Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1237,   Dem: 2242
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Poll: Trump, Rubio, and Cruz Rising, Carson Falling

A new Quinnipiac University national poll still has Donald Trump on top, but with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) moving up while Ben Carson has dropped significantly. Everyone else is down in the weeds. Here are the numbers. The fourth column is the change since the last Quinnipiac poll.

Rank Candidate Pct Change
1 Donald Trump 27% +3%
2 Marco Rubio 17% +3%
3 Ted Cruz 16% +3%
3 Ben Carson 16% -7%
5 Jeb Bush 5% +1%
6 Carly Fiorina 3% +0%
7 Rand Paul 2% +0%
7 Chris Christie 2% -1%
7 John Kasich 2% -1%
10 Mike Huckabee 1% +0%
  Lindsey Graham <1%  
  George Pataki <1%  
  Jim Gilmore <1%  
  Rick Santorum <1%  

With a margin of error of 3.8%, Carson is the only one to move an amount outside the margin of error. His general (and admitted) lack of knowledge about foreign policy is probably catching up with him. Republicans want a strong Commander-in-chief and that is simply not Carson's strong suit. (V)

Another Day, Another Mass Shooting

It's hardly news any more, but there was another mass shooting yesterday, this time in San Bernadino, California. Fourteen people died and another 17 were injured. Some of the presidential candidates reacted on Twitter, as follows:


Hillary Clinton: I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now.

Bernie Sanders: Mass shootings are becoming an almost-everyday occurrence in this country. This sickening and senseless gun violence must stop.

Martin O'Malley: Horrifying news out of #SanBernardino. Enough is enough: it's time to stand up to the @NRA and enact meaningful gun safety laws.


Donald Trump: California shooting looks very bad. Good luck to law enforcement and God bless. This is when our police are so appreciated!

Ted Cruz: Our prayers are with the victims, their families, and the first responders in San Bernardino who willingly go into harm's way to save others.

Ben Carson: My thoughts and prayers are with the shooting victims and their families in San Bernardino.

Jeb Bush: Praying for the victims, their families & the San Bernardino first responders in the wake of this tragic shooting.

John Kasich: My thoughts & prayers go out to those impacted by the shooting in San Bernardino, especially the first responders.

Chris Christie: Praying for all those victimized by the shootings in San Bernardino, California today.

Mike Huckabee: Praying for those impacted by the shooting in California today.

George Pataki: Praying for the victims and first responders in #SanBernardino for a quick resolution.

Lindsey Graham: Thoughts & prayers are with #SanBernardino.

Rand Paul: My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families, and brave first responders during this unspeakable tragedy.

Rick Santorum: Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones and all those impacted by today's tragedy in California #SanBernadino

So what's the conclusion? The Democrats want to take action and pass new laws that might stop crazy people from obtaining guns. Donald Trump wants to bless the police. All the other Republicans want to pray although none specify even approximately what they are asking God to do. Usually when you pray you have one or more requests you would like God to fulfill. Do they want Him to directly intervene and prevent crazy people from getting guns, so Congress doesn't have to? Not one of the Republicans offered anything concrete other than urging people to pray but not saying what for.

The New York Daily News, a very conservative newspaper, ran the front page shown at the right today. Click it for a larger image. Tim Kreider writing in The Week points out that there is a standard template for dealing with mass shootings. Here are the items expected of everyone:

  • Express grief, especially when stimulated by the media to do so
  • Issue an anguished call to understand how this could happen
  • If liberal, call for gun control; if conservative, call for monitoring the mentally ill
  • Decry the culture of violence
  • Use words like "tragedy" and "senseless" immediately
  • A few days later, use "politicize"
  • Ultimately, call for people to come together to heal
  • Move on to the next order of business but save the script for the next mass shooting

Kreider cannot imagine a catastrophe sufficiently ghastly that anything will ever change. (V)

Secret Memo Advises Republicans How to Behave if Trump is the Nominee

The Washington Post has obtained a secret memo in which the head of the NRSC advises Republican senatorial candidates what they should do and say in the event Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee. Unlike all the tweets about San Bernadino, Republicans are not advised to hide under their desks and pray. The candidates are advised to adopt his tactics, issues, and approaches, including how they dress and use Twitter. They should also pretend they are genuine and beyond the reach of the special interests.

The memo does not explain how, say, a three-term senator up to his ears in special-interest money is going to convince anyone that he is an outsider who is not beholden to anyone and who is prepared to burn the place down. One area candidates are advised not to mimic Trump is attacking women. The memo even suggests some visuals for ads, for example, a farmer removing a rotten tree stump so he can plow the field. Although that would implicitly compare the Senate to a rotten tree stump, it would probably better not to be too explicit about the comparison. (V)

TV Ad Spending Is Not Delivering Results

A lot of money has already been spent on TV ads, both by candidates and by their super PACS, but it is not always having much effect. By far the biggest spenders are Jeb Bush and his super PAC, but the candidate is still languishing in the single digits. Here is how much each candidate and allied super PACs have spent up to this week. (V)

Candidate Total TV spending
Jeb Bush $28.9 million
Marco Rubio $10.6 million
Hillary Clinton $9.7 million
John Kasich $8.0 million
Chris Christie $6.4 million
Bernie Sanders $4.9 million
Ben Carson $2.0 million
Rand Paul $0.9 million
Ted Cruz $0.7 million
Donald Trump $0.2 million

Everybody Hates Ted Cruz

Well, not everybody—just the people who know him. According to Frank Bruni, in an op-ed for the New York Times, the list includes Cruz' Senate colleagues, his compatriots on the Bush 2000 campaign team, and even his college roommate Craig Mazin, who says, "I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States. Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book."

Bruni acknowledges Cruz' strengths, including his keen intellect and tireless work ethic, but also identifies the personality traits that alienate, well, pretty much everyone. These include arrogance, abrasiveness, willingness to place himself above the team, self-involvement, and a tendency towards gratuitous personal attacks. As one associate jokes, "Why do people take such an instant dislike to Ted Cruz? It just saves time." Bruni concludes that this kind of personality is not well suited to the Presidency, and it's hard to argue with him. (Z)

Cruz' Assertion about Violent Criminals Doesn't Hold Up

On Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) declared that "The overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats." The media quickly pounced on the statement, with some outlets—including Politifact and the Washington Post—quickly debunking the assertion. Others, such as CNN, pressed Cruz as to his source for this "information." Now, everybody knows what his source is, namely the transitive property. Cruz reasoned that most violent criminals are minorities, and most minorities are Democrats, and therefore most violent criminals are Democrats. Cruz cannot admit that, however, so instead he said he made a "reasonable inference" and cited an analysis by Marc Meredith and Michael Morse entitled "Do Voting Rights Notification Laws Increase Ex-Felon Turnout?" The study was published in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; undoubtedly the Senator is a voracious reader of that publication, which has a circulation around 1,500.

On Wednesday, Meredith and Morse themselves spoke up, and declared flatly that Cruz had misrepresented their study, that the data do not support his "reasonable inference," and that to the extent that a conclusion can be reached, the data suggest that violent criminals are fairly evenly divided in their political loyalty. They also observe, as did we, that the majority of violent felons aren't members of any party, because they are disenfranchised. Presumably, Cruz will soon be canceling his lifetime subscription to Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. (Z)

Alan Grayson's Key Staff Members Quit

Firebrand congressman Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) is running for the open Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio. He is reputed to be a micromanager and difficult to get along with. Evidence of the latter is the recent departure of his campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, and senior advisor. Generally, it is not a good sign when the entire top tier of a candidate's staff leaves in a huff. Interestingly enough, the DSCC is undoubtedly overjoyed that his campaign is a mess. He is unpopular with the party leadership and seen as a far weaker general-election candidate than his primary rival, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), a young moderate and heir to a construction-industry fortune. (V)

Our December Ranking of the Republican Candidates

Below is our December 2015 list of 2016 Republican presidential candidates in roughly the order of most likely to be nominated to least likely. The strengths and weaknesses of each one in the primaries are listed. Note that what is a strength in the primaries may be a weakness in the general election and vice versa. For example, Jeb Bush's wife is a Mexican-American, which may hurt him in the primaries but help him in the general election.

Candidate Advantages in Primaries Disadvantages in Primaries
Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio
  • American-dream type biography
  • Can get votes from all wings of the party
  • Young and telegenic, sort of like Jack Kennedy
  • Very charismatic and likable
  • From the mother of all swing states
  • Sounds presidential when delivering talking points
  • Has misrepresented elements of that biography
  • First-term senator
  • Something of a lightweight on policy
  • Supported Senate immigration bill before he opposed it
  • Doesn't do well when going off-script
  • Personal finances raise a lot of questions
  • Seems more suited to the second slot on the ticket
Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz
  • Republican establishment hates him
  • Called Mitch McConnell a liar
  • Tea party darling
  • Young, fiery, and very conservative
  • Surprisingly good at fund raising
  • Excellent speaker and debater
  • Well organized in Super Tuesday states
  • Deploying his outspoken father Rafael to great effect
  • Republican establishment hates him
  • First-term senator
  • For a first-term senator, has an lof of enemies
  • Has more enemies than six-term senators
  • Masterminded the 2013 government shutdown
  • Too much of a firebrand for some voters
  • Too establishment for some outsider voters
  • Too outsider for some establishment voters
  • Are evangelical voters enough to take the nomination?
Donald Trump
Donald Trump
  • Loved by "poke-'em-in-the-eye" voters
  • Has been atop the polls for months
  • Actually created thousands of jobs
  • Can't be bribed, could self-fund
  • Says things no one else dares to say
  • Not a politician
  • Brilliant self-promoter
  • The most famous Republican candidate
  • Would be crushed by Clinton
  • Establishment will do anything to stop him
  • Used to be fairly liberal
  • Not exactly sure where the Middle East is
  • Demeaned John McCain's war record
  • Lots of sexist, racist, and Islamophobic remarks
  • His hair gets more attention than Hillary's
  • The most infamous Republican candidate
Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush
  • Establishment loves him
  • Executive experience galore
  • Huge, battle-tested field operation
  • From the mother of all swing states
  • SuperPAC has more money than Uncle Scrooge
  • Grassroots hates him
  • Weak campaigner, keeps inserting foot in mouth
  • Has to defend his unpopular brother
  • Wrong positions on immigration & Common Core
  • Married to a Latina
  • Barbara Bush: "We've had enough Bushes"
  • Will Jeb fix it? Not so far.
John Kasich
John Kasich
  • Could be establishment fallback if others stumble
  • Twice elected in swing state of Ohio
  • From the Midwest, which could help in Iowa
  • Serious candidate, which could help in NH
  • Would win some Democrats in general election
  • Not well known
  • Running on competence, not ideology
  • Said St. Peter likes poor people
  • Supported Medicaid expansion & Common Core
  • Has performed poorly in debates
Chris Christie
Chris Christie
  • Aggressive character
  • Ran the RGA well; popular with governors
  • Won election twice in a blue state
  • #4 with GOP leaders after Bush, Rubio & Kasich
  • Endorsed by New Hampshire Union Leader
  • Polling badly in home state
  • Hugged Obama
  • Has only recently "discovered" he's ultraconservative
  • Last fat President was William Howard Taft; but White House bathtub is bigger now
  • Lambasted by Newark, NJ Star-Ledger
  • Demoted from main stage at last GOP debate
  • We'll cross that bridge when we come to it—if it is open
Carly Fiorina
Carly Fiorina
  • Ran a Fortune 500 company
  • Can attack Clinton without being called sexist
  • Took on liberal icon Barbara Boxer in 2010
  • Self-made multimillionaire
  • Could self fund in the primaries for a while
  • Good knowledge of the issues and good debater
  • Not a politician
  • Was fired from a Fortune 500 Company
  • Got $20 million severance when fired
  • Was crushed by Barbara Boxer in 2010
  • No political experience
  • Barebones political operation
  • Not raising enough money
Ben Carson
Ben Carson
  • Devoted following
  • Was polling very well for a while
  • A more polite version of Donald Trump
  • Not a politician
  • Married to the same woman for 40 years
  • Allows racist voters to say they are not racist
  • Willing to question orthodoxy...
  • Prone to gaffes
  • His numbers are trending downward
  • He's black in a nearly all white party
  • Never held public office
  • Not a dynamic speaker or debater
  • Not politically savvy
  • To some people, he comes over as kooky
  • Very weak on foreign policy
  • Does he want to be president or just sell books?
Rand Paul
Rand Paul
  • Could bring in new Republican voters
  • Inherits his father's zealots
  • Dislikes Big Government spying on people
  • Does not tailor his views to pander to voters
  • Doesn't like wars
  • Doesn't support "Israel good, Arabs bad" policy
  • More of a libertarian than a conservative
  • Was cheered at UC Berkeley
  • Establishment is lukewarm on him
  • First-term senator
Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee
  • Good sense of humor and very likable
  • Ordained Baptist minister
  • Southerner in a party whose base is the South
  • Well known due to 2008 run and Fox show
  • Economic populist
  • As Arkansas governor raised taxes repeatedly
  • Very poor fundraiser
  • Unpopular outside the South
  • Did badly in 2008 against a much weaker field
  • Appeals only to evangelicals, who largely favor Cruz and Carson over him
Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum
  • Been around the track before
  • Won Iowa caucuses in 2012
  • Very strong social conservative
  • Comes from a big blue state
  • Didn't win in a much weaker 2012 field
  • One-trick pony: only social conservatism
  • Tends to lecture people and not likable
  • Voters in that big blue state tossed him overboard
  • Running out of money
Lindsey Graham
Lindsey Graham
  • Knowledgeable on foreign policy
  • Retired Air Force colonel
  • Kind of folksy
  • From the South
  • Base hates him
  • Lifelong bachelor in family values party
  • Short and dresses like a used-car salesman
George Pataki
George Pataki
  • Was elected governor of a blue state three times
  • George Who?
  • Not allowed into the Republican debates without a ticket
Jim Gilmore
Jim Gilmore
  • Nobody hates him
  • Nobody ever heard of him
  • Lost 2008 Senate race to Mark Warner by 31 points
  • British bookies give the ineligible Arnold Schwarzenegger better odds
  • Also not allowed into the Republican debates without a ticket

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---The Votemaster
Dec02 Cruz Says Rubio is Like Hillary Clinton
Dec02 Marco Rubio Starts Retail Campaigning
Dec02 New Jersey Newspaper Dissents from the Union Leader's Opinion
Dec02 All the Female Democratic Senators Have Endorsed Clinton, Except One
Dec02 Clinton Campaign Misfires with Rosa Parks Logo
Dec02 Bush on His VP: She Will Be a Great Partner
Dec02 The Politics of Climate Science
Dec02 Zuckerberg Organization To Take Aim at Trump
Dec01 The Idea of Cruz as Their Nominee Scares Republican Senators
Dec01 Cruz Says Most Violent Criminals are Democrats
Dec01 GOP Candidates Continue to Chip Away at Trump
Dec01 Trump wants $5M to Debate
Dec01 How Many Trump Supporters Are There, Actually?
Dec01 Kevin McCarthy: No Government Shutdown over Planned Parenthood
Dec01 Hillary Rodham Clinton is Now Hillary Clinton
Dec01 State Department Releases More of Hillary's Damn Emails
Nov30 Republican Field Reacts to Planned Parenthood Shootings
Nov30 Trump Campaign Showing Some Signs of Weakness
Nov30 New Hampshire Union Leader Endorses Christie
Nov30 Trump Scores Much Better in Online Polls than in Live-interviewer Polls
Nov30 Cruz and Rubio Plan to Divvy Up Jewish Bush Supporters
Nov30 Fewer White Voters Expected in Swing States
Nov30 Republicans May End Up with a Three-Way Race
Nov30 Clinton Releases Infrastructure Plans
Nov29 GOP Candidates: No Comment on Planned Parenthood Shootings
Nov29 Karl Rove Helps Ben Carson
Nov29 Carson Visits Refugee Camp in Jordan
Nov29 Carson A Product of...ObamaCare?
Nov29 Rubio Releases His First TV Ad
Nov29 Ballot Access May Separate the Sheep from the Goats
Nov29 Cruz Makes Campaigning a Family Affair
Nov29 Cruz' Shaky Electoral Math
Nov28 Trump Drops in New Poll
Nov28 DAPA Could Affect over a Million Voters
Nov28 Sanders Has More Women Donors Than Clinton
Nov28 GOP Insiders: Cruz Will Win Iowa
Nov28 What Happened to Carly?
Nov28 Alan Grayson Will Challenge Ted Cruz' Eligibility in Court If He Is Nominated
Nov28 2016 Candidates Using Some Really Shitty Language
Nov28 A Panacea for Fixing Congress?
Nov27 Cruz and Rubio Gun for Each Other, not for Trump
Nov27 What Happened to Bush?
Nov27 Trump's Pants on Fire, Yet Again
Nov27 Carson Headed to Jordan
Nov27 McConnell Wants to Eliminate Caps of Party Spending
Nov27 Obama Equates Syrian Refugees to the Mayflower Pilgrims
Nov27 Some of the Ways Candidates Are Trying to Appeal to Millennials are Lame
Nov27 Thanksgiving-themed Political Cartoons are Rampant
Nov26 Thanksgiving is Upon Us
Nov26 Koch Brothers Give Free Turkeys to Latinos