Clinton 1915
Sanders 1233
 Needed   2383
Trump 846
Cruz 559
Rubio 171
Kasich 149
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Trump Still Doesn't Understand How the Game is Played

The Republican National Committee met in Florida this week, with 168 convention delegates present (the RNC members), quite a few of them unbound. You might think that dropping by and saying a few kind words about all the good work they do for the Republican Party would be a no-brainer for someone trying to get their votes in Cleveland, but it didn't occur to Donald Trump. He was a no show. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) certainly thought of it and held back-to-back meetings with small groups of about a dozen members, where they could quiz him on his positions and get to know him. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) was there talking to the RNC members as well. But no Trump.

Why wasn't Trump there? Jennifer Rubin—no friend of Trump—has speculated that the committee members, all of whom are politically sophisticated and know very well what the Republican Party stands for, might ask embarrassing questions, such as:

  • Hillary Clinton is beating you in all the polls. Shouldn't we pick a "winner"?
  • You have the highest unfavorables with women, Latinos, and other groups. How can you possibly win?
  • Why haven't you hired respected advisors to teach you about policy?
  • How can you be on the same stage with Clinton and not be way over your head?
  • Why don't you release your tax returns? What are you hiding?
  • How can you go after Clinton when you are on trial for fraud, and have run afoul of labor laws?
  • Even if you stumble over the finish line in July, how can you run an effective general election campaign?
  • Your handling of the Lewandowski incident was troubling. What are we supposed to think about your judgment?
  • Paul Manafort is hiring lobbyists for your staff. Are you concerned that he lobbied for brutal dictatorships?
  • Why do you keep saying the system is rigged? Are you blaming us for your not knowing the rules?

Now you might have a better idea of why Trump decided to stay home. (V)

Indiana Could Be Cruz's Last Stand

Trump is almost certain to rack up more delegates than Cruz in Tuesday's voting on the East Coast. Then comes Indiana, which is not a sure thing for Trump. If Cruz can't beat him there, a lot of people are thinking he can't beat him anywhere and Trump will be the presumptive nominee. Cruz's father, also named Rafael Cruz, barnstormed the state for two weeks for his son, trying to rev up religious voters. The goal is to turn Indiana into another Wisconsin.

However, Indiana is not Wisconsin. Not enough cows. Also, in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) became a Cruz supporter after he dropped out of the race himself. In addition, some of the key talk radio personalities really lit into Trump in Wisconsin. These factors won't be present in Indiana. Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) hasn't endorsed anyone and the talk show hosts aren't all pro-Cruz. Furthermore, Indiana has more rust-belt-type industries than Wisconsin and the workers in those industries tend to support Trump. Finally, Kasich could prove popular in Indiana since he is similar in some ways to former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels.

A poll of Indiana taken for WTHR/HPI and released late yesterday has these results:

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 37%
2 Ted Cruz 31%
3 John Kasich 22%

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 48%
2 Bernie Sanders 45%

It doesn't look good for Cruz, although the primary isn't until May 3. For Sanders, five losses next week and then a loss in Indiana would be especially painful. (V)

Fisking the Fundraising Reports

The Hill's Jonathan Swan has taken a close look at the most recent fundraising numbers submitted by the five presidential campaigns and reported on what he found, as follows:

  • Bernie Sanders is taking in money hand-over-fist, but is also spending like a drunken sailor, much of it on ads. The campaign collected $46 million in March and spent $45.7 million. As long as his supporters are still feeling the Bern, however, the Vermont Senator can afford it. Since he's collecting small donations, he can keep hitting up his "campaign ATM," since fairly few of his donors have reached the legal limit.

  • Hillary Clinton is doing fine, raising $26.8 million and spending $28.7 million in March. However, she gets bigger donations from a smaller number of donors, and to keep the cash flowing she has to spend a great deal of time and energy on the cocktail party and fundraising dinner circuit.

  • Donald Trump is finally spending money—$13.8 million in March, of which $11.5 million came from his own pocket. He is, obviously, being far outspent by both of the Democratic candidates.

  • Ted Cruz has not benefited from the departures of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeb Bush, taking in a fairly paltry $12.5 million in March, about the same as he collected in February. Much like Bush, SuperPAC money is keeping his campaign viable.

  • John Kasich raised a mere $4.5 million in March, and finished the month with only $1.2 million on hand. He's running on fumes, though his current strategy—being available as a compromise candidate at a contested convention—doesn't necessarily require a lot of cash.

It's just more evidence that the Democrats are on fairly sound footing, financially-speaking, while the Republican candidate—whoever he may prove to be—looks headed for trouble. (Z)

RNC Is Scaling Back Down-ballot Commitments

Earlier this year, the RNC issued detailed playbooks in the most competitive states, telling how it was going to help with money and manpower. Now it is saying, well, maybe not so much and not so fast. The problem, of course, is that donors are very hesitant to give money to the RNC when the presidential race is so uncertain. That is clearly already playing out in Senate and House races. In fact, the situation is so bad that the RNC is taking steps to create a separate entity that will focus only on Senate races, so donors who want to give have a place to send their checks without worrying about inadvertently helping Trump. The situation is not likely to improve until after the nominee is known for certain, and if it is Trump, it may not improve at all. Currently, the RNC has only $16 million in the bank and has a debt of $2 million.

The members of the RNC, who met this week in Florida, have also figured out that they are not going to have money to help Trump if he is the nominee, and not all of them want to, anyway. Furthermore, Trump has no donor network and has so far not shown any sign of his willingness and ability to self-fund a serious presidential campaign. Small donations don't do the job in a presidential campaign that could easily cost each side $500 million to $1 billion and Trump not only doesn't have a financial plan, he doesn't have a financial team in place. So the usual conviviality at RNC meetings was a bit muted this time. (V)

Trump Has a Huge Lead in California

While the most populous state is generally an afterthought in primary elections, in the tight Republican race this year it could make the difference between Donald Trump winning on the first ballot in Cleveland and chaos there. A new Fox News poll has the New York billionaire ahead of the Texas Senator by 27 points, as follows:

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 49%
2 Ted Cruz 22%
3 John Kasich 20%
Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 48%
2 Bernie Sanders 46%

California has 172 delegates at stake on June 7 and could be the state that puts Trump over the top. On the Democratic side, the race is tightening and is now a statistical tie. However, for Sanders, a tie or even a small win is not enough. He needs an absolute blowout to catch up to Clinton in pledged delegates. (V)

Trump Has 378 Companies Registered in Delaware

While campaigning in Delaware in advance of Tuesday primary there, Donald Trump tried to convince the voters how much he loves the state by pointing out that he has 378 companies registered in the state, regarded by many people as a domestic tax haven. While this news may go over well with Delaware voters, it probably went over even bigger with Hillary Clinton's oppo team. The combination of his not releasing his tax returns and having 378 companies in a state known for low corporate taxes and light regulation of businesses is surely going to make the question: "What are you hiding?" a campaign issue. (V)

Politics in the 21st Century

In an apparent acknowledgement of the impact that the Internet is having on the campaign, a pro-Clinton SuperPAC has announced that it will invest $1 million "to engage in online messaging both for Secretary Clinton and to push back against attackers on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Instagram." The effort will begin soon, and will continue through the general election, so while it is undoubtedly a response to Bernie Sanders' supporters, it is not exclusively going to be directed at the "Bernie Bros."

Once this news broke, Reddit and Twitter were flooded with declarations that Sanders' campaign had already been doing the same thing, reportedly having paid $16 million to a company called "Revolution Messaging" for 1 million hours of labor for "professional trolling on Twitter, Facebook and so on." The Sanders campaign does not deny the expenditure, but says that it was for "online ads, email fundraising, web development, graphic design, photography and videography" as opposed to paying people for Twitter and Facebook messaging. If true, $16 million is an awful lot of ads, graphic design, and web development.

Between Donald Trump's tweeting and the Bernie Bros. Facebooking, and the various other expenditures it seems clear that—whoever wins the election this year—2016 is going to be remembered as the year when the pros truly came to recognize the importance of social media, in much the same way that 2008 was the year that taught them about the significance of data collection. (Z)

Sanders Has His Own Personal Holy Grail

Speaking of fundraising and data collection, Bernie Sanders has an enormously valuable asset at his disposal: His fundraising list. It's a repository of millions of names of people who are potentially willing to donate time and money to Democratic candidates (at least, those who fit their fancy).

Needless to say, every Democrat in the country who is running for office right now—from Hillary Clinton on down—would like to get their hands on that database. Consequently, when and if the Vermont Senator throws in the towel, he will still have two very useful ways to drag Democrats leftward: His endorsement, and his data. (Z)

So Much for "Little Marco"

Now that Marco Rubio is no longer an opponent, Donald Trump's opinion of the Florida Senator has apparently improved quite dramatically. So much so that The Donald says he would like to have Rubio in his cabinet. Meanwhile, in a completely "unrelated" story, the soon-to-be-unemployed Rubio has (cautiously) indicated that he will endorse Trump for president.

Naturally, this sort of horse trading happens a lot, sometimes even in a public and rather ham-fisted fashion, like we're seeing here. The Election of 1824, when the secretaryship of state was de facto traded for the presidency, leaps to mind. In any case, since "Secretary Rubio" and "Republican candidate Trump" are still very hypothetical at this point, these stories are primarily of interest because they would seem to suggest that a Cruz-Rubio ticket is now a dead deal. Besides, Trump has said he wants an experienced politician as a running mate and Rubio is a first-term senator and a bit of a lightweight. (Z)

McAuliffe Restores Voting Rights to 206,000 Ex-felons

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), a close ally of Hillary Clinton, has restored the voting rights of 206,000 felons who have served their time and have been released. It applies to not only ex-felons who applied to have their voting rights restored, but also to those who did not apply. The move is a shift from Virginia's long-standing policy of lifetime disenfranchisement of all felons. Republicans instantly attacked the move, saying it is simply a gift to his friend Hillary Clinton. Many of the ex-felons are black and are likely to be grateful to the governor and vote for Clinton in the general election. The change is not permanent, however, and the next governor could reverse it. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Apr22 Trump Might Have a Money Problem in the General Election
Apr22 Sanders Is Forcing Clinton to Spend All Her Money on the Primaries
Apr22 Trump Way Ahead in California
Apr22 Trump to RNC: It Was All an Act
Apr22 RNC Rejects Robert's Rules of Order
Apr22 Trump Is Affecting the Electorate
Apr22 Republican Veepstakes Begin
Apr22 Surprise: Not All Votes Are Angry
Apr22 Surprise: Not All Voters Are Angry
Apr22 New York Didn't Change Anything
Apr22 Clinton-Warren 2016?
Apr22 Emily's List Is on the Air for Donna Edwards
Apr21 Trump Might Just Make It
Apr21 Trump Triumphed Across the Board in New York
Apr21 Who's Voting For Trump?
Apr21 Clinton Beat Sanders in Many Demographic Groups, but Not All
Apr21 Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Redistricting
Apr21 Southern Democrats Feeling Berned by Sanders
Apr21 Kos Has Had It With Bernie Fans
Apr21 Kasich Says GOP Doesn't Like Ideas
Apr21 Trump's Plane Is Not Registered
Apr21 May Hearing Set for Release of Trump University Lawsuit Documents
Apr21 Laughing at Ted Cruz
Apr20 Lousy Night for the Republican Establishment
Apr20 Great Night for the Democratic Establishment
Apr20 Clinton and Trump Have Big Leads in Maryland
Apr20 Married Women Don't Like Trump
Apr20 Neither Party Really Wants the White Working Class
Apr20 Democrats Are Winning the Battle of Garland
Apr20 Bribing Delegates is a Felony in Ohio
Apr20 Ryan Tells Republican Officials To Attend Their Own Convention
Apr19 New York Primary Is Today
Apr19 Indiana Could Be Crucial
Apr19 The Republican Party Isn't Fair--but Not for the Reasons Trump Gives
Apr19 McConnell Is Increasingly Optimistic that the Convention Will Go To a Second Ballot
Apr19 Shakeup for Team Trump
Apr19 What if Facebook Decides They Don't Like Trump?
Apr19 Trump Is Costing the Democrats Money
Apr19 Bernie Sanders Is Following a Well-Trodden Path
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