Obama 332
image description
Romney 206
image description
Dem 46
image description
GOP 54
image description
  • Strongly Dem (191)
  • Likely Dem (72)
  • Barely Dem (69)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (15)
  • Likely GOP (16)
  • Strongly GOP (175)
270 Electoral votes needed to win Map algorithm explained
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: IN NC

News from the Votemaster

Republicans Differ on Birthright Citizenship

While most Republican presidential candidates toe the party line on almost every issue (e.g., try to find one who will accept $1 in tax increases in order to get a $10 cut in government spending), all of a sudden there is an issue where there is real disagreement: birthright citizenship. Some of the presidential candidates are in favor of repealing the first section of the 14th amendment in order to end the practice of granting automatic citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. Others want to leave things as they are.

The table below shows who stands where on this issue.

All the Democrats are in favor of keeping the 14th amendment as it is now, so the Republicans who agree with the Democratic position are colored blue below.

Candidate Repeal 14th Reexamine 14th Keep 14th
Jeb Bush    
Ben Carson    
Chris Christie    
Ted Cruz    
Carly Fiorina    
Jim Gilmore    
Lindsey Graham    
Mike Huckabee    
Bobby Jindal    
John Kasich    
George Pataki    
Rand Paul    
Rick Perry    
Marco Rubio    
Rick Santorum    
Donald Trump    
Scott Walker    

If you look carefully, there is a pattern above. The candidates that are staking their claim to be the most conservative guy in town generally in favor of repealing the first section of the 14th amendment. They are focused on being the nominee and will worry about the general election if and when the need arises. The ones who would rather not monkey with the Constitution (or who simply realize it ain't gonna happen and don't want to be saddled with a promise they can't keep if they become President) take the position that there are more important fish to fry. Christie wants to have it both ways and realizes that taking an extreme position now will be a real millstone around his neck in the general election. Walker is a special case. He seems to change his mind weekly on the subject. Basically, he wants to end birthright citizenship but not change the Constitution, which is a bit awkward.

It is very unlikely that the people who want to abolish birthright citizenship have thought it through carefully, as discussed at TPM. For starters, some government benefits and programs, such as voting, getting getting a passport, joining the Armed Forces, etc. may require proving you are a citizen, which can be done by producing a birth certificate. If showing a birth certificate with a U.S. address no longer guarantees citizenship, how would you prove citizenship? One long-term solution would be for the issuing authority to put a stamp on it certifying citizenship. But that would mean every hospital, birth center, and midwife would have to become a branch office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency. How would that work in, say, 2030? When a baby was born, the hospital would ask the parents for proof of citizenship. They could produce their "old style" birth certificates, but these would lack the new stamps. It would take many decades before every parent had a "new-style" birth certificate with a stamp.

Having the federal government get involved in every birth would require a major expansion of the federal government in a way that small-government conservatives would abhor. What would happen to babies whose parents were U.S. citizens but couldn't prove it to the satisfaction of a hospital with unrealistically high standards of proof (to avoid the fines for improperly stamping a birth certificate)? Could they be deported? To where? Just imagine how many parents would file lawsuits against hospitals. It would be chaos. What about babies born to undocumented immigrants from different countries, neither of whose laws regarded the baby as their citizen? Even if they weren't deported, could these babies later go to school or pass the e-Verify check to get a job? It would be a disaster and there would be millions of them until all potential parents had "new-style" birth certificates. Imagine the police state needed to deal with them for decades to come.

Birthright citizenship is definitely a New World concept. Almost every country in North and South America uses it, but elsewhere unconditional birthright citizenship is extremely rare.

Paul Can Run for President and Senator Next Year

Kentucky law states that a candidate's name can be on the ballot in only one place. This was a problem for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who is running for President but who would also like to be on the ballot for reelection to the Senate as plan B. Fortunately for him, the Kentucky Republican Party came to his rescue Saturday by eliminating the Republican primary altogether. Instead, the Party will hold a caucus, like Iowa and many other states. Alison Lundergan Grimes, the secretary of state, said: "It is unfortunate that today a few insiders were able to disenfranchise over 1.2 million Republican voters."

The decision to switch from a primary to a caucus has some implications other than improving Paul's job security. Primaries are paid for by the state. Caucuses are paid for by the parties. The Kentucky Republicans want Paul to chip in $500,000 to cover the expenses of running a caucus. There will also be huge logistical challenges in finding places to caucus in all 120 counties and telling the voters about the new system.

Fiorina May Fail to Make the Cut for the Second Debate

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who was at the kids table in the Aug. 6 Fox News debate, saw her poll numbers jump after her stellar performance with the other kids. However, this may not be enough to get her a place in the next main debate, to be broadcast by CNN on Sept. 16. She is quite unhappy about this possibility and so is the RNC chairman Reince Priebus, who would like a woman on stage because having ten men sends the impression that women aren't welcome. Fiorina's problem is the set of rules CNN has published. CNN is going to average polls from July 16 to Sept. 10, and the pre-Aug. 6 polls are going to drag her down.

Could Google Affect the Election?

In a provocative article in Politico, Robert Epstein argues that experiments have shown that by manipulating search results for political candidates, Google can help or hurt candidates. In an experiment, subjects were asked to support Candidate A or Candidate B and were given 15 minutes to conduct online searches to learn about them. The search results were rigged and subjects who saw more favorable results near the top of the list tended to support that candidate. A study of a real election in India in 2014, gave results consistent with the lab experiment.

There is some historical precedent for this kind of monkey business. In 1876, the Western Union company dominated the communications infrastructure in the U.S. and did its best to ensure than only positive stories about Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes reached the nation's newspapers. It also shared telegrams sent by his opponent's staff with Hayes' staff. So trying to manipulate an election using technology is hardly new.

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster