The Democratic Convention Concludes: War Is Peace, And Fears Of A Loss To Donald Trump

Clinton Acceptance Speech

The Democratic National Convention concluded with a rather conservative message,followed by platitudes and imitation progressivism from Hillary Clinton. The message of the evening seemed to be: I will throw a few bones your way like paid family leave, and in return forget about restoring the civil liberties which you have lost since 9/11, don’t think about curtailing the surveillance state, and don’t get in the way of my wars.

Hillary Clinton gave a great speech in support of compassionate conservatism, but no mention of her support for expansion of the warfare/surveillance state. Hillary Clinton also gave a revisionist history, as Bill did earlier in the week. She boasted about helping children while ignoring how she betrayed them as First Lady. She once again took credit for the work done by Ted Kennedy, exaggerating her role in the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. More fact checking of Clinton’s speech here,

Clinton spoke of service, leaving out how much money she has made off of “public service” and influence peddling. The Onion captured the spirit of her career and  campaign in mocking Clinton’s speech:

When I Was A Child, Most Special Interest Groups Wouldn’t Even Consider Donating Large Sums Of Money To A Woman

Delivering a historic and uplifting speech to the Democratic National Convention Thursday night, presidential nominee Hillary Clinton told the American electorate that when she was a little girl, most special interest groups would never even consider donating enormous sums of money to a woman. “It’s hard to fathom now, but back when I was growing up in the 1950s, Wall Street banks, major law firms, and every other special interest out there wouldn’t let a woman through the door, let alone funnel inordinate sums of money into her campaign as a means to advance their agendas,” said Clinton, adding that she personally had to work twice as hard as her male colleagues for decades just to be deemed qualified as a viable political conduit for hundreds of millions of dollars controlled by wealthy corporations and narrowly focused institutions. “In those days, it never even occurred to lobbyists that a woman was capable of accepting a gigantic check from a powerful entity in exchange for favorable policies several months later. My, how times have changed. We sure proved them wrong, didn’t we?” Clinton then assured the cheering crowd at the Wells Fargo Center that while she might be the first female presidential nominee of a major political party beholden to well-heeled influence peddlers, she would certainly not be the last.

Democrats are worried about Hillary Clinton’s inability to separate herself from Donald Trump in the polls, even after what they believe was a largely successful convention that represented a real step toward party unity.

Clinton is hoping for a big post-convention boost, but the reality right now is that she in behind Trump in the polls, and has been in a relatively tight race for weeks.

While the Electoral College may give her an advantage, party leaders and strategists say they remain concerned that Clinton is a tough sell when a majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track and want to shake up Washington.

“The most important thing is there is a bias for change and there’s an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll where people express that bias even when they don’t know what the change is going to be,” said Geoff Garin, a pollster who worked for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and now advises Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton super PAC.

That July survey showed a majority of voters, 56 percent, prefer someone who will bring major changes to government even if they don’t know what those changes will be. Only 46 percent wanted a candidate who would bring a steady approach to government.

The Democrats sure are looking foolish for rejecting Bernie Sanders, a candidate who both led Donald Trump by double digits in the polls while Clinton was losing her lead, and who would win the support of voters who desire real change.

Thomas Frank warned that the Democrats are being outflanked by Donald Trump from the left:

Donald Trump’s many overtures to supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were just the beginning. He also deliberately echoed the language of Franklin Roosevelt, he denounced “big business” (not once but several times), and certain of his less bloodthirsty foreign policy proposals almost remind one of George McGovern’s campaign theme: “Come home, America.”

Ivanka Trump promised something that sounded like universal day care. Peter Thiel denounced the culture wars as a fraud and a distraction. The Republican platform was altered to include a plank calling for the breakup of big banks via the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. I didn’t hear anyone talk about the need to bring “entitlements” under control. And most crucially, the party’s maximum leader has adopted the left critique of “free trade” almost in its entirety, a critique that I have spent much of my adult life making.

It boggles my simple liberal mind. The party of free trade and free markets now says it wants to break up Wall Street banks and toss Nafta to the winds. The party of family values has nominated a thrice-married vulgarian who doesn’t seem threatened by gay people or concerned about the war over bathrooms. The party of empire wants to withdraw from foreign entanglements.

He warned that another Clinton move to the right (as occurred under Bill) might not result in victory this time:

Let’s see: trade agreements, outreach to hawks, “bipartisanship”, Wall Street. All that’s missing is a “Grand Bargain” otherwise it’s the exact same game plan as last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. Democrats seem to be endlessly beguiled by the prospect of campaign of national unity, a coming-together of all the quality people and all the affluent people and all the right-thinking, credentialed, high-achieving people. The middle class is crumbling, the country is seething with anger, and Hillary Clinton wants to chair a meeting of the executive committee of the righteous.

When Democrats sold out their own rank and file in the past it constituted betrayal, but at least it sometimes got them elected. Specifically, the strategy succeeded back in the 1990s when Republicans were market purists and working people truly had “nowhere else to go”. As our modern Clintonists of 2016 move instinctively to dismiss the concerns of working people, however, they should keep this in mind: those people may have finally found somewhere else to go.

It is theoretically possible for the Democrats to be outflanked from the left as Clinton’s DLC Democratic Party is a party of the right. It is only the view that support for reproductive rights and any government at all is sufficient to be considered liberal by many in the United States (and forgetting that it wasn’t all that long ago that many Republicans were pro-abortion) that Clinton is not widely recognized to actually be a right-winger. On the other hand, Donald Trump is far too incoherent on policy to be given a clear ideological label. His racism and xenophobia will make it especially hard to challenge Clinton from the left.

Correction: Donald Trump’s acceptance speech had higher ratings than Clinton’s speech, while the Democratic convention had overall higher ratings.

Republican-Lite Convention Opening With Trump In The Lead

Weaver DNC Emails

The Democratic (or more accurately these days, Republican-lite) Convention is beginning surrounded by controversy, with Clinton now trailing Donald Trump. While this might just be a post-convention bounce for Trump, there is no guarantee that Clinton will match this, and it should be alarming that Trump could take the lead considering how terrible a campaign he has been running. CNN reports:

Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups.
There hasn’t been a significant post-convention bounce in CNN’s polling since 2000. That year Al Gore and George W. Bush both boosted their numbers by an identical 8 points post-convention before ultimately battling all the way to the Supreme Court.
Nate Silver now gives Trump a 57.5 percent chance of winning.  FiveThirtyEight has underestimated Trump’s chances throughout the campaign, basing their predictions on assumptions which are probably not valid in 2016. They have finally figured out that this year is different, and Clinton cannot count on getting the votes from Sanders’ supporters as those who have won thier party’s nomination in the past have:

Hillary Clinton is coming into her convention with a real problem. Even before WikiLeaks released thousands of Democratic National Committee emails, including some that suggested officials were actively working against Bernie Sanders, Clinton had about a third of Sanders supporters left to try to win over. The emails have exacerbated tensions with Sanders loyalists. And here’s some more bad news for the Clinton campaign about those loyalists: New data and analysis shared with FiveThirtyEight from Catalist and SurveyMonkey shows that, before the 2016 primaries, Sanders’s supporters voted less frequently than other 2016 voters, and they were less reliably Democratic than Clinton supporters.

In other words, it’s not a matter of Clinton simply coaxing Sanders supporters back into the fold — many were never in the fold to begin with. That could increase the difficulty of the task facing Clinton.

In other words, if Democratic partisans think it is as important as they have been saying to beat Donald Trump, they must remove Clinton as the nominee. There is no guarantee that Clinton can receive a bounce to match Trump’s with the Democratic convention opening amidst such controversy.

The WikiLeaks revelations, which I discussed over the weekend, further weakening the argument that Clinton is any better than Trump. The accusations of fascism leveled against Trump sound less convincing when it is Clinton’s party which has conspired to rig an election. You can’t get more undemocratic than that. Nominating Clinton with what we know now would be as if the Republicans had nominated Richard Nixon with full knowledge of Watergate. Debbie Wasserman Schultz leaving the Democratic Party leadership, to only move over to the Clinton campaign is not enough. The penalty for rigging an election process should be disqualification of the candidate.

Tracking Poll Today Gives Trump Lead Over Clinton

Hillary Down

Yesterday I noted a report that Democrats were “freaked out” over Hillary Clinton’s decline in the polls. Today’s news looked potentially worse this morning with the headline in The Los Angles Times: As Clinton stumbles, Trump takes an apparent slim lead in new tracking poll. The polls showed Trump leading by three points, with the poll having a three point margin of error. The key question on this poll and others showing a decrease in Clinton’s support:

What isn’t known is whether the new surveys are capturing Clinton at a low that will prove temporary, as voters react to Comey’s criticism and the renewed attention to her use of a private email server, or whether they reflect a more lasting shift that could hobble the presumed Democratic nominee for the remainder of the campaign.

NBC News has released additional battleground state polls which are more favorable to Clinton than those reported yesterday. Both candidates are unpopular in these states, with Trump being slightly more unpopular. Also of interest is that they polled with Jill Stein and Gary Johnson included. The addition of the Green Party and Libertarian Party candidates did not change the outcome in these states.

It will also be interesting to see what type of convention bounce each candidate gets. Politics By The Numbers looked at bounces and found that, while candidates generally get a bounce, there has not been a good correlation between the size of the bounce and the eventual winner.

Democrats “Freaked Out” Over Clinton’s Drop In Polls

Clinton Trump Battleground States July

The Hill reports that Senate Democrats were “freaked out” over Clinton’s drop in the polls, fearing it could jeopardize their efforts to retake control of the Senate:

Nervous Senate Democrats raised concerns with Hillary Clinton during a private meeting in the Capitol Thursday over a recent poll showing Donald Trump leading or tied in several battleground states.

“Some people were freaked out, they were looking down at the polls on Real Clear Politics and asking why it was so close,” said a Democratic senator who attended the meeting, referring to a website lawmakers were checking out on their personal devices…

A second Democratic source in the meeting confirmed there was “a mention of the Florida poll.”

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week showed the presumptive GOP presidential nominee up 42 percent to 39 percent in swing-state Florida. Clinton had an 8-point lead in Quinnipiac’s poll of the state last month.

The same survey showed Trump ahead 2 points in Pennsylvania, another big swing state, and tied in Ohio. The three states have been pivotal in the last four presidential elections.

First Read summarized yesterday’s poll results:

Yesterday brought us a whopping 10 battleground state polls, and four more NBC/WSJ/Marist polls (!!!) are set to be released first thing tomorrow morning. The good news for Donald Trump? He’s narrowed the gap: Ohio is tied; Florida is no longer trending in Hillary Clinton’s direction; and this all makes it much harder for rebellious GOP delegates to dump Trump at the convention.

But here’s the bad news for him: These polls — which mostly show Clinton either ahead or tied in these battlegrounds — were all taken during or after Clinton’s roughest week of the general election, with FBI Director James Comey’s rebuke over her emails. So you could view these battleground numbers as a floor for Clinton, while Trump is still unable to break 40% in many of these states. (Indeed, look at the high undecided numbers; voters moved away from Clinton, but they didn’t move toward Trump.) And what should ring alarm bells for the GOP is the polling in Colorado and Virginia, where Clinton is up in high single digits/double digits.

On the other hand, these polls also come as Team Clinton has been outspending Team Trump over the battleground airwaves by a 40-to-1 margin. So it’s possible that Trump could improve his numbers if/when he starts airing TV ads. But here’s the bottom line: The email story alone isn’t going to win the presidential race for Trump. He’s got to deliver on his VP pick and convention to overtake Clinton. Here are yesterday’s polls:

The news got worse today when The New York Times reported that Clinton and Trump are now both tied–with voters unhappy with both candidates:

On the eve of the major party conventions, voters are grudgingly rallying around the nominees while expressing broad misgivings about the candidates, the campaign and the direction of the country, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

More than a third of Republicans say they are disappointed or upset that Donald J. Trump, who crashed the party’s nominating process, will represent them in the fall campaign; an equal number say he does not represent the values the party should stand for.

Democrats are only marginally happier with Hillary Clinton as their party’s candidate. A quarter of Democratic voters say they are disappointed in her as the nominee; an additional seven percent say they are upset. More promisingly for her, three-quarters say Mrs. Clinton stands for the core values and principles of the Democratic Party.

The broad discontent is reflected in the head-to-head contest, which has Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton tied at 40 percent. Mr. Trump’s standing has held steady for weeks at around 40 percentage points, while Mrs. Clinton has polled in the mid-40s in most public surveys.

While this could represent a floor for Clinton, it is possible that she could have further bad news. Possible additional problems related to the email scandal include investigations of perjury before Congress, which at very least will highlight how she has also been lying to the American people about the matter for over a year. Her dishonesty has become undeniable, despite the frequent efforts by her supporters, following the reports from the State Department Inspector General and the FBI.

Clinton could also face problems with investigations of the Clinton Foundation. Because of concerns over conflicts of interest before Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State, an agreement was reached in which Clinton agreed to disclose the identities of all donors to the Foundation while she was in office. Clinton failed to abide by this agreement. Clinton went on to unethically make decisions regarding parties which were making donations to the Foundation and making unprecedented payments for speeches to Bill Clinton, whose speaking fees jumped from 150,000 to typically 500,000, and as high as 750,000 when dealing with those with requests before Hillary.

Clinton has avoided taking questions from the media on these topics, but she cannot hide from the press forever. She could suffer further in the polls if unable to handle questions on these manners.

Plus there is also the risk that Clinton could fall further in the polls based upon bad news beyond the scandals, or if Trump starts spending more money and begins to campaign in a more effective manner. While odds still favor Clinton being elected, the Democratic Party is taking quite a risk in nominating a candidate with all her baggage. Of course it is still not too late for the party to nominate Bernie Sanders instead, with Sanders having none of this baggage, and having shown far larger leads over Trump than Clinton could achieve even before her fall in the polls.

Update: Tracking Poll Today Gives Trump Lead Over Clinton

The After Bern: Stein and Johnson Seek Support Of Sanders Voters

Sanders Stein

Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein didn’t waste a moment trying to seek the support of those who voted for him. She has been very active on Twitter today. Politico reports:

“If you don’t want to vote for a war monger or racist billionaire, there are more options. The political revolution will keep going,” Stein tweeted in the hour preceding Sanders’ announcement alongside Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

In another tweet, Stein wrote, “While Trump praises dictators, Hillary takes their money. Remind us again of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record?”

As Sanders began speaking, Stein offered her own hashtags to disaffected Bernie backers. “The revolution continues with those who will fight for a government that represents all of us–not just the 1%. #HillNo #JillYes,” Stein wrote.

Stein has suggested she would step aside as the Green Party’s standard bearer should Sanders wish to lead the ticket. “I’ve invited Bernie to sit down and explore collaboration,” she told The Guardian in an interview published last Friday. “Everything is on the table. If he saw that you can’t have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party, he’d be welcomed to the Green Party. He could lead the ticket and build a political movement.”

…While Sanders emphasized the importance of defeating Donald Trump, Stein remarked that the Vermont senator could propose a bill to introduce ranked-choice presidential voting.

It sounds like the only good thing Bernie can say about Hillary is that she’s not Donald,” Stein continued. “That’s what most of her supporters like about her.”

Stein also has an article at Counterpunch which begins:

I join millions of Americans who see Hillary Clinton’s campaign as the opposite of what they and Bernie Sanders have fought for. Despite her penchant for flip flopping rhetoric, Hillary Clinton has spent decades consistently serving the causes of Wall Street, war and the Walmart economy.

The policies she fought for – along with her husband and political partner, Bill Clinton – have been foundations of the economic disaster most Americans are still struggling with: the abuses of deregulated Wall Street, rigged corporate trade agreements, racist mass incarceration, and the destruction of the social safety net for poor women and children. The consistent efforts of the Democratic Party to minimize, sideline, and sabotage the Sanders campaign are a wake up call that we can’t have a revolutionary campaign inside a counter-revolutionary party.

Sadly, Sanders is one of a long line of true reformers that have been undermined by the Democratic Party. The eventual suppression of the Sanders campaign was virtually guaranteed from the beginning with super-delegates and super Tuesdays, that were created after George McGovern’s nomination to prevent grassroots campaigns from winning the nomination again.

Sanders, a life-long independent who has advocated for building an independent democratic socialist party similar to Canada’s New Democratic Party, has said that his decision to run as a Democrat was based on pragmatism, but there is nothing pragmatic about supporting a party that for decades has consistently sold out the progressive majority to the billionaire class. This false pragmatism is not the path to revolutionary change but rather an incrementalism that keeps us trapped, voting for lesser evil again and again…

Some Clinton supporters have made a fallacious comparison between Bernie Sanders and George McGovern, with Democratic rules since the 1972 loss being designed to promote more moderate candidates. Among the fallacies in their claim that Sanders would have lost badly as McGovern did, in June 2016 Bernie Sanders had a double digit lead over Donald Trump while Clinton was much closer. In June of 1972, Richard Nixon had a nineteen point lead over McGovern. Any comparison between the two is also fallacious as Nixon was running for reelection from a strong position, before being tainted by the Watergate scandal. The war in Vietnam was winding down, Nixon had gone to China, and had a recent summit to build on the developing détente with the Soviet Union. McGovern’s pledge to cut the defense budget in half also seemed far more radical than any of Sanders’ proposals. This year it is Hillary Clinton who is entangled in scandals, was on the wrong side of foreign policy decisions including Iraq and Libya, and has been foolishly belligerent towards Russia. Plus her lead over Donald Trump is down to three points.

Hit & Run recommends the above video from March in which Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson tried to appeal to Sanders supporters based upon civil liberties, drug policy, and foreign policy. They also referred to a blog post from June which states:

Gary Johnson keeps pitching his presidential campaign to Bernie Sanders’ disappointed supporters. Read any profile of the Libertarian nominee, and chances are you’ll get to a part where he points out that the ISideWith site says Sanders is the rival candidate he agrees with the most.

It’s not hard to see why he’s doing this. While there are big differences between Johnson’s and Sanders’ economic platforms, their views have more overlap when it comes to social and foreign policy. Presumably there are some Bernie backers out there who care more about the latter issues, and Johnson would like to reach them. And indeed, according to a recent Bloomberg poll, “barely half of those who favored Sanders—55 percent—plan to vote for Clinton. Instead, 22 percent say they’ll vote for Trump, while 18 percent favor Libertarian Gary Johnson.” Eighteen percent is a pretty big slice of the pie, especially for a third-party candidate.

Despite agreements on a handful of issues at the rally today, the statements from Stein and Johnson make it clear that there are many areas of disagreement between Sanders supporters and Hillary Clinton. I previously discussed the vast ideological difference.

Majority Believe Clinton Should Be Prosecuted–And Still Dislike Trump Even More

ABC_Clinton_Emails_v02

An ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that a majority disagree with the FBI’s recommendation against prosecution of Hillary Clinton over her reckless mishandling of classified email on her private server:

A majority of Americans disapprove of the FBI’s recommendation not to charge Hillary Clinton with a crime over her handling of email while secretary of state, and a similar number in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll say the issue leaves them worried about how she would handle her responsibilities as president if elected.

Most also say the email controversy won’t affect their vote in the presidential election. But 28 percent say it leaves them less likely to support her, versus 10 percent who say it makes them more likely to do so.

Reactions to the decision are highly political, with partisanship factoring heavily in people’s views. Yet Democrats don’t back Clinton up on the issue nearly as much as Republicans criticize her, and independents side more with Republicans.

Overall, 56 percent disapprove of FBI Director James Comey’s recommendation not to charge Clinton, while just 35 percent approve. Similarly, 57 percent say the incident makes them worried about how Clinton might act as president if she is elected, with most very worried about it. Just 39 percent feel the issue isn’t related to how she would perform as president.

Questions about Clinton’s character have been a key weakness of her candidacy. Americans by broad margins have said they don’t regard her as honest and trustworthy. She trailed Bernie Sanders on this attribute by about 20 percentage points consistently in the Democratic primaries. And in some polls she has trailed Donald Trump on it as well, albeit more closely.

Nearly 9 in 10 Republicans disagree with the FBI’s decision and say it worries them about what she would do if she became president.

Democrats see things very differently but with less unanimity. About two-thirds approve of the decision not to charge Clinton and think the issue is unrelated to what she would do as president. But 3 in 10 Democrats think she should have been charged.

Roughly 6 in 10 independents say the FBI was wrong and that the issue raises worries about Clinton as president.

One question I have about this result is what the ten percent who respond to the scandal by being more likely to support Clinton come to this decision. It is not surprising that some partisan Democrats will back Clinton despite the rather overwhelming evidence of her dishonesty and poor judgment in this matter, but what would possibly give some people a reason to be more likely to back her because of this? Are they thinking, “I really admire Hillary for breaking all those rules and then lying about it for over a year. Good for her.” Even if they are in denial over the facts, how could they see anything good in this? On the other hand, this does sound like we would expect from some of those people who keep trolling pro-Sanders groups on Facebook.

While I would hope the number would be even higher, it was encouraging to see that partisanship hasn’t eliminated all judgment on the part of voters  as the poll also found that “Over 4 in 10 liberals say the issue raises concerns about how Clinton might handle responsibilities as president.”

This lack of trust could cause problems for Clinton should she be elected. Making matters worse for her, The Hill reports on increased pressure over her top aides having security clearance:

Pressure is growing on the State Department to revoke the security clearances of several of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, potentially jeopardizing her ability to name her own national security team should she become president.

The move could force Clinton to make an uncomfortable choice: abandon longtime advisers or face another political maelstrom by overriding the White House security agency.

It’s not clear if Clinton or longtime aides Huma Abedin and Jake Sullivan still hold active security clearances. The information is protected under the Privacy Act and absent permission from each person, the only way it can be made public is if State sees an overriding public interest in disclosing it — an unlikely scenario.

None of the aides implicated in the probe — Abedin, Sullivan and Cheryl Mills — are still employed at State. That makes it unlikely that they continue to hold security clearances, awarded on a need-to-know basis.

But department spokesman John Kirby said last week that former officials could still face “administrative sanctions” for past actions — sanctions that could in theory make it incredibly difficult to be approved for security clearance in the future.

Clinton, should she be elected president, would be functionally exempt from security vetting as a constitutional officer — it’s “the reason it was always indictment or bust” with Clinton, said Bradley Moss, a lawyer who specializes in classified information cases. The only circumstance in which she’s likely to become a “federal employee” again is if she’s elected president.

But for Abedin and Sullivan, the loss or rejection of their security credentials would be a career-ender in Washington.

And according to several lawyers who specialize in security clearances, anyone with the kind of documented track record that now dogs Abedin and Sullivan would struggle to retain their access to restricted information. Although no one was charged, FBI Director James Comey was unequivocal that Clinton and her aides acted “extremely carelessly.”

“If a client came to me with these kinds of allegations related to their prior use of classified information, I would say, ‘You have less than a 20 percent chance of surviving,’” Moss said.

Comey on Tuesday rejected criminal charges against Clinton or her aides, but he laid out a damning litany of violations, including the transmission of classified information through her private, unsecured email server.

The article points out that “in theory, a President Clinton could override any concerns that the OPM or the Office of Administration might have.” With Clinton’s long history of acting like the laws don’t apply to her, or her inner circle, it would not be surprising if Clinton does override any objections to them having security clearance, which would probably keep this scandal alive even longer.

While Donald Trump has said many absurd things, he is right on at least one point:

“What she did was so wrong,” Trump said, adding that people who did “far less” were “paying a tremendous price right now.”

Presumably the knowledge that Clinton would have been prosecuted if not for her position is one reason so many people now think she deserved to be prosecuted.

Despite all the questions voters have about Clinton’s honesty, she currently has a significant lead over Trump in the polls, with many voters having even more reservations over him becoming president than Clinton. This includes Republican donors, as discussed by The Wall Street Journal today.

Republicans now face a situation in which they should be able to win the presidency due to facing a candidate as weak as Hillary Clinton, but most likely will not due to nominating a candidate as awful as Donald Trump. However, nothing is certain. The Daily Wire reports on claims that there are enough votes in the rules committee to send a minority report unbinding the delegates to the full convention, which theoretically could allow them to chose a different nominee.

Third Party Candidates Polling Competitively Against Trump (Should Bernie Run Third Party?)

Trump Tie Young Voters

Polling during the primary battle made it very clear that if the Democratic nomination was determined by voters under the age of forty-five, Bernie Sanders would have won by a considerable margin. Republicans are facing a generation gap of their own–one which might even affect them this year. The Washington Post points out that Trump could even wind up behind Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson:

An interesting nugget from the big new Pew Research Center poll of the 2016 election: Among voters under age 30, Donald Trump is at 21 percent … and Gary Johnson is at 22 percent.

Yes, Trump is in danger of finishing third among young voters — at least according to this one poll. But it’s not the only one showing him struggling with them.

Similarly, a Quinnipiac University poll last week showed Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, and Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party nominee, combining to take slightly more millennials (defined as ages 18 to 34 in this case) than Trump.

They combined for 22 percent, while Trump was again at 21. (Stein wasn’t an option in the Pew poll.)

Suffolk University also showed Johnson carving off a significant portion of young voters (18 to 34), at 15 percent, to Trump’s 27 percent.

(The Washington Post also had a recent article describing Gary Johnson’s views.)

On the one hand, third party candidates often do better in polls than in the final election results, but on the other hand we have not had candidates this terrible before, and support for the major political parties is at a record low. While the above polls show Trump losing support to third party candidates, overall it appears that the third party candidates might hurt Clinton slightly more than Trump:

FiveThirtyEight has a good breakdown of just where Johnson’s support is drawn from — and how it might actually come more from Clinton. Harry Enten writes:

“The majority of pollsters (12) have Clinton’s margin over Trump shrinking when at least one third-party candidate is included. The difference in margins, however, varies among pollsters, and a few, such as Ipsos, have Clinton’s lead rising by the tiniest of bits when at least Johnson is included. Overall, including third-party candidates takes about 1 percentage point away from Clinton’s margin, on average.”

But it’s also true that young people are a much friendlier demographic for third-party candidates. They are more likely to identify as independents and supporters of third parties, and it’s no coincidence that they have led the way for politicians like Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders in recent years.

Young people also happen to be among the most resistant to both Trump and Clinton. Post-ABC polling shows about 6 in 10 don’t like Clinton and 75 percent don’t like Trump. Both are the highest among any age group.

All of this makes me wonder how Bernie Sanders might do if he were to accept the offer from Jill Stein to replace her as the Green Party candidate.

In a related story, The Washington Post also noted the effects of race and demographics will have over the next four decades. Donald Trump’s racism and xenophobia is not doing the Republican Party any favors. Between these demographic changes and the lack of support among young voters, it is possible that either the major parties will change, or we will see the emergence of a new political party which counters the authoritarian right views of both Clinton and Trump. Sanders, Stein, and Johnson all differ substantially from Clinton and Trump on issues including foreign policy, civil liberties, and the drug war.

Among the young voters who oppose Trump are the students at Wharton, which Trump attended. Here is the beginning of an open letter from students, alumni, and faculty at Wharton:

Dear Mr. Trump:

At the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, students are taught to represent the highest levels of respect and integrity. We are taught to embrace humility and diversity. We can understand why, in seeking America’s highest office, you have used your degree from Wharton to promote and lend legitimacy to your candidacy.

As a candidate for President, and now as the presumptive GOP nominee, you have been afforded a transformative opportunity to be a leader on national and international stages and to make the Wharton community even prouder of our school and values.

However, we have been deeply disappointed in your candidacy.

We, proud students, alumni, and faculty of Wharton, are outraged that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance. Although we do not aim to make any political endorsements with this letter, we do express our unequivocal stance against the xenophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of bigotry that you have actively and implicitly endorsed in your campaign…

High Voter Dissatisfaction With Major Party Candidates Could Make Sanders A Strong Third Party Choice

Sanders Stein

With the major political parties likely to nominate two candidates who are both unfit to be president and opposed by more voters than in previous elections, there is increased attention being paid to the third party candidates. I recently wrote about the Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. While Johnson and Bernie Sanders do agree on many issues, Jill Stein, the presumptive nominee of the Green Party, has views which are much closer to those of Sanders. The Guardian reports on an offer from Stein which could really alter the election–inviting Sanders to replace her as the Green Party nominee:

Bernie Sanders has been invited to continue his underdog bid for the White House by the Green party’s probable presidential candidate, who has offered to step aside to let him run.

Jill Stein, who is expected to be endorsed at the party’s August convention in Houston, told Guardian US that “overwhelming” numbers of Sanders supporters are flocking to the Greens rather than Hillary Clinton.

Stein insisted that her presidential bid has a viable “near term goal” of reaching 15% in national polling, which would enable her to stand alongside presumptive nominees Clinton and Donald Trump in televised election debates.

But in a potentially destabilising move for the Democratic party, and an exciting one for Sanders’ supporters, the Green party candidate said she was willing to stand aside for Sanders.

“I’ve invited Bernie to sit down explore collaboration – everything is on the table,” she said. “If he saw that you can’t have a revolutionary campaign in a counter-revolutionary party, he’d be welcomed to the Green party. He could lead the ticket and build a political movement,” she said.

Common Dreams points out that Stein had made this offer previously:

After the New York primary, which took place April 16, Stein wrote to Sanders: “At a time when the American electorate is rejecting politics as usual in vast numbers, I invite you to join me in pushing the boundaries of that system to a place where revolution can truly take root.”

“In this hour of unprecedented crisis—with human rights, civilization, and life on the planet teetering on the brink—can we explore an historic collaboration to keep building the revolution beyond the reach of corporate party clutches, where the movement can take root and flourish, in the 2016 election and beyond?” she wrote.

PP_16.07.07_JuneVoterAttitudes_lede

A Pew Research Center Poll shows a definite opening for a strong third party choice:

Overall satisfaction with the choice of candidates is at its lowest point in two decades. Currently, fewer than half of registered voters in both parties – 43% of Democrats and 40% of Republicans – say they are satisfied with their choices for president.

Roughly four-in-ten voters (41%) say it is difficult to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton because neither would make a good president – as high as at any point since 2000. And just 11% say the choice is difficult because either would make a good chief executive, the lowest percentage during this period.

With the two major political parties making bad choices of this magnitude, it is possible we could see a realignment in political parties. The divisions of the Bush years have become obscured with the Democrats nominating a candidate who shares many of the faults which Democrats have opposed for the last decade. As I wrote in another recent post comparing Clinton to both George Bush and Richard Nixon,we were outraged by Bush’s neoconservative foreign policy, but Clinton is the neocon hawk running this year. We protested Bush’s assault on civil liberties, but Clinton also has a far right record on civil liberties issues, sounding much like Donald Trump on restricting civil liberties to fight terrorism. We objected to an increase in government secrecy under Bush, but Clinton has a long record of opposing government transparency. Bush’s administration was remarkable for expanding the influence of the religious right.  Clinton worked with The Fellowship to expand the influence of religion on public policy when in the Senate. Plus Clinton has been on the wrong side regarding the corrupting role of money in politics, on the environment and climate change, on the death penalty, on single-payer health care. She is even to the right of Donald Trump on drug policy and the drug war and on the wrong side of trade issues.

The reports from the State Department Inspector General and the FBI on Clinton’s email scandal also make it quite clear that Democrats can no longer get away with attacking the culture of corruption in the Republican Party. With the Republicans nominating Donald Trump, we could finally see the end of them as a serious major national party, with the Democrats under Clinton replacing the Republicans as the conservative party. A Green Party led by Sanders could be the start of the formation of a new liberal/progressive party with greater consistency and integrity than we have seen from the Democratic Party.

While such a choice would be welcomed, I think it is very unlikely Sanders will accept Stein’s offer, with Sanders reportedly planning to endorse Hillary Clinton next week. While legitimate polls (excluding online polls) typically show that from twenty percent to near half of Sanders supporters will not support Clinton, those active in many on-line Sanders groups show an even higher intensity in opposing Clinton. It is unknown how many will hold their nose in the end and vote for Clinton, primarily motivated by stopping Donald Trump. If Trump’s campaign since clinching the Republican nomination is any indication of what we will see this fall, Clinton is likely to have enough of a lead to allow Sanders supporters to vote their conscience without fear of a Trump victory. Plus there is a small contingent of Sanders supporters who are supporting Trump over Clinton.

There is a tendency of some Clinton supporters to see opposition to Clinton’s nomination from the left as being based upon being pro-Bernie. It is much more based upon opposition to Clinton’s views and character. Even an endorsement by Sanders will not change these views. I do not identify myself as primarily a Sanders supporter, a Stein supporter, an Obama supporter, or the supporter of any particular candidate. I choose candidates based upon the issues.

I supported Obama over Clinton in 2008 and Sanders over Clinton this year over many of the same issues (with Obama more moderate than Sanders but still preferable to Clinton). I cannot support Clinton for the same reasons I opposed her for the nomination twice, and for the same reasons I opposed George Bush. As I supported Obama and Sanders in their nomination battles, I will most likely support Stein as the best choice as opposed to Trump or Clinton, assuming Sanders will not be on the general election ballot. Of course it is a long way until November and I will be watching all the candidates closely.

Update: Third Party Candidates Polling Competitively Against Trump (Should Bernie Run Third Party?)

FBI Shows Clinton Was Careless With Classified Information And Lied On Multiple Points; Does Not Recommend Indictment

Clinton Email

The good news for Hillary Clinton is that FBI Director James B. Comey is not recommending a criminal indictment. This comes as little surprise to me, or to Clinton if she was being honest in her predictions. The bad news is that the FBI investigation confirmed that Clinton has been lying on several key points and, as Chris Cillizza wrote, Hillary Clinton’s email problems might be even worse than we thought.

It’s hard to read Comey’s statement as anything other than a wholesale rebuke of the story Clinton and her campaign team have been telling ever since the existence of her private email server came to light in spring 2015. She did send and receive classified emails. The setup did leave her — and the classified information on the server — subject to a possible foreign hack. She and her team did delete emails as personal that contained professional information…

For a candidate already badly struggling on questions of whether she is honest and trustworthy enough to hold the office to which she aspires, Comey’s comments are devastating. Watching them, I could close my eyes and imagine them spliced into a bevy of 30-second ads — all of which end with the FBI director rebuking Clinton as “extremely careless.”

…Still, all things considered, this is a very bad day for the Clinton campaign. It’s not the worst outcome (indictment), but it badly disrupts her attempts to move beyond the email server story as she seeks to unite the party in advance of the Democratic convention later this month. And it suggests the email issue will haunt her all the way through Election Day on Nov. 8.

Comey stated that Clinton and her colleagues were  “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” He went on to say:

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

His statement contradicted previous statements from Clinton that there was no classified email on her system and that she had only destroyed email which was not work-related:

From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.

The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014. We found those additional e-mails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private e-mail domain. Others we found by reviewing the archived government e-mail accounts of people who had been government employees at the same time as Secretary Clinton, including high-ranking officials at other agencies, people with whom a Secretary of State might naturally correspond.

Comey also stated that Clinton “used several different servers” and “used numerous mobile devices to view and send email,” contradicting her claims to have used one device for convenience.

An AP Factcheck noted that the report showed that the FBI investigation contradicts several past statements from Clinton:

“I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” News conference, March 2015.
“I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified.” NBC interview, July 2016.
“I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work related” to the State Department. News conference, March 2015
“I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for personal emails instead of two.” News conference, March 2015.”It was on property guarded by the Secret Service, and there were no security breaches. … The use of that server, which started with my husband, certainly proved to be effective and secure.” News conference, March 2015.
CLINTON campaign website: “There is no evidence there was ever a breach.”
“I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department.” News conference, March 2015.

The mishandling of classified information has always been a sidelight of the overall scandal based upon Clinton’s violation of rules regarding government transparency. The Sunlight Foundation noted, As FBI concludes Clinton email investigation, larger questions linger. Here is the first of five question they raise:

Can the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) be protected from intentional obfuscation, especially by those with the most power?

The available evidence suggests that Clinton intentionally tried to control whether email was exposed to discovery under FOIA. Today’s recommendations from the FBI reinforce a sense that trying to evade FOIA is wrong but isn’t illegal, weakening the idea that records should be managed in a way that upholds public access. More recent legal reforms requiring official email use are important, but ultimately incidental to the more fundamental question: Do we expect public officials to conduct their work in a manner that is generally accessible to the FOIA and to congressional oversight? How can such an expectation be enforced?

The FBI report comes shortly after a report from the State Department Inspector General which showed that Clinton knowingly violated the rules in effect, failed to cooperate with the investigation, and tried to cover-up her actions.

While there were previously rumors that the FBI was also investigating apparent influence-peddling while at the State Department, Comey’s report did not give any indication that this was a subject of their investigation. I discussed this subject yesterday.

All this might not matter with Clinton probably running against a candidate as weak as Donald Trump. A NBC News/Survey Monkey poll showed that Clinton would have a much more difficult time if running against a different candidate. Regardless of the the political impact of these reports, it is hardly reassuring to find that the front runner to be the next president was careless in handling classified information and has been lying to the American people regarding this for over a year.

Gary Johnson Has Great Ad, Plus Interviews With Stephen Colbert & Samantha Bee

Gary Johnson Third Party

While the two major parties won’t be choosing their nominees until later this month, after spending months on a primary process to find the two worst people in America, the Libertarian Party chose its nominee, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, last month. Johnson, and his running mate, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, have come up with a catchy new ad:

They are also out on the talk shows. Stephen Colbert interviewed Johnson and Weld last month:

As did Samantha Bee, who agreed with ever other one of his positions:

Samantha Bee also showed how he won the Libertarian Party nomination despite heretic views such as supporting the Civil Rights Act and requiring drivers to have a license to prove competency to drive:

By their own admission, they are fringe candidates. They are not racists like Donald Trump or warmongers like Hillary Clinton, which makes them worth looking at. While I also disagree with many of their positions, they certainly look like more credible candidates than a dishonest buffoon with a totally dysfunctional campaign like Donald Trump, and they didn’t spend three hours talking to the FBI as the target of a criminal investigation as Clinton did today–something which in normal years might also be disqualifying.

Jill Stein still seems to be the favorite of Sanders supporters assuming Clinton is the Democratic nominee and Sanders ends his campaign. Nationally, Johnson is the strongest of the minor party candidates, polling at ten percent–taking away support from both Clinton and Trump. Polling at ten percent in two recent polls gives hope that they might reach the fifteen percent threshold which is required to participate in the presidential debates. In a normal year I would predict that voters would eventually fall in line with their party, and support for Johnson and Stein would diminish. However, this is no ordinary election year. With candidates as awful as Clinton and Trump, it remains possible that more voters will seek out an alternative. After all, Johnson or Stein would be preferable to a giant meteor hitting the earth, and many voters think that would not be as bad as Clinton or Trump being president:

More than 1 in 10 voters say they’d prefer a giant meteor hitting earth over supporting Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

The left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) offered the hypothetical “Giant Meteor” option in its latest survey. Forty-three percent picked Clinton, 38 percent picked Trump and 13 percent picked the Giant Meteor hitting earth. Another 7 percent were unsure.

The Giant Meteor has support across the ideological spectrum, with 23 percent support among somewhat or very liberal voters, 16 percent among moderate voters and 21 percent among somewhat or very conservative voters.

It will be interesting to see if, after seeing the nominees at the conventions, more or less people prefer the giant meteor hitting the earth.