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

Nationally, Trump Still Ahead By a Wide Margin

Two new polls of the Republican primary field came out yesterday, one from Ipsos and one from PPP. The results are below, sorted on Ipsos.

Rank Candidate Ipsos PPP
1 Donald Trump 37% 26%
2 Ben Carson 14% 19%
3 Marco Rubio 11% 13%
4 Ted Cruz 8% 14%
5 Jeb Bush 6% 5%
6 Rand Paul 5% 2%
7 Chris Christie 3% 3%
7 Mike Huckabee 3% 4%
7 Carly Fiorina 3% 4%
10 John Kasich 2% 3%
11 Rick Santorum 1% <1%
  Lindsey Graham <1% 1%
  Jim Gilmore <1% <1%
  George Pataki <1% <1%

The polls were taken at slightly different times. Ipsos was Nov. 14-18 and PPP was Nov. 16-17, which might explain some of the variation, but with the exception of Trump, everything else is within the margin of error. In any event, both polls show that there are five top candidates: Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz, and Bush. The rest might as well follow Bobby Jindal into that good night. They are all toast.

On the Democratic side, PPP has Hillary Clinton ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) by 59% to 26%, with Martin O'Malley stuck at 7%. Clinton dominates completely with black and Latino voters. (V)

Trump Would Require All Muslims to Register with the Government

Donald Trump said that he would require all Muslims to register with the federal government. He was flexible about where they would do this, in mosques, for example. When a reporter asked him how this would be different from Jews having to register in Nazi Germany, he didn't have an answer.

The idea of people registering with the government is not so crazy. Pretty much all countries in Europe and some beyond require this, but there it is for all residents, not just one religion. In America, many people are already registered with the government—with the Dept. of Motor Vehicles if you have a driver's license, with the Registrar of Voters, with the IRS, with the Dept. of State if you have a passport, with local tax authorities if you own a home, and much more. A single point of registration just makes that simpler. If you move, you have to notify only one office, so there is case to be made for registering people. The problem with Trump's plan, of course, is that it singles out Muslims for registration. (V)

Can Trump Survive the Establishment Onslaught?

The GOP establishment hates Donald Trump, in large part because they believe he cannot win the presidency, though also because he does not take his marching orders from Reince Priebus and Co. Like the commentariat, they have been waiting for the seemingly inevitable collapse of his campaign, so that the party can get to work trying to elect an actual politician. Marco and Ted are doing their best, but The Donald is blocking their path. Put another way, the Trump problem seemed like it would solve itself.

As the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza points out (taking his cue from prominent Republican strategist Matt Dowd), Trump has now been atop the polls for four months, and there's no sign of a decline in his support, which means it is time to recognize that he really could be the GOP nominee. The Republican establishment is also coming around to this way of thinking, and is ready to begin actively trying to bring down Trump. The John Kasich-aligned Super PAC New Day for America is planning a $2.5 million anti-Trump blitz, conducted via mail, Internet, and radio and TV ads in New Hampshire. This is just the first salvo; the PAC says the budget is likely to expand, and surely other Super PACs (and campaigns?) will eventually follow their lead. After all, Jeb Bush's supporters (the ones that are left) have to do something with that $100 million. But will these efforts weaken Trump, or will they strengthen him by feeding into his anti-establishment narrative? Time will tell. (Z)

Rubio Gets Another Big Donor, at Jeb Bush's Expense

A few weeks after securing the support of billionaire Paul Singer, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has scored another coup: the support of billionaire Frank VanderSloot. VanderSloot, who made his money with an Amway-like direct marketing company called Melaleuca, Inc., is not quite the heavy-hitter the Kochs are, though his $1.2 billion fortune does make him the richest person in Idaho.

The most important part of the story may not be VanderSloot's money, though, but his reasoning for supporting Rubio: "We started out by saying we needed to answer these two questions: Who would be the best president? And number two, who can get elected? It ended up being the same person." The billionaire also opined that Jeb Bush is "losing steam, and the air's out of his balloon." In other words, it is getting clearer and clearer that the Republican establishment—both party machinery and key supporters in the private sector—is lining up behind the Florida Senator as their candidate, and that the nomination will eventually come down to Rubio (or possibly Cruz) vs. Trump. (Z)

Both Parties Pretend to Write Laws Addressing Terrorism

The terrorist attack in Paris has generated a flurry of make-believe legislating in Congress, with both parties proposing antiterrorist legislation that has no chance in the world of being enacted into law. But that is not the goal. The goal is to embarrass the other party and provide material to attack its members in 2016. The strategies are slightly different, however.

The Republicans' bill imposes tough new screening requirements on all Syrian refugees trying to get into the U.S. on top of the already tough requirements in place. The intention of the bill is to make the new requirements so onerous that the U.S. can claim it is admitting all qualified refugees but in practice makes sure very few refugees qualify. If the Democrats vote against it, next year the Republicans will claim that Democrats are not willing to put "sensible" restrictions on who is admitted into the U.S., thus letting in potential terrorists.

The Democrats are trying to close what they call the "terror gap." They have noted that the Paris terrorists were all E.U. citizens and thus entitled to visit the U.S. as tourists with no vetting and no restrictions as part of the visa waiver program. All citizens of visa-waiver countries (such as Belgium and France) need to come to the U.S. is the money for the plane ticket and a passport. This includes would-be terrorists, who don't even have to be concerned about which frequent-flyer program their airline belongs to because they figure the place they will soon end up is not served by any airline.

Furthermore, any E.U. citizen admitted under the waiver program—even as a tourist—is permitted to purchase any weapons legally available for sale. In particular, suspected terrorists on the FBI's watch list are allowed to legally purchase military-grade semi-automatic assault rifles in any state that has not banned their sale under state law. The Democrats want to pass a bill saying that suspected terrorists who are in the U.S. legally may not purchase military weaponry that could be used in a terrorist attack. The Republicans oppose any "gun control legislation" and will vote no on this. This will allow the Democrats to say "Republican X voted to allowed suspected terrorists to buy military weapons that could be used in a terrorist attack.

In short, it is all for show. No laws are likely to be enacted to reduce the threat of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. (V)

Cruz and Rubio Begin Attacking Each Other on Terrorism

We may be getting a preview now of the end stage of the Republican primaries, with Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) going after each other on foreign policy and terrorism. Each one is trying to prove that the other one is as bad as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who is something of an isolationist and thus not popular with the hawks. Cruz is making a big deal about defining the problem as "radical Islam" and proposing more bombing in Syria without too much regard for civilian casualties. Not to be outdone, Rubio has outlined his plan to defeat ISIS. His main items are:

  • Expand airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq
  • Embed U.S. Special Operations Forces to assist Iraqi and other forces
  • Develop a plan to oust Bashar al-Assad from power
  • Provide arms directly to Sunni and Kurdish forces
  • Work with Baghdad to increase Sunni inclusion and autonomy for the provinces
  • Push back against Iran
  • Coordinate with allies to plan for Assad's fall and afterwards
  • Protect religious minorities across the region

At the very least, it is a bit more sophisticated than "bomb civilians." (V)

Carson Unveils His ISIS Plan

In addition to sharing his views on Syrian refugees, Ben Carson found time this week to produce an editorial outlining his strategy for defeating ISIS. The executive summary: He wants to follow the lead of hacktivist group Anonymous, and to beat them into submission with an Internet propaganda campaign.

As tech site Motherboard observes, this is a very poor plan in a number of ways:

  1. It does not sound like something that would work
  2. Experts don't think it would work
  3. Anonymous has been fighting ISIS in this way for a year, and it hasn't worked
  4. The U.S. government has been fighting ISIS in this way for two years (via Twitter), and it hasn't worked

We already know that Ben Carson is not great on his feet when it comes to discussing foreign policy in a debate or an interview. But if he cannot come up with a meaningful idea even when he has time to carefully choose his words (or, more likely, to carefully choose someone to write "his" words for him), it is...instructive. (Z)

Carson Compares Syrian Refugees to Mad Dogs

Yesterday in Mobile, Alabama, Ben Carson said: "If there is a rabid dog running around your neighborhood, you're probably not going to assume something good about that dog." Carson then went on to compare the Syrian refugees to mad dogs and added: "By the same token, we have to have in place screening mechanisms that allow us to determine who the mad dogs are." His solution to the problem of the refugees is to cut off funding for the programs used to bring them to the U.S. (V)

Mayors Fight Governors on Refugees

The governors of 31 states, mostly Republicans, have announced that they don't want any Syrian refugees in their states. Such declarations are legally meaningless since the federal government has complete control of immigration, but the intention is entirely political as the governors all know they have no way to prevent the federal government from putting refugees in their states.

Now new voices are being heard in the matter: mayors. Democratic mayors of large cities in Republican states are saying that refugees are definitely welcome in their cities. For example, Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) made it clear that refugees are not welcome in Florida, but Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) of Tallahassee, the state's capital, equally clearly said that refugees are quite welcome in his city. In Illinois, the Republican governor said "no refugees here" but the Chicago city council voted to accept them. Similar collisions have happened in Arizona, New Mexico, and Louisiana, among other states. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Nov19 Rubio Skips Intelligence Briefing for Fundraiser
Nov19 Catholic Bishops Declare Same-sex Marriage To Be an Intrinsic Evil
Nov19 Obama Says Republicans Are Helping ISIS Recruit New Terrorists
Nov19 Republicans All Striking a Pose
Nov19 Democrats Can Also Be Jingoistic
Nov19 Paris Terrorists Communicated Using Unencrypted Text Messages
Nov19 Democrats Release Autopsy of the 2014 Elections
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Nov18 Jindal Calls It Quits
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Nov18 Carson's Advisers Say He Doesn't Understand Foreign Policy
Nov18 Clinton Picks Up Major Union Endorsement
Nov18 Vitter Trailing in Louisiana Gubernatorial Race
Nov18 Salt Lake City Elects an Openly Lesbian Mayor
Nov18 Words Matter, Part II: Terrorism
Nov17 Steve King Endorses Ted Cruz
Nov17 Will the Paris Attacks Really Be a Game Changer?
Nov17 Words Matter, Part I: Declaring War
Nov17 The World Is Not As Dangerous As You Think
Nov17 O'Malley Reduces Headquarters Staff
Nov17 Poll: Americans Like Old Presidents
Nov17 Interested in a Sane Horse Race Debate Right Now?
Nov16 Polls: Clinton Won the Debate
Nov16 Republicans Urge Aggressive Action after Attacks on Paris
Nov16 Can Donald Trump Survive?
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Nov16 Trump's Wall Would Not Be the Only One
Nov16 The General Election Campaigns Are Pointless
Nov16 Marco Likes Susana
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
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Nov12 GOP Debate Postmortem
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