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

Boehner Negotiates Stealth Budget Deal

In an unexpected surprise as he prepares to leave office, outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) hunkered down with Senate leadership and the White House and hammered out a budget deal that will keep the federal government operating for the next two years, avoiding a shutdown or a default on the national debt until 2017. The deal is an early Christmas gift to Speaker-apparent Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who will begin his term freed of one of Boehner's biggest headaches. It's also an election-season boon to the Republican Party, which tends to come out on the short end of the battle for public opinion when games of chicken are played with the government's finances.

Details are still being finalized, but the deal increases discretionary spending (a win for Democrats) and defense spending (a win for Republicans), while cutting the deficit (a second win for Republicans) through reductions in Social Security and Medicaid (a third win for Republicans). Every Republican familiar with the negotiations calls the deal a big win for the GOP. So naturally, the Freedom Caucus hates it. Their official reason is that it concedes too much to the Democrats, but the subtext of their complaints is: "We just lost one of our biggest tools for wreaking havoc and getting attention during election season." In any event, the agreement is expected to get through Congress, with or without the Freedom Caucusers' votes. (Z)

Carson Has Double-digit Lead in Iowa

Iowa's reputation for supporting fringe candidates with no chance of getting the nomination (e.g., Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Rick Santorum in 2012) may be enhanced next year. The new favorite is Ben Carson, who is 14 points ahead of number two, Donald Trump, according to a new Monmouth University poll of the Hawkeye state. Here are the results of the poll.

Rank Candidate Pct
1 Ben Carson 32%
2 Donald Trump 18%
3 Ted Cruz 10%
3 Marco Rubio 10%
5 Jeb Bush 8%
6 Carly Fiorina 5%
7 Rand Paul 3%
8 Mike Huckabee 2%
8 Bobby Jindal 2%
8 John Kasich 2%
  Rick Santorum <1%
  Lindsey Graham <1%
  Jim Gilmore <1%
  George Pataki <1%
  Chris Christie <1%

Compared to the poll Monmouth did two months ago, Carson is up by 9 points and Trump is down by 5 points. Clearly the race there is very unstable and subject to more changes in the future. (V)

Republicans Are In Denial about Hillary Clinton's Chances

Many Republicans hate Hillary Clinton so much that they simply cannot believe she has a chance at being elected President. They even missed the excellent month she just had, with a good debate, Joe Biden's decision not to run, her Benghazi performance, and even some major endorsements. Plus, Monday was her birthday. With Biden out of the race, she is hustling to collect as many of the 1200 superdelegates (party leaders and elected officials who are automatically delegates to the Democratic National Convention) as possible. To win the nomination, a candidate needs 2242 delegates and Clinton could get half of them from the superdelegates, without winning any caucuses or primaries.

Mark Halperin at BloombergPolitics has compiled a list of reasons why Clinton is likely to win both the Democratic nomination and the general election:

  • She has shown that she can handle Bernie Sanders, despite his appeal and authenticity
  • Sanders doesn't quite know how to play ball in the big leagues yet (e.g., the Jefferson-Jackson dinner Saturday)
  • Clinton is getting better at being likable—or at least not unlikable
  • Biden's decision will give her more superdelegates, which can make up for losses in primaries
  • She has massive support from unions, which gives her foot soldiers on the ground
  • She might be able to wrap up the nomination by Feb. 8 if she can win Iowa and New Hampshire
  • Bill seems fired up and ready to go draw big crowds and raise lots of money
  • Her campaign has much less infighting than in 2008
  • She is getting much better at getting rich Democrats to send seven-figure checks to her super PAC
  • Her oppo research team is collecting nuggets to use against all plausible Republican nominees
  • The Republican nominee is likely to emerge bloodied and broke with a fragmented and angry party
  • Clinton and DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz are buddy-buddy, so Clinton can run the convention
  • Republicans may foolishly campaign on her emails and Benghazi and not on issues people care about
  • She is an experienced debater and many of the people on her debate prep team were on Obama's debate team
  • Her pollster, Joel Benenson, is already looking for issues that test 70-30 with the Republicans on the 30 side
  • Obama's approval rating, while not great, is good enough that it won't be a stumbling block
  • Hillary's team is already working on general election targeting, something no Republican has the luxury of doing
  • Demographics favor her, with huge advantages among blacks, Asians, young people, and single women
  • She has a virtual lock on 240 electoral votes in states that have voted Democratic six times in a row

This is not to say she can make an appointment with a moving company for Jan. 20, 2017, but Republicans who are dismissing her as having no chance at all might be in for a big surprise. (V)

Cruz Working on Texas

Unlike most of the other presidential candidates, whose horizon extends no further than New Hampshire, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is in it for the long haul. In particular, he is focused on Super Tuesday (March 1), when seven Southern states hold primaries and he could pick up enough delegates to lead the pack. He has just signed up Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-TX) to chair his campaign in Texas. He also picked up six Texas business leaders, including billionaire Darwin Deason, who were formerly backing former Texas governor Rick Perry. All in all, Cruz is making a very serious play for Texas and its 155 delegates vs. Iowa and New Hampshire, which have 53 delegates combined. Cruz and Hillary Clinton seem to be the only candidates who understand that the name of the game is getting more than half the delegates, not getting more than half the pundits. (V)

Jeb Loads the Last Bullet into the Chamber

With his campaign in disarray, and his presidential hopes fading, Jeb Bush has decided to deploy the last major weapon left in his arsenal: His relatives.

Thus far, the Bushes George have largely sat on the sidelines, save for an occasional remark about not liking Ted Cruz, or a lament about the nastiness of the 2016 campaign. However, Jeb has undoubtedly noticed that Hillary Clinton is getting good mileage out of trotting out the former president in the family, and figures he might as well get two for the price of one. His problem is that Bill Clinton left office with a 66 percent approval rating, while Dad had 56 percent, and brother George pulled a meager 34 percent (only 10 points better than Richard Nixon). Hitching your horse to the Bubba wagon makes good political sense, but it may well be that the W express only travels one way: downhill. (Z)

Sharron Angle Might Run for the Senate Again in Nevada

In 2010, Nevada Republicans expected that the establishment candidate, Sue Lowden, would easily win the Senate primary and then defeat Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) in the general election. It didn't happen. Tea party candidate Sharron Angle upset Lowden in the primary and went on to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the general election. Now that Reid is retiring, Nevada Republicans convinced their first-choice candidate to replace him, Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), to run for Reid's seat. But their joy may be premature as Angle is contemplating another run. While she might not win the primary, at the very least she would make Heck spend real money trying to defeat her, and, of course, she could win the primary again. Republicans are doing whatever they can to keep her out, but outgoing senator Reid is doing everything he can to get her in, such as pointing out how formidable an opponent she was in 2010. The Democratic candidate will be Catherine Cortez Masto, Reid's hand-picked favorite. Any GOP drama in this race is bad news for the Republicans, since this is far and away the Democratic seat they are most likely to flip. If it slips away, their margin for error in the Senate races becomes razor-thin. (V)

Hispanic Voters Don't Like Republicans

After the 2012 election, RNC chairman Reince Priebus ordered an autopsy report to see what the Republicans did wrong and what they had to fix to win the White House in 2016. One of the recommendations was to reach out more to Hispanics. The party didn't try and they are doing worse than ever now. A new AP GfK poll shows that Jeb Bush, who speaks fluent Spanish and is married to a Mexican-born woman, is viewed favorably by 26% of Hispanics. Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is viewed favorably by 23% of Hispanics. And that's the good news—Donald Trump comes in at 11%. To win the general election, the Republican candidate needs to win about 40% of the Hispanic vote. This is not a great start. (V)

Marco Rubio Doesn't Like the Senate

Though he has yet to resign his seat, apparently for fear of being labeled a quitter, Marco Rubio appears certain to keep his promise to retire from the Senate, even if the presidential (or vice presidential) thing doesn't work out. The reason: He hates the job.

When Rubio arrived in Washington four years ago, he was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager to get some legislation passed. However, the Democrats stymied his budget proposals, and the GOP killed his immigration bills. The result is that the Senator was left enormously frustrated by the gridlock that is characteristic of American politics these days. It seems odd that Rubio would want to move to the White House, where breakfast each morning comes with a side of gridlock, but apparently he thinks that the only way he can achieve his goals is to acquire more power. Bettors and pundits see him as the GOP frontrunner right now (even if Iowans do not), so he may just get a chance to put his theory to the test. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Oct26 Republican Voters See Trump as Strongest General Election Candidate
Oct26 Clinton Would Love to Face Trump
Oct26 Rubio Attacks Trump's Immigration Plan
Oct26 Carson Against Abortion Under All Circumstances
Oct26 Ross Douthat Meekly Predicts Rubio Will be the Republican Nominee
Oct26 Sanders Drawing Sharp Contrasts with Clinton
Oct26 No Smooth Sailing for Obamacare Repeal
Oct26 Fundraising Looks to Be No Problem for Ryan
Oct26 Republicans Facing a Tech Gap?
Oct25 Trump Attacks Carson's Religion
Oct25 Bushes Not Made for These Times?
Oct25 GOP Establishment Trying to Figure Out How To Attack Trump
Oct25 The Clinton and Clinton Show Hits Iowa
Oct25 Vitter Survives to Fight Another Day, Barely
Oct25 New Congressional Investigation: Planned Parenthood
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