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

Two New National Polls Show Trump Way Ahead

Yesterday we had a new national poll showing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) within four points of GOP leader Donald Trump. Two new polls released yesterday show Cruz much further behind. The CNN/ORC poll puts Trump 21 points ahead of Cruz. A Reuters/Ipsos poll puts The Donald a full 26 points ahead of Cruz. Here are the numbers.

National (CNN/ORC)
Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 39%
2 Ted Cruz 18%
3 Ben Carson 10%
3 Marco Rubio 10%
5 Chris Christie 5%
6 Rand Paul 4%
7 Jeb Bush 3%
8 Mike Huckabee 2%
8 John Kasich 2%
10 Carly Fiorina 1%
  George Pataki <1%
  Jim Gilmore <1%
  Rick Santorum <1%
National (Reuters/Ipsos)
Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 37%
2 Ben Carson 11%
2 Ted Cruz 11%
4 Marco Rubio 8%
5 Jeb Bush 7%
5 Chris Christie 5%
7 Carly Fiorina 3%
7 Mike Huckabee 3%
9 Rand Paul 2%
10 George Pataki 1%
10 John Kasich 1%
10 Rick Santorum 1%
13 Jim Gilmore 0%

With so much variability, it is hard to make any sense at all of the polls other than to say Trump is way ahead. (V)

Susana Martinez Might Have Been Drunk at Party When Police Arrived

Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) was at a party at a hotel in Sante Fe, NM, when the police were called due to noise and bottles being thrown from a balcony. The audio from a police officer's recording device suggests that the governor might have been drunk at the time. Her speech is halting and lilting as she talks to the officer.

Probably other governors have gotten drunk before and likely some will in the future, but Martinez is considered prime vice presidential material by many Republicans. As a fiery conservative, a woman, a Latina, and a governor of a western swing state, she checks a lot of boxes. Until now. If she gets on the national ticket, the issue of whether a person who is sometimes drunk should be a heartbeat away from the presidency is sure to come up. Given the problems the Republicans had with their last female vice presidential candidate, this incident is sure to weigh heavily in the choice of the eventual nominee. (V)

Clinton Seizes on Trump's Remarks to Galvanize Women

It is like the general election has already started, with Trump vs. Clinton. Just after the Democratic debate, Trump went after Clinton for using the restroom during the debate, saying it was disgusting. Clinton couldn't believe her good luck and immediately began attacking Trump and the entire Republican Party as sexist. The Clinton campaign denounced Trump as a practitioner of "pathetic, frat-boy politics more suited to running for president of the fourth-grade football team."

Republicans have been hypersensitive to belittling women ever since 2012 Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin talked about "legitimate rape." Katie Packer Gage, a Republican strategist, helpfully described the problem like this: "It takes a girl longer to go to the bathroom because they can't go standing up. Polite society suggests we don't talk about these things." It is not like Trump has been a monk for all of his adult life and is not familiar with women's anatomy. He has been married three times and has five children.

While the other Republicans, with the notable exception of Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), are deathly afraid to go after Trump, Clinton clearly has no fear of him. Should he become the Republican nominee, the general election could get extremely nasty. (V)

Cruz Learning About Life in the Spotlight

In primary season, the media focuses a lot of attention on the frontrunners. When they run out of things to cover on that front, they turn their attention to whomever is in second place, particularly if that person appears to be "on the rise." That's Ted Cruz at the moment, and—as Ben Carson learned before him—there are pros and cons to being the story du jour.

For example, last weekend Cruz appeared with his daughters in a parody ad entitled "Cruz Christmas Classics." The 90-second spot was meant to mimic the style of Saturday Night Live, and even aired during that program in Iowa. The Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Ann Telnaes responded with a cartoon portraying the Senator as Santa Claus and his daughters as a pair of trained monkeys. Normally, politicians' children are strictly off-limits in American politics, but Telnaes believed that it was Cruz who had brought them into the discussion, and argued that her point was about the Senator's usage of his children, not about the children themselves. Running the cartoon was nonetheless a poor choice, and one for which the Post's editor has apologized. But ultimately, as the paper's media and politics reporter Callum Borchers points out, the cartoon was also a gift to Cruz, as it gives him ammunition for his oft-repeated talking point that the "mainstream media" hates conservatives in general and him in particular. In fact, he has already responded with his own political cartoon, showing Hillary Clinton leading her lapdogs (labeled "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post") on leashes. So, overall, a win for the Senator.

In other areas, however, the heightened attention is not working out so well. Cruz' ideas about the economy, in particular his stated desire to get rid of the Federal Reserve and to return to the gold standard, are being widely discussed and derided. It is instructive that every single country in the world has abandoned gold as a basis for their currency. It is similarly instructive that economist Milton Friedman, as well as both of the Pauls—all three of whom as anti-Fed as it gets—nonetheless reject categorically the gold standard. Cruz' support for the idea, as University of Chicago economist Anil Kashyap observes, "implies macroeconomic illiteracy." So, this one's a loss for the Senator.

Cruz also seemingly forgot what should be called the "Romney rule"—that "private" conversations behind closed doors might be recorded. Speaking publicly to evangelical groups, Cruz has declared that opposition to gay marriage would be "front and center" in his campaign. Speaking privately to more moderate Republicans, as a leaked recording reveals, he said it would not be a "top-three priority." At best, this makes it seem like Cruz is parsing his words very carefully, so as to appear to be all things to all GOP voters. At worst, it makes him look two-faced and dishonest. The tape just leaked Wednesday, and so this is a story that's still unfolding. At the moment it's a small loss for Senator, but one that could become a big loss. Such is life near the front of the pack. (Z)

Will Mexican-American Voters Support Cuban-American Candidates?

Certainly, Republican leadership is hoping they will, since they've got a pair of Cuban-American candidates while two-thirds of Latino voters are Mexican-American. And the answer to the question, as Buzzfeed's Adrian Carrasquillo explains, is complicated.

One one hand, Cubans—coming from a communist country as they do—have privileged status when immigrating to the United States. Their experience is 180 degrees different from the hostility and difficulty that most Mexican immigrants face. Consequently, many Mexican-Americans feel something less than a sense of camaraderie with their Cuban-American fellows. Or, as the famed activist Dolores Huerta puts it, "These men may speak Spanish, they may be Latino, but they don't have Latino hearts." On the other hand, people of Cuban and Mexican descent do have significant cultural similarities—a shared language, Catholicism, and the legacy of colonialism among them.

Ultimately, Carrasquillo concludes, the most important factor is not ethnicity, but how a candidate stands on the issues (with immigration being among the most important). Of course, speaking Spanish fluently certainly doesn't hurt. And for these reasons, it seems that Marco Rubio (R-FL) is considerably more likely to attract Mexican-American voters than Ted Cruz. (Z)

There is Method to Trump's Madness

Donald Trump may seem like he is unhinged, or a hothead, or a nut. And it's possible he is all of those things. One thing he is not, however, is a "chaos candidate" (regardless of Jeb Bush's pronouncements to the contrary). In fact, argues the Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan, he is demonstrating a level of political savvy that is far beyond that of most first-time political candidates. Specifically:

  • He says what (many) voters want to hear
  • He is disciplined and stays on message
  • Though he speaks without notes/a teleprompter, he essentially delivers the same stump speech
  • He works the audience very skillfully
  • He keeps his promises vague
  • He plays the media like a violin

Finnegan supposes, probably correctly, that Trump's political skill is a product of his career as a real estate developer. While not an elected office, that career does demand a great deal of political savvy. In any case, the clear lesson is that any political opponent—or any party's national committee—who underestimates The Donald's political skills does so at their own peril. (Z)

Carson's Madness, However? Maybe Not So Much

Wednesday morning, Ben Carson gave a pair of interviews (to the Washington Post and the Associated Press) in which he suggested that a shakeup was coming in his campaign staff. Aides that were interviewed seconded the declaration (something they would surely not do without permission), and cheered the change in direction. Then, Wednesday afternoon, Carson changed his tune. He insisted that no shakeup was imminent, and that the story was entirely a media creation.

In contrast to Donald Trump, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what Ben Carson does or says as a candidate. It is highly unlikely that two different media outlets both invented the same incorrect story on the same day. This being the case, it suggests that Carson's plans in the morning were radically different from his plans in the afternoon. Could there be any clearer evidence of a total lack of a strategic vision? And, of course, this follows on the heels of other odd decisions. "Suspending" his campaign for two weeks to sell books, for example. Traveling to Jordan to talk to refugees, which would have been a nice photo-op, but then banning the media from covering the trip. Announcing plans to travel to Africa, then quickly canceling them. Carson is plummeting in the polls and is reportedly burning through his remaining cash very rapidly. Righting the ship, at this point, seems even less likely than the inauguration of President Huckabee. (Z)

Franklin Graham Is Resigning from the Republican Party

Preacher Franklin Graham, son of preacher Billy Graham has announced that he is resigning from the Republican Party. The first question that raises is, "How do you resign from a party?" Was he a dues-paying member who went to meetings, or what? Or is he just changing his voter registration? If the latter, all that accomplishes is probably preventing him from voting in Republican primaries. The reason he gave is that he saw the doctored video of Planned Parenthood allegedly selling baby parts and said it was reminiscent of Joseph Mengele and his experiments at Nazi concentration camps. Graham blames Democrats and Republicans alike for passing a budget that will continue to fund the organization. He didn't say which party, if any, he would join but he added: "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republican establishment and the Democratic establishment." If he really believes that, he has not been paying much attention, since the Republican Party strongly condemns abortion and the Democratic Party says it is up to each pregnant woman to decide for herself and it is none of the government's business to interfere. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Dec23 Cruz Catching Up Nationally
Dec23 50% Embarrassed By President Trump
Dec23 Hillary Clinton is Not Like Your Abuela
Dec23 The Next GOP Debate Will Be Less Crowded
Dec23 Hillary Clinton Loves Her Husband
Dec23 Sanders Blasts Trump
Dec23 Ten Factors That Will Determine the Next President
Dec23 Whither the Republican Party?
Dec23 Obamacare Enrollments Are Up Compared to 2014
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