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.
Commentary by Larry J. Sabato
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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.
The Fundamentals: Where Are We in This Strange Race for President? By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley
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.
Governors 2016: Are We in for a Repeat of 2014’s Odd Results? By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley
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.
Clinton Rises to 348 Electoral Votes, Trump Drops to 190 By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley
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:
Our own sources in and around Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana have told us what everyone else has been reporting: He appears to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick. Still, to the best of their knowledge, the official call from Trump has not yet been made. We all know Trump is full of surprises, so we add this note of caution just in case. We all remember erroneous reports that John Kerry had selected Dick Gephardt as his running mate in 2004, when Kerry actually chose John Edwards. For our purposes here, we’ll assume it is true, that the GOP nominee for vice president will be Pence.
Some of our readers may recall that the Crystal Ball published its first 2016 Electoral College map at the end of March. It was somewhat controversial — at least judging by many of the reactions we received. As you see below, at that time we projected Hillary Clinton at 347 electoral votes and Donald Trump at 191. While Toss-ups are perfectly reasonable at this stage of the campaign, we decided for clarity’s sake to push every close state one way or the other.
As we find ourselves at the end of the primary season, we can all look back in wonder: What hath the voters wrought? Last summer when he announced a candidacy, almost no political professional picked Donald Trump to be the GOP nominee — yet here he is. And no one we know thought that the big, complicated GOP field of contenders would sort itself out many weeks before the small group of Democrats — but Trump has been in general election mode for some time while Hillary Clinton has had a devil of a time shaking off a persistent foe.
Heading into the 2014 National Football League draft, rumors were swirling that Jerry Jones, the eccentric Dallas Cowboys owner, was considering using his team’s first-round pick on the biggest star available: Johnny Manziel, the controversial star quarterback from Texas A&M. Indeed, when Dallas’ pick came around, and Manziel was still available, Jones reportedly wanted to pick Manziel. But Jones’ son and other team leaders advised Jones against it, and the team instead selected Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. For months after the May draft, Jones fumed over being talked out of taking Manziel, who he saw as a future star and the kind of flashy selection that defined “America’s Team,” the Cowboys.
When a presidential campaign wants to signal that it is turning from the nomination clash to the general election, “sources close to the campaign” make it known the Veep search has begun. Right on schedule, as Donald Trump has become the Republican nominee-presumptive and Hillary Clinton has maintained an unassailable mathematical lead on the Democratic side, both campaigns have reportedly hinted that they have started to vet possible vice presidential options.
“The whole framework of the presidency is getting out of hand. It’s come to the point where you almost can’t run unless you can cause people to salivate and whip on each other with big sticks. You almost have to be a rock star to get the kind of fever you need to survive in American politics.”
— Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973)
Unfair! Rigged! Corrupt!
We’re hearing a lot of harsh adjectives being applied to aspects of the presidential nominating system this year — from “double-agent” delegate placement on the Republican side that may frustrate the plurality of GOP voters, to the establishment-based superdelegates (fully 15% of the convention, though down from 19% in 2008) on the Democratic side.
Senate/Governor 2016: Several Ratings Move Toward Democrats By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley
When you look at the big picture of presidential elections, and you try to discern the connection between the White House contest and the 34 Senate elections on the same ballot, it becomes obvious there are two types of years.
The Electoral College: The Only Thing That Matters By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley
We live in a post-factual era. Thanks to the Internet and social media, which mix informed and uninformed views in equal measure, the old rule — that people are entitled to their own opinions but not their own set of facts — no longer applies. Somewhere in cyberspace, you can now find blogs and treatises with “facts” that support your opinions, no matter how bizarre.
Titanic Tuesday: Trump Leads but Doesn’t Finish the Job By Larry J. Sabato, Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley
Donald Trump could have generated unstoppable momentum had he won both Ohio and Florida. But now it’s clear to everyone that this will go right through June 7, the end of the Republican primary season.