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)
      •  GOP Debate Number Five Postmortem
      •  When Republicans Attack
      •  Are the GOP Candidates Too Hawkish?
      •  Trump Rallies With "America's Sheriff"
      •  Fed Increases the Interest Rate
      •  Adelson Has a New Toy
      •  Sanders Lands a Big Endorsement

GOP Debate Number Five Postmortem

Declaring a "winner" or a "loser" after a debate is a bit of a fool's errand. First of all, except in very unusual circumstances, those judgments are extremely subjective—very much a product of the political and stylistic preferences of whomever is doing the judging. Beyond that, it is not even clear what "winning" even means. Does it mean that the candidate that had the best debate—"won the news cycle," to use the commentariat's parlance? Or does it mean they successfully achieved their larger goal of aiding their presidential campaign? The former type of win is much easier to achieve than the latter, but also much less meaningful.

That said, Americans like to know who "won," which is why we have the Pulitzer Prizes, the Academy Awards, the Super Bowl, and Dancing With the Stars. So, as we did with the last debate, we present today a winner/loser toteboard:

Left-leaning media
    Slate: Winners: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Losers: None.
    Political Wire: Winner: Donald Trump. Losers: Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson.
    Bloomberg: Winners: Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Loser: Carson.
    WaPo: Winners: Bush, Rubio, Christie, Donald Trump. Losers: Carson, Kasich, Cruz, Trump.
    CNN: Winners: Bush, Cruz, Rubio, Trump, Christie. Losers: Carson, Carly Fiorina, Kasich, Paul.
    The New Republic: Winner: Trump. Losers: None.

Right-leaning media
    Fox News: Winners: Rubio, Cruz, Trump, Christie, Paul, Carson. Losers: Bush, Fiorina, Kasich.
    RedState.com: Winners: Cruz, Rubio, Paul. Losers: Carson, Trump, Christie.
    The Hill: Winners: Bush, Cruz, Rubio, Christie. Losers: Carson, Kasich, Fiorina.
    Washington Times: Winners: Rubio, Cruz, Trump. Losers: Bush, Fiorina, Kasich.
    CNBC: Winners: Cruz, Rubio. Loser: Carson.
    National Review: Winners: Rubio, Bush. Losers: Fiorina, Carson, Kasich.

Foreign media
    The Week: Winner: Trump. Losers: None.
    BBC: Winners: Trump, Bush, Christie. Losers: None.
    The Daily Mail: Winners: Christie, Cruz. Loser: Trump.

That is a total of fifteen different media outlets. Tallying them up:

    Rubio: 9 wins, 0 losses
    Cruz: 9 wins, 1 loss
    Christie: 7 wins, 1 loss
    Trump: 7.5 wins, 2.5 losses
    Bush: 6 wins, 2 losses
    Paul: 3 wins, 1 loss
    Fiorina: 0 wins, 6 losses
    Kasich: 0 wins, 7 losses
    Carson: 1 win, 8 losses

So, the consensus is that the five "serious" candidates fairly well dominated the debate. Even more evidence that the time has come for Paul, Fiorina, Kasich, and Carson to exit stage right. Meanwhile, if we judge by Google searches, The Donald won handily on Tuesday night. In every single one of the 50 states, he was searched more often than the other eight candidates combined. And who "won" Twitter? In something of an upset, the presidential candidate with the most Twitter engagement during the GOP debate was...Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). This may say a little something about the average age of Republican voters—at least, the ones who tune in to debates.

24 hours is enough time for the candidates' words to be scrutinized more carefully, and so Wednesday saw the emergence of a number of mini-controversies that could (but probably won't) become something more substantive. There was briefly talk that Ted Cruz might be investigated for leaking classified information about the federal government's telephone screening. Now, Intelligence Committee chair Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) says that likely won't happen. In the debate, Carly Fiorina asserted that Gen. Jack Keane retired from active duty because of his disagreements with President Obama. Keane himself issued a statement on Wednesday noting that he retired before Obama took office. The error is fairly minor, and would be forgotten quickly, if not for the fact that Fiorina insisted on Wednesday afternoon that Keane is wrong and she is right. Chris Christie also put his foot in his mouth during the debate when he talked about his close relationship with King Hussein of Jordan. The difficulty, as many outlets pointed out on Wednesday, is that Hussein has been dead for 16 years. Donald Trump is being lambasted in some quarters for his total ignorance of the term "nuclear triad," and his clumsy attempt to cover for his lack of knowledge. Of course, his supporters won't care, so he's likely not losing sleep over it. For a complete accounting, see the New York Times' very nice fact check of the debate. (Z)

When Republicans Attack

The New York Times' visual journalism department is doing excellent work this election cycle. Today, they unveiled a flow chart designed to illuminate the Republicans' various lines of attack against one another. The main points:

  • Donald Trump is the most likely candidate to be the instigator of attacks
  • Donald Trump is the most likely candidate to be the target of attacks
  • There is a palpable tension between governors and U.S. Senators
  • There is a palpable tension between "insiders" and "outsiders"
  • The military and immigration are the two most wedge-y issues for Republicans

The Times has hinted that it will do the Democrats next—that flow chart, if nothing else, should be a bit more simple. (Z)

Are the GOP Candidates Too Hawkish?

That is the question that the Washington Post's Philip Rucker, Robert Costa and Jose A. DelReal take up in a new Op-ed. Their conclusion, and the conclusion of the experts whom they quote, is "absolutely."

This problem operates on two levels, the first of which is the "candidate" level. Voters want to feel safe, which is why anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant or anti-Communist or anti-Japanese rhetoric is effective. But what the voters want to hear is that the threat will be contained (ideally, very easily and with minimum cost.) Playing up the threat, by contrast, and raising the specter of all-out war does not serve to assuage fears—it serves to stoke them. Quite a few presidential candidates have been punished by the public for their intemperate and frightening rhetoric—most obviously Barry Goldwater in 1964. It is "quiet strength"—as the article observes—that Americans want in a candidate. As Theodore Roosevelt said, a leader must "speak softly and carry a big stick." And neither he, nor his cousin Franklin, nor Harry S. Truman, nor Dwight D. Eisenhower, nor John F. Kennedy, nor Ronald Reagan—arguably the most successful presidents of the 20th century—indulged in reckless rhetoric about the indiscriminate bombing of America's enemies (well, there was that one time for Reagan). Undoubtedly, Hillary Clinton's oppo team is already preparing commercials with some of the GOP candidates' most choice comments.

The second level at which excessive hawkishness is unwise is the "officeholder" level. If Ted Cruz or Donald Trump is actually elected president, their brash declarations are not instantly erased from the record. They will find themselves constrained by the same factors that are currently tying Barack Obama's hands, but publicly committed to a course of action that may be unwise or even impossible. For example, is Ted Cruz really willing to kill thousands of innocent civilians with carpet bombing? And if a candidate pivots away from their previous, strongly-worded commitments, it makes them look weak or dishonest. Cruz and Trump should ask Barack Obama about his promise to close Gitmo. (Z).

Trump Rallies With "America's Sheriff"

Donald Trump's very first engagement after Tuesday's Republican debates was a Wednesday morning rally in Arizona, where the billionaire appeared with Maricopa Country Sheriff Joe Arpaio. It is not terribly surprising that the two men partnered up, since they are arguably the two most prominent Obama birthers in the country. In fact, Arpaio says his department's investigation into the President's birth certificate is "still ongoing." They better hurry.

In any event, by appearing with Arpaio, Trump may have inadvertently given some insight into what a Trump presidency would look like, as there may be no officeholder in America who is more governed by emotion or gut feel than Arpaio, rules be damned. Put another way, the sheriff may be the most Trump-esque politician in the United States. He makes inmates wear pink underwear in order to humiliate them, and feeds them only two meals a day to save money. He uses private citizens to hunt for suspected undocumented immigrants. He puts video of suspects, prior to any conviction, onto the Internet as a "deterrent." None of the Sheriff's tactics have been shown to have any positive impact, but they have cost Maricopa County tens of millions of dollars in legal fees and damages. (Z)

Fed Increases the Interest Rate

For the first time in nearly ten years, the Federal Reserve Bank increased the prime rate—from a range of 0% to 0.25% to a range of 0.25% to 0.5%.

This is almost certainly good news for the Democrats. It is a sign that the economy is strong, and that the Fed is supremely confident that the "Great Recession" is over. Needless to say, Barack Obama and the rest of the Democrats will be pleased to take credit for these things. If the increase in interest rates were to trigger a negative response of some sort—say, a big spike in inflation, or a significant rise in unemployment—that could certainly hurt the blue team on Election Day next year. This is unlikely, however, as Chairwoman Janet Yellen is going to take things very slowly to avoid any sort of adverse result. (Z)

Adelson Has a New Toy

Nevada's largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Journal-Review, was sold to an anonymous investor last week. It was suspected then, and now has been largely confirmed, that the mystery buyer was casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Though the $140 million is a relative drop in the bucket to him, the billionaire is unlikely to throw that sum away on a lark. And he's a shrewd businessman, so he is surely under no illusions about the profitability of newspapers these days. As such, the general suspicion is that Adelson wants to use the Journal to promote Republican candidates in Nevada, one of the swingiest of swing states. This would certainly help explain his attempt to remain anonymous. If these suppositions are correct, then Adelson will likely begin by setting his sights on Democratic senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto. Generally speaking, however, these kinds of machinations work better in theory than in practice. A similar scheme has been underway with the San Diego Union-Tribune for the last decade or so, and the only impact has been to drive away Democratic readers, as opposed to actually influencing elections. (Z)

Sanders Lands a Big Endorsement

Bernie Sanders will score a major coup on Thursday, when the Communications Workers of America (CWA) give him their endorsement. The 700,000-member strong union represents a broad variety of professions—newspaper reporters, flight attendants, EMTs, television broadcasters, firefighters, telephone operators, and furniture makers among them.

The good news for the Vermont Senator is that this is his largest union endorsement yet, and that the CWA tends to do an excellent job of mobilizing its members to canvass on behalf of favored candidates. The bad news is that 700,000 people is still a relative drop in the bucket compared to the 12 million workers whose unions have endorsed Hillary Clinton. (Z)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster
Dec16 Fireworks at the GOP Debate
Dec16 Trump Meets With Sheldon Adelson
Dec16 Government Will Not Shut Down
Dec16 Clinton Announces Plan to Combat ISIS
Dec16 Democrats Asked to Bring Muslims to State of the Union Address
Dec16 Republican, Democratic Voters Agree Substantially on Climate Change
Dec16 Fiorina Makes a Strange Video
Dec15 Republicans Debate in Las Vegas Tonight
Dec15 Trump Passes the 40% Mark Nationally
Dec15 Clinton Increases Her Lead over Sanders in Iowa
Dec15 Did Rubio Violate Senate Ethics Rules with His Book?
Dec15 Could Trump Run as an Independent?
Dec15 Billionaires Are Having Trouble Buying the Election
Dec15 When Politicians' Lips Are Moving, Part II
Dec15 Donald Trump Has Found The Donald Trump of Doctors
Dec15 Republicans Debate in Las Vegas Tonight
Dec15 Trump Passes the 40% Mark Nationally
Dec15 Clinton Increases Her Lead over Sanders in Iowa
Dec15 Did Rubio Violate Senate Ethics Rules with His Book?
Dec15 Could Trump Run as an Independent?
Dec15 Billionaires Are Having Trouble Buying the Election
Dec15 When Politicians' Lips Are Moving, Part II
Dec15 Donald Trump Has Found the Donald Trump of Doctors
Dec14 Yet Another Poll Released Showing Cruz Leading Iowa
Dec14 Cruz Closing the Gap Nationally
Dec14 Lineup Set for Next GOP Debate
Dec14 GOP Silence on Climate Change Deal is Deafening
Dec14 Rubio Doesn't Have a Debt Problem, He Has a Spending Problem
Dec14 When Politicians' Lips Are Moving
Dec14 Clinton Rallies Attract a Mixed Bag of People
Dec14 Marine Le Pen Loses in France
Dec13 Ann Selzer: Cruz Is Leading Iowa by 10 Points
Dec13 Cruz's Surge in Iowa Is Worrying Trump
Dec13 Who is Trump's Target of the Day?
Dec13 Could Trump Beat Hillary Clinton in the General Election?
Dec13 Clinton's Campaign Chairman Expects to Face Cruz in the General Election
Dec13 Rubio's Brother-in-law Was a Cocaine Dealer and Smuggler
Dec13 Sanders Blasts the Media
Dec13 196 Nations Agree on Climate Change Accord
Dec12 Trump Still Leading in First Poll After Muslim Remarks
Dec12 Should GOP Let Trump Run as an Independent?
Dec12 Donald Trump, the Media, and Bernie Sanders
Dec12 Cruz To Campaign in Super Tuesday States Next Week
Dec12 Japanese Dinner Goes over Badly with Conservatives.
Dec12 Carson Going Down in Flames?
Dec12 Clinton Ally Explains How Clinton Would Attack Cruz
Dec12 Democrats Refuse to Debate on WMUR Due to a Labor Dispute
Dec12 Putin's Problems in Syria Could Hurt Republicans
Dec11 Republicans Preparing for a Brokered Convention
Dec11 Romney in 2016?