Clinton 1776
Sanders 1118
 Needed   2383
Trump 755
Cruz 545
Rubio 171
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Cruz Likely To Stop Trump on the Second Ballot
      •  The Conservative Media Giants Are Badly Split
      •  Trump Lashes Out at Reince Priebus
      •  Cruz Is Outmaneuvering Trump in California
      •  Lewandowski Likely to Avoid Prosecution
      •  Is it Wise to Trick Your Supporters?
      •  Superdelegates Backfiring on the Democrats
      •  Merkley Endorses Sanders

Cruz Likely To Stop Trump on the Second Ballot

The Republican National Convention is three months away and already people are talking about what is going to happen on the second ballot. The $64,000 question is whether Donald Trump wins on the first ballot. If he doesn't, he is very likely to bleed delegates quickly and is probably toast. If Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) really means what he said Tuesday—that he is not willing to accept the nomination—then it is hard to see who could play the role of a white knight and save the Republican Party from the clutches of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who is almost as unelectable as Trump. The problems are different, however. Trump stands for repulsive ideas that will disgust many voters. Cruz is much smoother, but has antagonized everyone of importance within the Republican party. Nobody can work with him.

A lot depends on how many delegates secretly support Cruz and also what the 500 or so delegates bound to other candidates, or not bound to any candidate, do on the second and third ballots. On the second ballot, if there is one, 60% of the delegates (more than 1,800 delegates from 31 states) will be unbound and can vote for anyone they like. On the third ballot 80% of the delegates will be free agents.

There will be deals and horse trading galore. For example, one plausible deal is that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) asks his delegates to support Cruz in return for the Veep slot. From Cruz's point of view, if he has to put Rubio on the ticket to get the nomination, he'll do it, but Rubio is a mixed bag. On the plus side, he is from the mother of all swing states, but on the minus side, he wasn't even able to win the primary in his own state. The Democrats are sure to bring up the fact that the people who know Rubio the best—the voters of Florida—solidly rejected him in the Florida primary. That's not much of an endorsement. (V)

The Conservative Media Giants Are Badly Split

The competition between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz is causing a big rift within the Republican media world. The older outlets, like National Review and the Wall Street Journal, want no part of Trump and are attacking him constantly. They support Ted Cruz. Newer personalities like Sarah Palin and Matt Drudge support Trump. This split has made still other conservative stars somewhat hesitant to take sides. Rush Limbaugh is mostly for Trump but he's taking a lot of flak for it and could drop Trump like a hot potato if the heat gets to be too much.

The split among conservative commentators is likely to continue right up until the convention because the nominee is not likely to be known until the convention. However, it will probably heal quickly afterward as all of them begin opening fire on the Democratic nominee. But until then, there will be a lot of bloodletting. (V)

Trump Lashes Out at Reince Priebus

Yesterday Donald Trump attacked RNC chairman Reince Priebus and called the Republican Party's method of selecting delegates a disgrace. He is furious with several aspects of the process. His main gripe is that the Colorado Republican Party didn't hold a caucus or primary and elected all of its delegates at a state convention. If Trump had won them all, he probably wouldn't be complaining, but Ted Cruz won them all. Whether this is democratic or not is an interesting question, but it wasn't a secret. Colorado's plan has been known for almost a year and Trump failed to organize on the ground in Colorado, so he lost everything.

Trump seems to have forgotten that the political parties are private organizations and are free to conduct their affairs as they wish. Was it "fair" that when Steve Jobs died, Apple picked Tim Cook as CEO without a vote of Apple employees, shareholders, or customers? Private organizations can use any rules they want that are legal, and in the case of the Republican Party, everything was public almost a year in advance. Trump didn't address the question of whether it was fair that with 46% of the vote he got 100% of Florida's 99 delegates. Was that fair to the candidates who got the majority of the votes? Is it fair that in Wyoming, each presidential elector represents 177,000 people while in California each elector represents 668,000 people? Trump didn't mention that either.

He also whined about how the Democrats operate. He said that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a big winning streak and yet the biased media keep calling Hillary Clinton the front runner. Of course he neglected to mention that Sanders mostly wins small states with few delegates and Clinton wins big states with lots of delegates. She not only has more pledged delegates than Sanders, but has also won more votes nationwide and more states than he has. Trump didn't mention any of this. He just says the system is corrupt. Although Sanders is an underdog, he clearly understands the Democratic Party's rules and is trying to do as well as he can within the framework of the existing rules. Trump is either ignorant of the Republican Party rules or is too lazy to try to conform to them. It is also his misfortune to be facing an opponent, Ted Cruz, who has memorized all the rules and is using them to great advantage. (V)

Cruz Is Outmaneuvering Trump in California

The big question of whether Donald Trump will hit the 1,237 mark of pledged delegates by convention time will probably depend on what happens in California, the Golden State, with its Golden pile of 172 delegates. The statewide winner will get 10 delegates plus the three RNC members, but the other 159 delegates will be elected winner take all in California's 53 congressional districts. California is an extremely important state, not only because it has the most delegates, but also because it is one of the few states where the candidates get to pick their delegates. In many other states, Donald Trump won the delegate slots but the actual delegates support Ted Cruz and will jump ship to Cruz on the second or third ballot. That won't happen in California because the candidates will pick loyal delegates who will stick with them from the first ballot until the last.

Assuming the candidate can find three delegates in each of the 53 congressional districts, that is. Cruz has been working on this problem for a year and probably can do it. Part of the problem is that California is an extremely blue state and some districts just don't have a lot of Republicans to choose from. Donald Trump has barely begun to think about the problem, which means that he may have great difficulty finding loyal delegates in each district. If he wins a district but the delegates he submitted aren't really loyal to him, he may end up losing the nomination as a result. (V)

Lewandowski Likely to Avoid Prosecution

The state attorney's office of Palm Beach County will hold a news conference on Thursday to address the pending battery charge against Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Though officials are playing it close to the vest, multiple sources say they plan to announce that no charges will be filed.

The Trump campaign thus manages to dodge a fairly big black eye, at least in part. With that said, the court of public opinion is not a court of law, and it's unlikely that women voters will soon forget the widely-circulated footage of Lewandowski grabbing Michelle Fields, regardless of whether or not it was prosecutable. (Z)

Is it Wise to Trick Your Supporters?

In 2014, during his reelection campaign, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) sent out a mailer stamped "ELECTION VIOLATION NOTICE." The official-looking notice was designed to frighten voters into thinking they had committed a crime, and so to open the envelope for details. If and when they did so, they learned that the "violator" was McConnell's opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes, whose "crime" was spreading false information about the Majority Leader.

This election cycle, Ted Cruz upped the ante, using nearly identical envelopes for a mailer sent to selected Republican voters in Iowa. In this case, the "violator" was the recipient, who was accused of not going to the polls as often as their Republican neighbors did.

Now, the GOP is at it again. Many voters in Washington, without particular regard to their actual party preference, recently received envelopes stamped with "NOTICE OF DELINQUENCY." In the envelope was a document that looked very much like a past-due bill, demanding a payment between $25 and $500 to make up for the recipient's unpaid balance. Only upon reading the accompanying letter did the recipient learn the truth:

This NOTICE OF DELINQUENCY has been sent to you because the Republican Party has contacted you multiple times to ask for your support of our 2016 campaign...But we have not heard back from you and time is running out.

In each of the cases above, the maneuver resulted in a great deal of outrage, along with suggestions that mail fraud may have been committed. McConnell won his election, and Cruz took Iowa, so apparently the gambit works. However, is the benefit worth the cost? Nobody likes to be made the fool, and it seems entirely possible—likely, even—that a fence-sitter who got a notice like these could be driven over to the Democratic side of the fence. (Z)

Superdelegates Backfiring on the Democrats

The Democratic Party's superdelegate system was created in the 1970s, as a hedge against the teeming masses choosing an unwise candidate. In that way, it's not all that different from the Electoral College, which was meant (in part) to serve the same purpose. In the 10 elections since, the "insurance policy" has not been necessary, as the candidate chosen by the people was acceptable to the establishment. And now, as Slate's Jim Newell points out, the system is actually doing more harm than good for party insiders.

The first issue is that adding the superdelegates watered down the total pool of delegates, making it harder to get to 50% plus one from pledged delegates alone. So, an insurgent campaign can technically remain viable for much, much longer—even up to the convention. In 2008, for example, Barack Obama needed 350 of the superdelegates to officially put him over the top, which meant that Hillary Clinton could have continued fighting into July if she had wanted to. She decided her long-term prospects were better served by bowing to the will of the voters, and so threw in the towel. The 74-year-old Bernie Sanders, by contrast, presumably has no such long-term designs. With his huge stockpile of cash, he might as well keep fighting until the bitter end, and he will presumably do so unless Hillary Clinton is able to claim 2,383 pledged delegates.

The second issue is that the system appears to be undemocratic, potentially substituting the judgment of a few hundred elites for that of millions of rank-and-file voters. The reason that it appears that way, of course, is because that is how it is. But now, with so much scrutiny over the superdelegates, it would be almost impossible for them to get away with exercising their "veto," even if they wanted to. And yet, at the same time, the existence of the superdelegates opens the party up to charges that it is corrupt and subject to cronyism, thus further weakening Hillary Clinton.

Given the events of 2016, and the light that has been shone upon the two parties' respective nomination processes, it would not be a complete surprise to see the GOP adopt a superdelegate system while the Democrats abandon theirs. (Z)

Merkley Endorses Sanders

Forty Democratic senators have endorsed Hillary Clinton for President but until yesterday, not a single one had endorsed Bernie Sanders. That changed Wednesday, when Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) hopped on the Sanders bandwagon. He praised Sanders but was very careful not to say anything negative about Clinton. While Sanders is no doubt overjoyed to have one senator supporting him, the most important senator of all, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), has not endorsed either Sanders or Clinton yet and is not likely to do so until after the convention. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Apr13 Ryan Does the Full Sherman
Apr13 Why Isn't Ryan Running?
Apr13 Reince Priebus Is in over His Head
Apr13 Many Republican Delegates Have No Idea What Is about to Hit Them
Apr13 Ted Cruz is Starting to Get the Frontrunner Treatment
Apr13 New Poll of Maryland Gives Big Lead to Trump, Bigger Lead to Clinton
Apr13 Each Party Is Jealous of the Other One
Apr13 No Matter How You Look at It, Clinton Is Ahead of Sanders
Apr13 Clinton Gets New York Daily News' Endorsement
Apr12 Trump Blasts the Republicans for Rigging the Rules
Apr12 Trump's Kids Also Not Great With Rules
Apr12 Clinton's New Ad is Aimed at Democrats and Attacks Trump Directly
Apr12 Politico: Clinton Won't Be Indicted
Apr12 Clinton and de Blasio Step in It
Apr12 Ryan is Running a Parallel Campaign
Apr12 Donald Trump Is A Cheapskate
Apr12 Maybe Obama Has No Basis for Forcing Garland's Appointment, After All
Apr11 Cruz Wins 11 More Delegates
Apr11 Clinton and Sanders Split the Wyoming Delegates Evenly
Apr11 Trump Has Huge Leads in New York and Pennsylvania
Apr11 Clinton Has Large Leads in New York and Pennsylvania
Apr11 Electoral Math Is Ugly for the GOP
Apr11 National Review Keeps Tilting at Trump Windmill
Apr11 Clinton Pins Her Hopes on Upstate New York
Apr11 Obama: Clinton Never Jeopardized National Security
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Apr10 Sanders Wins Wyoming
Apr10 Sanders Trying Hard to Appeal to Black Voters
Apr10 Sanders Says Clinton Is Qualified to Be President
Apr10 Trump Is Losing Indiana Even Before the Voting Starts
Apr10 Cruz Finishes the Job in Colorado While Trump Fumbles
Apr10 Unbound Delegates Could Determine the Republican Nominee
Apr10 One-Third of Trump Supporters Won't Vote for Another Republican
Apr10 Adelson May Sit This One Out
Apr10 Fiorina Desperately Wants to Be Veep
Apr10 Boston Globe Running Fake Anti-Trump Front Page Today
Apr09 Republican Insiders: It Will Be A Contested Convention
Apr09 Trump and Cruz Have Completely Different Approaches
Apr09 Republican Rodeo in Colorado
Apr09 Trump May Command a Fake Twitter Army
Apr09 Trump and Clinton Lead in New York Poll
Apr09 Trump and Clinton Lead in California poll
Apr09 Cruz Would Be the Most Conservative Nominee in Generations
Apr09 Paul Ryan Releases Campaign Ad
Apr09 Economy is Playing Out in the Democrats' Favor
Apr08 Candidates Move to New York