News from the Votemaster
• Trump Has a Big Lead in Pennsylvania
• Sam Wang: Trump Is Still the Favorite for the GOP Nomination
• One-Third of Republican Voters Are Open to an Independent Run by Trump
• New York Post Endorses Trump
• Senators Won't Support Cruz Even When He Asks Directly
• Trump Could Lose 100 Delegates This Weekend
• From Brooklyn to Vatican in 12 Hours
• Democrats Will Sue Arizona Today over Voting Rights
• Kirk Goes Full RINO To Save His Neck
The stakes were clear entering Thursday night's Democratic debate: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) badly needs to win New York, where he is trailing in polls, and Hillary Clinton badly needs to stop him from doing so. The stage was thus set for verbal fisticuffs, and that's what we got in a matchup already being called the "Brawl in Brooklyn."
If there were any doubts that the two candidates' semi-truce of the last week was off, they were put aside immediately. Within the first 15 minutes of the debate, Sanders managed to squeeze in Clinton's SuperPACs, her vote for the war in Iraq, and her paid speeches. Clinton managed to reference Sanders' interview with the New York Daily News, the vagueness of his plans, the lack of evidence for many of his attacks against her, and his record on guns. The gloves were off from there out, with the duo often shouting over each other. By the end of the debate, Clinton's voice was noticeably hoarse.
One of the lengthiest exchanges of the night, and one of the testiest, centered on the United States' policy towards Israel. Clinton's position was fairly standard pro-Israeli, while Sanders pushed hard for greater recognition of the Palestinians' suffering. The Vermont Senator's declarations certainly showed a great deal of fortitude, but whether they were politically wise, in a state with many Jewish and few Palestinian voters, is more debatable.
Another part of the evening that is going to get a lot of attention was an argument over the text of Clinton's Wall Street speeches and Sanders' tax returns. Her argument is that every candidate is expected to share their returns these days, and she can't understand why his are not yet available. His argument is that the speeches must have something very troublesome in them if she is not willing to share them. They both have good points, and even if their excuses are valid (Clinton says she's being subject to an unfair double-standard since other candidates don't have to share their paid speeches; Sanders says his wife handles the returns and she's been busy), both look like they have something to hide. They would both do well to release the information ASAP, so as to put this issue to rest before the general election.
The biggest stumble of the night belongs to the Vermont Senator. His Achilles Heel is his record on gun control, and at this point, it is clear he's not going to come up with any sort of satisfactory response to those questions. He was hit hard on the issue, particularly his Daily News remarks on the Sandy Hook shooting, and he did not come off well. He refused to offer the apology demanded by the mother of one of the victims, and offered the rather curious argument that because he comes from a state with little gun control, he is the ideal candidate to achieve a consensus on gun control.
Beyond reminding the voters of their distinct positions on specific issues, the two candidates made sure to incorporate regular declarations of their general philosophies. Sanders, of course, is an all-or-none, shoot-for-the-moon candidate, and he made that clear many times; perhaps most succinctly when he said, "We have got to understand that in America, we should be thinking big, not small." Clinton is a pragmatic candidate who preaches the gospel of realistic expectations, and she too had a succinct declaration of her principles: "It's easy to diagnose the problem. It's harder to do something about the problem." She also continued her months-long hug of President Obama, mentioning his name and/or his accomplishments at least two dozen times.
If we consider this debate on its own, Clinton was the slight winner. She had a few more good moments and her stumbles weren't quite as big as Sanders'. If we consider the debate in the context of the overall race, Clinton's win gets somewhat bigger. The two candidates are not covering new ground very much any more; they are merely honing their well-worn arguments. This being the case, it is simply inconceivable that tonight's meeting moved the needle very much one way or the other. That's another way of saying that the status quo was maintained on Thursday night, and maintaining the status quo is all that Clinton needs. (Z)
A new Monmouth University poll of Pennsylvania gives Donald Trump a double-digit lead there, as follows:
The next two weeks could be crucial for Trump. He is expected to win all the Middle Atlantic states voting in the next two weeks, but the big question is whether these wins will yield enough delegates to give him a shot at coming into the convention with the 1,237 delegates needed to win. (V)
Princeton professor Sam Wang, an expert on statistics, has a blog on elections. He has run multiple statistical simulations of the GOP presidential primaries and concluded that Donald Trump is still the favorite. The first set of runs used only the polls of the remaining states. These are shown on the left below.
The set on the right takes into the fact that Cruz usually outperforms his polls. Even in this scenario, where Cruz is assumed to do better than the polls show, Trump is still a 2 to 1 favorite to pass 1,237 delegates. (V)
A new CBS News poll out yesterday shows that 33% of all Republicans want to see Donald Trump run as an independent if he loses the Republican nomination. Among Trump supporters, this jumps to 63%. It will be difficult for Trump to mount an independent run, however, because many filing deadlines will have already passed by the time the convention begins and many others fall shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, quite a few Republicans will be very unhappy if Cruz or someone else gets the nomination and at the very least, that will hurt turnout. (V)
Less than a week before the critical New York primary, the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post has endorsed Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee. The paper said that he is a do-er and a businessman who has created thousands of jobs.
Interestingly enough, the paper doesn't agree with his stands on immigration, walls, and other small matters, but assumes he will act more presidential in the general election. One area where he is right, according to the Post, is that the system is rigged, although it doesn't explain for whom or against whom it is rigged. (V)
The Republican Senate caucus is scared to death that if Donald Trump is nominated for President not only will Hillary Clinton be elected President, but Democrats will capture the Senate and make huge inroads in the House. One might think that with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) looking like the only viable way to stop Trump, when Cruz asked his colleagues in the Senate for support, he would get some. One would be wrong. So great is the universal loathing of Cruz in the Senate that only two senators support him: fellow tea party senator Mike Lee (R-UT), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who compared to choice of Trump and Cruz to being poisoned or being shot.
Each of the senators had some story as to why he wasn't endorsing Cruz. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who previously endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), said: "The fact of the matter is one endorsement is plenty per cycle." When Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) was asked if he was endorsing Cruz, he said: "Nope." None of the others were any more helpful, so Cruz is going to have to do this on his own, without help from his colleagues. That is really astonishing and shows the degree to which Cruz is hated. Republicans in the Senate refuse to support a Republican senator who is the only hope of defeating someone who could destroy the Republican Party and they won't do it. (V)
The Republican presidential race is certainly confusing at the very least. Just look at the five headlines above, roughly summarized as follows:
- Trump leading in Pennsylvania
- Statistical model says Trump will win
- Republicans want Trump to run even if he loses the nomination
- The New York Post endorses Trump
- Virtually every Republican senator hates Trump's opponent
So Trump will be the nominee? It's far from a done deal. This weekend more than two dozen congressional districts in seven states will pick over 10% of the 1,237 delegates needed to win the Republican nomination. Some are in states that haven't even voted yet. While all the delegates will be bound on the first ballot, most will be free on the second or third ballot and a large number of them will support Ted Cruz, who has a strong ground operation whose goal is to scoop up as many delegates as possible, no matter how the primary or caucus went. In state after state, including Colorado and Indiana recently, Cruz has gotten his preferred slate of delegates chosen, completely outfoxing Trump. Finally Trump has begun to realize his has a problem and has hired Paul Manafort, a veteran Republican operative to help wrangle delegates, but it remains to be seen if one person is a match for Cruz's large ground operation. (V)
The moment that the Democratic debate ended, Bernie Sanders headed to the airport to catch a plane to the Vatican City. He was invited to give a 10-minute address on social justice to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and decided that he simply could not pass up the opportunity to reach a global audience.
Sanders insists the trip is not about politics, and there is every reason to believe he really feels that way. However, that does not mean the trip will not have a political impact. On one hand, he will be away from New York for two crucial days before the state's primary. Not a good position for the underdog. On the other hand, if he's able to meet with Pope Francis—a face-to-face is not currently scheduled, but Francis is in residence right now—it would be a powerful photo op indeed. After all, roughly 15% of New Yorkers identify as Catholic. (Z)
When the Supreme Court declared parts of the Voting Rights Act to be unconstitutional, many states immediately changed their voting laws to make it harder to vote. Arizona, for example, cut the number of polling places in its most populous county by 85%, which resulted in many people having to wait for 4 or 5 hours to vote. Today the Democratic Party, as well as the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, are filing a lawsuit against Arizona, claiming the state systematically made it harder to vote in areas with many minorities than in largely white areas.
For the Democrats, more is at stake than the White House. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is facing his biggest challenge ever in the form of Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ). The result of the lawsuit could greatly affect the Senate race as well as the presidential race.
The case will probably end up in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which is a fairly liberal court. If the court decides that Arizona is violating the Constitution, Arizona will certainly appeal to the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court deadlocks 4 to 4, then the lower court ruling will hold for Arizona and other states in the Ninth Circuit, but not nationwide. (V)
Sen. Mark Kirk (R?-IL), the most vulnerable senator up for reelection in 2016, is sounding more and more like a Democrat every day now. He suddenly discovered that Merrick Garland is entitled to a Senate confirmation vote and that North Carolina should be punished for its new law that makes it legal to discriminate against LGBT people. He is also against mandatory minimum sentences. Any day now he is going to announce that he can't stomach Trump or Cruz and will vote for the Democrat for President.
Generally, these sorts of tactics don't work. In a heavily Democratic state, voters usually prefer the real Democrat to the fake Democrat. Similarly, in heavily Republican states, a Democratic candidate can walk around with a couple of six shooters on his hips and a cap reading: "I love the Second Amendment" on his head, but the voters usually can tell the real McCoy when they see it. Kirk is in deep doo-doo. (V)Email a link to a friend or share:
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