Will Trump Lose It?

[ Posted Thursday, October 20th, 2016 – 16:20 PDT ]

OK, I fully admit that headline is nothing more than a bad pun. Will Donald Trump lose the election? At this point, the answer to that is "probably." But when he does lose the election, will Donald Trump completely lose it? That is the more pertinent question being asked now, as he's already signaling that he's not exactly going to take the loss graciously (as all losing candidates are indeed expected to do).

Nobody who understands Trump should be surprised by this, really. Donald Trump's entire persona has always been that of a winner. He was taught by his father, at a very early age, that winning wasn't just a goal but the most important core value a person could have. There were winners in life, and losers. Trump was taught to be a winner, at all costs. It's not overstating the case to say that this is who Donald is, in his own mind: a winner, above all else. What this means is that losing the biggest contest he's ever been in is going to wound Donald right down to the core of his being.

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Nasty At The End

[ Posted Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 – 22:10 PDT ]

Tonight was (finally!) the last presidential debate of the 2016 election season. I thought it was a better debate (if less entertaining) than the first two, personally. A lot of actual policy positions were discussed, the candidates interacted with each other without so much of the "everyone's screaming at once" interludes, and the moderator kept the subjects moving along at a good clip. So my overall impression of the final debate was that it was a lot more like a normal presidential debate than the previous two.

There were some brutal moments, of course, which is to be expected by now. Even though Trump was visibly trying to stay under control during this debate (a lot more than the last two times), he didn't succeed in doing so throughout the whole evening. Hillary Clinton turned in a solid debate performance, with a goodly amount of zingers launched at Trump and without any noticeable stumbles. She got wonky at times (as she is wont to do), but I don't think she said anything tonight that's going to hurt her in the next three weeks. Parts of tonight were just as hard-hitting as the first two debates, but on the whole it seemed a lot more civilized. At least until the next-to-last question, where Trump got nasty.

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Thank You, John McCain

[ Posted Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 – 17:09 PDT ]

Senator John McCain just got caught in a "Kinsley gaffe," which is defined as: "a Washington politician accidentally admitting an obvious truth." For which I'd like to thank McCain, because it could actually pave the way for Senate Democrats to combat Republican obstructionism in a very effective manner. McCain's gaffe was on the subject of the Senate's confirmation process for Supreme Court justices. He confirmed what some had already been suspecting -- if Hillary Clinton becomes president, the Senate Republicans might just band together to refuse to confirm anyone she names to the high court. Period.

Here are McCain's own words, from a Pennsylvania interview where McCain is trying to boost Pat Toomey's chances of being re-elected:

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2016 Electoral Math -- Trump Collapses

[ Posted Monday, October 17th, 2016 – 17:30 PDT ]

There is an excellent chance that when Republicans look back at the 2016 presidential election, this will be the week they'll point to when Donald Trump completely collapsed. This collapse may not be over yet, but it surely began in the wake of not only the disastrous Billy Bush tape but also the continuing stream of women publicly accusing a major party's presidential candidate of sexual harassment or sexual assault.

Now, it is a proven fact that presidential candidates can actually overcome such a phenomenon. Bill Clinton did so, in 1992, with what were called his "bimbo eruptions" (don't look at me -- I didn't coin that term). But it's looking like Trump isn't capable of pulling off a similar feat. For one thing, public attitudes have changed a lot over the past quarter-century. For another, Trump is no Bill Clinton.

We will have the final presidential debate this week, so anything could happen. But for the moment, things are looking awfully good for Hillary Clinton, and absent a masterclass debate performance by Trump, things will quite likely continue to improve for her as well.

So far, all of the movement has been within each candidate's own states, meaning the true impact of the Trump collapse can't be seen in our first chart (it can't really be seen until the third chart, which we created this week just to show the magnitude of how bad things are getting for Trump). In fact, the first chart shows no movement whatsoever in each candidate's total of Electoral Votes (EV). As always, this chart shows what would happen if all the polls were right and the election were held today. Hillary Clinton starts from the bottom in blue, and Trump starts from the top in red. Whichever candidate crosses the center line of 270 Electoral College votes will win.

Electoral Math By Percent

[Click on any of theses images to see larger-scale versions.]

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Friday Talking Points [412] -- Trump Unshackled

[ Posted Friday, October 14th, 2016 – 17:46 PDT ]

Donald Trump has a new answer for why he's about to lose in a landslide. It's all a vast left-wing conspiracy. No, really. Well, he didn't actually use that term, but he did indeed go full-on conspiracy theorist at a recent rally. He blamed the Obamas, the Clintons, the world banking cabal (no dog-whistles there, right?), corporations, and anyone else he could think of. In other words, we seriously doubt Donald Trump is going to give a polite and respectful concession speech on Election Night. This is Trump, unshackled (to use his own term). Trump unchained. Trump off the leash. And it ain't pretty.

This entire election has already been a rollercoaster of historic proportions. Each and every time you think: "Well, it certainly can't get much worse," it does. Over and over again. And (a frightening thought if ever there was one) we still have over three weeks to go.

Last week was a textbook example of why political observers always say "a week is an eternity in politics." As was the week before it, come to think. And the week before that. Donald Trump simply crams so much bizarreness into such a short stretch of time, that it is now hard to remember a time before what is now being called "pussygate" had happened. Remember those quaint days of yore when the biggest news was Trump hadn't paid any federal income taxes for two decades? Seems like months ago, now. Remember when Trump was on the offensive against Bill Clinton's sexual past? That was only a week ago, when he tried to seat four Clinton accusers in his family box at the town hall debate.

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Will The GOP Split?

[ Posted Thursday, October 13th, 2016 – 16:41 PDT ]

When you spend as much time as I do paying attention to politics, you hear all sorts of far-fetched predictions. Most of these never come true. Some do (see: Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidate). But some of these are interesting to speculate about, whether or not you think the chances that they'll come true are very high or not. Which leads me to today's subject: will the Republican Party survive, post-Trump, or will it splinter into two factions?

Now, admittedly, this a perennial thought -- for both parties. Divisions are sometimes stark between party factions, and sometimes the internal arguments get downright vicious (civil wars are always the bloodiest, in other words). When they do, the prediction that the party is on the brink of permanent division always pops up. And then never goes on to become reality.

Is this time different? It certainly feels different, that's for sure. I have previously seen a political party run away from its own presidential nominee (1996, Republicans, Bob Dole), but even then Republicans weren't openly denouncing their candidate -- or even publicly stating that they couldn't support him at all. That is new. Some Republicans have been denouncing Trump from the very beginning, some began when he looked like he was going to wrap up his party's nomination, and some only began last weekend, after the disastrous Billy Bush tape went public.

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What To Call The Key 2016 Demographic?

[ Posted Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 – 17:18 PDT ]

The political media is falling down on the job. Where (oh where) are the cutesy names for the key demographic group in this election cycle? You can trace this phenomenon back to (at least) the vaunted Reagan Democrats of the 1980s, but more recently we've had Soccer Moms, NASCAR Dads, and Security Moms -- groups who were supposedly the most crucial for how the vote turned out in presidential years. Now, the construct seems a bit limiting (just moms and dads?), but I'm kind of surprised we haven't had such a snappy label for the group that most pundits have already identified as being the key to victory this November. I keep hearing "college-educated white women," but that's a real mouthful. Which is why I say the media is falling down on its job. Now, the job I speak of is admittedly a rather inane one, and might be properly defined as: "oversimplifying complex demographic trends and then obsessing over one particular slice of the electorate at the expense of all others." But as they say, it's a dirty job but someone's got to do it.

So what should the college-educated white female voter be called? These are (mostly) suburbanites, and most pundits even narrow it down to only married college-educated white women. At first glance, it might seem we've made it back to the beginning of the cycle, and that "Soccer Moms" might be worth dusting off and reusing. But I've never really liked the term, personally, because it seems to be rather sexist in nature. Perhaps I am being oversensitive (not being female, it's hard to gauge these things), but reducing women to their familial status ("Mom") and their supposed-occupation of shuttling the kids to and from soccer practice seems a bit retro, at the very least (and not in a good way). Plus, it's already been used once.

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Republicans' "He Is Us" Problem

[ Posted Tuesday, October 11th, 2016 – 16:44 PDT ]

In deciding how to describe the ongoing fratricide within the Republican Party, several metaphors and phrases sprang to mind. Rock, hard place. Rats, sinking ship. Petard-hoisting. There are several which are apt and appropriate, but I finally settled on the wise words of Pogo Possum. Because the Republican Party truly has fulfilled Pogo's reflective prediction: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

That is a rather amusing (and grandiose) way of beginning what is going to be, essentially, a "clip column." Because now that Donald Trump has finally gotten caught saying something which is so outrageous that it is actually impacting him in the polls, I thought it was high time to take a look back and see how we got here.

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2016 Electoral Math -- Clinton Continues Her Rise

[ Posted Monday, October 10th, 2016 – 18:55 PDT ]

I have to begin today with a rather large caveat: nothing in this article deals with what has happened since Friday. Polling always lags reality, meaning that the effect of the Billy Bush/Donald Trump tape and the second debate are not reflected in today's data one tiny bit. That'll all show up in the next week, so you'll just have to check back next Monday to see how all of it turns out. For now, we're dealing with what happened before that tape hit the airwaves last Friday afternoon -- which largely consisted of the public's reaction to Donald Trump's tax returns being leaked (showing an almost $1 billion loss in a single year). So just to be crystal clear: nothing in this article will reflect the reaction to the Bush/Trump tape, or last night's debate.

Even with that big caveat, Hillary Clinton had another good week in the polls. In fact, almost all the news was good news for Clinton and bad news for Donald Trump. Clinton continued to ride the wave from the first debate, and this week shows the public's reaction to Trump's tax returns being leaked, showing an almost-billion-dollar loss in a single year (so much for the "I'm a great businessman" thing...). Trump is defiant about not paying any federal income taxes for almost two decades, which certainly didn't help him any with public opinion.

Let's take a look at our first chart, which shows how the candidates would do in overall Electoral Votes (EV), if the election were held today and the polls were all correct. Hillary (blue) starts from the bottom, and Trump (red) starts from the top. The white gaps are states which are perfectly tied. Whichever candidate crosses the middle line has enough Electoral College votes to win.

Electoral Math By Percent

[Click on any of theses images to see larger-scale versions.]

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Open Debate Thread

[ Posted Sunday, October 9th, 2016 – 15:27 PDT ]

I don't think I've ever done this before, but I'm creating this article just as a placeholder -- an "open thread."

This will allow everyone to comment about the debate tonight, without having to scroll through the already-long comment thread on Friday's article.

So sit back, pop the popcorn, and have fun watching the debate tonight, and if you feel inclined to offer up your thoughts, this is the place to do so. Enjoy!

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant