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Analysis and perspective about what's happening in the political realm.

Hillary Clinton's Huge Surrogate Advantage

Don­ald Trump ap­pears to have a new fa­vor­ite way to at­tack Hil­lary Clin­ton: her cam­paign sched­ule.

In the run-up to the first de­bate of the gen­er­al elec­tion, Trump sug­ges­ted on sev­er­al oc­ca­sions Clin­ton was sleep­ing in­stead of pre­par­ing for this past Monday’s show­down. At the de­bate it­self, Trump ques­tioned wheth­er his op­pon­ent had the “stam­ina” to serve as pres­id­ent. And as he re­turned to the cam­paign trail this week, Trump mocked Clin­ton’s re­cent health epis­ode, which side­lined her for a few days earli­er this month.

“You see all the days off that Hil­lary Clin­ton takes?” Trump asked the audi­ence at a Wed­nes­day rally in Coun­cil Bluffs, Iowa. “Day off. Day off. Day off. All those day offs, and then she can’t even make it to her car. Isn’t it tough? All those day offs. Right? Boom.”

It’s true that Trump has held more pub­lic events him­self...

Clinton Wins Debate, But Did She Win Over Voters?

Hil­lary Clin­ton demon­strated a com­mand of policy on Monday night, and a cool con­fid­ence that she was more pre­pared than Don­ald Trump to be com­mand­er in chief. By the end of the first pres­id­en­tial de­bate, Trump looked peeved and dis­trac­ted. He didn’t get in a clev­er one-liner to de­fang Clin­ton’s cri­ti­cisms. The me­dia’s fo­cus groups of un­de­cided voters (on CNN and FOX) rated Clin­ton as the clear de­bate win­ner.

But when it comes to the polit­ic­al im­pact of the first de­bate, don’t ex­pect the fun­da­ment­als of this com­pet­it­ive race to change much. Trump, des­pite his cava­lier at­ti­tude be­fore­hand, demon­strated a ser­i­ous­ness that was lack­ing throughout the Re­pub­lic­an primary. He didn’t re­sort to im­ma­ture in­sults, re­ly­ing in­stead on pre­pared talk­ing points. Most im­port­antly, while he struggled to ad­vance many of his...

Almost 6,000 Americans Have Already Voted for President

Maybe you are one of the millions of Americans who cannot wait for this election to be over, or alternatively, maybe you are paying no attention to this election. (There’s really no third option.)

But the weary countdown—46 days left!—misses an important fact: In many places, voting is already underway. Voting began in parts of Wisconsin on Monday. Starting Friday, anyone in Minnesota can cast an absentee ballot, and they need no excuse to do so. So can Virginia voters. Meanwhile, a slew of other states are already taking absentee ballot requests. The list includes some of the most hotly contested swing states, including Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and North Carolina. In those cases, there’s no way to know how the people getting their ballots will mark them, but there are ways to make some educated guesses based on who has made a request. Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who runs the invaluable United States Elections Project, calculates that 5,649 people have already voted (as of publication—the number keeps climbing). 

Start with North Carolina. So far, about 61,600 absentee ballots have been requested, an increase over the pace four years...

Politicians Who Debate Hillary Clinton Have a History of Falling into an Obvious Trap

For her entire public life, Hillary Clinton has lived in a world whose rules and dynamics are dictated by men. Running for president is no different, except the stakes are that much higher. While Clinton has been engaged in a lifelong fight against gender discrimination, there has been one kind of situation where she has been able to use male sexism to her distinct advantage: televised debates.

Clinton, an experienced debater, has honed her skills over many, many years. Starting on her high school debate team, she then worked as a lawyer, ran for Senate, served as America’s highest-ranking diplomat, and been a presidential front-runner, twice. She has a grasp of policy few others possess. She is quick on her feet, and can throw a biting zinger. That she will be well-prepared is a given, almost something the public and press take for granted.

But while debates are usually the platform on which the candidates have a final, definitive opportunity to present themselves to the public before the election, what’s remembered about them is not so much the details of policy proposals but the explosive soundbites and gaffes—events that are amplified even more in today’s culture...

A Brief History of Presidential Candidates Standing in Front of Airplanes

Donald Trump’s latest complaint about Hillary Clinton is that she’s cribbing his style. “Do people notice Hillary is copying my airplane rallies,” he wrote in a Twitter post on Tuesday morning. “She puts the plane behind her like I have been doing from the beginning.”

The observation is strange not just because it’s petty, but because it ignores the long history of presidential campaigning. Candidates have been holding rallies in front of campaign planes for ages.

The campaign-plane backdrop makes sense, logistically, given the chaos of a jam-packed campaign. The fastest way for a politician to reach the most voters in the least amount of time is to have people come to them as they’re traveling. But the imagery itself is important, too. Private planes project wealth and power. So it’s easy to see why Donald Trump would want to promote such an image: He’s obsessed with both.

Image via Flickr user Gage Skimore


But there’s nothing original about addressing voters this way. In fact, the picture of a presidential candidate standing in front of a plane is deeply baked into the imagery of U.S. presidential campaigns.

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