Clinton 1690
Sanders 946
 Needed   2383
Trump 739
Cruz 465
Rubio 166
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Voting Was a Disaster in Arizona
      •  Lose with Cruz
      •  Big GOP Donors Planning to Dump Trump to Save Congress
      •  For Trump, Nothing is Out of Bounds
      •  Trump's #1 Cheerleader: Newt Gingrich
      •  Is the Party Over?
      •  Pros and Cons of a Third Party to Stop Trump
      •  Trump and Clinton in a Word
      •  Clinton Preparing a Massive General Election Ad Campaign

Voting Was a Disaster in Arizona

In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned significant portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This brought an end to federal government oversight of 16 states with a history of discriminatory voting practices. All 16 are red (or purple) states, and most of them promptly responded to the ruling by instituting new ID requirements, or getting rid of polling places, or reducing the hours during which polling places were open, or all of the above. The changes, invariably described as an attempt to "fight fraud" or "save money" are a bald attempt to reduce minority turnout.

Judging by what happened in Arizona Tuesday, it's working. In many areas with large minority populations, such as Maricopa County, the lines to vote were generally an hour or more, and sometimes the wait was as much as five hours. In some predominantly Latino areas, there were no polling places at all. As The Nation notes, the word "disenfranchised" was being used quite liberally.

There is time enough before the general election for lawsuits to be filed; presumably the DNC is working on that already. But whether those lawsuits are resolved in time for the election, especially with an eight-person Supreme Court, is another question. It is entirely possible that a few close states, most obviously Arizona, New Mexico, and North Carolina, could end up in the Republican column due to these machinations.

With that said, the Republicans need to be thinking very carefully about how important one presidential election is in the infinite scheme of things. If the Party imposes a non-Trump candidate on its voters, many of whom are already furious with the establishment, the bad taste among those who are already unhappy with the party could linger for decades or generations. Similarly, the writing is on the wall when it comes to the GOP and non-white voters: They need some. And keeping those voters from the polls through shenanigans could forever burn the bridges that the GOP needs to build. (Z)

Lose with Cruz

"Lose with Cruz" has some of the rhythm of "I like Ike," but is less upbeat. But it is becoming reality for many in the Republican leadership. The establishment is sufficiently desperate that many Republican politicians are starting to line up behind Ted Cruz, who they hate and who they expect to lose the election to Hillary Clinton, rather than hand the no-longer-so-Grand Old Party over to Trump. The feeling is that Cruz is leading one of the factions within the Party, and his expected defeat in November is just a defeat for one faction. The Party has survived that kind of defeat before, notably when Barry Goldwater went down in flames in 1964. But if Trump is nominated, his brand of demagoguery could define the Republican Party as a bunch of racists and sexists in a way that could take many years to erase. Some Republicans think they can live with Clinton as President because they expect to hold the House and maybe the Senate, thus limiting the damage she can do.

In addition to more and more Republicans grudgingly climbing on the Cruz bandwagon, the calls for Kasich to exit the race are getting louder. It is an odd situation—party leaders are supporting Cruz, whom they hate, and telling Kasich, whom they like, to go home. But it is all about the numbers. Cruz has enough delegates that he has a small shot at stopping Trump whereas Kasich has literally no chance to beat Trump by getting 1,237 delegates. So politicians who hate Cruz are now endorsing him because the alternative is even worse. Charles Dudley Warner apparently saw this coming in the middle of the 19th century when he said: "Politics makes strange bedfellows." (V)

Big GOP Donors Planning to Dump Trump to Save Congress

It is increasingly unlikely that big Republican donors will pour any money into the campaign of Donald Trump if he is the Republican presidential nominee. Instead, their money will go into trying to decouple the rest of the Party from Trump and try to save individual senators and representatives one at a time. The idea is to follow former Speaker Tip O'Neill's prescription that all politics is local. Of course, that is grasping at straws. Trying to pretend Trump has nothing to do with the Republican Party is going to be a tall order.

Senate campaigns, especially, are likely to involve massive ad wars, with many of them costing tens of millions of dollars. Karl Rove's Crossroads operation has already raised $24 million for Senate races. A large fraction of the Koch brother's $900 million planned for 2016 is likely to go into ads for and against Senate candidates. Neither party has any experience with running against its own nominee. It will test the creative powers of the ad makers to an extent they have never been tested before. (V)

For Trump, Nothing is Out of Bounds

In the old days, say in 2014 or earlier, there were some unwritten rules that politicians disobeyed at their peril. Attacking a candidate's family was Not Done, for example. But Donald Trump has changed all that. In response to an online ad created by a group operated by Republican Consultant Liz Mair showing a nude photo of Trump's wife, Trump sent out a tweet threatening to spill the beans on the wife of Sen. Ted Cruz, who has nothing to do with Mair's ad. The beans are already spilled, and relate to Heidi Cruz's depression in 2005. Trump has also attacked Jeb Bush's mother and Hillary Clinton's husband. Now the attacks on Bill Clinton are probably legitimate, since he is an actual politician and campaigns for his wife, but attacks on candidates' wives and mothers are something new.

Trump's strategy has been the same all year. Instead of talking about the issues, as Cruz, Kasich, Clinton, and Sanders do, he mocks and ridicules his opponents and their families and threatens anyone in his way. But while he can dish it out, he can't take it at all. When Sen. Marco Rubio said he had short fingers, he responded in a rather unpresidential way. This approach has gotten him 30-40% of the Republican electorate, but this is not the kind of stuff that can easily be erased in the general election.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) slammed the ugliness of the 2016 election in a speech to 200 congressional interns yesterday. He said that in a heated campaign, ugliness happens, but that we shouldn't accept it as the norm. (V)

Trump's #1 Cheerleader: Newt Gingrich

Although he will not publicly endorse The Donald, for reasons known only to himself, former Speaker Newt Gingrich is working hard behind the scenes to help his friend, golf partner, and former donor Donald Trump win the White House.

Gingrich has been in touch with his political network in hopes of rallying the troops behind the billionaire he calls a "blue-collar bar room brawler." Last week, he spoke to a meeting of over a hundred chiefs-of-staff of Republican representatives and senators. "It was clear that Gingrich's objective there was to persuade us to embrace Trump as the likely Republican nominee," said one of those in attendance. "For many of us, it was surprising to see the former speaker align himself with a figure like Trump who reflects few, if any, of our values."

At this point, we're seeing a pretty clear pattern here. GOP politicians with high name recognition but no particular future—Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Rudy Giuliani, Gingrich—are hopping aboard the Trump bandwagon, in hopes that a plum appointment will be in the offing. Knowing that Trump values fame over substance, it's probably not a bad bet for a politico who has nothing left to lose. (Z)

Is the Party Over?

The Republican Party, that is. Is it finished? The senior editor at the National Review, Jonah Goldberg, thinks so. Yesterday, Goldberg wrote:

Nominating Donald Trump will wreck the Republican party as we know it. Not nominating Trump will wreck the Republican party as we know it. The sooner everyone recognizes this fact, the better.

Goldberg says that the problem is that nobody took Trump seriously until it was too late. Now it is too late. Now he is on track to get something approaching the 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination, but it matters a lot if he makes the threshold or just misses it. It he gets to 1,237, the Party will probably have to accept him as the nominee. All hell would break out if they tried to take the nomination away from him.

If he just misses the mark on the first ballot, then most of the delegates will be free men and women and they could support any other candidate they want to. But Trump said that if that happens, his supporters will (1) stay home, (2) defect to another candidate, or (3) riot. Or maybe more than one of these. Goldberg believes the only way disaster can be averted is if Ted Cruz comes into the convention with 1,237 or more delegates, but that is exceedingly unlikely as long as Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) remains in the race, allowing Trump to win the winner-take-all states, and still very unlikely if Kasich dropped out today.

In Goldberg's view, the core problem is that the Republican Party currently is an amalgam of factions that hate each other. Finding a replacement for Trump who can satisfy all of them is well-nigh impossible. The only national figure who has a shot at it is Speaker Paul Ryan, but after the budget fight is finished in Congress in a month, Ryan may well be toxic to at least one faction. Namely, Ryan needs to pass a budget by April 15, and concocting a budget that is pleasing to all Republican factions is probably impossible. He could undoubtedly hammer out a compromise with President Obama and get Democratic support, but if he did that, he would be deposed, just as his predecessor John Boehner was. (V)

Pros and Cons of a Third Party to Stop Trump

As more and more Republicans are coming to accept that Donald Trump could be their nominee, there is increasing discussion of how smart it would be to run a "real Republican" on a third-party ticket to oppose him and the Democratic candidate. Sean Trende has a written a piece examining the pros and cons of running a third-party candidate.

First the pros. It will avoid a down-ballot collapse. The negative coattails Trump generates could devastate Republican candidates for Congress and state offices. Having a real Republican on the ballot would allow ticket splitting, with voters picking the third-party Republican for President and the regular Republicans for the other offices. A related argument is that absent a real Republican to vote for, many Republican voters will stay home, thus punishing other Republican candidates. A second pro is the moral imperative to stop Trump from becoming President.

On the con side, the GOP would have to find a suitable candidate. Who could that be? There aren't a lot of possibilities. Paul Ryan certainly isn't going to run against the Republican Party, which he leads. It would probably be a nobody and would have little effect. Second, the long-term consequences could be disastrous. Having the Republican leadership actively trying to defeat its own popularly chosen nominee would tear the Party apart. It might be impossible to put it together again.

A practical matter than Trende didn't address is the difficulty of getting on the ballot in all the states unless action is taken right now. The first deadline, in Texas, is in May. So creating a new party would have to start immediately. All in all, it doesn't seem feasible. (V)

Trump and Clinton in a Word

Quinnipiac University ran a poll in which one of the questions asked the respondent to describe his or her reaction to Donald Trump in a single word. The top 10 choices, in order were: scared, disaster, frightened, terrified, horrified, disgusted, good, great, hopeful, and concerned. For Hillary Clinton, the top 10 were: disaster, good, scared, disappointed, hopeful, okay, excited, great, liar, disgusted, and terrible. It is clear that while Clinton has plenty of detractors, she doesn't inspire the same amount of fear as Trump does. (V)

Clinton Preparing a Massive General Election Ad Campaign

Hillary Clinton's main super PAC is preparing to reserve $70 million worth of television time in Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire, all of which have already voted in the primaries, but which are the key states in the general election. The time slots begin just after the Democratic National Convention and run through the fall. There is likely to be substantial competition for the best time slots in the fall and the Democrats want to grab the best ones before the Republicans. The Republicans can't respond in kind because they haven't decided on their candidate yet and are still in the middle of a bruising primary fight. (V)

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---The Votemaster
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