Presidential Race Remains Tight Heading Into First Debate

With just hours before the first debate, and six weeks until Election Day, the race for President remains tight.

Trump Clinton

With just over six weeks weeks to go until Election Day, we’ve come today to what could be the first real turning point in the race for President between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and one which could go down in history as a particularly important moment on a par with similar moments during the elections in 1960 and 1980. I’m referring, of course to the first Presidential debate between two of the best known, most polarizing figures to ever run for President. Based on the number of people who tuned into the Presidential primary debates last year and over the early months of the primary race, some media experts are estimating an audience between  60 and 70 million people for tonight’s first debate, with some even stating that we could see viewership numbers approaching 100 million viewers, which would shatter all previous records. Much of the past week has been quiet on the campaign trail as the candidates prepared for tonight’s clash, with Clinton taking the traditional route of studying briefing books and holding mock debates with a Trump stand in while Trump, well, prepares in his own way. Things did get a bit personal over the weekend as the Clinton campaign suggested that it would invite Mark Cuban, who has been a strong critic of Trump for several years now, as a guest in the debate audience and Trump countering that he might invite Gennifer Flowers, the woman that Bill Clinton was accused of having an affair with while serving as Arkansas Governor in the 1980s. Later, Trump’s campaign denied that it had issued an invitation to Flowers and the Commission on Presidential Debates stepped in to make clear that neither campaign would be permitted to play mind games with its debate invitations and seating arrangements in the audience.

Taking one last look at the polls prior to the debate, we see that very little has changed although there are some signs that Hillary Clinton has started to turn around the dip in the polls that began roughly five weeks ago. So far this has shown up mostly in a handful of national polls that continue to show Clinton in the lead while only the Los Angeles Times tracking poll, which continues to be the only poll to show Trump in the lead. In the RealClearPolitics head-to-head poll, for example, Clinton (45  7 %) has a 2.3 point lead over Trump (43.4%), which is actually an improvement over last week when her lead was down to 1.3 points. In a four way race, Clinton stands at 42.4% while Trump stands at 40.9%. giving her a 1.5 point average lead, which again is an improvement over last week but well below where the race stood five weeks ago. In that four-way race, Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson stands at 7.1% and Green Party nominee Jill Stein stands at 2.4%. The Pollster average shows a slightly larger lead for Clinton in both a two-way race and a three-way race that includes Johnson,

As the RealClearPolitics charts show, though, while Clinton’s numbers have improved somewhat at the national level, the overall trend hasn’t changed very much, possibly because many voters are waiting until after at least this first debate to commit to one candidate or another.

Here’s the two-way chart:

RCP TwoWayChater 92616

And the four-way chart:

RCP Four Way Chart 92616

While the national race has remained relatively stable, the race has tightened even more at the state level to the point where it is becoming noticeable in the Electoral College projections. In no small part, this is due to the fact that Trump has managed to continue performing strong in states such as Ohio and Florida while Clinton has slipped in states such as Pennsylvania and Colorado that she ultimately is likely to win, but where the voters seem to be stepping back a bit before backing a candidate. As a result of this movement, we have a RealClearPolitics Electoral College Map that gives Clinton 198 Electoral Votes while Donald Trump has 165 Electoral Votes, with 13 states and one Congressional District in Maine totaling 175 Electoral Votes listed as toss-ups. With no toss-ups, Clinton still has a majority at 272 Electoral Votes to Trump’s 266. This is the best that Trump has done in the Electoral College projection at RCP since it started being tracked and reflects a trend at the state level that continues to be favorable to Donald Trump.

The tightening of the race is also reflected in other projections. Nate Silver’s polls-only forecast, for example, projects a 57.8% likelihood of a Clinton victory and a  42.2% chance of a Republican victory while the ‘Polls-Plus’ forecast gives Clinton a  57.1% chance of winning versus 42.9% for Donald Trump and the “Now-cast,” which purports to project would happen if the election were held today, showing a 56.0% chance of a Clinton victory and a 44.0% chance of a Trump victory. As was the case last week, Clinton fares slightly better in Sam Wang’s forecast and in Larry Sabato’s forecast, but her numbers there have tightened a bit as well. The New York Timesmeanwhile, gives Clinton a 70% chance of winning the race while DailyKos gives Clinton a  64% chance of winning.

All of this is a snapshot in time, of course, and much of it could change depending on how tonight’s debate goes, which is really anyone’s call. Given her experience with the format, Clinton obviously seems as though she would be favored headed into the debate but that doesn’t necessarily tell us anything at all. Four years ago, the expectation was that Barack Obama would blow Mitt Romney out of the water. Instead, the nation saw an uncharacteristically weak performance from the President that ended up temporarily throwing the race into chaos as Mitt Romney seemed to gain momentum in the wake of a strong debate performance. Ultimately, of course, President Obama ended up winning easily, but that even was a reflection of the fact that anything can happen in a debate format such as the one we’ll see tonight. Additionally, expectations are going to play a huge role in the impact tonight’s debate has on the race, and that could inure to Trump’s benefit. To some degree, his performance in the Republican debates as well as overall public opinion suggest that Trump could end up adding to his current momentum with a strong performance tonight that would, at the very least, cause a whole new set of headaches for the Clinton campaign going forward. Given all of that, where the race is a week from now is an area where your guess is as good as mine, although I’ll admit that the most likely possibility is that Clinton will start to close the deal with voters and reverse the downward momentum that has plagued her over the past month. It’s all up to the voters.

Update: Since I posted this article this morning, Nate Silver has updated his forecasts. The  polls-only forecast, for example, now projects a 53.6% likelihood of a Clinton victory and a  46.4% chance of a Republican victory while the ‘Polls-Plus’ forecast gives Clinton a  53.4% chance of winning versus 46.6% for Donald Trump and the “Now-cast,” for the first time since the party conventions, has Donald Trump in the lead, showing a 50.1% chance of a Trump victory and a 49.9% chance of a Clinton victory. Much of this is likely to change after the debates and especially after the first round of post-debate polling.

Previous posts:

With Eleven Weeks To Go, Hillary Clinton Appears To Be Unstoppable
Ten Weeks Out: The Presidential Race Tightens A Bit, But Clinton Still Lead
With Nine Weeks To Go, Clinton’s Post-Convention Bounce Seems To Have Disappeared
With Eight Weeks To Go, A Tighter Race But It’s Still Advantage Clinton
Presidential Race Continues To Tighten With Seven Weeks To Go

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Slugger says:

    Clearly, my candidate won the debate. Brilliant answers as contrasted with the ridiculous stuff the other side was putting out. And obviously wittier and better, more presidential delivery. That’s my opinion, and nothing can change it.

  2. Scott says:

    Everybody is predicting a huge viewership for the debates. That must mean I’m an outlier. I’ve pretty much have stopped watching the news, being that there is little news and just pontificating. I have no real desire to watch the debates either. Then again, I don’t like horror movies nor auto racing. I fear if I watch the debates, I may end up having to buy a new TV.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Not sure how someone who has this written about them, by the frickin’ NYTimes, can still go on to become President.
    I mean…this is a ferocious piece.

    Yet he has attracted throngs of Americans who ascribe higher purpose to him than he has demonstrated in a freewheeling campaign marked by bursts of false and outrageous allegations, personal insults, xenophobic nationalism, unapologetic sexism and positions that shift according to his audience and his whims.

  4. Hal_10000 says:

    The Democrats are repeating the mistake of 2004. They are making the case against Trump very well. But Trump’s negative are already maxed out. We know he’s awful. But “Not Trump” isn’t an option (or is actually three options). What they need to be doing is making the case FOR Clinton. If they can’t do that, we may end up with this jackanapes as President after all.

  5. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: Considering the NY Times are in the tank for Killery, what would you expect them to write?

  6. barbintheboonies says:

    By now people pretty much know who they will hold there nose and vote for. The debates are just for drama.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    @C. Clavin: The number of people who insist on believing in the RWNJ Bizzaro World is larger than rational people would think. See, for instance @Jack: .

  8. Hal_10000 says:

    Incidentally, 538’s projection this morning is Clinton 51.8%. A tie.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    You can maybe show us another example where they’ve written anything that scathing about a Presidential candidate from a major political party?

  10. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000: You must be remembering a different 2004 election then the one I saw. At the 2004 Democratic Convention, hardly anyone attacked Bush at all. It was all about Kerry’s glorious military record, and it included an inspirational speech by a certain young state senator about how there was no red or blue America.

    The Republicans responded by depicting Kerry as a ninny flip-flopper and wind-surfer who faked his war record.

    So don’t talk to me about the need for Dems to make a “positive case” for their nominee. There was plenty of that in 2004. The problem was that he, like most Democrats, seemed to walk around with a big “kick me” sign taped to his back.

  11. Todd says:

    From my Facebook page earlier this morning:

    I’ll probably still be sleeping while the big debate is going on tonight. I’ll catch the replay later. But even 14 hours before it starts, it’s fairly easy to predict how people will react afterwards (regardless of what is said or happens on the stage).

    Trump supporters will take to twitter/facebook to rejoice about how he “wiped with the floor with ‘crooked Hillary'” (although most will almost certainly use other words to describe her)

    Hillary Clinton supporters will jump on their social media accounts to (for the millionth time) incredulously wonder how, with the evidence of his derangement right before their eyes, anybody in their right mind could vote for Donald Trump.

    Gary Johnson supporters will still be pissed that he wasn’t up there on the stage … because of course if people could just see that there is another choice, surely Johnson would be winning.

    Moderate Republicans (all 10 of them) will be mortified by the things they hear Donald Trump say, but they still won’t be able to imagine themselves actually voting for Hillary Clinton.

    Bernie or bust/Jill not Hill folks will be looking for any reason they can find to criticize Clinton’s performance … followed by wondering out loud (for the millionth time) how this might be the final straw that will ultimately convince Democrats to take a do-over on the convention and replace Clinton with Sanders … who is of course (in their minds) the most popular candidate to have ever even considered running for President. Didn’t you see the size of those rallies?

    And finally, the one thing all but guaranteed to happen … Everybody will be convinced that the debate moderator was “biased” in favor of the candidate they like the least. 🙂

  12. barbintheboonies says:

    The American people want change, they thought President Obama would bring it. Republicans made sure he would never make those changes. I believe many Democrats still want change and will vote for crazy Trump to get it. Then when they get the changes that were not to their liking, can scream and yell we tried to warn you, do you get it now? Nothing is ever going to change unless we get all new players.

  13. Kylopod says:


    The American people want change

    Ugh. I’m so sick and tired of that stupid cliche!

    First off, “the American people” aren’t a single entity. They are more than 300 million individuals of different races, religions, and political outlooks. In any election, the vast majority of voters have their vote decided years in advance, and it’s based on one factor alone: whether the candidate has a D or R after their name. That’s it. The voters who actually change their mind from one election to the next constitute a slice of the population, nothing more. They aren’t “the American people” by any stretch of the imagination, even if America’s future is partly in their hands.

    Second of all, Obama ran on “change” at a time when America was mired in two hapless wars and the worst economic crisis since the Depression. Nothing like that is occurring right now; in fact the country has largely recovered from those emergencies. And Trump’s entire message is in many ways a backlash against exactly the sort of “change” that Obama’s candidacy represented, not a continuation of it. Just looking at the demographics of Trump’s support should belie any claim that it has much of anything to do with the Obama coalition.

  14. Jen says:

    @Scott: I’m an outlier too. No way am I watching the debate live tonight. I’ll get all wound up and won’t be able to get to sleep, and I have work due early morning, which means I’m up and working by 6 a.m.

    It isn’t going to change my mind, and I don’t see any entertainment value. If there are key parts that are noteworthy, I’ll see them highlighted tomorrow. Like you, I don’t go to horror movies. I also despise reality television, which is what this has devolved into.

  15. Slugger says:

    @barbintheboonies: What changes would you like to see? I would like to see a de-emphasis on the military option in the Levant which has produced war, bloodshed, radicalization, refugees, and other horrors. Domestically, I would like to see improvements, not elimination, of the Affordable Care Act, and I would like to see some attention to the huge numbers of homeless. What are your concerns?

  16. barbintheboonies says:

    @Slugger: I would like to see those too. I would also like to see our government officials acting as adults and come to agreements of compromise. The American people deserve better, we sure pay enough. Some with life and limb.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Slugger: If I may jump in, let’s add the elephant in the room, global warming. (And I’ll be amazed if it comes up tonight.)

  18. Jen says:

    More of this “change” nonsense. Let’s look at that, shall we? One of the things that people say they want is to remove the influence of corporations (somehow) I guess by curtailing lobbying (which ignores the fact that every interest out there has lobbying, including the ones they like).

    Setting that aside, how would Trump do this? He has, after all, indicated that his choice for Interior Secretary is Forrest Lucas–an oil industry executive. He is also considering Harold Hamm, another oil & gas industry exec., for the Dept. of Energy.

    This doesn’t sound like removing corporate influence to me, but hey, if it’s just “CHANGE” people are after, this sure is a change. Usually secretaries aren’t directly plucked from the industries they are to regulate and monitor.

  19. MBunge says:

    I don’t think the expectations game has ever been more important than with this debate. The bar for Trump has been set very low. He’ll say some stuff that’s stupid and not true, but nowhere near the level Democrats are expecting. It’s just logistics. Take out the time the moderator speaks and then roughly split the time between the candidates, then subtract the time the candidates spend attacking each other on non-substantive grounds. There just aren’t going to be the repeated follow up questions on policy to make Trump look as bad as many expect.

    And if Hillary doesn’t wipe the floor with Trump, it takes away one of the legs in the two-legged stool supporting her campaign.


  20. barbintheboonies says:

    @Kylopod: What I meant was people want the government to descend and crumble so it can be rebuilt. Right now our government has become so powerful we don`t even have a voice, well one that is listened to. We would never have believed just a few years ago that we would be listening to this much nonsense from people that are supposed to be on our side. It`s an embarrassment to be part of it.

  21. Kylopod says:


    What I meant was people want the government to descend and crumble so it can be rebuilt.

    Really? How do you know? Did you conduct a poll?

    This is commenter-itis at its finest. “Anything I happen to believe must also be the viewpoint of ‘the American public,’ because my beliefs are so obvious and commonsensical that no one could possibly disagree except the evil bureaucrats out to screw everyone.”

    Also, the perspective you’ve just attributed to “the American public” has got pretty much zero to do with the message Obama ran on 8 years ago.

  22. Hal_10000 says:


    Really? Name me one of Kerry’s big policy initiatives. What was his signature issue other than not being Bush? No cheating and looking back. No generic Democrat policy. The Republicans certainly had a headline issue (boo terrorism and gays!). Kerry didn’t.

    While the convention might have focused on Kerry, the emphasis of the entire liberal commentariat was on the awfulness of George W. Bush. The headlines after the election were not, “Oh, crap, we missed out on having a great President!” but “Oh, crap, four more years of this awfulness!” Everything was about how bad Bush was and the intrinsic assumption underlying the commentary was that everyone in America knew how bad Bush was and that anyone-but-Bush would win. Well, Bush was bad. But no one ever won an election because their opponent was bad.

    This election has been way worse. Everything has been about Trump’s awfulness. Even the NYT’s endorsement was mostly “Trump sucks”. I agree with that. But Clinton will not win the election that way. She has to make the case *for* herself, the ways Sanders did or the way Trump is. With Trump, he bashes Clinton but you know what his issues are — immigration, terrorism, greatness and deals. Clinton needs to be doing the same thing. She’s trying. But it’s not getting out.

  23. barbintheboonies says:

    @Kylopod: This is 8 years later and in different times, it`s as looney as it gets Ya I want a change.

  24. Hal_10000 says:

    This is why I was always skeptical of the supposed structural advantage the Democrats had in the electoral college. It was the Permanent Republican Minority all over again.

  25. cian says:

    Here’s the reality- every four year’s American voters get the job of electing the leader of the free world. America, depending on its leader, can make or break millions upon millions of lives. A bad mistake was made in 2000 when Bush II won election, and the world has yet to recover. That choice led directly to what is happening in the Middle East today, and the smoke from that conflagration is smothering Europe, changing it from a place of stability to a region on the verge of giving up and reverting to what it was prior to the first and second worlds wars, a region on the verge of war 24/7, 52 weeks of every goddamn year. And while republicans hate Europe, a Europe on fire is not good for anyone. A Trump presidency will not dampen those flames (his recent statement on Jerusalem is an example) and having advertised himself as a strong man who will never back down, he will not be in a position to back down, ever, if elected.

  26. rachel says:

    …having advertised himself as a strong man who will never back down, he will not be in a position to back down, ever, if elected.

    Sure he will! Nobody except out-and-out loons expect Donald Trump to keep a promise or show consistency when it’s inconvenient for him to do so.

  27. Han says:


    What I meant was people want the government to descend and crumble so it can be rebuilt.

    If people understood what this actually entailed, they wouldn’t want it.

  28. HarvardLaw92 says:


    I live in New York, which is polling +17 Clinton at the moment. I’ll be voting for Clinton, of course, but it’s doubtful that it would make any difference in the outcome if I didn’t. She’ll take all of NY’s electoral votes.

  29. barbintheboonies says:

    @Han: You may be right about that because we let things go way too far. Money is all that is cared about, nothing about doing the right things.

  30. Mikey says:


    Incidentally, 538’s projection this morning is Clinton 51.8%. A tie.

    I’ve said this a lot lately, but…I weep for our nation.

    I know, I know, Clinton the candidate leaves much to be desired. I long for the inspiration Obama created. Still, that a manifestly unqualified, brazenly dishonest, proudly ignorant, blatantly authoritarian ignoramus like Donald Trump is even within pissing distance of the Oval Office means something has gone seriously wrong in America.

    I haven’t decided whether or not to watch the debate. It’s not like my vote will be changed by anything that happens.

  31. Kylopod says:


    While the convention might have focused on Kerry, the emphasis of the entire liberal commentariat was on the awfulness of George W. Bush.

    In what world is “the liberal commentariat” a more defining feature of a presidential campaign than the actual friggin’ convention?

  32. Hal_10000 says:


    The convention last a few days. The commentary lasts for months. EVERY convention is all about how awesome their candidate is. This does not define the campaign.

  33. Thor thormussen says:

    “Not sure how someone who has this written about them, by the frickin’ NYTimes, can still go on to become President.”

    immediate RWNJ response: “DURR DURR DURR NEW YORK TIMES”

    there’s your answer.

    According to 538 Trump would win 55-45 if the election were today. The Complete Retard Party might be the ruin of us all.

  34. Ratufa says:


    Money is all that is cared about, nothing about doing the right things.

    I understand where you are coming from. But, Trump is a “will say anything to get elected” billionaire, who regularly engages in unethical behavior. If you have any evidence that Trump actually cares about doing “right things” (meaning what is moral, as opposed to what is good for himself), please share it with us.

    If you want some evidence for the “unethical behavior” claim, see:

    for some examples.

  35. barbintheboonies says:

    @Ratufa: I think he is an ass, and believe me there is nothing I want more to have different people running, but the fact is there are many who think he is their savior. Not me.

  36. Russ says:

    The election hinges on 10% of the voters. The rest have already decided.

  37. michael reynolds says:

    It’s time to look on the bright side of a Trump presidency. I get a YUUUUUGE tax cut. A nice 7% on personal and a whopping big drop in my corporate taxes. Based on this year I’d probably be looking at 100k extra.

    @Jack? I know you badly want to make me richer, and I appreciate it. However, I do want to mention that I’ll probably spend all that money outside the US, so if you were hoping for table scraps. . . well, ask Trump. I’m sure there’s tons of goodies for you, too. Like you can say ni**er without the asterisks. That’ll be fun for you. I get a hundred large, and you get to be even more of a dick. It’s a win-win!

  38. Tyrell says:

    I have seen commercials hyping this debate like it is the Super Bowl or a “Predator vs. Iron Man”. Shameless.
    I don’t know much about this Lester Holt; he might be fine. In any case, the “moderator” should simply ask the questions, not make judgements or slanted comments.
    My choices for moderator are Larry King, Chris Berman, Al Michaels, and Jay Leno. These would be relaxed, professional, and not trying to put on a show.
    I will be looking especially at the economy questions: which candidate is going to save me the most in taxes.
    Without the inclusion of Gary Johnson and Stein, this debate has the feel of a “fix”. I do not know how they expect them to get to 15% on these polls when the main line news media is purposively ignoring them. But surveys have shown 70% of the people want Johnson and Stein included.
    We have to find a better way than this two party rigged set up.
    Johnson: the only candidate who has climbed Mt. Everest: a leader of amazing skills and talents.

  39. MBunge says:

    @Thor thormussen: immediate RWNJ response: “DURR DURR DURR NEW YORK TIMES”

    When the New York Times does great journalism, that’s to be applauded. That ANYONE takes the paper seriously as some sort of cultural/political institution after its shameful behavior in the Iraq War is hilarious. It’s like you people are those cargo cult islanders worshiping bamboo replicas of supply plans.


  40. michael reynolds says:


    Sure, let’s cut taxes. I mean, what the hell, fwck every young person, they’ll love the massive additional Trump deficit we’ll be piling on their shoulders. Our generational legacy will be a bankrupt banana republic run by a corrupt caudillo. Fwck the future, fwck the country, fwck the whole world, so long as you feel better, Tyrell.

  41. MBunge says:

    @Hal_10000: She’s trying. But it’s not getting out.

    Hillary Clinton had 8 years to craft her message for the 2016 campaign. At worst, she had three years and the example of how a message overcame all her institutional advantages in 2008. Not only does she not have a message, there’s no evidence she even tried to come up with one.

    This is not a bug. It’s a feature.


  42. MBunge says:

    @michael reynolds: Fwck the future, fwck the country, fwck the whole world, so long as you feel better, Tyrell.

    “Where’s the outrage?!?” Bob Dole, 1996.


  43. michael reynolds says:


    Right, because outrage over a blowjob is absolutely the equivalent of a candidate who is openly corrupt, utterly ignorant, has to be wrangled like a toddler, supports Putin’s criminal attacks on the US, is ready to abandon NATO, thinks the whole world should have nukes, has a secret plan to destroy ISIS in 30 days, laughs at the handicapped, despises women, spouts racist and misogynist crap, lies at a truly epic pace and has literally no idea what the constitution is or what it means.

    Same-o, same-o. Incredible.

  44. JKB says:

    Trump goes into this debate with the momentum in the polls. Like it or not, Trump is higher than he was. Trump has one way to lose, and it is totally in his control. That is, as long as Trump remains calm and collected, he can’t lose. And if Trump comes off as very “presidential” then he can change some minds and win big.

    Hillary, on the other hand, has to show vigor for 90 minutes under the lights. She has to do something to stop Trump’s momentum. If Hillary is Hillary, she loses. If she goes like she has of late, she loses. If not completely loses, she ends up weakened with Trump still having the momentum. And she could get zinged by a prepared Trump. She could get usurped by the moderator going Candy Crawley, showing Hillary as needing protection. Lots of things for Hillary and few are in her control.

    And I’d love to see Trump use, “Ms. Clinton, you just make me feel tired all over.”

  45. Moosebreath says:


    ” That is, as long as Trump remains calm and collected, he can’t lose.”

    So if Trump calmly and collectedly lies his a$$ off, JKB thinks he’s golden. Tough to say whether that says something worse about JKB or the American public.

  46. reid says:

    @JKB: That post summarizes what is wrong with our politics and society. Not one word about what they actually say. Please go back to watching ESPN.

  47. Mikey says:


    Trump has one way to lose, and it is totally in his control. That is, as long as Trump remains calm and collected, he can’t lose.

    Seen on the internet:

    “[Hillary eloquently answers every question]

    [Trump doesn’t call Hillary a c*nt]

    News: No clear winner in the first debate.”

  48. Mikey says:

    @Moosebreath: The only way Trump can “lose” is if the drops trou and takes a dump on the stage, and probably 90% of his supporters would still support him while cheering his moxie and commenting on how the texture and color of said dump indicates great health.

  49. MBunge says:

    What if Hillary has some sort of physical issue during the debate? A collapse or one of those coughing jags?


  50. Kylopod says:


    The convention last a few days.

    It also gets outsize media coverage and helps set the tone for the entire campaign.

    This year, the message at the GOP convention was “America has turned into an apocalyptic hellhole overrun by black and brown people and can only be rescued by the Grand Savior Der Trump.” The message at the Democratic convention was, “Donald Trump is such an unusual menace that all decent Americans including sane Republicans have no choice but to vote for her (and pay no attention to the fact that she’s running on the most progressive platform in memory).”

    These were the messages at the two conventions–and it’s safe to say they’re essentially the defining messages of the two campaigns throughout the entire year.

    In 2004, the message of the Democratic convention and the Kerry campaign was “Unlike certain Democrats of the past John Kerry is an honorable war hero who’s the right choice to lead us out of this war.” Although BDS had certainly taken hold of the Democratic base, Kerry never allowed it to play a central role in his campaign. You know one campaign where it did play such a role? Barack Obama. And no wonder: Bush was far more unpopular in 2008 than he had been in 2004. It’s easy to forget that Bush was still moderately popular in 2004. Howard Dean’s more forceful attacks on the president were used by the media to paint Dean as a loose cannon (which was the real point behind the whole “Dean Scream” nonsense). It may seem hard to believe now, but claiming the Iraq War was a catastrophic mistake from the outset rather than a good idea poorly executed was widely viewed as a non-mainstream opinion in 2004.

    I wish Kerry had gone after Bush. I really wish. Things might have turned out very differently.

  51. Scott says:


    I will be looking especially at the economy questions: which candidate is going to save me the most in taxes.

    Well, we can cut taxes; however, t0 balance the budget now (which is in deficit) and cut taxes, we will have to cut Medicare, Social Security, and defense. Not in the future but now. As long as you’re good with that, let’s do it.

  52. Kylopod says:

    @JKB: For reference, this is what you were saying back in July:

    This convention bump for Trump probably has teeth in this election

    Obviously, that didn’t happen. He’s just beginning to recover from the damage that convention season did to his campaign.

    I’m resigned to the fact that the election could go either way now, and I have been for several months. You’re just engaging in mindless cheerleading for the candidate you favor.

  53. Mikey says:

    @MBunge: That would prove there’s a God who hates America.

    What if Trump has a physical issue? I mean, he’s obese, he doesn’t exercise, he probably doesn’t get enough sleep…who knows what could happen? He could have a coronary right there in front of America.

    But, most likely all he’ll do is lie his ass off for 90 minutes and then get called the winner because he didn’t literally walk across the stage and punch Hillary in the neck.

  54. Davebo says:


    Better yet, what if an alien pops out of her belly!

  55. Davebo says:


    Better yet, what if an alien pops out of her belly!

  56. MarkedMan says:

    Tyrell, what if the Congress cut your taxes, but also cut your Social Security and Medicare. Would that be a good thing? Or are you saying, cut taxes and therefore benefits to young people, but keep everything in place for the elderly?

    It’s interesting to me that my elderly father did not believe he used Medicare. He had some gap filler insurance and he thought that was everything and that he didn’t use Medicare, although the reality was that almost everything was paid for by the gub’mint.

    I wonder if that’s where a lot of the conservative elderly get the idea they are not on the dole: the way that insurance is marketed you wouldn’t necessarily know they were supplementing, not replacing, Medicare.

  57. the Q says:

    Just remember, if you are a Democrat on this blog, do not say one word against dear leader or you get flamed with down thumbs.

    The unrepentent Hillary slurpers on here blame stupid voters, an unfair press, a double standard, sexism, her fashion critics, Bernie supporters, Johnson supporters, young voters…have i missed anyone?

    Oh, yeah, I did miss one cohort, how about the candidate herself and the clueless rightwing/hawk/elitists/DLC members of the Dem party who nominated the most unfavorbale, non trusting, out of touch nominee since James Cox.

    So, as her voters mimick their beloved one, we are not allowed as Dems to rightfully criticize the party domination of Big Pharma, Wall Street, Intellectual Property owners, or to point out that while Obama was very good for the top 1%, the bottom 60% (hint otherwise known as the Dem base) do not feel your optismism as study after study shows them LOSING ground economically the past 8 years.

    Was Obama infinitely better than W or McCain, of course, but thats an extremely low bar.
    Did he cut defense spending. No. Is he vigoursly supporting a horrible trade pact? Yes. Is Obamacare really a 1994 GOP plan? Yes (which most of you Dems support…which has seen HMO stocks rise in the aggregate 400% since 2011 while the DJIA by contrast has gone up 170%).

    Please flame me hypocrites. A lunatic can become President because we nominated the wrong candidate but, wash your hands of it and blame the white male high school blue collar grad for being “ignorant” about how great Obama was for them since they are too stupid to understand the issues.

    Whats interesting is the GOP till recently has always been the party of the college educated elitists. Those same white male dumbschitz that you people constantly berate were the backbone of the Dem party which revolutionized the world from 1932-1980.

    Now, its a shadow of its former self. Hillary only becoming a little more liberal since Bernie scared the shite out of her.

    So, if the election were held today, she loses according to your guru of polls Nate Sliver.

    That is frightening and unforgivable. And as the song by the Who goes, “….and I blame YOU…”

  58. the Q says:

    Again, just to pound away, this iteration of the Democratic party, a party founded by Jefferson and Madison as they chased butterfly’s in the Hudson Valley is in a sorry state after 30 years of centrist, pro corporate DLC leadership.

    They have given the GOP a record number of senators (54), more state houses than ever (38) and more Congresspersons in history (244).

    You see, elections do matter other than for POTUS and we have been waxed by the wingnut morons.

    And for pointing out this uneasy fact, 20 thumbs down!!!!!

  59. Neil Hudelson says:


    Predator vs. Iron Man

    I’m intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  60. Davebo says:

    @the Q:

    Just remember, if you are a Democrat on this blog, do not say one word against dear leader or you get flamed with down thumbs.

    And yet no one has down voted you at all. It’s almost as if you were irrelevant. Not worth the click.

    That really seems to grate on you Bernie Bros.

  61. Neil Hudelson says:

    @the Q:


  62. Grumpy Realist says:

    @Scott: tonight I have a bunch of paperwork to go through, a Skype meeting, and several pages of translation.

    Much better to read the snark tomorrow. Also much quicker!

  63. wr says:

    @the Q: No, just for being so boring.

  64. the Q says:

    Yeah, its boring to point out how we can’t get Obama exchanges at the state level since the wingnuts thrash us at that level with reactionary Governor’s and state houses.

    And its sure boring when a do nothing Congress is killing the working classes (oh none of you elitists care since you don’t work really with your hands).

    And its sure is nonsensical fluff when a lunatic sociopath is on the verge of maybe winning since our candidate is universally disliked.

    Go back to third grade bathrooms as your cause celebre losers.

  65. Pch101 says:

    @the Q:

    “Behind Blue Eyes” was originally composed for Pete Townshend’s Lifehouse rock opera that was never completed. The song was intended to be the theme for the story’s villain Jumbo, who is sanctimonious and filled with self-pity.

    So congratulations: You’ve decided to strongly identify with a song that was written to be an anthem for a screw up. Well done.

  66. DK says:

    The lazy US media will not connect the dots between Trump’s praise for the racist, anti-gay, terrorist tyrant Putin; Trump’s pledge to sellout NATO/Europe to Russia; Russia’s cyberwar against the US; the resignation of Trump’s old campaign manager for being on Putin’s payroll; the Russian trolls with fake profiles spreading lies about Hillary and Democrats on social media; Trump hiding his taxes when he’s believed to be in massive debt to Russian oligarchs and Chinese bankers; and the Trump scampaign’s secret meetings in Moscow with Russian spies at the Kremlin. #TrumpTreason

  67. An Interested Party says:

    Yeah, its boring to point out how we can’t get Obama exchanges at the state level since the wingnuts thrash us at that level with reactionary Governor’s and state houses.

    And its sure boring when a do nothing Congress is killing the working classes (oh none of you elitists care since you don’t work really with your hands).

    And its sure is nonsensical fluff when a lunatic sociopath is on the verge of maybe winning since our candidate is universally disliked.

    And you are saying that all of this is the fault of centrist Democrats in general and the Clintons in particular? A legitimate argument has been made that Obama himself is one of the chief reasons why Democrats have done so poorly at the state level…

    There are many reasons for this, but one is Obama’s decision to bypass the Democratic Party apparatus in favor of his own, parallel network, now known as Organizing for Action. Under the theory that Obama could directly rally supporters (and therefore didn’t need to rely as much on party operatives or on congressional Democrats), this outgrowth of Obama’s 2008 campaign apparatus competed with the party and wound up starving the party of funds.

    The Democratic National Committee, in triage, made Senate and House races its top priority, and state efforts suffered badly. The amount the DNC spends on state parties today is roughly half what it was in 2007. A decade ago, Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean had the party paying for 183 state party workers; that’s down to 115.

    …but do go on whining about how evil the Clintons are, Don Quixote, if it helps you get through the day…

  68. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    I dunno if it’s been brought up too much yet, but should Trump win, he’ll be the first president since Eisenhower to have held no prior elective office… and the first president to have never held any kind of government employment.

  69. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @the Q:

    Just remember, if you are a Democrat on this blog, do not say one word against dear leader or you get flamed with down thumbs.

    “dear leader” ?

    Some sort of messiah-like titular head that will bring salvation only though communion with them?

    An all powerful leader that can say “I am your voice.. I alone can fix it. I will restore law and order. “

    Someone that has secret plans for war, and eliminations millipons from the USA?

    Yeah… Dear Leader.

    That guy.

    (ps, I didn’t downvote you. You did a good job of that yourself.)

  70. Jenos The Deplorable says:

    @DK: That’s because they’re busy covering up top Hillary confidante John Podesta’s extensive ties with Putin’s government, and how a hefty donation to the Clinton Foundation helped Russia get control of a hefty hunk of the US uranium supply.

    Besides, didn’t Hillary “reset” our relations with the Russians?

    And you’re really sounding paranoid about Russia. The 1980s called, they want their foreign policy back.

    As David “Iowahawk” Burge observed:

    Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.

  71. Mikey says:

    Watching the debate, Trump hasn’t shat on the stage yet so I guess that’s something. Clinton is far and away more polished and articulate, although for Trump supporters those are doubtless a turn-off.

    Trump did flat-out lie, though, when he claimed never to have said climate change was something made up by China. He tweeted exactly that a while back;

    The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

    11:15 AM – 6 Nov 2012

  72. Pch101 says:

    Clinton needed to establish that she wasn’t on her deathbed. She has achieved that as of now (the 1:05 minute mark as I write this.)

    Trump needed to establish that he could form a complete sentence in a presidential setting. He has done an adequate job of that; the bar is lower for the Republicans, and adequate for the GOP is good enough.

    Clinton is more articulate and her positions have more substance. But that does not necessarily win over voters.

    On the whole, I would say that it’s a tie, which probably means that Trump gets the net advantage. And that is unfortunate.

  73. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Debates over.

    If you like greed, you like Trump.

    Bankruptcy: I leverages the laws that were there

    On stiffing employees: maybe they didn’t do a good job

    Taxes: (after being pointed out that on several casino reports, the billionaire paid zero taxes) “I’m Smart”

    On Motives: I focus on me, my family and my company.


    So much for “ask not what your country will do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

    We’re back to “Greed is Good”.


    As for me, I’m for the chick with stamina.

  74. Liberal Capitalist says:


    Trump did flat-out lie, though…

    Pretty well through most of the debate, from what some say…

  75. Tillman says:

    @Pch101: you weren’t watching the same debate I was.

  76. michael reynolds says:

    It won’t peel off Trump voters, but it will stiffen the soft Hillary supporters, the whiny Bernie Bros, the hipster crowd. Those not yet entirely swallowed up in the black hole of their sanctimony will grudgingly come home. Time for the Johnson and Stein people to grow up.

  77. anjin-san says:


    I’m not sure what debate you were watching.

    There is a lot to digest about the debate, but the bottom line is that on the big stage, Hillary got bigger, and Trump got smaller. One looked like a President, and one looked like a petulant 15 year old.

    It will be interesting to look at the numbers over the next 72 hours, but I expect that at the very least, Trump’s momentum has come to a screeching halt. I also don’t think that waking up in the middle of the night realizing – assuming he is capable of insight – that he got his ass beat by a girl. On TV. And it will probably happen again.

  78. Pch101 says:


    Liberals need to realize that the qualities that impress them the most don’t move most of the electorate.

    There are a lot of conservatives and center-right fencesitters who need to be convinced that voting for Trump won’t be a complete disaster. That’s a pretty low bar to hurdle, and Trump may have just hurdled it.

    Trump doesn’t have to be the most witty and clever guy on the stage in order to win those votes. He just needs to do well enough and raise enough doubts about his opponent so that they don’t have reasons to vote for a third party candidate, spoil their ballots, or stay home.

    On the plus side, the pneumonia-is-just-like-cancer crowd lost big tonight. That may move 1% or so of the electorate over to the Clinton column.

    I still expect Trump to lose the popular vote, but it won’t be by much.

  79. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos The Deplorable:

    and the first president to have never held any kind of government employment.

    What do you mean? He’s made millions from the government. Oh wait…that was corporate welfare…which you used to deplore. Then you grew a man-crush on a Cheetos. So much for your principles.

  80. Mikey says:

    @Pch101: Like I said…all he had to do to avoid a loss was avoid dropping his pants and taking a crap on the stage.

    It is truly sad that America’s standards have dropped so low, but after several decades of one of the major parties being utterly disconnected from–and entirely unconcerned with–reality, what else should we expect?