Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1236,   Dem: 2242
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

McCarthy Admits Beghazi Hearings Are about Damaging Hillary

Since the United States House Select Committee on Benghazi began its work in 2014, Republicans have insisted that the investigation was a valuable exercise—an opportunity to critically evaluate national security, to assess the performance of Hillary Clinton and other functionaries, and to do justice for the victims of the bombing. Democrats, by contrast, have called it a "political witch hunt." Yesterday, would-be Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) seemingly admitted that the Democrats were correct, telling Sean Hannity that, "Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she's untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought."

McCarthy was attempting to illustrate that he would be a "tougher" Speaker than John Boehner who would not be afraid to do battle with Democrats. What he did, instead, was effectively damage himself rather than Clinton. Several prominent Congressional Republicans denounced the remarks very quickly and very loudly. So too did the commentariat—RedState, for example, called McCarthy a "clown" and insisted he withdraw his name from consideration for the Speakership. The misstep was a double whammy for the congressman: Not only did it create a negative backlash at an inopportune time, it also raises serious questions about his judgment. If he can't stay out of hot water when he should be on his best behavior, how can he be trusted to handle the daily grind of political gamesmanship and intensive media attention that comes with being the Speaker? Also, it probably does not help that there was once another member of Congress named McCarthy who used congressional committees to undermine his liberal political enemies.

Hillary Clinton, right on cue, condemned McCarthy's remarks. However, in private, she is undoubtedly delighted. The Benghazi scandal never quite had the resonance that anti-Clintonites had hoped for, and now it is effectively a dead issue. Those who want to undermine Hillary 2016 will have to focus on email servers or come up with something new. (Z)

Virginia Republicans Admit They Gerrymandered Districts

It is rare when a politician tells the truth (which the media refer to a a "gaffe") but it does happen occasionally (see above). Even rarer is when an entire party openly tells the complete truth—and in a court filing no less. But that is what has happened in a Virginia court case in which the state legislature is being accused of gerrymandering the state's congressional districts. In 2012 Obama won Virginia by 3 points but the Republicans won 8 of Virginia's congressional districts. The map is being contested by Democrats as unconstitutionally gerrymandered. In their defense, the Republicans have stated that they drew the map to maximize the number of Republican seats they could get. The Supreme Court has never banned this practice because it has said the state legislatures have wide discretion in drawing their maps. What the state legislatures may not do is draw maps to minimize minority representation in Congress. So if the Republicans in the Virginia drew the map to maximize the number of Republicans elected, the map is legal but if it were drawn to maximize the number of white people elected (which in Virginia, is kind of the same thing), it would be illegal. (V)

GOP Doesn't Get Preferred Candidate in Colorado Senate Race

Probably the only Democratic senator who is vulnerable in 2016 is Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). The Republicans had staked their hopes of beating him on Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler. Unfortunately for them, Brauchler just announced he is not going to run for the Senate. This leaves a big hole in the GOP's plans as there is really no other top-quality alternative. They will find someone, of course, but Bennet just gave a huge sigh of relief. (V)

HP Employees Haven't Contributed to Fiorina's Campaign

To hear Carly Fiorina tell it, her tenure at Hewlett-Packard was tough but fair. Her former employees don't seem to see it like that. According to FEC filings, of the 302,000 employee at HP, not a single one has donated a reportable amount ($200 or more) to her campaign. That would appear to indicate that she was not extremely popular with her former employees. The current CEO of HP, Meg Whitman, who ran for governor of California the same year (2010) that Fiorina ran for the Senate there, and like Fiorina was crushed, has not given a reportable amount to her campaign. Two HP board members have made a contribution. One of them, venture capitalist Tom Perkins, has apparently had a change of heart about her since in 2005 he voted with the majority of the board to fire her. (V)

Has the Email Story Hurt Hillary?

The saga of Hillary Clinton's email goes on and on, mostly pushed by sources whose only purpose in pushing it is to hurt Clinton. An earlier example of this kind of reporting concerns ebola, a highly infectious news story that raged unchecked just before the 2014 election. The Hill, a Republican-oriented newspaper that is supposedly nonpartisan and which covers Congress had 28 stories on ebola on the front page on Oct. 17, 2014, two weeks before the election. All of them were critical of the Obama administration's approach, which was to let public health authorities make the decisions, which they did and which resulted in only a handful of cases in the U.S. But from 28 front page stories in one day, readers could reasonably conclude that ebola was a threat on the order of the black plague of 1349, which killed 40% of the population of Europe. Amazingly, the day after the election, ebola was apparently magically cured and disappeared from view and never came back. Think of Clinton's email as infected with a virus, but one like ebola.

Nevertheless, one can ask: "How much damage has the email story done to Clinton?" Fivethirtyeight did a story on this question. The first conclusion was not much damage in the primary. Clinton's favorability ratings have remained fairly constant although she has dropped in the polls vs. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), but that is more due to many Democrats liking what he is saying rather than them thinking she was hiding some dark secret in the emails she deleted. For the general election, unless she is indicted (very unlikely), probably not much damage either. The people who are carrying on about the server are people who would never ever vote for her under any conditions.

An analogy is the scandal that Barack Obama had with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright in 2008. It was a huge scandal at the time, dominating the news much more than the email story. But in the end, it vanished and had almost no effect. The email story is being perpetuated by (1) news sources that hate Clinton and simply want to damage her any way they can and (2) reporters who have been assigned to write about her and can't find any other news. If Vice President Joe Biden jumps into the race, probably the second group will switch to Clinton vs. Biden stories as being more interesting. If he doesn't, it may continue for a while.

A lot of what the pundits think is wrong. Almost every pundit wrote that when Donald Trump criticized John McCain's war record, that would be the end of Trump. It had no such effect. Then when he went after Megyn Kelly, they were sure that was the end of him. Wrong again. Most likely the email story will be long gone before the general election even starts. (V)

Hillary Will Be 'Live, from New York!' This Weekend

Hillary Clinton has decided it is time to upgrade from the cold and aloof Hillary Clinton 5.1 (rev. B) to a new, improved, warm and fuzzy Hillary Clinton 6.0. Consequently, she is making the rounds of non-political shows whose viewership skews young and/or liberal, including The Tonight Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Lena Dunham's online project Lenny. This weekend, as she did in 2008, the Democratic frontrunner is scheduled to make an appearance on Saturday Night Live.

The first important politician to appear on the show (in three short, prerecorded segments) was Gerald Ford, almost 40 years ago. Saturday Night Live was considerably edgier back then, and tended to wear its liberal politics on its sleeve. The Ford episode, which was hosted by White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen, did not do the President any favors. The non-telegenic Ford came off as silly and lacking in gravitas, and was roundly criticized in the press for his involvement. Reportedly, the President's son Jack was so angry that he wanted Nessen fired over the incident. The point is that there is some risk associated with appearing on a late-night, sometimes-risque, youth-oriented show on which the candidate (or officeholder) has no control over content or messaging. Jesse Jackson and Steve Forbes had poor showings, as well, while George W. Bush and Dick Cheney—among others—simply refused to to appear.

With that risk, however, comes the potential for some fairly juicy rewards. Few shows reach the demographic that SNL does, and even fewer have the ability to confer an imprimatur of being hip, likable, and/or down-to-earth. Al Gore's performance on the show may have singlehandedly allowed him to shed a reputation for being bland and robotic. Rudy Giuliani cemented his image as "America's Mayor" with his warm but witty banter on the first episode of the show to air after the 9/11 attacks. John McCain, Ralph Nader, Barack Obama, and even Janet Reno have all made well-received appearances. Hillary Clinton's first foray, where she mirrored Amy-Poehler-as-Hillary, was very successful. Now, we will see how she does on the second go-round. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Oct01 Congressional Glass Ceiling Is Firmly in Place
Oct01 Straight-Ticket Voting Could Hurt Democrats
Oct01 Sanders Approaches Clinton in the Money Race
Oct01 Republicans Consider New Primary Systems for 2020
Oct01 October Run-down of the Republican Candidates
Sep30 Background Information on the New Hampshire Primary
Sep30 Republicans' Tax Plans Are Being Scored
Sep30 Increasingly, Donors Want To Do More Than Just Donate
Sep30 Republicans Are Increasingly Unhappy with the Direction of the Country
Sep30 The Horse Race Depicted as a Horse Race
Sep30 Trump Tower starting to Lean
Sep30 FEC has Questions for Ted Cruz PAC
Sep29 Are the Iowa Caucuses Any Good at Predicting the Nominees?
Sep29 Next President Likely to Appoint Multiple Supreme Court Justices
Sep29 Donald Trump Reveals His Tax Plan
Sep29 Biden More Popular than Hillary?
Sep29 Shutdown Averted, for Now
Sep29 Clinton Finally Acknowledges Sanders
Sep28 Introducing a New Contributor: Zenger
Sep28 Is There A Third-Term Curse?
Sep28 New Poll Shows Trump Sagging
Sep28 Bush's Donors Are Starting to Get Nervous
Sep28 Republicans Overestimate the Power of Identity Politics
Sep28 Straw Polls Are Not Worth the Paper They're Written On
Sep28 Reading the Bobby Jindal Tea Leaves
Sep27 Could Boehner's Departure End the Gridlock Temporarily?
Sep27 The Media Are Always Preaching to the Choirs
Sep27 Boehner's Downfall is Infecting the Presidential Race
Sep27 Bill Clinton Is Back on the Trail
Sep26 Boehner Quits
Sep26 Conservatives Will Now Gun for McConnell
Sep26 Will The Pope's Visit Affect the 2016 Elections?
Sep25 The Pope Gives a Left-Wing Speech to Congress
Sep25 Democrats Are trying to Piggyback on the Pope's Speech
Sep25 Senate Rejects Efforts to Defund Planned Parenthood
Sep25 The Problem with Safe Districts
Sep25 Bush Says Blacks Want Hope, Not Free Stuff
Sep25 Why Does Donald Trump Say Marco Rubio is Sweaty?
Sep25 Ignore All Polls in 2015
Sep24 Pope Making Republicans Squirm
Sep24 Dissecting Walker in a Postmortem
Sep24 Republicans Begin to Go After Trump
Sep24 Dark Money is Up Fivefold Compared to 2012
Sep24 Democrats Debate Debates
Sep24 Rubio Passes Bush in Florida
Sep23 Clinton (Finally) Opposes the Keystone Pipeline
Sep23 Super PAC Money is Not the Same as Campaign Money
Sep23 Bush Is Having Trouble with Sound Bites
Sep23 Obamacare Seems to be Working
Sep23 Does Business Experience Matter?