism, and white nationalism.

Many People Are Thinking that "Dave" Was a Documentary

Brian Flood writes at The Wrap:
The hashtag #HillarysBodyDouble took off on social media Monday morning as conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton having a body double spread quickly on Twitter the day after the Democratic nominee’s health issues dominated news coverage.
Clinton was forced to leave a Sept. 11 memorial service early on Sunday after she felt overheated and was captured on camera wobbling as she entered a van. It was later revealed that Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday.
Clinton canceled a campaign fundraising trip to California scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in order to rest and recover, but when she appeared smiling and healthy following a visit to her daughter Chelsea’s apartment to rest up on Sunday. Online sleuths found it odd that she was not surrounded by secret service to both protect her and help her in case she fell ill again.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Trump's Questionable Charity

David Farenthold reports at The Washington Post:
The Donald J. Trump Foundation is not like other charities. An investigation of the foundation — including examinations of 17 years of tax filings and interviews with more than 200 individuals or groups listed as donors or beneficiaries — found that it collects and spends money in a very unusual manner.
For one thing, nearly all of its money comes from people other than Trump. In tax records, the last gift from Trump was in 2008. Since then, all of the donations have been other people’s money — an arrangement that experts say is almost unheard of for a family foundation.
Trump then takes that money and generally does with it as he pleases. In many cases, he passes it on to other charities, which often are under the impression that it is Trump’s own money.

In two cases, he has used money from his charity to buy himself a gift. In one of those cases — not previously reported — Trump spent $20,000 of money earmarked for charitable purposes to buy a six-foot-tall painting of himself.
Money from the Trump Foundation has also been used for political purposes, which is against the law. The Washington Post reported this month that Trump paid a penalty this year to the Internal Revenue Service for a 2013 donation in which the foundation gave $25,000 to a campaign group affiliated with Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi (R).

Friday, September 9, 2016

Trump's Neglect of Policy

Josh Rogin writes at The Washington Post:
The Trump campaign built a large policy shop in Washington that has now largely melted away because of neglect, mismanagement and promises of pay that were never honored. Many of the team’s former members say the campaign leadership never took the Washington office seriously and let it wither away after squeezing it dry.
Donald Trump often brags about having experts and senior former officials advising him. Wednesday night in a forum on national security, he said, “We have admirals, we have generals, we have colonels. We have a lot of people that I respect.” It’s true that Trump is getting high-level policy advice on a regular basis from senior experts such as Rudy Giuliani and retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn. But Trump has never acknowledged the policy shop based in Washington that has been doing huge amounts of grunt work for months without recognition or compensation.
Since April, advisers never named in campaign press releases have been working in an Alexandria-based office, writing policy memos, organizing briefings, managing surrogates and placing op-eds. They put in long hours before and during the Republican National Convention to help the campaign look like a professional operation.
But in August, shortly after the convention, most of the policy shop’s most active staffers quit. Although they signed non-disclosure agreements, several of them told me on background that the Trump policy effort has been a mess from start to finish.
“It’s a complete disaster,” one disgruntled former adviser told me. “They use and abuse people. The policy office fell apart in August when the promised checks weren’t delivered.”
As a result Eli Stokols reports at Politico, Trump is cribbing.
When Donald Trump needed a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, he borrowed one from The Heritage Foundation. His proposals on reforming the nation’s tax code and improving services for veterans appear to have been lifted almost verbatim from those of primary rival Jeb Bush. And in 39 minutes of remarks Thursday, he lifted education proposals core to Mitt Romney’s 2012 platform and a plan that bears notable resemblance to a 2014 bill introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).
The speech, given in the cafeteria of a low-performing, for-profit Cleveland charter school run by a politically active donor named Ron Packard, is the latest example of Trump’s haphazard, cut-and-paste approach to policy — and his campaign’s eleventh-hour blitz of speeches, delivered via teleprompter, attempting to mask the candidate’s reluctance to invest in a real policy shop.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Saving the GOP Majority from the Outside

Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman report at Politico:
Two top outside groups designed to support Senate Republicans raised $42 million in August, a massive haul that shows the fervor with which GOP donors are training their focus – and dollars – on maintaining control of the upper chamber.
The gigantic fundraising number by Senate Leadership Fund and the related One Nation, groups with strong ties to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), helps underscore a driving dynamic this election: Donors, skeptical of Donald Trump and increasingly convinced he will lose in November, are turning away from the presidential race in an effort to save their legislative firewall on Capitol Hill.
The two groups have raised nearly $100 million this election cycle and August – a typically slow fundraising period – was their best month.
“Most donors go away; they go on vacation, they don’t want to talk about politics and they don’t want to write checks,” Steven Law, executive director of the Senate Leadership Fund and president of One Nation, told POLITICO. “There was an earth-shattering explosion of donor interest and support … Far beyond anything we’ve seen in any previous cycle. Basically August was the month that donors rolled up their sleeves and got in the game.”
Law is CEO of the Crossroads groups.  Last month, Josh Israel wrote at ThinkProgress:
American Crossroads reported just about $2.7 million raised as of its July 2016 disclosure. Crossroads GPS, which does not disclose its donors or report its finances to the FEC, has made no independent expenditures at all this cycle and its website appears to be unchanged since June 2015.
While One Nation has spent about $20 million so far this cycle in support of Republican Senate candidates, the Crossroads groups have been largely silent. In fact, $135,378 in independent attacks, by American Crossroads against Hillary Clinton, are the only reported expenditures for either entity so far this cycle.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Clinton Analytics

When Clinton operatives talk about their “data-based” campaign, it’s invariably Kriegel’s data, and perhaps more importantly his models interpreting that data, they are talking about. It was an algorithm from Kriegel’s shop — unreported until now — that determined, after the opening states, where almost every dollar of Clinton’s more than $60 million in television ads was spent during the primary.
The tool bypassed the expertise and instincts of her traditional media buyers by calculating the “cost per flippable delegate,” in the words of one senior Clinton official, and then spat out what states, television markets, networks and shows to buy. Obama veterans were wowed by its advancement; internally, some Clintonites saw it as their secret weapon in building an insurmountable delegate lead over Bernie Sanders.
Now, with Donald Trump investing virtually nothing in data analytics during the primary and little since, Kriegel’s work isn’t just powering Clinton’s campaign, it is providing her a crucial tactical advantage in the campaign’s final stretch. It’s one of the reasons her team is confident that, even if the race tightens as November approaches, they hold a distinctive edge. As millions of phone calls are made, doors knocked and ads aired in the next nine weeks, it is far likelier the Democratic voter contacts will reach the best and most receptive audiences than the Republican ones.
Zac Moffatt, who served as Mitt Romney’s digital director in 2012, was already worried about this back during the Republican primaries. In an interview then, Moffatt feared that whoever emerged as the GOP nominee would be perilously handicapped when it came to data analytics just as Romney had been compared to President Barack Obama who, like Clinton, had honed an analytics operation more than a year in advance.
“If you’re not prepared for it, you can’t catch up,” Moffatt said. “You can’t have a baby in 3 months, that’s just the reality of life. I tried.”


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

State Legislatures and the Long Game

Reid Wilson reports at The Hill:
Republicans have total control of the redistricting process in 20 states, including Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas and North Carolina. Democrats have total control of the redistricting process in just four states, only one of which — Illinois — is home to a significant number of Republican members of Congress.

Winning back state legislative seats “will help us ensure that we have more than a seat at the table, that we’ll be able to determine what that table looks like,” said Aaron Ford, the Democratic leader of Nevada’s state Senate.

Democrats have decent chances to win 11 Republican-held legislative chambers. Six of those chambers, state Senates in Colorado, Nevada, New York, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia, would change hands if Democrats are able to win only a single seat.

Democrats hope to make more substantial gains in the Maine Senate and in state House chambers in Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

For Democrats, ending this year’s elections with 40 state legislative chambers would be a victory, party strategists say.

The party plans to tie GOP candidates to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who is viewed unfavorably by key voting blocs, especially white women in suburban districts. Democrats have their eyes on a few seats in Colorado’s Jefferson County, just outside Denver; the Portland suburbs in Maine; the Hudson Valley and Long Island in New York; and seats that ring Puget Sound in Washington.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Richmond Times-Dispatch Endorses Gary Johnson

The Richmond Times-Dispatch gives Gary Johnson his first significant media endorsement:
In this autumn of our electoral discontent, hope springs, as it so often does in the American republic, from unexpected precincts. Much of the country is distressed by the presidential candidates offered by the two conventional political parties. And for good reason. Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton meets the fundamental moral and professional standards we have every right to expect of an American president. Fortunately, there is a reasonable — and formidable — alternative.
Gary Johnson is a former, two-term governor of New Mexico and a man who built from scratch a construction company that eventually employed more than 1,000 people before he sold it in 1999. He possesses substantial executive experience in both the private and the public sectors.

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More important, he’s a man of good integrity, apparently normal ego and sound ideas. Sadly, in the 2016 presidential contest, those essential qualities make him an anomaly — though they are the foundations for solid leadership and trustworthy character. (At 63, he is also the youngest candidate by more than half a decade — and is polling well among truly young voters.)

As the nominee of the Libertarian Party, Johnson is expected to be on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. He is, in every respect, a legitimate and reasonable contender for the presidency — but only if the voters give him a fair hearing. And that can happen only if he is allowed to participate in the presidential debates that begin on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. If the Commission on Presidential Debates wants to perform a real service to its country, it will invite Gary Johnson onto the big stage.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Trump Outreach

Alan Rappeport reports at The New York Times:
Donald J. Trump faced a backlash on Thursday from some of his top conservative Hispanic supporters, who said their hopes that he was softening his immigration policy had been dashed by his fiery speech Wednesday night, which they said was anti-immigrant.
Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, had shown signs in recent weeks that he was prepared to take a more conciliatory approach to immigrants who had entered the country illegally, dropping talk of a deportation force and instead speaking of treating those immigrants in a fair and humane fashion.
Less than two weeks ago, he held a meeting with his Hispanic advisory council in Trump Tower, leaving attendees with the impression that he was working on a new plan that included a path to citizenship.
That impression faded in Phoenix on Wednesday night.
“There was so much hope,” said Jacob Monty, a member of the Hispanic advisory council who was at the meeting with Mr. Trump. “He used us as props.”
AP reports:
A Hispanic Donald Trump supporter's assertion that without Trump there could one day be "taco trucks on every corner" in the U.S. has stirred ridicule, not to mention hunger, across the internet. 
Hundreds of tweets with the hashtag "taco trucks on every corner" popped up Friday on Twitter, most of them from people salivating for the tortilla-wrapped food.
The social media onslaught was in reaction to a Thursday night interview on MSNBC with Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez, who said the Mexican culture is "dominant" and "imposing" before issuing his taco warning.
The opportunity to poke fun at Gutierrez's remarks was too hard for many to pass up. Celebrities such as actors Patton Oswalt and Eva Longoria Baston jokingly referenced the hashtag in tweets. Various memes with statements such as "Election day is now officially Taco Tuesday" were also circulating. 
Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman report at The New York Times:
The Republican National Committee had high hopes that Donald J. Trumpwould deliver a compassionate and measured speech about immigration on Wednesday, and prepared to lavish praise on the candidate on the party’s Twitter account.
So when Mr. Trump instead offered a fiery denunciation of migrant criminals and suggested deporting Hillary Clinton, Reince Priebus, the party chairman, signaled that aides should scrap the plan, and the committee made no statement at all.
The evening tore a painful new wound in Mr. Trump’s relationship with the Republican National Committee, imperiling his most important remaining political alliance.
After Yamiche Alcindor of the New York Times found the Trump script for the event, the Donald made an unusual journey. ABC reports:
Donald Trump swayed to songs of worship, read scripture, and donned a Jewish prayer shawl Saturday during a visit to a predominantly black church in Detroit, where he called for a "civil rights agenda of our time" and vowed to fix the "many wrongs" facing African-Americans.
"I am here to listen to you," Trump told the congregation at the Great Faith Ministries International. "I'm here today to learn."
Trump has stepped up his outreach to minority voters in recent weeks as he tries to expand his appeal beyond his GOP base. The visit was Trump's first to a black church — a rare appearance in front of a largely-minority audience for the candidate who typically attracts overwhelmingly white crowds.
Trump was introduced by Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, who warned that he was in for something different. "This is the first African-American church he's been in, y'all! Now it's a little different from a Presbyterian church," he said. 
Jennifer Konerman and Meena Jang report at The Hollywood Reporter:
The latest attempt made by Donald Trump's campaign to reach millennial voters appears to have backfired, when a photo tweeted by Donald Trump Jr. quickly became material for comedians and critics online.
On Friday, Trump's son tweeted a photo of him with his siblings alongside the caption, "This election is not about Republican vs Democrat it's about insider vs outsider. It's time for a change in DC!"
Twitter users, comedians and celebrities had a field day with the photo, comparing the image to Children of the Corn, Mr. Robot, The Outsiders and Christian Bale's character from American Psycho, while also mocking Eric Trump's placement behind his two siblings in the image.


This election is not about Republican vs Democrat it's about insider vs outsider. It's time for a change in DC! #



6,6136,613 Retweets
13,04313,043 likes



Saturday, September 3, 2016

Scandalabra: The Labor Day Clinton Email Dump

The New York Times reports:
F.B.I. officials questioned Hillary Clinton extensively about her judgment in using her private email system to discuss classified drone strikes and in allowing aides to destroy large numbers of emails, before ultimately deciding she should not face criminal charges, according to investigative documents released Friday.
....

Mrs. Clinton regarded emails containing classified discussions about planned drone strikes as “routine.”
■ She said she was either unaware of or misunderstood some classification procedures.
■ Colin L. Powell, a former secretary of state, had advised her to “be very careful” in how she used email.
The F.B.I. documents show that an unnamed computer specialist deleted the archive of Mrs. Clinton’s emails weeks after the existence of the private server became public in March 2015.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Conservatives Against Fox

David French writes at NRO:
As Matthew Sheffield laid out brilliantly in a piece earlier this month, at any given moment Fox may have the biggest audience in cable news, but its overall cultural and political influence pales in comparison with that of its leading network and Internet competitors. Fox has constructed a big, beautiful, and lucrative gated community — a comfortable conservative cocoon.
 The result is clear: Conservatives gain fame, power, and influence mainly by talking to each other. They persuade each other of the rightness of their ideas and write Fox-fueled best-selling books making arguments that Fox viewers love. The sheer size of the audience lulls minor political celebrities into believing that they’re making a cultural and political difference. But they never get a chance to preach to the unconverted.
...
 The result is a world in which many individual conservatives just keep failing up. Fox is the place where you can nurse grievances over failed arguments. It’s the place where you can make money after failed campaigns. Do you wonder why the GOP had 17 presidential primary candidates? In part because there were actually two primary contests — the race for the nomination and the auditions for Fox.
Michael Gerson adds:
 Much (not all, but much) of the new conservative establishment feeds outrage as its source of revenue and relevance. It is a model that has been good for Limbaugh and Fox News but bad for the GOP. Republicans are now caught in a complicated electoral dynamic. What their base, incited by conservative media, is demanding, the country is rejecting. A choice and a conflict are becoming unavoidable. Trump’s angry nativism — newly restated in Arizona with a few twists — is a talk-radio shtick, correctly viewed by most of the electorate as impractical and cruel. It is less a proposal than an offensive, unhealthy form of ideological entertainment. And this show needs to close.