Photo of the day

One more from Hanging Rock state park.  Very cool to be able to go behind this waterfall.


The (surprisingly close) NC Senate race

I’ve been meaning to write a post on the NC Senate race for over a week now, but I’ve finally gotten around to it.  Nothing against Deborah Ross who I’ve met and I like, but she’s clearly not the strongest candidate the Democrats could have potentially put forward.  A former state legislator without any leadership position is not the most impressive resume.  I had been thinking that her relative weakness as a challenger might make this race easier for Burr than it should be in what is a tough year for Republican senators in blue and purple states.

But, let’s give Ross some credit; I was wrong.  Here’s Thomas Mills:

The US Senate race in North Carolina is getting more attention and Republicans are getting more nervous. Yesterday, Real Clear Politics moved the race from Lean Republican to Toss Up, indicating challenger Deborah Ross is going to give incumbent Republican Richard Burr a run for his money. And a Roll Call article this morning says the Democrats path to a Senate majority may run through North Carolina

Ross has impressed the political world. She out-raised Burr two quarters in a row and quickly put together a statewide campaign. Last week, she was the only challenger offered a chance to speak at a DSCC briefing for donors. Ross is clearly seen as one of the cycle’s rising stars.

That’s huge.  I wasn’t sure Ross would perform strong enough to earn the outside money that the DSCC and the SuperPAC’s spend so strategically.  Well, she sure has.  And if her fundraising isn’t enough, she’s doing really well in the polls, too:

Down the ballot, incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr is trailing Democratic challenger Deborah Ross in North Carolina by two points among registered voters, 46 percent to 44 percent. (Last month, Burr was ahead by seven points, 48 percent to 41 percent.)

Wow!  Even if that poll is over-estimating her support, that is some serious movement in the polls that very likely represents something real.  At this point, the race looks like a toss-up, and for Democrats, that is a great thing.  In an interview with a reporter yesterday, he wondered about the impact of her being an ACLU lawyer.  Those of us over 40 remember Michael Dukakis attacked as a “card-carrying member” of the ACLU in 1988, but I wonder about how effective that line of attack is in 2016.  My prediction is we’re about to find out (my guess– not all that effective any more).  This may drive Ross down a bit, but I just don’t know.  The person who’s really got to worry about being pulled down, though, is Richard Burr, through no fault of his own.  Harry Enten:

Unless Trump’s position improves, Republicans will be able to maintain control of the Senate only if enough voters split their tickets, voting Republican for the Senate but not in the presidential race. And the polls suggest that could happen: The Republican candidate for Senate is leading in a number of states where Trump is facing a deficit. At the moment, Sen. Marco Rubio is up in Florida, Joe Heck is ahead in Nevada (which would be a Republican pickup of Sen. Harry Reid’s seat), Sen. Richard Burr leads in North Carolina, Sen. Rob Portman is holding off Ted Strickland in Ohio, and Sen. Pat Toomey is hanging on in Pennsylvania.

But all those Republican candidates are leading by 5 percentage points or less. In the last presidential election cycle, 2012, a numberofRepublicanSenate candidates faded down the stretch, and some, such as Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, lost healthy-sized leads as the summer turned to fall. In an era in which fewer people are splitting their tickets, the advantages currently enjoyed by the Republican candidates for Senate aren’t secure. If Trump’s troubles continue or worsen, he could take down these Republican candidates with them…

In other words, voters’ views on Trump may be influencing their Senate vote. If that happens across the country and Trump continues to trail, it could lead to a Democratic majority in the Senate come 2017.


Of course, that remains to be seen, but my guess is that Trump makes this Senate race closer– to the Democrats’ benefit– than it otherwise would be.

Quick hits (part I)

1) The unhinged unskewed polls types are back.  Harry Enten explains what’s so wrong with this approach.  I also really like this chart that shows the PID breakdown of the electorate in recent elections:


2) This tweetstorm on how to best attack Donald Trump seems really, really good.  Short version: use ordinary people.  Like Khizr Khan.

3) Yes, there’s sexism in Olympics coverage, but it’s really not as bad as some are making it out to be.

4) John Cassidy on the contradictions of Trump’s economic speech:

In the speech that Trump delivered at the Detroit Economic Club on Monday, all three of these giveaways to the rich featured prominently, as did deregulation—another issue that is of interest primarily to the donor class. “My campaign is about reaching out to everyone as Americans,” Trump said. But the details of his speech confirmed that he had caved in to the regressive, anti-tax G.O.P. orthodoxy that is defined and policed by groups such as Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Club for Growth.

Consequently, the contradictions attending Trump’s economic platform are more glaring than ever. He goes into the last months of the election campaign as a political schizophrenic. On immigration and trade, he is a pitchfork-wielding Pat Buchanan Republican; on taxes and regulation, he is a dark-suited Paul Ryan Republican.

5) A couple of foreign policy experts argue that Hillary Clinton as president would not be near the foreign policy hawk that John F. is so sure she will be.

6) Loved this Vox feature on the optimal height for various Olympic sports.

7) We don’t even have hardly any trials any more.  This is not good for actual justice.  In large part, because the “trial tax” is a huge problem.  That needs to change.

8) John Oliver on the problem with cutbacks at newspapers is just completely brilliant.  Watch it!!

9) Jill Greenlee, the other political scientist who studies parenthood and politics had a nice piece on Hillary Clinton, motherhood, and the 2016 election.

10) I’m with Drum (am I ever not?)– please stop whining about the Olympics being on tape delay!

11) At first I was taken aback by Dan Drezner saying Hillary is a worse liar than Trump.  Ahhh, but it’s all in the meaning of worse liar:

Trump fits Frankfurt’s definition of a B.S. artist to a T. And, it should be noted, this also means that he occasionally tells the truth by accident. But the notion put forward by his supporters that Trump is daring to speak hard truths is laughable, since Trump has no clue what is true and what isn’t.

Frankfurt’s distinction between B.S. and lying also helps get at how we should think of Clinton and her seeming inability to completely put her email scandal to rest. The fact-checking sites show that compared to all of the other candidates this cycle, Clinton has been the most truthful. But, like any politician, Clinton hasn’t been completely honest — indeed, PolitiFact gave Clinton a “pants on fire” rating in her Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace that, in an ordinary campaign week, would have caused her all sorts of agita.

All politicians offer up certain amounts of B.S. and lies at various points. Fundamentally truthful politicians will try to avoid outright lies by parsing their words as carefully as possible. Bill Clinton was a fundamentally truthful politician who nonetheless lied at times. He was such a good politician, however, that he could sell his lies with conviction.

Hillary Clinton might be a good leader, but she is not a conventionally great politician. When she has to lie — which, again, is not all that often — she doesn’t look good doing it. In contrast to Trump, she’s painfully aware of her relationship with the truth.

Zakaria is right and Kristof is wrong about Trump. Between Clinton and Trump, Clinton is the bigger and badder liar — but that’s because Clinton cares enough about the truth to know a lie when she tells one.

Trump is a mediocre B.S. artist on a stage that is way too big for his meager abilities.

12) Drew Linzer has put his votamatic into gear.

13) Nice video of Trump disagreeing with every position held by Trump.

14) Male divers as inadvertent porn stars.  Pretty funny.  And safe for work.

15) James Hamblin with enough of the cupping already.

So in terms of role-model behavior, cupping may be more deleterious than a grainy bong photo, because it invites people to distrust science.

16) There’s just something so wrong with the faux patriots who think that Gabby Douglas not putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem is a problem.

17) Oh man do I love this data visualization of summer Olympic medals by country over time.

18) And this is an awesome, awesome feature on the dominance of the US women’s gymnastics team.

19) Scientists have discovered that the Greenland shark can live to at least 272 and maybe up to 512 years!  Whoa!  (Thanks for the tip, EMG).

20) I so love Kevin Drum’s gripes about those griping about NBC’s Olympic coverage.

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