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

Donald Trump's Coalition of Restoration

The failure to construct a credible general election fund-raising and field organization eminently justified Donald Trump’s decision this week to fire his combative campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. But it’s likely that Trump himself has already made the decisions that will most shape—and constrict—his general-election prospects. 

As a first-time candidate with no record in public office, the most important decision Trump faced was how to define himself to the public. From the outset, he has stressed three principal identities. One is as a savvy business executive who would use his private-sector smarts to turn around the government and economy. The second is as a political outsider untethered to special interests who will clean up a self-serving political system. But through the primaries he subordinated each of those to a third emphasis: his role as the embodiment of resistance to America’s rapid demographic and cultural change.

A major national poll released Thursday morning illuminates how strong a tailwind that definition provided to Trump during the Republican primary—and how fierce a headwind it presents for him in a general election. The poll also helps clarify why the contest between Trump and Hillary Clinton is likely to pivot...

Is Trump’s Presidential Run Nothing More Than a 'Scampaign?'

Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign has just $1.3 million in cash on hand, the latest Federal Election Commission filings (pdf, pg 2) for the month of May show—compared to $42.5 million for Hillary Clinton.

The small amount of cash on hand, coupled with his small staff (a few dozen, compared to hundreds for Clinton) has led to a new round of speculation that Trump isn’t waging a serious campaign.

Nonetheless, Trump continues to collect $75 to $1,000 donations from retirees, housewives, warehouse workers, and car dealership owners, through the Great America PAC and his own campaign.

At the same time, the campaign paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trump-owned businesses (and offspring) in the first five months of 2016, according to an itemized list of disbursements.

The Mar-a-Lago club, part of Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida residence, received the most, for “facility rental/catering” fees, but many other Trump connections fared well too. This chart doesn’t include every Trump-connected payout, only some of the biggest. (Tag Air is his private airline, Eric is his son).

Trump making payments from his campaign’s funds to his own companies is nothing new—as...

Why the Left Can Probably Live With Tim Kaine as the VP Nominee

There’s little doubt that Sen. Tim Kaine of Vir­gin­ia is qual­i­fied to be vice pres­id­ent, and there­fore pres­id­ent if it came to that.

But wheth­er the former gov­ernor, lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor, may­or, and na­tion­al party chair is qual­i­fied to win the sin­cere em­brace of grass­roots pro­gress­ives who flocked to Bernie Sanders’s cam­paign is a trick­i­er ques­tion.

As Sanders’s in­sur­gent bid enters its en­dgame, the ques­tion of who Hil­lary Clin­ton will tap for her tick­et looms lar­ger.

Kaine is a short-list main­stay. The 58-year-old has down­played the pos­sib­il­ity of be­ing Clin­ton’s choice while stop­ping well short of tak­ing him­self out of the run­ning.

The topline case for Kaine in­cludes his re­cord of vic­tor­ies in a cru­cial swing state (he’s nev­er lost an elec­tion), his flu­ency in Span­ish, and for­eign policy heft from ser­vice on the For­eign Re­la...

Jimmy Carter Has a Few Suggestions For the Next President

In the closing session of the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Atlanta on June 14, former US presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter sat together on stage. Carter outlined his post-presidency activities, most notably the creation of the Carter Center and the many aid and research projects he’s conducted with it since, and Clinton praised the 91-year-old Carter for his lifetime commitment to public service.

And then Clinton asked him this: “If you were leaving the White House tomorrow, and you had to design a service life [for yourself], what would you do, how would you think about it?”

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Perhaps Clinton was curious how the 39th president might have structured his years after the presidency if he could go back in time and do it again. Or maybe he was prodding Carter for advice for Barack Obama, who is about to leave the White House himself. (To make your own inferences in context, you can watch the whole conversation here.)

Whatever the case, Carter instead chose to frame his response in the form of what he said were “suggestions” for the next person...

If Trump Wins in November, He'll Be the Most Elderly New President Ever

Welcome to your seventies, Donald Trump. The presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee turned 70 years old this week—an age that would make him the most elderly president at his first inauguration in US history, if he is sworn in next January.

Ronald Reagan was nearly 70, at 69 years and 349 days, but Trump would best him by about seven months. The presumptive Democratic party nominee, Hillary Clinton, would be a few months younger than Reagan was. (Her primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, will be 75 by January.):

Does age matter in a president? The question has been debated in the US for decades, and came up when Reagan first ran for president, and again when he ran, successfully, for a second term. In 1983, James Reston asked in the New York Times:

The problem in the next few years is to concentrate on the young men who are coming rather than the old men who are going. Mr. Reagan has performed a valiant service to the country. He has challenged the assumptions of the Democrats and the welfare state, which was useful, but he has imposed his own ideology of his old age, which has not been very...

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