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

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Yet Another Poll Released Showing Cruz Leading Iowa
      •  Cruz Closing the Gap Nationally
      •  Lineup Set for Next GOP Debate
      •  GOP Silence on Climate Change Deal is Deafening
      •  Rubio Doesn't Have a Debt Problem, He Has a Spending Problem
      •  When Politicians' Lips Are Moving
      •  Clinton Rallies Attract a Mixed Bag of People
      •  Marine Le Pen Loses in France

Yet Another Poll Released Showing Cruz Leading Iowa

Yesterday, Fox News released a poll showing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) leading Donald Trump in Iowa 28% to 26%. This is the third poll this month showing Cruz on top in Iowa. A week ago, a Monmouth University poll put Cruz on top by 5 points and yesterday the much-respected Iowa pollster Ann Selzer said her data showed Cruz ahead of Trump by 10 points. All in all, Cruz is probably indeed leading in Iowa by something like 5 to 8 points. Ben Carson, once a factor in Iowa, is down to 10%. It is now between Cruz and Trump in the Hawkeye State. But keep in mind that Iowa does not have a good track record of picking the eventual nominees. (V)

Cruz Closing the Gap Nationally

In addition to gaining ground in Iowa, Cruz is also moving up nationally. While he is still behind Donald Trump, he is up 12 points in the NBC/WSJ poll released yesterday compared to their last poll. Here are the numbers, along with the change since the last NBC/WSJ poll, taken Oct. 25-29.

Rank Candidate Pct Change
1 Donald Trump 27% +4%
2 Ted Cruz 22% +12%
3 Marco Rubio 15% +4%
4 Ben Carson 11% -18%
5 Jeb Bush 7% -1%
6 Carly Fiorina 5% +2%
7 Mike Huckabee 3% (No change)
7 Chris Christie 3% (No change)
9 John Kasich 2% -1%
9 Rand Paul 2% (No change)
  Jim Gilmore <1%  
  George Pataki <1%  
  Lindsey Graham <1%  
  Rick Santorum <1%  

From these numbers, it is clear that as Carson falls, most of his support is going to Cruz. Once Carson's supporters see that he's toast, they will start deserting him in large numbers and Cruz is likely to pick up most of them. As Cruz becomes a more plausible nominee, it is likely that some of Trump's supporters will also hop on the Cruz bandwagon. In any event, Ted Cruz is a man on the move. A month from now we could start to have some real clarity. (V)

Lineup Set for Next GOP Debate

CNN will host the last Republican debate of 2015, and on Sunday the network announced which candidates have made the cut(s). Donald Trump. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Carly Fiorina, and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) will, of course, participate in the main debate. Rand Paul will be there as well, having narrowly avoided the axe thanks to a last-minute favorable poll from Iowa. And, as anticipated, an upward tick in Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)'s numbers will allow him to rejoin them after having been demoted for the fourth debate. Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki will participate in the JV contest. Both of the debates—and our preview—will be tomorrow. (Z)

GOP Silence on Climate Change Deal is Deafening

The Guardian has an excellent piece on the machinations undertaken by President Obama and his allies—including France's François Hollande, China's Xi Jinping, and Cuba's Raúl Castro—to secure agreement on the Paris Climate change accord, and to make sure that it could not be derailed by Republicans back in the United States.

This is an A-list of political chess players, and they have backed the GOP and its candidates into a corner. The Republicans cannot really declare their intentions to derail the accord because they will almost certainly be unable to do so. They cannot acknowledge that there may be something to this climate change business after all, as many Republican voters will not be happy about that position. They certainly can't endorse the agreement, as that would be the same as complimenting Obama. So, on Sunday, Trump, Cruz, et. al. went with what seemed to be their only remaining option: They put their fingers in their ears and pretended that the deal does not exist.

Denial, as they say, isn't just a river in Egypt. This approach may have worked on Sunday, and it may still work on Monday. But on Tuesday, the GOP's top nine candidates will be interrogated by CNN's Wolf Blitzer. And if they think they are going to escape without answering a question—or ten— about global warming, they've got another think coming. So, they have about 36 hours left to figure out what exactly they're going to say. (Z)

Rubio Doesn't Have a Debt Problem, He Has a Spending Problem

Marco Rubio likes to spin his messy personal finances as: "Yes, I was in debt, just like many Americans, so I understand what it is like." It turns out that a closer analysis of his personal finances by S.V. Dáte in the National Journal shows that Rubio's fininancial problems aren't at all like the average American's. In 1999, at age 28, he was making close to $100,000, triple the average for Floridians. But instead of living frugally, as most Americans in debt do, and paying off his law-school loans, he piled on an additional $30,000 in debt. Before he was 35, he was pulling in $300,000 in outside work, in addition to his salary as a Florida state representative. In his 2012 memoir he wrote: "We are not wealthy." Maybe he wasn't when he wrote the book, but after he received an $800,000 advance from the publisher, he had more money in the bank than many Americans earn in their entire lives. Only after his second book—and total royalties of $1.1 million—was he able to pay off his debts.

Fundamentally, Rubio's problem is not that he doesn't earn enough. He has earned far more money than the average American his whole life. His problem is that he spends more than he makes, on houses, on $80,000 boats, and more. In a way, Rubio is like the government—he takes in a lot of money but spends even more—but since Republicans don't like the government, he probably won't make that analogy. If Rubio thinks the story of his spendthrift ways is behind him, the Dáte article should make it clear that it is not and if he becomes the Republican nominee, it will dog him all the way to the election.

One potential weakness Hillary Clinton has is the fact that although she left the White House dead broke, she since has become very wealthy. Her opponents are going to paint her as someone with no idea of what life is like for ordinary Americans. This argument would work better, however, if the Republicans were to find a pauper to run against her. The trouble is none of the leading candidates fit the bill. Rubio is closest in the sense his net worth is estimated at a mere $100,000, but that is because he makes a lot and spends even more. Here are the candidate's net worths according to Forbes:

Rank Candidate Net worth
1 Donald Trump $4,500 million
2 Carly Fiorina $58 million
3 Ben Carson $26 million
4 Jeb Bush $22 million
5 George Pataki $13 million
6 John Kasich $10 million
7 Mike Huckabee $9 million
8 Jim Gilmore $7 million
9 Ted Cruz $4 million
10 Chris Christie $3 million
11 Rand Paul $2 million
12 Rick Santorum $2 million
13 Lindsey Graham $1 million
14 Marco Rubio $0.1 million

If you ever wondered how people like Jim Gilmore and George Pataki, who are unemployed, can afford to go traveling around the country for a year in pursuit of an unattainable goal, now you know. They are rich. Very rich. While Hillary Clinton's net worth ($45 million) exceeds that of most of the Republicans, it will be hard for, say, Ted Cruz, to make the argument that with $45 million she doesn't understand the problems of ordinary Americans but he, with a mere $4 million in the bank (and a wife who is a top manager at Goldman Sachs), does. (V)

When Politicians' Lips Are Moving

In 2003, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)—who had not yet begun his political career—wrote a book on politics entitled Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. As its title suggests, the book is a bit subtle and indirect, but his point may have been that politicians are not the most honest people in the world.

A New York Times op-ed by Angie Drobnic Holan, editor of Politifact, makes the same point in visual form, while also demonstrating that some politicians lie far more than others. The chart incorporates the three remaining Democratic candidates, the ten leading Republican candidates, President Obama, Vice President Biden, Dick Cheney, and Bill Clinton.

The lying-est person in the group? Ben Carson, followed fairly closely by Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Dick Cheney. When it comes to being honest, Hillary Clinton just misses the podium, the bronze medalist is Barack Obama, the silver goes to Martin O'Malley, and the most truthful politician of them all—brace yourself—is Bill Clinton. In fact, Jeb Bush's sixth-place finish, just slightly ahead of Joe Biden's, is the only thing that keeps the Democrats from a clean sweep. (Z)

Clinton Rallies Attract a Mixed Bag of People

Politico has sent reporters to attend some of Hillary Clinton's rallies to try to understand who comes to them. It has now published a report. Here is who shows up.

  • Superfans who go to multiple of her rallies because they are wild about her
  • Protesters of every stripe carrying signs attacking her for her many past sins
  • Trackers for multiple oppo research teams with their cameras, hoping to catch a gaffe
  • Geezers, especially when she is campaigning in the middle of a work day
  • Young girls who like to see her and ask easy questions like, "Will they pay you as much as a male President?"
  • The press has to be there, but it has dwindled recently because Clinton rarely makes news or mistakes at rallies
  • The Secret Service is out in force and their presence often slows things down
  • People advocating for various groups such as Black Lives Matter come to push their agendas
  • Entrepreneurs outside the events want to make a buck selling Clinton souvenirs
  • Undecided voters who want to get a better feeling for what she is like in person
  • Union members like her and often show up in substantial numbers
  • Campaign volunteers, often high school or college students
  • Local officials, who think meeting her might be valuable to themselves later

While Clinton doesn't draw the kind of crowds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or Donald Trump do, they are still substantial and holding rallies is part of the game. (V)

Marine Le Pen Loses in France

The U.S. is not the only country where working-class whites are angry with the establishment and are prepared to vote for populist rabble rousers who oppose immigrants. In France, Marine Le Pen's National Front party, which she inherited from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, got about 30% of the vote yesterday in a runoff election. Le Pen has often been compared to Donald Trump and has similar supporters. Her 30% support is also about where Trump is. The French establishment was worried that Le Pen would win the regional elections, but yesterday she fell short. No doubt the Republican establishment sees this as a good omen. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Dec13 Ann Selzer: Cruz Is Leading Iowa by 10 Points
Dec13 Cruz's Surge in Iowa Is Worrying Trump
Dec13 Who is Trump's Target of the Day?
Dec13 Could Trump Beat Hillary Clinton in the General Election?
Dec13 Clinton's Campaign Chairman Expects to Face Cruz in the General Election
Dec13 Rubio's Brother-in-law Was a Cocaine Dealer and Smuggler
Dec13 Sanders Blasts the Media
Dec13 196 Nations Agree on Climate Change Accord
Dec12 Trump Still Leading in First Poll After Muslim Remarks
Dec12 Should GOP Let Trump Run as an Independent?
Dec12 Donald Trump, the Media, and Bernie Sanders
Dec12 Cruz To Campaign in Super Tuesday States Next Week
Dec12 Japanese Dinner Goes over Badly with Conservatives.
Dec12 Carson Going Down in Flames?
Dec12 Clinton Ally Explains How Clinton Would Attack Cruz
Dec12 Democrats Refuse to Debate on WMUR Due to a Labor Dispute
Dec12 Putin's Problems in Syria Could Hurt Republicans
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?