Author: By Greg Sargent

Trump’s poll numbers are historically awful. And he doesn’t even know it.

Even when I’m losing, I’m winning, because I’m a winner, not a loser. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) THE MORNING PLUM: Donald Trump’s slide in the national polls is becoming so obvious that even he may no longer be able to deny it for much longer. Or will he? Politico’s Steven Shepard has a good analysis of all the recent polling that makes two basic points. First, the polls now “unanimously” show that Hillary Clinton is building a real lead over Trump. And second, a look at all the recent polls showing him upside down — which are detailed at length in the piece — reveals that Trump’s personal unfavorable numbers are not just bad. They are actually “setting modern records for political toxicity.” But there are two additional key points. First, note the intensity of dislike of Trump: It’s not just the overall unfavorable numbers — it’s the intensity of the antipathy toward Trump, and the lack of enthusiasm for him. In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, 56 percent of respondents had a “strongly unfavorable” opinion of Trump, compared to just 15 percent who had a “strongly favorable” opinion. In the Bloomberg poll, 51 percent had a “very unfavorable” opinion of Trump, with only 11 percent having a “very favorable” opinion. And the second key point is that, while Hillary Clinton is also disliked, there is just no comparison to Trump:...

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Top supporters of Bernie Sanders gently tell him: It’s time

Jonathan Alcorn/Getty Images) Sanders: ‘The struggle continues’ Despite Hillary Clinton’s delegate gains on June 7, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders promised to “continue to fight for every vote and every delegate,” until the Democratic convention. He also slammed GOP rival Donald Trump as “a candidate whose major theme is bigotry.” THE MORNING PLUM: Hillary Clinton decisively defeated Bernie Sanders in the big delegate-rich states of California and New Jersey, and in a rousing, emotional speech last night, she laid claim to a piece of American history as the first woman ever to be the presumptive nominee of a major party. But Sanders is still digging in, and in his own speech last night, he vowed to fight on to the convention, adding: “the struggle continues.” In interviews with me, however, two of Sanders’s most important supporters in Congress — Senator Jeff Merkley and Rep. Raul Grijalva, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus — said Sanders would have to accept the inevitably of Clinton’s nomination, and begin the process of getting behind her. “Once a candidate has won a majority of the pledged delegates and a majority of the popular vote, which Secretary Clinton has now done, we have our nominee,” Merkley, who is Sanders’ sole supporter in the Senate, told me. “This is the moment when we need to start bringing parts of the party together so they can...

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Paul Ryan is set to roll out a conservative economic agenda. Here’s a progressive response to it.

(Win McNamee/Getty Images) This week, the presidential race will get another jolt when House Speaker Paul Ryan rolls out his long awaited conservative economic agenda. The Ryan plan, which will probably include previous Ryan offerings (Obamacare repeal, entitlement reform) as well as some new anti-poverty policies, is intended as a conservative opportunity blueprint that might anchor and define the party in the face of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s ongoing contempt for the very idea of having consistent, credible policy ideas. How will Democrats respond? The Center for American Progress is releasing a new report that is designed as a kind of template for an economic agenda that Democrats can coalesce behind. As suggested by the report’s title — “A Progressive Agenda to Cut Poverty and Expand Opportunity” — it is meant as a comprehensive blueprint of progressive economic policies to contrast with Ryan’s, in preparation for an election that may turn to some degree on these topics. Many of the ideas in the report are familiar ones. But by putting them all in one place, the report shows that there is an existing and ambitious progressive agenda on poverty and opportunity that can unite Democrats. This agenda does not go as far as the one Bernie Sanders campaigned on, but it represents a set of ideas that backers of Sanders and Hillary Clinton might see as common ground....

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Can Trump ride white anger into the White House? A new analysis suggests it’s a fantasy.

(EPA/Jason Szenes) THE MORNING PLUM: A new analysis published this morning by FiveThirtyEight’s Dave Wasserman casts still more doubt on one of the most cherished narratives of the 2016 cycle: That Donald Trump might, just might, be able to surprise all of us and win the White House by activating millions of anxiety-ridden missing white voters with his bluster, bigotry, and all around bigness. Wasserman’s analysis looks at this question in a new way: He asks what might happen if Trump actually did succeed in activating these missing white voters. The baseline for this is the 1992 campaign, which is the last time the white share of the national vote actually did go up, defying a trend that has shown that demographic’s vote share steadily ticking down since 1980. The parallel to the present is clear: Ross Perot’s candidacy activated these missing whites during that year by railing against unfair trade deals and promising to restore American greatness. That’s what Trump is doing, only he’s going even further: he’s also promising to deport millions of illegal immigrants and to ban Muslims from entry into the U.S., both of which seem designed to further maximize his chances of riding white backlash into the White House. Can it work? Wasserman ran a simulation designed to calculate what would happen in 2016, relative to 2012, if whites turned out at the same...

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Donald Trump just made an extremely important promise. It’s one of his worst yet.

(Spencer Platt/Getty Images) THE MORNING PLUM: Believe it or not, Donald Trump has now made a very important policy statement. Introducing what he billed as an “energy plan,” Trump promised to “cancel the Paris Climate Plan.” Unlike so much of what comes from Trump on policy, this is a genuinely clarifying moment, with potentially enormous long-term implications. The near-term political consequences of this will — or should — be that there is now no chance whatsoever that Bernie Sanders will do anything at all on his way out that could imperil party unity in a way that makes a Trump victory more likely. I don’t believe Sanders has any intention to do that, by the way, but this should theoretically render it an impossibility in his mind, because it dramatically increases the stakes for a relatively smooth resolution of the Democratic primaries. Indeed, I believe it’s likely Sanders will see it this way, too. To get all the details on Trump’s full energy plan, read Brad Plumer’s piece. Trump would pursue a mostly standard-issue GOP agenda of “fewer regulations and more fossil fuel production.” More important, with some reporters wondering what Trump’s actual views are on global climate change, he clarified them: He is utterly indifferent to its existence and would roll back the main things we’re currently putting in place to deal with it. Trump said that the...

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Yes, Democrats will unify behind Clinton. This political scientist persuasively explains why.

(Matt McClain/ The Washington Post) THE MORNING PLUM: The California Democratic primary is tightening, and a Bernie Sanders victory on June 7th — while not altering the final outcome — would no doubt persuade him and his supporters to push for maximum concessions, perhaps all the way to the floor of the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. But no matter how contentions things end up getting, Democrats are very likely to unify in the end. A new analysis by political scientist Alan Abramowitz explains why: Democratic voters really like Barack Obama, and they really hate Donald Trump. Abramowitz, a professor at Emory University, looked at the 2008 Democratic primary outcome and compared it to what is coming. Relying on American National Election Study data, Abramowitz showed that Democrats and Dem-leaning independents supporting 2008 primary loser Hillary Clinton ended up voting overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in the general election — even though a sizable percentage of Clinton supporters regarded his GOP opponent John McCain favorably. Crucially, this is because many of the independents who had supported Clinton against Obama were Democratic leaning ones, and ended up favoring Obama as the general election progressed. (Right now, many of the independents backing Sanders are also Democratic leaners.) If anything, Abramowitz concludes, party unity could be easier this time, because Trump is vastly more disliked by Democratic voters than McCain was in 2008: Trump...

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GOP strategist: Trump’s attacks on Clinton over Whitewater are lunacy

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst) Politico brings us a funny scoop that sheds new light on the fearsome political operation that Donald Trump is in the process of building: Donald Trump, who in recent days has accused Bill Clinton of rape and suggested he and Hillary Clinton may have had a role in the death of one of their close friends, plans to focus next on the Whitewater real estate scandal, POLITICO has learned. Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo on Wednesday morning emailed a researcher at the Republican National Committee asking him to “work up information on HRC/Whitewater as soon as possible. This is for immediate use and for the afternoon talking points process.” The email was obtained by POLITICO when Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who Caputo copied on his request to the RNC, accidentally responded instead to Marc Caputo, a POLITICO reporter who is not related to the Republican consultant. RNC chief strategist Sean Spicer issued a statement praising his committee’s research team as “the best in the business,” but neither he nor Hicks responded to questions about how or when the Trump campaign intended to invoke Whitewater, or whether they thought that spotlighting the matter might open Trump to more scrutiny of his own mixed record in real estate. World class, Donald, world class. It’s hard to know what’s more cringeworthy here — how this accidentally leaked out, or...

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Here’s an easy way for Donald Trump and Paul Ryan to make peace

Yo, Donald, can you make this a bit easier for all of us? (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) THE MORNING PLUM: Today Donald Trump is in Washington, sitting down with Paul Ryan in an effort to unify the GOP. Their meeting is being widely portrayed as a momentous showdown between two titans of ideological opposition who are unlikely to budge from their deeply held philosophical principles and governing goals. As today’s New York Times intones, Trump and leading Republicans are staring each other down across a “vast political and ideological gulf.” Hmmm, maybe. In reality, it shouldn’t be all that hard for Trump and Ryan to come together. All Trump has to do is learn to talk about policy the way many mainstream Republicans do. There are already signs that Trump is softening on his proposed temporary ban on non-citizen Muslims from entering the United States, which Ryan, to his credit, has forcefully criticized. Here’s what Trump said on Fox: “We have a serious problem, and it’s a temporary ban — it hasn’t been called for yet, nobody’s done it, this is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on.” Note the clever sleight of hand there — his “until we find out what’s going on” formulation, which previously applied to the period of the Muslim ban itself, has suddenly morphed into a qualifer as to whether to implement his...

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