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Wake Up To Politics - October 28, 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

12 Days until Election Day 2016 + my 15th birthday (Nov. 8)I'm Gabe Fleisher for Wake Up To Politics, and reporting from WUTP world HQ in my bedroom - Good morning: THIS IS YOUR WAKE UP CALL!!!

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Whiteboard Thursday: Electoral College Projection

  • With the presidential election fast approaching, by now you have probably seen a map with a projection of the Election College on it. Maybe you've even seen a lot of them. Maybe you've seen it as a meme.
  • If you're watching a news network on television, you've probably seen an anchor show their projections on a big, fancy monitor. But Wake Up To Politics is a homegrown newsletter: no monitors here. But I do, however, have a whiteboard, which just so happens to be a veteran of multiple election cycles.
  • Longtime readers of this newsletter will remember the weekly "Whiteboard Wednesday" column in the weeks leading up to the 2012 presidential election and the 2014 midterm elections, as well as during the presidential primaries earlier this year. Now, for the first time in the 2016 general election, the whiteboard is back!
  • Below is the official Wake Up To Politics projections, based solely off of the RealClearPolitics polling average in each state (*none of my own predictions*). States where a candidate leads by an average ten or more percentage points are awarded to them as "strong" (dark red for Trump, dark blue for Clinton), states where a candidate leads from four to nine percentage points is a "lean" state for that candidate (light red for Trump, light blue for Clinton), and states where neither candidate leads by more than three percentage points are "tossup" (purple):
  • Following that model, as you can see above, Hillary Clinton could be headed towards a decisive win on Election Day. Clinton surpasses the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency without the seven "battleground" states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio), many of which could still be added to her column. Clinton's comfortable advantage in states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine's 2nd CD, and Virginia are enough to put her over, when added to the traditionally Democratic states.
  • According to this map, Donald Trump does not really have a path to 270. If nothing is changed on the map except for Trump winning all 101 battleground electoral votes, he would still lose, 272-266. To win the White House, Trump would need to not only win all seven battlegrounds where he is within 3% of winning (a feat that is seeming more and more improbable), but also flip one of the blue states where Clinton leads by at least 4%. In addition, Trump needs to defend all of the "lean Red" states, many of which are closer to flipping blue than Clinton's "lean" states are to flipping red. States like Utah (where Trump has to fend off a challenge from Independent Evan McMullin) and Texas seem to be getting closer and closer, forcing Trump to transfer resources away from the battlegrounds to defend them.
  • However, if Clinton wins all of the battleground states, she could be on par for an Electoral College landslide: adding all 101 "battleground" electoral votes to Clinton's column would give her 373, which would be more electoral votes won by any candidate since Bill Clinton in 1996. If Clinton wins all of the battlegrounds where she currently leads (all but Iowa, Georgia, and Ohio), she would still stand at 331 electoral votes, just one electoral vote under Barack Obama's 2012 total.
  • To summarize: if she keeps all of the states designated "blue" in this map, Clinton does not need a single battleground state to win. However, she is still expected to win at least four of them - setting her up for a comfortable victory. On the flip side, Donald Trump would need to defend all of his "red" states (including some where his lead is slipping) AND win all of the battleground states (including some where he hasn't led in months) AND flip at least one "blue" state (despite trailing by four or more percentage points in all of them). If Trump achieves all of those improbable feats, he would stand just at or above 270 electoral votes - a path to victory that offers no room for error to a candidate who seems to be slipping, not gaining ground.
  • I'm hoping to do a few more whiteboards before Election Day, so stay tuned as I continue to update the board periodically during the election's final leg, and send me your feedback to whiteboard@wakeuptopolitics.com to let me know what you think of the Whiteboard and where you think the Electoral College stands!

Election Central

  • Campaign Rundown The biggest news from Election 2016 in the past 24 hours:
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced he would vote for his party's presidential nominee on Wednesday, after declaring earlier this month that he wouldn't vote for either major party candidate. "I will not defend or endorse @realDonaldTrump, but I am voting for him," Chaffetz tweeted. "HRC is that bad. HRC is bad for the USA."
  • Chaffetz, who chairs the influential Overisght and Government Reform Committee, begrudgingly endorsed Trump in May, after the billionaire became the party's presumptive nominee, releasing a statement that was more of an indcitment of Hillary Clinton than supportive of Donald Trump. Just under three weeks ago, Chafettz was the first Republican lawmaker to withdraw his endorsement of Trump on the night of the "Access Hollywood" tape release. "I'm out. I can no longer in good conscience endorse this person for president," he said, calling Trump's comments on the tape "some of the most abhorrent and offensive comments that you can possibly imagine."
  • At the time, Chaffetz also said that he could not "tell the good people of Utah that I endorse a person who acts like this." Chaffetz also said on CNN: "My wife Julia and I, we have a 15-year-old daughter. Do you think I can look her in the eye tell her that I endorsed Donald Trump for president when he acts like this?" Chaffetz pulled his support for Trump, but did not say who he would vote for (although Chaffetz still made clear that he would not vote for Clinton).
  • Now, he is still not endorsing Trump - but he is, once again, planning to vote for him, once again blurring the line between "endorsing" and "supporting" someone. What could be behind Chaffetz's change of heart? House Speaker Paul Ryan is expected to face trouble at the leadership elections next month, as Donald Trump is expected to blame Ryan if he loses the presidency and then stir up his supporters in the House in rebellion.
  • Ryan already has one challenger: Paul Nehlen, the Breitbart-backed businessman who challenged Ryan for his Wisconsin seat earlier this year, announced on Wednesday that he would run for Speaker against Ryan (the House Speaker does not technically have to be a member of the chamber). If Ryan does not have the votes to win, but most members do not want to turn to Nehlen, House Republicans will be in the market for a compromise candidate, and Chaffetz (who ran for Speaker last year until Ryan entered the race) may just fit the bill - if he stays on Trump's side in November, that is.
  • Republican nominee Donald Trump offered African-American voters a "New Deal for black America" on Wednesday. “I will be your greatest champion,” Trump said at a North Carolina rally. “I will never ever take the African American community for granted. Never, ever.”
  • "In a scripted speech heavy on policy specifics, the Republican presidential nominee laid out a plan that he said is built on setting up better schools, lowering crime in inner cities and creating more high-paying jobs," according to the Washington Post, which also noted Clinton's heavy lead among African-American voters.
  • Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is set to unveil a new policy proposal Thursday, a "Beter Than Bullying" campaign that would grant $500 million in federal funding to states that will use the money to combat bullying by hiring more school guidance counselors, expanding mental health programming, improve teacher training, among other possible steps, according to POLITICO.
  • Clinton's anti-bullying plan coincides with a new ad by her campaign, which features Trump's mocking a disabled reporter, as well as a student with muscular dystrophy, who says: "“I don’t want bullies in my life and I especially don’t one in the White House."
  • 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, as Donald Trump was just down the street opening his new hotel. In the speech, Romney appeared to regret his decision not to run in 2016. "I get asked on a regular basis, 'Boy, why aren't you running this year?' I ask myself that a lot too. But I did that once," Romney said.
  • Romney went after both candidates in the speech, criticizing the "give-and-take" at this year's presidential debt, which he said featured "almost no discussion" of important issues. “The national debt and how to deal with it, reforming entitlements, I don’t think either candidate for president has said they’re going to reform entitlements one way or another," he said.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told reporters on Wednesday that there was "long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices," seeming to signal a willingness to block not only Merrick Garland, Obama's nominee to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, but a nominee from Hillary Clinton if she wins the presidency..
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), a colleague with him Cruz is normally at odds, made similar comments last week, saying that Republicans would be "united against any nominee" from a President Clinton, but walked back the remarks after criticism. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) disagreed with Cruz and McCain, telling reporters last week that, "“If that new president happens to be Hillary, we can’t just simply stonewall."
  • Today on the Trail Where are the 2016 candidates today?
  • Republican nominee Donald Trump campaigns in Ohio today - a battleground states where he has led in a number of polls. Trump holds rallies in Springfield, Toledo, and Geneva.
  • Meanwhile, GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence holds a rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa, another swing state that has shown the Republican ticket in the lead, and in Omaha, Nebraska, a state Trump and Pence are expected to win by double-digits. Why, then, is Pence stopping in Omaha? Nebraska awards some of its electoral votes by congressional district, and Omaha happens to fall in Nebraska's 2nd congressional district, which Clinton is targeting. Nebraska is one of two states to use the Congressional District Method of electoral vote distribution: Trump will visit the other, Maine, tomorrow (Maine is a strongly Democratic state, which also has a single congressional district that Trump is targeting).
  • Hillary Clinton will headline a joint rally with First Lady Michelle Obama in Winston-Salem University today, Clinton's first rally with her star surrogate. The current First Lady, who was a reluctant campaigner for her husband in 2008 and 2012, has thrown herself into the 2016 race on behalf of the former First Lady. Clinton has repeatedly quoted Mrs. Obama's DNC line, "When they go low, we go high," and referred to the First Lady's power on the campaign trail.
  • Clinton's running mate Tim Kaine will hold two events in Ohio today, stopping in Cleveland and Columbus.
  • In addition, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson holds a rally in Shakopee, Minnesota, while his running mate Bill Weld holds a rally in Anchorage, Alaska. Green Party nominee Jill Stein holds events in Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Independent candidate Evan McMullin and his running mate Mandy Finn hold events in Odgen and Bountiful, Utah. McMullin, a Mormon who was raised in Utah, is attempting to capitalize off of widespread Mormon distaste for Trump in his home state; polls show him neck-and-neck with Trump to win Utah, the only state of the eleven where McMullin is on the ballot that he is seen as influencing the election.

Daily Data

  • Election Day may be 12 days away - but voting has already started in 37 states. According to the Associated Press, over 13.4 million votes have already been cast in the presidency election, a much higher rate than in 2012, with over 46 million people (almost half of the electorate) expected to vote before November 8th.
  • According to AP, the early voting stats in battleground states so far lean in Clinton's direction. Democrats lead ballots cast or requested in North Carolina (46% to 29%), Nevada (46% to 35%), Iowa (43% to 35%), and Colorado (40% to 34%). Meanwhile, the two parties are tied in Florida (41% to 41%), while Democrats trail slightly in the traditionally Republican states of Arizona (37% to 38%).
  • The early voting numbers also spell trouble for Donald Trump in Utah, where Republicans barely lead Independents in ballots already cast, 38.6% to 38.5% - a positive sign for Independent candidate Evan McMullin.

Smart Reads

  • "How the Clinton Campaign Is Getting Voters to the Polls" (ABC News)
  • "Inside the Trump Tower Bunker, With 12 Days to Go (Bloomberg)
  • "Secret Services Agents Protecting Candidates Aren't Getting Paid For All Their Work" (BuzzFeed)
  • "Inside Senate Democrats' leadership standoff" (Politico)
  • "House Republicans are already preparing for ‘years’ of investigations of Clinton" (POLITICO)

Today's Trivia

  • Answers The answer to Wednesday's trivia question ("who is the longest-lived president in U.S. history?") was Gerald Ford, who lived to the age of 93.
  • GREAT JOB: Jakob Gibson, Rick Isserman, Marlee Millman, Cathy Boland, Matt Neufeld, Marjorie Melton, Joe Bookman, Miles Kwiatek, Dan Filliol, and Seth Louth!
  • The answers to Tuesday's trivia question ("name at least one of the four presidents to be elected twice with under 50% of the vote") were: Bill Clinton (43% in 1992, 49% in 1996), Woodrow Wilson (41% in 1912, 49% in 1916), and Grover Cleveland (49% in 1884, 46% in 1892).
  • GREAT JOB: Rashida Doctor (Wilson); Randy Fleisher, Thomas Alpert, and Rick Isserman (Wilson, Clinton); and Joe Bookman (all three)!
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For more on Wake Up To Politics, listen to Gabe on NPR's "Talk of the Nation", St. Louis Public Radio, the Political Junkie podcast, and on StoryCorps; watch Gabe on MSNBC's "Up with Steve Kornacki"; and read about Gabe in Politico, the Washington Post, Independent Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Salon, the Globe, and the St. Louis Jewish Light.