Four years ago, many Republicans were caught off-guard by Mitt Romney's loss, despite ample polling data showing President Obama on track to win. The problem for much of the right is that conservatives saw the survey results, but were convinced the data had been "skewed" in Democrats' favor.
And now, it's happening again.
To be sure, some Republicans remember their 2012 mistakes. Rush Limbaugh, for example, told his audience yesterday, "I wish that I could sit here and tell you that I, without question, think the polls are rigged. I have thought so in previous elections.... In 2012, honest to God, folks, I thought Romney was gonna win by five or six."
But Limbaugh's warnings aren't resonating broadly on the right. In fact, Donald Trump in particular is going out of his way to tell conservative voters that they shouldn't believe public-opinion data at all. Yesterday, the GOP nominee insisted Democrats "are making up phony polls in order to suppress the the [sic] Trump." What in the world does that mean? Trump is apparently just now hearing about oversampling -- which he clearly does not understand.
In fact, the GOP nominee has spent much of his dwindling time on the trail disparaging polls that show him down. Of late, Trump has begun decrying the polling practice of "oversampling" calling it a tactic of voter suppression. "It's called voter suppression," Trump extrapolated of the goals of oversampling. "Because people will say 'oh gee, Trump's out.' We're winning, we're winning."
In actuality, oversampling is standard practice for pollsters and can give a deeper look into larger groups of voters.
Even Trump voters must be confused by now as to what they're supposed to believe. Trump is explicitly telling them he's both winning and losing, and at the same time, he's pointing to a standard element of many modern polls as evidence of "voter suppression," all while pointing to a stolen John Podesta email from eight years ago that Trump doesn't understand. read more
Of all the congressional Republicans who've struggled with Donald Trump's candidacy, arguably no one's story is funnier than Sen. Mark Kirk's (R-Ill.). The Illinois Republican endorsed Trump, then un-endorsed Trump, then endorsed David Petraeus, then endorsed Colin Powell, then un-endorsed Powell, then said he no longer wanted to talk about it.
But if Kirk's story is the most amazing, Sen. Mike Crapo (R) of Idaho is a competitive second. Slatereported yesterday:
In the hours after Donald Trump was revealed to have boasted that he would kiss women and "grab them by the p---y" without their consent, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was one of the earliest of a number of Republican political leaders to revoke their support for the GOP presidential nominee.
"This is not a decision that I have reached lightly, but his pattern of behavior has left me no choice," read a statement announcing Crapo's apparently principled stand. "His repeated actions and comments toward women have been disrespectful, profane and demeaning."
Crapo has now had another change of heart.
Yes, the Idaho Republican initially endorsed Trump. Then Crapo un-endorsed Trump. Soon after, the incumbent senator, up for re-election this year, said he's an undecided voter. Yesterday, Crapo came full circle, re-endorsing the presidential candidate he un-endorsed two weeks ago.
The senator did not clarify yesterday whether or not it's a decision he "reached lightly." read more
If Donald Trump wants voters to see him as a competent and capable leader on matters of national security, he's going to have to start saying a lot less.
Last week, for example, the Republican presidential hopeful, who's said he's more knowledgeable than U.S. generals and has claimed to have a secret plan to combat ISIS, told a national audience that the military offensive in Mosul is part of an elaborate, international conspiracy to help Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Over the weekend, Trump went further, condemning the U.S.-backed offensive in Mosul as "a total disaster" that's leaving the United States looking "dumb." Yesterday, the Republican kept complaining, insisting the campaign in Mosul should've been kept secret. "I'm telling you, folks, our leadership -- I went to an Ivy League school, but there's some words that you can't describe any better: Our leadership is stupid," Trump told a Florida audience. "These are stupid people."
Some of this is just bizarre, with the Washington Post running a piece asking why the GOP nominee seems to be rooting for failure. But as Politiconoted, some of this is also rooted in alarming ignorance -- because Donald Trump doesn't seem to understand what he doesn't understand.
Perhaps most grating for national security figures -- including scores on the right who have, to their astonishment, sought refuge with Clinton -- is that Trump doesn't seem to understand the basic facts of the situations he is describing. That's especially true when it comes to the Islamic State.
For instance, Trump's claim that the Mosul offensive should not have been announced in advance contradict standard procedure. Militaries often announce an offensive ahead of time so that civilians can try to flee and because it's impossible to keep such a large operation a secret. (The Iraqi city still has some 1.5 million inhabitants.) The Republican also has suggested that the Obama administration, which is backing Iraqi forces with airstrikes and advice, timed the offensive to boost Clinton.
"The Mosul operation is an Iraqi operation, not a U.S.-led one," rebutted Michael Singh, a former Bush administration official now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "And it appears quite likely to succeed in wresting the city from ISIS' control. The notion of a 'sneak attack' makes no sense here -- this is a massive operation, and Iraqi and other coalition forces have spent months 'shaping the battlefield' in preparation for it."
During the second presidential debate, after Trump said the United States is "stupid" for participating in a major military offensive the enemy knows is coming, ABC News' Martha Raddatz tried to explain, "There are sometimes reasons the military does that."
But that's the point: he's not "pretty good" at it. The Republican candidate simply doesn't know what he's talking about -- and Trump is so confused, he's not able to understand how foolish his rhetoric is. read more
It's always good to see a political article with a strong lede, and I think Politico did a nice job with this one.
Note to Rep. Darrell Issa from President Barack Obama: If you want to call him one of the most corrupt presidents in history, say he should be impeached and question whether he was telling the truth about his birth certificate, maybe don't then brag about working with him in a campaign mailer as you try to hang onto your seat.
As we discussed last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has found himself in a bit of a predicament, struggling to hold onto a House seat he's represented for nearly two decades. The Republican incumbent is so worried about his future that his latest campaign mailers feature a picture of President Obama, seated at his desk in the Oval Office, and boast about the work Issa has done with the White House.
Evidently, the president heard about the congressman's direct mail, and in remarks Sunday in California, Obama couldn't let this go without a response.
"I'm not going to belabor this point, but let me just point out that as far as I can tell, [Issa's] primary contribution to the United States Congress has been to obstruct and to waste taxpayer dollar on trumped-up investigations that have led nowhere. And this is now a guy who, because poll numbers are bad, has sent out brochures with my picture on them touting his cooperation on issues with me.
"Now, that is the definition of chutzpah. Here's a guy who called my administration perhaps the most corrupt in history -- despite the fact that actually we have not had a major scandal in my administration -- that, when Trump was suggesting that I wasn't even born here, said, 'Well, I don't know,' was not sure.... This guy has spent all his time simply trying to obstruct, to feed the same sentiments that resulted in Donald Trump becoming their nominee.... And now he's sending out brochures touting his cooperation with me. Now, that is shameless."
This should've ended the back and forth, but for some reason, Issa thought it'd be a good idea to send one more volley. read more
The game plan for Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) should be relatively straightforward. The far-right senator is seeking re-election in a traditionally blue state, running against a respected and well-known former officeholder, in a year in which Donald Trump is likely to lose his home state of Wisconsin. Campaign Management 101 suggests Johnson, behind in the polls, should downplay his more extreme positions and present himself as a pragmatic centrist.
The Republican incumbent, however, is ignoring the conventional strategy and going with a riskier approach.
In June, for example, Johnson launched campaign ads that made it seem as if he weren't already in office. More recently, the GOP senator echoed Donald Trump's bizarre rhetoric questioning the integrity of the voting process: "How many times have we talked about fraudulent voter registration drives? There's been stories, there's been evidence accumulating for literally decades of this, and the Clinton emails prove that's exactly what they do. This is a concerted effort on their part. Whether it's ACORN or Organize for America, Democrats engage in a concerted effort to produce fraudulent votes."
First, none of this is true. Second, ACORN? Seriously?
Yesterday, as the Huffington Postnoted, Johnson kept going, trying to make the case that the climate crisis, which he often pretends doesn't exist, isn't a big deal.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Monday said he doesn't think people should worry about finding solutions to climate change ― because historically, "civilization thrives" in warmer temperatures.
"Climate has already changed, always will. I'm just not an alarmist. We will adapt," Johnson told Wisconsin radio station WHBY. "How many people are moving up toward the Antarctica, or the Arctic? Most people move down to Texas or Florida, where it's a little bit warmer."
In late June, the day after the "Brexit" vote, Donald Trump hosted a press conference in Scotland, against the backdrop of one of the most important political moments in the modern history of the United Kingdom. As we discussed at the time, the Republican presidential candidate spoke at great length, and in great detail, about ... his new golf resort.
Tomorrow, the GOP nominee will do it again, leaving the campaign trail to promote the opening of his new hotel in Washington, D.C. -- a venue Trump has touted on multiple occasions from the campaign stump, blurring the lines between candidate and salesperson.
It's a reminder that while Trump almost certainly wants to be president, he also remains committed to his lucrative business enterprise. What he may not fully appreciate, however, is the degree to which one is affecting the other. The New York Times ran an interesting report overnight on some of the many people who suddenly want nothing to do with Trump's "brand."
At three large rental buildings emblazoned with gold letters spelling out T-R-U-M-P P-L-A-C-E on the Upper West Side, the lobby rain mats embossed with the same name are being replaced, tenants say. The new versions, they have been told, will proclaim the buildings' addresses, 140, 160 or 180 Riverside Boulevard.
At the same buildings, they say, the doormen and concierges have been measured for new uniforms that will no longer carry the Trump name. And 300 people, most of them tenants, have signed an online petition titled "Dump the TRUMP Name" in less than 10 days.
The article noted that Trump, throughout his career, has boasted that slapping his name on a building increases its value, apparently because consumers are supposed to associate "Trump" with luxury and high quality. But it's not exactly a secret that his presidential campaign has changed public perceptions about the New York Republican, and for many, his name is now more closely associated with misogyny and ethno-nationalism.
And as a consequence, the Trump "brand" is not only taking a severe hit; it may never be the same. read more
On Wednesday — just 13 days till the election — Trump is leaving the campaign trail to promote the grand opening of his Washington, DC hotel pic.twitter.com/WLZWWTXZm2
Rachel Maddow updates the short list of national daily newspapers endorsing Donald Trump in the general election with his first major paper endorsement by the Las Vegas Review Journal newly owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson. watch
Rachel Maddow looks back at the trouble the Republican National Committee got into for racially targeted "poll watching" in New Jersey, and explains why Donald Trump's call to supporters to watch "certain communities" is something the RNC hopes members ignore. watch
Rachel Maddow reminds viewers of how Republicans focused on small state office elections to turn states red and gain control of state houses for re-drawing congressional districts in GOP favor, and reports on President Obama's goal of doing something similar for Democrats when he leaves office. watch
Steve Schale, Florida-based political strategist, talks with Rachel Maddow about whether the Democratic Party is making a mistake by not investing more in Rep. Patrick Murphy's close Senate race against Marco Rubio in Florida. watch
* ISIS: "America and its allies have launched more airstrikes against ISIS in the past week than at any other time in its ongoing fight against the extremists, according to President Barack Obama's counter-ISIS envoy."
* Iraq: "U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter's push for Iraq to let Turkey play a role in the Mosul battle encountered resistance Saturday from Iraq's prime minister, who said his country's forces will oust Islamic State the militants from the northern city."
* Pennsylvania: "Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was sentenced Monday to 10 to 23 months in jail for orchestrating an illegal news leak to damage a political enemy, capping a spectacular downfall for a woman who three years ago was seen as one of the state's fastest-rising stars."
* France "on Monday began clearing out the gritty, squalid migrant camp in Calais known as 'The Jungle' as refugees waited in long lines to be processed and bused to reception centers across the country."
* Cold War: "Russian authorities have stepped up nuclear-war survival measures amid a showdown with Washington, dusting off Soviet-era civil-defense plans and upgrading bomb shelters in the biggest cities. At the Kremlin's Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Cold War is back." read more
Though Election Day is still a couple of weeks away, and unpredictable things may yet happen, polling gives a reasonably good sense of what's likely to happen. And with that in mind, it's reasonable to think Hillary Clinton will be president next year, hoping to get something done by a Republican-run House led by Speaker Paul Ryan.
Ryan, however, is already sounding pessimistic notes about governing opportunities. The Wall Street Journal had an interesting report on the House Speaker's perspective the other day.
Mr. Ryan tried to work out a corporate-tax-reform-for-infrastructure trade with Sen. Chuck Schumer, which he says failed because the Democratic Party is now "run by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. This is not a party run by Alice Rivlin and Erskine Bowles. There aren't 1990s Democrats in this party anymore." He isn't optimistic about an emergence of a pragmatic Hillary that some like to imagine.
Let's note at the outset that tax reform failed, not because of Democratic extremism, but because Republicans walked away from the table, unwilling to accept a compromise.
Even putting this aside, Ryan's complaint is one of his more common arguments: Democrats, the Wisconsin congressman believes, have moved too far to the left. In the 1990s, folks like Alice Rivlin and Erskine Bowles helped set the party's direction on budget and fiscal issues, and now, the argument goes, they've been replaced by progressive firebrands. Ergo, well-intentioned Republicans, ready to negotiate and reach constructive solutions, are stuck trying and failing to negotiate with left-wing ideologues.
It's a nice little theory, which simply isn't true. read more