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1885 United States Senate election in Illinois

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The 1885 United States Senate election in Illinois was held from February 18 to May 19, 1885. The contentious election was determined by a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. Incumbent Republican United States Senator John A. Logan, seeking a third term (second consecutive) in the United States Senate, was unanimously nominated by a Republican caucus. However, some assemblymen expressed concern about the candidate and abstained from supporting him.

Logan initially faced off against Democrat William Ralls Morrison, who was nominated during a legislative session. When the election began on February 18, the assembly combined for 102 Republicans and a coalition of 102 supporting the Democrats, thus producing a stalemate. For the next two months, elections were held to no avail during joint sessions. On April 12, a Democratic representative died and a Republican candidate won the special election to replace him. This angered Democrats, who tired of Morrison's lack of appeal and nominated Judge Lambert Tree in his place. After three months, the last Republican holdout consented to follow the rest of his party, and Logan was elected with 103 of the 204 votes.

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Well welcome to Election 2016 Class here at Stanford University that's intended both for the undergraduate and graduate student body as well as for the entire community. My name is Rob Reich. I'm a professor in the Political Science department. I'm one of the three instructors of the class. I'm joined by David Kennedy, my colleague in the history department, emeritus professor, Pulitzer Prize winning historian. And Jim Steyer, the CEO and founder of Common Sense Media and a lecturer in the CSRE program-- the Comparative Studies and Race Ethnicity program. We've been teaching this class every election cycle for the past three or four cycles. And I think you'll agree that doing it this year, the stakes seem higher than ever. Democracy seems more fragile than it has been in the past. And we've organized the class this year in the same way we've done it in years past which is a series of evening classes where we take a particular topic for every class session, invite some very distinguished guests to help us explore the topic, and have an on stage conversation with our guests. The topics we'll be doing this year, tonight we're focusing on campaign strategy. Next week we will be talking about issues concerning existential security threats to the United States. The following week, we focus on social mobility and inequality. We then move to the issue, perhaps especially relevant to folks here in Silicon Valley, concerning the future of work and the various ways in which the economy is creating a much different labor market in the future. We then conclude the class just before election day with, I think, an appropriate session on the future of democracy itself and what this election suggests about it. We don't meet on election night. And our last session on November 15th, the week after the election is a wrap up of what happened. [laughter] DAVID KENNEDY: Damage control. JIM STEYER: Or what didn't happen. ROB REICH: Or what didn't happen depending on the outcome. Well for those of you who have done the class in the past, you'll know that with a class this large, it's very difficult for us to arrange questions from you during the session. In part because the class is being videotaped and then will be placed online afterwards and we'd have to find all types of permissions amongst that many of you, a very complicated procedure. So instead, there are online discussion forums for the class where students participate online prior to the class session, after the class session. We have questions that have been contributed by people in the class which will make their way into conversation tonight. And I want to mention that-- with a special emphasis here-- so if you are participating in the class, one of the great aspirations we collectively have for the class experience is that this online discussion forum will carry out something that is almost impossible to achieve in our ordinary teaching at Stanford. Stanford University students are extraordinarily diverse on virtually every dimension you can imagine, except for one, where there is no diversity at all and that's age. This classroom setting, which invites the community as well as students into the class, allows cross-generational political conversation. And we hope that happens coming into the auditorium, leaving the auditorium, and online. So I want to invite you to accept the invitation to participate in this cross-generational political conversation that happens online. With that I just want to mention a couple things about the format of tonight's class. It will be the same in the future. I'm going to turn the floor over to Jim in a moment introduce our distinguished guests for the evening. And then David Kennedy will take the stage for about 10 or 15 minutes to give a short framing that will set the foundation of our conversation with our guests, a capsule history of the US presidency. So with that, I turn the floor over to Jim. JIM STEYER: Great. Thank you, Rob. I would certainly agree that-- first of all it's great to see everybody here. We are very psyched for this class. This should be a great evening and a really great quarter. I agree with Rob. It is a unique and exciting election, unique certainly in all of our lifetimes. I would say we have a unique and exciting slate of guests. And for me it's a unique honor to teach with David and Rob. So this should be a lot of fun. I'm going to brief introduction. I actually asked my friend Mike McCurry how he would like to introduce me-- me to introduce him tonight. And being the good old Irish boy that he is, he said, Jim, think of yourself like the body at an Irish wake. We need you to have the party, but nobody really wants you to say very much. So I'll be sort of brief, but these guys are such distinguished-- opening, I guess that I should say that. So first of all, you should know Mike McCurry is a local boy. He went to San Carlos High and then graduated from Ravenswood. He was the governor of the California Junior State. So he's potentially the future governor of California. He went to Princeton and Georgetown for masters. But he has worked for a Who's Who in American politics on the Democratic side. So he's worked at different times for Monahan, John Glenn, Bruce Babbitt, Bob Kerrey, Lloyd Bentsen, Warren Christopher-- Stanford's own. And, of course, he was press secretary for Bill Clinton from 1994-1998. Truly interesting years indeed. Probably don't match up to these, but they're getting close. And I would say that for everyone I've ever known in that role-- from Jay Carney who David knows really well-- to some of the other people who have been in that job, their role model is Mike McCurry. Two reasons, competence, kindness. That's what I would tell you. He's been also a leading political and communications strategist for years. For relevance for tonight, he is the co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates. So he oversees the presidential debates with a commission that he co-chairs with Frank Fahrenkopf. MIKE MCCURRY: But not responsible for the content. JIM STEYER: But he's not responsible. But he is responsible for what he's going to say tonight, however. All right. The only other things I would tell you is he's incredibly committed to stuff. He's been a board member at Common Sense for years. He's on the board of our good friend Billy Shore Share our Strength. He's the dad of three. And like most of us up here, he married up to a very fine woman. So he has a lot to say tonight. David Plouffe, now a local boy since he moved to San Francisco. But he's born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. Interesting from a working class background. He's a Phillies fan, although that's irrelevant this year, is for all of us Giants' fans. Sorry. I had to nail him for that. Went to the University of Delaware. Left college before graduation-- for all you students out there-- left college to go into politics, and 20 years later graduated from the University of Delaware. Along with one of our frequent guests, Steve Schmidt, who also went to the University of Delaware, left before he graduated and then finally went back and got his degree. But David, like Mike, has had a Who's Who of colleagues in the world of politics. He worked for Tom Harkin, Dick Gephardt, the D triple-C. And he and David Axelrod, his partner, had a political consulting firm before they discovered an obscure state senator from Illinois, who they obviously led to an extraordinary victories in 2008 and 2012. And to characterize David's role in that, which he is extremely modest about and would never say about himself, he's usually referred to as the mastermind of that. And to quote his friend and former boss, Barack Obama, he ran the best political campaign in the history of the United States. And many of the techniques and strategies that are being employed, with varying degrees of success in 2016, were created under the leadership of David Plouffe. He was the senior advisor to President Obama, obviously ran 2008, helped run 2012, and now gives some occasional advice to Hillary Rodham Clinton. For all of the engineering students in the audience, he has transformed himself into a senior adviser at Uber, which is why he's now here in the Bay Area. And like all of us he married up to a fabulous woman who happened to be one of my colleagues at Common Sense, Olivia. They have two kids. He is a doting dad. And we are truly lucky to have him here in the Bay Area and to welcome him to Stanford. And we want to keep him in the Bay Area for many years to come. There you go. [applause] DAVID KENNEDY: So you might think of me as the undercard before we get to the main event. But I'd like to get us started this evening with just a bit of historical perspective on the unique institution that is the American presidency. We're going to be talking about all kinds of elections in the next several weeks. But the presidential election is the one that I think commands most of our attention and focus. So I think it's appropriate to begin here. So I'll begin with some observations about the constitutional architecture of the presidency. And then I want, briefly, to discuss a set of changes in the nature of the institution of the presidency and its place in our larger political firmament. Several things that began to appear and have matured, but began to appear in the early 20th century, and give us a legacy of where we are today. And those things involve new expectations about the role of the president in our overall political system. Secondly they involve technologically driven changes in the media. And thirdly, something that I think is not properly appreciated, but maybe it will be by all of you before we're done, the emergence of primary elections. But first, some numbers. There have been 44 presidencies, but only 43 presidents. Thanks to Grover Cleveland. All 44 have been males. All but two have been white Protestant males. 17 have been elected to second terms. That's the equivalent of second marriages, the triumph of hope over experience. 26 have been lawyers. 18 had previously served in the House of Representatives, 17 as governors, 16 as US senators, 14 as vice president, and nine have been generals. And though I know this cuts across the grain of where we live here, just two presidents-- and not a particularly happy two, I'm afraid-- could be described as having had careers as businessmen. That's Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. Eight have died in office, four of them assassinated, two have been impeached-- Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. And one, Richard Nixon, resigned. But here's the single most important number. The president is just one-- one of the 536 elected federally elected officials in Washington DC. Now for these purposes, I'm treating the president and vice president as a single political unit. And it's worth repeating that. The president is but one of the 536 elected officials in Washington. The others of course are the 100 members of the United States Senate and the 435 members of the House of Representatives. Some people in this room will remember the journalist and chronicler of many presidential races in the mid 20th century, Theodore White. And in one of his several books on presidential elections from 1960 forward, he said quite simply, "The Supreme duty of the president is to protect us from each others' congressman." That remark actually points to some persistently problematic attributes of the presidency. And indeed, problems with the entire American political system. So the constitutional framers, in that summer 1787 in Philadelphia, could be said actually to have invented the presidency. Colonial governors-- which might be taken as a model but shouldn't be-- had not been elected, but royally appointed and usually royally resented by the people over whom they presided. The Articles of Confederation made no provision whatsoever for an executive department. So the framers knew the weaknesses of the Articles. And they wanted, somehow or other, to create an effective executive. But remembering the abuses of those much despised royal governors, they also feared the concentration of executive authority. So how to strike the balance? The result was the famous or infamous system of checks and balances, that once upon a time, all American students learned in their high school civics classes. The framers gave the president the power to make treaties and to superintend the executive branch and simultaneously hedged that power by requiring the advice and the consent of the Senate on treaties as well as on a high level executive appointments. And indeed, in the United States government, senatorial approval is required in some departments down to the fifth level of appointment. Which means that this country has a far larger politically appointed class that changes every four or eight or 12 years and a far smaller civil service class the stays permanently in place, Which means we have much more fluctuation in policy and uncertainty about the future. Conversely, the framers conferred some legislative power on the president in the form of the veto. And they mixed both presidential, or executive, and congressional prerogative into the judiciary branch by making the president responsible for nominating persons to the federal bench, but only subject to final confirmation by the Senate. Now the delegates to the Constitutional Convention who advocated most strongly for a robust executive were Alexander Hamilton-- familiar to us all thanks to Broadway-- and James Wilson, the less familiar, from Pennsylvania. So here's what Hamilton had to say about the executive branch in Federalist Number 70. He said "A feeble executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution. And a government, ill executed, whatever it may be in theory must be in practice a bad government." Now for his part, James Wilson wanted and advocated robustly for direct popular election of the president. And in his mind, for good reason, because in his view the presidency was the sole locus in the entire political system, federal and local, where responsibility for the nation as a whole resided. As distinguished from the parochial interests of Representatives for local congressional districts or senators from individual states. This was Theodore White's point, as well. The president is the sole actor who has the responsibility in the Constitution for the entirety of the nation, as opposed to particular districts. So James Wilson's conception of the presidency, I'm going to call plebiscitarian. And that word may have a little bit of currency as we go on this evening. That is he conceived of it as an office which should be elected directly by the entire citizenry. And therefore, directly beholden to the national at-large electorate, speaking in as much of a unified voice as it could. But, of course, as we know, that was not to be. Instead we got the decidedly odd and distinctly American apparatus of the Electoral College. A mystery to all of us and if you don't believe what I just said, try explaining it to a foreigner. But just to look ahead for a moment, James Wilson's aspiration for a more plebiscitarian style of presidency, would in the fullness of time get a kind of second wind. So some further numbers from that Constitutional moment can serve to make a very important point. Article 1 of the Constitution addresses the role of the legislative branch. It comprises 51 paragraphs. And it contains language about quote "powers denied to the government" suggesting an elision in the framers' minds between government and legislature. Article 2 addresses the executive branch. It contains just 13 paragraphs, eight of which layout the mechanism for electing the president, the Electoral College, and four of which detail his powers, and one provides for his impeachment. Now the asymmetry of those numbers 51 paragraphs devoted to the legislature and just 13 to the executive strongly suggest that the framers conceive the president as largely the creature of the legislature. To be sure, unlike in so-called parliamentary systems where the prime minister is the head of the majority party in the legislature, our president was to be independently elected and would have a measure of autonomy and some power of initiative. But in practice, in the framers' minds, my belief, he would be substantially subordinated to the will of the legislative branch. And in fact, down to 1832, a half century or so into the republic's history, presidential candidates were chosen by congressional caucuses not by party conventions. Now toward the end of the 19th century, roughly a century into American nationhood, several people began to question the centrality of Congress in our political system. And among them was a young graduate student at Johns Hopkins University. In 1885, he published his doctoral dissertation under the title Congressional Government. And it remains, to this day, one of the most trenchant treatises ever written about American political institutions. Now that bright young graduate student was Thomas Woodrow Wilson. He was, of course, destined just a few decades later to become President of the United States. Wilson intended his title Congressional Government to be understood as ironic or even oxymoronic. His central argument was that Congress was inherently, structurally incapable of anything resembling coherent or effective government. Here's what he wrote. "Nobody in the Congress, nobody stands sponsor for the policy of the government. A dozen men originate it, a dozen compromises twist and alter it, a dozen officers whose names are scarcely known out of Washington put it into execution. Policy can be neither prompt nor straightforward when it must serve many masters. It must either equivocate or hesitate or fail altogether. The division of authority and the concealment of responsibility in our legislative branch are calculated to subject the government to a very distressing paralysis." Now you have to pinch yourself to remember that those words were written not in 2016, but 131 years ago in 1885. So Wilson's was but one, an early, voice in a chorus of similar commentary over the next few decades around the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th century, all lamenting the chronic dysfunctionality of Congress and the fragmentation of political power. Especially now that the United States was on its way to becoming a big, mature industrialized, urbanized, increasingly networked and interdependent society of nearly 100 million people with the capacity to assert itself on a global scale. And as Alexander Hamilton had said 100 years earlier, "A feeble executive implying a feeble execution of government had become--" in the eyes of that generation a century ago-- "both an embarrassment and a danger." So when he assumed the presidency in 1913, Wilson represented both newly emerging expectations about the president's role and, I think, a new style of presidential leadership. He once said, the president is at liberty in law and in conscience to be as big a man as he possibly can. Now that might have been more aspirational than descriptive when he said it, but, in fact, along with his contemporary, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson introduced at least two significant innovations to the institution of the presidency. The first of those innovations is evident in the fact that with Theodore Roosevelt we have the first publicized slogan, the Square Deal, that described a comprehensive, coherent policy program for which the president was to stand as champion. No such thing existed before the 20th century. But Americans have long since become accustomed to it. Indeed, we've come to expect presidentially sponsored policy packages, along with their headline slogans. From Roosevelt's Square Deal to Wilson's New Freedom, FDR's New Deal, Harry Truman's Fair Deal, John F. Kennedy's New Frontier, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, and today's Or Deal. You're paying attention. I'm gratified. OK. So that succession of presidential programs, in my judgment, bespeaks the felt need in modern American society-- more urgent than it was 200 years ago even-- for a type of coordinated, articulated national policies for which the president, as the singular solitary national political officer, can be held accountable. But of course, as we know, while the president proposes, Congress disposes. And it has many, many avenues of disposal. And here is where the stubborn constitutional realities and constraints of what our colleague here at Stanford, Francis Fukuyama, calls the American veto-ocracy come frustrated into play. As the young Woodrow Wilson observed, over a century ago, Congress to this day largely remains the place where presidential policy initiatives go to die, or to be disemboweled, or dismembered. Now the second innovation whose outlines at least we can see in the era of Roosevelt and Wilson recalls that plebiscitarian dream of James Wilson back in 1787. Both TR and Woodrow Wilson began to develop a political technique whose significance would grow exponentially as the 20th century went forward, namely using publicity as a tool of governance. And by publicity I mean reaching over and beyond the formal institutions of government, Congress in particular to appeal directly to the public at large, and to mobilize public opinion to advance the presidential agenda. The $8 word for this is disintermediation. And here is where the media enter our story. It was the emergence of inexpensive, mass circulation newspapers around the turn of the last century-- papers like William Randolph Hearst's New York Journal and Joseph Pulitzer's New York World that first made possible this kind of disintermediation. Woodrow Wilson used those papers, and others, the power of the press in general, to appeal to the people to force Congress to pass tariff banking trade and anti-trust legislation in his first term. And he tragically, as we all know, broke his health in an attempt to do the same with respect to passage of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Now that shift in the president's relation with Congress and the public has, in fact, been precisely, more or less precisely quantified. In the 20th century, presidents spoke directly to the public in one medium or another six times more frequently than they had in the 19th century. And conversely, presidents in the 20th century spoke exclusively to the Congress 1/4 less frequently than in the preceding century. So the emergence of mass electronic, instantaneous, communication, especially the radio, powerfully accelerated that trend. And of course, Franklin Roosevelt with his renowned fireside chats fundamentally redefined the president's relationship to the public. John F. Kennedy took things a step further when he began televising news conferences, rendering the next morning's print accounts or even that evening news broadcasts pretty redundant. So the internet and the social media of our own time take this process of disintermediation to its inevitable conclusion. They not only provide presidents and presidential candidates with direct access to citizens, but they also enable citizens to communicate directly and swiftly with leaders, or would be leaders, and even more importantly, with each other free from editorial curating or fact checking or even the protocols of civil speech. So we live in a radically disintermediated world for better or worse. OK. One more development with powerful consequences in our own time, also with origins in the early 20th century, the proliferation of primary elections. The state of Oregon held the first delegate binding presidential primary in 1910. And California and a few other states soon followed suit, in the name of direct democracy, taking politics out of the hands of the bosses, the machines, and delivering it directly to the people. Now it's pretty hard to argue with the fact that-- or the assertion that more democracy is better than less democracy. But the actual workings of the primary system might prompt us to rethink that apparently benign proposition. The fact is that as late as 1968, only about a dozen states held binding presidential primary elections. A decade or so later, virtually every state had a primary or, its near equivalent, a caucus. So here is yet another form of disintermediation. While the electronics revolution has severely reduced the influence of the established press and other traditional media, in more or less the same time frame, the last two generations or so primary elections have enormously reduced the power of political parties to perform their usual task of identifying, vetting, recruiting, grooming, and supporting candidates. Now, in fact, any political entrepreneur with a fat checkbook or a few fat cat supporters can seek to rent, or maybe I should say hijack, a party which helps explain in my mind why the Republican field in the 2016 cycle had 17 contenders well into the campaigning season, many of whom had sufficient funding to hang on well beyond their clear and evident sell bays date. So this is where history has deposited us. As Americans, we have come to have increasingly extravagant expectations, not only that the president will protect us from each others' congressman, but that he or she will also be the Paladin of coherent, nationally scaled policies, domestic and foreign, responsive to the realities of the responsibilities of an advanced, interdigitated, post-industrial society of 322 million people. And we have come to expect, and even demand, something that amounts to personal, unmediated relationship with presidents and wannabe presidents, enquiring even into the minutiae of their personal and most intimate lives. The media that once reported and interpreted the news have lost much of their authority and credibility, not to mention their audience. And the political parties that once did the work of selecting and bringing forward candidates have lost much of their power to control that process in the age of nearly universal primary elections. But remember, those other 535 people in Washington, DC. Congress retains virtually all of its prerogatives to obstruct and to veto. It continues to operate as a ramshackle confederation of local interests rather than a truly national institution. And the resulting stalemate between president and congresses we've seen in recent history feeds public frustration, disillusionment, distrust, and resentment, and breeds the political attitude we call populist. It is not a very pretty picture. Now it happens that a recent book by Sanford's own Terry Moe and his co-author William Howell at the University of Chicago, a book entitled Relic. And because it's an academic book, it has the requisite colon following that word. Relic-- refers to the Constitution-- colon How Our Constitution Undermines Effective Government-- and Why We Need a More Powerful Presidency. Moe's and Howell's book essentially resurrects much of Woodrow Wilson's lament about congressional inefficacy in 1885. And Moe and Howell have a remedy that they propose. And that is granting the president, across the board, fast track authority with respect to all legislation such as he now enjoys with respect to trade negotiations. If that recommendation is adopted, presidential initiatives would have to be voted up or down without amendments or riders. And in their view, this arrangement would better align the hopes invested in the presidency and the realities of presidential leadership by meaningfully attaching accountability to presidential promises, as Alexander Hamilton and James Wilson wanted. And, if it's adopted, this reform would introduce more transparency and efficiency to the legislative process as Woodrow Wilson wanted. Now whether this is a realistic, or even a sufficient, or even an appropriate solution to the political paralysis that has been evident recently, I can't say. But any diagnosis of our current situation, I submit to you, must take account of the mighty weight of constitutional architecture, the technologies of communication, and the ways in which primary elections have weakened the political parties. And just to add another layer of complexity, the oceans of money on which our electoral system now floats. All these things that have brought this political system to its present pass. Those will be among our subjects this evening, and in the weeks to come. Thank you. [applause] JIM STEYER: Let's go. So boy, David, you gave us an awful lot to think about for tonight and for the weeks to come. That was awesome. I want to start with the media because Mike is a press secretary and a brilliant communications specialist. David is a media message person, but also having run some of the most important campaigns. How do you think first of all compare Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and the way they've used the media, number one. And then the follow up is the behavior and performance of the American media during the 2016 election Cycle not that any of us have opinions on that matter. But I'd love to hear what you both think about how the two campaigns have done it, how effectively in each case. MIKE MCCURRY: Trump clearly has dominated campaign coverage and has expertly manipulated the press by creating any manner of scandal gaffe craziness on any given day. And when that begins to generate controversy, he just steps right up and does another one. And I think in doing that, he has kind of mesmerized the press to the point that they can't not pay attention to him, because he's just so fascinating. And of course, they missed his ascendancy, during the primary phase, and still can't figure out how he's hanging on despite what, I think is the first time in my lifetime, where collectively an editorial judgment has been made that he is a candidate that ought not to be elected president. I mean there were plenty of times when editorial boards take that kind of position, but this has seeped in now to the actual coverage of the campaign itself. So they have kind of deliberately attempted to expose what they think as his shortcomings as a candidate. And it's truly extraordinary. Now, Mrs. Clinton-- and so as a result, he's had I think-- I mean David would know too, the number, the quantity of coverage that he's had is almost three or four times as much as what Mrs. Clinton has received during the same equivalent period of time. Now that's changing now that we're in the general election phase. But during the early stage of this very, very long campaign, he was really dominating the coverage. She was more strategic and precise in choosing moments in which she wanted to elevate her own profile. And I think used that in the more conventional way. So you've got really two radically different ways of which you engage with the media and two radically different views in the large thing that we call the media about how the candidates ought to be portrayed. Now it's very hard to give the media any kind of grade in this, because one of the factors now in political communications is just how diverse the media is, the ways in which we get content. There is the decline in what we would call the traditional mainstream press, the decline in the large big city newspapers and their circulation, the decline in the traditional major networks that Americans have historically relied upon to get information about the campaigns. That is all disaggregating now as we see contents splattered across all that is the social media and the internet. So you know it it's hard to kind of come up with a single grade, because the media itself is undergoing such rapid change by technology and by editorial standards. Do see it that way? JIM STEYER: What do you think, David? DAVID PLOUFFE: Well I do think that there has been some false equivalency. I think that some of the coverage of Trump and Clinton on financial issues, foundation issues, transparency, I don't think it's equal. But just as a former practitioner, Tom Hanks famously said there's no crying in baseball. There's no crying in presidential politics. If you want to seek the presidency, you've got to win it no matter whether you think you're getting good media coverage or not and execute a campaign to do that. And I think-- I'm sure Mike will attest to this-- is what generally happens is when you're perceived to be doing well by the media, whether that's in office or in a campaign, you tend to like your coverage. Donald Trump doesn't like all the coverage he's getting in the last week. OK? In September, he liked the coverage. So there is a group think that happens there, right? So basically, the pack journalism is a real thing. And basically people pile on. And so right now the race is covered in a way that's much more favorable to Hillary Clinton. If she does not have a good debate Sunday, she'll be back in the penalty box. But I agree with Mike. The big factor is the presidential megaphone that we always used to talk about has been completely shattered and in a presidential campaign. And you have to understand, too, that most of the-- right now what really matters in this election are their swing voters in about four to six states? That will be pretty important. And then there's a lot of voters who would support Trump or Clinton but not sure they're going to vote. They are definitely not watching-- I mean, let's remember even Bill O'Reilly only gets three, four million people a night. OK? It's a sliver of the country. So the most important conversation that's happening every day is the one that we're all having with each other in person or on Facebook. And the media can influence that. MIKE MCCURRY: Thinking of David's point about TR and Wilson really beginning to frame a large public discussion through the use of media, the broadsheet newspaper, basically, and then, later, radio. That fragmentation of the media now has made it almost impossible for either of these major candidates to put forward any type of coherent program that would lead to some governing agenda when we get to January of 2017. I mean frankly you can name Trump's ideas more readily, but they are implausible. We're not going to build a wall all the way down across our border in the south. I mean that's nutty. And some of his other ideas kind of approach that standard, too. But the point is he's talking to slivers of audiences very directly. And David can tell you a lot about how campaigns use creatively the micro-targeted ability of the internet to individually to deliver reinforcing messages to the voter. But it doesn't add up then at the end to anything that represents like an agenda for the common good. So that's my worry-- DAVID KENNEDY: Analogously, slivers of the electorate participate in primaries. MIKE MCCURRY: Right. JIM STEYER: So let me ask a couple of follow ups, here. So one, on the issue of micro-targeting, David. So you, and the Electoral College, because David was talking in his opening about the Electoral College. If you take a look at Hillary's campaign right now, you have Joel, our good pal Joel Benenson who's been here. Who was your colleague as the pollster for Obama both times, now Hillary's pollster. Jim Margolis has been here making the ads. They've got a much more traditional campaign, right? Trump has had this unique, bizarre campaign. How would you value the effect of-- really talk about the general now, because Trump clearly was masterful in some level with the media and getting the Republican nomination. But now that you're in the general, Hillary's done a much more conventional. How does that work? And how would you rate him in a sense? DAVID PLOUFFE: Well first of all I'd say, yes, Trump did some smart things in the primary. But he did not create the conditions for his rise, he tapped into it. So as it turned out, it was considered such a deep Republican field. It turned out there were a bunch of major leaguers, but they're all sitting on the bench pinch hitting. None of these people are in the All-Star game. OK? So about 60% of the Republican electorate wanted nothing to do with traditional Republican politicians. So there's a lot of talk about campaign tactics. We've got to remember in presidential campaigns, it's about the two people and the environment that they're running in and the timing. So listen, every campaign's different. This campaign, and I think Clinton's 100% going to win it, and I think she may want to by some margin, it's not going to be in the Hall of Fame of great political victories. This is a very muddy track, to use a horse racing analogy. And their job is to get 270 electoral votes, because that's the system we have. And I think they're focused on that every minute of every day and every decision they make. And it's one of the reasons I think even when the race was supposedly getting closer, according to the media figure skating judges-- JIM STEYER: David refers to people as bedwetters. DAVID PLOUFFE: --it wasn't really that close. But so let's talk about Trump's mastery. OK? He got the nomination. But he's probably destined to get 43 or 44% of the vote, in what was clearly a winnable race against a democratic candidate, who was far weaker than I imagined. So let's not throw rose petals in front of Donald Trump, yet, because I think he's destined to lose. So the Clinton campaign's been solid. I do think Electoral College point is interesting. My bias, is I'm sure most people here is, is we should go to direct election. But having run presidential campaigns, if I was in charge of a campaign where we didn't have the Electoral College, I would live in Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago. You'd never see me in small town Iowa or small town Ohio. So it seems right to me, but I'm not sure that that would be a good thing, because I think the Republican would do the same thing. They would live in places where they could harvest Republican votes. So it's the system we have. But I think they knew how hard this was going to be, after eight years of a Democrat. There's a lot of people out there looking for something else. It is a change election of some extent. She is not change by any definition. She is not a political athlete. I think she actually may be an athlete when she governs, but she's openly said this, this is not her strength. But they've run a very, very smart campaign that's driven on data, a great understanding of the American electorate, and preserving as many pathways as possible to 270 electoral votes. Now this may open up for her and she may get close to 350. So in that case, the campaign stuff just added to her margin. It wasn't the reason she won. OK? The way a smart campaign can make a difference is if it's really, really close, the way we always thought about it, it was our field goal unit. If we were really close, all the organizing that many of you did, the smart data, the messaging, the understanding the electorate, smart Electoral College strategy, that could get us over the top. In this case, I think we're probably talking about a margin, which is not unimportant in terms of governing. ROB REICH: I want to come back to the point about disintermediated media landscape. And David, you mentioned that even Bill O'Reilly only has three million viewers. So what was the viewership for the first presidential debate between Hillary and Donald Trump? MIKE MCCURRY: Well, 87 million measured by Nielsen. And that was just through conventional television. That excluded C-Span. It excluded people who were live streaming, so it probably was much closer to 100 million. And that is historically the highest we've had in the presidential debates. ROB REICH: Right. So. It seems to me plausible to suggest that the debates, as a result of this fractured media landscape, represent one of the few remaining opportunities for the candidates themselves to deliver a message to a genuinely broad public. And yet, conventional wisdom about the debates is that they actually don't play all that significant a role in campaign strategy or in messaging. So I mean I'm thinking back four years, to I guess what your role must have been David after the first debate between Obama and Romney. DAVID PLOUFFE: You had to go there, huh? ROB REICH: Yeah. Sorry. JIM STEYER: Great moment in your career, David. ROB REICH: And Mike, I'm thinking about the role that you're playing now as a co-chair of the Presidential Debate Commission. I'm wondering how each of you would referee the significance of presidential debates in light of the fractured media landscape and this rare opportunity to communicate to a broad public, even if it's not a grand agenda. There is this rare opportunity still. MIKE MCCURRY: Well they really are the rare moments during the general election campaign that we all gather around a common campfire and hear a story told about the future of the country, and where we are going to go, and then see the different narratives-- DAVID KENNEDY: That's what we should have. JIM STEYER: That's what I'm trying to say. We should hear that. MIKE MCCURRY: Well we should hear that. But the problem is with, this very polarized electorate, and with two candidates who more than half of the electorate say they don't particularly like, it comes down to what can you do to more heavily engage your core support. And so I felt this the other night, particularly, at the vice presidential debate. I felt like the conversation was being held only with the people who were out there who need to hear a reinforcement of their strong points of view. Now you are correct from a lot of the research that has been done, these debates are not designed and nor do they convince people to vote for one candidate or another. The number of people who are truly undecided, even now probably, is relatively small in percent. But they do give people stronger reasons to be advocates for the candidate that they support. And they do, if they are done well, I mean I would maybe argue that we haven't seen that in the fir-- we didn't see that in the first debate-- they are used to build a broad consensus around what the agenda should be for that campaign, and for that candidate, if that candidate is selected. Now that's the best use of those debates. And whether we will see more of that kind of conversation on Sunday night and then in the last debate in Las Vegas, we'll see. We've designed it, and tried to design it, so that it gets away from the pugilistic way in which the candidates often engage. Because we were trying to create bigger chunks of time in which the candidates could be more thoughtful and reflective around certain issues. That's why we went to the blocks of 15 minutes for each segment in the debate. Now it didn't work out particularly well. When the candidates like to interrupt each other and talk over each other and really want to get into it, because they are trying to reach those core supporters and motivate those core supporters, then we lose that opportunity to really have something that builds consensus. ROB REICH: David, what do you think about the question? DAVID PLOUFFE: Well. So I'd say first of all the audience, so 87 million. If you think about the number of people who watched the debate in groups and you think about smartphones, I actually think it was closer to 110. So maybe 140 million people are going to vote? Think about that. What an opportunity. And by the way I think that's one of the maybe few very healthy things about our democracy is presidential debates still matter, now unlike Senate debates or congressional debates. Now they're not going to completely change a race, I agree with that. But let's look historically, OK? Hillary Clinton had a lead. She needed to do two things. And I know from research in both '08 and '12, there still was a healthy chunk of undecided voters that put debates at the number one reason that they would make a decision. We had less concern about motivating our supporters, but that was part of what we needed to do. But so she comes out of that debate strengthening her lead, and I think making Democrats feel a little bit more excited about her. She's got more work to do, 2012 after our first debate with Romney, we got put on probation. We still had a lead, but we let him back in the race for a period of time. 2004 George Bush led John Kerry back in the race. The first debate in 2000 guaranteed George W. Bush's election, masterful debate performance. It wasn't just that Gore was three different Gores inside, he was very good in those debates. I've had to watch every presidential debate probably four times, as we prepare for these things, very good. Our first debate against John McCain, very important we one a foreign policy debate, this four years out of the Illinois State legislature. Bill Clinton's first debate in '92, they're always important. They don't change a race 10 or 15 points. They're incredibly important to the biggest audience you have. We certainly took them enormously seriously. And so you think about what the candidates need to do on Sunday. And to me, that is by far the most interesting debate, because it's a town hall debate. The candidates are still-- I mean listen. Donald Trump doesn't think this is the Lincoln-Douglas debate. This is like Mad Max Fury Road. I mean we're not going to get what we all want in terms of here's my policy in my first 100 days. She's just got to deal with that. But you do have actual citizens asking the questions. The candidates will still tangle. Moderator still has her role. But we always thought that that was the hardest debate to prepare for. Because citizens-- you can fairly predict the questions journalists are going to ask-- but citizens you're not sure. And you're not sure how they're going to come at a question. And obviously, there's a retail politician. You've got that massive audience at home you have to be careful. But you also want to connect. And neither Trump or Clinton are natural retail politicians so this is an away game for both of them. But these things are all a piece, these three debates. The first one's the most important. So what does Clinton need to do more of? She needs to be, in my view, more heart less head. It's pretty clear what Trump needs to do. And you know, if he brought for 90 minutes on Sunday night the first 10 minutes of the debate, you know, I think most of his supporters anyway would think he bounced back a little bit. But this is incredibly important. And for someone like Hillary Clinton who does have, I would consider it, close to a crisis of lack of enthusiasm particularly amongst young voters, it's the best opportunity she has for those people to say, you know I wasn't sure about her, but I saw something there. That's what we need. Because the campaign, the technology, the data, the spending, that's not going to solve that problem, only she can solve that problem. MIKE MCCURRY: You know there's one other important thing. And picking up on a point that you made in the opening lecture. These debates are also about establishing a personal relationship between the president and the people. Unlike, of the 536 elected officials, the one that we really engage with personally who comes into our living rooms on television, and who is with us, and who we get to know and we get to know their family and the names of their pets, and all the other things that we study about the president. We don't have royalty, we have a first family. That's what these debates also do because you get that personal measure of what the character of the person is. And I mean that dimension of these I think is fascinating. And we've seen some of that playing out as we watched the first debate. JIM STEYER: And you know, David, to the point you made earlier to David Kennedy's point that Mike was just picking up on there. The thing-- no, no pretenses about my viewpoint on this-- the thing that amazes me about Trump is this. Is that I do think that people look and go-- I think you said it earlier today when we were talking-- you know this is the guy who's going to be on my cell phone and who I'm going to have to deal with in the Oval Office for the next eight years. This person, woman, it's not this guy now, it could be this man or this woman. And with a guy who has-- I'm thinking this as a dad-- bullying, lying, role model behavior that Margolis made the ads about the kids just watching Trump, just say what he said. Don't you believe that these debates, also with Rosie O'Donnell and the Alicia Machado moments just show to a broad swath of the public that Mike's earlier point about the editorial boards coming out unanimously saying, this guy's not. And can you see him possibly turning that around, that issue around? And no matter how well he does with Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz on Monday night. DAVID PLOUFFE: Well I'd say my friend and former colleague, David Axelrod, had a great term about a presidential campaign. It's an MRI for the soul. You can't hide who you are. So the truth is if Trump shows up in a sort of a sedated of friendly way, that won't help him that much either, because inauthenticity is kryptonite to politicians. So I think that-- the other I'd say about preparing for these debates, so people like me are involved in it, you have electoral games, and you're trying to game out the debate, and you're trying to create some moments and just have a strong performance. These are human beings. OK? So you don't know what's going to happen when the bell goes off. You just don't know. And that's why I think there are so many people who-- yes it's important. And the American people take this election very, both personally, and it's important. But there's also some drama here. Because you just don't know what you'll see. Like Barack Obama did not practice well before the first debate. We did not prepare him well. But what we saw in Denver was 50 times worse than anything we saw. OK? Despite the fact that we knew every president loses their first debate, close election, tough economy, don't blow it. It was on all of us. So he just decided he wanted to defend his record. That's what we were going to do that night and not make a positive case. George Bush did the same thing in 2004. Donald Trump knew-- now the interesting thing to me, because no one-- we can argue-- I don't think very many people think debates are seismic shifters, but we know it's important. The fact that he did not prepare is the thing that is so unbelievable to me. Because even Donald Trump knows the stakes. And clearly, I mean what happens normally tonight is the first night of your first mock debate. The way we would do it is we would go to debate camp for four days. And you take it as serious as anything you've done in your life. You know, Donald Trump supposedly is practicing some answers and they're filming it. But he's not going to go through the whole exercise. And that's what's amazing to me, because there's nothing more important in the world, and for the world than the election of a US president. And here we have a major party nominee who's not putting in the preparation. And I thought that Clinton line about you're right I've prepared for the debate, but I'd prepare for the presidency in some of the focus group research I saw was one of the most effective lines. DAVID KENNEDY: But if we're all agreed, as we seem to be, as you made the point initially, that these elections are the one really dramatically plebiscitarian element in our current political culture. 2/3 of the electorate witnessed that last debate buy your figures. And you said they're designed to do a certain job. I think you'd be the first to admit it, I think you did concede there's been some design failure. You said they're not seismic events. What if we tried to change the Richter scale reading on the debate, made them more substantive, less cosmetic, less person to person, more about policy and the future, and so on. Are there any design principles that have been thought about or suggested? MIKE MCCURRY: Well I mentioned the one that was critical four years ago was is to get away from these very rigid, formulaic ways. You get two minutes. You get a 30 seconds to respond. You get 90 seconds. We've moved away from that. And the concept was moderators both announcing the topics in advance, which we sort of got some of from Lester Holt. But then these larger periods of time where there would be serious and substantive discussion. Now the debate format is only part of it. It's the moderator who has to show up and ask good questions. And I think Lester Holt did. But the candidates have to show up wanting to have that kind of conversation. And they didn't. So that's what we end up with. We end up with a food fight. And you know I don't know. I mean, I think maybe part of-- I think Trump will be very different on Sunday night, just because-- well first of all, the Sunday night debate is the one in which real citizens-- there will be 40 of them on stage. They have been randomly picked by the Gallup organization as uncommitted voters. Not necessarily undecided, but they are open to changing their mind. That's the screen that the Gallup organization uses. DAVID KENNEDY: Does that mean none of them is a registered Democrat or Republican? MIKE MCCURRY: They will get a mix of Republicans, Independents, Democrats, and probably some who will not state what their party affiliation is. The critical variable is that they have to first, they have to be genuinely uncommitted. And they have to show up with questions. And they each submit two questions in a pool that they would then use. And then from the larger pool of the 40 are selected who will actually be on stage. But this is going to be-- if it is about how do you develop a personal relationship. And you'll remember my former boss, Bill Clinton, and how effective he was at that. Because he just oozed empathy when he was in that environment, and felt the pain of the people who were asking the questions, and enveloped them. And George Bush did not. He was looking at Clinton, when is this thing going to be done? So I have a hard time picture-- imagining what Trump will be like in that environment having to really coax someone, having to deliver himself, and coax a real personal relationship from someone. I just don't know his ability to do that. Mrs. Clinton has had some experience in that kind of format. And I think will try harder. But she's not, as you say, naturally gifted at those arts. So we'll see. And then we have the third debate. We'll go back and have the same format as the first debate. So I don't know. I don't know, David. Is there a better way to do this? Or are there different techniques that we could use to try to have a more reasonable, substantive conversation that would bring greater health to our democracy? I would love ideas. My email address is well known. And Steyer will give it to you. DAVID PLOUFFE: Let me just quick. I will say this. So I think, go back and watch all the debates from Kennedy, Nixon, and forward, even the six that I was most recently involved with. There were very substantive, lengthy segments, Obama-Romney, Obama-McCain, so I think let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. This is a unique. I mean look at the Republican primary debates how big are your hands and other body parts and little Marco, and I mean-- so this is just we're dealing with a unique individual. I do think that's where he's going to take it. Moderator can do all they can. I do think what would be useful though is, having prepared for these, I do think for the moderators to think through, let me not the whole debate, but let me find two or three questions they probably haven't prepared for, and some more far reaching things. You know, I'd love to hear both these candidates say how are you going to make policy decisions given what's happening in terms of machine learning and automation and virtual and augmented reality? The nature of warfare is clearly going to change as other countries may get drones and as we have more automated soldiers. How are you going to handle that? I would love to hear both these candidates think about that sort of thing. MIKE MCCURRY: You know there's one point I should have made, should have said this earlier because it's picking up a little bit on the institutions that impact the presidency itself. From 1960, you mentioned the Nixon-Kennedy debate we went 16 years until 1976 until we had the next presidential debate, because sometimes, particularly incumbent presidents, don't particularly feel it's in their interest to have to get on the stage with someone who thinks they're equal to them after they've been exercising this enormous power. Witness Denver four years ago. So the fact that the Commission on Presidential Debates, and we get criticized, we particularly get criticized by third parties that feel like they are denied access because we set a threshold of 15% for participation. And there are good reasons to do that. We'd otherwise have a cluttered stage. And probably, and you and I both know having been on the campaign side, you wouldn't want your candidate to get up there with six or seven people in the general election, unless it was politically maybe in your interests. But the fact that we've institutionalized these moments now, where we get to see the candidates as human beings in these moments in which some light gets shed on character is an important thing for our process. Because so much of the rest of campaign theater is just manufactured. And the events are staged. And you don't get those authentic moments when you see someone clearly. JIM STEYER: I want to ask you one question, Mike, as chair of the debates. And David, comment, too, when you'd like to. So you mention the third debate. And Chris Wallace said he's not going to be a fact checker or care about whether they're accurate or not. So I find that to be a pathetic and outrageous statement for a journalist to make. I do. So you could agree or disagree-- But my bigger question is this. Given the nature-- I think this is important in anything-- but given that these are these very key moments, one way or another, and given the level of outright mendacity and just dishonest statements that have been made both in the and primaries and now in the general, and in my opinion largely by one person and there's been a false equivalency. How can we have a debate where the moderators aren't held accountable to some extent but you guys, that actually when people get up and lie, do something, say something about it? MIKE MCCURRY: Jim, if there is rampant proliferation and prevarication-- [laughter] --then, yes the moderator has to step in at some point. But remember what happens when they do. If you remember the debate four years ago when Candy Crowley from CNN, they were back and forth, back and forth between-- DAVID PLOUFFE: In the town hall debate, by the way, Benghazi was during the town hall debate. MIKE MCCURRY: Yeah, well they were back and forth on whether or not the President had used the word terror. And she happened to have been at the Rose Garden ceremony, where he did use the word terror. And so she blurted out, well, yeah, he did say it. She told me later, she goes I was there when he said it. So I knew. And they were going back and forth and they were stuck and I needed to move it on. But she was excoriated for having intervened somehow or other on behalf of one of the candidates. And if you were fact checking, there is some evidence that in this current campaign, one of the candidates would be subject to a little more of that than the other. So and then every Republican would howl and every conservative would say the thing was stacked. And we even got, as it was, some criticism in the first debate that somehow or other Holt had asked questions that were a little sharper and more pointed of Donald Trump. But Chris Wallace's point is I'm not there to kind of act like I'm a Sunday talk show host and go down the checklist and buzz both of these candidates. That's their job. They have to challenge each other. I mean that's what Senator Kaine was doing to Governor Pence just the other night in the vice presidential debate. And maybe not very effectively, according to the reviews, but Pence elected not to defend some of the statements that his running mate had made. And that was a telling moment. I mean that was politically the most interesting thing that came out of that whole debate, I think. ROB REICH: I want to push the conversation a little bit beyond the considerations about the debates and the broader campaign and get into the conversation here with a few of the questions that were posed to us by some of the students. So David, you were part of an historic candidate, the first African-American as and initial candidate for a party and then elected, of course. Hillary Clinton is, in many respects, equally historic as the first female. But that's overlooked it seems or underplayed insofar as this campaign's going. I wanted to know if you could comment on why you think that is. And to focus the question a bit more, why do you think that even amongst college educated white students, in particular women themselves, Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy as a woman is not playing especially well? They went by and large for Bernie Sanders. And now, you don't see the same sort of energy that you saw on behalf of Barack Obama? DAVID PLOUFFE: Well, on the last point. So Hillary Clinton now is doing better than Barack Obama did with college educated white men, younger. Now we did quite well. And her vote share amongst college educated women from the ages of 23-50 is going to exceed ours. Now the question is vote share is one thing, how much turnout did you get? That's a challenge. And there's no doubt in the primary there were some issues. But I would say that I would love for her to have a debate moment, whether it's Sunday night or in Las Vegas-- fitting place, by the way, to end this circus-- inspired choice of locale by the Commission. But I would love her-- MIKE MCCURRY: My co-chair happens to be from Nevada. But-- DAVID PLOUFFE: Yeah. Whether that question comes directly, I mean I'd love for her to have a moment to lift this up a little bit and say listen I don't want people to cast their vote for or against based on either of our genders. But I do think after 227 years, and 44 presidencies, and 43 presidents, the fact that we'd have our first president sitting at the Oval Office and in the Situation Room looking at the world through the eyes of a mother and a grandmother and a wife is going to be a very good thing for this country. [applause] And I think something like that could really bring it home. Because I don't think she's getting-- I mean I was struck, I was in Philadelphia. I was back at the convention. And when she strode up to the stage on a Thursday night, I got quite emotional. That was the first time for me. I mean I knew our first woman, excited, but there it was. It meant something. I actually happen to believe substantively that's true. I mean I think we've tried 42 white dudes and one African-American, and we've never tried a woman. I think maybe there'll be some good that comes out of that. But I think the perspective's an important selling point. But I think politically she's probably not getting the value out of the history. ROB REICH: So thinking strategically, you suggest you'd like to see her have a moment in which she lifts this issue up without-- DAVID PLOUFFE: In stride. ROB REICH: You're right, in stride. DAVID PLOUFFE: Not going, I'll get to Benghazi in a minute. But you know-- ROB REICH: Is it too late for her to make a big difference in this? MIKE MCCURRY: No DAVID PLOUFFE: No. You know the only penalty of the lateness is it's getting late for voter registration deadlines in many states. But no, it's not. And again, where the race stands right now is I think if were held tomorrow, you know she probably wins four to six points nationally, which probably results in north of 320 electoral votes. So she's in a commanding position. Now there's no question that her husband, in 1992, or Barack Obama in 2008 would be winning by more. OK? She is not a political athlete. They were very different. Or Ronald Reagan, or even George W. Bush back in 2000. So there's some limitation. And there's no doubt her unfavorables and some of these trust numbers are much worse than anybody could have predicted. So she's challenging. But she's got, in my view, an incredibly decisive edge. And the important thing, whether it's the debate this Sunday, the next one, the rest of the campaign, Trump's got to grow. So I was in New York, I was asked by the Clinton campaign to come out and spend some time with the media afterwards. And all of them, well is Trump going to lose any vote? No, he's not going to lose a single vote because of this. But that's not his mission. He has to add a ton of vote. And he didn't add anybody because that debate performance. And so that's where the race stands, right? But for her-- so I think she's almost assuredly going to win. But to win with the margin which will help take back the Senate, give her more strength-- you know, if she wins, and turnout really is abysmal, that's going to affect. So it's not too late. But the window's closing. She's got two more opportunities because outside the debates, that target audience is not watching CNN or MSNBC. They're just not going to see it. They're hard to reach with advertising. This is it. She's got to swing at the pitch and hit it. DAVID KENNEDY: You know, Rob, I would also say-- this is quite impressionistic and I'm sticking my neck out even to say it probably, but-- I think the issues of racial equality and gender equality have different valences in our culture and our history. I think a lot of the enthusiasm for Barack Obama in 2008 wasn't just in the African-American community. It was in the broader community that saw an opportunity to exculpate the society from its history of racism. It was a kind of expiation exercise in part. The issue of gender equality is urgent and real. And I don't want to belittle it all, but it just doesn't have the same roots and valence in our national history that racial equality does. So it's less mobilizable I think as a political factor. ROB REICH: I think that's an interesting question that I put to Mike and David here. If you happen to think that some of what we observe in our current moment and what you experienced as the campaign strategist for Barack Obama involved confronting what was still, present racism in the country, whether or not it's the same type of issue with respect to gender or sexism, I wonder if you might comment on whether you think some of the lack of enthusiasm we see for Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy amounts to something about latent sexism or explicit sexism in the American population? MIKE MCCURRY: I think some of it could. But I think it's a very, very small fraction of the electorate. I think the stronger problem that she has is the one of enthusiasm for not having that natural gift of, the natural political skill that comes with building enthusiasm and creating that relationship of trust with people. Plus things that she's done along the way that have tripped her up. There have been some episodes where she's got some challenges on that front. And I think that has a lot to do with it. But what percentage of the pro-Trump vote is openly hostile to the idea of a female presidency, I don't know? I'm hoping that that's a very small number. I don't know, what do you think? ROB REICH: David? AUDIENCE: No. DAVID PLOUFFE: Well I think-- [laughter] Yeah. I don't think they're voting differently, because I think the level of animus though among some of the Trump supporters probably is. In terms of the people who are at risk of not voting, I don't mean it's because of gender, I think it's because of enthusiasm. And again, I think those are some voters where it's a clearer picture in their mind that there is some history to be made here. I do think that will help. MIKE MCCURRY: I mean in this sense, it does seem like what animates a lot of the Trump vote are people who believe that there is a country that is slipping away from them that is long gone. That it was a better country in the 1950s and '60s. Now that was a country in which women did not have the opportunities that they have today. So in some sense, maybe that's gets at what your question was there. But you know there is something we have got to acknowledge this. Now, obviously, we are two Democrats, but I have to acknowledge that because the country-- we have gone the longest sustained period in which pollsters have measured dissatisfaction with the direction of the country. The classic polling question is the country headed in the right direction or is it on the wrong track? We have been on the wrong track, 2/3 of the country saying we're on the wrong track for the longest period of time that pollsters have asked that question. Almost throughout all of the Obama presidency in fact. Now Obama's popularity has risen a little bit, but it never gets much-- it sort of fluctuates in the range of 55%-45% approval. So that's a lot of people who just don't approve of the President. And that reflects, I think the larger polarization that we have in the country, too. But Trump has tapped into that and has tapped into the desire to change direction. And even though I think maybe a large percentage of his supporters think he's got his problems, they're willing to look beyond that because they're looking for something else. And I think that is Mrs. Clinton's problem is that she represents that established way of doing things, going way back, because she's been around forever. DAVID KENNEDY: I think she's got another problem. And frankly, in your views on this, David, especially. It's a problem, a version of which President Obama's had as well by his own admission, and that's the difficulty of communicating a coherent vision of the kind of future they want to lead us into. Hillary's greatest asset, at this point, seems to be in the electoral process is making the case that she is the person who is not Donald Trump. But she hasn't really made the positive case, very effectively, in my view for what is the integument, the ligaments that hold her vision of the world together. I think Barack Obama's had a similar issue, actually. DAVID PLOUFFE: Well I think not in our campaigns. And you know, it's amazing what a billion dollars will do to your communications skills and millions of volunteers, particular when the presidential megaphone has been shattered. And listen, you have to understand about the presidency, I mean Mike worked there. I worked there. What scares me about Trump is not his policies it's that-- I mean it's the privilege of a lifetime to work there. It's also a house of horrors. Anything that comes to that floor is generally no good, and super complicated, and urgent, and crisis. And so to your point, they're the one person in our system of government who's got to be responsible for everything. So this isn't just about narrating your presidency. You're managing crisis, economic foreign policy. It's an amazing thing. And I can't imagine that human being in the situation room running the National Security Council meeting. It scares me to death, to death. [applause] The other thing I think it would be good for her to do is to make clear-- I mean she did a little bit of this in the first debate-- but this is also a way to sort of say not everything was great during the last eight years. Say, listen, Trump wants to adopt the same policies, actually, on steroids-- don't do the trumped up line she did-- you know that wrecked the economy and all the resultant things. Now that's what he wants to do. So if you want to go back to that, vote for him. Economy's bounced back. We've created over 10 million jobs, unemployment rate down. But we haven't seen is the wage growth in a consistent way, too many people trying to get in the middle class, can't do it. That's going to be the mission of my presidency. Every day I wake up, every thing I do, every idea I have, right? I think she needs to do that. And that's more again, that's less about I think she should talk about what she's going to do, but it's more that sense of advocacy. And it's also a way to say, in the last eight years, we haven't seen the economy work as well we need it for everybody. Now it could be on the wrong track, I mean, I'm not sure that's the right measure anymore. Because you ask people different questions about their personal economic situation, quite positive, do they think America is more respected in the world? And now listen, I don't think we're going to see-- I mean Barack Obama's going to leave office, my guess his approval ratings in the high 50s, which is extraordinarily high. But we're not going to see any president, Republican or Democrat, other than maybe in the month after military action be in the 70s, 80s, or 90s, ever again. Because we've got to remember, too, so Trump-- in living out in the Bay Area and having worked in democratic politics now, it's always an interesting discussion, because people think if we just speak in purely progressive language, we can win the presidency. 20% of the American electorate this year will be liberal. 40% will be conservative. The Republican party is always closer to the presidency than the Democratic party is. So he or she who wins the middle wins the election. We have to remember that. And at some point, the Republicans are going to nominate someone who can appeal more to the center. And we'll nominate someone, because I think our party will move further and further left, that can't hold the center. It's a very important thing to understand how hard it is for-- even with our Electoral College and demographic advantages-- 40% of the electorate is conservative. And even though Trump's not a true conservative, he's going to get all that vote. So they are pretty close to the presidency before you even start the campaign. ROB REICH: I want to get one more question from a student, here. And you mentioned this living now in Silicon Valley, this is a Silicon Valley centric question. We've long known living in Silicon Valley and in the Bay Area how we're a fund raising machine for various candidates. But in part because of some of the technological means, the platforms that are available for disseminating messages, and micro targeting, it's obvious that Silicon Valley companies and what comes out of Silicon Valley are much more important for campaign strategy these days beyond the dollars that can be donated. And it seems likely that this is-- and we're in an early moment of the evolution of this, it's hardly been built out. So now that you're living here, David, I wonder if you can comment a bit on what you see as the coming attractions with respect to the role that Silicon Valley plays with respect to elections in the United States. And whether you think it's a good development that technology and the platforms that are built and operated here are increasingly central players in that. DAVID PLOUFFE: Well I think Silicon Valley, obviously, has an enormous role in our government and our policy, most importantly. But speaking specifically of campaigns, first of all there's talent. So our analytics, our data, our digital strategy, in '08 and '12, Clinton's in '16. Do you think anybody from campaign politics was involved in that? No. It's people from companies out here taking a sabbatical who come. And that's one of the problems of the Republican Party right now, because on social issues, there's plenty of people out here who might agree with Republicans on economic issues, there's not many people that agree with them on social issues. They're not willing to go to Trump Tower or down to help Ted Cruz in '20. So there's a talent gap between the parties. I shouldn't say the parties. Because these talent, they're not going to help the party, they're going to help a candidate. But the big changes are going to be machine learning. So I even think about stuff I've done in my life. Should Barack Obama go to Miami or Tampa? Should we run this ad or that ad? By 2024, for maybe 2020, Watson will make that decision, not someone like me. Secondly, augmented reality, virtual reality. That's going to open up the ability to engage people in fascinating ways in politics. And you think about the ability to have basically a life-like candidate with machine learning engaging with the voter. Think about that. I mean Prime Minister Modi used holograms, but that was a very rudimentary use of that. I think that's fascinating. And then, I think, hopefully, Silicon Valley will be part of making it easier to vote. Because the fact of the matter that we can order a car, stay wherever we want, do financial transactions, fill prescriptions, get diagnosed, buy cars, but we can't press a button and vote is an outrage. And I think it would be the single best thing to help turn out and help the country. ROB REICH: So that last thing, increasing the ease with which we can vote seems unambiguously a good development. DAVID PLOUFFE: Well in the some quarters. ROB REICH: True. DAVID PLOUFFE: Not in other quarters. That's why the last thing we're going to be able to do in this country is vote on our phones or with our retinal scans or whatever it's going to be in a few years. It will be the very last thing, because there is no doubt. Now if I was a Republican strategist that's kind of how I feel about the old taxi industry a few years ago back when that was an issue-- compete. Because if you're saying an African-American voter, an Asian-American voter, an unmarried, younger, white college educated voter, young, we're not sure you think-- so if you're saying we don't think you participating is a good idea, you're never going to get to first base. So at some point you've got to tackle the big thing, even if you lose a couple elections along the way. JIM STEYER: Can I ask a follow up about this-- it goes to the other. You brought up gender and young people. But the other issue that to me has really come out in this campaign is race. And it's interesting because you ran two campaigns with the first African-American candidate for president. And you obviously had much experience with how race factored into the 2008, 2012. But I would argue that Donald Trump, and some others in the Republican Party, have played out race in a more blunt and racist way than anybody in the last 30 or 40 years in American politics, and crossed a lot of lines that previously were taboo. Question, A, do you agree? And, B where will that lead us as a country? MIKE MCCURRY: I get have to be very careful here since we still have two more debates to negotiate. I am very, very troubled by some of the way in which he's made his appeals. You know there was a subtly to Nixon's southern strategy, which was equally racist but the vocabulary was not so raw and poisonous, and legitimizing for people who really are hardcore racists who suddenly feel comfortable that they can be public about things that they haven't been able to say, or maybe were furtive about, in the past. I mean that is a really, really deeply troubling thing. JIM STEYER: And David, what do you think? And also I'd be interested, David Kennedy what do you think about it historically? DAVID PLOUFFE: Well it's very disappointing because I do think that if you look at from Ford until Romney, we didn't really see much of that. Now let's remember Ronald Reagan started his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, right? So there is some tradition of this. But it's been absent for a long time. There's no question. I think it's really because of what Mike said. I think there's a lot of people out there who want to hold on to the past. And you know the rising parts of the American population and electorate, the rising power of women, the rising growth of the Muslim community, Asian-American community, there's a pushback against that. But it's incredibly ugly. Now Barack Obama, in our view, we don't think we lost any votes based on his race. But there's no doubt I think some of the animus in the opposition when he was in office was driven by that. But it's grown over time. And my hope is-- I don't think that the reasons Trump did as well as he did in some of the economic anxiety and the populism and nationalism, we better not forget those on November 9th, because they're going to be with us for a long time. Why Bernie Sanders did so well, these are really important things. But I don't think the Trump thing has to carry on. I think there's going to be a lot of Republicans that are going to want to put that away in a time capsule never to be opened. And hopefully, I mean most Republicans who are in the business are appalled by this. And so I think there will be a pretty strong reaction. So that I do think you might see a pushback. Doesn't mean it will never come back to our body politic again. But I do think that's one thing most Republicans who will still be standing on November 9th will want to not embrace and run away from. ROB REICH: David, what do you think historically on that? DAVID KENNEDY: Well I hope David Plouffe is right. Future will tell. But I think, if nothing else, this campaign and other events, the police actions and so on in the last several months have served to remind us vividly, and unarguably, of how raw the racial divide remains in our society, even when we thought we'd put that behind us in 2008. ROB REICH: We've just got a few minutes left before we'll end at 8:30. And we've got some of the best campaign strategy minds here in the room. So I want to put the relevant question on the table, which is getting you on the record with a prediction about the Electoral College outcome on November 8th. JIM STEYER: I thought you guys did a good job of that already. DAVID PLOUFFE: That's a tough one. Because a lot can change, even though the structure of the race won't change, does Arizona get a little tighter? If I had to guess, she ends up at 347 and wins the national vote. If I had to guess. Because I think Johnson and Stein will continue to collapse a little bit. To me it sort of smells like a 50, 44, 50, 45, kind of thing. If it's closer than that, it's because Trump has two really good debates. She stumbles. And I don't think that will happen. Like she's not going to have a colossally bad debate. This is in her wheelhouse. She may not hit it up to the rafters. And you know the enthusiasm levels are just really, really poor. Democratic turnout is worse than projected. Republican turnout is better than projected. Then you could be looking at a three point race, let's say, where I think her Electoral College numbers 302. ROB REICH: And things like Brexit and the polling that was turned out to be so inaccurate there doesn't chasten you with respect to predictions here? DAVID PLOUFFE: No. Well for this reason. First of all Brexit was a unique event. So we know a lot about the American electorate and how we think different voters are going to behave and how to incent that behavior. Secondly, almost every poll over the last week, or most of them had Brexit winning. People didn't believe the polls. Now you have to understand, campaign polling is on a factor like 100 times more sophisticated than any BS public poll out there. But even all the public polls have Clinton in a sustainable, strong lead. She's stronger in Florida than we ever were. And we won it twice. And I think Florida, New Hampshire are probably the two that get her over, assuming. And I think she'll win Virginia, Colorado, and Pennsylvania quite easily. So no, I don't think. The only way we could have a massive surprise and even people say like well let's not talk about the Assange craziness, OK? But if there is some kind of event in the world, Donald Trump doesn't give people calmness and security that he's going to handle it well. So I just don't see any Black Swan event out there. I think it is what we've got. It could tighten up again if she doesn't close well. And she has not always dealt well with prosperity, political prosperity. So she's got to really like-- MIKE MCCURRY: You mean that there's always the banana peel out there somewhere. DAVID PLOUFFE: Although to be fair, that's not just her. That is a tendency of a lot of successful politics is you begin to coast and then you get in big trouble. MIKE MCCURRY: It feels to me that's it like 49, 43. Governor Johnson probably will get what 5% or 6%. I think he will drop down from 8% where he is. Now Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate maybe will get a percentage or 2%. So I would have-- it's there I think. I mean if she gets above 50%, that's extraordinary. Her husband didn't do that. And that would, I think, be consequential for the Electoral College too. I think you're right on those numbers. I think 300, somewhere in that range, maybe more. JIM STEYER: We're going to be here on November 15th with a similar band of folks, where we will be posturing up David and Mike's projection. So my prediction is I always agree when it come to this with my friend David Plouffe. Whatever he said is correct. That's my answer. So I vote exact-- I give exactly the same numbers as David does. ROB REICH: You want to give a prediction, David? DAVID KENNEDY: No. [laughter] My business is the past not the future. JIM STEYER: How about you, Rob? Come on, Rob? DAVID PLOUFFE: I agree. Let's here, Rob, come on, you have to go for it. ROB REICH: Yeah. I feel a bit more wary about events around the world, and the sense in which, even as you acknowledge, David, that there's certainly a strain of populism that's on the rise a form of nationalism that's coupled with a xenophobia. It's not just a US phenomenon. It's we see it elsewhere. And I think, as a consequence, turn out's way more unpredictable than it might have been in previous years. Of course, I don't have access to the kinds of polling and data that you may. So I'm willing to cede something to your expertise and confidence about what you're seeing there, because I don't have access to that kind of thing. Nevertheless, the body politic seems much more in turbulence rather than in ordinary politics. And so I feel less confident in listening to the ordinary surveys. Now, I still think that Hillary Clinton will win. But I don't think it will be as great a margin as you're suggesting. JIM STEYER: So give a Electoral College number. Yeah. I'd say something around 300, 310. MIKE MCCURRY: You know I did want to make the point. I want to cover my bed a little bit here. The only predictable thing so far about this campaign is that unpredictable things have happened. And a very consequential thing is happening at this very moment. Because there are a limited number of days left in which these candidates can engage the public and get their messages across to them. And we have a really nasty storm that is going to divert the attention of this country over the next several days. And so both candidates are going to lose a substantial number of days. It probably will impact the coverage of the debate on Sunday night, because that's about when I think at that point that Hurricane Matthew is probably turning right up into the Carolinas. And that's going to be on everyone's minds, as well it should be. ROB REICH: All right. Can I ask everyone to join me in thanking our guests for this evening? [applause]


Early voting

Republican caucus

Republican candidate General John A. Logan
Republican candidate General John A. Logan

On February 5, 1885, a Republican senatorial caucus was held in the Leland Hotel in Springfield, Illinois. The meeting sought to determine the party's candidate for the US Senate seat currently held by Republican John A. Logan. President of the Illinois Bar Association Melville Fuller presided over the meeting and US Representative William E. Mason was elected chairman. Daniel Hogan and Henry Sherman Boutell were named secretaries.[1]

State senator Lorenzo D. Whiting made the first speech supporting Logan as the Republican candidate. State representatives Orrin P. Cooley and Charles E. Scharlau and state senators Martin B. Thompson and William S. Morris seconded the nomination. Other assemblymen joined in and Logan was easily nominated for his seat. Logan gave a speech, noting that Republicans held 102 of 204 seats against a coalition of other parties. This speech was followed by ones by former Governor of Illinois John Marshall Hamilton and district attorney James A. Connolly.[1]

Illinois Democrats were relieved to hear that there were eight absences among the ranks of the Republicans at their nominating convention, although five expressed support for Logan within the day. Thomas C. MacMillan did not attend and did not explicitly support Logan, but stated that he would "in no event" vote for a Democrat. W. H. Ruger expressed hesitation towards Logan but admitted he would probably vote for him. Eugene A. Sittig did not attend the meeting and made no statement.[1]

Democratic vote

Initial Democratic candidate Colonel William Ralls Morrison
Initial Democratic candidate Colonel William Ralls Morrison

Without any nominating conventions, the Democratic party nominated their candidate during a legislative session on February 11. The deadline for officially naming a Democratic candidate was that day, though uncertainties prevailed about what time it was. Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Elijah M. Haines, nominally an independent, presided over the session. The motion to name a Democratic candidate was proposed by E. R. E. Kimbrough and was supported by fifty-six other Democrats. James M. Dill nominated William Ralls Morrison as the Democratic candidate. In protest, Republican members of the assembly left the hall. The remaining members of the house then cast a vote. Morrison received forty-four votes, Haines received one vote, and Haines voted for former representative Richard Bishop. Edward L. McDonald presented the resolution to the senate; most Democratic members of that body then entered the chamber. Henry Seiter was declared president pro tempore in the absence of any Republicans. Erastus N. Rinehart made the nominating speech on behalf of Morrison. A joint vote was then held in both houses. All senators and most of the representatives voted for Morrison, who was then officially nominated. Six Democratic representatives refused to vote and Haines again received one vote.[2]


On February 13, a motion was held during a state senate session to proceed with the ballot, but it failed by one vote. Nonetheless, Whiting again spoke on behalf of Logan.[3] The first ballot in the General Assembly was held on February 18. Logan received 101 votes, Morrison received 94, Haines received four, and three others received one vote apiece. Three ballots were held the next day, with Logan losing one vote to a third-party candidate.[4] The assembly aimed to hold an election on February 26, but the sudden death of Republican representative R. E. Logan (no relation) prompted a stall in the vote. Republican Dwight S. Spafford replaced him, continuing the stalemate.[5] A joint ballot was held on March 12 and each main candidate received 99 votes; four voters cast a vote for other candidates. Although Logan held a small lead in some of the ballots, the final ballot was 100 to 100 and the session adjourned.[6] The Republicans held a vote on March 26. At first, Logan received 100 votes, but on a second ballot, Sittig supported Logan; MacMillan was the lone abstaining vote. Democratic senator Frank M. Bridges died in late March and was replaced with Democrat Robert H. Davis. Democrats began to explore other candidates, including General John C. Black and US Representative Richard W. Townshend.[7]

Late in the race, Democrats shifted their support to Judge Lambert Tree.
Late in the race, Democrats shifted their support to Judge Lambert Tree.

On April 12, Democrat R. H. Shaw, of the Democratic-leaning 34th district, died. Republican William H. Weaver won the election the next month against Arthur Allen Leeper by 246 votes. This finally gave the Republicans a majority in the joint session. Republicans in Springfield celebrated when the telegram confirming the victory arrived. Democrats blamed Morrison for the loss of the legislature seat.[8] On May 14, a joint session was held. After three sessions of voting, Senator James W. Duncan announced that the Democrats wished to withdraw Morrison as a candidate. However, no replacement was immediately named. The fourth ballot saw a scattering of Democratic votes among fourteen candidates, though Morrison maintained a majority. The fifth ballot saw the emergence of Judge Lambert Tree with 35 of the 96 Democratic votes. Tree received 89 votes on the sixth and final ballot and was named the new candidate.[9]


The session of May 19 saw an audience from around the state convene on Springfield to watch the joint legislative session. A roll call was first held in the senate. Senators had the right to vote at any time before the final reveal of the ballot, so no Democrat officially voted during the roll call. When the roll reached a key swing-vote in Ruger, Democrats were dismayed that he enthusiastically cast his vote for Logan. When the roll call moved on to the house, Democrats again kept silence as Republicans voted in turn for Logan. Another swing vote, MacMillan, supported Logan. The last hope for the Democrats was Sittig. When Sittig's name was called, he did not vote. This resulted in a round of applause from Democrats. However, after the roll call was finished, Sittig took the opportunity to speak. Sittig criticized Logan and the rest of the Republican caucus, but finally consented to vote for Logan. The assembly erupted in cheers for Logan, who finally had 103 votes.[10]

With a Republican victory close at hand, Democrats no longer passed the opportunity to vote and started to cast votes for Tree. In a last-ditch effort, some Democrats threw their support behind Republican Charles B. Farwell, hoping to splinter the Republican vote. For the next hour, Democrats petitioned Speaker Haines to change their vote from Tree to Farwell. After Democratic senators cast their votes, Farwell only had the support of 96 Democrats and had not elicited support from any Republicans. With the results all but secure, Republicans agreed that a second roll call of Democrats should be held. Democratic senators cast their votes for Tree. Tree received most of the Democratic votes, with two votes going to Black, and one each to Morrison, to Chicagoan John R. Hoxie, and to Judge Charles J. Schofield. Haines held a last call, but no one changed their votes. Logan was elected to the US Senate with 103 votes to Tree's 96. Republicans cheered for the next ten minutes, then Logan gave an accepting speech and the meeting was adjourned.[10]

State Legislature Results[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John A. Logan (Inc.) 103 50.49
Democratic Lambert Tree 96 47.06
Democratic John C. Black 2 0.98
Democratic John R. Hoxie 1 0.49
Democratic William Ralls Morrison 1 0.49
Democratic Charles J. Schofield 1 0.49
Totals 204 100.00%


  1. ^ a b c "The Black Eagle: The Grand Old Soldier-Statesmen Renominated by Acclamation Amid Wild Enthusiasm". Chicago Daily Tribune. February 6, 1885. Retrieved September 22, 2014 – via open access
  2. ^ "An Alleged Ballot Taken". Chicago Inter Ocean. February 12, 1885. Retrieved September 22, 2014 – via open access
  3. ^ "Senate Action:Senator Whiting's Eulogy of the Black Eagle". Chicago Daily Tribune. February 14, 1885. Retrieved September 22, 2014 – via open access
  4. ^ "Political". The Sterling Standard. February 26, 1885. Retrieved September 22, 2014 – via open access
  5. ^ Andreas, Alfred Theodore (1885). History of Chicago: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time. III. Chicago, IL: The A. T. Andreas Company. p. 874.
  6. ^ "Joint Session". The Bloomington Daily Pantagraph. March 13, 1885. Retrieved September 22, 2014 – via open access
  7. ^ "House". The Bloomington Daily Pantagraph. March 27, 1885. Retrieved September 22, 2014 – via open access
  8. ^ "A Famous Victory: Illinois Republicans Score a Splendid Triumph in a Bourbon Stronghold". Chicago Daily Tribune. May 8, 1885. Retrieved September 22, 2014 – via open access
  9. ^ "Within One Vote". The Bloomington Daily Pantagraph. May 15, 1885. Retrieved September 22, 2014 – via open access
  10. ^ a b c "Senator Again: The Soldier-Statesmen Chosen His Own Successor in the United States Senate". Chicago Daily Tribune. May 20, 1885. Retrieved September 23, 2014 – via open access
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