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.


Political Roundup for July 25th, 2016

Welcome back to the roundup this week!  The DNC starts tonight, so keep an eye out for our continued convention coverage tonight. Further, say a prayer for Ft. Myers.


IL-Pres: In a Republican internal statewide Illinois poll discussed below, Hillary led Trump, Johnson, and Stein 46%-33%-5%-3%. In case you were getting any ideas.

UT-Pres: Crazy numbers from a congressional candidate’s internal poll on the presidential race in Utah’s fourth congressional district. Apparently Trump “led” with 29% over Hillary with 27% and Johnson (!!!) with 26%. Of course, this is one district in an abnormally Trump-hating area without any outside verification, but the article notes that an independent poll is incoming soon.

Cruz: The Mercers, some of the top donors to Sen. Ted Cruz’s super PAC network during his presidential bid, dropped some serious shade on the Texan for his refusal to publicly endorse Trump. They called his decision “both regrettable and revealing.” This probably makes it harder for those donors to hop back on board in 2020, eh?

Bloomberg: In case you somehow thought Bloomberg would support Trump, no, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is obviously supporting Hillary Clinton and even got a nice DNC speaking slot out of it.


IL-Sen: A new poll from Basswood Research for Sen. Mark Kirk’s (R) super PAC (so internal- salt!) finds the incumbent leading Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) 42%-40%. We rate this seat Lean D, so movement like this toward the Republcian would be quite noteworthy. The article speculates the numbers may be due to an ad buy from Kirk earlier in the summer, but it could just as easily be that this is the only poll we saw among many the group conducted that fit the polling average better.

KY-Sen: Finally, we have a political campaign putting the popularity of Pokemon Go to work. The first is for Sen. Rand Paul, whose interns arranged the effort. Of course, most of the visiting voters were fairly non-political, but the free press alone made it worth it.

WA-Sen: A nice article on the Washington Senate race, where former state Republican Chairman Chris Vance has successfully laid claim to the moderate mantle. However, as of the last FEC report he had not yet cracked $300k in fundraising, compared to over $11 million for opponent and incumbent Sen. Patty Murray. Hard to come back from that mismatch. We rate this seat Safe D.


CA-17: Ro Khanna (D) had to walk a tightrope on this one. Locked in a same-party general election race with Rep. Mike Honda (D), Khanna has the problem of too much support. Specifically, it looks awkward to other Democrats when a major donor like Peter Thiel (who normally gives to Republicans but also supports Khanna) gets up at the RNC and proclaims his Republican-ness. However, Khanna’s press release to address critics is smart, praising progress for the LGBT community regardless of the party label and spinning it back to his opponent with some soaring rhetoric. He still might not be able to get away with this tactic if this were before the top two primary, but now Khanna can more openly leverage Republican support in the general election race between him and another Democrat.

FL-23: By now, I’m sure you have heard the news that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is out as DNC Chairwoman, taking a consolation prize on the Clinton campaign on the way out the door. She fell victim to Bernie Bros, who in their vindictive fury to take down “the establishment” probably didn’t realize the bigger fish have long been shopping for a way to get rid of her. Anyway, being forced to step down (in the wake of the DNC email hack being released, she was facing a Sanderista vote on the convention floor) is a really bad round of press that may embolden opponents in her own race, where she faces law professor and Sanderista Tim Canova. Canova, fwiw, will have Bernie come stump for him soon. More information on the race (pre-resignation) here.

MN-8: Apparently the change already happened a month ago, but Stewart Mills now has his third campaign manager of the cycle. John Eloranta, the new pick, was a staffer on the 2014 campaign. Switching teams campaign is never fun; however, a timely switch can salvage a faltering campaign (see Rep. Pete Gallego in TX-23 in 2012 for one good example). Anyway, we rate this seat Lean D at the moment.

TN-4: Always embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais is in the midst of a Republican primary fight with Grant Starrett. So what do you do when you’re Starrett and everyone knows you’re ethically challenged? Hit harder.

DesJarlais charges that Starrett is using his parents’ money to “buy” a rural Tennessee congressional seat. He began airing an ad this month that parodied the old TV show “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” It labeled Starrett as “Mr. California” and a “California trust-fund millionaire” who is using “inherited fortune and out-of-state cash to join the club in Washington.”

In contrast, Starrett refuses to explicitly call out the incumbent for his past indiscretions. Instead, he seems to be trying to have his cake and eat it too, staying “above the fray” by focusing hard on abortion and, nudge nudge wink wink, look at Desjarlais’ personal record on abortion– it ain’t the votes that are the problem. Get too clever with your messaging and it may sail right over people’s heads.

UT-4: An internal from Mia Love’s (R) campaign (salt!) finds the incumbent leading repeat opponent Doug Owens (D) 51%-36%. Most polls show a much closer race though. As noted above, an independent poll coming soon may help clarify this race. We currently rate it Likely R.

State and Local

TX-Leg: The election of precinct chairs for HD-146 will occur Saturday, August 6th. The seat opened after State Rep. Borris Miles (D) won himself a state Senate seat at a similar meeting of Democratic precinct chairs.

Maricopa County Sheriff: An independent poll by Republican pollster Lincoln Media Group finds polarizing longtime Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R) actually trailing Democrat Paul Penzone 42%-45%. The poll did come up with a sample of over 2,000 though in a one day sample, so caveats apply.

TX-Land Commissioner: With all the talk about Jeb possibly supporting Johnson and W staying out of it, it’s easy to forget only one Bush remains in office with a bright political future: George P Bush, Texas Land Commissioner. This article focuses on how no Bush family members attended the RNC for the first time in decades, including George P. However, George P could be inoculated by a marriage of convenience, considering Ted Cruz’s call for conscience votes at the RNC. George P continues to lead fundraising efforts for the Texas Victory program (the euphemistic title of Republican field efforts across the country, generally).


DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz quits

It has taken a while, but Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has “quit” as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.  This comes two days after Wikileaks released emails show the top echelon of the DNC was is in the tank for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Schultz has been a Clinton crony for many years and like many Clinton cronies before her, she has been disposed like a disposable diaper once she has been soiled and no longer serves their interest.