I wanted to send out a big thanks to everyone who's signed up for Prime since the evening of the 24th when I announced that we were just one sign up short of 1000 sign ups for Prime August. The winner - or the 1000th sign up ended up being TPM Reader JC. (So he can identify himself JC's first and last names end in S and Y.) Like I said, there's no prize for being 1000th this month. But it's no less awesome. So thanks to JC and everyone else who signed up. We're currently at 1082 for August. And we're shooting to match July, the first partial month of our 2016 drive when we signed up 1315 new Prime subscribers.
As I've been telling you, Prime is a critical part of the future of this publication, both as an expanding part of the publication with deeply reported long form articles, a new podcast slated to debut next month and a bunch else - but also a critical part of our business model.
Here's an article which I strongly recommend you read. It's by the veteran Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild and it's a look at Trump supporters based on five years of field study. As the chronology makes clear, they didn't start as Trump supporters. They began as the disaffected white voters who feel increasingly left behind in 21st century American, strangers in their own country. By and large they are the people who Trump rallied to his side to take the Republican nomination.
Over the last couple days The Washington Post has published two stories touching on defrocked and disgraced Roger Ailes' role advising Donald Trump. In one he is part of a group counseling Trump toward more moderate, less sharp-edged stands versus another group led by early Trump endorser, Sen. Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon who are pressing Trump to stick to his hardline positions. In the second, he is one of a group of advisors meeting with Trump regularly to discuss debate strategy. At various points, Ailes is grouped with Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie or in other cases with those two plus Laura Ingraham. For a host of reasons, which I'll explain below, I think everyone is understating Ailes' role as perhaps the key advisor on Trump's campaign as we move into the fall.
There's something I want to flag. There's always been some debate over whether the national debate 'commission', which no one picked to be in charge of debates but simply created itself, should control the presidential debate regime. That said, they've actually done quite a good job of it over the generation they've run the process. As political debates go, the debates are pretty substantive. And they've made it much more difficult for the frontrunner to set the terms of debating or in theory choose not to debate at all. Aside from minor negotiations at the margins, they've never budged from any of their decisions over format, moderators, timing, etc. But ... this year we still haven't heard who the moderators are going to be because the Commission is trying to be sure they pick people who Donald Trump or his supporters won't view as biased against him.
That is a huge, huge problem. Obviously this should always be a top priority. The moderators shouldn't have a bias against either candidate. But Trump of course sees everybody who is not obsequious and toady-ish as biased against him. Over recent weeks he's made Sean Hannity his official interviewer, like a doofus Boswell to Trump's clownshow Dr. Johnson.
On Friday The Guardian uncovered that Steve Bannon was registered to vote at a residence in Florida where he does not in fact live. In response to that story, Bannon moved his registration to the home of business associate and sometime Breitbart contributor Andy Badolato, also in Florida. That's curious since, again, Bannon doesn't seem to live in Florida or maintain even a nominal residence there. If he gets dinged for being registered to vote in a state he doesn't live in, why switch to another address in the same state? Perhaps there's some home he lives in in Florida that I haven't heard about. But if he does, why is he registering to vote at the house of Andy Badolato?
I asked someone familiar with Bannon where he actually lived. I'm told he has a loft in New York City and a condo he co-owns in Los Angeles. When he's in DC he stays at a place the Breitbart crew refers to as the 'Breitbart Embassy', actually a townhouse owned by an Egyptian businessman.
The TPM Senate Scoreboard currently stands at Democrats 50, GOP 49, Toss Up 1. (This count includes independents with whichever party they caucus with.) Beneath the numbers the Democrats look well positioned to control the Senate in 2017.