Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1237,   Dem: 2242
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Democratic Debate Postmortem
      •  GOP Candidates Take Their Turn in New Hampshire
      •  New Poll of New Hampshire Puts Rubio Second
      •  Sanders Catches Clinton in New National Poll
      •  Why Do Millennials Love Sanders?
      •  Trump Will Appear at March 3 Debate Moderated by Megyn Kelly

Democratic Debate Postmortem

The commentariat has discovered that there was, to their surprise, a Democratic debate on Thursday. Here's what they think about how Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) did:

Left-leaning media:
Dylan Matthews, Vox: Winners: Clinton, Sanders. Losers: DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Wall Street, Doves. "Sanders clearly won on domestic policy. Clinton clearly won on foreign policy. And both gave excellent performances that offered compelling substantive grounds for supporting them. It feels perverse to label either a loser."

Chris Cillizza, WaPo: Winners: Clinton, two-person debates, split screens, Chuck Todd/Rachel Maddow. Losers: Sanders, New Hampshire, the DNC, time. "I hesitate to put the Vermont socialist in the "loser" category because he did very little in the debate that will slow his momentum heading into a near-certain New Hampshire win. But I also hate when analysts and reporters take the easy way out when picking winners and losers. It was a two-person debate; if Clinton won then Sanders, by definition, didn't win."

Taegan Goddard, Political Wire: Winner: None. Loser: None. "The real winners were Democratic voters. Anyone who watched learned a lot. It made the Republican debates look like over-produced game shows."

Steve Benen, MSNBC: Winner: None. Loser: None. "In the aftermath of the Republican debates, it's hard not to ask, 'What's wrong with these people?' Last night, however, I found myself thinking, 'These two are good.'"

Jim Newell, Slate: Winner: Sanders. Loser: Clinton. "[i]f Clinton wants to either win the New Hampshire primary, or place above a well-spun bar of expectations (single-digit loss!), she needed to land a number of serious blows against Sanders Thursday night. She did not."

Right-leaning media:
Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner: Winner: None. Loser: Sanders. "In a raucous and often edifying debate, the candidates at times highlighted the real differences between the pragmatic, corporate-friendly party establishment and the pitchfork-waving progressive base. But when asked about foreign policy, Sanders did not attack Hillary where she was weakest: her central role in crafting the Libyan war, which has helped the Islamic State militant group (ISIS)."

Pierreguy Veer, The Blaze: Winner: None. Losers: Clinton, Sanders. "Let's hope Republicans will...show the people of New Hampshire and beyond that they must end their eight-year nightmare. If Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton goes in the White House, be ready for more depressing job figures."

Steve Forbes, Forbes: Winner: Clinton. Loser: Sanders. "No surprise, Clinton won Foreign Policy. Getting her mojo back."

Michael Mazza, American Enterprise Institute: Winner: None. Losers: Clinton, Sanders. "Neither, apparently, considered that a novel approach [to North Korea] might be warranted given the failed policies of three successive presidents. Neither bothered mentioning U.S. ally South Korea or the 28,000 American troops stationed there. Neither seemed interested in investing in missile defenses or other capabilities to mitigate a growing threat to the homeland. Neither even bothered committing to a goal of denuclearization."

Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review: Winner: None. Loser: None. "Secretary Clinton started the debate strong, arguing that Senator Sanders had an unrealistically narrow definition of progressive and that she could actually make progress, as defined by progressives, happen. But she never got around to explaining how, since she would very likely be governing with a Republican House and probably with a Republican Senate as well."

Foreign media:
Anthony Zurcher, BBC: Winner: None. Loser: None. "[I]t's clear at this point that, unlike Republican voters, most Democrats are more concerned with economic interests than foreign policy."

Abigail Abrams, International Business Times: Winner: Clinton. Loser: Sanders. "In a debate dominated by arguments over which candidate was the true progressive, the former secretary of state came out swinging."

Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian (UK): Winner: None. Loser: None. " In a contest tighter and sharper than almost anyone predicted, the battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders—whose next front is [a] small, frozen state on the east coast, which votes on Tuesday—has acquired an unfamiliar doctrinal edge."

Across the thirteen outlets, the tally ends up like this:

Clinton: 4 wins, 3 losses, 5 draws
Sanders: 2 wins, 6 losses, 5 draws

In short, the debate was very even, with nearly all commentators who declared a "winner" or a "loser" splitting hairs to make their determination. Sanders, of course, won all the online polls, getting 80% or more of the votes on Fox, Slate, Time, and heavy.com, among others. He also dominated Google searches, though in a reversal of the usual situation, Clinton slightly outpaced him in terms of Twitter mentions.

The fact checkers, including USA Today, FactCheck, and Politifact went through the matchup with a fine-tooth comb, and did not find too much of substance to complain about. The last GOP debate, for example, got one "half-flip," four "mostly falses," two "completely falses," and one "pants on fire" from Politifact; Clinton and Sanders pulled just one "completely false" and two "half-trues" between them. Their most scrutinized remarks, across all of the various fact-checkers' reports, were Sanders' claim he never falsified an endorsement (the one claim rated false by Politifact), his assertion that most new wealth is going to the 1% (one of the half trues), and Clinton's suggestion she never supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership (the other half true).

The main theme of the coverage, overall, is how very good the debate was. A great many pundits were effusive in their praise of the moderators, and of the candidates for keeping the focus on substantive issues of philosophy and policy. The bad news is that not many people were around to see it—the meeting drew an anemic 4.48 million viewers, making it the least-watched candidates' debate so far. The DNC had better hope that this is a product of the last-minute scheduling (and lack of promotion), and not debate fatigue (or maybe all those millions of Martin O'Malley fans tuning out.) We will learn in one week—there's plenty of time to get the word out for the next meeting, in Milwaukee. (Z)

GOP Candidates Take Their Turn in New Hampshire

With the Democratic candidates having taken their turn Thursday, it's the Republicans who will hold a weekend debate this time. The proceedings will get underway at 8 P.M. EST, and will be hosted and broadcast by ABC News (and also streamed on abcnews.com). World News Tonight anchor David Muir and This Week co-anchor and chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz will moderate.

The undercard debates are now a thing of the past; seven candidates will be on stage Saturday: Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Carson, and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). This means that the only remaining candidates who will not be given an invite are Carly Fiorina and Jim Gilmore. Gilmore's been so scarce lately they're thinking of putting his picture on milk cartons, but the exclusion of Fiorina is strange and rather arbitrary. Culling eight candidates down to seven will have no meaningful impact in terms of making the debate more substantive, and the Iowa results make clear that Fiorina is no more or less viable than Christie or Kasich. If ABC had a little fortitude, they would have told everyone but Cruz, Rubio, and Trump "thanks but no thanks." Failing that, they should have just included everyone and then let New Hampshirites sort it out.

Speaking of Trump, he likely wins just by showing up—this will suggest a bit of humility, and also that he can "learn his lessons." Beyond that, however, he can (and will) probably take it easy and play it safe. The Granite State is in the bag for him, and once the votes are counted, he'll have momentum and the narrative on his side again, most likely.

Cruz, for his part, will work hard to try and persuade everyone that it is really he who has the momentum, and will take every opportunity to remind viewers that he was the one who triumphed in Iowa. Recent polls have been yanking the rug out from under Trump (or Trump out from under the rug?), and Cruz will presumably try to further encourage that trend, making The Donald his primary target. Cruz's problem is that he's getting very little mileage out of taking Iowa or, for that matter, out of "winning" most of the debates. He's therefore unlikely to gain much from this debate, no matter how well he does or how effectively he lands his punches, particularly since he's about to face a group of Republican voters who don't much care for his brand of conservatism. Too bad for the Senator that he can't claim that Martha Raddatz has it in for him and stay home on Saturday.

Rubio probably has the greatest range of possible outcomes. Between the polls, and the endorsements, and the fundraising, there's no doubting that he's on the rise right now and is in a position to be christened the establishment's choice. If he can sell the argument that he's the electable candidate, or can do whatever else it takes to secure a nice, strong second-place finish in New Hampshire, he will be the big winner Saturday. However, he is likely to have the biggest target of the night on his back, and he has not always done well under fire in previous debates. If he seems petulant, or uncertain, or otherwise shaky, he could slip most of the way back to the pack.

Kasich, Christie, and Bush, for their part, will be the ones aiming at Rubio. All three hope that Trump and/or Cruz will eventually be a problem for them, but the current existential threat is the Florida Senator. From Reince Priebus on down, the establishment politicians and donors and activists are desperate for a champion to rally around, and the three governors will do anything to keep them from getting it. Rubio is excellent when delivering scripted remarks, and will be very well prepared for the obvious lines of attack (and many of the less obvious ones) so they better come up with something creative.

Ben Carson will also be present, taking advantage of the opportunity to show off his nice, clean suit. He had better hope it is impressive, because the candidate himself is sure to underwhelm. His campaign is in chaos, and while he could use a strong performance if he wants to have even a slim chance of righting the ship, he's shown no ability to deliver it. Expect another showing that brings to mind the word "Valium" more than it does the word "President."

This is surely the last stand for many of these candidates, perhaps as many as half a dozen of them. There is no path forward for Fiorina and Gilmore, and the terrible showing they will each deliver in New Hampshire will presumably cause one or both to finally throw in the towel. There aren't enough voters to keep all three governors viable as challengers to Rubio, so at least two of them (and probably all three) will be repudiated next Tuesday. Carson has the money and the polling numbers to linger a bit longer if he wants to, but it certainly seems like he doesn't want to. In any event, there should be a fair bit of desperation in the air, which could make for an interesting evening. And if not, well, there's always the candidates' coloring book put together by the good people at USA Today to be used in case of a boring debate. (Z)

New Poll of New Hampshire Puts Rubio Second

Ted Cruz got some negative momentum as a result of the Iowa caucuses. He won them by a reasonable margin, but it doesn't seem to have helped him going into New Hampshire. Of course, the Republican electorates in the two states are quite different. Suffolk University released a poll of the Granite State yesterday with Trump still safely in first and Marco Rubio second. Here are the numbers:

New Hampshire
Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 29%
2 Marco Rubio 19%
3 John Kasich 13%
4 Jeb Bush 10%
5 Ted Cruz 7%
6 Chris Christie 5%
7 Ben Carson 4%

A month ago, the Suffolk poll had Cruz and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) tied for second after Trump at 12% each and Rubio following at 10%.

Rubio got a boost in Nevada as well yesterday with the appearance of an editorial endorsement of Rubio by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is owned by Sheldon Adelson. So it looks like Rubio has won the Adelson primary, whose prize could be worth $100 million. The Florida senator is clearly on a roll now. (V)

Sanders Catches Clinton in New National Poll

A Quinnipiac University poll shows a dramatic change in the Democratic race, with Hillary Clinton at 44% to Sen. Bernie Sanders at 42%. This would be an enormous jump for Sanders if it is really true, since Clinton held a 25-point lead only 2 weeks ago. It might be wise to wait for another couple of polls before believing this, though—races don't normally move this much so fast in the absence of any major news.

On the other hand, Clinton is catching up to Sanders in New Hampshire, although she is still far behind. A WBUR poll puts Sanders at 54% and Clinton at 39%, a gap of 15%. The most recent poll before this one had Sanders up by 30 points. (V)

Why Do Millennials Love Sanders?

Hillary Clinton has tried very hard to get millennials to love her. She has dispatched millennial favorites, including Lena Dunham, Katy Perry, and Amy Schumer to campaign for her, but it hasn't worked. Why not? Catherine Rampell in the Washington Post has a couple of thoughts on the matter. First, while "socialist" is a dirty word to many older Americans, it is a feature, not a bug, to many young Americans. A recent YouGov poll showed that among respondents under 30, 43% had a favorable association with "socialism" and only 32% had a favorable association with capitalism. The logic here is clear: Socialism is good, Sanders is a socialist, ergo, Sanders is good.

The other reason has a darker side. Sanders is authentic. In practice, that means he goes everywhere in a rumpled, ill-fitting suit. His hair flies in all directions. He is angry and yells a lot. He doesn't act at all like a politician and the millennials eat this up. Now imagine a female politician with ill-fitting clothes, wild hair, and a tendency to yell herself hoarse all the time. Can you imagine the reaction? She would become an object of scorn and ridicule. There is no way a woman could behave like Sanders and become a heroine for it. Even the most fiery women in politics, such as Sarah Palin and Gov. Susana Martinez, make a point to dress carefully and look as pretty as possible in public. So Clinton has to dress very carefully, have every hair in place, and never raise her voice. This makes her look very scripted, which, of course, she is. But the double standard does give Sanders an advantage. (V)

Trump Will Appear at March 3 Debate Moderated by Megyn Kelly

Donald Trump's loss in Iowa—which came after he skipped the Republican debate due to his fear Megyn Kelly wouldn't be nice to him—has apparently convinced him is better off debating than not debating. He has now said that he will be on stage on March 3, even though Kelly will be asking the questions. While he still doesn't like Kelly, he likes losing even less. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Feb05 Democrats Duel in Durham
Feb05 Trump Barely Ahead in New National Poll
Feb05 Rubio in Second Place in New Hampshire
Feb05 Powell and Rice also Used Personal Email Accounts for Classified Data
Feb05 Barbara Bush To Campaign for Jeb in New Hampshire
Feb05 Cruz Raised $3 Million Since Iowa Caucuses
Feb04 February Lineup for the Republican Nomination
Feb04 Could the Republicans Be Down to Three Serious Candidates Already?
Feb04 Santorum and Paul Call It Quits
Feb04 Rubio is Gaining Momentum, Though at What Cost?
Feb04 Trump Says He Will Sue Over the Iowa Caucus Results
Feb04 Ted Cruz Has Another Misunderstanding
Feb04 In New Hampshire, Sanders Leads Clinton by 33 Points
Feb04 Clinton Raised $27 Million from State Parties
Feb04 Additional Democratic Debates Are a Go
Feb03 Clinton Barely Edges Out Sanders in Final Iowa Tally
Feb03 Clinton and Sanders Voters See Issues Differently
Feb03 Republican Voters Also See Things Differently
Feb03 It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Feb03 Is Cruz Like Santorum?
Feb03 Bush, Kasich, and Chrisie Are Going to Aim Their Arrows at Rubio
Feb03 Devil Is in the Details for Democratic Debates
Feb03 MacFarland Has a Message for Cruz
Feb03 Sanders Has Yet Another Multimillion Dollar Day
Feb02 Let the Spin Begin
Feb01 Caucus Day Is Upon Us
Feb01 Monday Is Also Judgment Day for Microsoft
Feb01 Sanders Has a Massive Rally in Iowa City
Feb01 Sanders Raised $20 million in January
Feb01 Koch Brothers Network Spent $400 Million in 2015
Feb01 Soros Gives $8 million to Clinton
Feb01 DNC Will Sanction More Debates
Feb01 Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Enemies Closer
Jan31 Ann Selzer: It's Clinton and Trump
Jan31 The People Who Don't Love Trump, Hate Trump
Jan31 How about a Trump/Sanders Ticket?
Jan31 Is the Bloom off the Ted Cruz Rose?
Jan31 How Will Christians Vote?
Jan31 Guide to Help You Pick a Candidate
Jan31 Clinton and Sanders Agree to Have More Debates
Jan31 Clinton Turns to Gabby Giffords to Help Her Campaign in Iowa
Jan31 Sanders Lists the Top Ten Corporate Tax Dodgers
Jan31 New York Times Endorses Clinton and Kasich
Jan31 No Loyalty Oath in Virginia
Jan30 Republican Debate Postmortem
Jan30 Clinton Leads in Iowa
Jan30 No Surge of New Voters in Iowa
Jan30 Some of Clinton's Emails Were Highly Classified
Jan30 What Explains the Rise of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz?
Jan30 Some Union Members Like Trump