It's one of those days where you can freely pick your favorite movie metaphor to describe the news from the campaign of Donald Trump. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," perhaps? Ben Shapiro, a former editor of none other than Breitbart News, was being interviewed on CNN where he came up with "a turd tornado." When asked, Shapiro helpfully defined the term: "Well, it's like a sharknado -- except with poop." I'm personally going to go with a favorite West Wing reference, one Trump himself actually seems comfortable with: Trump's campaign is now going to fully commit to "letting Trump be Trump." Because, obviously, the problem all along has been that Trump wasn't being Trump enough. Obviously.
Archive of Articles for August, 2016
Back in May, I wrote an article that laid out five optimistic paths to victory for Hillary Clinton. Two of these paths were quite close, one was the equivalent of Barack Obama's 2008 win, and two were wildly optimistic (at least, at the time and given the available polling data). The last two projected Clinton winning with either 401 or 471 electoral votes.
It's Monday, so Donald Trump just stood up in front of the cameras and read another speech off a TelePrompTer. For the second week in a row, this is supposed to present Trump as being a serious-minded candidate who can manage to "be presidential" when required. But if the past is any prologue, by the end of the week nobody's going to even remember this speech, because by then Trump will have had at least two or three blowups out on the campaign trail -- which will become the story, instead.
This column has always loved a good rant. Most of the time, we provide our own rant at the end of the column, on a subject too big to be contained in talking points. This week, we provide a number of rants from Republicans about their very own party's presidential nominee. Yes, it's only August and the Republican Party is coming apart at the seams. Which, of course, makes for great summertime reading for all!
The Drug Enforcement Agency finally just released its long-awaited decision, and it was a disappointing one for anyone hoping for a sane realignment of federal policy towards marijuana. Marijuana will remain a Schedule I dangerous controlled substance, although (the one silver lining) the federal monopoly on marijuana legally grown for scientific research purposes will end, and multiple sites will be allowed (only one now exists). This will help expand medical research on marijuana -- something that the federal government has been actively discouraging for decades, now. So at least there's that. But the D.E.A.'s refusal to recognize that (as Dylan once said) the times they are a-changing means that federal marijuana policy reform is likely to happen from one of two other possible routes.
It has been an extraordinary two weeks on the presidential campaign trail, but then again that statement could have been uttered pretty much at any point during the past year and still have been just as true. This time around, I'm referring to Donald Trump obviously starting to consider the possibility that he's going to lose the general election. He never used to talk about (or even acknowledge) this possibility before now, but all his dismal post-convention polling may have forced him to begin to think about it.
It's been a long few weeks covering the two national political conventions, and aside from last Friday, this is really the first day I have had with an open column -- one not predetermined by events or the calendar. And a whole lot has been going on in the meantime. I'm not even going to pretend to cover it all today, instead I'm going to offer up a few random vignettes in the form of brief and disconnected paragraphs. As always when I'm in this kind of mood, I will be doing so in homage to the late, great Herb Caen, master of "three-dot" journalism in San Francisco.
Welcome to the kickoff of my quadrennial "Electoral Math" column series. I've been writing these since 2008, because I've always been astonished that no other statistics guru out there seems to present the presidential race in the way that makes the most sense -- by Electoral College vote, charted over time.
We've spent the past two weeks travelling to and from the Democratic National Convention, but due to the three-week period we've got to cover, we're not even going to attempt to adequately revisit everything that's happened in the political world since our last column.
In fact, we're not even going to write our talking points this week, and we're only briefly going to touch on what's going on and quickly hand out the awards, before we get to a rather extraordinary (and extensive) essay at the end, by guest author Eric Varela.
Last month, President Obama's longest winning streak in job approval polling ended. For the first six months of 2016, Obama improved his monthly average job approval number each and every month. That's a longer streak than he's ever managed, to put it into perspective. His job approval rose a whopping 6.5 points during this period, while his average monthly job disapproval number fell 5.4 points. In July, however, both numbers experienced a mild correction, ending this notable streak.