U.S. ELECTION WRAP: Clinton Blowout Chances Dim, Pollster Says

The only thing less likely than a Clinton landslide on Nov. 8 is a Trump victory, pollster says

Haass: A Much Cruder Public Discourse in Politics

A Hillary Clinton landslide on Nov. 8 is more probable than a Donald Trump victory, but don’t bet on either one, Democratic political consultant Mark Mellman said.

  • A more likely scenario is a 2-6 point Clinton win in the popular vote, Mellman predicted in a phone interview today with Bloomberg
  • While Clinton’s lead over Trump has narrowed, the GOP nominee has been ahead in only two of more than 40 national polls taken since the Democratic National Convention began on July 25, and those particular findings are “quite questionable,” according to Mellman, who has more than 30 years of experience in politics
  • Since 1952, all presidential candidates who had a lead two weeks after the conventions went on to win the popular vote on Election Day, Mellman wrote today in The Hill, citing The Timeline of Presidential Elections by professors Robert Erikson and Christopher Wlezien
    • As for prospects for the GOP-led Congress, Democrats are well positioned to regain Senate control, though it’s not a “done deal,” while winning back the House would require an unlikely Clinton landslide, Mellman said
  • GOP Senate and House candidates face a “serious dilemma” in figuring out how to court swing voters who back Trump without alienating those who don’t: Mellman
  • Read story here by Bloomberg’s Steven T. Dennis on the outlook for Democrats and a new Congress
  • Ambivalence about Trump was on display earlier today when Republican Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker skirted around a question on why the GOP nominee would make a better commander-in-chief than Clinton
    • “Well look, I didn’t come on the program to talk about politics,” Corker said in response to the question on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe
  • When pressed on the matter, Corker said he believes Trump is “shaking up the foreign policy establishment” and “growing” in his understanding of the issues
  • Corker said neither Trump nor Clinton has been “very crisp” in articulating how to deal with ISIS or other critical matters
    • “Look, neither of the campaigns, to my knowledge, have laid out much of anything that is specific relative to getting people back to work, growing our economy, dealing with the entitlement program, dealing with the massive debt, which is the greatest treat to our nation,” Corker said
    • He expressed hope that moderators of upcoming debates push the presidential contenders on these matters
  • Trump in Philadelphia outlined his foreign policy and defense plans, including expanding the U.S. military and asking Congress to lift defense spending caps; read full story here
  • Both Clinton and Trump will appear tonight on an NBC News “Commander-in-Chief Forum” focused on national security, veterans issues and military affairs

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  • Tonight’s forum comes as Trump leads Clinton by 19 points, 55%-36%, among voters who are currently serving or have previously served in the U.S. military, according to a NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll
  • An Arizona survey shows a tight race in the state, with Clinton at 35.1% and Trump at at 33.5%, according to an Arizona Republic/Morrison/Cronkite News poll
    • Mitt Romney won Arizona by 10 pts in 2012, John McCain by 9 pts in 2008
  • Emerson College polls show that while Clinton leads Trump in northeastern states, her advantage is smaller than President Obama’s in 2012, and Rhode Island -- traditionally a strong Democratic state -- features an especially close race; see full story by Bloomberg's Kristin Jensen here
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  • Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told CNN Money he backs Clinton
  • The former first lady also won an endorsement from the Dallas Morning News; the newspaper called Clinton the only serious candidate on the ballot
    • It’s the first time in more than 75 years the paper has endorsed a Democrat for president
    • Republican National Cmte strategist and Trump adviser Sean Spicer dismissed the endorsement today on MSNBC
    • “I get they don’t generally do that, but that does not worry me. Texas is going to maintain very red. I think we are going to do just fine”
  • He also rejected the idea that Trump might lose Arizona and Georgia
  • A day after Trump unveiled a list of 88 retired generals and admirals supporting his candidacy, Clinton came out with a list of 95 such backers
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  • In a bid to propel his candidacy onto the presidential debate stage later this month, Libertarian Gary Johnson is deploying an unusual advertising strategy to help him meet requirements for participation; read full story by Bloomberg’s John McCormick here
  • A group of documentary filmmakers is launching a new anti-Trump ad campaign, with the first TV spot airing in Butler County, Ohio, on Wednesday, Variety reported
    • The first ad shows a Republican woman who says that she can’t vote for Trump
    • The ads are sponsored by Local Voices, a Democratic super-PAC founded by Lee Hirsch, director of the documentary “Bully”; the group seeks to raise $5 million and create more than 50 ads to run in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia and Utah, according to the entertainment industry publication
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  • Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, deflected a question about whether it would be improper for Roger Ailes to advise Trump on the upcoming debates, given the sexual harassment allegations made against the former Fox News chairman
    • “I’m at Trump Tower every day,” Conway said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I’ve never seen Mr. Ailes there. I saw him one time for lunch recently”
    • When asked on MSNBC if Trump should cut ties with Ailes, Spicer said the ex-TV executive is “innocent until proven guilty”
    • Spicer added that Trump and Ailes have been friends for decades and continue to maintain that friendship
  • Liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics said in a complaint today that the IRS should investigate the Donald J. Trump Foundation for a $25,000 campaign donation it made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Bloomberg BNA reported
    • The Trump Foundation didn’t immediately return a request for comment
    • NOTE: Trump has said he never spoke to Bondi about the donation from his foundation to a group with connections to her at a time when her office was looking into fraud allegations against Trump University
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Fox News’ “Hannity” that he plans to release several batches of documents pertaining to the Clinton campaign within the next few weeks and the first could come out as soon as next week
  • As Clinton has increased her press availability, one big question she hasn’t answered is whether she’d e-nominate Merrick Garland to the open seat on the Supreme Court; read full story here by Bloomberg’s Greg Stohr
  • With Clinton claiming Trump can't be trusted with nuclear weapons and Trump calling Clinton "close to unhinged, Bloomberg News asked Bruce G. Blair,  a former Minuteman missile-launch officer and research scholar at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, to spell out the step-by-step procedure for launching a nuclear strike; read it here 
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SENATE RACES (Republicans hold 54-46 majority)

  • FUNDRAISING: Republican super-PAC Senate Leadership Fund and allied issue-advocacy group One Nation together raised $42m in August, Politico reported
    • Both groups led by Steven Law, ex-chief of staff to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
  • AK: Joe Miller will be Libertarian nominee in second attempt to unseat GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Dispatch News reported
    • Miller, a lawyer, defeated Murkowski in 2010 Republican primary with help from Tea Party-aligned groups, Murkowski then won re-election as write-in candidate; Miller also lost 2014 GOP Senate primary to Dan Sullivan, who holds state’s other Senate seat
    • Democratic nominee Ray Metcalfe hasn’t filed any campaign finance reports with Federal Election Commission
  • AZ: GOP Sen. John McCain and National Republican Senatorial Cmte released TV ad saying Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick votes frequently with liberals, “thinks Hillary Clinton is trustworthy,” and “betrayed Arizona on Obamacare”
    • Kirkpatrick is only House Democrat in current 114th Congress from district Obama didn’t win in 2012 who voted for 2010 health-care overhaul
    • McCain, other GOP senators introduced bill to exempt Americans in counties with only one or no insurers on Obamacare exchange from paying penalty for failing to get health insurance, Bloomberg reported
  • FL: Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy’s campaign aired TV ad showing two kids playing swimming-pool tag game “Marco Polo” as Murphy chides GOP Sen. Marco Rubio for missing votes to run for president
    • “Florida needs a full-time senator,” said Murphy, who also emphasized protections for Planned Parenthood, Medicare in ad
    • National Republican Senatorial Cmte released TV ad attacking Murphy for embellishing résumé
  • NC: Republican Sen. Richard Burr and NRSC released TV ad featuring couple praising Burr for his work on 2014 law creating tax-favored accounts for disabled
    • Democratic opponent Deborah Ross, ex-state legislator, said in TV ad Burr “has taken more than a million dollars from insurance companies and wrote his own plan to privatize Medicare”
    • Ross ad refers to Center for Responsive Politics analysis that Burr has received $1.2m in 22-year congressional career from political action committees/individuals affiliated with insurance industry
  • NH: Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s campaign released TV ad saying GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte isn’t independent when she “votes with the Koch brothers 90% of the time” and is the “special interests’ senator”
    • Ad refers to Ayotte’s scores during first four years in Senate from conservative issue-advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, linked to billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch; in current 114th Congress, Ayotte has lower 70% score from AfP after voting to extend Export-Import Bank, opposing most Republicans on two environmental policy votes
    • Ayotte’s campaign in statement said she’s “the only candidate who will stand up to do what’s right for New Hampshire, regardless of party”
    • Hassan raised $2.2m to Ayotte’s $1.4m from July 1 to Aug. 24, while Ayotte had more cash-on-hand, $5.4m to $3.3m, according to FEC filings ahead of Sept. 13 primary
  • OH: Republican Sen. Rob Portman with Ayotte and Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson introduced legislation seeking to stem trafficking of synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil, according to statement from Portman’s office
    • Portman has touted work on new law to curb heroin/opioid abuse as he seeks second term against Democratic ex-Gov. Ted Strickland
  • PA: GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in e-mail fundraising solicitation said “if I lose in November, it is almost a certainty that Democrats will control the Senate”
    • Toomey referenced Sabato’s Crystal Ball last week shifting rating of race to Leans Democratic from toss-up, giving Democratic challenger Katie McGinty slight advantage
  • WI: Johnson in TV ad said he’s only “manufacturer” in Senate that has “way too many career politicians,” contrasting his 31-year background as plastics business executive with Democratic ex-Sen. Russ Feingold’s long service in political office
    • Feingold lost bid for 4th term to Johnson in 2010; public polls show Feingold ahead in rematch

HOUSE RACES (Republicans hold 246-186 majority)

  • CO-06: Democratic state Sen. Morgan Carroll in first general-election TV ad says she’s running “because Congress is broken” and “to fight for people” on issues including college affordability
    • Spot doesn’t mention GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, who’s seeking fifth term in politically competitive, suburban Denver district that includes most of Arapahoe County, parts of Adams and Douglas counties
    • National Republican Congressional Cmte in statement referred to Carroll as “partisan trial lawyer who puts politics ahead of what’s right for the people she hopes to represent”
  • FL-13: Republican Rep. David Jolly brandished jar of mosquitoes in House floor speech this AM as he criticized Congress for stalemate on funding to combat Zika virus
    • Residents of Pinellas County are “angry, angry” after legislative inaction and “the politics of Zika are garbage right now,” Jolly said
    • Jolly opposed by Democrat Charlie Crist, Fla.’s ex-GOP governor, in St. Petersburg-area district that leans Democratic
  • ME-02: National Republican Congressional Cmte in TV ad said Democrat Emily Cain “stands with Hillary Clinton” on Iran nuclear deal, energy and tax policy; is “wrong for Maine”
    • Cain, ex-state senator, opposing GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin in rematch of 2014 race Poliquin won 47%-42%
    • District includes most of state’s land area, voted 53%-44% for Obama in 2012 election
  • MI-07: GOP Rep. Tim Walberg’s campaign released TV ad saying he opposes “harmful” Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact
    • Ad also charges Democratic state Rep. Gretchen Driskell “lies about Tim Walberg,” misrepresented her background as real estate broker
    • Driskell’s campaign last week released TV ad referring to Walberg as “Trade Deal Tim”
  • KY-01: GOP officials nominated ex-state Agriculture Sec. James Comer for Nov. 8 special election to fill district vacated by GOP Rep. Ed Whitfield’s resignation, WKU Public Radio reported
    • Comer in May won GOP nomination for full term, is shoo-in to win both elections same day; he would be sworn in right after election and get head start in seniority over other entering House freshmen, who won’t take seats until January
  • NY-22: Democratic businesswoman Kim Myers’s campaign aired 30-second and 60-second TV ads touting her civic involvement, upstate N.Y. roots, family’s role in expanding Dick’s Sporting Goods business founded by her father
    • Myers opposing Republican state Rep. Claudia Tenney for central N.Y. district of retiring GOP Rep. Richard Hanna
  • NY-23: Republican Rep. Tom Reed’s campaign released TV ad referring to Democratic opponent John Plumb as “D.C. John” and saying he’s “all in” for Clinton for “paid for” by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi
    • Reed, running for 4th term, and Plumb, Navy veteran, seeking Southern Tier district that voted 50%-48% for Mitt Romney in 2012
  • NY-24: GOP Rep. John Katko’s campaign released TV ad portraying Democratic opponent Colleen Deacon as party loyalist who won’t demonstrate political independence in Congress
    • Ad shows Deacon in April TV interview saying she agrees with “a lot” of Democratic platform and “I don’t know necessarily why I would break away” from party’s position in Congress
    • Deacon, in interview, went on to say she’s “independent voice” with “unique perspective” as single mother who once needed public assistance
    • Katko, seeking 2nd term in Democratic-leaning Syracuse-area district, has touted ability to work across party lines
  • PA-08: Democratic state Rep. Steve Santarsiero’s campaign released TV ad saying he “puts people ahead of politics,” refused lawmaker perks in legislature, worked to expand gun background checks, provide tax relief to local businesses
    • Santarsiero faces Republican Brian Fitzpatrick, ex-FBI special agent, for Bucks County-centered district of GOP nominee’s brother, retiring Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick