Clinton 1776
Sanders 1125
 Needed   2383
Trump 755
Cruz 559
Rubio 171
Kasich 144
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Republicans Don't Want a White Knight

A new NBC/WSJ poll has revealed that 62% of Republican voters think that the candidate with the most delegates should get the nomination, even if he falls short of 50%. They are not sitting around praying for a white knight on a dark horse to come save the party. However, 33% think that the delegates should decide themselves if no one gets to 50% on the first ballot. The Republican leadership certainly doesn't really like either view. It wants to pick someone who can win the election, but 71% of the Republicans polled find the idea of a white knight unacceptable and only 20% are open to the idea. The vast majority want someone who ran for president. Maybe Jim Gilmore still has a chance.

The poll also showed that 55% of the Republican voters think it is all right for a candidate to "lure" delegates to his side. The devil here is in the details. What does "lure" mean? The Republican Party officially sanctions the idea of delegates looking for third parties to cover their convention expenses. What about some pocket money? Say, $10,000, just in case you meet Mitt Romney and want to bet on the outcome? The Party doesn't have any clear guidelines on that. But with Trump whining constantly that the Party is rigging the rules to hurt him, surely this idea has crossed his mind.

If Donald Trump falls a little bit short of the 1,237 pledged delegates needed to win, if enough of the uncommitted delegates agree with the majority of the Republican voters and say it should be whoever won the most delegates, they could make up the shortfall, especially if properly lured. But even if they vote for someone else or abstain on the first ballot, it looks like the Republican leadership is once again out of step with the voters, who want to see an actual candidate be nominated. (V)

Chairman of the GOP Rules Committee Blasts Priebus

Do you like inside baseball? Good. You are in the right place. Most voters don't give a hoot if the Republican National Convention is run on the House of Representatives' rules, as it always has been, or on Robert's Rules of Order, as Oregon RNC member Solomon Yue has proposed. But it matters.

Under the House rules, when a nomination for any office is closed, it isn't permanently closed. The chairman—and in the case of the convention this is likely to be Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)—can at any time say: "I have decided to reopen nominations. Anybody have any suggestions for new candidates?" Under Robert's Rules of Order, once nominations are closed, they can only be reopened by a majority vote of the participants. So adopting Robert's Rules would strip the chairman of this important power.

Now go reread the first item today. In short, the Party leaders are terrified of Trump and Cruz and don't think Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) has the right stuff, so they would like to introduce a white knight after a few ballots. But the Republican voters are absolutely against this idea. They want to nominate one of the actual candidates.

Yesterday, Chairman of the Republican Party's Standing Committee on the Rules, Bruce Ash, blasted RNC Chairman Reince Priebus for proposing to table (i.e., kill) Yue's proposal at the RNC meeting in Florida this week. Priebus asked Yue to withdraw his proposal but Yue refused. Priebus also asked Ash to cancel the Rules Committee session at the meeting this week, but Ash refused. So these gentlemen are like a bunch of ducks. On the surface, everything is calm and placid, but down underneath, they are kicking like mad. (V)

The Plot Thickens In Colorado

Ted Cruz's machinations in Colorado last weekend, which allowed him to scoop up all the state's delegates, cast a bright light on the state's lack of a primary or caucus. Now we learn that the legislature came very close to adopting a primary last year, but the initiative died in committee thanks to 'nay' votes from Sen. Kevin Grantham, Sen. Kent Lambert, Sen. Laura Woods, and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. And, in a development that should surprise nobody, Grantham is a Cruz delegate, Lambert is an alternate Cruz delegate, and all four state senators are avowed Cruz supporters.

None of this is illegal, of course. It is not even particularly unethical. But it will nonetheless give Donald Trump more ammunition for his argument that the GOP establishment has been conspiring against him, while also affirming the perception that Cruz is gaming the system. So it's yet another obstacle to the party coming together once their nominee is chosen in July. (Z)

Republican Delegates Feel the Power

The delegates to the Republican National Convention may not feel the Bern, but they certainly feel the power. Florida delegate Luke Letlow said that while he was getting a haircut last week, he also got an earful about how he should vote. Colorado delegate Steve House has received death threats. Indiana delegate Kyle Babcock says his phone is ringing off the hook with major media outlets calling him constantly. Cody Knotts, who supports Trump and who is running for delegate in Pennsylvania, is having a fight with his mother-in-law who won't vote for him because she can't stand Trump.

Once all the delegates have been chosen, they will be under tremendous pressure from all the candidates to commit to them as soon as they are free. The media will be calling constantly to see how they stand and if they are wavering. Normal life will be impossible until the convention is over. The 2,472 delegates have enormous power and they are just beginning to realize the consequences of it. (V)

Trump's Path to the Nomination

The AP's Stephen Ohlemacher has taken a careful look at the remaining Republican contests, and tried to project a plausible path to 1,237 for Donald Trump. It's certainly doable; here's how the frontrunner could go from the 755 delegates he has today to locking up the nomination:

  • On Tuesday, Trump wins the statewide vote in New York, plus most of the Congressional districts (with the other five going to Ted Cruz or Gov. John Kasich, R-OH). That nets him 77 delegates and leaves him with 832.

  • On April 26, Trump does ok in Pennsylvania, well in Maryland, and wins two of the three smaller states voting that day—Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island. That gives The Donald 93 more delegates and leaves him with 925.

  • In May, Trump does very well in Indiana and West Virginia, loses Nebraska, and turns in a moderately successful performance in Oregon and Washington. That adds 70 delegates, for a running total of 995.

  • On June 7, Trump wins the winner-take-all states of New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana, loses New Mexico, and does extremely well in California, taking 39 of the state's 53 Congressional districts. That's another 242 delegates, putting him at exactly 1,237.

It's a good analysis and not that far off from what we published on April 7 based on Larry Sabato's district-by-district analysis and the Green Papers delegate count. There's also no question that the tallest orders on the list are all on June 7: Winning South Dakota and Montana (Cruz has done very well in the mountain states), and trampling his opponents in California. Which means that this drama is not going to reach its conclusion until the very end. And maybe not even until the convention itself as at least 100 delegates are not bound to any candidate. (Z)

Trump and Sanders Have More in Common than Many People Think

While Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) don't care much for each other, Trump is actually closer to Sanders on style and issues than he is to any of the other Republicans who are currently or have been previously in the race. Consider:

  • Both are outsiders whose respective parties would love to wave a magic wand and make them go poof
  • Both have created a huge movement of extremely passionate supporters who will follow them anywhere
  • Both are authentic and not controlled by donors or any outside forces
  • Both hate super PACs and neither goes around begging money from wealthy donors
  • Both dislike their party's rules: Trump hates primary-free states; Sanders hates superdelegates
  • Neither one of them thinks trade agreements are a good idea
  • Both are and were strong opponents of the Iraq war
  • Neither of them likes the idea of the U.S. spending billions of dollars to defend Europe
  • Both want a more nuanced policy in the Middle East

Of course, they are not clones of one another. Sanders has called Trump "a pathological liar" and Trump has called Sanders a "wild-eyed leftist" so a Trump/Sanders or Sanders/Trump fusion ticket seems unlikely. (V)

Clinton is Warming to a $15 Minimum Wage

While Bernie Sanders is still a longshot for the Democratic nomination, he is clearly having a big effect on Hillary Clinton. At the start of the campaign she was solidly for the TPP trade deal; now she is against it. At first she was for the Keystone pipeline; now it's not going to happen on her watch. Next up: the minimum wage. Initially she opposed Sanders' proposal for a national $15/hour minimum wage, but since yesterday it's OK with her if it rose gradually to $15, as it will in New York state. On issue after issue she is moving closer to Sanders since she knows she will need his supporters in the general election and the less daylight there is by July between her and him, the easier it will be to get them on her bandwagon. It is inconceivable that she would have moved so far to the left had her opponent been, say, former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley. If her main opponent had been former Virginia senator Jim Webb, she would have probably moved to the right.

There are two ways to interpret this. Some voters like their politicians to be completely principled and refuse to compromise those principles, ever. Better a principled loss than half a win. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is like this and his supporters love him for it. Other people think that politicians shouldn't actually have any principles. They should represent their constituents and do what their constituents want. When Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was promoted from being a representative in a rural district in upstate New York to senator of the whole state she instantly switched from being a right-wing Blue Dog Democrat to one of the most liberal senators. She then explained that her job was reflecting the views of her constituents and now she had very different constituents. The same could be said of Clinton. She clearly has some principles (she's never wavered on gun control or abortion) but now that Sanders has demonstrated that a lot of Democrats oppose TPP and Keystone and support a $15 minimum wage, she is coming around to absorbing their views. (V)

Clinton Winning States that Best Represent the Democratic Party

Nate Silver has taken a look at the Democratic contest through the lens of racial demographics. Beginning with the assumption that the Democratic electorate in November will be about 54% white, 24% black, 15% Latino, and 7% other races, he compares those numbers to the racial makeup of the 50 states, to see which candidate is performing best in states that look like the Democratic electorate.

The result: Clinton is dominating the states that best mirror her party. Seven of the top 10 states on the list (Illinois, Florida, Virginia, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas) have voted, and all seven have gone for Clinton. In the other three (New Jersey, New York, and Maryland), Clinton has a commanding lead in polls. Bernie Sanders, by contrast, has won just one of the top twenty (Michigan). Thus, Silver's ultimate conclusion:

Sanders is winning states that are much whiter than the Democratic electorate as a whole, Clinton is winning states that are much blacker than the Democratic electorate as a whole, and Clinton is winning most of those states that are somewhere in the middle, whether they're in the South (like Virginia) or elsewhere (like Ohio or Nevada). That's why she'll probably be the Democratic nominee.

Though he does not say so directly, Silver's argument also has the clear implication that Clinton is very well situated for the general election. We did a very similar analysis last month and produced a plot of the data that comes to the same conclusion as Silver. (Z)

California Independents May Be Unable to Vote in Primaries

Due to something of a quirk in the paperwork that California voters fill out when registering to vote, more than 300,000 voters may be effectively disenfranchised when they show up to the polls for the state's primary on June 7.

California is not a red state, so this is not one of those voter ID/fewer polling places things. It's due to the fact that voters who wish to be "independent" must check the box on the right edge of the form that says "No, I don't want to register with a political party." The problem is that Americans are used to reading left to right, and so before anyone sees that option, they see the checkbox for the American Independent Party (AIP). About half a million Californians have checked that box, making the ultraconservative AIP—which opposes gay marriage, legal immigration, and abortion, among other things—the state's largest third party. In fact, it's larger than all of the other third parties in California combined. That raised some eyebrows at the Los Angeles Times, which decided to start contacting party "members" to see if they really did favor the AIP. The responses they got suggest that nearly three-quarters of registrants—about 360,000 people—never intended to join.

The first seven paragraphs of the California AIP's platform each mention God, praise him, and explain what he wants. The Constitution makes a cameo appearance there, too. The nine actual planks in the platform are as follows:

  • The Constitution: the Original Contract that America has with Itself
  • Freedom from "Liberalism"
  • The Protection of Life, and the Duties and Rights of Families
  • Marriage Between a Man and a Woman
  • The Individual and Common Defense
  • Opposition to Illegal Immigration and Support of Secure Borders
  • Our Great Pro-Life Constitution
  • Public Servants, Not Public Masters! All Governments Under God

There is still time for voters to re-register and, given the Times' reporting, many may do so. But if this does affect the results, there is one candidate who will be the victim: Bernie Sanders. The Republican Primary is closed, so it does not matter if a voter is AIP or independent—he or she can't vote for the GOP nominee either way. The Democrats, by contrast, allow registered independents to vote in their primary but not members of third parties. This being the case, some number of independent voters will show up, request a Democratic ballot, and will be told they have to fill out an AIP ballot instead. Since Sanders has consistently done better with independents than Hillary Clinton, it stands to reason that this will cost him votes. At the moment, polls suggest it won't matter, but there's still plenty of time for the race to tighten.

If Ted Cruz loses the GOP nomination, the AIP looks like a perfect fit for him. For Trump, he could just skip over the God stuff and it would be doable. However, there are a couple of problems here. First, the AIP is on the ballot only in one state (California). Second, it already has a candidate for President, Tom Hoefling. Hoefling's Website is different from that of the average garden variety politician, most of whom try to avoid taking stands on controversial issues. He has taken clear stands on 693 (!) separate people and issues, including (in alphabetical order): Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, Barry Goldwater, Calvin Coolidge, Davy Crockett, Energy, Fifth Amendment, George Orwell, homosexual agenda, impeachment, Jesus Christ, Keystone pipeline, (Pope) Leo XII, miracles, natural law, Obamacare, parental rights, Romney Republicanism, slavery, tea party, United Nations, veterans, and Winston Churchill. Hoefling apparently got bored in first grade when the teacher was going over the alphabet since his list stops at "W." (Z & V)

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---The Votemaster
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