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)
      •  Cruz May Be the 2016 Sleeper Candidate
      •  Trump Backs off Plan to Bar Muslims, but Only Slightly
      •  Trump Isn't Racist, Just Ask Him
      •  Would Conservative Pundits Support Trump against Clinton?
      •  Rubio Lands a Major Donor
      •  Scalia's Questions Take a Racist Turn
      •  Too Much Trump?

Cruz May Be the 2016 Sleeper Candidate

The Washington Post's political analyst Chris Cillizza thinks Sen. Ted. Cruz (R-TX) is the candidate best positioned to win the Republican nomination. While Donald Trump makes a lot of noise, he seems to have a ceiling of about 35%. When all the vanity candidates finally drop out, Cruz is poised to pick up a decent chunk of the remaining 65%. Some of Cruz' advantages are as follows:

  • Cruz is the most conservative candidate and the overwhelming favorite of "very conservative" voters
  • Cruz has raised more money ($65 million) than every candidate except Bush and Clinton
  • Cruz appears to be the Iowa frontrunner and a win there will instantly make him the favorite
  • The calendar favors Cruz, especially the March 1 states in the South where he is well organized
  • He was a champion debater when he was at Princeton and he still is
  • His rise in the polls is at precisely the right time, not too early and not too late
  • As a sitting senator, he is (barely) acceptable to the establishment, something Trump is not

One of Cruz' great strengths is his outreach to conservative Christian churches. He has pastors in all of Iowa's 99 counties working for him. Now he also has churches in all of South Carolina's 46 counties in his corner. He also has a strong operation in the other Southern states. No other candidate approaches the scale of his operation. Cruz has disadvantages as well, such as his extreme conservatism, but that won't play a role until the general election. (V)

Trump Backs off Plan to Bar Muslims, but Only Slightly

Donald Trump has drawn withering fire for his statement that he would bar all Muslims from entering the United States, including U.S. citizens who went abroad and tried to return home. He has since modified that stance and said that Muslims who are U.S. citizens would be allowed (back) in. The difference is enormous. In legal terms, there is no conceivable way he could bar the reentry of American citizens into their own country based on their religion. So now he only wants to bar aliens. He has a much better legal case for that. The President has fairly broad legal authority to bar aliens from entering the country for many reasons. In a court case, there is a chance he might be able to win.

While we are on the subject of banning undesirables from entering a country, 250,000 people in the U.K. have signed a petition asking the government to bar Donald Trump from entering the U.K. Petitions that reach 100,000 signatures are normally debated in Parliament. In the past, people have been banned from entering the U.K. for fostering hatred. Trump owns two golf courses in Scotland and visits them from time to time. (V)

Trump Isn't Racist, Just Ask Him

Donald Trump gave an interview to CNN on Wednesday, and said some very Trump-esque things, including "I'm doing good for the Muslims" and "I am the least racist person that you have ever met."

How, exactly, are we to make sense of statements that seem to fly in the face of all reason and all evidence? A few possibilities:

  • He is delusional.

  • He has so little respect for the intelligence of his supporters and/or the American public that he figures he can say anything and nobody will notice that Pinocchio's nose is growing.

  • Trump the candidate is just an extension of Trump the reality star, saying whatever it takes to get ratings today, while thinking of tomorrow as a completely different episode.

  • He is, as a few observers suggest, deliberately trying to torpedo himself, having never really wanted nor expected to gain this kind of traction.

While the last suggestion sounds faintly conspiracy-ish, it is not completely outlandish. We might recall one of the very few (possible) parallels in recent memory, namely the campaign for the New York governor's mansion launched by "shock jock" Howard Stern in 1994. In what was meant to be a bit for his radio show, Stern declared as a Libertarian, and promptly began to rocket up the polls. He milked the situation for a while, but then realized that (1) a defeat would be bad for his brand, and (2) a victory would compel him to trade a high-paying job that he enjoyed for a low-paying job he would not enjoy. With no good outcome, Stern eventually searched for (and found) an excuse to drop out of the race—he was unwilling to disclose his financials. Trump could use that dodge or something similar to get out when he's had enough. The most nightmarish scenario of all for the GOP is that he decimates all of his opponents in the primaries and at the Republican National Convention instead of accepting the nomination announces that he doesn't want it and have a nice day.

So it is at least possible that The Donald is not delusional, and that he is not a racist (or, at least, not as racist as he has appeared to be). But even if that is so, he has certainly helped to make open expressions of bigotry more socially acceptable, and at the same time has helped reveal that such bigotry runs deeper in the Republican base than we might have imagined six months ago. Clearly, a fairly large segment of the GOP's voters are enthusiastic about what The Donald has to say, while some additional number agree with the spirit of his rhetoric, if not the exact degree. Or, as the Washington Post's Paul Waldman puts it, "Let's get real. Most Republicans would be fine with President Trump." A new poll backs this up, with 65% of Republican voters expressing support for banning Muslim entry into the United States.

In short, even if Donald Trump is playing around, he's doing some real damage to the Republican Party, to American society, and to the nation's image abroad. As such, the list of people hoping that the end is near should probably include more than just the GOP establishment. (Z)

Would Conservative Pundits Support Trump against Clinton?

Although conservative pundits each have a favorite during the primaries, when the general election comes around, they usually fall in line and support the Republican nominee. If Donald Trump is the nominee, that might not happen The influential Wall Street Journal and its columnists are strong supporters of open immigration and an idealistic foreign policy. They would have great difficulty supporting Trump. The Washington Post's George F. Will has already made his strong dislike of Trump clear and would never support him. His colleague Charles Krauthammer probably wouldn't either. The Weekly Standard does not go for xenophobia and would be unlikely to support Trump. The editor, William Kristol, went bonkers when Trump attacked war hero Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The National Review's Rich Lowry and Jonah Goldberg have already savaged Trump. Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and Mickey Kaus would probably support him, but that's about it. Would the pundits support Hillary Clinton? That might be a bridge too far, so the pundits might focus on nonpresidential issues and start thinking about 2020. (V)

Rubio Lands a Major Donor

The richest man in Illinois, hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin, has endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). No doubt the check is in the mail. Griffin was the driving force behind the successful effort to put Bruce Rauner in the Illinois governor's mansion in 2015. This news is extremely welcome to Rubio and the GOP establishment since it is already in ABT (Anybody But Trump) mode and while Cruz might be (barely) tolerable as the nominee, Rubio is considered a far stronger candidate in the general election. (V)

Scalia's Questions Take a Racist Turn

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments in some high-profile cases right now; on Wednesday it was Fisher v. Texas, a challenge to the legality of affirmative action in educational admissions. During the questioning that follows oral arguments, Antonin Scalia wondered if black students would not be better off at, "slower-track school[s]...lesser schools where they do not feel that they're being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them."

The justice's questioning triggered a rapid and fierce backlash. The actress and activist Rashida Jones, for example, tweeted:

THIS IS RACISM. Any way you cut it. No spin. Or are you going to tell me I'm illiterate now?

Rev. Al Sharpton, who heard the remark in person, wondered if he was at the Supreme Court, or a Trump rally.

Antonin Scalia, of course, is not up for election in 2016, nor is the main who appointed him (Ronald Reagan). Nonetheless, his ill-advised remarks could impact the contest in two ways. The first is that, as a Republican who was appointed by a Republican, he is certainly not helping the GOP to avoid the "racist" label that Donald Trump has been working to affix. The second is that every headline he makes helps to remind the voting public that the Supreme Court matters—a lot—and that voters might want to take that under advisement when considering that the next president will likely choose at least one, and as many as three or four, new justices. By 2024, assuming a fourth-consecutive two-termer, four of the current justices will be 85 or older. (Z)

Too Much Trump?

If you are as tired of Donald Trump as RNC chairman Reince Priebus is, there's now an app for that (assuming you have an Apple device). "Trump Trump," as it is called, will block all stories from your RSS news feed that contain a mention of The Donald. Of course, that means that on many days, it will appear to you as if nothing is happening in the world of politics. Meanwhile, Priebus is presumably already investigating whether there is a way to broaden the coverage to all platforms and all media—polls, debates, newspapers, television, etc. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Dec09 Foreign Leaders Condemn Trump's Remarks on Muslims
Dec09 Republicans Also Condemn Trump's Remarks, But Cautiously
Dec09 Media Changing Its Approach to Trump?
Dec09 Clinton Prepares to Face Trump, Cruz, or Rubio
Dec09 Are the Candidates Polling at 0% Still Actually Running?
Dec09 Does Iowa Still Matter?
Dec09 Chris Christie Ascendant?
Dec09 Supreme Court May Change How Representation is Calculated
Dec08 Trump Demands Total and Complete Ban on Muslim Entry into the U.S.
Dec08 Cruz Jumps into the Lead in Iowa, or Maybe Not
Dec08 Trump's Standing in Iowa May Be Largely Due to Nonvoters
Dec08 The Adelson Primary May Be Between Miriam and Sheldon
Dec08 An Oppo Researcher Explains How the Deed is Done
Dec08 Some Politicians Are Living in the Internet Age...
Dec08 ...And Some, Apparently, Are Not
Dec07 Obama Addresses the Nation
Dec07 LGBT Rights Still a Wedge Issue?
Dec07 Could Republicans Bolt the Republican Party?
Dec07 Iowa Republican Party Will Try Hard to Prevent the 2012 Disaster from Repeating
Dec07 Kasich Comes Out for (Very Minor) Gun Control
Dec07 Cruz' Hawkish, Careless Rhetoric
Dec07 Rubio Trying to Out-Hawk Cruz
Dec07 Sanders Stays the Course
Dec07 Time to Put Horse Race Polling Out to Pasture?
Dec06 NYT Analyzed Trump's Speeches
Dec06 WaPo Analyzed Mass Shootings
Dec06 Gun Control Is Becoming a Hot Partisan Campaign Issue
Dec06 Are Trump and Cruz Like Goldwater?
Dec06 Is Rubio Scandal Brewing...Or Just Half-Baked?
Dec06 Bush Backers Are Sticking with Their Man
Dec05 Trump Has Massive Lead in New Poll
Dec05 Is Trump's Lead Deceiving?
Dec05 A Jeb Bush Premortem
Dec05 Clinton's Favorability Is Up Compared to Sanders
Dec05 Economy Added 211,000 Jobs in November
Dec05 Miami Healthcare Magnate Will Run Anti-Trump Campaign
Dec05 Anti-Trump Protestors Are Getting Louder
Dec04 Could Trump Run as an Independent?
Dec04 Trump Addresses Jewish Republicans and Gets Mixed Reaction
Dec04 New Information Turns Up on Rubio's Personal Finances
Dec04 Thursday Saw Lots of Posturing on the Hill
Dec04 Trump Will Debate After All
Dec04 Karl Rove is Worried about the Senate
Dec04 Where We Stand on Gerrymandering
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