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

Hassan Will Run for the Senate in New Hampshire

The Democrats got a huge piece of good news yesterday: Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) has decided to run for the Senate in 2016, challenging Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). The DSCC has been doing everything in its power to convince Hassan that she should do this. As a general rule, being governor of a big and important state is a more powerful job than being senator from that state, but for small states, the reverse is true: being senator is the better job. Hassan's decision greatly increases the odds that the seat will flip and also increases the odds that the Democrats will take over the Senate next year.

Democrats are probably now favored to flip seats in Illinois, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. They also have good chances in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Florida and North Carolina are also possibilities. If a Democrat wins the White House, they need to flip four seats to take control of the Senate.

In Illinois, both candidates will be trying to overcome major disabilities. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) suffered a massive stroke several years ago from which he is still recovering. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) lost both of her legs when her military helicopter crashed in Iraq. In Wisconsin, former senator Russ Feingold is trying to reclaim the seat he lost to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). While Johnson is very wealthy, he has been a lackluster senator and Feingold is well known in the state. With an electorate that is far more Democratic than the one of 2010, Feingold is the heavy favorite. Now with Hassan in the race, the Democrats have an excellent chance of picking off all three of these seats (V).

Clinton Gets A Big Endorsement

On Saturday morning, Hillary Clinton made an unscheduled last-minute visit to the headquarters of the National Education Association (NEA). The NEA is the nation's single-largest labor union, with 3.2 million members (the AFL-CIO is the largest labor federation, with 12.5 million people, but is made up of 56 different unions.) Her one-hour pitch to the NEA board was effective, as they overwhelmingly bestowed their endorsement.

Clinton also has the endorsements of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America (500,000 members) and the Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (340,000 members). But this is a particularly big victory for Hillary, especially following on the heels of the International Association of Fire Fighters' Friday announcement that they would not endorse her. This is also a reminder that the Clintons are very shrewd political operators who recognize that, fair or not, all Democratic votes are not created equal. Appearing before the NEA board was, by all accounts, a huge logistical hassle for the Clinton campaign. However, the hour she spent there—courting 175 people who have the power to influence millions of their constituents—was probably more valuable than 100 hours of asking for money to run commercials or 500 hours of appearing at county fairs in Iowa. (Z)

What is Biden's Actual Deadline?

There is no question that Joe Biden is still seriously considering a presidential run. He has been courting the labor vote, making a few selected high-profile public appearances, and has clearly asked President Obama to refrain from throwing his weight behind Hillary Clinton. But how much longer does the Vice President have to actually commit to a run? After all, his opponents are already raising money and building their ground games. Plus, there are debates and other key events, along with important filing deadlines coming up. The conclusion, according to most pundits, is that Biden will pass the point of no return sometime in October or November.

Is this really correct, however? Certainly, the days in which a "dark horse" could emerge—during the conventions, in some cases—are over. And Biden is undoubtedly running out of time to mount a modern, long-haul style campaign that lasts for a year. But history suggests there may be a third path. In 1968, sitting President Lyndon B. Johnson was such a presumptive favorite that sitting Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey did not give any considerations to entering the presidential campaign, even though he badly wanted the job. On March 31, 1968, the unpopular Johnson surprised everyone by throwing in the towel and ending his bid for re-nomination. A "draft Humphrey" movement quickly emerged, and the vice president finally declared on April 27, 1968. Thanks to his name recognition and party connections, he was able to enter enough primaries and raise enough money to claim the Democratic nomination (a development aided by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, though RFK joined only in March).

Very few candidates could wait until the middle of next Spring, but if anyone can, it is Joe Biden. He has universal name recognition and may be the only eligible Democrat in the land who is more connected to Democratic power brokers than Hillary Clinton. If something were to happen to derail the Clinton campaign—for example, the unlikely but not impossible event that she is indicted over her email server—then Biden could step in to pick up the Democratic standard. Indeed, given that he is riding a wave of personal popularity/sympathy that will largely subside once he becomes a candidate, and given that he is prone to verbal gaffes, a "draft Biden" scenario may well be a more viable path to the White House for him that a more traditional "Biden 2016" campaign. As the late Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over until it's over," and it would be wise to wait until a Democratic candidate is officially chosen before we declare Biden out of the race.

A factor that Biden has to consider is what his effect on the race would be. He would hope to get the nomination, of course, but most polling shows him in a close race with Bernie Sanders for second place. When pollsters ask about the race with and without Biden, it is clear that he draws most of his support from Hllary Clinton. Thus his entry is most likely to have the effect of weakening Clinton without actually defeating her. In other words, he might be a spoiler who hurt his party's nominee and increased the chances of the Republicans winning the White House and then undoing all the achievements of the Obama/Biden administration. Is his burning desire to become President worth that risk? (V & Z)

Tomorrow's Polling...Today?

USA Today and Facebook have partnered to create the "Candidate Barometer," a very interesting site that tracks "engagements" between Facebook users and the various candidates for the presidency. The barometer totals the number of times that a post by and/or about a candidate is liked, commented upon, shared, or posted on the site. Bernie Sanders, for example, has 4,946,000 engagements in the last week, Ben Carson has 7,201,000, Hillary Clinton has 7,031,000, Donald Trump has 15,343,000, and Jeb Bush 1,457,000.

Might we be looking at the future of polling here? It's possible. As we have noted (along with many other commentators), traditional polling is in trouble. In particular, it is very difficult to reach young people (who tend not to have landlines, and automatically calling cell phones is illegal), and it is hard to get adequate amounts of data efficiently. Using Facebook data (or Google searches, or Twitter mentions, or the like) corrects for both of these problems.

However, the Facebook data—in particular—raises a host of new issues. The site's users are certainly not representative of the American populace, skewing much whiter, richer, younger, and more urban. Further, the candidate barometer treats all "engagements" as equal. As such, an item entitled "Bernie Sanders single-handedly saves 50 children from a burning building" and one entitled "Bernie Sanders hates puppies, would outlaw them upon becoming president" would both create the impression that people were excited about the Vermont senator, though the effect of one would be very positive and the other would be very negative. Finally, it is a bit unsettling to trust such important data collection to a single company that largely operates in secrecy. If Mark Zuckerberg (or Sergey Brin, or Larry Page) wanted to make Bernie Sanders look like a more viable candidate than Hillary Clinton, they would certainly be able to manipulate the data in order to do so.

In short, polling through Internet data collection—what we might call "cookie polling"—has not yet arrived, and presumably will not in time for 2016. But if the pollsters are wise, they are at least investigating the possibility for future elections. (Z)

Is Hyperpolarization the Real Reason Outsiders Are Doing Well?

Various reasons have been proposed for why outsiders like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and to some extent senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), have done so well this cycle. These include their ability to manipulate the media and the inability or unwillingness of politicians who get elected to fulfill their promises. Another possibility is that the voters are just sick of the hyperpartisanship that has paralyzed Washington for years. When then-Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was asked in 2010 what his top legislative goal was, he said: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." When the goal of a political party is simply to defeat the other party, it makes some voters unhappy. Their hope is that outsiders are free of this kind of hyperpartisanship. (V)

McCain Tells Republicans to Be Nice To Each Other

Yesterday on CNN's "State of the Union" Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attacked the Republican presidential candidates for attacking each other. He cited Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." He said the tenor of the campaign is going to help put Hillary Clinton in the White House. In particular, he is concerned about the feud between Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeb Bush, both of whom need to win Florida's winner-take-all primary on March 15. Florida has 99 delegates to the Republican National Convention. If either of them comes in first, it could be fatal for the other one. (V)

Bush's List of Unfortunate Comments Is Growing

While the late Yogi Berra once said: "I really didn't say everything I said," Jeb Bush really did say all the things he said. Politico has compiled a list of some of Bush's worst gaffes. If he is the Republican nominee, all of these are going to come back to haunt him.

  • "Stuff happens" (about the massacre in Oregon)
  • "People need to work longer hours" (about how to make the economy grow faster)
  • "We need a way to phase out this program" (when speaking about the future of Medicare)
  • "I'm not sure we need half a billion dollars in funding for women's health programs"
  • "Better enforcement so that you dont have these, you know, anchor babies" (about birthright citizenship)
  • "... it's more related to Asian people coming into our country, having children... " (clarifying "anchor babies")
  • "We should not have a multicultural society" (spoken in nearly all-white Iowa)
  • "[Our message is not] we'll take care of you with free stuff" (about winning the black vote)

No one of these is fatal, but together they show that Bush is making a lot of gaffes and shows no sign of it letting up. (V)

Hillary vs. Bernie

Business Insider has a nice infographic that shows how Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) compare on the major issues of the day. Their conclusion is that Sanders is further left than Hillary, but he's hardly a fire-breathing radical, and—in fact—the pair agree on many things. Brandeis professor Robert Kuttner, writing for the Huffington Post, argues much the same, suggesting that Bernie Sanders is about as far left as Harry S. Truman. There is a tendency, this cycle, to present the Vermont Senator as being the Democrats' answer to Ben Carson or Ted Cruz, but it's not true. The conservative candidates are significantly further away from the political center than Sanders is. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Oct04 Sanders Courts Latino Vote
Oct04 The Democrats' Ideas Don't Matter; The Republicans' Do
Oct04 The Real Race is Between Bush, Rubio, and Kasich
Oct04 More Bad News for Bush
Oct04 Illegal Immigrants Could Elect Hillary Clinton
Oct04 Klein Dishes More Dirt on Hillary
Oct03 Trump Still Rides High
Oct03 Five Reasons Why Rubio Might Make It
Oct03 Gore Thinks Television is Ruining American Democracy
Oct03 After Oregon Shooting, Trump Trumps Bush
Oct03 Hitler Is Not A Candidate
Oct03 Trump Still Rides High
Oct03 Five Reasons Why Rubio Might Make It
Oct03 Gore Thinks Television is Ruining American Democracy
Oct03 After Oregon Shooting, Trump Trumps Bush
Oct03 Hitler Is Not A Candidate
Oct02 McCarthy Admits Beghazi Hearings Are about Damaging Hillary
Oct02 Virginia Republicans Admit They Gerrymandered Districts
Oct02 GOP Doesn't Get Preferred Candidate in Colorado Senate Race
Oct02 HP Employees Haven't Contributed to Fiorina's Campaign
Oct02 Has the Email Story Hurt Hillary?
Oct02 Hillary Will Be 'Live, from New York!' This Weekend
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