Thune Pretends Trump Debate Failure Doesn’t Matter

Senator John Thune maintains his awkward embrace of Donald Trump by (a) avoiding comment on his candidate’s poor performance in Monday’s Presidential debate and (b) pretending that people see no connection between his own Senate race and the muckmeister atop his ticket.

Rather than acknowledging that Clinton won Monday’s Presidential debate hands down, Senator Thune tells WNAX that the debate “maybe” matters only to “a few people” who haven’t made up their minds yet. Saddled with a Presidential nominee whose failure to prep for an important TV appearance shows a man too lazy and unfocused to be President, Senator Thune distracts us with horserace commentary rather than honesty.

Thune then peddles a wishful thinking as political science:

My sense is that people are kinda making their decision at the Presidential level this year based on other forces and kind of independent of the other races on the ballot and then looking at these other candidates and making their own decisions and not necessarily linking the two [Senator John Thune, in “SD Senator John Thune: Debate Didn’t Change Many Minds,” WNAX, 2016.09.29].

Yes, John, we know you hope people put Trump out of their minds when they turn to the next line of the ballot to choose between you, representative of Trumpism, and Democrat Jay Williams, representative of the party that didn’t flip its lid this year. But your “sense” flies in the face of empirical evidence of increasing correlation between Presidential vote and Senatorial vote due to increasing polarization over the past decade:

…for the most part there’s a clear connection between where the polls put Senate and presidential races in each state. In fact, the connection is about as close as we’d expect based on recent elections. Two years ago, my colleague Dhrumil Mehta and I noted that 77 percent of the variation in the 2014 Senate election results could be explained by the variation in the 2008 and 2012 presidential vote in those states [Harry Enten, “Senate Update: Races for the Senate and White House Are Moving in Near Lockstep,” FiveThirtyEight, 2016.09.28].

Correlation between Presidential and Senate results, 1916–2012. From Geoffrey Skelley, "Coattails and Correlation: Presidential and Senate Results Should Track Closely in 2016—and That's Nothing New," Sabato's Crystal Ball, 2015.03.05.
Correlation between Presidential and Senate results, 1916–2012. From Geoffrey Skelley, “Coattails and Correlation: Presidential and Senate Results Should Track Closely in 2016—and That’s Nothing New,” Sabato’s Crystal Ball, 2015.03.05.

Over the last 100 years, the President–Senate vote correlation was pretty solid from 1916 to 1956, dipped notably from the 1960s into the 1980s, and has rebounded over the last 30 years. In 2012, the correlation between Presidential results and Senate race results was a strong 0.781.

In other words, Senator Thune’s observation on the nature of Senate races across the country is detached from reality… which is really the state any politician must be in to have watched Monday’s debate and continue endorsing Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

45 Responses to Thune Pretends Trump Debate Failure Doesn’t Matter

  1. mike from iowa

    In other words, Senator Thune’s detached from reality…

    Fixed it for you,Cory. No need to thank me.

    How bad is it when a Fake Noize VP tells his people online polls don’t meet Fake Noize’s editorial standards? As Deb G likes to say-they’re nuckin futz!

  2. Trump looked like an ugly old fart up there stumbling and bumbling his way through it. It appears from his treatment of women in the past that he comes across as misogynistic calling them pigs. Women have to be thin in his eyes and this is just creepy.

  3. Ah, Mike, I understand your correction. I won’t go quite as far: Thune recognizes the reality that to some extent, being wholly attached to Donald Trump is a sign of ignorance and irresponsibility. But I wonder: given that Trump leads in South Dakota, why not embrace him wholeheartedly? Why not ride the angry wave? Might Thune have some shred of conscience after all? Or might he be positioning himself for the complete Republican disavowal of Trump that will happen at around 11 p.m. Central Time on November 8?

  4. How can any Trump supporter support his “it’s good business”‘ statement in hoping the housing market would crash so he could profit off it (during the debate)?

    He was so caught off guard by Hillary’s preparedness.

  5. Here is how close the race is in the closest Battleground/Swing States:

    Current Electoral College totals if you allocate the toss-up states where they sit in the polls now according to Realclearpolitics averages: Hillary (292)/Donald (246) which includes

    Hillary leading in Florida (0.5%) and Pennsylvania (1.8%) and Trump leading in North Carolina (0.8%) and Colorado (0.5%).

    A swing of 1% to Trump probably switches Florida and Trump leads the Electoral College 275 to 263. The same swing to Clinton probably switches NC and Colorado and Clinton leads the Electoral College 299 to 239.

    A 2% swing to Trump probably also moves Pennsylvania putting him at 295 to 243 while a 2% to Clinton keeps here at 299-239.

    This election looks very close because of the 5% undecided obviously can go either way.

  6. mike from iowa

    Drumpf was doing business with Cuba at a time when business with Cuba was banned. Haliburton (under dickless cheney) did business with Saddam Hussein when business with Hussein was banned. They seemed nice.

    In actual polls that count, HRC got a nice bounce from her debate victory.

  7. Porter Lansing

    Don Trump hasn’t picked up any significant voting blocks and has diminished the support Romney had with his supporters. Another landslide electoral victory for the Democrats and another eight years of prosperity … even for conservatives, although they’re never happy anyway.
    Clinton – 332 electoral votes
    Trump – 206

  8. MFI,

    What polls are you referencing? I don’t know of a scientific poll which was in the field reasonably prior to the debate and after the debate that has been released. That is the only way I know to actually measure bounce in the horse race. All I’ve seen since are snap type polls which intend to measure message receptivity/rejection to later overlay with horse race measurements and not horse race standing/movement.

    Yes, there is some anecdotal polling information (not a real horse race poll) that gives an indication there may be a slight HRC positive reaction but nothing that I’ve seen from which even an educated guess can be asserted. If they are out there, I’d like to see them.

  9. mike from iowa

    Drumpf is claiming he did not have the sniffles at the debate. I think he is blaming them on his “bad” microphone. This duck needs to be incarcerated, heavily sedated and lobotomized in any order you care to put them. He has no idea what reality is.

  10. Troy Jones


    The consult poll is a snap poll which Nate Silver doesn’t include in the polls he considers has a methodology upon which to rely and the other was taken before the debate.

    Maybe meaningful info will show up this weekend.

  11. Better Read again Troy Fox polls don’t count here .I will go with 538.Ido beleive if Hillary wins wenselvania she is the president.

  12. Troy, if the swing states and the election as a whole are that close, then Thune is all the more ill-informed and/or spinful to downplay the importance of the debate and its impact on the small sector of undecideds who could change history… or, more accurately, keep history on its proper course and help us avoid the Spock-goatee universe by electing Hillary Clinton following her debate victory.

  13. Troy Jones


    If Trump moves up or stays close despite your hands down debate win by HRC, Thune is right that debates don’t matter or HRC didn’t win the debate.

    There are a lot of people who assert Kennedy-Nixon and Reagan-Carter are the only debates that have mattered.

    We don’t even know if the 5% undecided watched this debate but I am sure it is being asked. All this desire to find answers you want from no information is what the two campaigns are doing-trying to create a perception independent of reality.

    I am waiting for facts and hard info to come in but do as you please.

  14. mike from iowa

    Who gets to decide what meaningful means, Troy? My guess is a Clinton leaning supporter would say meaningful shows several polls with the same winner. A Drumpf supporter is more likely to say any poll that shows Drumpf winning is meaningful.

  15. What is interesting is HRC could lose both Ohio and Florida and still win the presidency. Nate Silver has an exceptional winning record on predictions and so I don’t even look at the others anymore.
    I’m sure Trump team must be concerned about the woman damage he has done this week.

  16. I agree with Porter, it is looking more like a HRC win everday. I just don’t see her flubbing up the next two debates, as she does her homework. Also, the latest poll in Florida (after the debate) has HRC ahead (Nate Silver today).

  17. MFI,

    Maybe in your world. For me, I want to see hard information and I make an assessment of that information. And sometimes it takes time to sift through the information. The first debate of 2012, the pundits were unified that Romney killed Obama and Obama’s people admitted it wasn’t his best efforts. One poll analyst said Romney lost because among the undecided, they thought he came across as a know-it-all.

    I’ve said earlier there is anecdotal poll/survey information that gives an indication HRC probably did better in the debate. And, as I also said, I don’t think Clinton supporters or Trump supporters have a clue on what will impact the undecideds or if anything occurred in the debate that had a meaningful impact on the undecideds or not. Right now nobody does. It is only speculation.

  18. Porter Lansing

    As Mr. Jones contends, it’s about the “high value voters” (the undecided). Any observer can plainly see that, just by sheer numbers of commenters alone there are 5-8 times more high value voters on Free Press than on Power’s blog. Candidates…spend your ad dollars where the undecided are! It’s the real bargain. Shop DAKOTA FREE PRESS.

  19. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    We will all find out this weekend as Troy suggests. Otherwise, this whole discussion at this time is academic at best.

    Neither Hawks nor Williams have raised enough money to go on TV, yet. So even if Trump hurts Thune and/or Noem, it wouldn’t be enough to matter, would it?…..

    Although, Robinson never went on TV back in ’14, yet she broke 30% unlike the other two high profile Democrats on the ballot that year who did have TV commercials…. So, I guess we need to give some possible credence to the “Robinson strategy,” assuming, a course, that Trump’s numbers collapse as a result of the last debate, however….

  20. Porter,

    Based on my observation of this and any other blog, I’d guess maybe 1 in a thousand comments are undecided especially with the name ID of these candidates and thus high value.

    It is entirely possible the undecideds are really disinterested who may not have even seen the debate and in large measure won’t even vote.

  21. mike from iowa

    Hard information on Drumpf? He is a massive fraud and liar. He has been known to cheat on his wives. He prolly doesn’t pay his taxes. He cheats virtually everyone out of pay. He abuses the system so he can avoid paying his debts. He wears some kind of dead animal pelt on his head. He is lazy, shifty, pompous, self-absorbed, interested only in himself, a lousy business man, a poor role model for anyone, and I’m guessing he hates puppies. He adores his daughter just a little too much. He adores Russia’s Putin. He brings out the worst in racists and white supremacists. Given enough time he will eventually be for and against every side of every issue. He does have remarkable eyesight if he could see humans jumping out of the WTC from 4 miles away. Plus he is never wrong. What did I miss?

  22. Porter Lansing

    Mr. Jones … Maybe in your world. For me, I want to see hard information and I make an assessment of that information. Your observations and guessed mean little. Given similar questions FREE PRESS gets 50-80 comments to 10 at DWC. Thousands read the FREE PRESS who never let out a peep and the high value of those voters is where the bargain lies. The diversity of opinion here is vast. Even confused right wingers, like yourself find enjoyment here.

  23. Roger Cornelius

    It won’t be necessary for me to wait until the weekend to see who won the debate, the general consensus and even Trump’s own advisors have said Hillary won quite handily. The link Cory provided to the VOX article showed Trump handlers came right out and said as much and how he had better prep for the second debate.
    Trump is already prepping for the next debate by bringing up Bill Clinton’s White House indiscretions today. Again, some of his advisors caution about how risky this will be.
    Mr. three marriages Trump is being advised about Clinton by none other former New York mayor Rudy and former Speaker Gingrich who themselves have had their own sex scandals. According to some source these 3 have had nine wives among them. Some family values, huh?
    Hillary is fully prepared for Trump’s attacks and I can hardly wait for her to tear him a new one.

  24. Porter Lansing

    All across USA women are becoming more and more engaged in the election. I see it on Facebook and I see it on the train and I see it in the workplace. Women who rarely comment about politics are speaking openly, not caring who hears. And they’re not praising Don Trump. This is a woman’s election. The other voting blocks are just where they were for McCain and Romney. It’s time USA had a woman President because you know, “Women are smarter.”

  25. Red States says this “More and more, Republican lawmakers are having buyer’s remorse. The horror of a Trump candidacy is becoming ever more vivid, as November draws near. This is a turd that will not be shined.”

    Troy and Thune must be working overtime trying to make it shine. More elbow grease, more ignorant bliss. You boys have work to do that will not make a difference.

  26. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    Our first post debate poll is out! Hillary is ahead 49% to 45%. So much for Trump’s pre-debate trending. Now we just need to get Williams on TV or should he play the “Robinson strategy” and stay off?….;-)

  27. Roger Cornelius

    Good find Mr. Claussen, pretty much says what we have been pointing out.

    By the way, USA Today has never endorsed a presidential candidate until today. Their fear of a Trump presidency made it necessary to finally make this call and endorse Hillary.

  28. Thune and his mini me Troy should answer to this: “Imagine a woman who showed up [to a presidential debate] unprepared, sniffling like a coke addict and interrupting her opponent 70 times. Let’s further imagine that she had 5 kids by 3 men, was a repeated adulterer, had multiple bankruptcies, paid zero federal taxes and rooted for the housing crisis in which many thousands of families lost their homes. Wait… there’s more: she has never held any elected office in her life.” -Michelle Vitalione

    Come on boys, answer up. How is the polishing going so far?

  29. Troy, I think you mistake my main thesis about Thune’s distraction. I’m less interested in the predictive value of Thune’s assessment and more interested in his avoidance of any evaluation of the debate itself and his nominee’s poor performance. I can already accede to the scary fact that Donald Trump’s rudeness, crudeness, and demonstrable unfitness for office don’t matter much to the majority of his supporters, who are motivated by ugly emotion rather than rational hiring practices. But I can at least be honest about the at least equally important point that Trump’s performance Monday night showed he lacks the intellectual work ethic to do the job of President.

    Note also that none of Troy’s polling distraction has any impact on my evidence-based critique of Thune’s assertion that Presidential and Senate votes don’t correlate. Both of Thune’s statements represent his wishful thinking and his desire that voters ignore facts.

  30. mike from iowa

    Charles Krauthater thinks Drumpf over-prepared for the debate. Oh boy.

  31. Trump is having a very unpresidential meltdown with his tweets this morning over HRC and Miss ’96 Universe Alicia Machado.
    His mental illness towards women is coming out and he is obsessing over it. He must have been bullied back when he was a very little boy by some girls or something on the playground. More than likely he was born as a narcissist and misogynist. He can’t stand the thought that there are women that do not think he is god’s gift to them. He is in need of professional therapy.

  32. CH,

    You are correct. I was thinking your point was critical of Thune’s statement that the debate didn’t matter.

    My view is they don’t matter in the big picture with regard to judging them like you judge debates. Each of the candidates went there with a strategy to accomplish something in a more narrow way. For instance, Hillary’s overriding goal appeared to be an outreach to those who didn’t vote for her in the primary which I think she did well. Trump’s goal was less discernible to me which may be an indication he didn’t have an overriding goal or had too many goals or a goal which wasn’t applicable to me (e.g. reaching only for those on the fence) so I missed it.

    That said, I am forming two post debate thoughts:

    1) Trump failed to exploit opportunities which could have served various goals.
    2) The first hard data is starting to come in with regard to the polls from Florida (2 polls), Michigan, and NH. In all cases, those pollsters have HRC doing slightly better (and when it is so close slightly is significant) than she did the last time those same pollsters were in the field.

    And, that is significant. Since the conventions ended, Trump has had the momentum as virtually all trends (national and in battleground states) was moving his way. That momentum as stalled (the reversion doesn’t appear to be back to where they were post-convention) and there is 5 weeks left which will be an eternity for someone- Clinton running out the clock or Trump watching it tick down without making any progress.

  33. 3 different “Day after election” South Dakota convenience store coffee conversations.

    “Well, I’m not surprised, who would have ever voted that way is nuts, so, did you get the last of that corn in then?”

    “Yep, no way they could have won that here. Did you get a new car?”

    “Same old same old around here. Heading south soon?”

  34. Douglas Wiken

    Well, I had a comment ready here about an hour and 15 minutes ago, when Windows decided it had to update and shut down computer. Finally done with that I hope.

    Legislators like Thune and his retrograde republican co-conspirators making the US Congress a nearly worthless institution for the last 8 years has frustrated Americans of all kinds. Many may not realize why the system is in partisan muck, but they know something is wrong with the SOS and Trump seems like an option.

    People from Thune’s hometown have said he didn’t have enough common sense to step over a cow turd. It also seems he doesn’t have enough sense to recognize one when he is the GOP presidential candidate.

  35. mike from iowa

    Since the conventions ended, Trump has had the momentum

    This guy does not know anything. He doesn’t make any sense. He has no policy goals. He has no clue how government works. He is a total fraud.
    How could this have momentum?

  36. Roger Cornelius

    It is nice that Troy can come to Dakota Free Press have an intellectual discussion about politics. Right or wrong he makes a nice contribution, he certainly can’t have these discussions on Powers dakota war college.

  37. mike from iowa

    Gallup has Clinton beating Drumpf in debate 61- 27%.

    Just for fun the Senate is blaming Obama for the Senate’s override of Obie’s veto. McCTurtle says Obama wasn’t bi-partisan enough to ‘splain the big downside of suing Saudi Arabia to the Senate. The Senate woke up to their post-Brexit moment.

  38. Clinton’s odds of winning the election, per aggregated data from betting markets, moved from 69 percent before the debate to 73 percent in the hour after it ended.

    Most every individual online poll directly following the debate was a non-scientific poll. Aggregated betting markets are more telling than any one non-scientific poll.

    I watched Jay Williams rip John Thune from shred to shred last weekend. He reminded folks that Thune got elected by accusing Daschle of being an obstructionist – mean Thune makes a living doing NOTHING but obstructing. Thune’s career is pathetic and an offensively awefull use of our tax dollars.

  39. VPN and bot netting destroy online poll reliability on a pretty regular basis.

  40. If Thune can ignore Trump’s idiocy, and Thune and Daugaard can engineer a take over of 1900 acres of Federal land in and around Spearfish Canyon, these guys are paying way to much attention to the Bundys and the Trumps of the world, and we accordingly have a very big problem in this state with our republican leadership. Timing-wise, was the land exchange proposal subsequent to, and in reaction to (i.e.: retaliation) significant news events lately?

  41. I want to agree with Porter that this blog reaches a high proportion of high-value voters (hey, in a democracy, shouldn’t we say all voters are high-value?). I agree with Troy that the comment section makes the percentage of undecideds reading this blog seems low: we get a mix of strong decideds on both sides, but can anyone think of examples of undecideds adding comments?

    But consider: how representative of the blog audience (which, as Porter notes, includes a majority who never say a peep) is the commenter subset?

  42. Note that Troy, in his 9/30 9:31comment, makes clear that he’s not acting as a Thune “mini me”. Troy acknowledges that Trump performed poorly (failing to prepare for questions and failing to formulate specific goals for the event) and that, based on new data, that poor performance appears to have hurt Trump’s momentum.

    Now if only John Thune could overcome the hometown impressions Douglas notes, show Troy’s perspicacity, and admit Trump is a poor performer, unworthy of his Presidential vote.

  43. Mike, you’re right: a candidate with no goals, no policy knowledge, no palatable or fact-based vision, should not have momentum. He should not be able to draw 40%+ in any poll outside of a Branstner/Klan meeting.

    But the way things should be does not change the way things are: Since August 9, per RCP, Clinton’s numbers have fluctuated while Trump’s have steadily climbed. Troy’s right that Trump had momentum. We can only hope that good sense catches up with people and kills that momentum once and for all.

    The electorate needs some smelling salts.