Weekend Open Thread for July 29-31, 2016

As the conventions are in the rear view mirror, it is time for this weekend’s open thread. Please check back at Noon Saturday for previews of next Tuesday’s primaries in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington state.

(1) Can Libertarian nominee and former Governor Gary Johnson make it into the presidential debates?  What does he need to do to make it happen?

(2) Political conventions are usually a time to see future national stars of the parties.  Was there any performances that we will look back at as breakthrough moments down the road?

And since its the weekend, we can all enjoy and be perplexed by the 42nd president of the United States enjoying balloons like a little kid.


Political Roundup for July 29, 2016


PA poll: A Suffolk University poll puts Hillary Clinton ahead of Donald Trump 50-41. The 9 point lead matches a Marist poll taken a few weeks ago, but very different from a Quinnipiac poll taken in late June and early July that put Trump up by 2. Clinton’s lead comes mostly from a large lead in Philadelphia which offsets losses to Trump elsewhere.


CA-Sen: AG Kamala Harris (D) leads Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) 38-20 in a new LA Times poll. A large number of voters, 28% said they didn’t plan to vote for either candidate, while 14% were undecided. Among Republicans, only 31% expressed support for one of the candidates while 50% said they didn’t support either one and 14% were undecided. Any path to victory for Sanchez obviously requires Republicans and independents to back her in large numbers as Harris leads 2-1 among Democrats.

CO-Sen: Republican Senate nominee Darryl Glenn is having trouble responding properly to a report that he was charged in 1983 for striking his father in the face. Glenn originally claimed that it was either his brother involved in the incident, or another person named Darryl Glenn. However a handwriting expert compared his signature on the 1983 police report and on his filing papers for Senate and said they appeared to be from the same person. Glenn now says that while the incident occurred, he does not recall actually hitting his father, and also points out that the charges were dropped a few months after the incident. As one political analyst says, this appears to be a case of the coverup being worse than the offense itself.

IN-Sen: TV ads are starting in this race. Rep. Todd Young (R) has a new ad criticizing former Sen. Evan Bayh (D) as a “superlobbyist”. Bayh has an ad explaining his desire to return to the Senate because of how bad partisanship is and how he wants to improve the situation. The DSCC also has an ad out attacking Young’s positions on Medicare and Social Security. Young will also be receiving help from the Koch Brothers’ Freedom Partners Action Fund, who have committed to a $1 million ad buy attacking Bayh as “Bailout Bayh” for voting for the 2008 bank bailout bill.

PA-Sen: The same Suffolk University poll that puts Clinton up by 9 also has Katie McGinty (D) up by 7, 43-36 against Sen. Pat Toomey (R). The result is the best that McGinty has fared in any poll, above the 3 point lead she had in the Marist poll a few weeks ago and starkly different from a 10 point lead for Toomey according to Quinnipiac.


WY-AL: Liz Cheney leads the Republican primary for Congress according to a poll commissioned by the Casper Star-Tribune and Wyoming PBS. Cheney has 21% in the poll, with all other candidates in single digits. But 52% still say they are undecided-an indication that the race still could go any way, especially if Cheney’s lead is mostly due to name recognition and the other candidates get better known.


OR-Gov: The same Clout Research poll showing Trump within 3 points of Clinton in Oregon also shows Bud Pierce (R) trailing Gov. Kate Brown (D) only by 1 point, 43-42. Clout Research tends to have a Republican lean which calls into question both the presidential and gubernatorial results, but the only other poll of the race taken last month showed Pierce within 7 points, indicating this race may be closer than most people anticipated.

IL-Gov. 2018: A new poll shows the Democratic nomination for governor may be for the taking by Sen. Richard Durbin (D) if he wants it. Durbin took 49% in the poll, with former Gov. Pat Quinn a very distant second at 10%. Others were in single digits.

MD-Gov. 2018: 3 potential Democratic candidates for governor have been active at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week working Maryland delegates for support. The three are Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Rep. John Delaney, and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. Each offers their own strengths and weaknesses as a candidate, and also acknowledge that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will be a formidable candidate himself, especially if Democrats have a bruising primary.


UK: Another poll shows PM Theresa May’s Tories with a huge lead on Labour 40-28. These polls are great for the Tories and shows a honeymoon bounce for May as the new PM, but if history is any indication, the bounce may be fleeting. The last 3 PMs to take office between elections-James Callaghan in 1976, John Major in 1990 and Gordon Brown in 2007 all experienced large bumps in support that later settled down after a few months. One difference between those 3 cases and now is that the opposition party had been leading in the polls prior to the new PM taking over, not so this time. The Tories had been showing a consistent lead of 4-5 points before May took over, so even if the polls settle down to where they were before, they should keep their lead.


Democratic Convention Roundup For July 28, 2016

Good afternoon everyone.Welcome to the last day of the Democratic Convention and our last Convention Roundup. Next week this afternoon slot will start to be the domain of Polling Roundups, compiling all the poll results from the last few days.

What to watch for: Here is a quick take on the night’s events.

Wednesday: CNN has 6 takeaways from what was largely acknowledged as just about the only well-done night of a convention so far.

Hillary’s Speech: The big event of tonight is, of course, Hillary’s acceptance speech. Generally speaking, it’s the whole “Message: I Care” thing that’s been eluding Hillary for years.

Andrew Cuomo: Cuomo will give a speech tonight and the obvious comparisons are being written about his father’s famous keynote address. But it’s hard to imagine two more different political relatives than the Cuomos, Mario the inspiring ideological liberal and Andrew the nuts-and-bolts Rockefeller Republican.

Suffolk Poll: I’ve made clear in the comments that I think Trump needs to win Pennsylvania in order to win the presidency. That goal took a hit this morning with Suffolk’s release of a poll showing Trump down by 9 to Hillary.  The good(?) news is that the sample may be problematic.  Senator Toomey is also down by 7 points, which seems a little pessimistic to me. If Toomey is actually winning, and Trump is only running two points behind Toomey, this could be a decent indicator for Trump. But maybe I’m being pollyannish. In any event, add it to the heap.

Trump/Putin: Trump says he was being sarcastic yesterday. This seemed obvious to me, and I wonder why he didn’t say it yesterday.

Kaine: I hadn’t heard this, but Senator Kaine has something of a libertarian streak on foreign policy. He’s even spoken to the Cato Institute about the fact that a war on ISIS would be illegal unless authorized by Congress. NeverTrumpers, don’t get too excited. It isn’t as though Kaine would publicly challenge Hillary from the VP spot.

More Kaine: Kaine admits that he was a terrible Governor for New Jersey.


Political Roundup For Thursday, July 28, 2016

It is never easy to write about your opponents’ political successes. But today I must admit that Wednesday was a good day for Democrats. Sure, there were some missteps. Kaine and Bloomberg were a bore. Reid was outright nasty and subverted the positive theme the Convention has been going for all week.

But Trump’s Russia comment (which I believe he meant to be a tongue-in-cheek shot at the media, and then got in too deep to simply say that), combined with President Obama’s magnum opus of a Convention speech, gave Democrats both a more unified party and the news cycle. I have very little doubt that Hillary will be getting a significant bump out of the Convention.

Presidential News:

Obama: While Republicans occasionally were accused of pushing a liberal narrative at the RNC–most specifically with Ivanka Trump arguing for affordable childcare–I never thought I’d see Obama deliver this line in a major national address: “America has never been about what one person says he’ll do for us. It’s always been about what can be achieved by us, together, through the hard and slow, and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately enduring work of self-government.”

There was a subtle irony to the fact that President Obama–a man who made very big promises about hope and change, and whose supporters lauded their free phones and not paying their mortgages–was offering a vision of America about self-government, and not what government says it will do for you.

Kaine: It hardly matters because it won’t be a memorable speech, but boy was Kaine’s terrible “Believe Me” impression of Trump painful to listen to. By the end it was like nails on a chalkboard.

CNN: The coverage of the Convention is radically different, depending on which network you watch. Fox was running hard with the Pelosi comment about guns and gays, while CNN didn’t mention it. And purportedly neutral commentators on CNN like Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, and John King seemed practically eager to hear an awe-inspiring speech from President Obama. To me they were openly rooting for another 2004-type speech from Obama.

Trump-OR: A poll released by Clout research shows Trump within 3 points in … the state of Oregon. Sure, maybe Trump got a Convention bounce, but Oregon ain’t happening.

Hillary: Secretary Clinton continues to offer contradictory explanations on the “why” behind her private server use, occasionally saying it was recommended by others, and other times saying it was strictly about convenience. Judicial Watch filed another brief yesterday again requesting a 3-hour deposition of Secretary Clinton.

Trump-AMA: Trump had what seems like an uneventful “Ask me Anything” session on Reddit. The questions during the AMA were carefully screened and the entire forum was heavily moderated.


OH-Sen: Portman’s campaign is doing well, and the fact that two labor groups have endorsed him this week is certainly a good sign for him. Democrats have been “knocked back on their heels,” says this article. Agreed.

FL-Sen: Rubio claimed in an interview Wednesday that the Democratic Party is more divided than the Republican party. He also suggested that Trump could learn how to be President while on the job. Unfortunately, both statements appear to be incorrect.

More FL-Sen: Congressman Alan Grayson can’t stop melting down. At this point it’s difficult to see how things could have gone better for Marco Rubio in the last month, with both of his potential Democratic opponents flailing.

IL-Sen: Illinois Republicans are challenging the ballot status of an independent and Constitution Party candidate in Illinois. Neither candidate has any chance of winning, but obviously there is a good chance that the Constitution Party candidate could siphon votes from Kirk.

More IL-Sen: In some good news for Kirk, the women suing Tammy Duckworth have decided not to settle their case, and will instead go to trial.  The trial is set to go on August 15. Of course, this doesn’t mean that a settlement won’t still be reached in the next few weeks.

NH-Sen: Governor and Senate candidate Maggie Hassan has a somewhat confusing line of attack against incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte. Apparently a for-profit university had a PAC that contributed $8,000 to Ayotte, which she promptly returned once she realized the university was under investigation. But in response, Hassan claims that Ayotte was voting against measures to better scrutinize for-profit colleges. Way to get in the deepest weeds possible, Governor.


Obama library: The site of the Presidential library has been chosen. Chicago’s Jackson park neighborhood, on the south side, will host the library.

DNC Voicemails: Although these were leaked last week, a new story hit yesterday that some voicemails revealed the inner workings of cash-for-access arrangements with big Democratic donors. Sordid stuff, even if not illegal.

Hillary’s America: The Dinesh D’Souza film is doing well in the category of political documentaries.


DNC Convention / Afternoon Roundup for July 27, 2016

Trump-Russia:  In his never-ending ability to distract us from the failings of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (DLC), Donald Trump (United Russia) is egging on the Russians to release emails from Clinton’s email server.  In my lifetime the Republican Party has went from the party who defeated the Evil Empire to the party that has a nominee encouraging the Russians to get involved in our elections.

Clinton-Russia:  Hillary Clinton has called out Trump for advocating Russia launches cyberwarfare against the United States.  In a move that makes us all weep, Hillary told Trump he needs to stand up to Russia.  Considering it used to by the Democrats who were soft towards Russia, it is highly ironic.

DNC Day Two

Highlights: Here are the highlights from Day Two of the DNC according to Roll Call.

Clintons:  The Clintons officially took back the Democratic Party last night after Hillary was nominated to return the Clinton Co-Presidency and former President Bill Clinton (DLC) gave a strong speech supporting his wife and Co-President.



Political Roundup for July 27th, 2016

Last night West Point Mayor Drew Ferguson (R) won the GA-3 runoff, 54-46.


MO: A SUSA poll of the Show Me state has Trump up a comfortable 10 points. That’s still not great for him in what has become a reliable GOP state, but it certainly points to a competitive general election.

NH: A poll from Inside Sources/NH Journal (anyone heard of them before?) Has Trump up 9 points in New Hampshire. This seems to be a new polling outfit, so heaps of salt is required, and they also found the GOP is doing similarly in all of the other state-wide races in New Hampshire.

National: Reuters has Trump up 2 points on Clinton nationally, the best they’ve ever had him at. We’ll have to see if Clinton can manage a convention bounce as well, though given that the major story of the last few days has been the DNC email leaks rather than the actual convention, I wouldn’t be surprised if she got nothing out of it.

RCP: Trump is up almost a full point in the RCP average, representing his best showing to date against Clinton and also a better showing than Mitt Romney ever pulled against Obama in 2012.

Trump-Denial: Sean Trende points out that at this point, the idea that Trump could never win the presidency is pretty much just wishful thinking by his opponents. “Trump is going to get creamed at the debates” has followed “He’s going to lose once Sanders endorses” and “He’s going to lose when the GOP field consolidates” in the long line of supposed dead-ends for Trump. Could he tank in the Fall Campaign? Possibly. But at this point Trump has shown political Teflon never before seen by a political candidate, so I doubt anything short of revealing himself to actually be Putin in disguise is going to cause the landslide loss that has been so regularly predicted.

TPP: T-MAC, a longtime Clinton ally, has said that she will support the trade deal once elected president, which was quickly denied by the Clinton campaign. At this point, does anyone honestly not believe him?


FL-Sen: Fresh off being handed one of the best developments he could have hoped for, Alan Grayson has decided to attack a Politico Reporter to remind everybody of why Murphy is still the safer Democratic candidate for FL-Sen. That was followed with his ex-wife accusing him of domestic abuse, because the Florida Democrats are utterly incapable of nominating non-terrible candidates for statewide office that haven’t been to outer space at some point in their lives. At this point I half expect that their 2018 Governor nominee will strangle a cat to death on camera.

WI-8: Outgoing Congressman Reid Ribble (R) has endorsed Mike Gallagher to succeed him.


Racism: David French has made a rather interesting point about why the democrat’s attacks on Trump have been so unsuccessful: They’ve gone so overboard with the racism and “destroying our democracy” charges that once they came up against someone who could actually get endorsed by David Duke, they have nothing left to throw at him. They’ve cried wolf so many times that Americans have stopped believing that wolves exist. Let’s be honest, would the Democrat be treating Marco Rubio the 2016 GOP nominee any differently?

Terrorism: Another radical Islamic attack on the West happened yesterday, as a pair of terrorists slit the throat of a Normandy priest. The real story here isn’t the actual attack of course (Or even that one of the terrorists was supposed to be under house arrest at the time), but how distressingly normal this has all become to everyone. Western Europe isn’t quite to Belfast 1975 levels of numbness to political violence yet, but it’s getting there. We might want to start creating a template tool for these attacks to save time as well. Two Islamic Terrorists attacked a church yesterday, killing one.

UK: Theresa May continues to poll well, with the Tories posting a 16-point lead over the Labor party in the latest poll. Modeling a crude uniform swing, this puts the Tories at close to 375 Seats, but its worth noting how broadly the Tories seem to be polling. The Conservatives are up in every region except Scotland, and by a high single-digits margin even in the normally safe Labor Northern England and Wales. The closest comparison I can find from the 2015 polling had the Tories down 13 in the North and 4 in Wales when they were up by 7 nationwide, which would suggest that May has been able to pull a lot of the Labor Brexiters into the Tory Camp, at least for now.

May: In an incredibly amusing result, a separate UK poll has found that Corbyn has a 26% lead on Theresa May on the metric of who would be a better Prime Minister . . . among Brits planning to vote Labor. Ouch.


Georgia Runoff Liveblog & Democratic Convention Roundup for July 26, 2016

Today is night #2 of the Democratic Convention. Bill Clinton will be the big headliner tonight. But separately, there is also the Georgia Runoff for one congressional seat and 13 legislative seats (read more about that in our previews here here). We will be liveblogging in this thread starting at 7p ET, with the liveblog focusing on the lone major race of the night in GA-3.

Results: AP

9:30 ET – For some reason the AP hasn’t called it for Ferguson but I will go ahead; with 95% in, Ferguson has won 54-46.

8:40 ET – 75% in and Crane has closed the gap to 54-46, but his two best counties are in.

8:20 ET- 42% in and Ferguson is still up 57-43.

8:05 ET- 25% in and Ferguson is holding a similar 20-point lead. I’m basically ready to call it.

7:50 ET- Ferguson is leading the early vote in every county in except Fayette (Crane’s home base) and is up 59-41 overall.

7:30 ET- Early votes are in from two counties and Ferguson is up 55-45.

7:00 ET- Polls have closed in Georgia.

Dem Convention News:

Unity: The theme of yesterday seemed to be getting the Bernie Bros on board with speeches from  Sanders and Warren, but that proved to be difficult as Sanders supporters booed outgoing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz as she opened the convention.

Email Hack: The FBI is investigating whether the Russians are behind the leak of DNC emails that led to the sacking of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

DWS: Here’s an interesting piece on how she managed to stay on for so long despite being universally regarded as incompetent. Long story short, she was likely to raise a ruckus if forced out and the White House didn’t care enough about the DNC to have that fight.

Michelle Obama: The speech she gave last night seems to suggest a post-presidency that’s not a Hillary-esque front-and-center role on the national stage, but not a Laura Bush-type quiet invisible retirement either.

Likability: An interesting piece on how hating Hillary became the default setting for American culture


IN-Gov: LG Eric Holcomb is new GOP nominee

LG Eric Holcomb (R) is the new GOP Governor nominee to replace Gov. and VP nominee Mike Pence (R). This caps a meteoric and improbable 6-month rise for Holcomb, who was an unknown Senate staffer going nowhere in his campaign to fill the seat of his boss, retiring Sen. Dan Coats (R). Then LG Sue Ellspermann (R) resigned to lead the state’s community colleges, and Pence tapped Holcomb as his new #2 to get him out of the Senate primary and help establishment-friendly Rep. Todd Young (R). And now with Pence leaving, Holcomb has won the state committee’s endorsement to replace him. Wow.

Holcomb defeated two more politically experienced candidates, Reps. Susan Brooks (R) and Todd Rokita (R), on the back of his insider connections. The selection of Holcomb instead of Brooks or Rokita likely means that musical chairs from here will be very limited. Holcomb’s replacement LG is unlikely to be a particularly big political name. Just gaming it out on paper, a backbench legislator on good terms with the conservative movement seems like the most likely target of his search. Brooks and Rokita should easily slide back into the re-election bids for IN-5 and IN-4 respectively that they abandoned (though there’s always the possibility of some shenanigans). As for the general election, Holcomb now starts a difficult race against ex-State House Speaker John Gregg (D). Holcomb has been known as a bland establishment-type insider, and about as close to a generic Republican as possible. That’s not a terrible fit for medium-red Indiana, but he will need to be aggressive about introducing himself to combat Gregg’s head start. Holcomb’s political skills are also unproven enough that Gregg supporters might see some cause for renewed optimism.


Political Roundup for July 26, 2016

Please stop back for our DNC roundup this afternoon.  As the Bernie Bros. protesting the establishment hack fest known as the DNC dry off from the soaking rains that hit greater Philadelphia Monday, here is today’s roundup.


Immigration Reform:  Barring either party from obtaining the trifecta in 2016, changes to the immigration status quo appear to be DOA.  While some Republicans oddly enough are bitterly clinging to supporting amnesty, they are surely a tiny minority at this point which means any bipartisan effort to deliver the Democrats ultimate goal of amnesty is dead barring the Democrats taking the House of Representatives.

Left Wing Tea Party:  Will the more militant supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist) form something resembling the tea party movement on the left?  Sanders appears to have spawned a movement outside his control, but it remains to be seen if it will be effective.  Much of the support he gained was because Clinton was a terrible candidate.  If any other prominent candidate, even one who was more moderate than Clinton, ran against Sanders, he probably would have performed worse.

Democratic Platform:  DNC Platform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D) was booed by the Bernie Bros. for his support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his efforts to stop opposition to it being in the Democratic platform.  Cummings says that the Bernie Bros. got approximately 90 percent of what they wanted and are acting liked spoiled children.

Clinton-Identity Politics:  City Journal looks at how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign is essentially a bunch of incoherent identity politics tied cheap lines thrown togetherto appease whatever identity politics faction she needs to please at the moment.  City Journal thinks this is a broader trend among Democrats.  I think it is just a symptom of the Clinton campaign going from group to group pandering because it cannot offer anything else.

Polling: As the DNC kicks off, polling does not look good for Clinton.  Trump appears to have gained something of a bounce, but it is only noteworthy because Clinton seems to be sinking further into mediocre territory at the same time.


PA-Sen: Senator Pat Toomey (R) must be the luckiest member of the Senate in a competitive race this year.  His challenger (if you use the term loosely) Katie McGinty (D) has apologized for calling Toomey an a**hole for not supporting a minimum wage increase.  Instead of being able to nail Toomey on a fairly popular issue, McGinty is apologizing and looks like the real a**hole.

FL-23:  The DCCC will not be interfering on behalf of outgoing DNC Chairwoman/Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) in her House primary against Sanders backed insurgent Tim Canova (BOLD PROGRESSIVE).


PA-Gov:   State Senator Scott Wagner (R), a RRH favorite and likely frontrunner for the GOP nomination to face Governor Tom Wolf (D), has received attention as of late due to his unusual rise to power in the State Senate and comparisons with him and Trump.  Honestly comparing him to Trump is a mistake.  Wagner has been involved heavily behind the scenes for years and has bankrolled a good portion of the conservative takeover of the Pennsylvania Republican Party.  Wagner coming to power would be over a decade in the making.


Democratic Convention Roundup for July 25, 2016

Today is the first day of the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. Our Democratic Convention coverage won’t be nearly as extensive as our RNC coverage from last week, but we will put up a brief recap of convention-related news for each day. Today’s major speakers are Melania Trump Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders.

Schedule: The Toronto Star has some crib notes on what to watch for.

Wikileaks: Ahead of the convention Wikileaks has released just shy of 20K internal DNC emails. There don’t seem to be massive bombshells other than the fact that yes, the DNC was in the tank for Hillary against Sanders all along. That was enough to finally net the resignation as party chair of…

DWS: After resigning as party chair yesterday, Debbie Wasserman Schultz will not have a role at the convention. Her duties as convention chair will be handled by Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, while vice-chair and longtime Clinton confidante Donna Brazile will become interim DNC chair through the election.

Dems Skipping the Convention: Though the list of Republicans skipping their convention got extensive play, five key Dem Senate recruits will not be going to the convention either: Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona and Patrick Murphy of Florida, ex-AG Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada, SoS Jason Kander in Missouri, and ex-Sen. Russ Feingold in Wisconsin.

Bloomberg: Michael Bloomberg will be the big non-D endorser for Hillary to speak at the convention.