The Thinker: Rich Galen


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You Just Scratch Your Head

Rich Galen

Monday August 15, 2016


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  • Everyone was a polling expert here Inside the Beltway over the weekend.

  • The two most oft-uttered words were "Didja see �?" followed by the name of the pollster, the field dates, the publication, the percentages and, the margin of error of whatever poll the utterer had just gotten on an iPhone alert.

  • RealClearPolitics is the gold standard of polling information. The website's (which insiders refer to as the "RCP") national average will be quoted starting with the morning cable shows at 6 AM and then all through the day when the script writers need something to transition from or to.

  • As of Sunday afternoon, as I am writing this, the RCP average has Hillary Clinton +6.8 percentage point over Donald Trump. Not only that, but of the six polls listed (all entirely in the field in August) only one, the LA Times poll, has it as close as a four point difference: Clinton 46, Trump 42.

  • I mention that because on Friday, an acquaintance with, as we say, "close ties to the Trump campaign" asked me, "Didja see the LA Times poll this morning?"

  • I thought he had asked if I'd seen the New York Times poll, which I had not. He told me that it was down to a one point race. If it had been the NY Times poll saying that, it would be noteworthy because it would mean two major publications' polls had the race essentially tied.

  • I flipped down the keyboard on my iPad and, clickety-clack, pulled up the NY Times website only to find that it had Hillary up by seven (that poll has since rolled off the averages).

  • I said to the guy that I was looking at the NY Times website and it was not a one-point race.

  • He corrected me and said he was talking about the LA Times but, at the point it was an outlier: If five or six other polls have it between five and ten points and you're hanging your hat on the one poll that has it tied, don't call your bookie. You're very likely to lose.

  • As I suspected, it was a blip and Sunday afternoon the LA Times has the race at Hillary +4.

  • Over the past week Trump has done nothing to ease the fears of senior Republicans that cliff off which he is leading the GOP will result not just in his losing by a large margin, but the margins might be big enough to negatively influence voting in down-ballot races from Governors to City Council.

  • I know we have 85 days until November 8 and I also know I'm as tired as you are of hearing the phrase "baked in" as in "Trump's lack of support among women is now 'baked in' to the polling."

  • It seems as if every time Trump really looks as if he has lost his marbles, another email surfaces that tells us Clinton has been playing with stolen marbles all along.

  • The latest is an email that suggests … But, let me quote the Washington Post:
    "[An] aide, Doug Band, who played a role in expanding the foundation's reach, wrote to Hillary Clinton's State Department staff requesting a meeting for a wealthy Nigerian businessman of Lebanese descent who has given the Clinton Foundation $1 million to $5 million in donations."

  • Ok. This has all the elements: Foundation aides and State Department officials talking special access for a Lebanese Nigerian who had buttered the toast with a donation in the millions.

  • Doesn't get any better for someone running against Hillary except if that someone is Donald Trump who, once again squandered an opportunity by announcing that President Barack Obama was a "founder of ISIS."

  • When radio host Hugh Hewitt tried to let Trump off the hook by saying he really meant that (according to CNN) "he (Obama) created the vacuum, he lost the peace."

  • Trump came back and said, "No, I meant he's the founder of ISIS. I do. He was the most valuable player. I give him the most valuable player award. I give her, too, by the way, Hillary Clinton."

  • All you can do is scratch your head.

  • One the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the RealClearPolitics polling page, to the WaPo's summary of Clinton's latest email issue, and to CNN's look at Trump's refusal to take hold of Hugh Hewitt's outstretched hand.

    Also a Mullfoto that reminded me of a famous movie line by Ronald Reagan.

    -- END --

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