Clinton 1776
Sanders 1125
 Needed   2383
Trump 756
Cruz 559
Rubio 171
Kasich 144
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

New York Primary Is Today

The two-week primary drought comes to an end today with New Yorkers going to the polls. However, they won't be able to pull the lever for Donald Trump—the 50-year-old Shoup lever machines have finally been replaced. Instead they will be able to fill in the oval for Trump, Cruz, or Kasich. Polls show that Trump is above 50% statewide, which means he will get all 14 at-large delegates. For each congressional district in which Trump passes the 50% mark, he gets all three delegates. If he is below that mark, the three delegates are divided proportionally. The New York Republican primary is closed, so only people who registered as a Republican last October can vote in it. If Trump wins most of the 95 delegates, he will be back on track to have a shot of reaching the 1,237 needed to win the nomination. If he falls way short, the publicity will hurt him next week, when most of the remaining Mid-Atlantic and New England states vote.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is widely expected to beat Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) by double digits. With 247 delegates at stake, in one blow she could erase most or all of Sanders' gains in the past seven contests. Both of them can claim New York as "home." Sanders was born in Brooklyn and Clinton has lived in Westchester County for the past 16 years. For both parties, this is a critical election. (V)

Indiana Could Be Crucial

Yesterday, we summarized an AP analysis that showed how Donald Trump could still plausibly get to 1,237 delegates. Among the critical assumptions that the analysis rested upon was that he would do very well in Indiana. Not so fast, says the New York Times' Nate Cohn, who thinks that the Hoosier State could be the most pivotal contest left on the calendar.

The demographics of Indiana are certainly very favorable to Trump—lots of white working-class types with only high school educations. However, the state is also quite favorable to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), with lots of tea partiers and evangelicals. The Texas Senator could well steal much of the 5-15% of the vote that usually goes to Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), who has no real constituency in Indiana. If that happens, Cruz could give Trump a real run for his money, perhaps even pulling out a Wisconsin-style win.

Complicating the situation—or, adding to the mystery, if you like—is that there has been no polling of Indiana, and there may not be much before the primary. This is due, in large part, to the fact that the state does not require voters to register by party, while also forbidding the use of automated polling. These things make it harder to get responses, and so make surveying Indiana much more expensive. Nobody wants to spend that kind of money to poll people who live in the sticks (at least, from the vantage point of New York or Chicago or Washington). So, the major polling firms have historically invested very few resources in the Hoosier State, and may remain loath to do so now. We could very well be in the dark right up to May 3. (Z)

The Republican Party Isn't Fair--but Not for the Reasons Trump Gives

Donald Trump has been whining of late about how Ted Cruz studied the rulebook carefully and has been scooping up delegates from right under his nose. To a large extent, that is his own fault because the delegate allocation rules have been known for a year; Cruz studied them carefully and Trump didn't. But there is a deeper unfairness that he hasn't talked about and probably doesn't even understand: the way delegates are allocated to states by the Republican Party. To start with, each state, regardless of population, gets 10 at-large delegates plus 3 per congressional district. Then the bonuses start. A state gets:

  • 1 extra delegate for each Republican senator
  • 1 extra delegate for having a Republican governor
  • 1 extra delegate if Republicans have a majority in the House delegation
  • 1 extra delegate for each state legislative chamber with a Republican majority
  • 4½ extra delegates if Mitt Romney won the state in 2012

As a consequence of these rules, Massachusetts gets 42 GOP delegates and Tennesse gets 58, even though they have roughly equal populations and each have nine congressional districts. This method of allocating delegates gives much more weight to red states. An even more egregious example: Wyoming, with 586,000 people, has more delegates than Oregon, with 4 million people. In practice, a candidate like Ted Cruz, who does well in red states, has a huge advantage over Trump, who does well in blue states. If Trump wants to complain about the system, maybe he should start here.

Of course, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus would respond that the Republican Party wants to nominate someone its supporters want, not someone who Democrats like. And its supporters are found in states like Wyoming and Tennessee, so they carry extra weight in the allocation process. (V)

McConnell Is "Increasingly Optimistic" that the Convention Will Go To a Second Ballot

Normally party leaders are appalled by the thought of their convention being contested, with rules, credentials, and floor fights all televised in prime time. Not to mention the problem of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again afterwards. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) seems positively giddy about the prospect of a contested convention and is "increasingly optimistic" that there will be a second ballot. While he didn't say so in so many words, what he clearly means is with Donald Trump on the top of the Republican ticket, he can look forward to being the minority leader come January. McConnell pooh-poohed the idea that a group of party leaders in Washington can force the delegates to abandon the voters' choices and foist their own choice on the convention. He noted that if there were such a group, he'd be part of it and he knows nothing about any such group. It's probably true. That doesn't mean the establishment is giving up, but McConnell doesn't really have that much influence on the convention. (V)

Shakeup for Team Trump

Having received several recent object lessons from Ted Cruz in the value of a proper political operation, Donald Trump is reorganizing his campaign team. Out of power are the amateurish loyalists, including thuggish manager Corey Lewandowski, who will be demoted to the political equivalent of waterboy. In power are the seasoned politicos, with Paul Manafort officially taking control of the entire campaign. Trump has also decided to start spending some actual money, with a $20 million ad buy planned for May and June.

Trump has undoubtedly taught the pros some useful lessons with his unorthodox, shoot-from-the-hip, Twitter-powered approach. Now he's starting to recognize that the pros may just know a few things, too. (Z)

What if Facebook Decides They Don't "Like" Trump?

Facebook's official policy, which they have reiterated over and over, is that they will not use their platform to affect the outcomes of elections. "We as a company are neutral," declared a company spokesman, "We have not and will not use our products in a way that attempts to influence how people vote." Perhaps the sentiment is genuine, or perhaps a veneer of neutrality is just good business. Whatever the case may be, The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer has written an interesting thought piece about how Zuckerberg and Co. could affect elections without anyone being the wiser.

One possibility would be to prune the Facebook news feed, dramatically reducing the number of stories about Trump (or, at least, the number of positive stories about Trump). He's gorged himself on free publicity throughout the campaign, and this would be tantamount to cutting off the buffet. Since the algorithms that manage the feed have invariably mystified those outsiders that tried to crack the code, only a few Facebook engineers would be the wiser.

The other, and perhaps more effective, option would involve Facebook's "I Voted" button. When a user indicates that they have cast their ballot by pressing the button, their friends are notified. According to some very well-regarded research, the resulting social pressure makes those friends more likely to get to the polling place, potentially to the tune of hundreds of thousands of votes across the country. If Facebook were to display that information only to users with a college degree, for example, or to users residing in blue states, then they could presumably direct the vast majority of the vote-inducing social pressure to non-Trump voters. There is no indication that the company is thinking in this way, though of course, they would hardly announce it even if they were (cue the black helicopters). (Z)

Trump Is Costing the Democrats Money

Conventions are expensive to run, and both parties go hat in hand to big companies asking for donations in return for giving them some free publicity. Normally, large publicly-held companies give the same amount to each party to avoid alienating partisan customers. With Trump likely to make a big splash at the Republican convention this year and few companies wanting to have anything to do with him, a lot of companies are still going to give the same amount to each party: zero. Target, Bank of America, Duke Energy, and Time Warner, all of which contributed to the Democratic convention last time, have either said definitely no or are leaning that way.

Both parties are also wooing big donors with special packages. Democrats who give $210,000 (or raise that amount from others) get the "1776 package," which includes two hotel rooms, DNC credentials, access to hospitality areas, skybox passes, and eight tickets to DCCC events. At all of those they will be accosted and asked to give more money. Donors giving $1.25 million get VIP credentials, photo ops, and meetings with top officials. The Republicans have similar arrangements for big donors. (V)

Bernie Sanders Is Following a Well-Trodden Path

Democratic insurgents on the left who attack the establishment are nothing new. They have been around for decades. In 1968, Gene McCarthy challenged a sitting Democratic President and drove him out of the race. In 1972, George McGovern was a grass roots candidate who opposed the establishment in general and the Vietnam War in particular. Unlike most insurgents, he won the Democratic nomination but was crushed in the general election. In 1984, then-senator Gary Hart ran a seat-of-the-pants insurgent campaign against the establishment candidate Walter Mondale. Hart managed to prevent Mondale from getting a majority of the pledged delegates, but the superdelegates put Mondale over the top. In 1992, Jerry Brown ran for President while attacking lobbyists, wealthy donors, and political action committees. In 2000, Bill Bradley called for universal health insurance and attacked Al Gore for supporting Bill Clinton's welfare reform law. In 2004, Howard Dean ran on a slogan of "Take our country back." So Sanders is simply the most recent Democratic insurgent in a long list.

Officially, the U.S. has two political parties that are on the ballot in every state and a raft of smaller parties on the ballot in a few states. De facto, however, the U.S. has four political factions:

  • Left-wing Democrats (e.g., Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren)
  • Mainstream Democrats (e.g., Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama)
  • Mainstream Republicans (e.g., Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan)
  • Tea party Republicans (e.g., Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin)

In a parliamentary system, each one would be a separate party, with seats in the parliament based on the proportion of the vote each one got. If the U.S. were to switch to such a system and four parties each had about a quarter of the seats in Congress, nothing would ever get done (sort of like now, come to think of it). Countries that have such a system, like Belgium, Italy, and Israel, often have very unstable and short-lived governments.

The U.S. actually had a four-way presidential race like this once, in 1912. The conservative was William Howard Taft. The moderate Republican was Teddy Roosevelt. The mainstream Democrat was Woodrow Wilson. The socialist was Eugene Debs. It was a messy election that Wilson won. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Apr18 Republicans Don't Want a White Knight
Apr18 Chairman of the GOP Rules Committee Blasts Priebus
Apr18 The Plot Thickens In Colorado
Apr18 Republican Delegates Feel the Power
Apr18 Trump's Path to the Nomination
Apr18 Trump and Sanders Have More in Common than Many People Think
Apr18 Clinton is Warming to a $15 Minimum Wage
Apr18 Clinton Winning States that Best Represent the Democratic Party
Apr18 California Independents May Be Unable to Vote in Primaries
Apr17 Cruz Sweeps Wyoming
Apr17 Trump Threatens the Republican National Committee
Apr17 Can the GOP Survive 2016?
Apr17 Priebus Prefers to Face Clinton
Apr17 Only Three Publications Have Endorsed Donald Trump
Apr17 Trump May Win the West Virginia Primary but Get Few Delegates
Apr17 Hillary Clinton Gets the Most Negative Media Coverage
Apr17 Clinton Repudiates Clinton
Apr17 Sanders Supporters Throw Money at Clinton
Apr16 Democratic Debate Postmortem
Apr16 Republican National Committee to Debate the Convention Rulebook
Apr16 Trump Campaigns on New York Values
Apr16 Rove Dumps on Trump
Apr16 Nearly Half of All super-PAC Money Comes from 50 Families
Apr16 Nearly Half of All Super-PAC Money Comes from 50 Families
Apr16 The GOP Convention Could End in Chaos
Apr16 Sanders' Trip to Rome Was a Quickie
Apr16 Sanders Releases His 2014 Tax Returns
Apr15 Clinton, Sanders Spar in New York
Apr15 Trump Has a Big Lead in Pennsylvania
Apr15 Sam Wang: Trump Is Still the Favorite for the GOP Nomination
Apr15 One-Third of Republican Voters Are Open to an Independent Run by Trump
Apr15 New York Post Endorses Trump
Apr15 Senators Won't Support Cruz Even When He Asks Directly
Apr15 Trump Could Lose 100 Delegates This Weekend
Apr15 From Brooklyn to Vatican in 12 Hours
Apr15 Democrats Will Sue Arizona Today over Voting Rights
Apr15 Kirk Goes Full RINO To Save His Neck
Apr14 Cruz Likely To Stop Trump on the Second Ballot
Apr14 The Conservative Media Giants Are Badly Split
Apr14 Trump Lashes Out at Reince Priebus
Apr14 Cruz Is Outmaneuvering Trump in California
Apr14 Lewandowski Likely to Avoid Prosecution
Apr14 Is it Wise to Trick Your Supporters?
Apr14 Superdelegates Backfiring on the Democrats
Apr14 Merkley Endorses Sanders
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