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

Republicans Beginning to Worry about Trump

After Mitt Romney's defeat in 2012, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, changed the nomination rules with the goal of having a faster, less divisive process. The idea was to have a nominee (namely, the establishment choice) be crowned by the end of April, giving the nominee more time to raise money for the general election. Also, the convention date was moved from August to July to get the general election campaign started earlier.

To help speed up the process, all primaries held on or after March 15, 2016 can be winner-take-all; 10 states have chosen to do so. Before March 15, delegates are allocated in proportion to the vote. The idea behind this was to allow the candidates to slog it out in February and March, and then let whoever was ahead on March 15 to quickly consolidate his lead with the winner take-all-primaries, making it impossible for anyone to catch up. Then the whole thing would be over by May.

Many Republican strategists are now worried that Donald Trump, who has said he will spend $100 million of his own money in the primaries, might be leading the field by March 15 and then start amassing delegates in the winner-take-all events in late March, as well as in April, May, and June. If the establishment is still divided among Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, John Kasich, and maybe Carly Fiorina, all of them could have delegates by March 15. Ted Cruz, who the Republican leadership intensely dislikes, has enough money to keep going and acquiring delegates right up to the convention.

Republican strategists are beginning to seriously consider the possibility of Trump being the nominee, a horrendous possibility. The idea of a President Trump working with the Democrats in Congress to raise taxes on the rich is unnerving, to say the least. But even if Trump doesn't win the nomination, he could acquire a block of delegates large enough to give him real power at the convention. He could insist on having certain planks in the platform, such as deporting all undocumented immigrants. He could also demand a prime time speaking slot—and refuse to show his speech to anyone in advance. Older strategists remember the fiery speech Pat Buchanan delivered in 1992 denouncing homosexuals, feminists, and liberals. While this might have pleased some voters in Idaho and Mississippi, their electoral votes were never in doubt. A Trump speech denouncing undocumented immigrants could motivate Latino citizens in Colorado, Virginia, and Florida who weren't registered to vote to go register the next day.

In short, the Republicans fear that Trump may not self destruct after all and could pose a huge challenge to the party next year.

National Parties Go after Big Donors

In the wake of the Supreme Court's loosening of the campaign donation rules, both parties are courting millionaires aggressively. In 2012, the maximum donation to the national committee (DNC or RNC) was $30,800. Now that is $334,000. In 2012, the maximum donation to all candidates and parties combined in the 2-year cycle was $117,000. Now there is no limit. Both parties are trying to take advantage of the new rules. And this is completely independent of donations to super PACs, which have no limits of any kind.

The Republicans have set up a program in which couples who give $1.34 million get to go to cool parties in nice places. It seems to be working, as the RNC has raised $71 million so far. The advantage of party money like this is that it allows the party to throw $100,000 into an obscure House or state senate race that the Republican could win with a bit of extra money but would lose otherwise and which no super PAC has any interest in. The Democrats are also going after big donations, but a bit differently. Anyone donating $467,000 or raising $1.25 million gets VIP benefits. All in all, the election could be determined by which party has raised more money from a few hundred of the wealthiest and least representative families in America.

Bush Profited from Governorship after His Term Was Over

When Jeb Bush finished his second term as governor of Florida, he wasn't flat broke, as the Clintons were after leaving the White House, but he was down to a measly $1.3 million. Within 7 years, his net worth had soared to $25 million. The story of how that happened is only starting to come out. No doubt it will become a bigger story as time goes on.

The effort to build up Bush's bank account was highly calculated. All the Bushes have long said that you can't live on the salaries public officials are paid (the President makes a mere $400,000). So in order to go into public service, you first have to fill your bank account. This is what Jeb Bush did from 2007 until last year. He has done consulting work for many companies and served on a dozen boards of directors.

Some of the companies he worked for after being governor had significant business before the state of Florida while he was governor. For example, as governor, he redirected $350 million of the Florida public employees' pension fund to investment firms run by major donors to his brother's campaigns. Technically, this was not illegal since he received nothing in return at the time and could claim he felt the new money managers would do a good job handling the state workers' retirement funds. That the company decided to put him on the board several years later wasn't due to this decision, of course, but to his superior understanding of public events and public policy. In certain quarters, a handshake and smile is as good as a written contract.

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---The Votemaster
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