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)
      •  South Carolina Votes: Trump Succeeds, Bush Secedes
      •  Nevada Democrats Back Clinton
      •  Supreme Court Makes North Carolina Redraw Its Districts
      •  Obama Will Review Supreme Court Candidates this Weekend
      •  Voters in Sanders' Old Neighborhood Prefer Trump

South Carolina Votes: Trump Succeeds, Bush Secedes

Palmetto State Republicans have registered their preferences, and the result is a resounding victory for Donald Trump. Here are the numbers:

Rank Candidate Pct Delegates
1 Donald Trump 32.5% 50
2 Marco Rubio 22.5% 0
3 Ted Cruz 22.3% 0
4 Jeb Bush 7.84% 0
5 John Kasich 7.62% 0
6 Ben Carson 7.23% 0

South Carolina gives 29 of its 50 delegates to the winner of the statewide vote; Trump took those delegates easily. The state also gives three delegates to the winner of each congressional district. Trump swept all seven comfortably—the narrowest was SC-1, which he still won by nearly 3,000 votes. In other words, the Donald pitched a shutout, dominating in nearly every demographic. Iowa is a distant memory; there can be no question now that Trump is both viable and the current frontrunner for the GOP nomination. The question that the media are beginning to ask, as well they should: Is Trump unstoppable?

The biggest loser of the evening was Jeb Bush. He gambled all his chips on South Carolina, spending millions on commercials and getting his mother and brother to hit the campaign trail for him. It didn't help; he not only finished in fourth place, but a distant fourth place. So, late on Saturday night, Bush threw in the towel. Undoubtedly he was tempted to try and hold on until his home state of Florida, which might have righted the ship, at least temporarily. However, the GOP establishment has served Jeb and his family well over the course of the last half-century, and surely Reince & Co. persuaded him that the time had come to take one for the team. Ultimately, he was a mediocre candidate and, as the ultimate "insider" in a cycle that is all about "outsiders," was entirely unsuited to the current political environment. As the pundits conduct their postmortems on his campaign, they are calling it the $150 million failure.

If there was another winner on Saturday, it was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who rebounded from the RubioGlitch fiasco to secure a fairly solid second-place finish. The establishment support will now coalesce around him, and he could get a nice bounce if he's able to win his home state of Florida on March 15. That said, zero delegates is still zero delegates, and this in a state where he had the support and endorsement of a popular governor. Further, to be a serious challenger to Trump, Rubio would essentially need all of the Bush voters and all of the Kasich voters to jump on his bandwagon. There's no particular reason to believe, as yet, that he can seal that deal. There will also be fewer people on stage for the GOP debate on Thursday, giving Donald Trump more opportunity to try to get the Florida Senator off his game. The upshot is that Rubio is ascendant once again, but how far he can ascend is still very unclear.

The other big loser—nearly as big a loser as Bush—was Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Like Bush, he gambled heavily on South Carolina, referring to it as his "firewall." And while a third place finish is very bad news, the worse news is that the Texas Senator didn't even win the evangelical vote, being outpaced by Trump 33% to 27% according to CNN's exit polling. Because there is still a chance for him to bounce back on Super Tuesday, the punditry is largely in agreement that he is down, but not out. They are being too generous. If Cruz can't even win evangelical voters in a state where there's plenty of room for ground game, retail politics, and heavy spending on advertising (all strengths of his), how can he win in evangelical states where those options are not available? Or in states where there aren't many evangelicals? Or states in the general election, when Democrats get to weigh in, too? Cruz's goose is just as cooked as Jeb Bush's; he is just choosing not to accept it. He has the means to keep going until the convention if he really wants to, but the odds are he will be forced to acknowledge the writing on the wall sometime in March.

Meanwhile, with his fifth-place finish, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) will undoubtedly also be pressured to drop out so that the establishment can give its full-throated support to Rubio. And he may well bow to that pressure like Bush did. However, there are some silver linings for him to consider before he does so. Unlike Bush, he has a second-place finish in New Hampshire on his resume. He also did just as well as Bush did in South Carolina, despite having no ground game in the state and having invested few resources. Most importantly, with Rubio's recent hard-rightward tack and Bush's departure, Kasich can market himself as the only moderate remaining in the race. It's not a great selling point in the primaries, as we have seen, but it is a plus in the general election. And if the GOP ends up with a brokered convention, Kasich could be a nice compromise candidate. He's a longshot at this point, no doubt, but much less of a longshot than Cruz or Ben Carson.

And speaking of Carson, it's hard to say how well he did until the book sales figures for South Carolina are announced at the end of the month. Hopefully, his last-place finish in the voting, coupled with the fact the he ceased to be a serious candidate for the presidency weeks ago, will cause CNN to exclude him from the next GOP debate.

Next up is Nevada, whose Republicans will caucus on Tuesday. Polling of the Silver State has been scarce, but what polls there are suggest another landslide for Donald Trump (even if we add Kasich's and Bush's totals to Rubio's). It's hard to poll caucus states, of course, but Saturday's result certainly suggests that the polls have it right. (Z)

Nevada Democrats Back Clinton

On the other side of the country, about 80,000 Democrats caucused in the Silver State. The result was a comfortable, but not overwhelming victory for Hillary Clinton over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Here are the totals:

Rank Candidate Pct Delegates
1 Hillary Clinton 52.7% 23
2 Bernie Sanders 47.2% 16

The above figures include the 20 statewide delegates that Clinton "won" on Saturday as well as the three superdelegates who have committed to her, and the 15 statewide delegates plus 1 superdelegate for Sanders. The superdelegates are free to change their minds at any time, of course, and four of Nevada's eight have yet to state a preference. As with other caucus states, the 35 statewide delegates are just projections; they won't become official until the state Democratic convention meets in the middle of May.

Nevada is a smallish, not terribly representative state, so we should not be overconfident in any conclusions drawn from the results. With that said, the overall result is not nearly as interesting as what the entrance polls reveal. They affirmed certain things we already knew—Clinton won the older and/or more moderate voters; Sanders won the younger and/or more liberal voters. But they also gave us some more precise information that we didn't already have, namely:

  • Sanders narrowly won the Latino vote (53% to 45%) but Clinton trounced him among black voters (76% to 22%)

  • As a consequence of this, they essentially split the white vote (49% for Sanders to 47% for Clinton), but Clinton won the non-white vote handily (56% to 42%)

  • Clinton won registered Democrats (58% to 40%), Sanders dominated with independent voters (71% to 23%)

  • Clinton crushed Sanders among voters who care most about electability (80% to 15%) and experience (92% to 8%); Sanders returns the favor among voters who care most about likability (72% to 26%) and honesty (82% to 12%).

Again, we don't want to make too much of what we learn from 1,000 voters (the size of the polling sample) in an idiosyncratic state. Still, if these numbers are accurate, there is some mildly good news for the Vermont Senator. Most obviously, his success among Latinos is impressive and unexpected, given how badly he lagged Clinton in that demographic just a month ago. Undoubtedly, Julián Castro just moved up Clinton's list of possible veep candidates.

However, Saturday's results potentially contained even better news for Hillary. Dominate party insiders (i.e. superdelegates) + dominate the black vote + split the white, Latino, and Asian vote is absolutely a path to the nomination. In fact, it is Barack Obama's path to the nomination. Further, the next few weeks are heavy on states that are very friendly to the Clinton/Obama coalition. Clinton already leads Sanders 502 delegates to 70, needing 2,383 for the nomination. South Carolina's Democrats will vote next Saturday; both the polls and the extremely large number of black voters in the state make clear that it's going to be a big win for the Secretary. In the 15 days thereafter, roughly 2,000 more delegates will be awarded, many of them in states with large numbers of black voters. If Clinton can take, say, 55% of those 2,000 then she will sit at approximately 1,800 delegates to approximately 1,000 for Sanders. At that point, he would need to win essentially every remaining state to take the nomination. Not likely, outside of a Clinton indictment.

The upshot is: Sanders either needs to hope that the Nevada exit polls are not terribly meaningful, or else he needs to make inroads with black voters very quickly. Otherwise, the game could be up sooner rather than later. (Z)

Supreme Court Makes North Carolina Redraw Its Districts

The Republican-controlled North Carolina state legislature drew a very gerrymandered map of its congressional districts, as legislatures are wont to do. It arranged the map so that the Republicans are likely to win 10 of the state's 13 House seats. The Democrats took them to court and the court agreed with the Democrats that the map was unconstitutional. The Republicans appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court but the high Court refused to stay the lower court's decision. As a consequence, a new map will be needed—in particular, one that treats racial minorities more fairly. Since it will take time to have a new map approved by the state legislature, the date for the North Carolina congressional primary has been moved from March 15 to June 7.

This whole issue is a result of the Supreme Court's gutting the Voting Rights Act in June 2013 by a 5 to 4 vote along party lines. The Voting Rights Act required states with a history of racial discrimination, including North Carolina, to get approval from the Dept. of Justice before changing voting laws or district boundaries. As soon as North Carolina was free of federal supervision, its state legislature redrew the map to minimize the influence of black voters and help Republicans. Then the Democrats sued and won in the lower court and the Supreme Court refused to overturn the lower court's decision. For the moment, this is a victory for the Democrats. (V)

Obama Will Review Supreme Court Candidates this Weekend

Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has clearly stated that the Senate will not take up the nomination of anyone to replace the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, President Obama plans to nominate someone anyway. His staff has spent the week collecting information about potential nominees. Obama will review his options this weekend. Obama has said he fully intends to nominate someone.

The nomination will set off two power struggles. The official one, for confirmation in the Senate, will probably be won by the Republicans since they control the Senate and aren't bound by any time schedule to consider a nominee. But the more important one is for public opinion. If Obama names a clearly qualified person, possibly someone the Senate has recently confirmed by a wide margin for some other position, the Republicans will have to make the case that the nominee was qualified for position 1 but not for position 2. They face the real danger that the voters will just say it is partisan politics and that they are not doing their job.

In principle, nothing changes when a nominee is named since both sides have already stated their positions. But from a public relations standpoint, everything changes when a specific person is named. Then the focus becomes: "What is so awful about this person that the Senate won't even hold a hearing?" The question provides its own answer: "The Republicans are hoping for a Republican President who will name a younger version of Scalia." Of course, they are also taking a huge gamble. If a Democrat is elected President, the Democrats have a good chance to retake the Senate, and the new president's nominee may be considerably more liberal than Obama's. (V)

Voters in Sanders' Old Neighborhood Prefer Trump

Bernie Sanders grew up in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, now heavily populated by Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, as well as Latinos. When asked if he was planning to vote for Sanders, one resident said: "I lived under socialism, so I know what it is." Others in the area said they were for Donald Trump. Some people who were interviewed were afraid he would have to raise taxes to pay for free health care and free education. Older immigrants don't form the base of Sanders' supporters. He is much more popular with young, white, non-native New Yorkers who live in Brooklyn's most gentrified neighborhoods. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Feb20 Today Is the Big Day for the Republicans
Feb20 Today Is the Big Day for the Democrats
Feb20 Pro-Cruz Robocalls Attack Trump on Confederate Flag, Gay Rights
Feb20 Rubio Would Deport DREAMers
Feb20 Court Agrees to Hear Case about Cruz's Citizenship
Feb20 Maybe Trump Actually Can Go Too Far
Feb20 Trump Calls for a Boycott of Apple--from his iPhone
Feb19 Now Trump Leading Nationally
Feb19 Cruz Has to Come in Second in South Carolina or His Whole Case Falls Apart
Feb19 Cruz Campaign Shoots Itself in the Foot
Feb19 Sanders Leads All Republicans in General Election Match-ups
Feb19 Clinton Puts Up Very Emotional Ad in Nevada about Deportation
Feb19 Clinton Picks Up a Big Endorsement
Feb19 Pope Says Donald Trump Is Not a Christian
Feb19 Fight over Scalia's Seat Could Change Everything
Feb19 Even Scalia's Funeral Has Become Politicized
Feb19 Canada Welcomes Americans Who Don't Want To Live Under President Trump
Feb18 Nikki Haley Running for Veep on Rubio's Ticket
Feb18 Cruz Leads Trump Nationally in New Poll
Feb18 Sanders Catches Clinton in Nevada
Feb18 Clinton's Fate May Be Determined in Red States
Feb18 AFL-CIO to Stay Out of Primaries
Feb18 Rubio Holds Town Halls But Refuses to Answer Any Questions
Feb18 Bush Breaks Twitter
Feb18 Nine Ways to Replace Scalia
Feb18 Time to Invest Heavily in Mud Futures
Feb17 Trump and Clinton Continue to Lead in South Carolina
Feb17 Sanders Working Very Hard to Court Black Voters
Feb17 Democratic Turnout is Down; Republican Turnout is Up
Feb17 However, Latino Turnout was Up, at Least in Iowa
Feb17 Boomers Still Dominate Millennials in Voting
Feb17 Tax Policy Center Not Enamored of Cruz's Plan
Feb17 Politicians' Words Come Back to Haunt Them
Feb17 How To Get the Republicans To Consider Obama's SCOTUS Appointee
Feb17 Nevada is Likely to Be a Big Surprise
Feb16 Republicans All Agree to Block Scalia's Replacement
Feb16 Supreme Court Nominations Weren't Always Like This
Feb16 The Scalia Vacancy Summarized in Seven Bullets
Feb16 Should Cruz Recuse Himself From the Process of Picking Scalia's Replacement?
Feb16 Trump Threatens to Sue Cruz; Cruz Strikes Back
Feb16 It's Morning...in Canada?
Feb16 Understanding the Delegate Selection Rules
Feb16 Why Is U.S. Politics So Crazy?
Feb15 Everyone is Strategizing about Scalia's Replacement
Feb15 Looking at Some Supreme Court Appointment Hypotheticals
Feb15 South Carolina Poll: Trump and Clinton Still Leading
Feb15 Betting Markets Say It Will be Clinton vs. Trump
Feb15 Republican Debate Postmortem
Feb14 Antonin Scalia Is Dead
Feb14 Could Scalia's Replacement Really Be Held Up until 2017?