Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1237,   Dem: 2383
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Nevada GOP Votes: Trump Makes His Point, Kasich Craps Out

Nevada's Republicans have come together to caucus, and have handed Donald Trump his third big victory in a row. Here are the numbers, with all precincts reporting, keeping in mind that delegates are only projected until the state convention meets in May:

Nevada caucuses
Rank Candidate Pct Delegates
1 Donald Trump 45.9% 14
2 Marco Rubio 23.9% 7
3 Ted Cruz 21.4% 6
4 Ben Carson 4.8% 2
5 John Kasich 3.6% 1

The whole purpose of choosing four idiosyncratic states to hold the first four nominating contests is to identify a candidate who can win among different constituencies. With a second place and three first place finishes, Trump has fairly well proven himself to be that candidate. The Nevada entrance polls tell the same tale. Trump won nearly every demographic: rich and poor, conservative and moderate, white and non-white, evangelical and non-evangelical. The one place where he was cleanly outpaced? Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) took the voters who care most about electability, and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) took those who care most about a candidate who shares their values. In other words, Trump voters do not particularly care if he can win or not, nor if he hews to the party line. This is, quite literally, RNC chair Reince Priebus' worst nightmare. The Trump supporters seem to be less concerned about the White House than they are about sending a message to the professional politicians of both parties.

Speaking of the senators, a second and a third place finish are nice, but once again it shows that neither is able to score victories. Nevada should be a Rubio kind of state: He had a good ground game, there's a sizable Latino population, and Nevada Republicans are on the moderate side. Cruz, meanwhile, failed yet again to capture the evangelical vote, ceding it to Trump 41% to 26%. That, of course, is not even close. With the data we already have, it is nearly impossible to look at a map of the remaining primaries and caucuses and to come up with a plausible path to the nomination for either candidate. Outside of a major game-changer that hits fairly soon (one of them drops out and throws their support to the other, Trump is found in bed with a live boy or a dead girl, one of the top three is indicted or has a major health crisis) then the two senators will soon have a brokered convention as their only hope for nomination (more on this below; "soon" could be as early as March 2). And if Cruz, in particular, thinks the RNC will rise up to throw off Trump and anoint him as their champion, he is delusional.

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), meanwhile, is nearing the end of the line. He still had a glimmer of hope a week ago, but that second-place finish in New Hampshire is a distant memory, and is no longer giving him any sort of momentum. His hope has long been to hold out until the Midwestern states vote so that he can bank Ohio's delegates and maybe those of some of his neighbors. The problem is that he's trailing Trump in polls across the Midwest, including Ohio, and that's before we factor in his dismal Nevada result plus the fact that he's going to get trounced on Super Tuesday. Meanwhile, CNN has not yet officially announced the lineup for Thursday's GOP candidates' debate, but if they were waiting for Nevada to vote before making their decision, it is possible that Kasich will be left on the outside looking in. If the Governor has any political ambitions beyond 2016, he would do well to drop out and to avoid the humiliation of being repudiated by voters in his own home state.

Carson, meanwhile, continues to fulfill his appointed role in the process: Providing copy for journalists when Trump is too busy to do so. On Tuesday, he shared his view that if he wins he would be the first actual black president of the United States, since he grew up poor in Detroit, while Barack Obama was raised by white parents and spent his childhood somewhere other than inner-city Detroit. It's a nonsensical argument and, beyond that, if Carson thinks "authentically black" is a selling point, he's probably in the wrong party.

Super Tuesday will be here in six days. What was once a very murky race could be crystal clear by this time next week, possibly on both sides of the contest. (Z)

Does Winning NH and SC Mean You Will Be the Republican Nominee?

A number of media outlets have pointed out that when the same person wins both the Republican primary in New Hampshire and South Carolina, he is always the nominee. Therefore, Donald Trump is a sure thing. Not so fast. Technically it is true, but a few footnotes are in order. First, South Carolina didn't even hold a primary until 1980, so we have data only from 1980 onward. Here are the winners for each year since then.

Year New Hampshire South Carolina Notes
1980 Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan Winner of both got nomination
1984 (Not contested) (Not contested) -
1988 George H.W. Bush George H.W. Bush Yes, but winner was a sitting Vice President
1992 George H.W. Bush George H.W. Bush Yes, but winner was a sitting President
1996 Pat Buchanan Bob Dole Different winners
2000 John McCain George W. Bush Different winners
2004 (Not contested) (Not contested) -
2008 John McCain John McCain Winner of both got nomination
2012 Mitt Romney Newt Gingrich Different winners
2016 Donald Trump Donald Trump ?

In 1980, Ronald Reagan won both primaries and was the nominee so it was true then. In 1984, there was no contested primary. In 1988 and 1992 it was also true, but in the first case it was a sitting Vice President and in the second case it was a sitting President. Donald Trump is neither. In 1996 and 2000, different people won them and in 2004 it was uncontested. In 2008 John McCain won both, for the second example of an open nomination with no incumbent President or Vice President running. In 2012, different people won them. So we have a total of two points in our data set, 1980 and 2008. Extrapolating from these two to say Donald Trump is in like Flynn is a bit of a stretch. He may well be the nominee, but projecting that from these two data points is not a solid basis. (V)

Trump Holds Huge Lead Nationally

While national polls haven't meant much up until now, this week they might because Super Tuesday is about as close to a national primary as we get. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll puts Donald Trump in the lead by more than 20 points over Ted Cruz and nearly 30 points over Marco Rubio. If Rubio is going to save the establishment from Trump, he had better get on the job mighty fast. He has until next Tuesday to get the job done or it may be too late. By then Trump is likely to have enough delegates to prevent anyone else from getting a clear majority. Here are the numbers.

Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 41%
2 Ted Cruz 19%
3 Marco Rubio 13%
4 Ben Carson 10%
5 John Kasich 8%
6 Jeb Bush 5%

Maybe the poll is wrong or maybe the 5% who supported Jeb Bush before he dropped out will all go to Rubio, but that is hardly a sure thing. Also, as we have pointed out before, many states have thresholds. In particular, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Vermont among the states that vote next week all have thresholds of 20%. In those states, delegates only go to the candidates who finish with 20% of the vote or more If the numbers above hold in those states, Trump would get all their delegates and the other candidates would get zero. That's 200 delegates right off the bat, plus what he gets in the other eight states. A total of 300 delegates (200 plus what he already has) is nearly 25% of the total need to be nominated. It's very hard to see how he could be stopped at that point. RNC chairman Reince Priebus must be praying that Ted Cruz hits the 20% mark in all states, despite the fact that Priebus and the rest of the GOP establishment hate Cruz even more than they hate Trump. At that point, a brokered convention would start to look good since it at least holds open the possibility of the establishment rigging the rules to nominate Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Whether the base would take kindly to this kind of shenanigan is an open question. How Trump would react is also food for thought. It could get dicey. (V)

Has the Republican Party Fractured into Three Parts?

Traditionally, "The Party Decides" has described how the Republican Party operates. Early on in the presidential nominating process, the party pooh-bahs decide who they want as the candidate. Movement conservatives pick someone else and they go head to head in the primaries. The party wins. In the end, the conservatives grumble but show up at the polls for the party's candidate anyway. This year may be different. Suddenly it looks like the party has three viable factions: the establishment, whose candidate is now clearly Marco Rubio, the conservatives, who are rooting for Ted Cruz, and the angry populists, who support Donald Trump.

There have always been frustrated people in both parties, but what is new is that the pitchfork-wielding peasants are sufficiently incensed this time that they might well propel their candidate to the nomination. Trump is not all that different in many ways from Pat Buchanan, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination in 1992 and 1996. But this time, a lot of Republican voters feel that the GOP establishment really treats them like suckers. Once in office they forget all about their promises to ban abortion and push gays back into the closet. Then they pass trade deals that ship jobs overseas and try to privatize Social Security and cut taxes for the rich. These aren't policies blue-collar Republicans want at all. This year they have had enough and have found a champion, albeit a strange one in a thrice-married, four-times-bankrupt, New York real estate billionaire. (How odd this may be, don't forget that two of the Democrats' biggest heroes, FDR and JFK, were also extremely wealthy.)

To make the split complete, Cruz will have to do well on Super Tuesday and collect enough delegates to prevent Trump from getting a majority and thus forcing a brokered convention, making the three-way split very clear to all. Rubio doesn't have to win big next week because the big money is starting to roll in, so he can wait for the big blue states, which vote later in the Spring. (V)

Judiciary Committee Will Not Hold A Hearing on Scalia's Successor

Yesterday, the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee made a decision not to even hold a hearing on whomever President Obama names to fill the seat of the late Antonin Scalia. Senate Republican whip John Cornyn (R-TX) told this to reporters after the Republicans on the committee met.

Constitutionally, the Senate Republicans have every right to refuse to even hear the nominee, but this is unlikely to deter Obama from naming one. Since he now knows the nominee won't be confirmed, he is free to name the person whose rejection does the maximum damage to the Republican Party. He hasn't said yet who his choice is, but picking someone who was recently unanimously confirmed by the Senate would make it clear to everyone that this is strictly partisan politics in action. The Democrats will undoubtedly campaign all year on the idea that Washington dysfunction is due to Republicans failing to do their jobs. (V)

Rubio Picks Up Megadonor

Kentucky billionaire Joe Craft, who made his fortune in the coal business, has confirmed that he will support Marco Rubio. Since Jeb Bush's departure, more and more big donors are looking for a candidate to throw money at, and Rubio is the likely target in most cases. Craft and his fiancee, Kelly Knight, have relationships with Paul Singer, a New York City hedge fund billionaire, who also supports Rubio. If all the billionaires in the country belatedly jump on the Rubio bandwagon and Trump gets the nomination, there will be a lot of unhappy billionaires come August.

That money is very important in politics is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. But it is also true that money can't buy votes like it buys mansions or private jets. Exhibit A is Jeb Bush spending $130 million and not making it past the third nominating contest. Bush spent $84 million on advertising and it did him no good at all. The candidate also matters. Who knew? (V)

Judge Orders Discovery on Clinton's Email Server

Yesterday a federal judge, Emmet G. Sullivan, ruled that State Dept. officials and Hillary Clinton's top aides be questioned under oath about whether Clinton was trying to thwart federal freedom of information laws by using a private email server. The lawsuit was brought by Judicial Watch, a conservative group.

Democrats will try to paint Sullivan, who is black, as a partisan Republican hack, but it won't work. He was appointed to the Superior Court of D.C. in 1984 by Ronald Reagan and then appointed to the D.C. Court of Appeals by George H.W. Bush in 1991. However, in 1994, Bill Clinton appointed him to his current job of District Judge for D.C.

Of course, he hasn't yet determined that Hillary has done anything wrong. He merely said he wants the discovery procedure to go forward. (V)

Email a link to a friend or share:

Back to the top

---The Votemaster
Feb23 Republicans Caucus in Nevada Today
Feb23 Rubio Is Now the Establishment Candidate
Feb23 Univision Will Try to Register 3 Million New Latino Voters
Feb23 Clinton Already Has a Large Lead in Delegates
Feb23 Another Day, Another Dirty Trick for Cruz
Feb23 Democratic Turnout Was Down in Nevada As Well as Iowa and New Hampshire
Feb23 Conservatives to McConnell: Supreme Court is More Important Than Your Majority
Feb23 Scalia Replacement Drama Continues to Occupy Center Stage
Feb23 When Is a Trump Not a Trump?
Feb22 Eight Takeaways about South Carolina and Nevada from CNN
Feb22 Five Takeaways from Politico
Feb22 Five Takeaways from USA Today
Feb22 Five Takeaways from the Washington Examiner
Feb22 Three Takeways on Nevada from Michael Tomasky
Feb22 Candidates Go after Super Tuesday a la Carte
Feb22 So Much for Kasich the Moderate
Feb22 Why Couldn't Jeb Fix It?
Feb22 Could an Old Photo Help Sanders in South Carolina?
Feb22 Did Sanders Really Win the Latino Vote?
Feb22 Is Hillary Clinton Inevitable?
Feb22 Is Donald Trump Inevitable?
Feb22 Scalia's Death Could Cost the Republicans the Senate
Feb21 South Carolina Votes: Trump Succeeds, Bush Secedes
Feb21 Nevada Democrats Back Clinton
Feb21 Supreme Court Makes North Carolina Redraw Its Districts
Feb21 Obama Will Review Supreme Court Candidates this Weekend
Feb21 Voters in Sanders' Old Neighborhood Prefer Trump
Feb20 Today Is the Big Day for the Republicans
Feb20 Today Is the Big Day for the Democrats
Feb20 Pro-Cruz Robocalls Attack Trump on Confederate Flag, Gay Rights
Feb20 Rubio Would Deport DREAMers
Feb20 Court Agrees to Hear Case about Cruz's Citizenship
Feb20 Maybe Trump Actually Can Go Too Far
Feb20 Trump Calls for a Boycott of Apple--from his iPhone
Feb19 Now Trump Leading Nationally
Feb19 Cruz Has to Come in Second in South Carolina or His Whole Case Falls Apart
Feb19 Cruz Campaign Shoots Itself in the Foot
Feb19 Sanders Leads All Republicans in General Election Match-ups
Feb19 Clinton Puts Up Very Emotional Ad in Nevada about Deportation
Feb19 Clinton Picks Up a Big Endorsement
Feb19 Pope Says Donald Trump Is Not a Christian
Feb19 Fight over Scalia's Seat Could Change Everything
Feb19 Even Scalia's Funeral Has Become Politicized
Feb19 Canada Welcomes Americans Who Don't Want To Live Under President Trump
Feb18 Nikki Haley Running for Veep on Rubio's Ticket
Feb18 Cruz Leads Trump Nationally in New Poll
Feb18 Sanders Catches Clinton in Nevada
Feb18 Clinton's Fate May Be Determined in Red States
Feb18 AFL-CIO to Stay Out of Primaries
Feb18 Rubio Holds Town Halls But Refuses to Answer Any Questions