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

Christian Conservatives Starting to Coalesce around Ted Cruz

In 2008, Mike Huckabee won Iowa and the Christian conservatives gritted their teeth as John McCain grabbed the nomination. In 2012, Rick Santorum won Iowa and the Christian conservatives gnashed their teeth when the Republicans nominated Mitt Romney. To save wear and tear on their teeth this time, they are starting to coalesce around a candidate who has a real shot at the nomination: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Not only is Cruz leading in Iowa by a substantial margin, but he has more money than any Republican not named Bush and a clear plan for winning the nomination (take Iowa and then most of the South on March 1). At a secret meeting on Dec. 7, key evangelicals decided Cruz was their best bet and decided to stagger their endorsements for maximum impact. James Dobson and Brian Brown, two well-known Christian conservatives, have already come out for Cruz and more will follow. About 100 key evangelical leaders are going to meet at a ranch in Cisco, Texas next week to figure out what their next step is. (V)

Should Democrats Be More Like Ted Cruz?

Long-time Democratic operative Mike Lux argues that Democrats should emulate Ted Cruz. Lux is not saying they should adopt his policy positions, though, but instead Cruz' belief that there are no more swing voters and it is pointless to sit in the middle and cater to the dwindling and almost nonexistent pool of centrists. Cruz appeals only to his base, the center be damned. His goal is to turn out as many conservatives as possible. Lux argues that the Democrats should emulate that by taking strong progressive positions and appeal just to the "Democratic wing" of the Democratic party, not the center.

As evidence, he points out that in 2014 Democratic senatorial candidates Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Alison Lundergan Grimes, Michelle Nunn, and Kay Hagan all hewed close to the center and all were beaten, mostly because Democratic turnout was hugely depressed (50 million fewer people voted in 2014 than in 2012). Lux argues that if they had taken more progressive positions they wouldn't have turned off independents (because there are few of them left) but they would have energized far more Democrats to vote.

The reason that Republicans win in midterm elections is that they turn out and Democrats don't. Here is a graph of election turnout as a percentage of the voting age population from 1960 to 2012 (data from Infoplease). What you can easily see is that a bit over half of the voting age population votes in presidential years and less than 40% votes in the intervening midterms. This effect has been present for 50 years. The voters who stay home are largely Democrats, especially young people, the working class, minorities, and single women, core Democratic constituencies.


The point that Lux is making is that spending money on TV ads trying to convince Republicans to switch is pointless and there aren't enough independents to matter. That money should be spent on a massive ground operation to locate nonvoting Democrats and get them to vote. Cruz thinks there are millions of nonvoting Republicans and if he can locate them and get them to vote he can win the general election. Republican leaders don't believe this, but if Cruz wins the nomination and sticks to his plan, we will find out. (V)

Trump Still Angry About Democratic Debate

Not content to leave it with the assertion that Hillary Clinton "lies," Donald Trump continued to rant about the Democratic frontrunner while on the campaign trail Monday. Not above using a little vulgarity, The Donald joked about Clinton's defeat at the hands of Barack Obama in 2008, and said, "She was favored to win and she got [expletive]." He also said it was "disgusting" that she used the bathroom during the debate. Apparently, billionaires have servants to do that sort of thing for them.

The more that Trump and Clinton do battle, the more that insiders suspect The Donald is playing right into the hands of Democratic leadership. There is near-universal agreement among the professionals that (a) Clinton would crush Trump in the general election and (b) The perception that Trump is the enemy of Obama and Clinton just causes his supporters to become more devoted. Whether one likes Obama and Clinton or not, they are among the shrewdest political operators going. As such, it makes a great deal of sense that there is a broader plan behind their engagement with The Donald.

Meanwhile, Trump also won an award on Monday—Politifact gave him its "Lie of the Year." But, observing that he lies much more often than any other presidential candidate, they decided they could not choose just one lie for the award. So, they just lumped them all together. This may not be the Christmas present that The Donald was hoping for, although with him, who knows? (Z)

Trump Has Been Planning to Make America Great for Years

Six days after Mitt Romney was beaten in 2012, Donald Trump had an epiphany: America wasn't so great and needed to be made great again. So he did what many businessmen do when they have an idea: He filed for a trademark. On Nov. 11, 2012, Trump filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office application TRMP 1207224, which reads:

APPLICANT: Donald J. Trump
ADDRESS: 725 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10022
ENTITY: A United States citizen

In March 2015 Trump said: "The line of 'Make America great again,' the phrase, that was mine, I came up with it about a year ago." Well, maybe not. Actually, it was a slogan from Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign. Reagan used it everywhere, from his campaign swag to his acceptance speech. Also of note was that in 1980, Trump was clearly a Democrat and contributed to Jimmy Carter's campaign, not to Reagan's. (V)

Lindsey Graham Quits

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), polling at 0% almost everywhere, has finally seen the handwriting on the wall, even though it is written in 200-point Helvetica bold, and suspended his campaign yesterday. Technically, this means he is still running and since he has been polling at 0% for months, he has nowhere to go but up. By not formally ending his campaign, he can still collect campaign donations, but that seems unlikely at this point.

What is really strange about Graham's announcement is that it sounds exactly what someone might say when entering the race. It is all about the issues that are important to him, especially national security, and why he is the best person to deal with them. There is no mention at all of why he is dropping out—namely, he is the only person supporting his campaign. He can't even claim that his wife still supports his campaign and urged him to stay in the race because he is a lifelong bachelor. Even his mother doesn't support him because she died nearly 40 years ago. Goodbye Lindsey, you gave it your best shot. George? Jim? Are you listening?

Graham's hand was forced because yesterday was the deadline for candidates to get on or off the South Carolina primary ballot. If he hadn't quit yesterday, he would have been on the ballot. Needless to say, his departure is going to set off a mad scramble in South Carolina for the roughly 1% of the South Carolina voters who supported him. (V)

Who Will be the Next Republican to Go?

Lindsey Graham is not the only GOP presidential candidate who should have seen the writing on the wall long ago, of course. Somewhere between three and eight of his opponents are also dead in the water, even if they think they're still swimming. Slate's Josh Voorhees examines the field, and makes his best guess as to when each will make their exit.

It is certainly possible that any of the candidates whose polling numbers are in single digits and whose money is dwindling could decide to pack it in before Christmas. That includes George Pataki, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH). Ben Carson may also determine that while his numbers are still ok, there's nowhere to go from here but down, and that his future career as a Fox News commentator will be best served by quitting while he's ahead. But the very best bet to exit next is surely Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). Unlike the other candidates, he's actually got something else to do with his time, namely run for reelection to his Senate seat. Voorhees suggests, probably quite rightly, that Paul is only staying in the race to be the voice of reason at the GOP debates—the one person on stage who stands up and says that bombing Syria until the sand glows may not be the best course of action. And as soon as he is no longer afforded a seat at the table—a decision that Fox Business Channel will likely make right after the new year—he'll be gone. (Z)

Obama, GOP Locking Horns Over Environment

President Obama and Congressional Republicans spent much of the past few days battling one another on climate change. Obama, for his part, pocket vetoed a pair of bills that would have rolled back new, stricter standards for carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, GOP leadership in Congress has been feverishly searching for ways to derail the Paris accord on climate change. Because it is not a binding treaty, the Senate does not get to vote on it. And Obama plans to use the President's discretionary funding to pay the United States' obligations, so he can't be blocked in that way. Several Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and James Inhofe (R-OK) are considering lawsuits, since they seem to have no other alternative.

Already, Obama has been using the line that the GOP is the only major party in the world that rejects climate change. This is a pretty potent sound bite, one that we can expect Hillary Clinton to start using in general election season. Further, there is some evidence that many Republican voters—in addition to the overwhelming majority of Democrats and independents—believe in climate change. A study we noted last week suggests as much. So too does the fact that a number of prominent Republicans—Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger—made environmentalism a central element of their political identity, presumably recognizing that it is an issue that has broad appeal across the political spectrum. The point is that anti-environmental maneuvering is likely to alienate non-Republicans and even some Republican voters. Or, to put it another way, Republican politicians who mess around with global warming are at risk of getting burned. So, McConnell, Inhofe, et. al. may want to quietly drop this and find some other route of attack. (Z)

Latinos Could Turn Red States Blue in the Future

Arizona is one of the reddest states, having given its electoral votes to a Democrat just once in the past 60 years (Bill Clinton in 1996). However, it's trending blue, with some analysts suggesting it could be reliably Democratic in just 10 years.

So what's going on here? The answer, in a word: Latinos. In past decades (and generations), Latinos did not vote in large numbers. Some did not see the value, many others—being noncitizens—could not vote. But the 2010 census revealed that 99% of Arizona Latinos under the age of four were born in the United States (and are therefore citizens). It will not be long before those individuals are able to vote, and—by all evidence—they will have grown up being demonized by the GOP. Thus, Latino voters are, year by year, becoming a larger and more reliably Democratic bloc.

There is still time (probably) for the GOP to right the ship and to reach out to Latino voters. But it is not too many years before they pass the point of no return, with the possibility of doing damage that is not just limited to one or two elections, but is instead generational. And, of course, it is not only Arizona that would be affected, but also other red states with large Latino populations—most obviously Texas. The thought of Democrats beginning each presidential season with California, Texas, and New York already in the bag is the kind of thing that gives RNC Chairman Reince Priebus nightmares, and is just another reason he wants The Donald out of the race as soon as possible. (Z)

Hillary Clinton Expecting Her Second Grandchild Next Summer

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant. Is this political news? Absolutely. Hillary Clinton is undoubtedly going to be making ads with then 2-year-old Charlotte and the new baby on her lap to soften her tough image. It isn't hard to imagine her saying: "I want to make a America better for my grandchildren and everyone else's children and grandchildren." Should there be any doubt about this, it is worth noting that her Facebook page already prominently features a video of the Clintons holding Charlotte when she was a newborn. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Dec21 Democratic Debate Postmortem
Dec21 New Polls Put Cruz and Trump on Top
Dec21 Trump Ground Game in Iowa Is Behind Schedule
Dec21 Sanders Knows How to Apologize
Dec21 Do Republican Donors Want Bush to Try a Kamikaze Mission Against Trump?
Dec21 Rubio Lands Another Big Donor
Dec20 Democrats Largely Favor Substance Over Drama
Dec20 Sanders vs. the DNC: The Sequel
Dec20 Big Brother is Watching
Dec20 How Cruz Will Try to Destroy Rubio
Dec20 A New Era at Fox News?
Dec20 Kasich Launches Trump-Putin 2016 Website
Dec19 Democrats to Debate Amongst Budding Civil War
Dec19 Conservatives Going after Rubio on Immigration
Dec19 Rubio Misses Key Senate Vote
Dec19 There Are No More Swing Voters
Dec19 McConnell Tells Republican Voters to Shun Tea Party Candidates
Dec19 Adelson Has Money and Passion but Not Much Competence
Dec19 Voters Want to Bomb Disney Land
Dec18 New Hampshire Independents Could Throw a Monkey Wrench in the Works
Dec18 Sanders' Thursday Started Well but Hit a Snag Later
Dec18 Vladimir Putin Endorses Donald Trump
Dec18 An Independent run by Trump Would Doom Republicans in Iowa
Dec18 Cruz Unequivocally Opposes Legalization of Undocumented Immigrants
Dec18 Huckabee All-In on Iowa
Dec18 The Force Probably Isn't With the 2016 Candidates
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