Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1237,   Dem: 2242
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Could Trump Run as an Independent?
      •  Trump Addresses Jewish Republicans and Gets Mixed Reaction
      •  New Information Turns Up on Rubio's Personal Finances
      •  Thursday Saw Lots of Posturing on the Hill
      •  Trump Will Debate After All
      •  Karl Rove is Worried about the Senate
      •  Where We Stand on Gerrymandering

Could Trump Run as an Independent?

If Donald Trump doesn't get the Republican nomination, could he run as an independent? Forget the promise he made to the Republican Party. That's meaningless. He can break that any time he wants to with no consequences. The real question is: "Can he get on the ballot in most states?" The key issue is exactly when he gives up on the Republican nomination and decides to run as an independent, due to filing dates and ballot requirements. Larry Sabato has a detailed article about the actual mechanics of how third party candidates get on the ballot, which differ from state to state.

The first question Trump has to answer for himself is why he is running. If he wants to be President, he may have to make the decision to run as an independent in early April. If the goal is to punish the Republican Party for not treating him well (and thus help elect Hillary Clinton, who would no doubt be very grateful and be inclined to return the favor at some point during her presidency), he has a few extra months to decide. The big issue here is the filing date for independents and how many signatures they need to get on the ballot. If all he wants to do is punish the Republicans, he needs to file only in the swing states. Taking 50,000 votes from the Republicans in Texas means nothing since the Republican candidate will win Texas by a million votes, with or without Trump in the mix. But pulling 50,000 votes from the Republican in Colorado could flip the state from red to blue. Here are the filing dates and number of signatures required for the major swing states.

State Filing date Signatures
North Carolina June 9 89,366
New Mexico June 30 15,388
Nevada July 8 5,431
Florida July 15 119,316
Missouri July 25 ca. 10,000
Pennsylvania Aug. 1 ca. 25,000
Colorado Aug. 10 (Pay $1000)
New Hampshire Aug. 10 ca. 3,000
Ohio Aug. 10 ca. 5,000
Iowa Aug. 19 ca. 1,500
Virginia Aug. 26 ca. 5,000

The Republican National Convention is July 18-21, 2016 in Cleveland, OH. If Trump is still in the running after the final primary on June 14 and it looks like there will be a brokered convention, he has to decide whether he wants to gamble on winning at the convention or drop out and start collecting signatures like mad. If he is eliminated in the early Spring, he can start the collection process much earlier. If he does decide to run as an independent, he will probably try to get on as many states as possible, While, say, West Virginia is not usually a swing state, Trump might be able to pull enough votes away from the Republican to hand the state to the Democrat. If that is his goal, he will certainly make an effort to be on the ballot in all the reddish states like Arizona, Georgia, etc. where pulling a net of 10% from the Republicans could flip the state. For comparison purposes, Ross Perot got 18% in 1992, although Perot attracted a lot of Democratic votes, certainly more than Trump would. (V)

Trump Addresses Jewish Republicans and Gets Mixed Reaction

Donald Trump, along with other Republicans, spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition's (RJC) annual meeting yesterday and made some jokes. For example, he noted that his daughter, Ivanka, has converted to Judaism and now she won't answer the phone to talk to him on Saturdays. But he stumbled on the question of whether he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He said he first wanted to visit Israel and discuss the matter with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The crowd didn't like it. The reaction was also largely negative when Trump, echoing his past "birther" rhetoric, decreed that President Obama's unwillingness to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" shows that "there is something going on with him that we don't know about." The meeting is important because some very wealthy Jews, including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, were present and if they decide to back him and not fund Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, it could have a substantial impact on the race. Based on the response to Wednesday's speech, however, Trump seems unlikely to get much support from the RJC's members.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also spoke to the group and made it clear that he would stand up for Israel and not pressure the country to make unreciprocated concessions. He also vowed to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which is certain to inflame the entire Arab world. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) also addressed the meeting, but didn't go as far as Rubio and made few actual promises other than fighting anti-Semitism. Ben Carson was also there, and—as he is wont to do—he put his foot in his mouth. Among several missteps, the one that got the most attention came when the candidate appeared to confuse the name of radical faction Hamas with the Middle Eastern condiment hummus. This is not going to change the perception that Carson knows little of foreign affairs.

The most surprising address at the RJC meeting may have been the one delivered by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). He slammed Cruz, taking particular exception to the Senator's view that abortion is not justified in the case of rape. Graham also denounced Donald Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric and his deportation plans. The Senator insisted that the GOP could not win elections if they were going to alienate Latino voters and embrace far-out-of-the-mainstream positions on issues like abortion. Nearly all political analysts would agree entirely with Graham on this, it is just surprising that one of the most conservative Senators in Congress is the one saying it. Graham himself acknowledged as much, asking the audience "Not the speech you thought you were going to hear, right?" (V & Z)

New Information Turns Up on Rubio's Personal Finances

Marco Rubio was never wealthy and once again his personal finances are in the news. He left the Florida state legislature on Nov. 18, 2008 and didn't start collecting a paycheck from the federal government until after he was sworn in as a U.S. senator on Jan. 3, 2011. That means he didn't have a job for more than 2 years at a time when he was in debt and had little or no money in the bank. He has a license to practice law in Florida, but he is a real estate lawyer and as a result of Florida's housing bubble bursting, there was little demand for his services. So he needed to find some other way to pay his bills.

He quickly discovered that his former connections as speaker of the Florida house could be monetized. He easily got a $96,000-a-year contract from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami for unspecified services. The Miami Children's Hospital was happy to pony up $102,000 a year for advice on cultural issues—for example, whether they should pitch diabetes treatments or dentistry to Latinos. The story goes on much longer and the Democrats probably already have teams of oppo researchers down in Tallahassee and Miami collecting as much information as they can about contracts he had with various companies and institutions there and precisely what he did for them.

Also of interest is what, if anything, he did for potential future clients near the end of his tenure as speaker and whether they showed their gratitude later on by giving him lucrative contracts. If the Democrats can find ethically questionable material here, they could characterize him as someone unable to manage his money and who was consequently willing to do sleazy things to make ends meet. Stay tuned. The story of Rubio's finances is not going away any time soon.

It would be ironic if the Republicans end up with a Goldilocks problem: Romney went down because he had too much money and Rubio went down because he didn't have enough. Then in 2020 they would have to find someone who has just the right amount. (V)

Thursday Saw Lots of Posturing on the Hill

In a move that had been planned before Wednesday's shootings in San Bernardino, Senate Democrats brought two pieces of gun control legislation up for a vote Thursday. The first would have closed the so-called "gun show loophole" by requiring background checks for purchases made at those events. The second would have barred individuals on the government's "no fly" list from buying guns. The Democrats had no expectation that these bills would become law, as they had little chance of passing the Senate and none of passing the House. The plan was to give the country a clear reminder of where each party stands on gun control. And it worked, as nearly all of the GOP Senators—including the four who are running for president—voted to defeat the bills. It may seem fortuitous, given the Democrats' agenda, that the vote came just one day after a mass shooting. However, as The Guardian points out in an infographic entitled "1,052 mass shootings in 1,066 days," pretty much every day in the United States is the day after a mass shooting.

Congressional Republicans also found time for some messaging on Thursday. On the Senate side, the GOP used the same "let's vote on hopeless legislation" tactic as the Democrats. In their case, it was the passage of bills defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing Obamacare. The measures will not be getting a presidential signature, and they did not pass by anything close to a veto-proof majority, so they will not become law any more than the Democrats' gun bills.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) delivered an address outlining his plans for 2016. He was short on specific policy proposals, but long on dramatic declarations, including "Only government that sends power back to the people can make America confident again" and "We want all Americans, when they look at Washington, to see spending going down, taxes going down, debt going down." The former statement is vague to the point of being meaningless, the latter is entirely unrealistic. Indeed, it is reminiscent of the occasion more than 30 years ago when then-candidate George H. W. Bush derisively dismissed a similar promise by Ronald Reagan as "voodoo economics." In any event, Thursday's events certainly helped remind us of why Congress' approval rating is hovering right around 13%. (Z)

Trump Will Debate After All

CNN did not come forth with the $5 million check that Donald Trump said he wanted in order to appear in the next GOP debate. He has reflected on the matter and decided that he will appear at the debate nonetheless. This, of course, comes as a surprise to nobody. The Donald clearly finds the debates onerous, for whatever reason, but he also knows free publicity when he sees it. On the other hand, some other brave candidate could spin this as: "Great Negotiator my ass. He makes a demand of CNN and CNN immediately says no. Then the Great Negotiator puts his tail between his legs, pouts, and slinks off." (Z)

Karl Rove is Worried about the Senate

Republican strategist Karl Rove has a piece in the Wall Street Journal today is which he openly worries about the Republicans prospects downticket and how the wrong person on top of the ticket could hurt them. He doesn't name any names, but Donald Trump fits the bill pretty well. Rove notes that in 2000, four Republican senators did better in their states then George W. Bush, but lost their seats anyway. In 2008, incumbent Republican senators lost in New Hampshire and Oregon, despite outrunning John McCain. In 2012, the Republicans lost Senate races in Indiana, Missouri, Montana, and North Dakota, all of which Mitt Romney carried. The bottom line here is that in 2016, unless the Republican presidential candidate does especially well in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois, incumbent Republican senators are likely to lose their seats. In Florida, a lackluster Republican presidential nominee could cost the Republicans the seat Marco Rubio is vacating.

A weak nominee could also hurt Republicans in the House as there are 26 Republicans in the House who are in districts Obama won in 2012 and another 16 where Romney won by less than 3%. A weak Republican nominee at the top of the ticket could endanger all 42 of these Republicans. A landslide Democratic victory could conceivably even flip the House, although that is quite unlikely. In short, Rove is pleading with Republican voters to pick someone who can help the party all the way down the line. After all, would you want a dogcatcher who rounded up and euthanized only Republican dogs? (V)

Where We Stand on Gerrymandering

The last round of redistricting, in 2012, resulted in 27 separate lawsuits. The courts have resolved 22 of those, while the other five are still pending. Bloomberg News has a very nice, graphically-driven overview of all of this, showing the states where litigation was necessary and also giving a written and visual overview of the five gerrymanders that are still being disputed, with special attention paid to the egregious 5th district in Florida. Their conclusion is that the resolution of the pending lawsuits should lead to roughly plus three seats for the Democrats by 2018, just in time for the whole process to begin anew in 2020. (Z)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster
Dec03 Poll: Trump, Rubio, and Cruz Rising, Carson Falling
Dec03 Another Day, Another Mass Shooting
Dec03 Secret Memo Advises Republicans How to Behave if Trump is the Nominee
Dec03 TV Ad Spending Is Not Delivering Results
Dec03 Everybody Hates Ted Cruz
Dec03 Cruz' Assertion about Violent Criminals Doesn't Hold Up
Dec03 Alan Grayson's Key Staff Members Quit
Dec03 Our December Ranking of the Republican Candidates
Dec02 Cruz Says Rubio is Like Hillary Clinton
Dec02 Marco Rubio Starts Retail Campaigning
Dec02 New Jersey Newspaper Dissents from the Union Leader's Opinion
Dec02 All the Female Democratic Senators Have Endorsed Clinton, Except One
Dec02 Clinton Campaign Misfires with Rosa Parks Logo
Dec02 Bush on His VP: She Will Be a Great Partner
Dec02 The Politics of Climate Science
Dec02 Zuckerberg Organization To Take Aim at Trump
Dec01 The Idea of Cruz as Their Nominee Scares Republican Senators
Dec01 Cruz Says Most Violent Criminals are Democrats
Dec01 GOP Candidates Continue to Chip Away at Trump
Dec01 Trump wants $5M to Debate
Dec01 How Many Trump Supporters Are There, Actually?
Dec01 Kevin McCarthy: No Government Shutdown over Planned Parenthood
Dec01 Hillary Rodham Clinton is Now Hillary Clinton
Dec01 State Department Releases More of Hillary's Damn Emails
Nov30 Republican Field Reacts to Planned Parenthood Shootings
Nov30 Trump Campaign Showing Some Signs of Weakness
Nov30 New Hampshire Union Leader Endorses Christie
Nov30 Trump Scores Much Better in Online Polls than in Live-interviewer Polls
Nov30 Cruz and Rubio Plan to Divvy Up Jewish Bush Supporters
Nov30 Fewer White Voters Expected in Swing States
Nov30 Republicans May End Up with a Three-Way Race
Nov30 Clinton Releases Infrastructure Plans
Nov29 GOP Candidates: No Comment on Planned Parenthood Shootings
Nov29 Karl Rove Helps Ben Carson
Nov29 Carson Visits Refugee Camp in Jordan
Nov29 Carson A Product of...ObamaCare?
Nov29 Rubio Releases His First TV Ad
Nov29 Ballot Access May Separate the Sheep from the Goats
Nov29 Cruz Makes Campaigning a Family Affair
Nov29 Cruz' Shaky Electoral Math
Nov28 Trump Drops in New Poll
Nov28 DAPA Could Affect over a Million Voters
Nov28 Sanders Has More Women Donors Than Clinton
Nov28 GOP Insiders: Cruz Will Win Iowa
Nov28 What Happened to Carly?
Nov28 Alan Grayson Will Challenge Ted Cruz' Eligibility in Court If He Is Nominated
Nov28 2016 Candidates Using Some Really Shitty Language
Nov28 A Panacea for Fixing Congress?
Nov27 Cruz and Rubio Gun for Each Other, not for Trump
Nov27 What Happened to Bush?