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

Supreme Court Likely to Move to Center Stage

Last week, we pointed out that the advanced age and/or declining health of several justices is likely to make "Who would you appoint?" an important question during the 2016 campaign. A few controversial decisions could push that question right to the forefront. And, as chance would have it, the Supreme Court will be taking up quite a few hot-button issues in the term that began last week. The New York Times has a detailed rundown, but here is the executive summary:

  • In Fisher v. University of Texas, the Court will again look at the legality of affirmative action, in this instance involving a white student who was denied admission to the University of Texas despite competitive (though not outstanding) grades and test scores.

  • In Evenwel v. Abbott, the plaintiffs argue that ineligible voters—children, convicted felons, illegal immigrants, etc.—should not be counted as "population" for purposes of representation in Congress. Inasmuch as these groups tend to be concentrated in urban (read: Democratic) areas, the purpose of the suit is to expand Republican representation.

  • In several cases, the Court will consider various issues relating to imposition of capital punishment. The most explosive of these, potentially, is Foster v. Humphrey, a Georgia case in which the district attorney's office took aggressive—and very likely unethical—steps to make certain that a black man accused of murder was tried by an all-white jury.

  • In Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, the Court is being asked to reconsider its previous ruling that non-members of public sector unions can be compelled to help bear the financial costs of non-political work the union does on their behalf (such as negotiating contracts). Friedrichs believes that everything a union does is inherently political, and so the "political activism" exemption should extend to all of the union dues she is compelled to pay, as opposed to some of them.

  • In a number of cases, the Court will evaluate restrictive laws imposed on abortion clinics, mostly in Southern states. These laws generally dictate that clinics' doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and/or that clinics meet the same equipment and staffing standards as ambulatory surgical centers (in other words, emergency rooms). Supporters of these laws claim that they increase safety at the clinics, opponents argue that they create impossibly high standards meant to put clinics out of business.

As followers of SCOTUS know, the court has four liberal justices and four conservative justices, with the center-right Anthony Kennedy providing the deciding vote much of the time (along with an occasional surprise from John Roberts). Kennedy leans conservative on affirmative action and unions, liberal on voting rights and capital punishment, and has gone in both directions on abortion rights. So, both parties will likely be unhappy by the end of the term. (Z)

Biden May Have Leaked Son's Dying Wish to Help His Campaign

When Vice President Joe Biden talked to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, he painted a picture of a father grieving over his son's death and trying to come to grips with his son's dying wish that he run for President. After Dowd published a column about the meeting, there was an outpouring of sympathy for Biden. Politico now has a story about how this "leak" to Dowd (who famously dislikes the Clintons) was part of a carefully calculated plan to generate a groundswell of support for a potential run. The idea is that his campaign wouldn't be a calculated attempt to try and take advantage of her email troubles, but would be on a higher moral plane.

If the Politico story proves to be correct, the leak could blow up in his face. He might well be instantly transformed from highly sympathetic grieving father to cold-hearted opportunist willing to exploit even the death of his own son. Time will tell. (V & Z)

The Case "For" and "Against" Rubio

Many political observers (including us) think the fever will eventually break and the Republicans will nominate a serious, electable candidate. Basically, that means Jeb Bush, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Bush has been hugely disappointing on the campaign trail. Kasich is not doing nearly as well as one would expect of a politician who has been in elected office for over 20 years. That leaves Rubio as #1.

Michael Tomasky wrote a good analysis of Rubio's strengths and weaknesses, as follows.

Rubio's strengths
  • He's young, enthusiastic, and telegenic and Hillary's no Spring chicken
  • The media can't get enough of him, whereas they actively dislike Clinton
  • He's a Latino and Republicans desperately need the Latino vote
  • He seems reasonable and friendly so it will be hard for Clinton to paint him as a right-wing extremist

Rubio's weaknesses
  • Clinton will attack him as a "young candidate with very old ideas"
  • Women are not going to go for a total ban on abortion, even in case of rape or incest
  • He's a Latino all right but one against a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants
  • The electoral college still favors the Democrats, even if they concede Florida

No doubt more items will turn up in both lists over time. (V)

Trump Sends Rubio a Case of Bottled Water

Donald Trump's strategy seems to be trying to rattle his opponents by finding and exploiting some personal weakness. He said that Jeb Bush was "low energy" and implied that Carly Fiorina was ugly. He labeled famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson an "okay doctor." More recently, Trump has accused Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) of being "sweaty." To make this point more clearly he sent Rubio a case of 24 bottles of water. This move was also a dig at Rubio's 2013 State of the Union rebuttal, during which Rubio reached for a bottle of water right in the middle of his televised response. (V)

Emailgate May Show that Clinton Would Be an Effective President

Hillary Clinton formally violated the rules by using a private email server (although so did Colin Powell before her). In fact, she has a long history of working at (or beyond) the ethical edge. Think about cattle futures, trying to redesign the nation's health-care system when she did not hold public office, and more. This tends to get her into hot water often.

However, if she becomes President and the Republicans control the House (very likely), she won't be able to get any laws passed at all. All her power will come from regulations and using executive authority. If she holds true to form, she will push the envelope on everything. She knows better than any other candidate where the levers of power are in Washington and how many pounds of force you can apply to each one before you end up in the Supreme Court. A President Sanders or a President Biden would play nicely by the rules and probably accomplish nothing in the face of constant obstruction by the House. Clinton would be more likely to use technicalities to work her will.

Consider one example that will soon play out. By law, the federal government is allowed to borrow only so much money and it will soon hit that limit, so Congress needs to raise the ceiling. Many Republicans in Congress want to add a rider defunding Planned Parenthood to any bill increasing the limit. There is also a law saying that the Secretary of the Treasury may issue platinum coins of any denomination. These are really intended for collectors, but a President Clinton could instruct the Secretary of the Treasury to issue a bag full of platinum coins, each marked "one trillion dollars" (and each encased in plastic so they don't get scratched, thus reducing their value). Then they would be deposited into the government's account, technically increasing the government's assets and thus vastly decreasing the debt, such that no new debt law would be needed. Legal? Yes. Kosher? No. But this is the kind of thing Clinton would be far more willing to do than Sanders or Biden. (V)

Jindal Spins Out of Control

We, along with many others in the commentariat, believe that Jindal 2016 is on death's door. The campaign has been working hard to counteract this perception, so today they proudly announced on Twitter that Jindal was "on the move" in Iowa polling, rising to a fifth-place tie with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz with 5% of the vote.

Whomever is advising Bobby Jindal (or, at least, is running his Twitter account) should be fired immediately. The message this Tweet sends is not "we have momentum" or "we are on the move." Instead, it says, "we are desperate" and "we are grasping at straws." It is not even necessary to guess that this is the case; the choice of platform means that there is insta-feedback available. And the replies made since the message was posted this morning tell the tale. For example:

  • LOL. In what fantasy world is coming in fifth a success story?
  • At the rate you're going, you might make it to 50% around the time hell freezes over.
  • If this meteoric rise continues, Jindal will be the Republican presidential candidate sometime in 2017.
  • On the move? To what? Announcing you are dropping out?
  • Congratulations, you get a participation ribbon.

This is not selective editing; the Tweet did not receive a single positive response amongst all the derision. Needless to say, this does nothing to change our prediction that the Jindal campaign reaches the end of the line sometime around Halloween. (Z)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster
Oct06 States Change Primary Dates and Rules
Oct06 Democrats Get Nearly All the Senate Candidates They Wanted
Oct06 Fiorina took 4 Years to Pay Off Campaign Debt
Oct06 Freedom Caucus Growing More Unified
Oct06 Clinton's First Ad Focuses on Benghazi
Oct06 One Issue Where Hillary Clinton is to the Left of Bernie Sanders
Oct05 Hassan Will Run for the Senate in New Hampshire
Oct05 Clinton Gets A Big Endorsement
Oct05 What is Biden's Actual Deadline?
Oct05 Tomorrow's Polling...Today?
Oct05 Is Hyperpolarization the Real Reason Outsiders Are Doing Well?
Oct05 McCain Tells Republicans to Be Nice To Each Other
Oct05 Bush's List of Unfortunate Comments Is Growing
Oct05 Hillary vs. Bernie
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