Clinton 1959
Sanders 1240
 Needed   2383
Trump 839
Cruz 566
Rubio 171
Kasich 147
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Trump Just Hired a Lobbyist To Run His Campaign

One of Donald Trump's selling points is that he is so rich he can't be bought. He has nothing but disdain for lobbyists and says they can't influence him. But now he has hired a lobbyist, Paul Manafort, to run his campaign. And Manafort isn't just any old lobbyist: He specializes in working for corrupt foreign dictators. Two of his clients, Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, were driven from power by popular revolutions demanding that their corrupt regimes end immediately. Manafort has also worked for Saudi Arabia and a Bahamanian president suspected of running a drug-smuggling operation. He also worked for Jonas Savimbi, the former Angolan rebel leader accused of torture, from whom he received $600,000 one year.

Manafort does not come cheap, but Trump can afford him. Normally, he won't take on clients unless they are willing to pay a $250,000 annual retainer. Manafort has a reputation for being a sordid operator. In 1989, he was hauled in front of Congress to explain his role in a deal in which he lobbied for a client who got a $43 million subsidy for some low-income apartments and then purchased a 20% share of the project. When a Republican congressman said the whole thing was sleazy, he simply said that he didn't think anything he did was illegal. The list goes on and on and on. Most politicians wouldn't touch anyone like this with a barge pole, but Trump is not your garden-variety politician. (V)

Trump's Argument That the System Is Rigged Is Working

On the face of it, Donald Trump's argument that "the system is rigged" is absurd. The rules about how the delegates are selected have been known for almost a year. He simply didn't pay attention, whereas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) studied them meticulously and acted accordingly. Nevertheless, Nate Silver says the argument is working. Trump is gaining in the polls, and the media are spreading his message far and wide. His basic case is that the rules are pretty complicated; since most people have had experience with complicated rules that they consider unfair at some point in their lives, they are buying into it. Silver points out polling that shows 40% of Republicans want Trump as their nominee but 62% think it is only fair to nominate the person who gets the most delegates, even if it is less than 50%. That is what Trump has been saying.

If the Republican leadership liked Trump and wanted him as their nominee, they would be loudly reading from the same page, but they fear him in the worst way, so they would rather stick to the letter of the rules and try to wrest the nomination from him at a contested convention. If they succeed, but the public agrees with Trump and thinks the GOP stole the nomination that was rightly his, it could get ugly. Even more important is that unbound delegates, sensing what might happen if he comes in 10 or 20 delegates short and they try to nominate Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on the ninth or tenth ballot, could decide to vote for him to avoid tearing the party to pieces. (V)

Anti-Trump Groups Collide with Cruz and Kasich

While neither Ted Cruz nor Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) want to see Donald Trump get 1,237 votes on the first ballot, they are engaged in a nasty fight with some of the anti-Trump groups, such the Our Principles PAC, run by Katie Packer. What the anti-Trump groups want is for either Cruz or Kasich to refrain from campaigning in states where the other is stronger, to avoid splitting the anti-Trump vote. Ground zero is now Indiana, where a recent poll shows Cruz has a chance of winning. The anti-Trump people want Kasich to concede Indiana and go campaign in Maryland, where Cruz is weak. Kasich is refusing to play along and is actively campaigning in Indiana. The consequence of each of Trump's opponents following his own playbook is that although neither one wants Trump to win, their actions may enable precisely that outcome. (V)

Donald Trump: LGBT Champion

For those who may have forgotten, Donald Trump wasn't always a Republican. He used to be a Democrat. Some of his Democratic views are still apparent although they are often overshadowed by his overt racism and sexism. One issue where he is much better aligned with the Democrats than with the Republicans is LGBT rights. When Elton John and longtime partner David Furnish entered into a legal civil partnership in England in 2005, Trump wrote on his blog: "It's a marriage that is going to work." Every other Republican running for President opposes same-sex marriages and civil unions and many of them regard homosexuality as either a sin or at best a disease to be "cured." During the 1980s, he donated to charities focused on the AIDS crisis. In 2000, he gave an interview to a gay magazine in which he supported amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act to make it a crime to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. He also opposes the HB2 "bathroom bill" just passed by North Carolina. This bill overrides city and county laws that prohibit discrimination against transgender people. On all these issues, Trump is indistinguishable from Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and diametrically opposed to Ted Cruz and all the other Republicans who ran for President. (V)

Trump Sinks in Maine

When Maine held its Republican caucus on March 5, Ted Cruz won a somewhat narrow victory, claiming a projected 12 delegates to 9 for Donald Trump and 2 for John Kasich. Well, the victory won't be so narrow when (and if) the Republican convention moves to a second ballot. Showing his usual ability to take advantage of the rules, Cruz managed to get 19 of his supporters elected at the state Republican convention, leaving just one slot for a Trump supporter (the slot went to Gov. Paul LePage). One of the state's RNC delegates has also promised to support The Donald, while the other two are uncommitted. So, once the Maine delegation fulfills its legally-mandated duties on the first ballot, it will thenceforth be 19 for Cruz, 2 for Trump, and 2 unknown. Further, as we have observed before, those 19 will be free to vote for Cruz-favorable rules and rulings throughout the convention.

The proceedings involved a fair amount of drama, as LePage and Cruz—arguably the two most hated Republican officeholders in the country—hurled invective at one another. LePage claimed that the "greedy hooligans" of Cruz's campaign went back on their promise to support a unity slate of candidates reflective of the votes cast by the Maine electorate. Cruz said that LePage is just a Donald Trump toady and nobody should pay him any attention. They are probably both correct. Meanwhile, we may have just gotten a preview of what the Republican National Convention will look like. (Z)

Koch Says Clinton May Be Preferable to Republican

Businessman and Republican benefactor Charles Koch, one half of the Kochtopus, sat for an interview with ABC's "This Week" that will air today. During the course of the discussion, he acknowledged that "it's possible" Hillary Clinton might be a better President than any member of the Republican field, noting that her husband had been a better president than George W. Bush in some ways. Koch even left open the (very) remote possibility that he and his brother might support her in the general election.

The Kochs are really Republitarian more than they are straight Republican, so it's not entirely surprising that they are not finding a horse in this year's field. Without their money, and the money of their extensive political network, the path to the $1 billion needed to wage a general election campaign just gets that much harder for the GOP nominee. (Z)

Is Hillary Clinton Dishonest?

So asks the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof. His answer, of course, is that the "Clinton is dishonest" narrative has been vastly overblown. He acknowledges that, yes, she is sometimes a chameleon on the issues, but says that is part of being a politician—Clinton has "evolved" on the minimum wage, for example, while Bernie Sanders has "evolved" on gun control. He also recognizes that she has shown bad judgment on occasions, often accompanied by defensiveness—her mail server comes to mind—but those things are not dishonesty.

It's a strong argument, though Kristof overlooks one important part of the puzzle: Bill. He's considerably more chameleon-like than she is, and has also been caught in baldfaced lies on occasion—remember Monica Lewinsky? Because the pair are joined at the hip, at least in popular perception, and because they have been the target of a now decades-long anti-Clinton propaganda campaign, her reputation has suffered a lot of collateral damage. It's not terribly fair nor terribly correct, and it lends even more credence to Kristof's ultimate conclusion that voters should focus on the issues, and not the narrative. (Z)

Sanders: I Am Losing Because Poor People Don't Vote

On NBC's Meet the Press taped yesterday, Bernie Sanders said that Clinton had prevailed in the states with the highest levels of inequality because poor people don't vote. He claimed that in 2014, 80% of poor people didn't vote.

That may or may not be true, but it is far from clear that getting poor people to vote would help Sanders. According to the exit polls, Clinton has won people with household incomes below $50,000 by a margin of 55% to 44%. Earlier this month Sanders landed in hot water by suggesting that Clinton's big wins in the South don't really count because those states always vote Republican in the general election. Clinton instantly pointed out that most of the Democrats in the South are black and that perhaps Sanders was suggesting that their views aren't so important? His comments about poor people could also spark some controversy. (V)

Clinton Is Beginning to Look for a Running Mate

While Hillary Clinton hasn't nailed down the nomination yet, the odds that she wins it are so great now (1/50) at Paddy Power that she is starting the process of selecting a Veep. Some of the names of potential running mates and the arguments for them are:

  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA): A moderate from a key swing state
  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): Another moderate from a key swing state
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH): A progressive from an even more important state
  • Former governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts: A prominent black Democrat
  • Sec. Thomas Perez: Secretary of Labor and a Latino
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): A progressive hugely popular with Sanders' supporters

There are so many different factors that it is hard to compare the candidates. For one thing, picking a sitting senator means creating a vacancy in the Senate, so Clinton has to estimate how hard it will be to hold the seat. Is the country ready for a ticket with two women? Or might that bring in so many female voters that she would be a shoo-in? How important is it to have a Latino on the ticket? Does she want an attractive young politician, who may be more interested in increasing his chances for a 2024 run than helping her, or does she want a seasoned hand like Dick Cheney or Joe Biden? There are no clear answers to any of these questions.

One enormous advantage Clinton has over the Republican nominee is that the Democratic convention comes after the Republican one this year. This means she can have several possibilities ready to announce and just wait to see what the Republican ticket looks like. For example, if the Republicans pick a woman as their Veep candidate, possibly Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) or Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM), she might decide to fight back by having an all-woman ticket, either with Warren or possibly Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). If the Republicans have a Latino on their ticket, either Cruz on top or Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the second slot, she might prefer a Latino, such as Perez or Sec. Julian Castro of HUD. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Apr23 Trump Still Doesn't Understand How the Game is Played
Apr23 Indiana Could Be Cruz's Last Stand
Apr23 Fisking the Fundraising Reports
Apr23 RNC Is Scaling Back Down-ballot Commitments
Apr23 Trump Has a Huge Lead in California
Apr23 Trump Has 378 Companies Registered in Delaware
Apr23 Politics in the 21st Century
Apr23 Sanders Has His Own Personal Holy Grail
Apr23 So Much for Little Marco
Apr23 McAuliffe Restores Voting Rights to 206,000 Ex-felons
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