October, 2016

Quote of the Day

“I thought I could beat Hillary. I thought I could beat anybody that ran. No one should run for president unless they think they can do that. I didn’t run for one simple, overarching reason: My son was dying and he died. That’s the total reason.”

— Vice President Joe Biden, in an interview with CNN.

Tracking Poll Finds Race a Dead Heat

The Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll shows Hillary Clinton barely edging Donald Trump in the presidential race, 46% to 45%.

Key finding: “Greater Republican unity has buoyed Trump’s rising support, which has wavered throughout the year. Trump’s 87-percent support among self-identified Republicans, ticking up from 83 percent last week nearly match Clinton’s 88-percent support among Democrats. Independents also have moved sharply in Trump’s direction, from favoring Clinton by eight points one week ago to backing Trump by 19 points.”

Kansas GOP Highlights ISIS In Legislative Races

“The Kansas Republican Party is sending out mailers in legislative races around the state depicting ISIS fighters and explosions from terrorist attacks,” the Wichita Eagle reports.

Said Kansas GOP chief Clay Barker: “We did polling and focus groups, and the one issue that got overwhelming positive response and was associated with Republicans was safety. You know, Gitmo, that article that came out back in August that ISIS had named soldiers for assassinations, police being shot and those knuckleheads in Garden City, it all kind of added up to a security issue … the whole feeling that’s there violence out there. And it’s a positive issue for Republicans.”

It’s Hard to Overstate the Turmoil In the Republican Party

“Donald Trump’s path of destruction has pushed the Republican Party to the cusp of a historic reckoning, an existential crisis that has left half of America’s political establishment in desperate need of new leaders, a new message, and even a common orthodoxy,” the Boston Globe reports.

“Party members say it is almost impossible to underestimate the challenges facing the 162-year-old GOP, which for the last three decades has been largely defined by a hagiographic vision of Ronald Reagan but is now riven by a civil war with multiple dimensions.”

“Some Republicans are even studying the collapse of the Whig Party in the mid-19th century, hoping they can avoid a similar fate. Others are girding for proxy wars that will be waged on Capitol Hill, within the Republican National Committee, and live on the set of Fox News.”

When Is It Best to Drop an Oppo Bomb on Trump?

Nate Silver: “If the Clinton campaign does have something major on Trump — or even something minor — there’s a lot of art and science involved in when it drops the story. Too soon, and it could get swept beneath the undertow of the FBI story. Too late, and it might look desperate. But one way the campaign could end is with a whole crescendo of major stories dropping. That could make things complicated for pollsters and forecasters.”

Trump Pledged Far More to Charity Than He Ever Gave

“For as long as he has been rich and famous, Donald Trump has also wanted people to believe he is generous. He spent years constructing an image as a philanthropist by appearing at charity events and by making very public — even nationally televised — promises to give his own money away.”

“It was, in large part, a facade. A months-long investigation by The Washington Post has not been able to verify many of Trump’s boasts about his philanthropy.”

“Instead, throughout his life in the spotlight, whether as a businessman, television star or presidential candidate, The Post found that Trump had sought credit for charity he had not given — or had claimed other people’s giving as his own.”

Why Does Trump’s Support Remain So Stable?

Sam Wang: “Such high stability in polls is not new. It started several decades ago. One measure of the stasis of modern campaigns is how much each party’s support in polls changes over the course of a campaign. From 1952 to 1992, the average range — the difference between maximum and minimum levels of support — was 17 percentage points. Since 1996, the range has dropped to 8 points. Mr. Trump’s range is 4 points, from 39 to 43 percent.”

“At his lowest point, Mr. Trump still had more support than George McGovern, who got the smallest percentage of the popular vote by a major party candidate in the postwar era in 1972, with 38 percent. Mrs. Clinton’s average margin over Mr. Trump of five points has been enough to make her the first candidate to maintain a durable lead in an open presidential race since Dwight D. Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson in 1952. So the bigger question is not about Mr. Trump, but why the last six presidential campaigns became so stable.”

A GOP Lawmaker Off-the-Record

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich spoke to a longtime friend who is a Republican member of Congress:

REICH: What do you think of your party’s nominee for president?

CONGRESSMAN: Trump is a maniac. He’s a clear and present danger to America.

REICH: Have you said publicly that you won’t vote for him?

CONGRESSMAN (sheepishly): No.

REICH: Why not?

CONGRESSMAN: I’m a coward.

REICH: What do you mean?

CONGRESSMAN: I live in a state with a lot of Trump voters. Most Republican officials do.

REICH: But you’re a former official. You’re not running for Congress again. What are you afraid of?

CONGRESSMAN: I hate to admit it, but I’m afraid of them. Some of those Trumpistas are out of their fu*king minds.

REICH: You mean you’re afraid for your own physical safety?

CONGRESSMAN: All it takes is one of them, you know.

REICH: Wait a minute. Isn’t this how dictators and fascists have come to power in other nations? Respected leaders don’t dare take a stand.

CONGRESSMAN: At least I’m no Giuliani or Gingrich or Pence. I’m not a Trump enabler.

REICH: I’ll give you that.

CONGRESSMAN: Let me tell you something. Most current and former Republican members of Congress are exactly like me. I talk with them. They think Trump is deplorable. And they think Giuliani and Gingrich are almost as bad. But they’re not gonna speak out. Some don’t want to end their political careers. Most don’t want to risk their lives. The Trump crowd is just too dangerous. Trump has whipped them up into a goddamn frenzy.

A Theory for Why Comey Sent Congress Letter

Playbook: “The FBI stumbles across some of Huma Abedin’s emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. They need to get permission from Huma and her attorneys to look at the emails — or get a warrant from a judge. This would be handled by the Justice Department. Comey would have no idea what was in those emails, since they haven’t had the permission to look at them yet. So they could be explosive — or they could be nothing.”

“Huma was known to forward emails to other accounts, sometimes to have documents printed. So, in this scenario, Huma uses Weiner’s laptop. The FBI searches it after they seize it in the sexting case. They discover that Huma has emails on there. The FBI New York folks notify HQ in D.C. to ask for guidance. FBI officials kick it up the chain to Comey, who feels like he has no choice but to notify Congress, because he doesn’t want it leaking that he’s covering something up days before the election.”

Clinton Will Try to Put Focus Back on Trump

Glenn Thrush: “Clinton, who hates everything about campaigning except reading briefing books and debating her opponents, has been happy to coast in Trump’s turbulent wake – tsk-tsk-tsk-ing him and deploying a Hall of Fame roster of surrogates from the Obamas to Bernie Sanders to Elizabeth Warren to Katy Perry. But gradually, inevitably, the focus has turned back on the second-most detested candidate running for president – in part because of the drip-drip of WikiLeaks, in part because voters are now forced to grapple with the reality that she’s likely to be the country’s next leader.”

“She doesn’t fare especially well alone in the spotlight – while she’s held her own in most polls, and retains a commanding advantage in many battleground states (and the Electoral College) – Trump has begun to finally consolidate support among core Republicans, which has brought him as high as 44 percent in one national poll and to par with her in Florida and Nevada.”

“So look for a new oppo dump on Trump — and a new line of attack — or anything, really, that will turn the race back into a referendum on his fitness to serve, not hers.”

Trump Advisers Plan Their Next Steps

Gabriel Sherman: “Even given the October surprise of the FBI’s reviewing a new batch of emails that may be related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server, Trump still faces difficult odds. But he is ending the race much as he got into it: not worrying too much about the future and not listening to any of the advisers around him.”

“In recent weeks, I spoke with more than two dozen current and former Trump advisers, friends, and senior Republicans officials, many of whom would speak only off the record given that the campaign is not yet over. What they described was an unmanageable candidate who still does not fully understand the power of the movement he has tapped into, who can’t see that it is larger than himself.”

“Trump may not be all that focused on what happens to the masses of white, nativist, working-class voters who have coalesced around him, but there are people in the campaign who recognize how valuable those Trump believers could be long after the election is over.”