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

Polls: Clinton Won the Debate

After Saturday's debate, CBS News polled a nationally representative sample of Democrats and independents online. In other words, the panel had the same demographics as the expected Democratic electorate. This is quite different than a Website poll where anyone can vote and there is no correction to make sure there are enough women, blacks, young voters, etc. In addition, PPP ran a standard robopoll, calling 510 Democratic primary voters. Unlike CBS, PPP didn't offer "tie" as an option. Here are the results.

Candidate CBS PPP
Hillary Clinton 51% 67%
Bernie Sanders 28% 20%
Tie 14%  
Martin O'Malley 7% 7%

Among Democrats, Clinton beat Sanders by more than two to one. Among independents, it was a split.

On the subject of terrorism, Clinton has a commanding lead, whereas on the subject of economic inequality, it is Sanders by two to one. Clinton's biggest weakness is honesty. Nevertheless, 58% think she is honest, compared to 86% for Sanders.

Politico didn't conduct a public opinion poll, but did ask its bipartisan panel of strategists, operatives, and activists in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada who won. Among Democrats, 77% thought Clinton won, 10% thought Sanders won, and 13% thought O'Malley won. So among insiders, Clinton's win was even bigger than among the general public.

For Sanders, the debate was a missed opportunity. Clinton has been gaining momentum in the past month and he needed to stop it. He didn't. His worst blunder came in his opening statement, in which he spent 20 seconds on the attacks in Paris and then switched to the economy. He forgot that he was auditioning not only for Economist-in-Chief but also for Commander-in-Chief. Clinton understood that completely. Unfortunately for Sanders, the next debate is in five weeks. (V)

Republicans Urge Aggressive Action after Attacks on Paris

Republicans were virtually united in their response to the attacks on Paris Friday. They all called for strong leadership from the United States, with most of the candidates suggesting that they were the strong leader required. However, other than some generic saber-rattling, there were few suggestions how to go about it, save two. One concrete proposal was not to accept any Syrian refugees, an idea that Republicans had been championing even before the attacks. The second idea came from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who wants to intensify airstrikes in Syria. His plan: don't worry about civilian casualties. In contrast to the Republicans, at the Democratic debate Saturday, all three candidates emphasized cooperation with other countries as the key to defeating ISIS, rather than more bombing.

The Republicans and Democrats also differ on exactly who is to blame for the Paris attacks. Republicans say it is "Islamic terrorists." Democrats say it is "jihadis." The unspoken Republican strategy here is to blame Islam, a religion foreign and scary to much of the Republican base. Hillary Clinton refuses to utter "Islamic terrorist" because she is thinking beyond the primaries. She is even thinking beyond the general election. She is thinking about how she is going to get the King of Saudi Arabia to help her stamp out ISIS once she is in the oval office, and she knows very well that insulting Islam is not going to help.

Lest anyone miss the point that Islam is the root of the problem, in South Carolina yesterday, Cruz said: "There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror." Actually, that is historically not true, and we don't have to go back to the Crusades to find examples of Christian terrorism. In 2013, Salon compiled a list of terrorist acts committed in the United States in the past 30 years by white Christians, including these:

Year Terrorist-in-Chief State Event
2012 Wade Page Wisconsin Attacked a Sikh Temple with a semiautomatic weapon
2010 Joseph Stack Texas Flew a plane into an office building
2008 David Adkisson Tennessee Shot a group of children in a church
1996 Erick Rudolf Georgia Bombed a park during the Olympics
1995 Timothy McVeigh Oklahoma Bombed an office building killing 168 and injuring 600
1994 John Salvi Massachusetts Bombed a Planned Parenthood clinic

Since the list was compiled, we have also had mass shootings at Sandy Hook and Charleston, among others.

Not all Republicans are on board with Cruz' ideas, though. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) put it this way: "I think that when you look at the dimensions of this tragedy, most Republican voters will not be satisfied with 'We'll bomb the shit out of them.'" If foreign policy becomes the biggest issue in the campaign (and that is by no means certain since the public has the attention span of a flea), it is going to slowly dawn on people that Hillary Clinton is the only candidate in either party with any foreign policy experience at all. One has to wonder whether she was thinking about a situation in which foreign policy experience would be a real plus in a future campaign when she accepted the job of Secretary of State back in 2009.

Clinton has often been accused of being Opportunist-in-Chief and once she is convinced she will win the primaries, she might try a bit of political jiu-jitsu by saying: "My Democratic friends often accuse me of being a hawk and being too quick to go to war. Make no mistake about it, if the United States is threatened in any way, I will not hesitate for a second to use military force to protect Americans." In the primaries, this would be suicide but in the general election, it could be very effective. (V)

Can Donald Trump Survive?

That is the question that CNN's Julian Zelizer asks, following on the heels of Donald Trump's well-publicized semi-meltdown, in which he compared Ben Carson to a child molester and called Iowans "stupid." Like most of the commentariat, Zelizer does not think Trump has much of a chance. He lists a number of reasons why:

  • Failure to fully commit to grassroots ground game
  • May be unwilling to spend the time campaigning that winning Iowa will take
  • Where will the money come from? Is Trump willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars of his own fortune?
  • Can he weather the establishment candidate, once one is settled upon?
  • Hasn't really gotten much scrutiny—What is the story with the divorces and the bankruptcies?
  • Has given very little money to charity—Not a good sign for someone who has no record of public service
  • May not be willing to keep going when the going gets tough
  • Paris attacks may cause voters to demand a serious leader, not a shouter

Nearly all observers are surprised that Trump has lasted this long; and acknowledge—as Zelizer does—that his staying power reflects a talent for self-promotion and playing the media. But this list does a pretty good job of explaining why it still remains difficult to accept the long-term viability of Trump's candidacy. (Z)

Can Ben Carson Survive?

Ben Carson has many of the same liabilities that Donald Trump does—weak grassroots organization, not willing to campaign, establishment hates him, etc. In some ways, however, his position is even weaker. Unlike The Donald, Carson has gotten plenty of scrutiny, with less-than-stellar results. He has not really dispelled questions about exaggerations and falsehoods in his autobiography; those things would certainly come back to haunt him in the general election if he somehow claimed the GOP nomination.

The other problem that has become evident has to do with his understanding of public policy. As New York Magazine points out, he has none and—even worse—he doesn't seem to care. The voting public got its latest demonstration of this on Sunday morning, when Carson was interviewed on Fox News Sunday. When asked—three times—what nations and leaders he would enlist in an effort to fight ISIS, he was unable to name a single one. That's worse than Rick Perry, who was at least batting .667 when he departed last time.

The moment was reminiscent of Katie Couric's interview with Sarah Palin in 2008, when the vice-presidential candidate was unable to name a single magazine or newspaper that she reads. However, there is a big difference: Palin, at least, did not know that question was coming, whereas Carson certainly knew he would be discussing the Middle East and how he might approach the region were he to become president. But the best he could come up with was, "My point being that if we get out there and we really lead and it appears that we're making progress, that all of the Arab states and even the non-Arab states who are, I think, beginning to recognize that the jihad movement is global." This is not even comprehensible, much less a meaningful statement of policy. When it comes time to actually cast ballots in November of next year, it is nearly impossible to imagine that this will pass muster with the 65 million or so voters it will take to capture the White House.

The Couric question was something of a turning point for Palin. She certainly kept a loyal cadre of fans, but a sizable majority of Americans concluded that she could not be taken seriously. Will the same happen to Carson at some point? We shall see, though it is worth noting that Saturday Night Live played a big role in undermining Palin's public image, with Tina Fey's dead-on impersonation. And this Saturday night, the show did its first Ben Carson sketch. (Z)

Democrats Wish Trump and Carson Would Survive

Despite their liabilities, Donald Trump and Ben Carson sit 1-2 in virtually every poll of Republican candidates, both nationwide, and in individual states. Their supporters undoubtedly hope that the polling numbers are for real, and that the duo will remain in command of the race. But that hope is nothing compared to what the Democratic establishment is feeling. "As a Democrat," explained one DNC member, "I'd love to see a Trump-Carson ticket. We'd probably win back the Senate and pick up the House as well."

The Associated Press contacted all of the 712 Democratic superdelegates—many of whom are already committed to Hillary Clinton—to ask about the GOP nominees. The most commonly expressed sentiment was confusion—difficulty making sense of what is going on across the aisle. The superdelegates were also asked to identify which Republican candidate scares them the most, and while the majority was unwilling to answer, the ones who did overwhelmingly chose Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL; 65 votes), trailed by Gov. John Kasich (R-OH; 45) and Jeb Bush (36). Only 16 Democrats said that Trump scared them the most, and only four gave the nod to Carson—tying him with Sen. Ted Cruz. Undoubtedly, political insiders are going to have a bias against outsider candidates, but when the consensus is that clear, it probably means something. (Z)

Trump's Wall Would Not Be the Only One

Donald Trump wants to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border (or, more accurately, a longer wall than the 652-mile one that is already there). He is not the only politician worldwide who wants to build a wall. Wall building has been going on at least since 221 B.C., when China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang, started construction on what would later become a 3,000-mile long wall on China's frontier. Wall building is still going strong over 2,000 years later, with 51 countries building walls since WWII, 25 of which were built in the past 15 years. Some of the biggest wall builders and who is being fenced out are listed below.

Waller Wallee
U.S. Mexico
Brazil Paraguay and Bolivia
Morocco Algeria
Hungary Serbia and Croatia
Ukraine Russia
Israel Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and West Bank
Kenya Somalia
Saudi Arabia Yemen, Iraq, Oman, and UAE
India Pakistan
China North Korea

For years, politicians have been talking about globalization, signing free trade agreements, and acting like borders don't matter any more, but in reality walls and fences are being built at a higher rate than ever. (V)

The General Election Campaigns Are Pointless

While the primary campaigns have been going on for months and will continue for months to come, eventually they will be over and the general election campaigns will start. Billions of dollars will be spent and will accomplish almost nothing. The reason is the decline of the swing voter. New research has shown that the number of true independents, who swing from party to party in elections, is down from 15% in the 1960s to 5% today. Democrats will vote for the Democratic nominee, no matter how many emails she sends or has sent and no matter which server she uses. Republicans will vote for any Republican who manages to get the nomination (possibly excepting Donald Trump or Ben Carson). The billions of dollars spent in the campaign won't matter a whit as almost everyone already knows which party he or she is going to vote for.

It wasn't always like this. The South used to be full of conservative Democrats and the Northeast was once a hotbed of liberal Republicans. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both actively campaigned for and won the votes of people in the other party. It is hard to imagine many crossovers now when the country has become so polarized on immigration, climate change, abortion, guns, religion, and social issues. Almost everyone accepts either one package or the other. Very few people are for granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants, removing restrictions on abortion and gun ownership, and striking down all laws protecting the rights of gay people. You are on Team Blue or Team Red and you known which it is right now. (V)

Marco Likes Susana

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was recently asked who he might choose as his running mate. In particular, he was asked about a Rubio/Kasich ticket, thus covering two key swing states, Florida and Ohio. Rubio replied that the election is so national that where the vice presidential candidate comes from hardly matters. He pointed out that Mitt Romney's Veep, now-Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), was unable to carry his home state of Wisconsin. The only name Rubio specifically mentioned is that of Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM). Martinez will certainly be on every Republican's radar as she checks a lot of boxes: woman, Latina, Westerner, fiery speaker, and conservative. However, one factor that they will no doubt have to consider is that the last time the Republicans picked an attractive but unknown female Western governor with no national experience for the #2 slot it didn't work out so well. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Nov15 Democratic Debate a Draw
Nov15 Clinton Has 359 Delegates Months Before the Voting Starts
Nov15 Paris Attacks Already Reshaping Presidential Race
Nov15 Colorado Voters May Repeal and Replace Obamacare
Nov14 Paris Under Attack
Nov14 And Then There Were Three
Nov14 Jeb May Have a Much Bigger Bush Problem Than He Thought
Nov14 Cruz and Rubio Spar on Immigration
Nov14 Many Republican Candidates May Skip the Florida Primary
Nov14 Judge Rules Clinton Emails Do Not Have To Be Released Right Now
Nov14 Is Sanders Eligible to Run in New Hampshire?
Nov13 Is the GOP in Trouble?
Nov13 Case Study: GOP Foreign Policy
Nov13 Bush Not Going to Get Elected Saying Things Like This
Nov13 Is Hillary Getting a Pass?
Nov13 Hillary All-In on Coal
Nov13 Vitter Getting Desperate
Nov12 GOP Debate Postmortem
Nov12 The GOP Race is Really a Series of Smaller Races
Nov12 Congress is Busy Posturing
Nov11 Conservatives and Moderates Fight over Immigration in Debate
Nov11 Court of Appeals Hands Obama a Defeat on Immigration
Nov11 Americans Fear Guns More than They Fear Terrorists
Nov11 Polling Is in Trouble Worldwide
Nov10 Trump and Carson Tied in South Carolina
Nov10 One For the Money, Two for the Show, Three to Get Ready...
Nov10 Bernie Sanders Is Trying to Win Latinos
Nov10 Media Attacks Have Helped Carson Raise $3.5 Million
Nov10 Tea Party Not Going After Senate Incumbents in 2016
Nov10 TPP Will Play a Big Role in Determining Control of the Senate
Nov10 Will Software Ruin the Campaigns?
Nov09 Trump and Carson Still Lead in Iowa
Nov09 Does Carson Speak in Parables?
Nov09 Rubio Was Often Late Paying His Credit Card Bill
Nov09 Lessons from Kentucky
Nov09 League of Conservation Voters Endorses Clinton
Nov09 Trumpism Explained
Nov09 GOP Moderates Working on New Hampshire
Nov09 statehood for Puerto Rico? Not Likely
Nov09 Statehood for Puerto Rico? Not Likely
Nov08 Rubio Credit Card Issue Fading
Nov08 Another Day, Another Question About Ben Carson's Past
Nov08 Trump's Saturday Night Was Lively, But Not Too Lively
Nov08 Who Should Be on the Debate Stage Has Become Contentious
Nov08 DSCC To Support Conner Eldridge in Arkansas Senate Race
Nov08 New House Committee Has a Majority of Women
Nov07 Unemployment Falls Dramatically
Nov07 Carson's Biography is Unraveling
Nov07 Bush Probably Should Not Have Attacked Marco Rubio
Nov07 Clinton Emails Did Not Contain Classified Information