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

Trump Attacks Carson's Religion

Donald Trump's modus operandi is attacking his opponents on their personal characteristics rather than on their policy positions. Often these attacks are cleverly designed to get under the victim's skin and throw them off. So far he has gone after Jeb Bush (low energy), Carly Fiorina (ugly face), and Marco Rubio (sweaty). Now, with Ben Carson catching up to him in Iowa, Trump has announced he's a Presbyterian and told anyone who wasn't sure of where Presbyterians are theologically, "that's down the middle of the road folks." Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist, about which Trump said "I don't know about. I just don't know about." If Carson were quick-witted he could have come back with: "If you had any intellectual curiosity at all, you could at least read the Wikipedia page on the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But he didn't. Notice that Trump's wording is clever. All he said is that he doesn't know anything about it. That's a comment on his knowledge, not on Carson's religion, but it gives the impression there is something wrong with Seventh-day Adventists without Trump saying so. Although he hasn't been in politics long, Trump clearly understands one key concept: plausible deniability."

But just because he is now going after Carson doesn't mean Trump is finished with Bush. In Jacksonville, Florida, yesterday he said: "Bush has no money, he's meeting today with mommy and daddy, and they're working on his campaign." Then he added that he himself had almost no staff and has spent almost no money and he is way ahead everywhere. Take that, Jeb! (V)

Bushes Not Made for These Times?

Regardless of one's personal opinion of the Bushes, there can be no doubt that they are one of the most significant dynasties in American political history, rivaling the Kennedys, the Roosevelts, the Adamses, and the Tafts. From Senator Prescott Bush to former governor and presidential candidate Jeb Bush, they have been players on the national scene for more than half a century. However, the family is now starting to think (or to admit) that the political game may have left them behind. On Friday, Jeb Bush lamented the "toxic tone" of modern politics, in particular pointing the finger at his rival from New York:

I've got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around, being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.

On Saturday, his father echoed those sentiments, saying that he cannot understand how Trump can, "still be taken seriously." Meanwhile, longtime Bush family advisor Andrew Card admits that, "They're all challenged by what's going on."

With the family's roots in the genteel liberal Republicanism of New England, where politics was put aside at the end of the workday for a round of golf or drinks at the country club, it is not entirely surprising that the Bushes feel a little out of step in today's political climate. That said, they are being a little loose in pointing the finger elsewhere, when they should be spending some time looking in the mirror. George H. W. Bush's 1988 campaign was hardly congenial, and the infamous Willie Horton commercial—though Bush disclaimed it—aided substantially in his victory and almost singlehandedly created the template for the modern attack ad. Meanwhile, George W. Bush—aided by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney—made extensive use of personal attacks (swift boaters, flip-flopping, etc.) and the strategy of "divide and conquer through social issues" in his 2004 campaign. Surely, Trump's political style borrows more from the Bushes than from anyone else.

In any case, these remarks—particularly those from Jeb, which could well be described as whining—do nothing to dispel the notion that the family is not long for this campaign, and that another American political dynasty is reaching its conclusion. Or maybe not. Jeb's son, George Prescott Bush, was elected Texas Land Commissioner in 2014. And Texas has a lot of land to ride herd on. (Z)

GOP Establishment Trying to Figure Out How To Attack Trump

At first the $64 question in Republican leadership circles was: "Should we attack Donald Trump?" A word has now been added to make: "How should we attack Donald Trump?" His rise and staying power are beginning to cause real worry and the question now is how to take him down. No one in the GOP leadership believes that Trump can withstand a sustained and withering attack, but they could all be wrong.

One school of thought says attack him as a "liberal," that all-purpose boogeyman. The trouble with that approach is that his supporters aren't traditional conservatives and might not be so upset to hear that on some issues he used to be fairly liberal. Another line of attack is to point out that he wants to raise some taxes on rich people, but since a lot of his supporters are working-class, they might not have a problem with that. Since Trump's appeal seems mostly to be class-based, it's not at all clear how you could successfully attack him. Maybe by pointing out that he's not such a great businessman (four bankruptcies)? How about his three marriages? Probably the focus groups are already being assembled. (V)

The Clinton and Clinton Show Hits Iowa

Riding a wave of positive momentum, Hillary Clinton has deployed her husband for the first time in this campaign, appearing with him and singer Katy Perry in Iowa. He joked with the crowd, poked the GOP bear (or elephant) a few times, and explained that when he gets positive feedback about his wife's debate performance, he responds, "I think I'll vote for her." By all accounts, it was a vintage Bill Clinton performance.

In the next year, it will be extremely interesting to see how much of an asset Bill is to his wife's campaign. Very few candidates' spouses have his level of charisma and personal popularity. Betty Ford, perhaps, and Jackie Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Dolley Madison (if you want to go back that far), but not too many others. Of course, none of them was a former president themselves. Because of the lack of precedent, there's no way to accurately account for the "Bill factor," but it is not out of the question that in a close contest, he could be the decider. (Z)

Vitter Survives to Fight Another Day, Barely

Gubernatorial candidate and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has been tarred repeatedly by scandal, from his frequent-flyer account with the "D.C. Madam" to recent allegations that he pressured his mistress to get an abortion, despite being an outspoken pro-lifer. The latest allegation, which emerged Friday, is that he hired a private investigator to eavesdrop on and record his opponents' conversations.

Louisianans went to the polls Saturday to vote, and Vitter—who was once expected to win in a landslide—eked out a second-place finish in the governor's race, his 23% of the vote putting him just ahead of two Republican challengers, and well behind the 40% collected by Democrat John Bel Edwards. The runoff will be held on November 21, and it is hard to predict what will happen. On one hand, the Republican voters might all unify behind the senator, sending him to an easy victory. On the other, the eavesdropping scandal has barely had time to marinate—it could blow up in the next few weeks and damage him beyond repair. The election has national implications, because if Vitter is not chosen as governor, he will remain in the Senate, where he would be up for reelection in 2016. Whether he bows out or fights on, that scenario would leave a Republican seat much more "in play" than expected, in a year when the GOP will already be playing defense across the country. (Z)

New Congressional Investigation: Planned Parenthood

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), as he prepares to exit stage right, has just appointed eight pro-life Republicans, led by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), to investigate practices at Planned Parenthood with an eye towards cutting all federal funding for the organization.

Following on the heels of the Benghazi Committee, which has almost universally been judged a disaster by partisans on both sides of the aisle (The Wall Street Journal is a notable exception), one might guess that the GOP would not return to that well so soon. Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) said as much when he learned of the new committee: "You would have thought Republicans would have learned their lesson from their 17-month political debacle called the Select Committee on Benghazi." It is also hard to imagine precisely what important information the Committee might learn, since most members of Congress are already set in their views on the women's health organization, one way or another.

At risk of sounding conspiratorial, one wonders if John Boehner has reached these same conclusions, and is merely giving the Freedom Caucus another opportunity to fall on its face. Something of a parting gift as "thanks" for pushing him out the door. We shall see. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Oct24 Jeb Bush Shakes Up His Campaign
Oct24 People Aren't Betting on Bush Any More
Oct24 What Does the House Freedom Caucus Want?
Oct24 A Week is a Long Time in Politics
Oct24 Overturning Citizens United May Not Be a Panacea After All
Oct24 Lincoln Chafee Quits
Oct24 Time for the Death Penalty to Die?
Oct23 Hillary Clinton Came, She Saw, and ... She Conquered?
Oct23 Political Market Did Not React to Biden's Decision
Oct23 Massive Ad Campaign Doesn't Help Bush in New Hampshire
Oct23 Why Is Clinton Targeting the Middle Class?
Oct23 Carson Suspends His Campaign
Oct23 Two More Black Eyes for Trump
Oct23 Biden Announces He Will Run for President
Oct22 Biden Is Out
Oct22 Ryan Marching Toward Speakership
Oct22 Clinton to Testify Before Benghazi Committee Today
Oct22 National Review Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru Says Clinton Will Win White House
Oct22 Sanders Was Right
Oct22 Democrats Value Honesty, Republicans Want Intelligence
Oct22 Trump Speaks at a Fourth-Grade Level
Oct21 Hill Bets on Hill
Oct21 Supreme Court Gets Another Sensitive Election Case
Oct21 Ryan or Bust for Main Street Republicans?
Oct21 Rubio's Turn to Beat the (Tin) Drum
Oct21 Is Biden Going to Run to Clinton's Right?
Oct21 Webb Drops Out of Democratic Race But May Run as an Independent
Oct20 Post-Debate Poll: Clinton Still Way Ahead of Sanders
Oct20 Jeb Bush No Longer Mr. Inevitable
Oct20 Trump's Secret: Blue-Collar Voters
Oct20 Bill Clinton Hits the Campaign Trail for Hillary
Oct20 Democrats Are in Deep Trouble and Are Not Even Aware of It
Oct20 Deeper Trouble, or Possibly a Silver Lining
Oct20 Canada Has a New Prime Minister
Oct20 Congressman Will Try to Impeach Clinton on Day 1
Oct20 A Congressional Coalition?
Oct19 Suppose Biden Continues To Keep Mum
Oct19 It's Election Day, Eh
Oct19 Fiorina Slumping Again
Oct19 Could Ending the Gerrymander Fix the House?
Oct19 Ryan May Be Open To Running for Speaker
Oct19 Cruz Wins Conservative Caucus Vote in New Hampshire
Oct19 Mothers Condemn Benghazi Ad
Oct18 Clinton Spending Vast Sums on Infrastructure
Oct18 Republican Pretenders Must Soon Face Reality
Oct18 Rubio and Bush Begin To Go After Each Other
Oct18 The Decline and Fall of the Republican Party?
Oct18 Stumped by Trump
Oct18 Why Has Paid Family Leave Become a Big Campaign Issue?
Oct18 Some Campaign Donors Will Get Refunds