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

Cruz Moves into Second Place in Iowa as Carson Tumbles

The Iowa strategy employed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seems to be paying off. He sat quietly on the sidelines and let Donald Trump and Ben Carson suck up all the oxygen, figuring, correctly as it appears, that when they started to collapse, he would pick up their support. According to new CBS/YouGov polls, Cruz is now #2 in Iowa and he is tied with Carson for #3 in New Hampshire. In South Carolina he is #4. Here are the numbers:

Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 30%
2 Ted Cruz 21%
3 Ben Carson 19%
4 Marco Rubio 11%
5 Jeb Bush 5%
6 Carly Fiorina 4%
7 Chris Christie 2%
7 Rand Paul 2%
7 Rick Santorum 2%
10 Mike Huckabee 1%
11 John Kasich 1%
  Jim Gilmore <1%
  Lindsey Graham <1%
  George Pataki <1%
New Hampshire
Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 32%
2 Marco Rubio 13%
3 Ted Cruz 10%
3 Ben Carson 10%
5 John Kasich 8%
6 Jeb Bush 6%
6 Carly Fiorina 6%
6 Rand Paul 6%
9 Chris Christie 5%
10 Rick Santorum 1%
10 Lindsey Graham 1%
10 Mike Huckabee 1%
  Jim Gilmore <1%
  George Pataki <1%
South Carolina
Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 35%
2 Ben Carson 19%
3 Marco Rubio 16%
4 Ted Cruz 13%
5 Jeb Bush 5%
6 Lindsey Graham 3%
7 Carly Fiorina 2%
7 John Kasich 2%
7 Mike Huckabee 2%
10 Chris Christie 1%
10 Rand Paul 1%
10 Rick Santorum 1%
  Jim Gilmore <1%
  George Pataki <1%

While Trump hasn't lost much, Carson is dropping in Iowa and New Hampshire. He is largely supported by evangelicals, who are much more numerous in Iowa than in New Hampshire, and as they begin to desert him as a result of all the outrageous things he has been saying, they are gravitating to Cruz, just as Cruz had expected. (V)

Nationally, Little Has Changed Since Before the Paris Attacks

Nationally, evangelicals are not as numerous as they are in Iowa, so their defection from Carson to Cruz is not so noticeable. In a WaPo/ABC poll Trump and Carson are still #1 and #2 as they were last month. Here are the results.

Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 32%
2 Ben Carson 22%
3 Marco Rubio 11%
4 Ted Cruz 8%
5 Jeb Bush 6%
6 Carly Fiorina 4%
7 Rand Paul 3%
7 Mike Huckabee 3%
7 John Kasich 3%
10 Chris Christie 2%
11 Rick Santorum 1%
12 Lindsey Graham 1%
  George Pataki <1%
  Jim Gilmore <1%

What is fairly consistent across the four polls above is that the key players are Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz, and Bush. Also noteworthy here is that nowhere does Trump top 35%. That seems to be his ceiling as he is unlikely to pick up much support when the likes of George Pataki and Jim Gilmore finally give up. He is not a typical second choice. Either you love him or you hate him. You don't settle for him. Despite the Fox poll cited below, you don't win general elections with 1/3 of the Republican vote.

Chris Cillizza, a respected political analyst at the Washington Post, published his list of likely Republican nominees today. From most likely to least likely it is: Rubio, Trump, Cruz, Carson, Bush, Kasich, and Christie. Our list has Cruz and Trump switched and Carson much further down—and that was before he began saying things that completely disqualified him. We think Cillizza is taking Carson's polling much too seriously and discounting how much the Republican establishment will do to take him down if he begins to get close to the nomination. (V)

Six Different Republicans Would Beat Hillary Clinton?

Fox News has released a new poll in which they reveal that six members of the Republican field—Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Gov. Chris Christie—would defeat Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head matchup, while a seventh—Carly Fiorina—is in a statistical tie.

Who does Fox think it is fooling? Well, based on the Nielsens, we know who they think they're fooling. But does the network really believe that a candidate who cannot even make the main stage at the GOP debates would handily defeat Hillary Clinton? Probably it does not. In the end, the poll is only useful for one purpose: As a reminder of how to think about general election polls at this point in the process (and, in many ways, throughout the process). A few points worth remembering:

  1. Aggregates of polls and polls asking the same question every month can be useful, even this early in the process. We can draw conclusions about the relative strength of Ben Carson and Donald Trump, or whether or not Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seems to be building momentum. By contrast, polls that try to predict what voters will do 360 days from now are meaningless. Just ask President Giuliani or President Perry.

  2. The source and sample of the poll should be taken into consideration. In the methodology section, Fox attempts to demonstrate how fair and balanced its poll is, having been conducted by one Republican and one Democratic organization working together: "The Fox News Poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R)." The problem is that Fox polls still have a pronounced Republican house effect, between +0.5% and +1% for the GOP. The sample for this poll appears to be particularly unrepresentative—reporting in at 43% Republicans and 36% Democrats. In fact, the voting public is roughly the mirror image of those numbers. This alone completely disqualifies the polls.

  3. Predicting what the 2016 electorate will look like, at this point, is a fool's errand. If Donald Trump is the GOP candidate, for example, there could be well above average minority turnout. If there are more attacks like the ones on Paris, the hawks could show up in huge numbers. If the South's Voter ID laws are allowed to stand, many black voters may not be voting. If the economy goes downhill, the 99% could show up to vote. We just do not know this far out.

  4. Comparing most (or all) of the Republican candidates to Hillary Clinton is, at the moment, comparing apples to pineapples. Clinton is a known commodity, warts and all. People have been given plenty of reasons not to like her. By contrast, the Republican field is relatively unknown. How much does the average voter really know about, say, Carly Fiorina? Or even Jeb Bush? When politicians gain traction, the media start to do a little focused vetting and the candidates tend to see their support shrink. See, for example, Ben Carson in the last couple of weeks. Clinton has already had that vetting. And in case the media are lax about vetting the eventually Republican nominee, Clinton will spend a few hundred million dollars doing it for them.

  5. This site, like fivethirtyeight.com and a handful of others, is founded upon a basic fact that polls tend to obscure: The President of the United States is not chosen by popular vote, but instead by the Electoral College. It is well within the realm of possibility that a candidate's support could be overwhelming in some geographic areas and very weak in others. A candidate who gets 80% of the vote in the Deep South but loses Ohio, Colorado, and Virginia by 1% is not going to be President, no matter how high his national poll score is.

Put another way: It is instructive that the map at the top of this page will not switch to the presidential horse race until after the nominees are known. And for good reasons. (Z)

Trump Doing a Thriving Trade in Bigotry

Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign with a screed against Mexican immigrants, and continues to return to that well. This weekend's target was black people. On Saturday, he tweeted a graphic that "reveals"—among other things—that most murders of white people in America are at the hands of black people. The problem is that the graphic, the work of the obviously-fake "Crime Statistics Bureau," is a fabrication (the Washington Post article has the correct numbers, to the extent that they are known). This follows on the heels of an incident where Trump supporters assaulted a black protestor at a Trump rally. The Donald's response: "Maybe he should have been roughed up. It was disgusting what he was doing."

Trump also found time for some anti-Muslim rhetoric this weekend. Several times, including in an interview with George Stephanopoulos, he insisted that he saw thousands of American Muslims cheering on their rooftops after the 9/11 attacks. As Stephanopoulos pointed out, and as several media outlets have since verified, that simply did not happen. Indeed, Trump's certainty that he is right says less about what actually happened, and more about the manner in which he perceives Muslims and imagines their behavior. As anyone who studies memory will affirm, recollections like this are constructed and re-constructed over and over by the human mind until the memory is not "as it was" but instead "how I think it should have been."

Trump is doing very well with his demagoguery thus far, and so it is not surprising that he continues to double down on it. However, he might take note of an incident that took place at the Latin Grammys last week. Several artists took advantage of the spotlight the event afforded in order to exhort the audience "don't vote for the racists." Trump surely doesn't care what happens at the Latin Grammys, but he should. To be elected president, it is not enough to capture the white vote—a bare minimum of 40% of the Latino vote is also necessary. Failing that, he will need a much larger percentage of Asian-Americans and blacks than Romney got, which is unlikely. These communities are not going to forget what he has said in the next 11 months. So that 40% is looking pretty tenuous. And if a Trump candidacy motivates otherwise apathetic voters to go to the polls in order to defeat him, then the math gets even worse, both in terms of the presidency, and downticket. Indeed, the damage could easily linger beyond this election—if the Republican Party acquires a "party of racists" label, it could be generational. It should not surprise us, then, that the Republican establishment is now mobilizing to defeat Trump. Beyond being an almost certain loser, he is an absolute disaster for their brand. (Z)

Trump Refuses To Rule Out a Third-Party Run

Despite his having signed a piece of paper saying that if he lost the Republican nomination he would not run as an independent, Donald Trump is once again talking about running as an independent if he fails to get the Republican nomination. Why the change of heart? As we reported here Saturday, a group has been formed with the specific goal of taking down Trump. It is collecting money from anonymous donors and will run attack ads against Trump as soon as it has the funds. Trump's announcement is pushback on that project. He is basically saying: "Don't play with fire. If you use dirty tricks to get rid of me, I'll run as an independent and elect Hillary."

Actually, there are two Super PACs that are going to go after Trump, the neutral one run by Liz Mair and New Day for America, which is run by friends of Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) (which we mentioned on Friday). The latter group picked up 10 new donors in the past two days and seems to be getting off the ground first. While Super PACs may not coordinate with candidates, they may coordinate with each other, and may well yet do that. (V)

Is the United States #1?

Much of Donald Trump's support comes from people who feel the country is not doing well and getting worse, but is that objectively true? A study from the OECD shows that on some metrics, the U.S. is definitely number one. These include GDP, per-capita income, and having the five biggest companies in the world. But in overall well-being, the U.S. doesn't even make the top 10. It is 15th. Some of the factors that pull the U.S. down include:

  • Poor work-life balance (Americans work more hours per week and more weeks per year than other people do)
  • Americans get relatively little sleep and have less leisure time than people in many countries
  • Health is a problem; Americans the fattest nation in the study, with 35% overweight
  • Wealth is distributed very unevenly compared to other countries
  • Childhood poverty is rampant in the U.S.
  • The birth rate among 15-19 year olds is higher than every country studied except Mexico and Chile
  • The murder rate in the U.S. is second highest; only Mexico is higher

While most people don't know the global statistics, they feel all these problems and it generates a sense of anxiety. Trump has been able to exploit that feeling brilliantly so far. (V)

Will 2016 "Shatter" the Republican Party?

Politics, as they say, makes strange bedfellows. In some ways, that is the defining characteristic of the American electoral system: Because a presidential victory requires an absolute majority in the Electoral College, the Republicans and Democrats (and the Whigs, Federalists, and Democratic-Republicans before them) are/were compelled to squeeze many different competing factions into the same tent. Sometimes a coalition becomes unworkable, and a party is forced to slowly (or quickly) reinvent itself. When this happens, scholars call it a "realigning election."

The current splintered Republican field, with different groups of candidates drawing support from very different factions, suggests that the party's coalition may no longer be tenable. So will 2016 be a realigning election for the GOP? Stanley B. Greenberg, writing in the Washington Post, thinks so. The money quote:

It is easy to imagine, then, that after the coming shattering election, some Republican leaders will repudiate this campaign's anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim appeals and actively embrace the United States as an immigrant nation. Other leaders might accept the sexual revolution and the new gender roles and work to help the modern working family. Others might embrace again the need for national investment in education and modern infrastructure.

It is an interesting piece, though of course it assumes information not yet in evidence, most obviously that the Republicans suffer a major defeat in 2016. If they win, or even if it is close, the election will be seen as an affirmation of the GOP's status quo. It is also worth noting that many analysts wrote similar pieces in 2012, and realignment did not come to pass. Heck, in the Gilded Age (1870s-1900s), analysts were writing articles like this about the Democratic Party for decades. If the Republicans ultimately nominate someone like Rubio and he wins or comes close, there won't be a realignment, but if they nominate Trump or Carson and he is crushed, all hell will break loose. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Nov22 David Vitter's Political Career Ends
Nov22 Clinton and Sanders Duel on Health Care
Nov22 Clinton is Trying to Lock Up the Nomination Quickly
Nov22 Kamala Harris' Senate Campaign is in Disarray
Nov22 Is the Bloom Off Ben Carson's Rose?
Nov22 Republican Voters Are Scared
Nov22 Why Do Poor People Vote Republican?
Nov22 ACA Enrollment for 2017 Begins Oct. 1, 2016
Nov21 Republican Operative Plans to Destroy Trump
Nov21 CNN Announces Polling Thresholds for the Dec. 15 Debate
Nov21 Runoff Election in Louisiana is Today
Nov21 How Do the Paris Attacks Affect Individual Candidates
Nov21 What to Do About Islamophobia?
Nov21 Refugees are Not the Problem
Nov21 The Media is to Blame for the Media Circus
Nov20 Nationally, Trump Still Ahead By a Wide Margin
Nov20 Trump Would Require All Muslims to Register with the Government
Nov20 Can Trump Survive the Establishment Onslaught?
Nov20 Rubio Gets Another Big Donor, at Jeb Bush's Expense
Nov20 Both Parties Pretend to Write Laws Addressing Terrorism
Nov20 Cruz and Rubio Begin Attacking Each Other on Terrorism
Nov20 Carson Unveils His ISIS Plan
Nov20 Carson Compares Syrian Refugees to Mad Dogs
Nov20 Mayors Fight Governors on Refugees
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
Nov19 Republicans Have a New Hampshire Problem
Nov19 Seattle Adopts Voucher System for Political Contributions
Nov18 Jindal Calls It Quits
Nov18 Latinos Don't Like Republicans
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?