Clinton 1776
Sanders 1118
 Needed   2383
Trump 755
Cruz 545
Rubio 171
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Ryan Does the Full Sherman

Yesterday, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) did something that no one expected him to do: He pulled a Sherman (or a Johnson). Ryan said: "Let me be clear. I do not want nor will I accept the nomination of our party." Then he added: "If no candidate has the majority on the first ballot, I believe you should only turn to a person who has participated in the primary. Count me out."

Literally, this is a bit closer to what Lyndon Johnson said when bowing out of the 1968 race: "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president." Sherman said: "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected" although it is usually misquoted as: "If nominated. I will not run. If elected, I will not serve."

Either way, this is very big news—if he really means it. If the convention becomes completely deadlocked after a dozen ballots, Ryan could change his mind, of course. Still, this is very good news for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and very bad news for the Republican Party. In the increasingly likely event that Donald Trump fails to get 1,237 votes on the first ballot, the convention delegates may turn to Cruz in large enough numbers to elect him on the second or third, or subsequent ballot. He will come into the convention with fewer pledged delegates than Trump but probably with many more actual supporters and on a second ballot or third ballot, Cruz supporters will be free to vote for him. So, if Ryan continues to make it clear that this is not a ploy and he really is not available, it is looking more and more like the general election will be Cruz vs. Clinton. But again, in a year as wacky as this one, anything could still happen. (V)

Why Isn't Ryan Running?

For the last week or so, Paul Ryan has done things—like schedule a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister—that only make sense for an aspiring presidential candidate to do. So, why did he hit the brakes so hard? Because—as Politico's Jake Sherman, Slate's Jim Newell and many others observe—he would lose.

Ryan's first big problem is that he's a Republican. As we have pointed out several times, as recently as Monday, the electoral map is not friendly for the GOP right now. Given that the Democratic candidate will be battle-tested and very well heeled, the only real path a Republican has is to eke out a victory by replicating the 2004 map as best as is possible, which means getting all factions of the Party out to the polls in force. That is a tall order—Burj Khalifa level tall.

The second problem is circumstantial. Ryan would have only three months for full-out campaigning and fundraising. The opposition, by contrast, has been doing both for over a year. On top of that, Ryan would be wresting the nomination away from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Their followers are not likely to forgive that, particularly if their tempers have only three months to cool. The odds of getting the red team to the polls thus get that much longer.

The final problem is Ryan himself. The publicly-released polls of a hypothetical Clinton-Ryan or Sanders-Ryan matchup have him losing handily in both cases. Presumably, the GOP's internal polls are saying the same thing. Further, Ryan is often held out as the one Republican who appeals to all wings of the Party, but it's not really true. Yes, he has more cross-faction appeal than any other nationally-prominent Republican, but he's actually not very well liked by the tea party types, with the Congressional Freedom Caucus declining to endorse his candidacy for the Speakership, and a tea party activist currently mounting a challenge for Ryan's House seat.

There is no question that the very ambitious Ryan would like to be president someday, but he undoubtedly came to his senses and realized this was not the way to do it. A candidate who runs, and loses, is damaged goods. Only one time in the last century has a second run succeeded after a first run as nominee came up short: Richard Nixon in 1968. Paul Ryan is still a young man, and is far better off taking his White House shot in 2020 or 2024. (Z)

Reince Priebus Is in over His Head

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post has an interesting column about RNC chairman Reince Priebus. He is basically saying that Priebus has failed to do his job, which is make sure the Republicans nominate someone who is electable and then see to it that he is elected. If Paul Ryan really isn't a candidate and the Republicans are stuck with either Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, neither of whom is electable, the GOP is staring at Clinton 45 for 4 or 8 years.

Milbank's point is that Priebus should never have let it come to this. He should have intervened much earlier. For example, when Trump began to attack women, Mexicans, and Muslims, Priebus could have gone after him by name and said that the garbage that he is spouting is not what the Republican Party is all about. It wouldn't have been hard to say that the Republican Party stands for freedom for all Americans, not just ones Donald Trump happens to like. But he stayed neutral too long and now he is stuck.

Milbank also pointed out that staying on the fence is what wiped out the Whig Party in the 1850s. The Northern branch of the Whig Party was against slavery and the Southern branch was for it so the Whigs could never take a stand on the most important issue of their time and just fell apart. That could easily happen to the Republicans with a Trump nomination and possibly, although less likely, with a Cruz nomination. (V)

Many Republican Delegates Have No Idea What Is about to Hit Them

Reince Priebus isn't the only one in over his head. Some of the 2,472 delegates to the Republican National Convention are high-ranking Republican politicians, but most are just ordinary citizens with an abnormal interest in (Republican) politics who have managed to get elected as delegates to the convention. Instead of just attending a well-choreographed show, which is what they signed up for, they may find themselves in a chaotic whirlpool where they are expected to pick a potential President of the United States. Few are prepared for this. In fact, they can't even start preparing because until the Rules Committee meets in July, they won't even know what the rules are.

One thing is certain though: Trump and Cruz (and possibly others) will be contacting them repeatedly try to get their votes. Their phones will be ringing off the hook and their email boxes overflowing with messages like: "Is there anything I can do for you?" If they say: "How about paying all my convention expenses and giving me $10,000 so I can enjoy the nightlife in Cleveland?" the answer is likely to be: "Sure. What else can I do for you?"

Horse trading on the convention floor and in back rooms is going to hit new highs, in part because communication is so much easier now than it was at the last contested convention, in 1976. With the push of a button, a candidate can send an email to all the delegates of one or more states. Similarly, each delegate can easily send a message to all the other members of his or her delegation. If it looks like it is going to be close, the candidates are going to pull out all stops to win and it could get wild and woolly. (V)

Ted Cruz is Starting to Get the Frontrunner Treatment

As Donald Trump's fortunes have declined, Ted Cruz's have risen, such that he is many pundits' current favorite to claim the GOP nomination. Well, to paraphrase Spider-Man's Uncle Ben, "With great success, comes great scrutiny."

Cruz, of course, made an aggressive move in his chess match with Trump this weekend, sweeping in and claiming delegates in Colorado, Indiana, and Iowa. This did not sit right with right-wing blogger extraordinaire Matt Drudge, who papered the front page of his site with stories like "Cruz should disavow rigged Colorado election" and "Apparatchiks thieve delegates for Ted." Cruz responded angrily, labeling Drudge—as he does any Republican who opposes him—as a lackey for Donald Trump.

Commandment number one in the modern Republican playbook is "Thou shalt not offend Fox News." But not far after that on the list is "Thou shalt not take the name of Matt Drudge in vain." Drudge has enormous reach and influence, and it crosses into social media (and, thus, young people) in a way that Fox News does not. Cruz is not going to give those Colorado delegates back, of course, but at very least he should keep his opinions about Drudge to himself. After all, he already has more than enough powerful enemies. (Z)

New Poll of Maryland Gives Big Lead to Trump, Bigger Lead to Clinton

An NBC/Marist Poll released on Tuesday says that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are strong favorites to win when Maryland votes on April 26. Here are the numbers:

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 41%
2 Ted Cruz 29%
3 John Kasich 24%
Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 58%
2 Bernie Sanders 36%

These figures are consistent with other polls of Mid-Atlantic States, suggesting that the region is going to be full of bad news for the non-frontrunners when its states (except for New Jersey) vote later this month. (Z)

Each Party Is Jealous of the Other One

Many Democrats are very unhappy that the Democratic Party has 712 superdelegates who are delegates just because they are party officials. Supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), in particular, think that Party leaders should have no role in selecting their nominee; the voters should do that. They envy the Republicans who have only three "superdelegates" per state (the RNC members) and in many states they are bound to the winner of their state for the first ballot. Oh to be a Republican, they pine.

Meanwhile, over at RNC headquarters, the Republican leadership is looking at the Democrats and feeling nothing but envy. They would love nothing better than having 700 or so delegates who were Party officials who could prevent crazy unelectable people from being nominated for President.

Actually, it is a bit more complicated than it appears. If the Democrats did not have superdelegates, Democratic governors, senators, and representatives would all run for delegate, competing against ordinary citizens. By allowing them in for free, this competition is avoided and all the potential delegates are on equal footing. But changes are very unlikely because only the Democratic National Committee can change the rules to eliminate superdelegates and party leaders are unlikely to adopt rules disadvantaging party leaders. (V)

No Matter How You Look at It, Clinton Is Ahead of Sanders

A lot of supporters of Bernie Sanders don't like the fact that the media keep saying that Hillary Clinton is ahead of Sanders. After all, Sanders hasn't lost any of the last seven contests. Surely he is leading now? Actually, no. The only thing that really counts is delegates, and Clinton is ahead by almost 700 of them. But, Sanders' fans will say, only pledged delegates should count. Those are the ones the voters picked. Well, Clinton is ahead by 250 pledged delegates. How about votes? Nope. Clinton has gotten 2.4 million more votes than Sanders. But what about states? Sanders has won 15 states and territories, yes, but Clinton has won 20 of them. But wait, Bernie's supporters are more enthusiastic than Hillary's. Actually, no to that as well. A recent Gallup poll shows that 54% of Clinton's supporters are extremely enthusiastic or very enthusiastic about her candidacy versus only 44% of his. So by every possible metric, Clinton is ahead.

Why, then, do Sanders' supporters think their candidate is ahead? For one thing, his rallies are much bigger than hers and his supporters tweet their hearts out for him and hers don't. But that is largely a difference in the demographics of the two groups. His supporters are young and love social media. Hers are older, don't go to rallies, and think tweeting is something small birds do in the spring. But ultimately it is about delegates and there she is way ahead and after New York and the Mid-Atlantic states vote in April, she will be even further ahead. (V)

Clinton Gets New York Daily News' Endorsement

After Bernie Sanders' disastrous interview with the paper last week, this was something of a foregone conclusion, but the New York Daily News has officially endorsed Hillary Clinton. The headline: "Her plans to give working- and middle-class Americans a fighting chance at rising incomes are far superior to Bernie Sanders.'"

Newspapers are in decline in America, but if there's one place where they still hold a lot of sway, it's New York City. Clinton already had the New York Times' endorsement, and the other two major papers in the city—the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal—strongly dislike both Democrats, and are unlikely to make an endorsement on that side of the contest. So, it would appear she has a sweep, of sorts. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Apr12 Trump Blasts the Republicans for Rigging the Rules
Apr12 Trump's Kids Also Not Great With Rules
Apr12 Clinton's New Ad is Aimed at Democrats and Attacks Trump Directly
Apr12 Politico: Clinton Won't Be Indicted
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Apr10 Sanders Wins Wyoming
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Apr10 Sanders Says Clinton Is Qualified to Be President
Apr10 Trump Is Losing Indiana Even Before the Voting Starts
Apr10 Cruz Finishes the Job in Colorado While Trump Fumbles
Apr10 Unbound Delegates Could Determine the Republican Nominee
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Apr10 Adelson May Sit This One Out
Apr10 Fiorina Desperately Wants to Be Veep
Apr10 Boston Globe Running Fake Anti-Trump Front Page Today
Apr09 Republican Insiders: It Will Be A Contested Convention
Apr09 Trump and Cruz Have Completely Different Approaches
Apr09 Republican Rodeo in Colorado
Apr09 Trump May Command a Fake Twitter Army
Apr09 Trump and Clinton Lead in New York Poll
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Apr09 Cruz Would Be the Most Conservative Nominee in Generations
Apr09 Paul Ryan Releases Campaign Ad
Apr09 Economy is Playing Out in the Democrats' Favor
Apr08 Candidates Move to New York
Apr08 Conservatives Are Pushing for Mike Lee to Fill Scalia's Seat
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Apr08 GOP Leaders Hate Cruz but Desperately Need Him
Apr08 Clinton Blows it in Philadelphia
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