THE MORNING PLUM:
On Fox this morning, Donald Trump addressed the two biggest stories of the weekend: He mostly laid low on the news that Hillary Clinton has been diagnosed with pneumonia, saying he hopes she “gets well,” while also tearing into Clinton’s suggestion that half of his voters are bigoted or chauvinistic “deplorables.” These two things are related: The Post reports that Trump advisers want him to go easy on Clinton’s health, because they want the focus this week to be on her “deplorables” remark.
And so, on Fox, Trump had this to say about Clinton’s “deplorables” comment: “I think it’s the single biggest mistake of the political season.”
But the new Post/ABC News poll released over the weekend raises questions about whether Clinton’s remarks were really a political mistake. If Clinton’s goal was to force a public discussion of Trump’s bigotry and chauvinism, well, the Post poll finds that a large majority of Americans agree with her that Trump is biased against women and minorities, including among the voter groups that Trump needs to improve among in order to win.
The Post poll, which found Clinton leading Trump by five points among likely voters nationwide, also found that 60 percent of Americans believe Trump “is biased against women and minorities,” with 48 percent believing that strongly. According to the crosstabs, college educated whites believe this by 57-41, and college educated white women — a crucial demographic that the campaigns are fighting over — believe it by 61-39.
What’s more, majorities of college educated white men and non-college white women also believe this. Indeed, as James Downie puts it: “At this point, the only group of voters that doesn’t think Trump is biased is white men without a college degree.”
Meanwhile, on the question of which candidate has the right personality and temperament to be president, large majorities of Americans overall (61-30) and college educated whites (61-32) pick Clinton, not Trump. It’s hard to know how related that is to perceptions of Trump’s bigotry, but most indications are that Trump has to improve among college educated whites to win, and it’s hard to see how such perceptions help him.
Other polls have showed similar findings. A recent Quinnipiac poll found that large majorities of American voters overall and college educated whites in particular think “the way Trump talks appeals to bigotry,” which suggests they think he’s running a bigoted campaign.
As I argued over the weekend, Clinton did err to some degree, particularly in making the precise claim that “half” of Trump’s supporters are driven by Islamophobia, sexism, or racism. And it’s perfectly possible that forthcoming polls may show public disapproval of that particular claim, which is also the part that she subsequently walked back, while allowing the rest of her comments to stand.
But Clinton’s underlying case — that Trump is running a campaign fueled in part by bigoted appeals, and in the process, he is mainstreaming fringe sentiments — is simply inarguable. And forcing a public discussion of that aspect of her argument in particular isn’t necessarily a political loser for her.
Indeed, as Politico’s Annie Karni reports, top Dems think forcing such a discussion could be helpful in targeted ways. It could energize nonwhites and liberals, and continue deepening revulsion at Trump among college educated whites and perhaps even millennials, who might be uncertain about Clinton but might also be galvanized by her effort to take on this argument. By the way, the Post poll also finds that 66 percent of young voters believe Trump is biased against women and minorities, 52 percent strongly, and as noted above, his numbers on this among college educated whites are terrible.
Beyond all the politics, it just so happens to be, you know, true that a lot of Republican voters actually do agree with Trump’s more wretched pronouncements and prescriptions on Muslims and undocumented immigrants. A number of observers murmured their disapproval with Clinton’s lack of tact in pointing this out. But this disapproval is best understood as just an extension of the fact that many have danced around the true nature of Trumpism’s appeal for the better part of a year now. That massive failure should be engaged with more openly, and maybe Clinton’s comments will help a bit with that.
* TRUMP WILL RELEASE MEDICAL RECORDS: This morning, Trump said that he hopes Clinton “gets well,” but also vowed to finally release more information on his own health:
Trump said Monday that he plans to release “very, very specific numbers” from a physical he had done last week. “I feel great, but when the numbers come in, I’ll be releasing very, very specific numbers,” the GOP presidential nominee said in an interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”
Perhaps some skepticism is in order here, given the low comedy surrounding that letter written by his doctor in just five minutes.
* DOES CLINTON HAVE ‘WALKING PNEUMONIA’? NBC News speculates that Clinton could be suffering from a “near-textbook case” of “walking pneumonia,” which entails this:
Patients don’t feel great, but they’re not sick enough to stay home in bed or to be hospitalized….People often feel well enough to go about their business, especially once they start taking antibiotics…But the infection can take a toll, making patients prone to getting tired and dehydrated.
Meanwhile, experts see no reason to think this will be debilitating for Clinton.
* DEMOCRATS WORRY ABOUT HILLARY’S PNEUMONIA: Reuters reports that Democrats are worried about Clinton’s Pneumonia for two reasons, beyond her well-being: First, does her campaign’s failure to divulge the illness for two days signal again that her penchant for secrecy is working against her? Second, will she be ready for the first debate in two weeks?
One expert told Reuters that recovery can take a week or longer. The Clinton campaign has canceled events today and tomorrow, and it remains uncertain whether she’ll resume her schedule on Wednesday, so keep an eye on that for clues as to her recovery.
* TIGHT RACES IN MULTIPLE BATTLEGROUND STATES: A new batch of NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls finds Donald Trump barely leading Hillary Clinton among likely voters by 42-41 in Arizona and by 46-43 in Georgia, while Clinton edges Trump by 45-44 in Nevada and 42-41 in New Hampshire.
Those last two — in states Obama carried in 2012 — are very tight, but it also seems like a big deal that Arizona and Georgia are now being described as “battleground states.” Still, the question remains whether Democrats will actually spend real money in those last two.
* CLINTON LEADS IN OHIO; CLOSE IN FLORIDA: New CBS News/YouGov polls find Clinton leading Trump among likely voters by 46-39 in Ohio, and by 44-42 in Florida. The polling averages have Clinton up nearly two points in Ohio and up by over three points in Florida.
Remember, both of these are probably must-wins for Trump: His own advisers say keeping all the Mitt Romney states, while sweeping Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania, is his most realistic path.
* OBAMA’S APPROVAL IS GOOD NEWS FOR CLINTON: The new WaPo poll found Obama’s approval at 58 percent, and Philip Bump digs into the numbers to explain why this could help Clinton this fall:
There’s a strong correlation between how people feel about Obama and how they feel about Clinton. Ninety percent of Clinton supporters approve of Obama’s job performance, 64 percent of them do so strongly. About the same percentage of Trump backers disapprove of Obama’s job performance, more of them feeling that way strongly….if you’re running for president to succeed your party’s incumbent, history would suggest that such a task is much easier with Obama’s 2016 ratings than Obama’s 2014 numbers.
It’s also worth noting that this might be just as important, or even more so, than those “wrong track” numbers that Republicans love to cite.
* TRUMP’S BROMANCE WITH PUTIN: Paul Krugman’s column looks at it, arguing that there are legitimate questions about how important Russian money has been to Trump’s business empire, and adding:
Admiring Mr. Putin means admiring someone who has contempt for democracy and civil liberties….When Mr. Trump and others praise Mr. Putin as a “strong leader,” they don’t mean that he has made Russia great again, because he hasn’t….What he has done, however, is crush his domestic rivals: Oppose the Putin regime, and you’re likely to end up imprisoned or dead. Strong!
Trump’s praise of Putin is a window into his own worldview, and questioning it is not necessarily akin to jingoism and/or warmongering towards Russia, as some have argued.