Clinton 2310
Sanders 1542
 Needed   2383
   
Trump 1239
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Weld Could Help the Libertarian Party Raise Money
      •  Can Trump Win?
      •  Ryan Still Not Endorsing Trump
      •  McConnell Has Advice For Trump
      •  Never Trump Folks Not Giving Up Yet
      •  What Do the PUMAs Think of the Bernie-or-Bust Crowd?
      •  Trump Should Be Careful about Bringing Up Old Sex Scandals
      •  Sanders is Now Openly Mocking Trump
      •  Clinton to Hit California Hard

Weld Could Help the Libertarian Party Raise Money

Third-party candidates are barely known, which makes raising money hard, which makes it hard for them to become known. It's a chicken-and-egg problem that plagues them all. But Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson may have a solution this time: his running mate, Bill Weld. Weld was Mitt Romney's chief money raiser in 2012 and knows all the big Republican donors very well. By putting Weld on the Libertarian ticket, Johnson is hoping that the former Massachusetts governor can seek out big donors who despise Donald Trump enough to write big checks to the Libertarian Party. The biggest prize of all would be the libertarian Koch brothers, who have shown little interest in Donald Trump so far this year. But even if the Koch brothers pass on Johnson, there are plenty of other Republicans whose dislike of Trump might be enough to hand Weld a big check. (V)

Can Trump Win?

It is said that the parties decide the primaries (except this year), but the map decides the general election. Since 1992, 18 states have voted for the Democrat every time. Those states plus D.C. are now worth 242 electoral votes. That means the Democratic candidate needs only 28 more electoral votes to get to 270 and win the White House. Battles in four regions will decide the election.

Florida is a region all by itself and with 29 electoral votes, a mighty important one. If the Democrats can hold their usual 242 electoral votes and add Florida's 29--well, you do the math. Donald Trump has a massive problem in South Florida, especially Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, home to large numbers of Latinos. Trump is going to get crushed there, so he has to do especially well in the panhandle and other rural areas of the state. If the Democrats can pull off a massive victory in those southern counties, there goes Florida and there goes the Electoral College. The dislike for Trump in South Florida is so great that the mayor of Miami, Tomás Regalado, a Republican, won't support him.

The second key region is the upper South, namely Virginia and North Carolina. Together they have 28 electoral votes. That just happens to be precisely what the Democrats have to add to their total of 242 to get to 270. So if the Democrats can win Virginia and North Carolina, they can afford to lose Florida, Ohio, and all the other swing states. President Obama won Virginia twice and North Carolina in 2008. North Carolina is going to be a major, major battleground, with a close presidential election, a tight Senate race, and an unpopular governor running for reelection. In addition to all the usual issues, bathrooms are a biggie in North Carolina ever since the governor signed a bill requiring transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificate. A number of companies have said they will not expand their facilities in Research Triangle Park, one of the fastest growing technology and financial centers in the South. So the bathroom bill has suddenly become an economic issue, with the Democrats saying that the bill signed by Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) is costing the state good jobs.

The third battleground region is the Rust Belt. This is the only part of the country that Trump could flip Democratic states, especially Pennsylvania. He might also win perennially close Ohio, but that is not part of the 242 "blue wall." Blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt are hurting and Trump's plans to stop signing trade agreements and cancel those already signed resonate here. Trump's problem, however, is that most of the blue-collar workers that support him also supported Mitt Romney and John McCain and that wasn't enough. He is going to have to win new blue-collar workers who didn't vote for the Republicans in the past. Exit polls from the primaries show that Trump has brought in very few new Republicans although he has gotten Republicans who always vote in the general election to vote in the primaries for the first time this year.

Finally, the fourth region is the Interior West. Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico are always battleground states, but this year Arizona could also be in play, in large part because a third of the population is Latino. To make it even more exciting, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is also running for reelection this year, despite his being found in contempt of court this month for defying a federal judge's orders to stop targeting Latinos. Arpaio is immensely controversial and will bring out both supporters and opponents in large numbers.

So there you have the election in a nutshell. And the answer to the question asked in the headline: Yes, Trump can win, but it's going to require a lot of things to break his way. (V)

Ryan Still Not Endorsing Trump

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has had a number of conversations with Donald Trump, and has yet to endorse his party's presumptive nominee. Asked about the subject last week, Ryan said, "I don't have a timeline in my mind, and I have not made a decision," while noting that he continues to talk to Trump on a regular basis.

So, what is Ryan's game here? In part, he is presumably trying to get some sort of concessions out of The Donald, whether that means a promise to endorse some Ryan policies, or a promise to repudiate some Trump policies. At the same time, the Speaker is undoubtedly thinking about his own presidential chances in 2020 or 2024. Failing to be a team player could come back to burn him, but so too could hitching his wagon wholeheartedly to the Trump Express. So, Ryan is trying to have it both ways, as best he can.

The problem for Trump is that the longer Ryan (or any other establishment politician) goes without lending his support, the less faith people will have in that endorsement. For example, one recalls the election of 1960, when President Eisenhower seemed ambivalent about the GOP nominee, Vice President Richard Nixon, through much of the campaign. Though Ike eventually gave his blessing and hit the campaign trail for Tricky Dick, a lot of Americans didn't really believe it, and Nixon went down to defeat. This year, if Ryan can't get on board by the time the Republican convention starts, then he might as well not bother making an endorsement. (Z)

McConnell Has Advice For Trump

Unlike his counterpart in the House, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has given his support to Donald Trump. He does have some concerns, however, as revealed in an interview with CBS on Sunday. McConnell would like to see The Donald be more studious, and to be less of an entertainer, using prepared speeches rather than off-the-cuff remarks. He might also like to see some specifics in terms of the policy ideas Trump is proposing.

This assessment is pretty much what you would expect from a seasoned political pro. However, later in the interview, McConnell also issued forth with some interesting statements. He declared Trump's list of potential Supreme Court nominees to be "well-thought out and reassuring." This runs counter to the response from virtually all other commentators, across all parts of the political spectrum. McConnell also said he liked Trump's chances at victory, because the "country is yearning for a change." President Obama's very good approval ratings argue otherwise, as would the current Electoral College math. The overall impression is that McConnell is going through the motions and saying what he needs to say to be a good, loyal member of Team GOP. So, it's just a variation on the strategy that Paul Ryan is pursuing, with both men primarily concerned about keeping their gooses getting cooked by the heat that Trump 2016 will generate. We can expect a lot of this in the next few months. (Z)

Never Trump Folks Not Giving Up Yet

Bill Kristol, editor of the National Review, is one of the many prominent Republicans that does not care for Donald Trump. And he keeps searching, Don Quixote-like, for someone, anyone, to challenge Trump as a third-party candidate. This despite the massive logistical difficulties that such a campaign would entail, from the challenges in raising enough funding, to not being able to get on the ballot in all 50 states, to the fact that such a candidate would be the longest of long shots to win.

In view of these issues, Mitt Romney already declined. So too did Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). Late last week, Kristol declared that a prominent candidate would be announcing a run over the Memorial Day weekend. Now we know that the candidate in question was Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). But, as it turns out, he too is a "no" after carefully considering the daunting challenge he would be facing.

There is a term for pinning all your hopes on a third-term congressman that is little known outside his state, and it is "grasping at straws." The time has come for Kristol and the Never Trump team to either embrace Trump, give their support to Gary Johnson, or commit to staying home on Election Day; the only question is how long it will be until they realize it. (Z)

What Do the PUMAs Think of the Bernie-or-Bust Crowd?

After Barack Obama won a narrow plurality of delegates over Hillary Clinton in 2008, many of Clinton's supporters felt she should get the nomination because she got more popular votes than Obama did. Some of the them formed the PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) movement and said they would never vote for Obama because the election was rigged. How do they feel about the Bernie-or-bust voters now, who basically say the same thing?

The Daily Beast talked with some of the PUMA leaders to see. Diane Mantouvalos said it was about the process, not the players, and said she felt solidarity with the Bernie-or-bust supporters. However, other leaders noted a key difference between 2008 and 2016: Clinton won the popular vote in 2008 so her supporters had grounds to claim she should be the nominee. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is 3 million popular votes behind Clinton this year and he is much farther behind in elected delegates as well (Clinton currently leads Sanders by 270 pledged delegates whereas Obama's final lead over Clinton in 2008 was 97 delegates). So while supporters of a losing candidate hate to concede, and the Bernie-or-bust voters can say Sanders has better ideas than Clinton, it is quite clear the majority of Democratic voters do not agree with that. (V)

Trump Should Be Careful about Bringing Up Old Sex Scandals

Donald Trump has brought up the Monica Lewinsky affair a number of times and probably will continue to do so, but he should perhaps think carefully about that. Shortly after Bill Clinton admitted an "inappropriate relationship" with Lewinsky, a poll showed that 53% of American still had a favorable impression of him and 60% had a favorable impression of Hillary Clinton. Convincing women whose husband has strayed that it is her fault won't be an easy sell although some men might say: "Yes, you got it."

But there is more. Much more. The main ringleader of the Republicans who were trying to bring Bill Clinton down was then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, who at the time was actively cheating on his second wife with his later-to-be third wife (after serving divorce papers on his first wife while she was in the hospital with cancer). When Gingrich stepped down from the Speakership, Rep. Robert Livingstone was chosen as Speaker-elect. But he didn't last long when it came out that he had also cheated on his wife. Another Speaker, Dennis Hastert, pleaded guilty last year to illegally structuring bank withdrawals to cover up the hush money he was paying to someone he had sexually abused years earlier. Then there is former House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde, who was forced to admit that he had carried on a five-year affair with a married woman. And what about Dan Burton, a former House member and one of Bill Clinton's strongest critics, who was forced to admit that he had a secret child out of wedlock. And finally, Ken Starr, the former independent counsel who produced the report that formed the basis of Clinton's impeachment was just demoted as president of Baylor University last week for ignoring cases of sexual assault perpetrated by Baylor's football team. And then, of course, there is The Donald's own (very public) philandering on wives #1 and #2. So if Trump wants to talk about to talk about what Bill Clinton did, the Democrats are going to bring up a lot of this stuff to counter it. (V)

Sanders is Now Openly Mocking Trump

Irritated by Donald Trump, both in general, and specifically because of his backing out of a proposed debate, Bernie Sanders has taken to spending much of his time at rallies mocking The Donald. In particular, taking a page out of Trump's own playbook, Sanders has coined a new and insulting nickname for the GOP nominee: Mr. Macho.

This is interesting because it suggests a possible role for Sanders in the general election. He does not want to "sell out" to Hillary Clinton and her more moderate policies, but he also does not want Trump to win. He would be an excellent designated "attack dog," perhaps aided by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and a few other progressives, like former professional comedian Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Sanders even has a Twitter footprint that rivals The Donald's. If the Vermont Senator's job is to hurl slings and arrows at Trump, it won't even matter how much he agrees with or likes Hillary Clinton, and it should help to keep his followers whipped into a frenzy. Seems to be a win all around, except for Trump, of course (Z)

Clinton to Hit California Hard

In one week, California will hold its primary. Some polls predict a close race on the Democratic side; others predict a blowout. Let us assume the former group are correct, and that when the ballots are counted, one of the Democrats has 50.1% and the other has 49.9%. What will that mean? As a practical matter, nothing. There is no viable way for Hillary Clinton to secure 2,383 pledged delegates—no matter how badly she beats Sanders, she's going to need some superdelegates. Similarly, there is no viable way for Bernie Sanders to stop Clinton from crossing the 2,383-delegate threshold (pledged delegates + superdelegates) on June 7. And assuming that California is even reasonably close, the two candidates will essentially split the state's delegates, given the Democrats' proportional system. Ergo, next Tuesday is wholly inconsequential from a mathematical standpoint.

However, when it comes to narrative, 50.1% versus 49.9% matters a lot, and Clinton knows it. So, she has juggled her campaign schedule in order to focus on the Golden State for the next week. She is aware, silly as it is, that if she is the one with 50.1% of the vote, the California primary will be portrayed as her coronation—the final and decisive victory in a long, hard campaign. And if she is the one with 49.9%, then the coverage will be entirely focused on how the Democratic Party is going to be divided going into the convention, and minority voters are losing faith in Clinton, and maybe Sanders is the best matchup for Trump after all. It's just another reminder that it's always best to keep an eye on the math, and not the media narrative. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May30 Libertarian Party Nominates Johnson and Weld
May30 Hillary Clinton Doesn't Know How to Handle Trump
May30 Daisy Ad's Creators Have Some Suggestions for an Updated Version
May30 Arnold Schwarzenegger Declines to Back Trump
May30 Rubio Speaks Up
May30 With Sanders Out, Clinton's Numbers Will Rise
May30 Cue the Clinton E-Mail Conspiracy Theories
May29 Judge Orders Release of Trump University Documents
May29 Trump's Veeps
May29 Bob Dole Speaks Out
May29 Trump's Delusions of Competence
May29 Bernie Sanders Lashes Out at DNC, Gets Smacked Down
May29 McAuliffe Launches PR Offense To Defuse Probe
May29 Libertarians Sense An Opportunity
May29 Weld Is Not Received Warmly at the Libertarian Party Convention
May28 Trump Won't Debate Sanders after All
May28 Clinton Leading Trump among Middle-Income Rust-Belt Voters
May28 Cruz Vows to Fight Trump on the Platform
May28 What Trump's Energy Speech Tells Us
May28 Trump's Managerial Style Is Becoming a Problem
May28 Trump Collecting Poisonous Endorsements
May28 Clinton Broadens Her Money Network
May28 There Is a Lot of Bad Political Analysis Right Now
May28 Republicans Continue Putting Pressure on Rubio To Run for Reelection
May27 Trump Clinches the Republican Nomination
May27 Trump Wants White, Male Veep
May27 Sanders and Clinton Almost Tied in California
May27 Sanders Not Actually Winning True Independents
May27 Trump to Top Aide: You're Fired
May27 About that Trump-Sanders Debate...
May27 Maybe the Presidency Isn't the Toughest Job in the World
May27 Fundamentals Still Favor Clinton in the General Election
May27 How Clinton Could Lose
May26 State Dept. Report Criticizes Clinton on Email Server
May26 Trump Won't Get To Write the Republican Platform
May26 Trump Lashes Out at Susana Martinez
May26 Internal Struggles Roil Trump's Campaign
May26 When Should You Start Paying Attention to the National Polls?
May26 Wasserman Schultz Has a Fight on Her Hands
May26 GOP Wants Rubio to Run for Senate Again
May26 Ryan Continues to Say He Is Not Ready to Endorse Trump
May25 Clinton Crushing Sanders in California
May25 Ohio Judge Stymies Republican Plans
May25 Libertarian Party Could Hurt Trump
May25 Unions Are Split on Which Candidate They Prefer
May25 Why Is Hillary Clinton So Disliked?
May25 Wasserman Schultz May Soon Be Out as DNC Chair
May25 Starr Apologizes
May25 Trump Scoring Some Big Donors
May25 There May Be Another Debate After All