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
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News from the Votemaster

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Republican Debate Postmortem
      •  In New Hampshire, It's Trump, Then a Four-way Tie for Second
      •  Myths about the New Hampshire Primary
      •  Sanders Outspending Clinton 3-to-1 in New Hampshire
      •  Trump's Draft Deferments Could Be an Issue in South Carolina
      •  Clinton Still Ahead in Iowa

Republican Debate Postmortem

It may have taken a while for them all to get on stage, but Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) squared off in New Hampshire on Saturday. Here's what people are saying:

Left-leaning media
Aaron Blake, WaPo: Winners: Trump, Cruz, Christie. Losers: Rubio, Carson. "The question, though, is did Christie help himself, or just hurt Rubio? He doesn't have much of a pulse in this race—even in New Hampshire, which is vital to his path to victory."

Dylan Matthews, Vox: Winners: Christie, Trump. Losers: Rubio, the moderators, Carson. "Saturday, February 6, 2016 will forever be known as the day that Marco Rubio looked like a malfunctioning robot, utterly incapable of engaging in normal human conversation and desperately searching his ROM for the hard-coded talking points his operators had soldered in."

John Cassidy, The New Yorker: Winner: Christie. Loser: Rubio. "After the debate, some commentators compared Rubio to Dan Quayle, whom Lloyd Bentsen had roughed up during a 1988 television debate, and to Admiral James Stockdale, Ross Perot's running mate, who had mental blocks during a debate in 1992."

Shane Goldmacher, Politico: Winner: Christie. Loser: Rubio. "It was a defining moment as Rubio's opponents successfully turned two of his greatest strengths—his eloquence and message discipline—against him in the final debate before the New Hampshire primary, casting the Florida senator as a lightweight leader who has been lifted by little more than lofty and canned rhetoric."

Todd Graham, CNN: Winner: Kasich. Losers: Rubio, Cruz. "All I could think of when watching this exchange was that young Senator who couldn't handle the pressure of delivering the Republican response to the State of the Union and reached for his glass of water. Rubio appeared exactly like so many novice debaters I've judged who don't know how to handle a cross examination, so they simply repeat whatever they've memorized."

Right-leaning media
Niall Stanage, The Hill: Winner: Christie. Losers: Rubio, Carson. "[Rubio was] the biggest loser, by far, on Saturday night. He was badly wounded in the exchanges with Christie. That fight would matter less if it did not so neatly confirm an existing negative image of Rubio—that his polish wears off if he has to go off-script."

Rich Lowry, National Review: Winner: Christie. Loser: Rubio. "Rubio only validated Christie's attack on him by seeming so relentlessly scripted. The moment already has dominated the post-debate discussion and will continue to do so—the clips of Rubio saying the same thing is just irresistible to TV producers."

Byron York and Gabby Morrongiello, Washington Examiner: Winner: Christie. Loser: Rubio. "Despite its awkward start, the clear divides between governors and legislators were on display during Saturday's GOP debate. In what has been dubbed "the revenge of the governors," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., found himself struggling as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hammered him over his experience."

Leon H. Wolf, RedState.com: Winners: Cruz, Bush. Losers: Rubio, Christie, the RNC. "Christie clearly came to the debate with one goal, which was to trash Marco Rubio. He succeeded to some degree, but made himself look like an especially angry chihuahua in the process. Then, after trashing Rubio for repeating himself, he spent the rest of the night repeating himself over and over and over. I think his victory over Rubio, if it was one, will have to be seen as a pyrrhic one in the end."

Rebecca Berg and Caitlin Huey-Burns, RealClearPolitics: Winner: Christie. Losers: Rubio, Carson. "But the night will likely be remembered for Rubio's stumbles, which reinforced his characterization by rivals as a robotic product of Washington with little concrete experience."

Foreign media
Cristina Silva, International Business Times: Winner: Trump. Loser: Rubio. "Business mogul Donald Trump returned to the debate stage Saturday night and emerged victorious, but his first-place finish was largely by default. Days before the New Hampshire primary, Trump looked like a winner simply because Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, well, didn't."

Anthony Zurcher, BBC: Winners: Christie, Bush, Kasich. Losers: Rubio, Carson. "The Republican presidential debate was a bit like the final act of a horror film. The monster had already eaten half the teens at the summer camp, and those left were wondering who was next to go. Some of the candidates seemed like they were ready to fight. Some of them looked like they wanted to hide or run. And Ben Carson acted like he didn't care whether the monster got him or not."

Ben Jacobs and Sabrina Siddiqui, The Guardian (UK): Winners: Trump, Bush, Christie. Losers: Rubio, Cruz. "In a fiery final debate before Tuesday's crucial vote, Rubio had one of the worst nights of his entire campaign—and may have inadvertently offered a more mellow Donald Trump a clearer path toward victory in New Hampshire and perhaps even crowded the field all over again."

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

Christie: 10 wins, 1 loss
Trump: 4 wins, 1 loss
Bush: 3 wins, 0 losses
Kasich: 2 wins, 0 losses
Cruz: 2 wins, 2 losses
Carson: 0 wins, 5 losses
Rubio: 0 wins, 13 losses

There is a universal consensus, then, that Rubio screwed the pooch (to use the technical term). And the news did not get better from there. His rivals, particularly the three governors, spent all day Sunday talking to crowds about "Marcobot," while Rubio himself tried desperately to defend his performance. And if he was hoping that a Saturday night debate might draw a small crowd, well, it was the highest rated debate of 2016, drawing an average of 13.2 million viewers. Further, there is now a Twitter account, @RubioGlitch, dedicated to "Senator Rubio's" take on the events of the day, such as his assessment of the Super Bowl:

I'm glad the Broncos won but honestly this notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is wrong. He knows exactly what he's doing.

Within 24 hours of the end of the debate, the account had 3,000 followers.

The fact checkers, including CNN, the AP, USA Today, PolitiFact, and FactCheck found much to discuss. Their reports reiterate several themes that have become evident across all the debates, among them:

  • Anytime statistics are deployed in a GOP debate, particularly about taxes, be wary

  • Christie, Trump, Rubio, and Cruz are far and away most likely to fudge the truth; Bush and Kasich are least likely

  • Cruz, in particular, demands a skeptical eye when he tries to explain away missteps by his campaign, or when he elucidates his position on touchy issues like immigration or torture

  • Being called out on falsehoods does not have much impact on Cruz and Trump, in particular—many of the fact checkers use the phrase "see our previous report on this subject."

  • There is much that is different between Ronald Reagan the man and president, and Ronald Reagan the 21st century conservative icon

There are recurring themes like this on the Democratic side, too (Clinton on TPP, Sanders on his gun record), though they are fewer in number.

For the next 24 hours, the story of this debate will be Marcobot. But then, the voters of New Hampshire will get their say. As Nate Silver points out, they may be less interested in Rubio's struggles than the commentariat is. The Senator better hope so, because as much as he needed to do well in New Hampshire going into the debate, now he needs a good showing twice as much (or maybe more). If he turns in a strong showing in the Granite State, then the narrative will be that the debate was just a minor bump in the road. If he does poorly, then the story will be that he's not ready for the presidency, and the voters know it. The last thing he needs is 10 more days of that, heading into a pair of states where the fundamentals don't favor him, and one or more of the governors (Bush in South Carolina; Christie and Bush in Nevada) is nipping at his heels. (Z)

In New Hampshire, It's Trump, Then a Four-way Tie for Second

A Monmouth University poll of New Hampshire taken Feb. 4-6 puts Donald Trump in first place followed by essentially a four-way tie for second place. The polling dates are important because (nearly) all of it was completed before Saturday's Republican debate. Here are the numbers.

New Hampshire
Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 30%
2 John Kasich 14%
3 Marco Rubio 13%
3 Jeb Bush 13%
5 Ted Cruz 12%
6 Chris Christie 6%
7 Carly Fiorina 5%
8 Ben Carson 4%
9 Jim Gilmore 0%

If Marco Rubio tanks as a result of his performance at the debate, RNC chairman Reince Priebus is going to be wetting his pants tomorrow evening. Trump first and three other guys close to second and Rubio possibly fifth is not exactly what the doctor ordered. The Republicans need a clear favorite to challenge Trump and Ted Cruz, both of whom are thought to be unelectable. For a week, Rubio's third-place finish in Iowa gave the establishment a glimmer of hope. But if Rubio comes in fifth, well, a third-place finish in Iowa and a fifth-place finish in New Hampshire is not the stuff winners are made of. The good news, however, is that half the Republican voters haven't made up their minds yet, so the poll is probably all wrong.

The Monmouth poll shows New Hampshire tightening up a bit on the Democratic side. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is leading Hillary Clinton 52% to 42%, a smaller gap than other polls last week which had him up by as much as 30 points. On the other hand, A CNN/WMUR poll released late yesterday had Sanders ahead 58% to 35%. This poll was conducted Feb. 3-6. Obviously the two polls can't be be right. As mentioned below, New Hampshire primary polling has a bad track record and at least one of these will be way off. (V)

Myths about the New Hampshire Primary

With the "First-in-the-nation" New Hampshire primary this week, there is a lot of attention to it, much of it wrong. Two professors at the University of New Hampshire, Andrew E. Smith and David W. Moore, set the record straight in this piece published in the Washington Post. Here are the main points.

  • NH is dominated by independents. About 30% of the voters are registered as Democrats and 30% as Republicans. The other 40% are "undeclared." But undeclared just means they don't want to affiliate with a party. About 2/3 are definitely partisan. So only about 10-12% of the voters are really swing voters.

  • Endorsements matter. Actually, there is not much evidence that they do. Hillary Clinton has locked up all the state's Democratic pooh-bah's but Sanders has a huge lead. On the Republican side, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush are leading the endorsement race with 12 each. But Donald Trump, who has zero, is leading in all the polls.

  • The polls say who will win. Probably not. The polls don't have a very good record in New Hampshire, in part because many voters wait until the last minute to decide. The Democratic and Republic debates this week could easily invalidate all polls taken before them. In 1980, a CBS poll had Ronald Reagan beating George H.W. Bush by 45 points. He won by 27. In 1984, the final WaPo/ABC poll had Walter Mondale tied with Gary Hart. The final CNN poll had Mondale at +6. Hart won by 9 points. In 1988, Gallup had George H.W. Bush beating Bob Dole by 8; Dole won by 9. In 1996, CNN/Time had Dole winning by 15 points. Pat Buchanan won by one point. And so it goes. Don't take the New Hampshire polls too seriously, especially after Rubio's disastrous performance on Saturday. That could really shake things up.

  • Voters need to personally meet the candidates. New Hampshire is small, but it is not that small. Actually, only about 15-20% of the voters go to even one rally, speech, or other event. Most learn about the candidates from the teevee, like in other states.

  • Underdogs win NH and get momentum. It happens occasionally, but it is pretty rare. George McGovern did well (but didn't win) in 1972 and eventually got the nomination. The only other underdog who used New Hampshire as a springboard to the nomination was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

So don't believe everything you read about tomorrow's primary. Much of it is wrong. (V)

Sanders Outspending Clinton 3-to-1 in New Hampshire

When Bernie Sanders first announced his quixotic run for the White House, no one took him seriously, least of all Hillary Clinton. She certainly is now, with him outspending her on television in New Hampshire by a margin of 3 to 1. After raising $20 million in January alone, he is pouring money into ads in the run-up to tomorrow's primary. Sanders has bought $2.8 million in ads to Clinton's $800,000 in the final two weeks.

Part of the difference has to do with how important New Hampshire is to each of them. If Sanders loses both Iowa and New Hampshire, it will hurt his campaign badly, so he has to win it and is spending accordingly. For Clinton, a loss there is painful, but not fatal, if she can win big in Nevada and South Carolina later this month. So, while investing somewhat in New Hampshire, her real focus is Nevada and South Carolina. Losses there would be devastating for her, whereas a New Hampshire loss can be brushed off with "New Englanders vote for New Englanders." (V)

Trump's Draft Deferments Could Be an Issue in South Carolina

Wednesday, all the Republicans left standing head off to South Carolina for its Feb. 20 primary. (Democrats head to Nevada for its Feb. 20 caucus.) An issue that hasn't come up much yet in the Republican race is Donald Trump's military record—or lack thereof. He was of draft age during the Vietnam war and managed to get a series of student and medical deferments, which ultimately kept him out of the war. South Carolina is loaded with military bases and veterans and Trump's opponents may go after him on this issue. Cruz never served either, but he was four years old when the Vietnam War ended. (V)

Clinton Still Ahead in Iowa

In 2012, the media reported that Mitt Romney won Iowa—until 2 weeks later when they reported that, oops, no, Rick Santorum won. Microsoft wrote a cool app for Iowa this time so that precinct leaders could report instantly and the total would be right on the nose, with no revision needed. Microsoft certainly improved the situation, but Iowans still didn't quite get it right. In the revised totals, Hillary Clinton still won, but her margin got even smaller. She got 49.84% to Sanders 49.59%. Microscopic as the difference is, it prevented giant headlines reading: SANDERS WINS IOWA. For her, that is more important than the number of delegates won. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Feb07 A Bad Night for GOP Frontrunners in New Hampshire
Feb07 Another National Poll Says Clinton and Sanders Are Tied
Feb07 Kasich Says He Would Be a Terrible Vice President
Feb07 Is There A Special Place in Hell for Women Who Don't Help Each Other?
Feb07 Gloria Steinem: Young Women Support Sanders to Meet Boys
Feb07 Get-Out-The-Vote Operations Have Become More Sophisticated
Feb06 Democratic Debate Postmortem
Feb06 GOP Candidates Take Their Turn in New Hampshire
Feb06 New Poll of New Hampshire Puts Rubio Second
Feb06 Sanders Catches Clinton in New National Poll
Feb06 Why Do Millennials Love Sanders?
Feb06 Trump Will Appear at March 3 Debate Moderated by Megyn Kelly
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?