Dem 47
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Ties 2
GOP 51
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New polls: AZ NV OH RI TN
Dem pickups vs. 2012: (None)
GOP pickups vs. 2012: ND
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Nikki Haley Resigns
      •  House Republican Ads Are Nasty and Misleading
      •  Majority of Americans Oppose Kavanaugh
      •  Beware the Narrative
      •  An Embarrassing Tweet, Even by Trump's Standards
      •  Category 4 Hurricane Hits Election
      •  Missouri Judge Blocks Part of Voter-ID Law
      •  Today's Senate Polls

PW logo GOP Closes In On Heitkamp Knockout
Pelosi Says Democrats Will Demand Trump’s Tax Returns
Republicans Plan Border Wall Vote After Elections
Scaramucci Trashes Trump Aides In New Book
Pro-Trump Groups Already Spending on 2020
Melania Trump Doesn’t Trust Some In White House

Editorial note:

We would like to thank all of you who have donated to this site in the past using the PayPal icon at the right. We are now using the money to run ads for the site on the Websites of college newspapers, primarily at the larger schools in the swing states of Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia, among others. The idea is not only to drive traffic to our site, but also to hopefully engage the students in politics and get them to vote in the midterms. We are also open to suggestions for other places to advertise. And of course, if you like us, tell your friends. If you are curious, traffic statistics are on the Data Galore page. For example, in September, we had 915,038 visits. Thank you again. (V & Z)

Nikki Haley Resigns

Yesterday, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced her resignation. It caught everyone by surprise—no one, including her staff, saw this coming. She isn't in Donald Trump's doghouse right now (although during the 2016 campaign she was very critical of him), so she isn't quitting one step ahead of being fired. For Trump, losing a popular and high-profile woman just before an election in which angry women may wreak havoc with the Republican Party isn't a good thing, but it is what it is.

The $64,000 question is: Why is she leaving? She gave some lukewarm excuse about believing in term limits, but there are no term limits for ambassadorships, and the last two people to hold her job stayed for 4 years each. Chris Cillizza has a trio of theories of why she might be going, but no one except Haley really knows, and she's not talking:

  • Bolton and Pompeo upstaged her: When Rex Tillerson was secretary of state, Haley was the face of foreign policy, because Tillerson avoided the limelight. Now he is gone and Mike Pompeo is a high-profile secretary of state. In addition, NSA John Bolton is in everyone's face all the time, so Haley has been relegated to a bit player. Furthermore, she is more moderate than either of them or Trump, so nothing she wants to do on the policy front is likely to happen. Under these conditions, why stay?

  • Money: Since 2004, she has been working for the government in one job or another and hasn't been making a lot of money. In 2015, she and her husband reported a total income of $170,000, which she no doubt sees as peanuts, even though for a lot of people it is serious money. She has one child in college and another one heading there, along with a mortgage in excess of $1 million and serious credit card debt. She knows very well that in the private sector, she could command a seven-figure salary (e.g., vice president for international relations at a big bank). So she might just be cashing in on her resumé.

  • She wants to be the first female president: Haley is smart enough to know that she could never knock off Trump in 2020, but Jan. 20, 2025 will be her 53rd birthday and by then Trump will be gone (unless he declares himself president for life). So 2024 could be her year. She may secretly believe that a lot of chickens will have come home to roost by then, so putting some distance between herself and Trump could be a good thing politically.

Another possibility that Cillizza doesn't mention (albeit an unlikely one) is that Trump could replace AG Jeff Sessions with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) after the midterms, in which case Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) could pick the unemployed Haley as his replacement.

Speculation about who will succeed Haley is already going full throttle. One name that seems to keep coming up is the Egyptian-born Dina Powell, who used to be deputy NSA until she moved over to Goldman Sachs. It is not known if she would take the job since that would mean a massive pay cut.

Trump himself floated the name of his daughter Ivanka, saying she would make a great pick, but that he would get attacked for nepotism. That now makes two things that the President wishes he could do with her, if not for their being related. That said, he did not entirely rule out the appointment, either, which forced Ivanka to come out late Tuesday and say she's not interested. Whomever Trump does pick, it would not be too surprising for him to wait until after the midterms (i.e., Mueller Time), or at least until some day when he could use a distraction from less pleasant headlines, for the announcement. (V)

House Republican Ads Are Nasty and Misleading

The Republicans are getting desperate about the House and have resorted to running extremely aggressive and misleading ads against their Democratic opponents. Attack ads are nothing new, but in the past they at least highlighted something true (e.g., my opponent was born in another state). Now the gloves are off and the ads are full of out-and-out lies. For example, Abigail Spanberger, who has spent a decade fighting terrorists as a CIA spy, is being attacked for being a terrorist sympathizer. To take another, Aftab Pureval has been slammed for helping his employer make millions by helping his law firm reduce the payments to victims of the 1988 Lockerbie terrorist attack. In truth, he wasn't even working for the firm when the deal was made and when he did join it years later, he worked on antitrust cases. Also not mentioned in the ad is his Republican opponent, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), voted for the agreement when it came up in the House.

Other Republican ads attack veterans for not loving their country, while numerous ads have strong racist undertones. In short, Republicans are pulling out all stops because they know Democrats won't fight back by libeling them. It is asymmetric warfare. Whether it will work is another matter, of course. (V)

Majority of Americans Oppose Kavanaugh

A new CNN/SSRS poll shows that 51% of Americans oppose Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court and only 41% approve of it. The breakdown is very partisan, with 91% of Democrats opposing him and 89% of Republicans supporting him.

Also noteworthy is that 52% believe the women accusing him of sexual misconduct and only 38% believe his denials. Half of the respondents say his personal behavior disqualifies him from being on the Court. In short, his credibility problems aren't going anywhere anytime soon. As we noted already: It's been 27 years, and everyone still knows the name "Anita Hill." (V)

Beware the Narrative

Stuart Rothenberg, one of the best psephologists out there, has just written an excellent piece on Brett Kavanaugh and his impact on the midterms. The key point is this: Everyone likes a horse race, and a horse race is more interesting when the horses are jockeying for position. It's not very interesting at all, on the other hand, when there's a ten-length lead at halfway pole, and again at the three-quarter pole, and again at the finish line. Consequently, there is much motivation for journalists and partisans to cherry-pick data that supports a narrative of "momentum" in one direction or another, just for the drama of it all. More specifically, right-leaning pundits and politicians have much motivation to persuade themselves and their readers/voters that the SCOTUS struggle has had a positive effect for the GOP.

Rothenberg's view is that while the Kavanaugh effect might make for interesting horse race reporting, the fundamentals of next month's election have not actually changed all that much. His reasons:

  • "Traditionally, anger, frustration, disappointment and fear are stronger motivators than satisfaction, relief and euphoria." We have made that same point, several times.

  • The folks who checked the box for Trump as an anti-Hillary vote no longer have her in the equation, and with two years' experience under their belts, are more likely than not to turn into anti-Trump voters.

  • Trump has alienated college-educated whites in the suburbs, a key swing group.

  • Independents appear to be poised to swing strongly anti-Trump.

  • Whatever impact Kavanaugh has on current polls is likely to fade in four weeks (aka, four lifetimes in politics).

The upshot is that, at the moment, it looks like the Democrats will retake the House, and the GOP will hold the Senate. That is how things have looked for months, so Kavanaugh has not really changed the big picture at all.

As if on cue, CNN released the latest edition of its "generic Democrat vs. generic Republican" poll, and found that the blue team has a 13-point advantage, which is as large as it's been in that particular poll. In other words, it's already looking like the "Kavanaugh bounce" was a "Kavanaugh hiccup." (Z)

An Embarrassing Tweet, Even by Trump's Standards

Donald Trump loves a good conspiracy theory. And it has become clear in the last week that he has committed to a version of the events surrounding Brett Kavanaugh's almost-failed nomination to the Supreme Court, namely that the newly-minted Justice was completely in the right, and that Christine Blasey Ford and all of the other negativity surrounding him was merely a Democratic plot, invented out of whole cloth. Consequently, it's not at all surprising that the President was willing to take that narrative to the next level on Tuesday morning:

There is, of course, no evidence for any of this, nor any real chance it could actually be true. As we have pointed out before, such a scam would be very risky, since it would take just one GOP mole going on Fox News with his paycheck to destroy whatever person or organization was responsible. In fact, the claim was so out of left field that even Trump supporters were wondering exactly where he came up with it. By Tuesday afternoon, things had been narrowed down to three possibilities:

  1. The explanation favored by Trump lovers on the Internet is that he doesn't actually "know" that this happened, but that he is cleverly laying a trap for paid protesters to inadvertently out themselves. The theory is that the protesters would be tricked into posting pictures of their paychecks, which would disprove Trump's tweet, but would prove they had been paid. And so: Gotcha! "I actually fell for it," wrote one online Trump follower. "I was wondering where he got this information from. Didn't realize he was baiting them. I can just imagine all of the protesters showing they got paid on twitter."

  2. About half an hour before Trump sent the tweet, a panelist on—wait for it—"Fox and Friends" (namely Asra Nomani, who is, by the way, a liberal, a feminist, and a Muslim) made an obvious sarcastic remark about protesters being paid. It's possible that Trump heard that, did not grasp the sarcasm, and ran with it. If so, then he should probably stop bragging about his IQ.

  3. Alternatively, Trump may have heard the sarcastic remark, understood it for what it was, and then sent the tweet nonetheless. If so, that would be exceedingly dishonest. In fact, it would literally be the textbook definition of fake news.

In the end, it's understandable that Trump would buy into this particular conspiracy theory. After all, this is a fellow who paid actors to attend and cheer the announcement he was running for president. His blinders being what they are, he probably doesn't realize that no other politician or political group would do something like that. In any case, the most important thing here is that the further he goes down the rabbit hole of "sexual misconduct allegations are a sham," the more likely he steps on the toes of female voters. (Z)

Category 4 Hurricane Hits Election

No, not some symbolic hurricane, like a politician caught with his pants down or his hand in the cookie jar, but an actual meteorological event. Hurricane Michael is about to smash into the Florida panhandle, which is both a danger and an opportunity for Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Scott is running for the Senate and Gillum wants Scott's job. When the hurricane hits, there will be devastation throughout northern Florida, and both Scott and Gillum will be judged on how well they handle it. That could ultimately decide both races.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has little power to do anything, but he has decided to stop all campaigning and appear at emergency operations centers to show that he is aware that Floridians are hurting and during a time of crisis, politics has to take a back seat.

The real test will be for Scott and Gillum though, who have to make decisions for their state and city, respectively, and will be judged on how well they execute them under extreme pressure. If people die due to administrative incompetence, they will get the blame.

But the aftermath of a hurricane also has dangers. Earlier this year, Nelson ran an ad in which he pointed out that one of Scott's campaign contributors had made a handsome profit on a no-bid debris removal contract after a previous hurricane. So corruption can also become an issue. (V)

Missouri Judge Blocks Part of Voter-ID Law

Judge Richard Callahan issued a ruling yesterday ordering the state of Missouri to stop spreading materials telling voters that they need photo ID to vote. Some form of ID is needed, but it need not be government-issued photo ID, which not all voters have. In addition, the judge ruled that election officials cannot order otherwise eligible voters to sign a sworn statement in order to vote. Voting-rights advocates hailed the ruling.

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said he was pleased with the ruling and was going to ask for a stay in order to appeal it. Ashcroft is lying, of course. If he were pleased with the ruling, he would not be appealing to a higher court to have it overturned.

Also in voting news yesterday, the Supreme Court declined to overturn a lower court ruling that North Dakota can enforce a law requiring voters to show identification with their street address. A suit was brought by Native Americans because many of them live on reservations that do not have street addresses, making it impossible for them to vote, even though they are American citizens. It is likely that tens of thousands of voters will be disenfranchised as a result in a state with a critical Senate election. This could be enough to tip the election (and the Senate) to the Republicans. Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not take part in the decision. (V)

Today's Senate Polls

A moderate outlier in Arizona and a big outlier in Tennessee, compared to other polls. It is much more likely that the Tennessee poll is essentially correct, though, as it is clear that Phil Bredesen is foundering. On the other hand, no recent poll of Arizona has given McSally the lead, much less a six-point lead. On top of that, OH Predictive Insights has a fairly pedestrian reputation, so that one should be taken with a big grain of salt. Or maybe sand, since it's Arizona. (Z)

State Democrat D % Republican R % Start End Pollster
Arizona Kyrsten Sinema 41% Martha McSally 47% Oct 01 Oct 02 OH Predictive Insights
Nevada Jacky Rosen 42% Dean Heller* 44% Sep 30 Oct 03 Marist Coll.
Ohio Sherrod Brown* 50% Jim Renacci 33% Sep 28 Oct 08 Baldwin Wallace U.
Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse* 57% Robert Flanders 33% Sep 27 Oct 06 U. of New Hampshire
Tennessee Phil Bredesen 39% Marsha Blackburn 57% Oct 08 Oct 09 Siena Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Oct09 Trump Is Not Planning to Fire Rosenstein Right Now
Oct09 Trump Apologizes to Kavanaugh on Behalf of the Nation
Oct09 Trump Spars with Taylor Swift
Oct09 Has the GOP Lost Women Forever?
Oct09 Watch Out for the Mob
Oct09 Donnelly and Braun Debate Each Other
Oct09 States Switching from Insecure Voting Machines to Other Insecure Voting Machines
Oct09 Debating the Debates
Oct09 Today's Senate Polls
Oct08 Winners and Losers from the Fight over Kavanaugh
Oct08 Trump Will Reportedly Meet with Kim Again
Oct08 Times' Reporting on Trump's Taxes Isn't Finished
Oct08 Candidates for Whom Trump Has Held Rallies
Oct08 Charlie Cook's House Ratings
Oct08 Republicans Rule
Oct08 As Maine Goes, So Goes the Nation
Oct08 Booker Launches His Presidential Campaign
Oct08 Today's Senate Polls
Oct07 Kavanaugh Is Confirmed
Oct07 Brett Kavanaugh in Historical Perspective, Part II
Oct07 About Those Unemployment Numbers
Oct07 Trump Administration Pulls Out of Iran Treaty
Oct07 This Week's Senate News
Oct07 Democratic Presidential Candidate of the Week: Michael Avenatti
Oct06 Kavanaugh Nomination Advances to a Vote
Oct06 Trump Jr. Slams Manchin
Oct06 Brett Kavanaugh in Historical Perspective, Part I
Oct06 No Nobel for Trump
Oct06 Charlie Cook Changes Gubernatorial Ratings in Four Races
Oct05 Senators Begin Processing the FBI Report
Oct05 Kavanaugh Critics Mount Final Push
Oct05 Heitkamp Will Vote against Kavanaugh
Oct05 Kavanaugh Is Closing the Enthusiasm Gap
Oct05 Democrats Will Use Republican Tactics If They Win the House
Oct05 Keith Ellison May Step Down from the DNC
Oct05 Cook Political Report Changes Ratings in 12 Races
Oct05 Today's Senate Polls
Oct04 Swing Senators Condemn Trump over Ford Remarks
Oct04 Right-Leaning Media Work to Discredit Ford
Oct04 Today's Kavanaugh Revelations
Oct04 McConnell Moves Forward With Kavanaugh Vote
Oct04 Trump Probably Won't Be Punished for Tax Offenses
Oct04 Almost Nobody Votes
Oct04 Nobel Peace Prize to Be Announced Today
Oct04 Today's Senate Polls
Oct03 Trump Makes an Explicit Pitch to Men
Oct03 Ford Wants the FBI to Interview Her
Oct03 NYT: Trump is a Tax Cheat
Oct03 Two Attorneys Depart Mueller's Team
Oct03 House Republicans Need Split Personalities to Win