What Special Elections Are Telling Us

David Wasserman: “The results of individual special elections… can’t always foretell what will happen in the next high-stakes midterm. Each district presents its own unique set of variables, like flawed candidates or dreadfully unpopular governors.”

“But taken collectively, the margins in specials can tell us a good deal about the political environment — and it’s looking really bad for Republicans.”

“So far, between KS-04 and GA-06, Democrats are outperforming their ‘generic’ mark by an average of 9.5 points. That’s really, really bad for Republicans.”

Spicer Left Out of Vatican Visit

President Trump’s entourage at the Vatican “included his wife, his daughter, and an array of staffers—but not White House press secretary Sean Spicer, a devout Catholic who told reporters earlier this year that he gave up alcohol for Lent,” Politico reports.

“Both sides, according to a White House official, agreed to limit the number of staffers who attended. Two other senior communications aides from the White House were included: Hope Hicks, who like Melania and Ivanka Trump wore a black veil over her hair, and Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media and a longtime Trump loyalist.”

Most Think Trump Is Abusing His Office

A new Quinnipiac poll finds American voters believe that President Trump is abusing the powers of his office by a 54% to 43% margin.

He also has a dismal 37% to 55% approval rating.

Meanwhile, voter opinions of most of Trump’s personal qualities remain negative:

  • 59% say he is not honest;
  • 57% say he does not have good leadership skills;
  • 56% say he does not care about average Americans;
  • 65% say that he is not level-headed;
  • 64% say that he is a strong person;
  • 62% say that he does not share their values.

Trump’s Base Is Shrinking

Nate Silver: “There’s been a considerable decline in the number of Americans who strongly approve of Trump, from a peak of around 30 percent in February to just 21 or 22 percent of the electorate now. (The decline in Trump’s strong approval ratings is larger than the overall decline in his approval ratings, in fact.) Far from having unconditional love from his base, Trump has already lost almost a third of his strong support.”

“And voters who strongly disapprove of Trump outnumber those who strongly approve of him by about a 2-to-1 ratio, which could presage an ‘enthusiasm gap’ that works against Trump at the midterms. The data suggests, in particular, that the GOP’s initial attempt (and failure) in March to pass its unpopular health care bill may have cost Trump with his core supporters.”

McConnell Still Doesn’t See Path for Obamacare Repeal

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Reuters that he “has yet to hit upon a formula for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a new healthcare program.”

Said McConnell: “I don’t know how we get to 50 votes at the moment. But that’s the goal.”

He declined to provide any timetable for producing even a draft bill to show to rank-and-file Republican senators and gauge their support.

Trump Companies Not Tracking Foreign Payments

“Just days before taking office, President Trump promised to donate all profits earned from foreign governments back to the United States Treasury to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”

“But MSNBC has learned the Trump Organization  is not tracking all possible payments it receives from foreign governments, according to new admissions by Trump representatives.  By failing to track all foreign payments it receives, the company will be hard-pressed to meet Trump’s pledge to donate foreign profits, and could even increase its legal exposure.”

19 House Races Shift Towards Democrats

Roll Call: “We’ve changed our ratings in 19 races, including adding nine GOP-held seats to the list of competitive races and dropping one Democratic seat… after the Republicans’ best potential candidate declined to run.”

“That means Republicans are now defending 39 seats on the list of competitive races compared to just 14 currently held by Democrats. That disparity isn’t as large as prior to the 2010 elections when Democrats were defending 100 competitive seats and Republicans just nine, but just as it’s possible for the Republicans’ electoral prospects to improve, they could also get much worse.”

$17 Million Spent on Montana Special Election

“Campaign spending in Montana’s U.S. House race is surging in the final days with significant amounts placed on getting out the vote,” the Helena Independent Record reports.

“Campaign spending has surged deep into record territory, with at least $17 million flowing into the race from the campaigns and outside groups hoping to influence the nationally watched contest. Republicans are significantly outspending Democrats, according to donation and expenditure reports filed in the last weeks of the campaign.”

GOP Lawmaker Says DNC Hack May Have Been ‘Inside Job’

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) told CNN that the attack of the Democratic National Committee servers may have been done by Democratic staffers.

Said Farenthold: “There’s still some question as to whether the intrusion at the DNC server was an insider job, or whether or not it was the Russians.”

When pressed on this claim, Farenthold said there is proof “circulating on the Internet.”

Flynn Gets Hit with House Subpoenas Too

The House of Representatives will join the Senate in slapping subpoenas on Michael Flynn, Politico reports.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) also said the committee was now receiving responses to requests for information from other witnesses. He declined to name those witnesses but said the committee ‘may be sending out subpoenas in tranches.'”

Axios: “Both the House and the Senate committees’ continued efforts to subpoena Flynn suggest that they’re not giving up on this just yet. And that’s further reflected in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s subpoenas from yesterday that targeted Flynn’s businesses, which they believed couldn’t be protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

Kushner Sought Christie’s Advice on Outside Counsel

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has told people that Jared Kushner asked him if Trump should hire a lawyer to deal with the ramifications of the Russia investigation, Vanity Fair reports.

“A spokesman for Christie, who was responsible for prosecuting Kushner’s father, denied that the governor talked to Kushner about anything related to seeking outside counsel. An administration source said that the conversation about retaining counsel ‘simply did not happen.’ Both sides confirmed that a phone call between them took place, as the two talk frequently.”

Trump Doesn’t Really Care About His Budget

First Read: “By the way, how do we know the Trump White House didn’t really care much about its budget rollout yesterday? Because the president himself is thousands of miles away from Washington. Per budget expert Stan Collender, since the passage of the 1974 Congressional Budget Act, no president before Trump had been outside the country when the White House released its first budget proposal.”

Why It May Not Matter If Trump Colluded with Russia

Byron York: “Now, rather than focusing on alleged collusion, the thrust of leaks in recent days has been directed almost exclusively toward building a case of obstruction of justice against the president, charging that he actively tried to derail the investigation into his campaign and his associates. More and more, day after day, Trump’s adversaries believe that, when it comes to bringing down the president, it might not matter if collusion occurred or not. A cover-up would be enough to do the job.”

“The Trump-Russia case could become the ultimate illustration of the old Washington saying that it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. In this case, there might be no underlying crime at all.”