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

Eight Takeaways about South Carolina and Nevada from CNN

The postgame show is still in full swing. Here are eight takeaways from CNN about Saturday's elections.

  • Trump had a commanding win; expect more.
  • Clinton halted Sanders' momentum.
  • Bush's road ends; he was the wrong man for 2016.
  • Is the clock ticking for Cruz?
  • Where do Bush's support and donors go?
  • Has Sanders conceded South Carolina and moved on to super Tuesday?
  • Democrats have become more liberal than they were.
  • Harry Reid still runs the show in Nevada.

We don't have to wait long for the next nominating event. It is tomorrow in Nevada, when Republicans caucus. There has been almost no polling of the Republican caucus, but Trump certainly has momentum now. (V)

Five Takeaways from Politico

Glenn Thrush at Politico has five takeaways from the voting on Saturday.

  • This was Clinton's most important win since New Hampshire in 2008.
  • The Marcobot has been replaced by an actual, functioning human being.
  • Bernie's problems with black voters could derail the revolution.
  • Cruz has to worry about becoming this year's Huckabee or Santorum.
  • Donald Trump lost his favorite chew toy: Jeb!

All well and good, but keep in mind that in politics a week is a long time. A week ago, Hillary was roadkill and Bernie was going to remake the Democratic Party. Now she's gold. A week ago Marco was a robot with a software bug and now he is the Republican Party's Great White Hope.

A lot of the problem here is that the media have a lot of trouble focusing on the big picture and discounting today's news. It was a forgone conclusion months ago that Sanders was going to win his almost-home-state of New Hampshire and Clinton was going to win the mostly-black state of South Carolina. These should not be treated as earth-shattering events that change everything, but they are, unfortunately. (V)

Five Takeaways from USA Today

USA Today has five messages from the elections Saturday.

  • Trump seems to be untouchable.
  • Clinton rights the ship.
  • Winning is for losers so Sanders, Rubio, and Cruz all proclaimed victories.
  • Is Rubio the establishment's last, best hope?
  • Jeb bids farewell to a race in which he never stood a chance.

What a week. Trump can blame George W. Bush and insult the pope and then cruise to an easy victory in a very conservative state. (V)

Five Takeaways from the Washington Examiner

The Washington Examiner has five takeaways about South Carolina.

  • All traditional signs say Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee.
  • If Ted Cruz can't make it in South Carolina, where can he make it?
  • Rubio recovers, but to get the nomination, you have to win once in a while.
  • Barbara Bush was right: We've had enough Bushes.
  • Kasich and Carson remain wild cards; Could Kasich drop out, leading to a Rubio/Kasich ticket?

No Republican who won New Hampshire and South Carolina ever lost the nomination. If Trump were anyone else, people would be talking about the "presumptive nominee" already. But Trump is not "anyone else" and the party hates him. (V)

Three Takeways on Nevada from Michael Tomasky

Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast has three takeaways:

Hillary dodged the bullet. Had Hillary lost Nevada, her whole campaign would have been in ruins. She would have been in deep doo doo. She doesn't have the enthusiasm or passion of the supporters of Bernie Sanders. Her main pitch is electability. Had she lost, that would have been gone. She won so it is still intact.

She doesn't have to go negative. If she had lost Nevada she would have been forced to go negative on Sanders to save South Carolina. She would have had to scream at him for proposing to raise taxes. She would have sounded like a Republican. It might have worked in South Carolina, but it would turned off Sanders' supporters big time and many of them would have sat out the general election to punish her and accepted a 30-year-old Scalia on the Supreme Court and repeal of the entire New Deal as the consequence. Now she won't go negative and will just talk about her long association with the black community for the next two weeks.

She probably understands what happens next. She will win South Carolina and at least six or seven of the super Tuesday states and rack up hundreds of delegates, but she must absolutely not gloat or act like it is over and she must campaign hard in March and April. The shoe was on the other foot in 2008. Obama supporters were screaming at her for much of the Spring to drop out and unify the party but emotionally she couldn't do it and neither can Sanders this year. Even after Sanders has seen the handwriting on the wall in March, even if it is in 120 pt Helvetica Bold, he owes it to his supporters to keep fighting and he will. She has to act like it is still close even though she might have a lead of 500 delegates a month from now. She has to wait until Sanders' supporters fully realize that they lost not because DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) didn't schedule enough debates, but because Democratic voters overwhelmingly prefer her. Only after they have come to realize that Bernie gave it his best shot but she beat him fair and square can the party unify in the Fall.

These comments seem deeper than most of the others. (V)

Candidates Go after Super Tuesday a la Carte

After Nevada tomorrow for the Republicans and South Carolina Saturday for the Democrats, the race goes national next week. On Super Tuesday (March 1), voters in most of the South, but also in Alaska, Colorado, Minnesota, Vermont, and Massachusetts go to the polls. None of the elections is winner take all and most have some delegates elected statewide and some elected by congressional or state senate district. As a consequence, candidates are starting to focus on specific parts of states, rather than entire states. Marco Rubio, for example, is hoping to win delegates in big cities like Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis, and Nashville, rather than hoping to win Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Tennessee, which he is basically conceding to Donald Trump. Similar, Ted Cruz is going after districts where evangelicals dominate, plus his home state of Texas, which has the largest delegate haul on Super Tuesday.

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders has little chance in the South and knows that. However, Colorado, Minnesota, Vermont, and Massachusetts could prove fertile ground for him. One way to counter the bad news of a Clinton sweep of the South is victories in the states outside the South, or at least partial victories in the form of many delegates from these states. Colorado and Minnesota are caucus states, which cuts both ways for Sanders. On the one hand, turnout is low in caucus states with only the most zealous supporters turning out. That works for Sanders. On the other hand, caucus states require a bigger ground operation than primary states, which works against him.

Up until now, retail campaigning was the name of the game. Candidates went from diner to school to factory meeting the voters one at a time. On Super Tuesday, with a dozen states in play, some of them quite large (see map above), that is impossible. One GOP consultant, Bruce Haynes, put it like this: "Walk and talk is over. It's fly and bye." The advantage now moves to candidates with lots of money and a good ground operation, or in the case of Sanders and Carson, a passionate and devoted following. Donald Trump's personal jet is also a plus here. (V)

So Much for Kasich the Moderate

Yesterday, we suggested that Jeb Bush's departure and Marco Rubio's rightward turn had left the "moderate lane" for John Kasich to have all to himself. The GOP base does not seem interested in giving their support to a moderate, but the VP slot is a possibility, and—just maybe—so is the presidential nomination if proffered at a brokered convention.

So much for that. On Sunday, Kasich signed a bill stripping all funds from Planned Parenthood in Ohio. That all but kills any argument that he's a moderate or a centrist. Meanwhile, the base still sees him as a RINO poseur. A headline from the right-wing site RedState.com pretty much tells the tale: "Thanks for Signing Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood, Kasich. Now Please, Drop Out." (Z)

Why Couldn't Jeb Fix It?

In addition to breaking down the results in South Carolina and Nevada, the media, including Slate, The New York Times, CNN, ABC News, and Politico, have begun to weigh in with their postmortems on Jeb Bush, whose nomination was nearly as "inevitable" as Hillary Clinton's just six short months ago. The same basic themes appear over and over, including:

  • Too wonky
  • Too many Bushes
  • Couldn't overcome early stumbles
  • Too decent in a year dedicated to nastiness
  • Too "insider" in an "outsider" year
  • Been out of the politics game for too long
  • Couldn't handle Trump
  • Too wimpy (like his dad)
  • Bad debater
  • Couldn't deal with questions about Iraq
  • Undisciplined messaging
  • The GOP left Bush-style politics behind 10-20 years ago

The list is long and on point, and makes clear that if he wasn't a Bush, benefiting from a vast political network and tens of millions of dollars in donations, he would have been done long ago.

The next big question is where his voters will go. The Times has taken a stab at a data-driven answer to that question. If judging by political outlook, Bush's supporters look most like Rubio and Kasich supporters. If judging by age, they look most like Trump supporters. If judging by educational background, they look most like Carson and Rubio supporters. In short, who knows where they're headed, except that it won't be to Cruz. Though Bush did not have that many supporters, even 5% of the GOP electorate can make a big difference given the rules about crossing a certain threshold in order to claim delegates. As such, he's going to be a popular fellow with at least two or three of the remaining candidates as they seek his endorsement. (Z)

Could an Old Photo Help Sanders in South Carolina?

While nothing is likely to prevent Hillary Clinton from winning South Carolina, an old photo that surfaced this weekend could perhaps help turn a landslide into a mere victory for Clinton. The photo shows a 21-yar-old Sanders being arrested by two police officers for protesting school segregation in Chicago in 1963. At the time, he was a student at the University of Chicago and a leader in the Congress of Racial Equality. In South Carolina, publicity about the fact that Sanders has been fighting for racial equality since he was 21 could convince some black voters that his bona fides on racial justice are real and he is more than a one-trick pony trying to break up the big banks. (V)

Did Sanders Really Win the Latino Vote?

Based on a small number of entrance polls, many news sources are reporting that Bernie Sanders won the Latino vote in Nevada. The other Nate (Cohn) has a different take. He says that the entrance polls could be badly flawed. The entrance pollsters picked 25 precincts and then interviewed 1,024 people as they entered the caucus. His first comment is that those 25 precincts might have been atypical. It is not known how they were picked. This could be far from a random sample. Second, only 213 Latinos participated in the poll. This means the margin of error is at least 6-7% on statistical grounds alone.

Cohn did a different analysis. He looked at 76 precincts in East Las Vegas in Clark County where Latinos make up a plurality of the voters. There Clinton beat Sanders 58% to 42%. In precincts where Latinos are an absolute majority of the voters, she won 60%. In precincts where Latinos are a very large share of registered Democrats, she won 65% of the delegates. Clinton's campaign manager estimated that she won 61% of the Latinos statewide. In any case, it is far from certain that Sanders won the Latino vote. (V)

Is Hillary Clinton Inevitable?

Does all this mean Hillary Clinton is inevitable again? Nothing is inevitable except death and taxes, but if she wins South Carolina and all the Southern states on super Tuesday, she is in very strong shape. Here is the 2008 Democratic primary map:

2008 map

From the map it is clear that Clinton beat Obama in the big delegate-rich states like California, New York, Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Obama won Illinois, but Sanders doesn't have a home-state advantage there, as Obama did. If Clinton could beat Obama in the big-delegate states, she can probably beat Sanders as well there. Although the upper-left quadrant of the map occupies a large area, there aren't a lot of delegates at stake there and in 2008, Obama won them because Clinton forgot about them. She won't forget this time. (V)

Is Donald Trump Inevitable?

In a word: no. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who is the favorite of the Democratic establishment, Donald Trump is despised by the Republican establishment. It will do anything to stop him and now that it seems to have a candidate in Marco Rubio, the war will really begin. Also, while Ted Cruz is not likely to win at this point, he could collect enough delegates to deny anyone a majority at the convention.

We will know a lot more on March 2, the day after seven states in the South, including Texas, vote. Ted Cruz is very well organized in the South and could pull in enough delegates to make it very hard for Trump to get to 50%. Then on March 15, the winner-take-all states start voting. In particular, Rubio could take all of Florida's 99 delegates and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) could take all of Ohio's 66 delegates (if he is still in the race then). So it is definitely not over yet. There is more excitement in store. (V)

Scalia's Death Could Cost the Republicans the Senate

Half a dozen Republican senators up for reelection in states Obama won in 2012 are in a pickle. They are being forced to make a choice. Either they support the party line and refuse to take up President Obama's soon-to-be-announced nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late justice Antonin Scalia, or they bolt and reject the party line. If they agree with the party, the Democrats are going to paint them as the cause of Washington's dysfunction for putting partisan politics above doing their job. If they oppose the GOP, party loyalists will be angry with them. There is no easy way out. A recent poll showed that 62% of the people want to see the seat filled now. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Feb21 South Carolina Votes: Trump Succeeds, Bush Secedes
Feb21 Nevada Democrats Back Clinton
Feb21 Supreme Court Makes North Carolina Redraw Its Districts
Feb21 Obama Will Review Supreme Court Candidates this Weekend
Feb21 Voters in Sanders' Old Neighborhood Prefer Trump
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