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

Carson's Comments on the Egyptian Pyramids Probably Won't Hurt Him

A 17-year-old video has surfaced in which Ben Carson says that the pyramids of Egypt were built by the Biblical Joseph to store grain for the seven lean years Joseph predicted. It would require detailed knowledge of the pyramids' internal structure to determine how much grain you could store in a pyramid, but suffice it to say that it would not be enough to feed an entire country for seven years.

But Chris Cillizza says that reality simply doesn't matter to the people Carson is addressing. They simply take every word in the Bible literally—even though the Bible does not say anything about the pyramids being the place grain was stored after Joseph interpreted the pharoah's dream. In fact Genesis 41 in the CEV version of the Bible reads: "For seven years there were big harvests of grain. Joseph collected and stored up the extra grain in the cities of Egypt near the fields where it was harvested." Nothing about pyramids there, but Iowa Republicans won't care. Carson was asked yesterday if he still believes this and he said yes. It is statements like this that make the Republican leadership scared to death of Carson. Can you imagine a debate between Carson and Hillary Clinton where each one is asked to say what they thought the pyramids were for? What works for Iowa Republicans will not work for Latinos in Nevada or suburbanites in Virginia. (V)

Of Course, It's Not Just the Pyramids

Ben Carson appears to enjoy doing and saying eyebrow-raising things; we are now reaching the point that there's something new just about every day. In addition to his thoughts about the pyramids, Carson also posted an item to his Facebook page on Thursday in which he compared himself to the Founding Fathers. He asserted that his lack of political experience should not be a problem, since "Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience." This is, of course, not true—about half the men who signed the Declaration of Independence had served in state legislatures or other elective offices. Carson later amended his statement to "federal office experience," but that is not a lot better since it seems to evince an ignorance of the fact that the Founders could not legally serve in federal office. This was, in fact, one of the main issues that led to the Revolution.

Concurrently, Carson is defending his autobiography (not the one he's selling right now, the first one from 1990). In it, he explains that he consciously worked to develop his calm demeanor after a serious of violent outbursts, including one in which he pulled a knife on a schoolmate. The difficulty is that nobody can find any proof that these incidents happened. CNN interviewed many people who knew Carson as a youth, and they say they not only have no knowledge or recollection of these acts of violence, but also that they would have been wholly out of character for him. It's possible that CNN just hasn't found the right person to ask, though something like pulling a knife in school is not something that people forget easily, or that stays a secret.

Meanwhile, first prize for this week goes to the rap song that Carson's campaign released on Thursday to persuade young black voters to support his campaign. The tune, by the Republican Christian rapper Aspiring Mogul, includes lyrics like "Vote and support Ben Carson/ For our next president and be awesome." So, we're not exactly talking "Straight Outta Compton" or "The Message" here.

It will be interesting to see how long Ben Carson can remain utterly oblivious to the slings and arrows hurled by those who are critical, skeptical, or just dismissive. He's already proven to be more bulletproof than the Popemobile, next up is Fort Knox. (Z)

Another Nail in the Coffin Becomes Official

What was rumored yesterday has become fact today: For the next GOP debate, on Fox Business Channel, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Mike Huckabee are going to be relegated to the junior varsity, while George Pataki and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) won't get to play at all.

All four mens' campaigns are so close to flatlining that a return to viability was a long shot at best. But even if the November 10 debate was a lottery ticket, it must have seemed like a lottery ticket filled with promise, given the opportunity to get into the living rooms of a fair portion of the Republican base. Now, Christie and Huckabee will be lucky to reach 1/10 as many eyeballs as they otherwise would have, given the early hour of the JV debate (6:00 EST) as well as the fact that it does not get rebroadcast three times the way the varsity debate does. And Pataki and Graham won't even get that meager exposure. Surely these men all realize the game is nearly up, and would rather spend the holidays at home as opposed to holding pancake breakfasts in Iowa. It is well within the realm of possibility, then, that half a dozen towels will be thrown in by the time the White House turkey gets pardoned, with the first of those possibly coming as early as this weekend. (Z)

Bernie Will Fix It?

Recently, it is Jeb Bush's relaunch and rebranding that has gotten all the attention. But Bernie Sanders has also been sinking in the polls, and he has also taken steps to stanch the flow of blood. Earlier this week, he proposed a bill in the Senate that would remove federal restrictions on marijuana use (states would still be allowed to prohibit the drug). The measure has zero chance of passing; Its purpose—no pun intended—is to fire up the grassroots.

Meanwhile, in what appears to be a fairly dramatic change of approach, Sanders began to lob a few grenades at Hillary Clinton. In particular, he said that he now believes there is merit in looking into her email server. The Clinton campaign quickly responded, expressing disappointment that the Vermont senator had gone against his promise to avoid personal attacks. Surely, RNC chairman Reince Priebus must be delighted that the GOP is no longer the only party whose candidates are busy squabbling with one another. (Z)

Trump's Turn to be "Live From New, York!"

A little over a month ago, Hillary Clinton appeared on Saturday Night Live. Tomorrow, it will be Donald Trump's turn. But whereas Hillary made only a cameo appearance, the Donald is serving as host. This will be his second go-round, having previously taken a turn in the host's chair in 2004. In that appearance, and in promos for tomorrow's show, he has shown a willingness to take a joke and poke a little fun at himself. It will likely be more of the same on Saturday.

Trump's appearance is not without controversy, as many Latino activists argue that SNL should not be giving him a platform. Their protests have fallen on deaf ears so one advocacy group—Deport Racism PAC—has offered a reward of $5,000 to any audience member who will shout "racist" during Trump's monologue. The audience sits right on top of the host, so it would be difficult to stop the remark from finding its way on air if someone takes the bait. However, it would not be unlike SNL to take the situation and use it to their benefit. One can imagine an entire monologue filled with cast-members-as-audience-members screaming things at Trump. In any event, those who want to see for themselves need only wait until 11:35 p.m. tomorrow night. (Z)

Conservative Talk Radio Is Forcing Republicans to the Right

The New York Times Magazine has a long piece on the role of talk radio in the Republican primaries, focusing on Iowa's Steve Deace, who is constantly talking about "alpha males" (which, interestingly enough, includes Carly Fiorina but not Jeb Bush, the former two-term governor of the nation's fourth most populous state). Deace qualified that by saying that being "male" is not about what's between your legs, probably the only issue on which he agrees with the transgender community. Deace is spending all of his daily air time attacking those Republicans he deems "beta males." He doesn't pull his punches at all, saying things like this.

  • "The issue is whether someone's erotic liberty trumps your religious liberty." (on gay rights)
  • "Pass Obama's agenda, lie to conservatives, defraud voters and total capitulation (on the GOP brand)
  • "Is Jeb Bush running for president or Americas Hispanic fertility czar?"
  • "We have a Marxist in the White House, and our very way of life is at stake!"
  • "Seriously, if you're for amnesty, killing babies, and redefining marriage, why are you even a Republican at all?"

With Deace commanding a large audience in Iowa, the Republican candidates dare not stray from his approved positions, not matter how badly these will sound in the general election. Deace is supported by local Christian businessmen and is widely credited with helping Mike Huckabee win the Iowa caucuses in 2008. Even someone as conservative as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) fails the Deace test, with the radio host calling him an "amnesty pimp," so it is no wonder that most of the candidates are running as far to the right as they can in Iowa. (V)

Dardenne Endorses Edwards in Louisiana Runoff

In Louisiana's gubernatorial jungle primary held on Oct. 24, Democrat John Bel Edwards came in first with 40% and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) came in second, far back at 23%. Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne (R-LA) came in fourth with 15%. Now Dardenne has endorsed the Democrat, Edwards, in the Nov. 21 runoff. Not only is he supporting a Democrat, but when he made the endorsement he said this about his boss, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA): "The Republican brand has been damaged by the failed leadership of Bobby Jindal during this last term." If Jindal were running for President, having his #2 say this wouldn't be a big help. Oh, wait. Jindal is running for President, but you can't go down from 0%, so Dardenne's remark probably won't hurt.

The endorsement actually has national significance. If Edwards wins the governorship, which seems more likely now that one of his former opponents has endorsed him, then Vitter will stay in the Senate and have to run for reelection in 2016. Needless to say, his failed gubernatorial campaign will be somewhat fresh in the minds of the voters next year and he will be wounded. The Democrats' chances of capturing the seat are probably better with a wounded Vitter than if Vitter is elected governor and gets to appoint a fresh new senator with no track record. (V)

Trans-Pacific Partnership Goes Public

On Thursday, the Obama administration released the complete text of the 12-nation free trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Predictably, just about everyone—labor leaders, the Sierra Club, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Donald Trump, among others—expressed (or reiterated) their unhappiness with the deal. In response, the President plans a massive PR blitz to rally support for the accord, which he calls, "a new type of trade deal that puts American workers first."

Of all the complaints that have been raised, the issue that is getting the most attention right now is the possible infringement on American sovereignty. Potentially, the "investor protection" portions of the TPP could allow foreign corporations with business interests in the U.S. to sue American corporations or municipalities, with the case to be heard not by a state or federal court, but instead by a panel three private arbitrators. This element alone has been called a deal-breaker by many prominent politicians on the right and the left, among them Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), one of the President's most important allies on Capitol Hill. Barack Obama is going to be fighting an uphill battle, then, and one that will undoubtedly linger well into the 2016 campaign season. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Nov05 What Do the 2015 Election Results Mean for 2016?
Nov05 Obama Was Not Rebuked on Tuesday
Nov05 Blue States May Determine the Republican Nominee
Nov05 Story of Rubio's Finances Continues
Nov05 Christie May Not Make the Main Debate Next Time
Nov05 Jeb Can Fix It May Not Be the Ideal Slogan
Nov05 Do Democrats Suppress the Vote?
Nov04 And the Winners Are...
Nov04 Another Headache for Pollsters
Nov04 Trump Goes After Rubio
Nov04 Sanders Is Losing Ground Among Daily Kos Readers
Nov04 Will the Candidates' Attempt to Control the Debates Be Counterproductive?
Nov04 Bush Apologizes to France
Nov04 Obamacare Repeal Giving McConnell Headaches
Nov03 Carson Leads in National Poll
Nov03 Election Day 2015 Is Upon Us
Nov03 Republican Candidates Demand Control over the Debates
Nov03 Jeb 2.0 Relaunched Yesterday
Nov03 How Super PACs and Campaigns Coordinate
Nov03 Harvard Professor is a Drop-out
Nov03 Carson Leads in National Poll
Nov03 Election Day 2015 Is Upon Us
Nov03 Republican Candidates Demand Control over the Debates
Nov03 Jeb 2.0 Relaunched Yesterday
Nov03 How Super PACS and Campaigns Coordinate
Nov03 Harvard Professor is a Drop-out
Nov02 November Ranking of the Republican Candidates
Nov02 Rubio and Cruz: the Finalists?
Nov02 Bernie Sanders Runs His First Ad
Nov02 Trump's Supporters Feel America Has Lost Its Greatness
Nov02 How Mysterious Is the Carson Mystery?
Nov02 Obama Will Leave $20 Trillion in Debt Behind
Nov02 Is Glenn Beckoning?
Nov01 Obama Sends Soldiers to Syria
Nov01 Bernie Sanders is in Trouble
Nov01 Gun Control Likely to Be a Talking Point in 2016
Nov01 Can the GOP Debates Be Fixed?
Nov01 The Jeb! Action Plan
Nov01 Rubio Gets Big Endorsement
Nov01 Rand Paul's Halloween Party
Oct31 Bill de Blasio Endorses Hillary Clinton
Oct31 Candidates Plan to Talk About Future Debates But without the RNC
Oct31 Priebus Tries to Reassert Control of Debates
Oct31 Marco Rubio's Background is Not What He Makes It Out To Be
Oct31 Carson's Past Support of Gay Rights May Hurt Him Now
Oct31 Sanchez May Need GOP Help in Senate Primary
Oct31 Sen. Vitter Trails Democrat by Double Digits in Gubernatorial Race
Oct30 Bush Supporters Struggling to Pick Up the Pieces
Oct30 CNBC Was the Biggest Loser Wednesday
Oct30 Truth Was Another Loser at GOP Debate