We will have a live blog up at 8:00 Eastern for the Presidential debate tonight.
Clinton-strategy: There’s increased speculation that the decision of the Clinton campaign to try to deliberately separate Trump from the rest of the GOP brand is what’s causing the Republican’s unusual down-ballot strength, as Clinton has helped give Congressional Republicans cover to separate themselves from Trump. I’m skeptical of this theory however, both because Trump’s status as a not-really-Republican long predated anything the Clinton camp ever did, and because the GOP isn’t even really running that far ahead of Trump outside of a few edge cases. I mean, if Generic R was down roughly 2 points to Generic D for president, I’d expect similar numbers to what we’ve been seeing from Senate and Congressional Republicans considering the number of GOP incumbents running this year.
Debates: As you would expect, the candidates have widely different methods for debate preparation. Clinton is following the classical method of rigorous practice, sound-bite refinement, and opposition research, while Trump is basically aiming for trying to just naturally own the room like he’s done for most of his media appearances for the last 15 months. The smart money is on Clinton to come out on top, but the smart money has been against Trump at basically every point of the race so far, and yet he’s still within a few % of the Presidency. This will probably be the most-watched debate in US history, and should easily be one of the most memorable.
Hispanics: This isn’t a surprise—Trump isn’t doing well with Hispanics. Here’s an actual surprise—he’s actually doing about the same with them as Romney did. Hispanic-only polls like this one regularly show better D margins with Hispanics than the exit polls do, and pundits have a habit of comparing these sorts of polls to the exit polls, which means every GOP candidate looks like they’re set for a fall-off with Hispanic voters even when that’s not what the polls actually show. Trump’s shunning of GOP orthodoxy on fiscal issues is probably helping him here, as Hispanics have always had a lot in common with the sort of White-Ethnic voters that first started moving towards the GOP when Richard Nixon ran on a platform of punching hippies rather than repealing Social Security.
Millennials: Democrats continue to be confounded by the fact that Millennials seem to be far more willing to vote 3rd party than other demographics. The fact that they are running a nakedly corrupt political dinosaur with all the relateability of moldy cream cheese seems to be glossed over in favor of the classical bemoaning about how stupid and vapid Millenials are. I’m wondering if the Democrats realize a huge part of Obama’s impressive Millennial margins came from the “Hope and Change” stuff rather than his progressive platform, and that Clinton is a terrible successor to the former while being an acceptable successor to the latter.
Trump-ads: Trump has apparently announced a big ad buy for the last couple of weeks of the campaign. The buy, rumored to be about $140 Million, comes at a time when airtime is increasingly expensive, and if I had to guess was more about making his campaign look competent than actually moving votes (following the classic model of Trump’s campaign strategists getting all their ideas from reading yesterday’s headlines). But when I said “apparently”, I meant that it’s unclear exactly how Trump is planning to pay for this ad blitz, as his campaign does not have nearly that much cash on hand.
NV-Sen: Cortez-Masto has gone on the attack after some Nevada Republicans accused her of “Hispandering”. Cortez-Masto is ethnically Mexican, but doesn’t speak Spanish and a pair of former GOP operatives accused her of playing up the “First Latina Senator” angle despite having little cultural ties to the Nevada Hispanic community. Naturally, Cortez-Masto is trying to spin this into an actual issue (“People who used to work for my opponent think I’m playing up my race” seems less damning when you actually type it out), and is attacking Heck for not denouncing the statements more vociferously than he already has.
NC-9: Robert Pittenger, already on thin ice for the cloud of ethics charges hanging over him, claimed on TV over the weekend that the reason all the people in Charlotte are rioting is because they hate white people for being more successful than them. Sadly Pittenger won his highly-contested 2016 house primary, and we can only hope that someone with a little less foot-in-mouth syndrome can take his place in this safe-but-not-secure NC House seat come 2018. Stuff like this is how you lose elections in otherwise safe seats in decent years.
TX-Sen-2018: A few months after pointedly refusing to endorse Trump at the RNC, Cruz has back-tracked and done just that over the weekend, albeit tepidly. On one hand, this is probably an attempt to head off backlash from Trump supporters that are already threatening to primary Cruz in 2018, but on the other hand it pretty much robs Cruz of the only constituency he really had left (#NeverTrump Conservatives). Cruz has now managed to piss off just about every major ideological group in the GOP at some point or another. As I’ve said before, what exactly does he offer 2020 primary voters that someone like Ben Sasse doesn’t?
TX-Sen-2018: Fortunately for Cruz, Wendy Davis is mulling a comeback, and is talking about running for Senate against him in 2018 if the 2016 turnout “looks good”. One of RRH’s biggest electoral jokes might be back to kick around again! Maybe we can get Bruce Braley to run for Iowa Governor too!
MD-Gov: Prince George’s County executive Rushern Baker III is openly considering running for Governor of Maryland in 2018. Baker, who is black, would probably have a solid lock on the important PGC Democratic “bloc” (against the MontCo “bloc” and the Baltimore “bloc”), and might attract some outside attention as one of the few serious black gubernatorial candidates in the country.
NJ-Gov: Members of the New Jersey Legislature are looking at impeaching Governor Chris Christie over the “Bridgegate” scandal. Christie is already termed out of the governor’s mansion in 2017, and impeaching him would only mean that Lt-Gov and likely 2017 GOP Governor candidate Kim Guadango would get to run as an incumbent Governor instead. Oh how the mighty have fallen–remember when Christie was seen as a rising force for change in the GOP?
UK-Labor Party: Corbyn was re-elected as Labor Party leader over the weekend, by a 62-38% margin. This is widely seen as a vindication of Corbyn’s strategy to greatly expand the number of Labor party members (official party membership in the UK is vastly smaller than in the US). Corbyn and his allies have made it quite clear that they want to purge the Labor party of all dissenting elements, including de-selection of moderate MPs as part of the UK’s very establishment-friendly (which increasingly means Pro-Corbyn) “primary” system. Between this and Corbyn’s inability to come off like a reasonable lefty as opposed to a caricature of the sort of Bevanite Hard-Left politician that Thatcher won huge majorities against. It remains to be seen what the more moderate members of the Labor party plan to do in response to this, but regardless it looks like Theresa May’s Conservatives are in for a good election year in 2020, even beyond the boundary changes.
VT-Gov: Despite the Bernie Revolution sweeping across America, it seems very possible that the GOP is going to pick up the Governor seat his home state of Vermont. The existence of Sanders/Scott (the Republican candidate for Governor) voters seems to make no sense until you realize that a huge part of Sander’s appeal came from outside of his hard-left economic agenda. In a state where it’s possible for the average voter to meet candidates face-to-face multiple times over the course of a campaign, likeability plays a much bigger role than they do in a national or even large-state races. Combine that with the failures of the Vermont single-payer experiment, and you have a state ripe for a GOP Gubernatorial win even in the face of an ~2:1 flop at the top of the ticket.
Voting-Fraud: An examination of voting in Colorado has found that a number of dead people have turned in ballots. For all the huffing and puffing about voter ID, this is probably a much bigger source of voting fraud, as mail-in ballots and lax registration purging means that eligible ballots can be sent to the addresses of a number of people long after they died, and returned filled out by whoever happens to get their hands on them.