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 Catching Up Nationally
      •  50% Embarrassed By "President Trump"
      •  Hillary Clinton is Not Like Your Abuela
      •  The Next GOP Debate Will Be Less Crowded
      •  Hillary Clinton Loves Her Husband
      •  Sanders Blasts Trump
      •  Ten Factors That Will Determine the Next President
      •  Whither the Republican Party?
      •  Obamacare Enrollments Are Up Compared to 2014

Cruz Catching Up Nationally

A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday shows Donald Trump in the lead, as usual, but instead of him having a double digit lead over everyone, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is behind by only 4 points, 28% to 24%. Here are the numbers.

Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 28%
2 Ted Cruz 24%
3 Marco Rubio 12%
4 Ben Carson 10%
5 Chris Christie 6%
6 Jeb Bush 4%
7 Carly Fiorina 2%
7 Rand Paul 2%
9 Mike Huckabee 1%
10 John Kasich 1%
11 Rick Santorum 1%
12 Jim Gilmore 0%
12 George Pataki 0%

The crosstabs show some interesting results. Cruz has double-digit leads over Trump among tea party adherents, evangelicals, and very conservative voters. That's where a Republican wants to be. Trump does better with liberals and women.

What is also noteworthy here is that Cruz's strategy is to win Iowa and then clean up on Super Tuesday (March 1). Being #2 nationally puts him on track to do that. Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) third place showing is a problem. He has not been doing the retail campaigning needed in Iowa and New Hampshire, hoping that national name recognition will do the job. But nationally, he is only a distant third, definitely not where he needs to be. Still, the first votes won't be cast until Feb. 1, so there is still time for him to catch up. Also working for Rubio is the growing collection of billionaires in his corner (V)

50% Embarrassed By "President Trump"

The Quinnipiac poll also finds that exactly half of American voters would be "embarrassed" to have Donald Trump as President. Among independent voters, the number is almost exactly the same—47%—while among women voters it is 60%.

These results underscore the fundamental difficulty that Trump faces, assuming that he actually wants to be President (a big assumption). For most candidates, there are four types of voters:

  1. Those who already support me.
  2. Those who know me, and don't support me yet, but might.
  3. Those who don't know me yet.
  4. Those who know me, and will never support me.

The game, during a campaign, is to hold on to as many people in group #1 as is possible while making headway with groups #2 and #3. Trump's great strength—his ability to keep his name in the headlines—is also his weakness here. For him, group #3 basically does not exist—everybody knows who he is. And group #2 must surely be very small; The Donald's already the frontrunner, and anyone who likes him would presumably already be on board. As such, for Trump, there are largely only two types of voters—the ones who already support him, and the ones who never will. Even with his current, lofty, polling numbers he would still need to convince another 3 in 10 Americans to give their vote to him. And it is all but impossible to see how the billionaire has room for that kind of growth, given that people do not generally vote for candidates they find to be "embarrassing." (Z)

Hillary Clinton is Not Like Your Abuela

When she's debating, Hillary Clinton is clearly in her element. When trying to use social media to connect with voters (especially non-white voters), not so much. Last month, she got some blowback for incorporating Rosa Parks into the Hillary 2016 logo. Yesterday, it was Latino voters whom she offended, with an ill-conceived website posting entitled "7 things Hillary Clinton has in common with your abuela."

First of all, Clinton has lived a life of privilege, and it does not look good when she attempts to hide that. Just because she has a grandchild (with another on the way) does not mean she suddenly understands the experience of minority voters. Beyond that, the whole post is rooted in stereotypes about Latina grandmothers that may be ok for members of the community to embrace, but not for outsiders. Perhaps worst of all, in an effort to be "down with the people," the list utilized a Spanish-English pidgin, with items like, "She reacts this way when people le faltan el respeto." When someone who actually speaks both languages does this, it's called "code switching." When someone who does not speak both languages does it (and Clinton definitely does not speak Spanish), it's called "patronizing."

Of course, Clinton did not write the post herself. It was the work of Paola Luisi, presumably a campaign staffer. Indeed, the odds are better than average that Clinton was wholly unaware of the idea, and also had nothing to do with the Rosa Parks logo. These sorts of details are for lower-level staffers, as the candidate is very, very busy. Still, the buck, as they say, stops with Hillary. Whatever dumb things her staff does she bears responsibility for, and ignorance is no excuse. She presumably has people responsible for ethnic outreach, and also people responsible for managing her messaging. Those individuals need to get on the same page, and whomever has showed such poor judgment in approving two patronizing social media postings in one month should probably be shown the door. (Z)

The Next GOP Debate Will Be Less Crowded

Fox Business Channel has decided what its criteria will be for participation in the next Republican debate, to be hosted by the network on January 14. Averaging the polls "recognized by FOX News" (though the channel has not yet specified which those are), a candidate must be in the top six nationally or in the top five in either Iowa or New Hampshire to make the main debate. They must be averaging at least 1% in any of the three to make the JV debate.

Barring an unexpected surge (or collapse) by one of the candidates, these criteria would put Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) on the main stage, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Carly Fiorina, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and Mike Huckabee at the kiddie table. Rick Santorum, George Pataki, and Jim Gilmore, meanwhile, would need a ticket to get in.

The threat of demotion could very well be enough to cause Paul to throw in the towel, and if one of the other three who are/were supposed to be on the stage with him follows suit (most likely Kasich), it's not impossible that Fox Business Channel would cancel the kiddie debate altogether. In any case, it will be interesting to see if fewer debaters for the main event means more substance and less shouting. Probably not. (Z)

Hillary Clinton Loves Her Husband

Well, she didn't exactly put it that way. What she loves is his economic policy and the success it engendered. Starting now she is going to emphasize the fact that 23 million jobs were created during his 8 years in the White House, compared to 1 million during George W. Bush's 8 years and probably about 8-10 million during President Obama's two terms. Bill's slogan was: "If you want to live like a Republican, vote like a Democrat." Hillary's is not as catchy, but makes the same point: "The economy does better when you have a Democrat in the White House." (V)

Sanders Blasts Trump

Continuing the kumbaya vibe of Saturday's Democratic debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has come to the defense of Hillary Clinton, acknowledging that, "I also went to the bathroom." In verbiage worthy of The Donald himself, Sanders also imagined that the billionaire "must have a very unusual relationship with women" and joked that Trump "discovered that women go to the bathroom and it's very upsetting for him."

Trump, meanwhile, stood by his remarks, and insisted that the Yiddish-inspired vulgarity that he used to refer to Clinton is not offensive, and just means "beaten badly." Steven Pinker, who happens to be both Jewish and America's preeminent linguist, disagrees. But The Donald, as it happens, is an expert on Yiddish idiom—just ask him and he'll tell you, you shmendrik. (Z).

Ten Factors That Will Determine the Next President

Larry Sabato has made a list of 10 factors that are likely to decide who wins next November. Here is the list.

  1. The candidates—while partisanship is strong, having a weak or offensive candidate can hurt
  2. The President's job approval affects whether the voters want to give him "another term"
  3. The economy is always important, and if it ain't broken, don't fix it
  4. Foreign policy and terrorism could override everything if voters think they are going to die
  5. Social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, racism, and hostility to immigrants could affect votes
  6. Running mates rarely have an effect, but an extremely strong or weak one could matter
  7. The dwindling number of swing states means the campaign will be fought in only half a dozen states
  8. A big scandal could gum up the works
  9. Demographics are increasingly important, as the number of white voters continues to drop
  10. Turnout is often crucial because leading in the polls doesn't help if your team stays home

There could always be an "October surprise," but absent that, these are probably the factors. The trouble with reading the tea leaves is that some of the factors work in opposite directions. For example, the demographics increasingly favor the Democrats, but Republicans are much better at getting their supporters to the polls. (V)

Whither the Republican Party?

David Frum at The Atlantic has an interesting analysis of what the Republican Party's options are going forward. After Mitt Romney's loss in 2012, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus ordered an autopsy report, and the report told the party it needed to be more inclusive. So far that hasn't happened. Frum says these are the options it has at this point.

Option 1: Double down. Don't change anything. Assume Jeb collapsed due to personal flaws. Fundamentally, the party is in good shape so just keep doing the same thing in the future.

Option 2: Concede on Immigration. The idea here is that everything is fine. It's just that the party needs some more Latino voters, so pass a bill to reform the immigration process to make the Latinos happy and then move on. This will also make big donors happy since businesses like have a large pool of poor immigrants to hold wages down.

Option 3: True reform. This means change the party completely, get rid of the tea partiers, and make Eisenhower, not Reagan, the big hero. Forget about the culture wars. That's a lost cause. Focus on making the party attractive to middle-class voters.

Option 4: Change the rules of the game. The emphasis here is on making it hard for Democrats to vote by having photo ID requirements, long lines at the polls in Democratic areas, maximum gerrymandering at all levels, court challenges where possible, and so on. It is a defensive position, but it is an option.

The party doesn't seem to have a clear vision of which road it wants to travel yet, but sooner or later it will need one. (V)

Obamacare Enrollments Are Up Compared to 2014

Last year, 6.4 million people used the national Obamacare exchange to sign up for healthcare (in addition to several million more who used state-run exchanges). This year, the total is 8.3 million. This speaks to both the success of the President's health care reforms, as well as to the strength of the economy.

Naturally, the more people who are insured thanks to Obamacare, the harder it becomes to repeal or roll back the program. Republicans and Democrats both know this, hence various desperate attempts by the former to kill the initiative, and a teeth-gritting, "just hold on" posture by the latter. Barring the unexpected, there will come a point where proclaiming "repeal Obamacare!" is a losing proposition, in the same way that no politician today would call for an end to the Social Security Act, or the Interstate Highway System (both of them controversial in their time). After frequent mentions in the first four GOP debates, Obamacare was conspicuously absent in the fifth, so perhaps that moment is going to arrive sooner than expected. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Dec22 Christian Conservatives Starting to Coalesce around Ted Cruz
Dec22 Should Democrats Be More Like Ted Cruz?
Dec22 Trump Still Angry About Democratic Debate
Dec22 Trump Has Been Planning to Make America Great for Years
Dec22 Lindsey Graham Quits
Dec22 Who Will be the Next Republican to Go?
Dec22 Obama, GOP Locking Horns Over Environment
Dec22 Latinos Could Turn Red States Blue in the Future
Dec22 Hillary Clinton Expecting Her Second Grandchild Next Summer
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