To slightly modify Ronald Reagan’s famous rejoinder to Jimmy Carter in their single debate in 1980 (“There you go again”), here we go again — into the debate season.
There has been at least one televised presidential debate every four years for four decades now. The streak began in 1976. Every four years, the debates seem very important. Whether they are or not is open to, ahem, debate.
And then, everything changed.
Well, not everything, but enough to generate the first major revision in our electoral map, and all of it is in Donald Trump’s direction for now .
Every presidential election is different, but nobody’s going to tell us that this one isn’t notably different from any other in the modern period.
They aren’t getting much national attention because of the races for the presidency and Congress, but this year’s gubernatorial contests seem to be just as confounding as the ones from 2014 — and they could produce some equally head-scratching results.
It seems like only yesterday when the Republicans took over the U.S. Senate. Actually, nearly two years have passed since that big moment, when the GOP gained nine seats and took a 54-46 majority (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats) after eight years of Democratic control.
New Hampshire may just have four electoral votes, but it’s important. If you doubt it, just ask any Granite State citizens, and they’ll tell you about their first-in-the-nation primary. Even that quartet of electoral votes can matter; in 2000, if Al Gore had just won them (and without Ralph Nader on the ballot, he probably would have), Gore would have been president even without Florida. He didn’t and he wasn’t.
On March 31, we released our first general election map of the Electoral College. With our self-imposed rule of permitting no cop-out “toss-ups” — a rule we’ll try to hold to as we handicap this year’s Electoral College map — our bottom-line totals were 347 electoral votes for Hillary Clinton and 191 for Donald Trump. We’ve made modest changes since: Pennsylvania has morphed from Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic, while Virginia — after Tim Kaine was added to the Democratic ticket — went the other way from Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic. Arizona and Georgia went from Likely Republican to Leans Republican, and usually reliable Utah from Safe Republican to Likely Republican.
After Donald Trump picked Mike Pence to be his running mate two weeks ago -- that feels like two months ago, right? -- we suggested that Trump could end up taking at least a temporary lead because of the convention bounce that presidential candidates typically get after their conventions.
If someone had told us at the start of this election cycle that the Democratic presidential nominee would be Hillary Clinton, and that she would choose Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate, we would have said that would be… very, very plausible.
With two nights down at the Republican National Convention and two nights to go, here are five quick observations on Trump TV: