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

Half the GOP Delegates Will Be Chosen by March 15

The dates for the Republican primaries and caucuses are largely set now. You can see the date for any particular state by putting your cursor on the map above. But another way of looking at the calendar is seeing what percentage of the delegates have been chosen by a specific date. The chart below (with the raw data from the The Green Papers ) shows this.


The "At large" delegates are chosen statewide whereas the "District" delegates are chosen based on congressional or state senate districts. All three RNC members from each state get to go to the convention, since it is formally their show. Some states get bonus delegates for electing Republicans at various levels.

To understand the last two columns, consider Nevada. After Nevada caucuses on Feb. 23, not only will its 30 delegates be chosen, but a total of 133 delegates will have been chosen, which is 5.4% of the total. After March 12, 45.0% of the delegates will have been chosen, all of them proportional to the vote, more or less. After March 15, 57.7% of the delegates will have been chosen and as of March 31, 65.9% will have been chosen.

Now, this is only a rough guide. For example, on Feb. 1, Iowans will choose delegates to the county conventions, who will then caucus and choose delegates to the district conventions, and then onto the state level before the delegates to the national convention are chosen. The distribution of support could change during this process. Also, the fourth column represents the members of the Republican National Committee, who are free to vote for anyone they want to, regardless of their states' vote. Nevertheless, by the beginning of April the preference of almost 2/3 of the delegates will be known and fixed.

That the primaries and caucuses are so front loaded is no accident. RNC chairman Reince Priebus wanted to avoid a knock-down-drag-out fight like in 2012. The idea was to get it over fast. However, because so many of the delegates are chosen in states that divide the delegates proportionally, relatively minor candidates may end up with quite a few delegates, making it harder for anyone to get the 1,237 needed to win.

An obvious consequence of the above table is that while all the pros are counting on getting rid of Donald Trump and Ben Carson in the end, the end had better come before March or the pair is going to start racking up a substantial number of delegates. If, say, they control 25% of the delegates at the convention, even if they are no longer in the race, they could wreak havoc with the planning.

Further, a huge and fragmented field combined with 45% of the delegates being chosen proportionally could conceivably lead to every political junkie's dream: a brokered convention. Even if the field is eventually narrowed to Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Jeb Bush, it is possible that no one has a majority when the convention starts. Needless to say, the party establishment will do everything it can to prevent this scenario, but the rules make it at least plausible, which means that Priebus' strategy could backfire on him (V)

Is Trump's Nomination Inevitable?

Emory University's Alan Abramowitz, one of the most respected political scientists in academia, writes that it is seeming more and more likely that the Republican nominee will be Donald Trump. He gives nine reasons:

  1. Trump is, and has been, dominating the polls
  2. Ben Carson, an even less plausible candidate, is his only real competition
  3. Establishment candidate Marco Rubio is mired in single-digits
  4. GOP voters want "change"
  5. GOP voters like his ideas about terrorism and immigration
  6. A lot of GOP voters would like to see undocumented immigrants deported
  7. Saying crazy things hasn't hurt him yet, so why would any future crazy things hurt him?
  8. He's polling well in the early caucus and primary states
  9. If the GOP tries to take him down, it could backfire, or could lead to an independent run

These are good points, though Abramowitz may be overlooking some important considerations. To start, recall that Ben Carson was actually leading in national polls just a few weeks ago, and he's now in near free fall. There is plenty of time for the Trump house of cards to come tumbling down, and the cause could be something entirely unforeseeable. Second, Trump has fairly well solidified himself as the "outsider" candidate, and seems to have much of that support locked up. But where is his room for growth? The voters defecting from Ben Carson do not appear to be going over to Trump, but instead to Ted Cruz. If 70% of the GOP voters who are not currently supporting Trump line up behind the last remaining establishment candidate—Rubio, Cruz, or Bush—then that candidate will have a majority. (Z)

81% of Americans Don't Trust the Government

A study from the Pew Research Center shows that only 19% of Americans trust the federal government to do the right thing all or most of the time. Of course, Americans are sharply divided on what "the right thing" is, so getting to 50% would already be difficult. For example, if 40% don't trust the government to protect a woman's right to choose and 40% don't trust the government to protect unborn children, you get to 80% pretty fast but there is little the government can do to get to the 78% it was during the Johnson administration. The country is too polarized for that. Here are the results of polls asking this question from the mid-1950s onward.


The graph above is a composite for all Americans, but when it is divided up by partisanship, we get a somewhat different picture. Democrats tend to have a constant view, no matter who the President is, but Republicans' opinion of the government rises sharply with a Republican in the White House and drops sharply when a Democrat occupies the oval office. Still, with so few people trusting the government, it is clear why anti-establishment figures who promise to blow the government up get traction. A lot of people feel the government is not working for them and want to "throw the bums out." This view has been common in the past, but normally "the bums" meant the other party. Now Republicans include their own leaders in the category of "bums." That is new and helps to explain the Trump phenomenon. (V)

Sanders, Trump, and Cruz Make the New Hampshire Ballot

The New Hampshire Ballot Commission has ruled that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Donald Trump, and Ted Cruz may appear on the New Hampshire primary ballots. Sanders was challenged by a Republican on the basis of a New Hampshire state law that says a candidate must be registered to vote in the party whose primary he is running in. Since Vermont does not register voters by party, Sanders got a pass from the commission. The complaint against Trump that he didn't hold Republican values was quickly dealt with.

Cruz is a more complicated case. The issue with him is whether he is a natural-born citizen as required by the Constitution. He was born in Alberta, Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. As we discussed at length before, a child born abroad to one American parent and one foreign parent is a U.S. citizen only if the American parent meets certain additional conditions, in particular, that the American parent lived in the U.S. for a stipulated period of time prior to the birth. Cruz has never proven that his mother met the residence requirements and it is not clear if the commission investigated the matter fully. Be that as it may, he is on the New Hampshire ballot, but may yet face requests for his mother's phone bills and college transcripts to prove her residency. Unlike the nonsense about President Obama's birth certificate, there are legitimate questions about Cruz' citizenship because U.S. law says that merely having an American mother does not automatically convey U.S. citizenship. At the time of his birth, Cruz was (also) a Canadian citizen, but he has subsequently renounced his Canadian citizenship. (V)

Does Clinton Have a "Wall Street" Problem?

The AP has done an analysis of the various disclosure forms that Hillary Clinton has filed, and has concluded that she and her husband have received at least $35 million from financial services, real estate and insurance companies after leaving the White House in 2001. This is, of course, on top of the contributions that the finance industry made to her campaigns for the U.S. Senate in 2000 and 2006.

This could, of course, give credence to the charge made by Bernie Sanders and various Republican candidates that Clinton is in bed with Wall Street. One can imagine "$35 million" becoming a political meme, like "swift boaters" or "binders full of women" or "the 47%." However, this could also prove to be much ado about nothing. To get to that $35 million figure, the AP is blending together money from three rather distinct industries that aren't necessarily on the same page about things (not to mention blending together money made by both Hillary and her husband). And there is no particular reason to think that past fees for services rendered equates to some sort of lifetime indenture—indeed, Clinton could well take an especially hard line against Wall Street to underscore that she has not been bought and paid for. Finally, if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, then Hillary's connections to Wall Street will seem quaint by comparison. (Z)

Clinton Apologizes for Use of Term "Illegal Immigrant"

At a town hall meeting earlier this month, Hillary Clinton—speaking extemporaneously—made reference to "illegal immigrants" as opposed to the more gentle "undocumented immigrants." During a Tuesday Facebook chat sponsored by Telemundo, she apologized for her phrasing, writing:

That was a poor choice of words. As I've said throughout this campaign, the people at the heart of this issue are children, parents, families, DREAMers. They have names, and hopes and dreams that deserve to be respected.

This is going to be a major theme of Clinton's campaign—not necessarily apologizing, per se, but showing a high level of sensitivity to the concerns of Latino voters, and making extra time for events hosted by Telemundo, Univision, and other Spanish-language media (while also being willing, apparently, to snub the progressive group MoveOn). If Clinton gets her Christmas wish and faces Donald Trump in the general election, she will present herself as being the Donald's polar opposite on immigration issues, what with his talk of deportation and walls. In that scenario, she will probably make a few bets with her campaign manager that she can do as well with Latinos as Barack Obama did with black voters in his two campaigns (93%). If Trump is not the candidate, it is still probable that Clinton will be facing a candidate who is trying hard to court the Latino vote, either by virtue of their Cuban heritage (Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio) or their Mexican wife (Bush), thus requiring her to play defense. Whatever the case may be, the Latino vote is shaping up to be a big part of the story in 2016. (Z)

Rubio-backed Provision Could Cripple the ACA

A relatively unknown provision of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") protects insurance companies from losses in the early years of the ACA's operation, when it is expected mainly sick people will enroll. The provision, known as "risk corridors," provides that the Dept. of Health and Human Services reimburse insurance companies for certain losses early on if they take part in the ACA. In 2014, Marco Rubio managed to insert a rider into a spending bill that passed preventing HHS from using money from other programs to fund the risk corridors, with the very real possibility of it being unfunded and insurance companies leaving the exchanges. Rubio's tactical move is being applauded on the right and could help him in the primaries. It is all rather arcane, but if Rubio and Hillary Clinton are the general election candidates, Rubio is now wedded to destroying the ACA whereas Clinton is on record to wanting to keep it and strengthen it. As a result, the healh-care law could be a major battleground in the general election, with tens of millions of people worrying about losing their health insurance. (V)

Kentucky Governor Restores Voting Rights to Some Criminals

In most states, after criminals have served their sentences, it is possible for their voting rights to be restored. This was not true of Kentucky until now. However, outgoing governor Steve Beshear (D-KY) just accomplished the restoration by executive order. Felons who are currently under arrest or who committed especially serious crimes are not eligible. Since criminals tend to come mostly from poor backgrounds, which skew Democratic, Beshear's order will help the Democrats, although in very red Kentucky even the 180,000 new Democrats is not likely to make a difference. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Nov24 Americans Trust Clinton More Than Republicans on Terrorism
Nov24 Republicans Plan for Super Tuesday
Nov24 White Christians No Longer a Majority in the U.S.
Nov24 Rubio Mostly Appeals to Old People
Nov24 Did Carson Also See Muslims Cheering on 9/11, or Maybe Not?
Nov24 Truth Gets Trumped This Election Season
Nov24 The Media Strike Back
Nov24 Four Candidates to Get Equal Time on NBC
Nov24 Veteran Democratic Operative Fears Kasich the Most
Nov23 Cruz Moves into Second Place in Iowa as Carson Tumbles
Nov23 Nationally, Little Has Changed Since Before the Paris Attacks
Nov23 Six Different Republicans Would Beat Hillary Clinton?
Nov23 Trump Doing a Thriving Trade in Bigotry
Nov23 Trump Refuses To Rule Out a Third-Party Run
Nov23 Is the United States #1?
Nov23 Will 2016 Shatter the Republican Party?
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