Clinton 1730
Sanders 1053
 Needed   2383
Trump 736
Cruz 463
Rubio 171
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Trump's 1990 Interview in Playboy is Prophetic

Recently, Playboy magazine got rid of the nude photos and reinvented itself as a lifestyle magazine. Now, the March 1990 issue is getting renewed attention, and it's not from readers who want their pictures back. It's because that issue contained a frank interview with Donald Trump. The New York Times has extracted some salient questions and answers from the interviewed, summarized below:

Q: Which Americans would support you if you ran for President?
A: The working guy would elect me. ... When I walk down the street, those cabbies start yelling out their windows

Q: On the power of ostentatious wealth
A: Props for the show. ... The show is Trump and it's sold-out performances everywhere

Q: Who would you trust to carry out your vision in government?
A: I think if we had people from the business community—the Carl Icahns, the Ross Perots. ... We'd have respect around the world

Q: Can you counterpunch?
A: When somebody tries to sucker-punch me ... I push back a hell of a lot harder than I was pushed in the first place

Q: What would it take to make you run for President?
A: I don't want to be President. ... I'd change my mind only if I saw this country continue to go down the tubes

Apparently the country is still going down the tubes. (V)

Trump Follows a Bad Week with a Bad Weekend

The problem with being the king of the hill, as Donald Trump is learning, is that lots of people are looking to knock you off your throne. That's particularly true if you're a self-aggrandizing xenophobe and sexist who is loathed by the leaders of both parties and by much of the media. Given the week he just had, The Donald might have hoped that the weekend would give him a chance to breathe a bit. No such luck.

To start, Trump was compelled to eat crow a l'orange twice on Saturday. The first instance involved a photo he tweeted out that essentially suggested that Melania Trump is beautiful while Heidi Cruz is ugly. This was, of course, part of the larger war of the wives the two candidates were waging. Though the billionaire had defended the tweet, he has now been forced to back down and admit that it was a mistake.

Similarly, Trump has publicly defended his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, even after Lewandowski was accused of, and then charged with, battering a female reporter. Continuing his meal of crow, albeit more subtly, The Donald is now reducing Lewandowski's role in the campaign, relying instead on Paul Manafort to be his point person for many purposes. "I'm not saying Corey's going to be fired or anything because I don't think he's going to be, at least not at this juncture," said one insider, in something of an ominous portent for Trump's now former right-hand man.

Meanwhile, as he took his lumps, Trump pulled a well-worn trick out of the bag and tried to change the narrative with some outlandish policy pronouncements. Specifically, he declared that he would retire the United States' entire $19 trillion debt in just eight years as president. A lot of voters may not be interested in the nuances of policy, but this is so absurd that it surely cannot pass muster with anyone. After all, if it was so easy, why hasn't a previous president done it? Say, St. Ronnie? This is why the headlines that Trump triggered, instead of being helpful and deflecting some of the heat away from him, made liberal use of words like "nonsensical." For anyone who actually reads the articles, it gets even worse for the GOP frontrunner, since his "promise" is rooted in a gross misunderstanding of exactly what a trade imbalance is. That's embarrassing for anyone who is running for president, but it's especially bad for someone whose claim to the office is based on their business acumen.

And finally, in case there was any doubt that Trump was misplaying his hand in Wisconsin, he did not bother to show up at a major event held by the Republicans of Milwaukee County on Friday. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) were there; The Donald sent Sarah Palin in his stead. And that went over like a lead balloon; the first 18 minutes of her 20-minute speech were met with stony silence before she managed to get one tepid round of applause. This presumably foreshadows the lack of enthusiasm for Trump that will be on display when Badger State voters go to the polls on Tuesday. (Z)

A Trump Loss Tuesday Will Hurt Him More than a Clinton Loss Will Hurt Her

The most recent polling from Wisconsin, which will hold its primary on Tuesday, suggests that neither of the frontrunners is expected to win the Badger State. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is ahead of Hillary Clinton 49% to 43% (in large part due to independents). Ted Cruz barely leads Donald Trump, 38% to 37%. Another recent poll gave Cruz a 10-point lead, however. If Clinton and Trump both lose, it would only be a minor setback for her, but it could be fatal to him.

A Clinton loss would be embarrassing, but won't affect the race much. She currently leads by over 250 pledged delegates and by over 700 delegates total. Because all Democratic contests split the delegates proportionally, if Sanders gets 60% of the vote, as our model predicts he will, he will net 16 delegates. Even if he wins all of Wyoming's 14 delegates next Saturday, when New York rolls around on April 19, she will likely make up the loss and then some.

Trump, by contrast, is in a very tight race. Not with Ted Cruz, but with the arithmetic of the nomination. The Republican Party leadership hates him and is scared to death he might be the candidate. If he has 1,237 delegates going into the convention, he might be unstoppable. If he comes in just under that, there is a good chance the Party can stop him dead in his tracks on the second ballot and nominate someone more pleasing, such as Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). (V)

Cruz Will Hold a Town Hall Meeting with Megyn Kelly as Moderator

Fox News hates Donald Trump. What better way to irk and damage him then to have its star anchor, Megyn Kelly, moderate a town hall meeting in the Wisconsin state capital, Madison, on Monday, featuring Ted Cruz? No doubt as many people will turn out to see Kelly as to see Cruz, but that is surely fine with both Fox News' CEO Roger Ailes and with Kelly herself, with whom Trump has repeatedly feuded. For Kelly, the ultimate revenge would be help Cruz defeat Trump, so she will give it her best shot. (V)

Tennessee Chooses Anti-Trump Delegates to the Convention

On March 1, a.k.a. "Super Tuesday," Donald Trump won more than twice as many delegates as his nearest rival, Ted Cruz. But yesterday, the Tennessee Republican Party approved its slate of delegates to the convention, and the slate is full of anti-Trumpers. Trump bellowed that the machinations of the Party are patently unfair, but state chairman Ryan Haynes said that Trump is entitled to 33 votes on the first and second ballots and will get those, according to Party rules. After that, the delegates can vote their consciences. Haynes further added that the ultimate decision about choosing the actual delegates rests with the state party, not the candidates.

In a similar vein, North Dakota will choose its 25 delegates today. The slate will be chosen by a party committee and then ratified by the state convention. It is expected to be packed with Cruz supporters. The North Dakota delegates are even more valuable than the Tennessee delegates because they are free agents, even on the critical first ballot. (V)

Clinton, Sanders Bickering About Next Debate

The Republican candidates' debates have apparently come to an end, since the three candidates are all refusing to participate. That leaves us with only two Democratic candidates' debates on the schedule. And now, the first of those (and possibly both) are being thrown into question by arguing between the Clinton and Sanders campaigns about scheduling. Reportedly, the Clinton campaign first suggested April 4 as a possible date, but the Sanders campaign shot that down because it's the same night as the NCAA men's basketball championship game. Then, Clinton's people countered with April 14, or the morning of April 15 on the show Good Morning America, but Sanders' people rejected those as well.

This spat will likely be worked out in the next few days, but given what happened on the Republican side, that's not guaranteed. The candidates have already debated eight times, so it's not like another debate is essential. Meanwhile, Sanders needs the platform more that Clinton, which gives her the upper hand. If she does not get a setup that is satisfactory, she can afford to say, "Well, it just didn't work out." (Z)

Voter Suppression in Arizona Worked Short-Term, Maybe Not Long-Term

As we and many other have noted, the Supreme Court's rollback of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was greeted by Republican legislatures with much enthusiasm, as they quickly adopted new rules that are clearly designed to suppress minority turnout. This included voter ID laws, reducing the number of hours/days when people could vote, and reducing the number of polling places in minority communities. The plan worked very well in the recent Arizona primaries—lines as long as five hours in Latino communities persuaded many voters to turn around and go home.

Now, it's looking like it worked too well. The fiasco in Arizona (and, very likely, the upcoming fiasco in Wisconsin) has attracted national attention, which has forced Arizona officials to promise to rectify the problems that manifested themselves during the election. They actually have two more chances to do so before the general election; if they fail, the pressure and the scrutiny will continue to mount. And therein lies the problem for those who hope to rig the system and curtail turnout. By having their machinations put to the test in primary season, when Democratic turnout doesn't really affect Republicans, they may be unable to get away with suppressing turnout in the general election, when doing do would actually be of value to the GOP. (Z)

Two Senators Flip-Flop on Meeting with Garland

Under tremendous pressure from the GOP leadership, two senators, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), have reversed their plans to meet with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to present a unified stone wall to Garland's nomination. Surely the wily old fox must be aware of the old adage: "Be careful what you wish for, you might get it." He can certainly block Garland's confirmation, no question about that. But then he runs the very great risk of Hillary Clinton nominating someone much younger than the 63-year-old Garland and more liberal to boot. And the possibility of a President Sanders making a nomination is something he surely doesn't even want to see in his worst nightmares. (V)

Americans Are Really Angry--at the Other Party

It's clear that Americans are angry. This anger is fueling the campaigns of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. But maybe it isn't the economy, stupid. Objective data from the Fed show that the misery index—the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate—hasn't been this low since the 1950s. Consumer sentiment is about the same as it was just before Ronald Reagan's second term victory in 1984. So if it isn't the economy, why are people angry? A good case can be made that Democrats are angry with Republicans and vice versa. The country is so polarized on just about everything that this has come to dominate many people's lives. Many people are now concerned their son or daughter might marry someone who supports the other party. Many people are also willing to openly discriminate against supporters of the other party.

Democrats and Republicans hate each other more than they did 60 years ago because they have sorted themselves into parties that have homogeneous attitudes toward race, religion, and ethnicity. In the 1960s, there were many conservative Southern Democrats and many liberal Northern Republicans. Not any more. The opposing party is thus "other" in serious ways that create anger. (V)

Rules Committee Will Be the Star of the GOP Convention

Normally the Rules Committee at either convention is a group of wonks whose favorite book is Robert's Rules of Order. Not this year in Cleveland. The 112-member Republican National Convention Rules Committee will meet the week before the convention opens to hash out the rules. One rule that might go is Rule 40(b), which says that only candidates who have majorities in eight states or territories can be nominated.

But a far more important rule is one saying who can be nominated if no candidate achieves a majority on the first ballot. If only the candidates who competed in primaries can be nominated, then the Republicans are stuck with two candidates (Trump and Cruz) that the leaders hate and one candidate (Kasich) that the voters hate. What the Party elders are surely thinking about is a rule to allow dark horses to be nominated. For example, the Rules Committee could adopt a rule stating that if 200 delegates sign a petition asking for some person to be nominated, then that person is automatically nominated. Absent such a rule, there isn't any way to get the leadership's preferred candidate, Speaker Paul Ryan, onto the ballot. It will be interesting to see what the Committee does. No doubt there will be fireworks at its meetings, as everyone understands the stakes. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Apr02 The Great White Whale of Politics May Show Up This Year
Apr02 North Dakota Doesn't Vote Today
Apr02 Republican Pollster: Trump Would Be a Disaster
Apr02 Trump Flips on Abortion, Again
Apr02 Five Reasons the Ted Cruz Sex Scandal Story Won't Vanish
Apr02 The Economy Added 215,000 Jobs in March
Apr02 Clinton, Sanders, and Fossil Fuels
Apr01 Five Ways the Republican Race Could End
Apr01 50 Trump Delegates Could be in Jeopardy
Apr01 A First Look at the Electoral College
Apr01 What's Going on in Wisconsin?
Apr01 GOP's Information Campaign Is Underway
Apr01 Fundraising Picture More Complicated Than it Seems
Apr01 Corporations Are Getting Nervous about Being Associated with the GOP Convention
Apr01 Race for Top GOP Job Heats Up
Mar31 Sanders Opens Up Lead over Clinton in Wisconsin
Mar31 Cruz Leads Trump in Wisconsin
Mar31 Trump Calls for Punishing Women Who Have Abortions
Mar31 GOP Rules Committee Members Want to Scrap Rule That Helps Trump
Mar31 It's Almost Vice President Hunting Season
Mar31 Wisconsin's Voter ID Law is a Sham
Mar31 Conservative Talk Radio Hosts Are in a Tight Spot
Mar31 Democrats Are Beginning to Dare to Dream of a House Majority
Mar31 Frank Not Enthralled with Sanders
Mar31 Sanders Ballot Controversy Much Ado about Nothing
Mar30 Clinton Supporters More Enthusiastic than Sanders Supporters
Mar30 Another Schism Threatens the Republican Party
Mar30 Rubio Not Releasing His Delegates
Mar30 The Truth About Trump's Lies
Mar30 Democrats Go After Trump's Campaign Manager
Mar30 Trump's Path To the White House Runs Through the Rust Belt
Mar30 More Trouble in Paradise
Mar30 Five Myths Trump Is Exploding
Mar30 Union Non-Loss Helps the Democrats
Mar29 Sanders Has Raised Millions Since Saturday
Mar29 Sanders Is Trying to Pilfer Clinton's Superdelegates
Mar29 Trump Threatens to Sue over Louisiana Delegation
Mar29 Supreme Court Vacancy Not Currently a Top Issue for Many Voters
Mar29 Former Trump Strategist Confirms What Everyone Suspected
Mar29 Trump Could Hurt Republicans for a Generation
Mar29 Why Not Al Franken?
Mar29 How Much Does a Poll Cost?
Mar29 No Guns at the Republican National Convention
Mar29 No Apple vs. the FBI in Court
Mar29 Rubio Removes Himself from the California Ballot
Mar28 Sanders Wins Three States, but Not So Many Delegates
Mar28 White People Love Sanders
Mar28 The Fight for South Carolina Is Starting All Over
Mar28 Obama's Approval Rating Is Now 53%
Mar28 When Was America Great?