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 Leads in Nevada

Political Wire is reporting a new Gravis Nevada poll with Donald Trump first at 33%, Sen. Ted Cruz second at 20%, and Sen. Marco Rubio third at 11%. While Gravis is a partisan Republican pollster and does not have a very good track record, on a Republican primary poll it might be all right. If the poll is even close to being true, it is bad news for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). It means that he is not leading in any of the four early states and probably not in any of the Super Tuesday states either. If he doesn't come on top in any of the first 15 states to vote, it is going to be increasingly hard to make the case that he is The One. Maybe he can ace Florida, but Florida votes on March 15, deep into primary season. (V)

The Attacks Are Increasing

As we get closer to actual voting, the candidates are starting to go negative against one another and fight back over (perceived) insults. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is going after Marco Rubio's work ethic, saying Rubio doesn't work very hard at his job. Rubio has missed more Senate votes than any other senator. Rubio immediately responded that Christie is never in New Jersey doing his job as governor, either. Neither of them dared to point out that Ronald Reagan was almost certainly the laziest President ever, frequently sleeping through cabinet meetings and even an audience with the pope. A great rejoinder to an attack on one's work ethic would be to say: "Ronald Reagan hardly worked at all, but he was one of our greatest Presidents."

An ad by a pro-Bush group also goes after Rubio for rarely doing his job as a senator. In New Hampshire, Donald Trump attacked Christie, who is surging in the Granite State. He also went after the New Hampshire Union Leader for endorsing Christie. That could be a mistake because publisher Joseph McQuaid could easily turn the paper into one long editorial against Trump for the next 6 weeks, and if Trump loses to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in Iowa and anyone in New Hampshire he suddenly goes from "winner" to "loser."

Even Hillary Clinton got into the act, but rather than criticize Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), she went after the Republicans for letting corporations write the tax laws. (V)

Trump Sets Sights on Bill Clinton; Plays With Fire

Hillary Clinton is going to deploy her "secret weapon"—her husband—starting in January. Donald Trump—who is beginning to see Hillary, and not the Republican field, as his competition—has noted this, and gone on an anti-Bill offensive in an effort to gain the upper hand. The Donald's chosen line of attack—the former president's extramarital dalliances—is the obvious one, but also one that could very well blow up in the billionaire's face.

Trump's first problem is that his criticisms represent a 180-degree change of direction—a flip-flop, to use the parlance—inasmuch as he previously (and vehemently) defended Clinton for those same dalliances. While the Monica Lewinsky scandal was unfolding, Trump blasted the "moralist hypocrites" in Congress, and also said that the President "would have been everybody's hero" if he had cheated with a supermodel instead. On Tuesday, in an effort to explain his supposed change of heart, Trump claimed that he only defended Clinton out of "obligation" because as a businessman he needed "approvals...from Washington." This is a pretty lousy explanation. Does Trump really believe (or expect us to believe) that his business career demanded that he sit for several interviews and that he write a book chapter defending the President? Merely remaining silent would not have been enough? And if The Donald is telling the truth (or some version of it), then he has just admitted that he is for sale. While that is true of many (most? all?) politicians, it is not terribly wise to admit it. Besides, Trump has claimed that his great strength is that he is too rich to be bought. If it turns out that he has to kowtow to "special interests" to get building permits, he is no better than the others.

A second, and related, problem is that the attacks make Trump look like a hypocrite. His suggestion about cheating with a supermodel presumably did not require much imagination, since he himself had done the same thing a few years earlier (eventually divorcing his first wife Ivana in 1991 so he could marry his mistress Marla Maples in 1993). Trump acknowledged this very point in a 1998 interview with CNBC when asked (presciently, as it turns out) about running for president: "Can you imagine how controversial I'd be? You think about him with the women. How about me with the women? Can you imagine?" One wonders how the Donald will try to parse this so that his sexual history is ok, but Bill's is "disgusting" and "sexist." Actually, there is one major difference—Trump is a candidate in the 2016 election, while Bill Clinton is not.

Perhaps the biggest problem in dueling with Bill Clinton—as The Hill's Brent Budowsky points out—is that Trump will be facing off against the most skilled American politician alive today. Thus far, The Donald has dominated the likes of Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), etc., but they are minor leaguers. With Clinton, Trump will be moving up to the majors. Actually, it's more like he'll be moving up to the major leagues to face a Hall of Famer (say, Sandy Koufax or Mickey Mantle). Or, to use Budowsky's preferred sports metaphor, Trump vs. Bill Clinton is like an up-and-coming young boxer entering the ring against Muhammad Ali. Clinton (like Ali) knows how to land a crushing body blow and also how to look good while doing it. Among politicians in recent memory, only Ronald Reagan operated at Clinton's level when it came to this particular talent. So Trump might want to chat with Jimmy Carter or Walter Mondale about their experiences before continuing on his current course. (Z)

Key Republican Lawyer Worrying about Logistics of a Brokered Convention

Ben Ginsberg, the go-to lawyer when a Republican has a big problem (like the 2000 vote count in Florida) or just wants top talent (as in Mitt Romney's national counsel in 2008 and 2012), is worried about how a brokered convention might play out. If one candidate came in a few dozen votes short, there would be a mad scramble to line up individual delegates after the first ballot. If no candidate were even close to a majority, the convention could go on for days, in which case the party would have to find speakers for the television cameras. He was also worried about what would happen if nobody had a majority after 4 days in terms of availability of the venue, hotel rooms, and so on. A convention longer than 4 days is unlikely, but Ginsberg said it would be "political malpractice" not to have a plan in place in case it happened. The longest convention in American history, incidentally, was the 1924 Democratic convention, which took 15 days and 103 ballots to nominate John W. Davis. Not that it did them a lot of good. (V)

Sanders Gets a New Superdelegate

The superdelegates—mostly party and elected leaders—play an outsized role in the Democratic primaries, far more than in the Republican ones. As a consequence, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are trying to capture as many as they can. Sanders just landed a new one, Erin Bilbray, a DNC member from Nevada. She is his 11th superdelegate. His problem, however, is that Hillary Clinton already has 359 superdelegates who have publicly said they will vote for her. In addition, there are no doubt many more of the 700 who are privately in the bag for Clinton, but don't want to announce it until their states have voted. Then if she carries their states, they can say they are just doing what their voters want. Of course, if Sanders can break out and win caucuses and primaries after New Hampshire, some of the superdelegates might take a second look at him. For most of them, being on the winner's bandwagon is more important than who is driving it. (V)

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Bernie

Like Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders is married to a former president. Only she was president of Burlington College, rather than President of the United States, so that carries less clout. However, Bernie is friendly with the two men who are arguably the best-known residents of his home state. And so, Ben and Jerry will now hit the campaign trail on behalf of their senator.

The good news is that the ice cream makers are engaging, passionate, and know how to work a crowd. They will connect with young people, and help (a little) with the frumpy Senator's coolness factor. Maybe they will even hand out free pints at campaign events. The bad news is that a campaign whose "secret weapon" is Ben and Jerry is hard to take seriously when stacked up against a campaign that can trot out a popular former president (not to mention countless other power players and A-list celebrities). (Z)

Hillary Clinton Is the Most Admired Woman in the World, for the 20th Time

In Republican-oriented media it is taken as an incontrovertible fact that everyone distrusts and hates Hillary Clinton. However, a new Gallup poll shows that she is, among Americans, the most admired woman in the entire world. And this is the 20th year she has been on top in these polls. No other woman has ever led so many times; second place on the list is Eleanor Roosevelt with 13 wins. (V)

Pataki is Dropping Out

Former New York governor George Pataki, who has been consistently polling at 0% for months, has finally gotten the message that his services for President are not much in demand. Pataki's campaign has been a fool's errand from day 1. He is a former moderate governor from a blue state who has been out of office for nine years and was the longest of longshots in today's Republican Party. Furthermore, he was competing directly with Jeb Bush for the moderate vote, and Bush has a boatload of money, a huge national network, and a famous last name. There won't be much competition for his voters since there aren't any. (V)

Listen for the Dog Whistle

"Dog whistle politics" is a term that refers to the use of encoded language or imagery to communicate messages that are socially unacceptable in a manner that only the voters who will respond to those messages will "hear" them. In the past, nativism, socialism, anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, and sexism have all been "dog whistled," though today the term most commonly refers to thinly-encoded racism.

A new study documents a very interesting and subtle dog whistle from the 2008 campaign: Commercials for Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) campaign were doctored to make Barack Obama's skin look darker than it really is, while also making McCain's skin look lighter than it really is. Was this deliberate? Maybe, maybe not, but we will never know for sure, since nobody in the Republican Party would ever actually admit to doing this.

Therein lies the appeal and the power of dog whistles—they are subtle enough to go unrecognized for a very long time (eight years, in the case above). And even if they are recognized, they have built-in plausible deniability. Consequently, it is not likely the media will point out such encoded messaging (whether racist, sexist, or otherwise) in the 2016 campaign. They would undoubtedly be accused of bias and of "playing the race/gender/etc." card. It's up to individual voters, then, to keep their own eyes (and ears) open. (Z)

One Person Attends an O'Malley Event in Iowa

Martin O'Malley, who, in case you didn't notice, is running for the Democratic nomination, held an event in Iowa on Monday and only one person showed up. Possibly this was due to the bad weather, but possibly it was because O'Malley has not really caught fire. The one voter had plenty of opportunity to exchange ideas with O'Malley during the event, but wouldn't say whether O'Malley had convinced him to caucus for him. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Dec29 Trump about to Start Advertising Blitz
Dec29 Trump Attacking Hillary about Bill's Infidelities
Dec29 Too Many Polls?
Dec29 Election Math Strongly Favors the Democrats
Dec29 Breyer Won't Say If He Will Retire Under a Republican President
Dec29 Conservatives Are Lukewarm on Burr Challenger
Dec29 Republicans Are Afraid That Cruz Would Hurt Their Senate Chances
Dec29 Judgment Day For Each Campaign
Dec29 Data on 191 Million Voters Exposed on the Internet
Dec28 Millennials Prefer a Democrat in the White House
Dec28 Why Young People Don't Vote
Dec28 Could Clinton Get Nominated Today?
Dec28 Could Reagan Get Nominated Today?
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
Dec27 Will Trump Fans Show Up to Vote?
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