Why Joe Biden Faces a Tough Decision

Molly Ball: “Biden’s calculation is threefold: emotional, political, and logistical. Amid the continuing toll of his son Beau’s untimely death, hurling himself into a campaign promises more trouble and hurt. But saying ‘no; would entail its own grieving process, as the lifelong pol closed the door for good on his political career, without having achieved his life’s goal.”

Is Ben Carson’s Moment Next?

Rick Klein: “The retired neurosurgeon has none of Donald Trump’s showmanship, and he isn’t even a middle-of-the-night attack-Tweeter. But he is in a strong second place in Iowa, just five points behind Trump in the new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll, eclipsing the support of Ted Cruz and Scott Walker combined. A whopping 79 percent of likely GOP caucus-goers view Carson favorably, with only 8 percent (!) viewing him unfavorably.”

“That suggests tremendous upside for a man who is every bit the outsider Trump is, only with, arguably, a more compelling personal story and, inarguably, a less abrasive personal style. The anti-establishment fervor that’s driving Trump has more than enough left over for Carson, evidently. And he’s running stronger than Trump among women and evangelicals in the new poll, too.”

Early Leaders Don’t Usually Win in the End

First Read: “During the last three presidential cycles (2004, 2008, 2012), the winners of August didn’t go on to capture the presidential nomination. In 2004, the undisputed winner of the summer was Howard Dean, who ultimately finished third in Iowa and won only his home state of Vermont in the 2004 primaries. In 2008, Hillary Clinton was crushing Barack Obama in the August before the nominating contests, while John McCain was essentially given up for dead during that summer. And in 2012, the August winners were Michele Bachmann (who won the Iowa Straw Poll) and Rick Perry (who soared in the polls after his presidential launch).”

“Now if Trump/Carson/Sanders end winning in February and capture their party’s nomination, we’ll look back on this August as the turning points for them. But if they don’t, they’ll join Dean, Hillary, Romney, Rudy, Bachmann, and Perry.”

American Voters are Very Unhappy

A new Quinnipiac poll finds a total of 71% of American voters are “dissatisfied” with the way things are going in the nation today, including 41% who are “very dissatisfied.”

“Voters disapprove 81% to 12% of the way Republicans in Congress are doing their job and give the Republican Party a negative 31% to 58% favorability. Disapproval of Democrats in Congress is 66% to 27% and the Democratic Party gets a negative 40% to 50% favorability.”

Trump Continues War Against GOP Establishment

Byron York: “First Donald Trump antagonized the Republican establishment with his proposals on immigration. Then he irritated some with his stands on trade and Social Security. Now Trump is preparing a tax proposal that will again set him far apart from the party’s powers-that-be.”

“The problem for the establishment is that Trump’s positions on all three issues are more in line with the majority of American voters than the establishment’s preferred policies. By using his popularity to force outside-the-GOP-box ideas into the Republican presidential debate, Trump is displaying an uncanny sense of the divisions between voters and the GOP power structure.”

Matthew Yglesias: “Donors don’t like these ideas, so candidates normally don’t express them. But this bloc of opinion has existed for a long time and represents a huge swath of the Republican Party rank and file. Trump is the egomaniacal opportunist who’s finally giving voice to those ideas. And much of the American establishment is in deep denial about their real appeal.”

It May Take a Long While for Trump to Fade

Paul Krugman notes that while Donald Trump “doesn’t exude presidential dignity, he’s seeking the nomination of a party that once considered it a great idea to put George W. Bush in a flight suit and have him land on an aircraft carrier.”

“The point is that those predicting Mr. Trump’s imminent political demise are ignoring the lessons of recent history, which tell us that poseurs with a knack for public relations can con the public for a very long time. Someday The Donald will have his Katrina moment, when voters see him for who he really is. But don’t count on it happening any time soon.”

Massive Batch of Clinton Emails to be Released

“The roiling controversy over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state looks likely to intensify Monday with the State Department set to release the largest batch of her messages made public thus far,” Politico reports.

“The sheer size of the planned posting on the State Department’s website—at least 6,106 pages, according to a recent court filing—should give Clinton’s critics and her defenders a lot to digest.”

Sanders Has a Nevada Problem

National Journal: “Bernie Sanders has rapidly gained support in the first-in-the-nation voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, creeping up on Hillary Clinton and raising the possibility of mounting a real challenge to the Democrats’ primary front-runner. But in Nevada, the third state on Democratic primary calendar, Sanders faces a challenge that thus far has been the principal sticking point of his campaign: moving past a core supporter base that is largely white, and winning favor among minority voters.”

“Unlike the first two states on the map, in Nevada, minority voters are poised to play a major role in picking the Democrats’ winner. Nonwhite voters make up just less than half of the state’s population, while white voters are much more dominant in New Hampshire (92 percent) and Iowa (88 percent).”

Trump Says He’ll Get Rid of Gangs

Sharpening his pitch to what he calls “the silent majority,” Donald Trump presented himself as the “law and order” candidate in the 2016 presidential race, pledging to “get rid” of gangs and give more power to police officers, the Washington Post reports.

Said Trump: “We’re going to get rid of those gang members so fast your head will spin. One of the first things I’m going to do is get rid of those gang members.”