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

New Hampshire Independents Could Throw a Monkey Wrench in the Works

In New Hampshire, independents who walk into a polling place on primary day (Feb. 9, 2016 next year) are asked: "Would you like a Democratic ballot or a Republican ballot?" They can vote in either party's primary and since they represent 40% of the primary electorate, they could have a huge influence. In particular, the independents are less polarized than partisan Democrats and Republicans. If an independent decides to vote in the Democratic primary, it is more likely to be for Hillary Clinton than for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), although the fact that Sanders is sort of a "favorite neighbor" could be a special factor that helps him. On the Republican side, the independents are likely to vote for one of the more moderate candidates, such as Jeb Bush, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), or Gov. John Kasich (R-OH). If one of the more moderate candidates wins New Hampshire, he could become the establishment favorite going forward. (V)

Sanders' Thursday Started Well but Hit a Snag Later

The group that Howard Dean formed in 2004 after his unsuccessful presidential run, Democracy for America, has endorsed Bernie Sanders for President after conducting a poll of its members. Sanders got 88% of the 270,000 votes cast. Ironically, the founder of the group, Howard Dean, is backing Hillary Clinton.

As of lunchtime Thursday, Bernie Sanders was on a roll In addition to the endorsements of the Communications Workers of America (which we noted yesterday) and Democracy for America, Sanders' staff also announced the Senator had surpassed 2 million individual donations, a record for a non-sitting president.

All good things must come to an end, however, and on Thursday afternoon the campaign was enmeshed in controversy when it turned out that staffers had accessed voter data that belongs to Hillary Clinton's campaign. The DNC hosts both campaigns' databases (which are built on top of the DNC's own databases), and due to a mistake, Sanders' staff was given access that they should not have been given. Instead of reporting the obvious error, one of Sanders' campaign workers decided to do some poking around and possibly some downloading. He has been fired, and Sanders' staff was scolded by the DNC. They will be required to show that they no longer have any Clinton data before they are granted access to their own databases again. That will likely be the end of it, though one wonders what the response might be if the bad behavior had gone in the other direction. (Z)

Vladimir Putin Endorses Donald Trump

While it is generally considered uncouth for leaders of one country to get involved in the domestic politics of another, Russian President Vladimir Putin is not your average politician. He effectively endorsed Donald Trump yesterday, saying: "[Trump] is a very flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that. He is an absolute leader of the presidential race." He also said Trump is "an outstanding and talented personality."

If ever there were a calculating politician who plays his cards so close to his vest that they are inside his vest, it is Putin. He does not make off-the-cuff statements and Putin gaffes are unheard of. So why did he say this? Could it be that he feels Trump is in way over his head and would make an ideal negotiating partner, namely a dumb sucker Putin could ride roughshod over? After all, Trump doesn't know what the nuclear triad is. Putin knows precisely what the nuclear triad is and is keenly interested in it. Putin didn't explain. Putin doesn't do explaining. is also possible that he prefers Trump simply because Trump has not emphasized no-fly zones (in which Russian planes would be shot down) and has not called for bombing Syria until the sand glows, views popular with many of the other Republican candidates. It is very hard to tell what Putin is up to or why he got involved in the primary. (V)

An Independent run by Trump Would Doom Republicans in Iowa

PPP conducted a poll in Iowa to see what effect an independent run by Donald Trump would have on the general election. The short answer is that Trump would receive something like 20-25% of the vote and doom the Republican candidate. However, the poll showed that without Trump in the race, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) would beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa 47% to 44%. That result is so far from the conventional wisdom that Clinton would handily defeat Cruz that it should be taken with a barrel of salt. It is really too early for general election polls to mean much. (V)

Cruz Unequivocally Opposes Legalization of Undocumented Immigrants

Chad Sweet, Ted Cruz's campaign chairman, yesterday said that the senator is completely opposed to legalizing undocumented immigrants. While this position may help him in the primaries, it could motivate large numbers of Latino citizens who don't normally vote to do so next November—and nearly all those votes would be for the Democrat.

While most Republicans agree on nearly all the issues, one wedge issue is what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. The options include deport them all, continue the status quo, let them stay legally but as second-class residents, and give them a path to citizenship. Cruz wants to make it clear that he does not support any option that involves future citizenship. (V)

Huckabee All-In on Iowa

Mike Huckabee has cut the salaries being paid to his top staffers, while also parting ways with communications director Alice Stewart. The biggest surprise here may actually be that Huckabee still has the money to pay anyone. In any case, the former Arkansas governor says that the purpose of the restructuring is to direct all of his resources toward Iowa.

Huckabee is living in a fantasy world. It's true that he once won the Iowa caucuses, but that was eight years ago. He is polling between 1 and 2 percent in the state right now, and has not done better than 3 percent in any poll in the last five months. Further, the voters that he is going for—evangelicals—are signed, sealed, and delivered for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), with Ben Carson picking up most of the leftovers. For all these reasons, Huckabee's machinations are not interesting in and of themselves—his campaign is a non-story and has been for months. They are only instructive as an illustration that, very clearly, the candidates in even the most desperate circumstances are now close enough to Iowa and New Hampshire that they might as well hold on, roll the dice, and hope for a miracle. The next FEC filing isn't due until the day before Iowans caucus, so it will be easy for the campaigns who are drowning in red ink to hide that fact and to keep living the dream for another six weeks. (Z)

The Force Probably Isn't With the 2016 Candidates

As you may have heard, the newest Star Wars movie opened in most of the world this week (Brief review: It's very good). The series, now numbering seven installments, is a cultural landmark and this entry has been eagerly anticipated for months (if not years). As such, it was only a matter of time until one of the presidential candidates tried to show how hip they are by co-opting the movie. And the winner is...Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who sent out a tweet asking donors to help fund his "Rebel Alliance."

Under the right circumstance, this kind of thing can pay big dividends. Bill Clinton's appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show leaps to mind, as does Richard Nixon's "Sock it to meeee?" on Laugh-In. More often, however, a politician's attempt to connect with pop culture comes off as corny and contrived. Such was the case, for example, with Nixon, who doubled down on the good response to the Laugh-In bit by posing for an incredibly awkward photo with Elvis Presley. Paul's tweet definitely feels like something in the latter category, and that's before we get into his obviously shaky understanding of the films that he is referencing. The Rebel Alliance was meant as a (sympathetic) metaphor for the Viet Cong in particular, and more broadly for any group that—faced by an enemy with overwhelming economic and military power—turns to desperate acts of violence in order to fight back. This is probably not quite the image that Rand Paul is looking for. Clearly, he is no Ronald Reagan when it comes to getting mileage out of this particularly movie series. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Dec17 GOP Debate Number Five Postmortem
Dec17 When Republicans Attack
Dec17 Are the GOP Candidates Too Hawkish?
Dec17 Trump Rallies With America's Sheriff
Dec17 Fed Increases the Interest Rate
Dec17 Adelson Has a New Toy
Dec17 Sanders Lands a Big Endorsement
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