Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1236,   Dem: 2242
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Sanders Courts Latino Vote

It is hard to say exactly what Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) agenda was when he first threw his hat into the presidential ring. Perhaps he did it for a lark. It would not be the first time that happened—his political career began when he walked past a Liberty Union Party meeting, decided to take a look, and left an hour later as their candidate for U.S. Senate. Perhaps he did it to get attention for his pet issues. Perhaps he did it to drag Hillary Clinton further left. Perhaps he actually thought he could win.

Whatever the case may have been six months ago, the fact is that Sanders now has his eye on the Oval Office. In addition to his very respectable polling numbers and an increasingly large and well-organized network of campaign workers, he is doing the things that serious candidates do, like raise piles of money. His latest move, announced Friday, was to hire Arturo Carmona to help raise visibility among Latino voters.

This decision affords a great deal of insight into Sanders' mindset. There is simply no other goal, short of actually aiming for the White House, that would be significantly advanced by appealing to Latino voters. Further, a look at the map above this article shows us that, outside of Nevada, the states with large Latino populations do not vote until the middle or the end of the primary process. If Sanders had hired a specialist in, say, corn subsidies, it would be a pretty transparent attempt to game the primary process by winning Iowa and creating "momentum." But thinking about states that come later in the primary season suggests that Sanders is playing a long game, and thinks he is in the race to stay. He is still an underdog, of course, but perhaps not so under as he once was. (Z)

The Democrats' Ideas Don't Matter; The Republicans' Do

While Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders can politely argue about whether a $12 minimum wage is better than a $15 minimum wage, the discussion is completely moot. If either one of them makes it to the White House AND if the Democrats pick up four seats in the Senate, they still will not be able to raise the minimum wage unless their coattails are so long that they can flip 30 House seats. Such coattails would be mighty impressive. The odds of flipping 30 House seats are pretty low. If Democrats take the White House and Senate and Republicans keep the House, we will have four more years of gridlock.

Nevertheless, a Democratic President would not be a lame duck on day one. Presidents control foreign policy and can issue large numbers of regulations and executive orders on their own. They also get to decide whether the Justice Dept. goes after undocumented immigrants or corporations that put undocumented software in the emission control systems of the cars they are selling.

For the Republicans, the situation is completely different. If a Republican is elected President, he (sorry Carly, it's going to be a "he") will almost certainly have a Republican House and Republican Senate to deal with. If he says: "I'd like to reduce taxes on rich people and make it up by cutting health care for poor people" the response from Capitol Hill will be: "How much?" For everything involving money, the Senate can use the budget reconciliation process to avoid a Democratic filibuster. The Republicans couldn't repeal the Affordable Care Act using reconciliation, but they could reduce the amount of federal money available for subsidies to zero.

The key document to watch here is the budget drawn up by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Ryan could probably have become Speaker in the wake of John Boehner's departure. He declined because he realized that the chairman of the Budget Committee has far more real power than the Speaker, whose main job is to herd cats, about 40 of whom have mad-cat disease. Ryan could be the person who single-handedly determines how the government will spend its money for the next 4 years. That's a lot of power. Yes, Ryan will have to deal with the 81-year-old Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, but make no mistake, Ryan will get his way on almost everything. (V)

The Real Race is Between Bush, Rubio, and Kasich

Dan Balz, a veteran reporter at the Washington Post, has written a piece every pundit should be writing: Forget the clown show; the real race is between Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH). At least one of them will be on the national ticket, maybe two. Bush and Rubio are both from Florida, but a Floridian and an Ohioan would be ideal. Polls this early mean little. Just ask President Giuliani (elected in 2008) or President Perry (elected in 2012). Ultimately, the establishment usually gets what it wants, and any of these three (or better yet, two of them) would do just fine. (V)

More Bad News for Bush

Another day, another bad poll for Jeb Bush. We have largely been dismissive of early polling, but that criticism is primarily about the names at the top of the list. A candidate can poll 20% or 30% at this point without necessarily being viable. On the other hand, an appearance near the bottom of the list may very well say something important, even this early in the process. That is particularly true for a supposed "frontrunner." And so, the latest Pew poll is a double-whammy for Jeb Bush. Not only did he record the lowest number he has ever had in a national poll, but respondents also indicated that they prefer "new ideas" over "experience and a proven record" by a margin of 2-to-1.

The latter finding may be the more damning for Bush, because "experience and a proven record" is the foundation of his campaign, and also because voters are more likely to change their mind about a specific candidate than they are to change their mind about what type of candidate they want. Most insta-analysis of the Pew poll concludes that it is a big win for Donald Trump, since he is leading the poll and he is the poster child for "new ideas." Not so fast, however. Whatever the voters may indicate in primary season, they are very leery of handing the most powerful office in the world to a newbie. Since World War II, all but one of the candidates nominated by the two major parties had either "vice president," "senator," or "governor" on their resume (sometimes more than one) The one exception had "General of the Armies who defeated Hitler" on his resume, and so got a bit of a pass on the political experience.

As the piece linked above notes, we should really be talking about Bush, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio, and not the outsider or fringe candidates. If we accept that premise, then the real "winner" of the Pew poll may well be Marco Rubio. As a one-term senator, he could prove to have just enough political experience to be viable, while also being enough of an "outsider" with "new ideas" to satisfy the current desires of Republican voters. This is part of the reason we have him as the presumptive favorite for the GOP nomination right now. (Z)

Illegal Immigrants Could Elect Hillary Clinton

No, not by voting. Actual cases of voter fraud are negligible. It's subtler than that. It has to do with the way electoral votes are divvied up. The number of House seats (and thus electoral votes) depends on the population of each state as determined by the 2010 census. Undocumented immigrants most definitely are counted. Most of them are in blue states. California + New York + Washington together would lose seven electoral votes if undocumented immigrants were not counted in the census. Texas would lose three. A net gain of four for the Democrats.

But there is more. If undocumented immigrants didn't count in the census, the states above would lose 10 electoral votes. Where would they go? They would go to states with relatively few noncitizens, and most of these are heavily Republican. In a close election this could make the difference. In 2000, even after George Bush won Florida, he beat Al Gore in the electoral college only by a hair: 271 to 266. In a close election three electoral votes more or less can matter. (V)

Klein Dishes More "Dirt" on Hillary

The New York Post has a curious story reporting that "one of the Clintons' oldest and most trusted legal advisers" has supposedly told Hillary Clinton to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer in advance of the FBI releasing its findings about her email server.

The actual content of the story is not terribly interesting; Rudy Giuliani said much the same just two weeks ago. What is more interesting—and curious—is that the story goes to great lengths to avoid identifying the supposed adviser. Now, it is not unheard of for a newspaper to give a source anonymity, with "Deep Throat" (aka W. Mark Felt) from the Watergate scandal being the most famous example. However, this generally only happens in very special cases, and great care is usually taken to explain exactly why anonymity was warranted. That has not happened here; the anonymity is so subtle that a reader might be forgiven for thinking they just failed to note who "he" and "his" and "the adviser" is on first reference. It is also hard to imagine why this person would need anonymity. Yes, the story is an end run around, and a betrayal of, the Clintons. However, assuming the source is real, the Clintons would surely remember which long-time friend had advised them this week to hire a criminal defense lawyer, and would cut that person off, regardless of whether or not they were identified to the public. Then, add in the fact that the Post is not exactly a bastion of journalistic integrity. Finally, consider that the piece's author, Edward Klein, is a muckraker who has made a career of doing hatchet jobs on Democrats. His last book on Hillary was roundly derided from all parts of the political spectrum. The conservative National Review, for example, said, "Folks, there are plenty of arguments against Hillary Clinton, her policies, her views, her proposals, and her philosophies. This stuff ain't it. Nobody on the right, left, or center ought to stoop to this level." Oh, and Klein just happens to have a new book about Hillary Clinton in stores right now, which is conveniently linked at the bottom of the story.

The point here is not to refute one particular item, but instead to use it as a case study: A reader should always make sure a "news" story (or a poll) passes the "smell test." This one doesn't. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
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Oct01 Congressional Glass Ceiling Is Firmly in Place
Oct01 Straight-Ticket Voting Could Hurt Democrats
Oct01 Sanders Approaches Clinton in the Money Race
Oct01 Republicans Consider New Primary Systems for 2020
Oct01 October Run-down of the Republican Candidates
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Sep30 The Horse Race Depicted as a Horse Race
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Sep29 Donald Trump Reveals His Tax Plan
Sep29 Biden More Popular than Hillary?
Sep29 Shutdown Averted, for Now
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Sep28 Introducing a New Contributor: Zenger
Sep28 Is There A Third-Term Curse?
Sep28 New Poll Shows Trump Sagging
Sep28 Bush's Donors Are Starting to Get Nervous
Sep28 Republicans Overestimate the Power of Identity Politics
Sep28 Straw Polls Are Not Worth the Paper They're Written On
Sep28 Reading the Bobby Jindal Tea Leaves
Sep27 Could Boehner's Departure End the Gridlock Temporarily?
Sep27 The Media Are Always Preaching to the Choirs
Sep27 Boehner's Downfall is Infecting the Presidential Race
Sep27 Bill Clinton Is Back on the Trail
Sep26 Boehner Quits
Sep26 Conservatives Will Now Gun for McConnell
Sep26 Will The Pope's Visit Affect the 2016 Elections?
Sep25 The Pope Gives a Left-Wing Speech to Congress
Sep25 Democrats Are trying to Piggyback on the Pope's Speech