Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1236,   Dem: 2243
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Nevada and South Carolina Will Be Critical in 2016

Iowa and New Hampshire are perennially important—and we will examine them in detail soon—but the show is not over at 12:01 A.M. February 10, when Dixville Notch reports its election results. This cycle, Nevada and South Carolina will play a crucial role for both parties. In Nevada, the Democrats caucus on Saturday, Feb. 20 and the Republicans caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 23. In South Carolina, the Republican primary is Saturday, Feb. 20 and the Democratic primary is Saturday, Feb 27. There is really no good reason the parties picked different dates in both states; they just did.

For the Democrats, the divide between Iowa and New Hampshire on the one hand and Nevada and South Carolina on the other is the ethnicity of the electorates. Both Iowa and New Hampshire are pretty close to be being all white. Furthermore, Iowa Democrats are fairly liberal, meaning that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a good chance to win Iowa. Since he is from a state with a long border with New Hampshire, he is well known there and with a bit of luck could win both of the initial states.

Then things change sharply. While running roughly even with Sanders among white voters, Hillary Clinton polls at 65% among nonwhite Democrats to Sanders 14% and Vice President Joe Biden's 12%. In Nevada, for example, an estimated 29% of the 2016 voters are college-educated whites—in other words, Bernie's folks. However, 10% are black, 21% are Latino, and 10% are Asian or other minorities, for a total of 41%. To be a viable candidate, Sanders is going to have to take a large piece of this group away from Clinton, and that won't be easy.

The South, including South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas are even worse for Sanders. In every single one of these states, together worth 566 delegates, the nonwhite voters comprise over half the Democratic primary voters (because most whites in these states are Republicans). South Carolina's Feb. 27 primary will be the bellwether showing how well Sanders can do with black voters. If he can beat Clinton in South Carolina, he can beat her anywhere and could be the nominee. But if she crushes him in South Carolina, he's ultimately going to lose and probably fast, since Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia all hold primaries on March 1. By March 2, we might have clarity on the Democratic side. Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has an excellent discussion of the issue of ethnicity in the Democratic primaries.

Nevada and South Carolina are also important for the Republicans. Ted Cruz is a Latino, so he is counting on doing well in Nevada, with its large Latino population, although many of them are Democrats and won't vote in the Republican primary. South Carolina is the first Southern state to vote and such is also a bellwether for the Republicans. How well can Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Marco Rubio do against the very conservative candidates, Cruz and Ben Carson, and against Donald Trump. A fourth, fifth, or sixth place finish there does not bode well for Super Tuesday, when most of the South votes.

Republicans Split on Defending Kentucky Clerk

An obscure Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis, of obscure Rowan County (pop. 23,000) is tying the Republican field in knots. She has refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered her to do. She claims her religious beliefs prevent her from doing so. She is scheduled to appear in court today and could be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison for defying the Supreme Court.

Republicans would greatly prefer that the issue of same-sex marriage would just go away. They really don't want it to be big news so that reporters are constantly asking them about it. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee saluted her courage to stand up for her beliefs. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is concerned about protecting people's religious beliefs. In contrast, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said she must obey the law or resign. Carly Fiorina also said that government employees must do their jobs, while at the same time defending the right of florists not to supply flowers to same-sex weddings. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the most libertarian of all the candidates, has a different approach. He wants to get the government out of the marriage business altogether. In his view, if two consenting adults want to sign a contract saying they will live together, pool their property, or whatever, that is up to them, not the government.

As an aside, Davis is definitely a cafeteria Christian. While she condemns same-sex marriage as being against the Bible, she herself married for the fourth time after her third divorce was granted. The Bible is full of verses condemning divorce and remarriage. For example, Luke 16:18 (KJV): "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery."

Some People Support Trump as a Protest Vote

Some people who hate Donald Trump and nevertheless planning to vote for him and tell pollsters that. These are people who think the entire political system is rigged and who, in previous years, might have written in another Donald, namely Donald Duck. Pollsters don't know how many of these voters there are, but in a sense it doesn't matter. They just care about getting their prediction right. Political activisits at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire are pushing this idea hard. New Hampshire is a small state, so a few thousand extra votes could be noticeable.

A somewhat similar phenomenon with polls not giving a true picture occurs whenever the Affordable Care Act is polled. When pollsters ask people who are against it why they are against it, a consistent 10-15% say that it doesn't go far enough. They want to get private companies out of the health insurance business altogether and have a single-payer system, like Canada. Consequently, a poll like the Kaiser Foundation's August 2015 poll, which showed 46% in favor of the law and 40% against it is undoubted misleading if the 40% who oppose the law break down as 30% who want less government interference in the health care system and 10% who want the government to do more.

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---The Votemaster