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

Trump about to Start Advertising Blitz

Fox News is reporting that Donald Trump is about to start spending at least $2 million a week (and possibly several times that amount) on television ads. The ads will focus on Trump's vision for the country. He won't do any bio ads since everyone in the country already knows who he is.

Whether the ads will work in Iowa remains to be seen. Traditional campaigns—including that of his main rival there, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)—mostly focus on the ground war, that is, convincing people to go to the caucus. Trying to win Iowa via an air war is most unusual.

The pundit class thinks that it is nearly impossible for Trump to win the Republican nomination, but if he does, the conventional wisdom that he will get creamed in the general election might also be called into doubt. Or maybe not (see below for more on this). In the end, having 35% of the 40% of the voters who are Republicans or Republican-leaning independents still only amounts to 14% of the total vote. This is about what George Wallace got in his independent run in 1968. Wallace appealed to the same demographic as Trump—angry old white men. (V)

Trump Attacking Hillary about Bill's Infidelities

Trump's ads may also cover a topic that other candidates won't touch with a barge pole: the Bill & Monica show. To counter Hillary Clinton's built-in advantage with women, Trump is already starting to attack her about her husband's affair with Monica Lewinski. He has not brought up the subject of "schlongs" in this context yet, but there is still time. While this line of attack revs up the Republican base and reminds them even more why they dislike the Clintons, it is likely to backfire. Katie Packer Gage, a Republican consultant who works with conservative female candidates, has run focus groups on this topic and says that attacks like this make women recoil and come to Hillary's defense. They see her as the victim, not the guilty party. If Trump keeps up this line of attack it may make it more likely that (1) he gets the Republican nomination and (2) that he goes down in flames in November. If he keeps this up, some Democrat may point out that Trump keeps trading in his wives for younger versions. Trump is playing with fire here. (V)

Too Many Polls?

There have been vastly more polls produced in 2015 than in any other pre-presidential election year in American history. The two main reasons for this are (a) the Internet and off-the-shelf polling software have significantly lowered the barrier for entry into the polling game and (b) Americans love a horse race, and the Republicans have certainly got one underway. Indeed, polls of the Republican field are responsible for the entirety of the 40% increase in polls over 2011. The number of national polls has stayed steady, but the number of polls of the Republican field in the first three primary states has nearly doubled (from 72 to 136, as of November 30).

Put another way, people who don't necessarily have much expertise in polling are rushing to get results out at a time when—due to the rise of cell phones, and to young people who don't answer pollsters calls, and to unorthodox candidates like Donald Trump—accurate polling may be as difficult as it has ever been. As such, polls in this cycle should be viewed with an extra-cynical eye. And any poll that shows a shocking/outlier result should be taken with a whole truckload of salt. (Z)

Election Math Strongly Favors the Democrats

Speaking of polls that should be taken with a truckload of salt, Rasmussen Reports has a new survey reporting that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are in a statistical dead heat (37%-36%) in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, with another 22% of respondents planning to vote for another candidate and 5% undecided.

To start with, Rasmussen has a well-known Republican house effect, so that is a concern. Further, 27% is a staggeringly high number of people to not choose one of the two major parties' candidates—there is zero chance the number remains anything close to that on Election Day. Most significant, however, is that the Rasmussen poll—as is the case with any "Who would win the election if it took place today?" poll—ignores one of the most basic facts of American civics: The election is decided by the Electoral College, not by the popular vote. Since few polls have been taken of states outside the first three or four to hold primaries/caucuses, absolutely nobody has the data needed to predict who would win the election if it were held today.

What we can say, however, is that the 2012 math tells us that the Democratic candidate has a huge leg up. In fact, Business Insider's Maxwell Tani wonders exactly how badly the Democrats would have to screw up in order to lose. And, in view of the fact that the number of white voters (the GOP's bread and butter) is decreasing while the number of non-white voters is increasing, Tani's conclusion is: very, very badly. He goes through a number of dire scenarios for the Democrats and concludes that in nearly all of them the party still comes out ahead.

FiveThirtyEight has recently unveiled a nice little tool they call the Swing-O-Matic, which allows users to adjust the 2012 electorate's racial demographics in whatever way they see fit and to find out what the result would be. For example, what happens if 10% fewer black, Asian, and Latino voters and 10% more white voters go to the polls in 2016? The Democrats still win 303-235. What if Donald Trump is able to persuade 25% of the non-college educated whites who did not vote in the 2012 election to go to the polls this time and to vote for him? The Democrats win 285-253. From the Republican perspective, the numbers are daunting, and this fact matters much more than some silly horse race poll. (Z)

Breyer Won't Say If He Will Retire Under a Republican President

It is no secret that Supreme Court justices follow the news and care about who might appoint their successors. Stephen Breyer, a liberal appointed to the Court by Bill Clinton, will be 78 when the next President is inaugurated. Breyer has been thinking about retiring for some time now. In a rare sit-down interview, ABC's Jonathan Karl asked Breyer point blank if his decision to retire might be affected by who wins the Presidential election (English translation: Would you retire if a Republican President got to choose your successor?). Breyer refused to answer. Any answer would politicize the Court even more than it already is.

Karl also asked about whether Donald Trump's proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States would be constitutional. Breyer didn't take the bait and said the issue was highly political. Justices rarely comment on issues that might come before the Court. Karl pressed on and asked about the Japanese internment during WW II. Breyer said that the country's values have changed a lot in the 70 years since then and suggested that a case like Korematsu v. United States, which declared that forcibly interning American citizens of Japanese descent was constitutional, might turn out differently now. (V)

Conservatives Are Lukewarm on Burr Challenger

Although he is quite conservative, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) is not conservative enough for some people in North Carolina. So when obstetrician Greg Brannon announced that he was challenging Burr in the 2016 senatorial primary, conservatives should have cheered. They didn't. Brannon, although plenty conservative, ran in the 2014 Republican senatorial primary and lost to now-senator Thom Tillis (R-NC). Groups like FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth have told him that they are interested in potentially supporting him but first he has to demonstrate his fundraising ability. If he can show that he can raise money big time, they may jump on his bandwagon, otherwise they won't. (V)

Republicans Are Afraid That Cruz Would Hurt Their Senate Chances

North Carolina is by no means the only Senate race in the news. Tight races are expected in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, and especially the open-seat race in Nevada. GOP insiders are afraid of what the nomination of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz might mean for their chances of holding the Senate. Cruz is even scarier to them than Trump because he is better organized and thought to have a better chance at the nomination. Cruz has been just as negative about Latinos as Trump and about 15% of the Nevada electorate consists of Latinos. The Senate race, upon which control of the Senate could depend, will be between Catherine Cortez Masto, a Latina, and Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV). The combination of Cruz at the top of the ticket and a Latina candidate could greatly increase Latino turnout in Nevada, which would not only help the Democrats hold the seat being vacated by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), but would boost the chances of the Democratic presidential nominee in this swing state. Nevada GOP strategists would greatly prefer Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) or Jeb Bush on top of the ticket. (V)

Judgment Day For Each Campaign

The Boston Globe's James Pindell has taken his best shot at reading the tea leaves, and made some educated guesses as to when each candidate is most likely to have their fate determined. His predictions:

  • February 1 (Iowa): Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Martin O'Malley (maybe)
  • February 9 (New Hampshire): Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Carly Fiorina, George Pataki, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jim Gilmore, Martin O'Malley (maybe)
  • March 1 (Super Tuesday): Marco Rubio
  • March 15 (Florida, etc.): Jeb Bush
  • July 18 (Republican convention): Ted Cruz
  • July 25 (Democratic convention): Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
  • Impossible to predict: Donald Trump

While Pindell is probably a bit too bearish on Rubio and Christie, his guesses overall seem pretty good. And if he's right (or even mostly right), it means that nearly two-thirds of the candidates will be out before Super Tuesday rolls around. (Z)

Data on 191 Million Voters Exposed on the Internet

Independent security researcher Chris Vickery claims that confidential data on 191 million U.S. voters have been inadvertently leaked to the Internet so that anyone can access this data without authorization. The data includes name, address, phone number, email address, and party registration of voters in all 50 states. Both parties and several private firms collect this kind of data, so it is difficult to trace the origin of the data. When asked about the breach, the FEC said that it had no jurisdiction over voter data. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Dec28 Millennials Prefer a Democrat in the White House
Dec28 Why Young People Don't Vote
Dec28 Could Clinton Get Nominated Today?
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Dec28 Data Analytics Will Be King in 2016
Dec28 Trump Angry About Virginia Loyalty Oaths
Dec28 Sanders Says He's After Trump Voters
Dec28 Logos Psychoanalyzed
Dec27 Clinton Missing Some Key Endorsements
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Dec27 Trump Denies Connection to Mafioso
Dec27 Trump Isn't the Only Candidate with Dubious Claims
Dec27 Cruz Throws Red Meat To the Base
Dec27 New Hampshire Can't Make Up Its Mind
Dec27 The Top Ten Moments in Politics in 2015
Dec27 Ryan Inherits Boehner's Job, Headaches
Dec26 Candidates Head to Church for Christmas
Dec26 Clinton Doing Fundraising in Smaller Cities
Dec26 Little Correlation Found Between Campaign Stops and Poll Numbers
Dec26 Susana Martinez Was Not the First Public Official to Get Drunk
Dec26 The Blunt Truth About 2016
Dec26 DHS Deportation Plan Angers Democrats
Dec26 Thanks to Rubio, U.S. Has No Ambassador to Mexico
Dec25 New FEC Ruling Makes Raising Money for Super PACs Even Easier
Dec25 Are the Rules of the Game Changing?
Dec25 Cruz to Visit 36 Iowa Counties in January
Dec25 New Kentucky Governor Rolls Back Voting Rights for Felons
Dec25 Huckabee Will Drop Out Unless He Finishes in the Top Three in Iowa
Dec25 No Christmas Truces in Politics
Dec25 Homeland Security Planning Deportation Raids
Dec24 Two New National Polls Show Trump Way Ahead
Dec24 Susana Martinez Might Have Been Drunk at Party When Police Arrived
Dec24 Clinton Seizes on Trump's Remarks to Galvanize Women
Dec24 Cruz Learning About Life in the Spotlight
Dec24 Will Mexican-American Voters Support Cuban-American Candidates?
Dec24 There is Method to Trump's Madness
Dec24 Carson's Madness, However? Maybe Not So Much
Dec24 Franklin Graham Is Resigning from the Republican Party
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