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

Rubio Used His Position in Florida House of Representatives to Help Brother-in-Law

The Washington Post is continuing its investigation of Orlando Cicilia, the brother-in-law of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). In 1989, Cicilia was convicted of distributing $15 million worth of cocaine and served 12 years in federal prison for it. Shortly after he was released from prison, Rubio sent a letter on his official stationery to the Florida Division of Real Estate recommending Cicilia for a real estate license, without mentioning (1) that Cicilia was married to his sister and (2) that Cicilia had just done 12 years for drug smuggling.

The complaint against Rubio here is that he has a tendency to mix public and private matters. He was certainly free to write a letter supporting his brother-in-law for a real estate license, but he should have mentioned the family connection and he should not have used official Florida stationery. Earlier this year Rubio was in the news for using a Republican Party credit card for personal expenses. He later reimbursed the Party but he shouldn't have used that card in the first place.

Rubio is clearly uncomfortable with his brother-in-law and has repeatedly declined to answer any questions about him. He also declined answering questions about whether he received any financial help from Cicilia, especially during the period that Rubio was deep in debt. The latter question is pertinent because the $15 million that Cicilia earned from his illegal activities has never been found and the federal government is still wondering what happened to it.

If Rubio becomes the nominee, his personal finances and his ethics are going to be major targets for the Democrats. (V)

Bush Cancels Ads in Iowa and South Carolina

Even though Jeb Bush has plenty of money left, he is canceling all his television ads in Iowa and reducing them in South Carolina in order to hire more staff on the ground. His Iowa team will grow to 20 people and the New Hampshire team will be 40, largely due to his realization that Iowa is a lost cause and New Hampshire is his best chance for an early victory.

Although Bush has been polling around 5% everywhere, he still has a path to the nomination, albeit a narrow one. It starts with the fact that the GOP leadership really does not want Donald Trump or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as the nominee. As more and more stories about Rubio's finances and relationship with his criminal brother-in-law surface, he becomes less and less attractive. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is betting the farm on New Hampshire and if that doesn't pan out, he's finished. So what's the establishment to do? Maybe come back to Bush. (V)

Can Trump Maintain His Lead in January?

Donald Trump clearly had a great Christmas, with polls showing him leading almost everywhere except Iowa. But in January, things could change. To start with, his leads in the national polls don't mean so much as there is no national primary. In Iowa, he trails Ted Cruz and if Cruz wins Iowa, that will give him momentum going into New Hampshire. Second, Trump's supporters tend to be low-income voters, the kind of people with spotty voting records. Most polls so far have been of registered voters and as the pollsters begin reporting on likely voters, Trump may appear to drop, even though nothing has really changed. Finally, it is possible that after being wiped out in Iowa, quite a few of the minor candidates will go the way of George Pataki and call it quits. They could include Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jim Gilmore, and maybe even Gov. John Kasich (R-OH). If they do, their voters have to go somewhere and it probably won't be Trump. Most likely it will be Cruz. If Cruz wins Iowa and New Hampshire, Trump suddenly has a big problem.

It is not just the commentariat that sees potential problems for Trump. Sam Nunberg is a friend, admirer, former employee, and former political adviser of The Donald. In fact, he became "former" because his pro-Trump/anti-Obama zeal was expressed a bit too openly and offensively on Facebook. And Nunberg predicts that Trump's campaign is just months from being "doomed." He reasons that the billionaire's support has little room to grow, and that if he loses the first three primary states in a row, his voters will begin jumping off the bandwagon. Having been fired, Nunberg might have an ax to grind, but his reasoning certainly seems sound. (V & Z)

Trump Continues Attacking Bill Clinton

Donald Trump is continuing to attack Bill Clinton, calling him "one of the great abusers of the world" yesterday. Trump believes that these attacks will turn off women. He seems to have forgotten that Bill isn't running and Hillary was the victim. More likely, his own track record of dumping his wives when he gets tired of them is going to be a bigger turn-off.

Trump also said that Hillary Clinton has even lower energy than Jeb Bush. However, in 2008 he was singing a different tune. Then, he praised her and her health plan (which had an individual mandate) and said she would do a good job of negotiating with Iran. (V)

Who is Raising the Most Money?

Ted Cruz's campaign announced, amidst a fair bit of self-congratulation, that it had raised $20 million in the fourth quarter. They certainly thought that would outpace the Republican field, but then Ben Carson's campaign announced a haul of $23 million. This was a very big surprise, given the seeming chaos that has swirled around the former surgeon, along with his steep decline in the polls. The number may prove to be an exaggeration (official disclosures not due to the FEC until the end of January), or it may prove to be something of an illusion (the Carson campaign spends much of its money raising more money, and so they may well have invested $12-$15 million to raise that $23 million).

The Democratic candidates, meanwhile, continue to outperform the Republicans. Hillary Clinton raised at least $25 million this quarter, bringing her 2015 total to more than $100 million. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) hasn't announced a final cash tally for Q4, but has bragged about receiving more than 1 million donations, which will probably translate to somewhere in the $25-$30 million range. (Z)

The Worst Political Predictions of 2015

2015 was a strange year in politics and many pundits got things totally wrong. Politico has collected some of the gems, especially ones made by multiple pundits, such as these:

  • Joe Biden will run for President
  • Elizabeth Warren will run for President
  • Mitt Romney will run for President
  • Trump won't run. Or, if he does, it won't matter
  • Trump is done for

No doubt 2016 will hold many surprises as well. (V)

The Big Stories of 2016

While Politico looks back, Yahoo's staff is looking ahead to identify the five most important stories to watch in 2016. Their list:

  • A not-so-lame duck as Obama heads into his last year
  • How long will the Republican primary last?
  • Will the Supremes continue to uphold Obama's legacy?
  • Can Speaker Paul Ryan maintain control of the House?
  • Don't forget the Democrats

Not a bad list, but keep in mind that at this point one year ago, the Planned Parenthood videos (January), Hillary Clinton's emails (March), Feel the Bern (May), Donald Trump for president (June), the Iran nuclear deal (July), John Boehner's resignation (September), and the Paris shootings (November) were not yet on the radar. (Z)

British Professional Gambler Explains His Bets

Betting on politics is illegal in the U.S. but is legal in the U.K. and Ireland, with multiple large firms taking bets. Paul Krishnamurty is a professional gambler who doesn't care who wins the U.S. election but does care a lot about how he can make money betting on it. In this article he describes his strategy. His first step was to place small bets on candidates with very long odds. For example, he bet $200 on Ben Carson at 1.5% and $150 on Ted Cruz at 1%. They offer potential returns of $13,000 and $15,000 if one of them wins. But he wasn't planning to wait until the election. Instead, as their odds get better, he will cash out and make a profit. Thus his strategy is not to guess who will win, but whose odds will improve throughout the race so he can cash out long before the election. This is analogous to someone who buys stock, waits for it to go up a little, and then sells it. The article goes on to explain his other strategies and how he did in past years. He even tells who he thinks will win the election, but you'll have to read it to find out. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Dec30 Trump Leads in Nevada
Dec30 The Attacks Are Increasing
Dec30 Trump Sets Sights on Bill Clinton; Plays With Fire
Dec30 Key Republican Lawyer Worrying about Logistics of a Brokered Convention
Dec30 Sanders Gets a New Superdelegate
Dec30 I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Bernie
Dec30 Hillary Clinton Is the Most Admired Woman in the World, for the 20th Time
Dec30 Pataki is Dropping Out
Dec30 Listen for the Dog Whistle
Dec30 One Person Attends an O'Malley Event in Iowa
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