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

Trump Still Leading in First Poll After Muslim Remarks

Despite virulent criticism from a vast number of people in the U.S. and beyond about his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States, Donald Trump hasn't lost any ground in the polls. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll taken after the remarks were made shows Trump still on top of the heap with a commanding 35%. Ben Carson came in second at 12% and Jeb Bush was tied with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for third place at 10%. Nothing seems to bother Trump's supporters, who also say that they don't care if he can win or not.

Reuters quoted a Trump supporter who said: "He's really saying what everybody else is feeling." The "everybody" part is certainly not true, but for Trump supporters it is, and therein lies the rub for the GOP leadership. Trump isn't playing by their rules. Candidates are supposed to say this kind of stuff at dog whistle frequencies so people can't hear it. Then the dogs explain it to their owners quietly at home. Saying this kind of stuff out loud in public just Isn't Done. (V)

Should GOP Let Trump Run as an Independent?

The assumption—both amongst the GOP leadership and the commentariat— has been that if Donald Trump runs as an independent, it will be a disaster for the Republicans. In a short and keenly insightful piece for New York magazine, Jonathan Chalt argues just the opposite. He makes three observations:

  1. The GOP is not terribly likely to win the presidency anyhow. Current demographics dictate that a victory at the top of the ticket requires a Republican-favorable environment, and such an environment does not exist right now.

  2. The angry, white voters who would show up to vote for Trump the independent would nonetheless be likely to vote Republican down ticket, and so would increase the GOP's chances of holding the Senate and of scoring other electoral victories.

  3. Such a split could help start the process of redefining the GOP as "not the party of racists," serving somewhat the same purpose that the Harry S. Truman-Strom Thurmond split did for the Democrats in 1948.

Chalt's analysis—if correct—suggests that it is the Democrats who should fear a Trump third party bid, not the Republicans.

On the other hand, would his supporters vote for downticket Republicans when the whole point of their voting for Trump is to send the Republican Party a message that they are fed up with the party? A vote for Trump as an independent and for the rest voting a straight Republican ticket simply says: "We prefer Trump to Cruz/Rubio/Bush but otherwise we are fine with the Republican Party." That's not their message. (Z & V)

Donald Trump, the Media, and Bernie Sanders

One way or another, everyone has an opinion of Donald Trump. On Friday, for example, the hackers' group Anonymous came out against him, declaring that he and his various websites would be targeted as part of a campaign called #OpTrump. White supremacists, on the other hand, are more divided. The Klan likes Trump very much, and former Klansman Donald Black credits the billionaire with dramatically increasing the traffic at his white nationalist website Stormfront. American Nazi Party Chairman Rocky Suhayda is less impressed, however, predicting that even if Trump became president, "the political whores would block his every move."

It is not surprising that Trump gets as much attention as he does. He has spent his life marketing various real estate and construction projects—Trump Tower, Trump Taj Majal, Trump Plaza, Trump Las Vegas—and when he wasn't doing that, he was making money as a reality television star. These might be the two most attention gettingest jobs in the world, and The Donald has had success at both of them. So, of course he knows how to keep his name in the headlines.

At the other end of the spectrum is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). As Will Bunch points out in the Philadelphia Daily News, a little basic math tells us that Sanders actually has more supporters than Trump has. However, The Bern gets less than 5% of the media coverage The Donald does. The Senator's problem, to paraphrase the old saying, is that he does not bite enough dogs whereas Trump wolfs down beagles instead of bagels for breakfast. Every day Trump thinks of some new outrageous thing he can say to stay in the headlines, whereas Sanders—as NPR observes—has been saying the exact same thing for 40 years. And so, he's barely a blip on the media's radar. It's not fair, it's probably not what's best for democracy, but it's definitely how it is. (Z)

Cruz To Campaign in Super Tuesday States Next Week

Unlike the other candidates, who are decamped in Iowa and/or New Hampshire, Ted Cruz is putting a lot of effort into campaigning in the states that vote on March 1. Next week he is going to make a 12-stop trip in a chartered plane to visit Nevada, Minnesota, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. For the other candidates, going to Oklahoma may seem like an odd thing to do, but Cruz knows very well that Oklahoma has 43 delegates to the Republican National Convention compared to Iowa's 30 and New Hampshire's 23. It has been clear from the beginning that Cruz goal is not to win the hearts and minds of the media or even Iowa and New Hampshire voters. His goal is to accumulate 1237 delegates and he'll go wherever he has to in order to win them. (V)

Japanese Dinner Goes over Badly with Conservatives.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that RNC chairman Reince Priebus and 20 top Republican leaders had a dinner at a Japanese restaurant over which they discussed what would happen if there were to be a brokered convention. Conservatives expressed dismay at the dinner. The problem is not (so much) that they held it in a place that served foreign food, although no doubt they would have preferred a restaurant that served Texas steaks. The problem is that conservatives feel the politicians were trying to figure out how to rig the game so no conservative could win the nomination, even if he had the most delegates.

Only the people present know what was really said and they insist it was just a discussion of the routine procedures that would be used in the event more than one ballot was needed at the convention. Conservatives don't trust the leadership for a second and are sure the party bigwigs are plotting against them. Ben Carson even said a brokered convention would destroy the party. He didn't explain how a nominee should be chosen if no candidate has an outright majority on the first ballot, though. Katie Packer Gage, a veteran Republican operative said: "Ben Carson needs to call someone versed in parliamentary procedures to explain to him how this all works." (V)

Carson Going Down in Flames?

Since topping the polls just over a month ago, Ben Carson has been in free fall. Now, according to a CNN report, his campaign is in "chaos." The primary fissure appears to be between Carson's close friend and business manager Armstrong Williams and his campaign manager Barry Bennett. Williams blames Bennett for Carson's various gaffes, while Bennett and his team say that Williams is undermining the campaign by making negative comments to the press.

Meanwhile, the candidate created a bit of controversy all by himself on Friday. Learning of the Republican leadership's dinner discussed above, Carson became very angry about their machinations. He declared that the meeting speaks of "corruption" in the party, and said he might very well join Donald Trump in leaving the GOP. This was not a wise move, politically. The party leadership does have value to a candidate, and estranging them is generally ill-advised. Meanwhile, paired with Carson's recent poll performance, the declaration smacks a bit of desperation. At this rate, Fox News could be expressing its love for its new commentator on Valentine's Day, 5 days after the New Hampshire primary. (Z)

Clinton Ally Explains How Clinton Would Attack Cruz

For each of her potential opponents, Hillary Clinton is working on a plan on how to attack him. One of her closest allies and top fundraisers, David Brock, yesterday explained how she would go after Ted Cruz, should he be the Republican nominee. Here are some of things that came up.

  • Everyone who knows Cruz despises him, starting with his college roommate
  • Cruz wants a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, something most Americans don't want
  • He believes a zygote has all the rights of a human being, so destroying one is murder
  • He single-handedly forced the federal government to shut down in 2013

Brock said he didn't expect Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to get the nomination and wasn't prepared to put major resources into planning how to attack him just yet. (V)

Democrats Refuse to Debate on WMUR Due to a Labor Dispute

The next Democratic debate was scheduled to be held on Dec. 19 and sponsored by WMUR. Unfortunately the station, the most important one in New Hampshire, is owned by the Hearst organization and is involved in a labor dispute. The station is trying to strip pensions from a dozen of its employees because they joined a union. The workers involved said they would picket the station, knowing no Democratic candidate would cross a picket line. As a consequence, WMUR has been booted from any role in the debate. (V)

The debate will go ahead as scheduled at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, NH. The moderators will be David Muir and Martha Raddatz of ABC News. It will be broadcast on ABC nationally. WMUR's political director won't be there asking questions, however. This incident is important because it shows the union movement that the Democrats stand with them. Of course, it also sends the same message to companies that don't like unions. (V)

Putin's Problems in Syria Could Hurt Republicans

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who need not worry about trifling concerns like the voting public or Congress' approval, reasoned that military force was the best answer to the mess in Syria. So, he moved quickly to invade the nation. Now come reports that the invasion has bogged down. "The Russians thought they would make a lot more progress on the ground fast," says one member of the Obama administration. "They haven't made really any...It's measured by low-digit kilometers at the most." Apparently, Putin has started thinking that a diplomatic solution might be better after all.

There is still much time for circumstances in Syria to evolve. But if Russia ends up abandoning guns and tanks in favor of diplomacy, it will (to Putin's chagrin) be a tacit endorsement of President Obama's strategy in the region (and, to some extent, Hillary Clinton's). At the same time, it will leave the hawkish presidential candidates—Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, et. al.—without much of a leg to stand on. Not-too-distant memories of Vietnam have left Americans leery of a military quagmire, and Russian failures could serve to illustrate that "boots on the ground" would have that exact outcome. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Dec11 Republicans Preparing for a Brokered Convention
Dec11 Romney in 2016?
Dec11 Republicans Support Trump's Plan to Ban Muslims
Dec11 Could Muslims Swing the Election?
Dec11 Loretta Sanchez Says Many Muslims Desire a Caliphate
Dec11 Cruz Bags the Big Three in Iowa
Dec11 Rubio Also Bags a Big One
Dec11 Good News, Bad News for Christie
Dec11 McCaskill Slams Rubio and Cruz
Dec10 Cruz May Be the 2016 Sleeper Candidate
Dec10 Trump Backs off Plan to Bar Muslims, but Only Slightly
Dec10 Trump Isn't Racist, Just Ask Him
Dec10 Would Conservative Pundits Support Trump against Clinton?
Dec10 Rubio Lands a Major Donor
Dec10 Scalia's Questions Take a Racist Turn
Dec10 Too Much Trump?
Dec09 Foreign Leaders Condemn Trump's Remarks on Muslims
Dec09 Republicans Also Condemn Trump's Remarks, But Cautiously
Dec09 Media Changing Its Approach to Trump?
Dec09 Clinton Prepares to Face Trump, Cruz, or Rubio
Dec09 Are the Candidates Polling at 0% Still Actually Running?
Dec09 Does Iowa Still Matter?
Dec09 Chris Christie Ascendant?
Dec09 Supreme Court May Change How Representation is Calculated
Dec08 Trump Demands Total and Complete Ban on Muslim Entry into the U.S.
Dec08 Cruz Jumps into the Lead in Iowa, or Maybe Not
Dec08 Trump's Standing in Iowa May Be Largely Due to Nonvoters
Dec08 The Adelson Primary May Be Between Miriam and Sheldon
Dec08 An Oppo Researcher Explains How the Deed is Done
Dec08 Some Politicians Are Living in the Internet Age...
Dec08 ...And Some, Apparently, Are Not
Dec07 Obama Addresses the Nation
Dec07 LGBT Rights Still a Wedge Issue?
Dec07 Could Republicans Bolt the Republican Party?
Dec07 Iowa Republican Party Will Try Hard to Prevent the 2012 Disaster from Repeating
Dec07 Kasich Comes Out for (Very Minor) Gun Control
Dec07 Cruz' Hawkish, Careless Rhetoric
Dec07 Rubio Trying to Out-Hawk Cruz
Dec07 Sanders Stays the Course
Dec07 Time to Put Horse Race Polling Out to Pasture?
Dec06 NYT Analyzed Trump's Speeches
Dec06 WaPo Analyzed Mass Shootings
Dec06 Gun Control Is Becoming a Hot Partisan Campaign Issue
Dec06 Are Trump and Cruz Like Goldwater?
Dec06 Is Rubio Scandal Brewing...Or Just Half-Baked?
Dec06 Bush Backers Are Sticking with Their Man
Dec05 Trump Has Massive Lead in New Poll
Dec05 Is Trump's Lead Deceiving?
Dec05 A Jeb Bush Premortem
Dec05 Clinton's Favorability Is Up Compared to Sanders