The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Daily 202: Stop underestimating Trump. ‘Brexit’ vote shows why he can win.

Donald Trump speaks during a news conference, as he is watched by a bag piper in front of a lighthouse at his Turnberry golf course in Scotland. (Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters)
Placeholder while article actions load

THE BIG IDEA: Britain’s stunning vote to leave the European Union suggests that we’ve been seriously underestimating Donald Trump’s ability to win the presidential election.

When you consider all his controversies and self-inflicted wounds over the past month, combined with how much he’s getting outspent on the airwaves in the battleground states, it is actually quite surprising that Trump and Hillary Clinton are so close in the polls. He’s holding his own, especially in the Rust Belt.

The British campaign to exit the European Union (known as “Brexit”), like Trump’s, was fueled by grievance. Those agitating to cut off formal ties to the continent were less organized and less funded than those who wanted to stay connected, but that deficit didn’t matter in the end, because the energy was against the status quo.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump said there is a parallel between the U.K.'s vote to leave the European Union and his bid for the presidency. (Video: Reuters)

“Basically, they took back their country. That’s a great thing,” Trump told reporters in Scotland, where he is visiting one of his golf courses.

“They have declared their independence from the European Union and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy,” he elaborated in a statement. “Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first. They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people. I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.”

-- In the short term, the impending fallout from Brexit will make the presumptive Democratic nominee look good. She advocated for Britain remaining in the union; Trump advocated for leaving. The markets are going to tank today, and this vote will set off a tsunami of repercussions that could meaningfully damage the global economy. People’s 401(k)’s might take a shellacking, and interest rates may spike. Any long-term benefits from breaking away will not be apparent until after the general election.

British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned overnight, triggering political chaos and a succession battle. Scottish leaders are already saying they will push for a new referendum to secede from the U.K.

--Read the latest on the Brexit earthquake on the Post's liveblog.

-- Looking ahead to the fall, though, loud alarm bells should be going off inside Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters. Globally, there are strong tides of anti-establishment anger, nationalism and populism that bode poorly for the Secretary of State.

“Trump’s slogan, ‘Make America Great Again,’ could easily have been adapted to the messaging of those in the ‘leave’ campaign,” Dan Balz writes from London. “That desire for a return to an earlier time — to make Britain great again — is expressed through the issue of control. Those who have pushed for Britain to leave the E.U. want to reclaim a measure of sovereignty by wresting power from the bureaucrats in Brussels. … They feel about the E.U. bureaucracy as tea party Republicans do about the federal government.”

-- Trump still seems far more likely to lose than win, especially when you think about the Electoral College map. But the results across the pond spotlight five forces that could allow him to score an upset:


Virtually every serious economist and “expert” warned of calamity if Britain left the E.U. These technocrats used to be respected arbiters whose judgments carried considerable weight. A majority of Brits, though, tuned them out this year.

“People in this country have had enough of experts,” Michael Gove, a Conservative Party lawmaker who wanted to leave, said when he was challenged during a TV interview to name a credible economic authority who supported an E.U. exit. “I’m glad these organizations aren’t on my side.”

Polls show a long-term trend of voters losing faith in experts and institutions. Surveys suggested that the British resented Barack Obama and other foreign leaders who strongly urged them to remain in a union that they did not feel was serving them.

Forced to choose between their heads and their hearts, the Brits went with their hearts.


Scapegoating immigrants worked. Polls show that fear of refugees and immigrants from the E.U.’s open borders was a top issue driving votes to leave.

Here in the U.S. we talk a lot about how Trump has galvanized Latinos who have never voted before. This could cost him and the GOP dearly, but the flip side is that he’s activated a lot of angry white voters.

There was a lot of media coverage in the past few days about how the nativist appeals might have gone too far and turned off some moderates in Britain. There were some over-the-top posters and claims about Turks and Syrians flooding the country. But they clearly proved more effective than detrimental:

As a veteran of the George W. Bush White House puts it:

French Far Right leader Marine Le Pen, a vocal nativist, celebrated Brexit by changing her Twitter picture to the Union Jack:


Trump likes to describe his foreign policy as “America First,” even though it has been pointed out to him that this is the same catchphrase Charles Lindbergh used in the late 1930s when he was trying to stop the U.S. from assisting Britain in its war for national survival against the Nazis.

Eyewitnesses said that the man who murdered Jo Cox, a British member of parliament and outspoken supporter of the Remain effort, shouted “Britain First” as he killed her last week.

Trump wants to scale back U.S. support for NATO and has suggested that he sees Eastern Europe as some kind of Russian sphere of influence. This scares the bejesus out of the Baltic States, such as Estonia, which are constantly at risk of being annexed by Vladimir Putin. The NATO alliance, like the EU, has been a bulwark of the post-World War II international system. This now threatens to unravel.


The polls showed a neck-and-neck race, and surveys in the past few days showed movement in the direction of “Remain” after Cox’s murder. In the end, though, “Leave” prevailed by 4 points.

Perhaps some voters who wanted to “Leave” were afraid to tell pollsters as much after the assassination?

Are live-caller polls in the U.S. similarly underestimating Trump’s strength? We’ve written here about how Trump does better in online and automated phone polls than in those conducted by live human beings. It seems undeniable at this point that there is some number of Trump supporters out there who do not want to admit it in fashionable company.

And the editor of the conservative Weekly Standard:


The Remain campaign was burdened by complacency.

Millennials, who overwhelmingly wanted to remain in the E.U., did not turn out at the same rate as older voters, who wanted to leave.

As an esteemed political historian at NYU notes:

“There were massive victory margins for ‘remain’ in thriving metropolitan centers such as London and equally resounding victories for ‘leave’ in small towns, rural areas and struggling, post-industrial cities,” Griff Witte, Karla Adam and Dan Balz report from London. “The vote split the country along essential lines … Provincial versus metropolitan. Scotland versus England. Native-born Britons versus immigrants.”

Welcome to the Daily 202, PowerPost's morning newsletter.
With contributions from Breanne Deppisch (@b_deppy) and Elise Viebeck (@eliseviebeck) Sign up to receive the newsletter.


-- Bernie Sanders, on "Morning Joe," said he will vote for Clinton for president, the latest in a series of tacit admissions that he has lost the Democratic nomination. “Yes,” the senator from Vermont said when asked if he would vote for her. "I think the issue right here is I’m gonna do everything I can to defeat Donald Trump." Dave Weigel notes that Sanders is not ending his campaign until the convention. In fact. he is spending today in New York for interviews and two rallies, one on behalf of a congressional candidate who endorsed him.



-- “President Obama suffered THE BIGGEST LEGAL DEFEAT OF HIS ADMINISTRATION Thursday when a deadlocked Supreme Court failed to revive his stalled plan to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation and give them the right to work legally in the United States,” Robert Barnes writes. “The justices’ votes were not announced, but the court’s liberals and conservatives split at oral argument this spring. The tie means that a lower court’s decision that Obama probably exceeded his powers in issuing the executive action keeps the plan from being implemented. The court’s action crushed the hopes of about 4 million illegal immigrants estimated to be covered by Obama’s plan, which would have deferred deportation for those who have been in the country since 2010, have not committed any serious crimes and have family ties to U.S. citizens or others lawfully in the country.”

-- The bitter fight moved quickly from the courtroom to the campaign trail, as the White House and its allies sought to turn a legal setback to their political advantage. From David Nakamura:

  • Trump praised the court for blocking “one of the most unconstitutional actions ever undertaken by a President.”
  • Clinton, with a statement distributed both in English and Spanish, called the outcome “a stark reminder of the harm Trump would do to our families, our communities and our country.” She reiterated her vow to introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill within her first 100 days in office.
  • Obama delivered a speech from the White House that framed the 2016 presidential election as a referendum on our national identity: “We’ve got a choice about who we’re going to be as a country,” he said.


-- The Supreme Court reaffirmed that the value of creating a diverse student body allows university officials to consider race in making admission decisions, upholding a University of Texas plan that has been the subject of years of legal battles. “The 4-to-3 decision was a surprising win for advocates of affirmative action, who had entered the term simply hoping the court would not use the case to ban all uses of affirmative action,” Robert Barnes writes. “Instead, the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy reiterated previous high-court rulings that diversity justifies some intrusion on the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, which generally forbids the government from making decisions based on race.”


-- “The Senate delivered A REALITY CHECK to gun-control supporters when a bipartisan effort to keep guns away from suspected terrorists failed to garner the 60 votes needed to advance,” Mike DeBonis and Karoun Demirjian report. “That amendment, brokered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), won the backing of a handful of Republicans but also earned the opposition of the NRA and the American Civil Liberties Union. The compromise survived a test vote on a 52-to-46 margin. But without the 60 votes necessary to vault procedural hurdles, Senate GOP leaders indicated they were ready to move on to other business.”

-- The House sit-in ended around 1 p.m. yesterday. Nancy Pelosi vowed to keep fighting, but she wouldn’t specify how.

-- The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to emphasize the gun issue in at least two House seats in upstate New York, five swing districts in Florida and districts in Colorado, Iowa and Kansas, aides tell Ed O'Keefe and Isaac Stanley-Becker. “In the Senate, where Republicans are defending 24 seats, Democrats expect that gun-control-themed messages will resonate with swing voters in Florida, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania.” We’ll believe it when we see it…


-- A measure to bar confederate flags from flying at cemeteries run by the Department of Veterans Affairs was quietly removed from legislation passed by the House in the wee hours of yesterday morning. “The flag ban was added to the VA funding bill in May by a vote of 265-159, with most Republicans voting against the ban,” Politico’s Matthew Nussbaum reports. Paul Ryan “was commended for allowing a vote on the controversial measure, but has since limited what amendments can be offered on the floor. In negotiations to reconcile the House funding measure with the Senate bill, the confederate flag provision was dropped. … Of the eight House Republicans Ryan appointed to the conference committee that ultimately stripped the measure, four had voted against the ban on the floor.”


  1. To avoid getting expelled, Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah decided to resign from Congress immediately. Initially, after his conviction in a Philadelphia racketeering case, he said he’d stay in the House until the day before his October sentencing. ( AP)
  2. The Navy said it “appears unlikely” that any of the sailors who were detained by Iran in January will face a court martial for their actions. (Dan Lamothe)
  3. The nation’s biggest banks have all built up large enough buffers to weather a severe recession in “decent” shape, according to the annual “stress test” conducted by the Federal Reserve. (New York Times)
  4. Volkswagen agreed to pay out $10.2 billion to settle a lawsuit brought by the federal government for cheating on emissions tests. The settlement will compensate owners of 482,000 vehicles with two-liter diesel engines that were programmed to turn off emissions measurement data outside of laboratory settings. The automaker will pay owners between $1,000 and $7,000 per vehicle and promised to fix the cars free of charge. (Jacob Bogage)
  5. CDC officials recommended giving up “relatively ineffective” nasal flu vaccines in favor of shots. (AP)
  6. A judge acquitted Baltimore police officer Caesar Goodson Jr. of all four charges in the death of Freddie Gray. Goodson drove the van in which Gray suffered fatal injuries, and he faced the most severe criminal charges of six officers. This means prosecutors are now 0-3 in the case that spurred riots last year. (Lynh Bui, Derek Hawkins and LaVendrick Smith)
  7. A federal judge ordered a school board in rural Virginia to give a transgender student, who was born female but identifies as male, access to the boys’ bathroom while his discrimination lawsuit against the school board proceeds. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit sided with the teen in April, and the school board has said it will ask SCOTUS to hear the case. (Moriah Balingit)
  8. As many as 12,000 prison inmates will be able to use federal Pell grants to finance college classes next month, despite a 22-year congressional ban on providing financial aid to prisoners. The Obama administration selected 67 colleges and universities for the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, an experiment to help prisoners earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree while incarcerated. ( Danielle Douglas-Gabriel)
  9. Georgetown University’s president pledged a “vigorous and wide-ranging effort” to make amends for the university’s sale of 272 slaves in 1838. In damage control, John J. DeGioia pledged in February to expand the school’s faculty in African American studies and to establish a research center focused on racial injustice. (Nick Anderson)
  10. Police in Germany fatally shot a masked assailant who entered a movie theater and tried to take hostages. The man’s motive remains unclear, but authorities said they suspect it was criminal rather than terrorism. (Anthony Faiola and Stephanie Kirchner)
  11. Ahmed Abu Khattala, who the U.S. says led the 2012 attacks in Benghazi that killed four Americans, will go on trial in September 2017. (Spencer S. Hsu)
  12. Michigan’s attorney general filed civil charges against two engineering firms that he said “botched” their work on Flint’s water supply system, contributing to the ongoing lead-polluted water crisis. (Brady Dennis)
  13. A Los Angeles jury ruled that Led Zeppelin did not plagiarize the opening cords of “Stairway to Heaven,” ending a high-profile lawsuit leveled by the estate of the psychedelic rock band Spirit. (Caitlin Gibson)
  14. LeBron James and Stephen Curry are going to skip the Olympics in Rio. They say they want to rest after the NBA Finals, but many athletes are staying away because of Zika. (Matt Bonesteel and Bryan Flaherty)
  15. Cable companies routinely rip off their customers, according to a bipartisan Senate report. Time Warner Cable alone is expected to overcharge its subscribers this year to the tune of $2 million. (Brian Fung)
  16. Officials are blaming the death of an 18-year-old Ohio girl on a rare, brain-eating Amoeba that they believe she contracted on a church trip. (Elahe Izadi)


-- Under pressure from the party establishment, Trump announced that he has forgiven more than $50 million in “loans” he made to finance his presidential bid, converting them into “contributions.” A lot of major donors have refused to give on the theory that he’ll simply repay himself with their money. “By turning the loans into donations, Trump's campaign cannot repay the candidate, even if a surplus arises,” Matea Gold explains. “The campaign, however, can continue to reimburse Trump's companies, and those of his children, for campaign-related expenses, including travel.”

-- He also finally hired an Ohio director. Bob Paduchik worked for Jeb Bush in the primaries and ran George W. Bush's two efforts in the Buckeye State. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

-- Corey Lewandowski joined CNN as a political commentator, just three days after getting fired as Trump’s manager. Many reporters were critical of the hire. (CNN)

-- A federal judge struck down a set of rules for protesters at the Republican convention in Cleveland, saying the security perimeter is too large. (The Plain Dealer)

-- Seven in 10 voters think Trump should sever ties to his businesses while running for president, according to a CNN/ORC poll. Only 3 in 10 think he should continue to run the Trump Organization.

-- Three important columns from conservative thought leaders:

1. “Donald Trump Is No Ronald Reagan,” Peggy Noonan, a Reagan speechwriter, writes in the Wall Street Journal. “His supporters ought to stop saying he is, which comes off as desperate and historically illiterate.”

2. “Evangelical Christians are selling out faith for politics,” Michael Gerson, a George W. Bush speechwriter, writes in today's Post. “Evangelical Christian leaders, motivated by political self-interest, are cozying up to a leader who has placed bigotry and malice at the center of American politics. They are defending the rights of their faith while dishonoring its essence. Genuine social influence will not come by putting Christ back into Christmas; it will come by putting Christ and his priorities back into more Christians.”

3. “I helped start the Moral Majority. Trump is the opposite of what we wanted,” Michael Farris, the chancellor of Patrick Henry College, writes for The Post. “Now, we’re being asked to give up our character and just vote Republican. That may be the choice of many voters, but it’s not why evangelicals like me got involved in politics. I, for one, won’t do it. Neither candidate qualifies as the lesser of the two evils.”

-- Clinton failed to turn over a key email to the State Department involving problems caused by her use of a private homebrew email server. The news, confirmed by Foggy Bottom, makes it unclear what other work-related emails HRC may have deleted. The Nov. 2010 message also shows an active effort by Clinton herself to prevent her “personal” emails from ever being publicly disclosed. (Associated Press).

The AP also reported that "scores of names and events" are missing from Clinton's calendar when she was secretary of state. "The AP review of Clinton's calendar — her after-the-fact, official chronology of the events of her four-year term — identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors and loyalists, Clinton Foundation contributors and corporate and other outside interests that were either not recorded or listed with identifying details scrubbed."

-- “Tim Kaine is emerging as THE leading candidate” atop Clinton’s vice presidential short list, Politico reports.

-- Bernie is taking advantage of the fact he still has an audience. He taped Stephen Colbert, and then he gave an 87-MINUTE speech in New York that said nothing new. “Sanders hinted at more rallies for candidates to come, mentioning (but not naming) a state senate candidate in California whom he'd stump for soon,” David Weigel and Aaron C. Davis report. “He also re-litigated the argument over New York's uniquely onerous voter registration laws, which require voters to pick a party six months before an election. In one of his longest speeches as a candidate for the presidency, Sanders did not mention Clinton.”


-- “Walter E. Fauntroy, the former District delegate to Congress and civil rights legend who left Washington in 2012 for the Persian Gulf — leaving his aging wife in debt and eluding a criminal charge in Maryland — vowed in his first interview in four years that he is coming home next week,” Ian Shapira reports. “I have my ticket. I have my passport. Without question, it’s over,” Fauntroy said in a phone call with The Washington Post from the United Arab Emirates. “Fauntroy, 83, said he has been living rent-free for the past three months in Ajman, just north of Dubai, in the guest room of an apartment occupied by a South Sudanese couple and their son. He said that at some point in recent weeks, the State Department somehow located him at his host’s apartment and left messages for him to call. Fauntroy did, and eventually, he said, two U.S. officials visited to offer him help to fly home.”


ZIGNAL VISUAL: In roughly 556,000 Tweets mentioning Trump on Thursday, more than 32,000 of them mentioned in Brexit -- that was more than 10 times the co-mentions of Clinton and the vote in the U.K.

Another classic Trump exchange on NBC last night:

Down-ballot Democrats -- even in the county that includes Houston, Texas -- are trying to link Republicans to Trump. Here a sheriff's candidate does it:

Republicans won last night's congressional baseball game:

Lawmakers played in their annual baseball game at Nats Park:

More photos from Democrats' sit-in:

View this post on Instagram

What a crowd! #nobillnobreak #endgunviolence

A post shared by Michelle Lujan Grisham (@replujangrisham) on

Marsha Blackburn had harsh words about the demonstrators:

View this post on Instagram

Constituents, I am certain you are hearing the news of our Democrat colleagues holding a sit-in on the House floor tonight. I took this picture as I stood on the House steps at the Capitol after our 10:30 vote. These protestors, I'm sure many are paid, are shouting "shame on you" and other derogatory chants. This is all about votes on gun control bills that failed to pass in the Senate last week. I wanted to pass along to you some facts on this issue: - This is nothing more than a publicity stunt. - This bill was already defeated in the United States Senate. - We’re not going to take away a citizen’s due process rights. -We’re not going to take away a citizen’s constitutional rights without due process. -That was already defeated in the Senate, and this is not the way to try and bring up legislation. #StopTheStunt

A post shared by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@marshablackburn) on

Democrats highlighted Citizens United in the context of the gun debate:

Obama arrived in San Francisco:

Yet another great tweet by John Dingell:

Sheryl Sandberg is on Capitol Hill:

David Vitter got a personalized bottle of Coke:

Patty Murray met Ken Griffey, Jr.:


-- Wall Street Journal, "Facebook will train their employees to spot their own political bias," by Deepa Seetharaman and Natalie Andrews: "Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg told a Washington, D.C., audience Wednesday that Facebook plans to add a section on 'political bias,' to its class on 'managing bias.' All Facebook executives and many employees have taken the class, which focuses on identifying and neutralizing racial, age, gender and other types of bias ... The company also invited 16 top conservatives, including AEI President Arthur Brooks, to its Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters to discuss the issue with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg."


Hawaii takes action on gun control while Congress flails, reports The Huffington Post: "The governor of Hawaii on Thursday signed into law a trio of bills aimed at better protecting island residents from gun violence. Most notable is SB 2954, now Act 108, which authorizes county police departments to enroll gun owners into a federal criminal monitoring database, known as 'Rap Back.' Gov. David Ige’s signature means Hawaii becomes the first U.S. state to enroll gun owners in the FBI system."



Black Lives Matter blaming capitalism for the Orlando shooting, reports National Review. "'The enemy is now and has always been the four threats of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and militarism,' reads a statement on the shooting that was published on the group’s website. 'These forces and not Islam create terrorism' ... The statement explains that 'despite the media’s framing of this as a terrorist attack, we are very clear that this terror is completely homegrown, born from the anti-Black white supremacy, patriarchy and homophobia of the conservative right.'"


On the campaign trail: Here's the rundown:

  • Sanders: Albany, N.Y.
  • Trump: Turnberry, Scotland

At the White House: Obama is at Stanford. He will participate in a discussion with Mark Zuckerberg and a Google Portal virtual conversation with entrepreneurs. Later, he departs for Seattle to speak at fundraisers for Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the DCCC. Vice President Biden is in Ireland.

On Capitol Hill: The Senate and House are not in session.


"Never, ever lose your sense of outrage,” Bernie told supporters in New York last night. (USA Today)


-- Muggy, cloudy, and showery today but a pretty nice weekend ahead. From the Capital Weather Gang: “Saturday’s sunnier and fairly comfortable conditions may be the weather star of the weekend. Get outside if you can, since Sunday’s sunshine comes with almost-hot air, but nothing too oppressive. Next week we may get a weak cold front trying to move through, which means increased humidity again and a chance of storms as we get back to work.”

-- A D.C. Council committee advanced a controversial bill that would set strict guidelines telling employers in the city how much advance notice they must give their employees when scheduling their shifts. From Perry Stein: “If the full council approves the legislation, the District will become the second city in the country after San Francisco to end a practice widely used by companies known as ‘just-in-time’ scheduling. Employers use it to assign workers according to the time of day or month that they expect the most business, requiring them to be available at a moment’s notice and sometimes sending them home if business is slow. The practice helps minimize labor costs, but it wreaks havoc on the lives of low-wage workers, making it difficult to schedule child care, commit to a second job or take part-time classes. The practice also results in erratic pay.”


Illinois's Mark Kirk, the most vulnerable GOP senator up for reelection this year, is running a commercial touting his opposition to Trump and support for giving Merrick Garland a confirmation hearing. If Trump tanks this fall, you can expect to see a lot more spots like this one in purple states:

Jimmy Fallon had as a guest that 8th grader whose presidential candidate impressions went viral:

Watch Lewandowski's often awkward 11-minute debut as a CNN contributor:

Here's a flashback to last November when he threatened to blacklist a CNN reporter. "Inside the pen or I pull your credentials," Lewandowski yells in this 18-second video:

Seth Meyers named a hypothetical cast for a hypothetical Trump TV show about becoming president:

A Trump super PAC, Rebuilding America Now, launched an attack ad against Clinton for defending her husband in the face of sexual assault allegations and then tweeting, in the context of Bill Cosby, that accusers should be believed. A narrator says she used a White House war room to discredit Bill's accusers:

Clinton's campaign released a video to bracket Trump's Scotland visit:

Funny or Die imagined a National Parks dating app -- click here to watch the video.

Take a look back at some of the Brexit campaign's biggest moments:

The campaigns for Britain's Brexit referendum may be over, but the memory lives on. looks back at some of the highlights - and lowlights - of the last few months. (Video: Reuters)

Suspected North Korean rocket debris was found in Japan:

Japan investigates a piece of debris believed to be from a North Korean rocket. (Video: Reuters)

The "Lean In" movement released this star-studded video: