Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1237,   Dem: 2383
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Trump Vacillates Over KKK Endorsement

On Friday, politician, white supremacist, and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke formally endorsed Donald Trump. He advised white people that a vote for anyone other than Trump "is really treason to your heritage."

This is not the first time Duke and/or the Klan have waded into presidential politics. In fact, a much younger Duke expressed similar sentiments in support of Ronald Reagan in 1984. Here is how the President responded:

Those of us in public life can only resent the use of our names by those who seek political recognition for the repugnant doctrines of hate they espouse. The politics of racial hatred and religious bigotry practiced by the Klan and others have no place in this country, and are destructive of the values for which America has always stood.

And, by contrast, here is how Trump responded on Sunday:

I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don't know. I don't know—did he endorse me, or what's going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.

Among other things Trump apparently doesn't know is that in the 1850s there was a Know Nothing movement in American politics, which was openly nativist and anti-immigrant. The movement fed on the idea that immigrants were ruining the country. Its positions were quite similar to his. Also, its members had the habit of saying "I know nothing" when questioned about their anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic views, hence the name. Under strenuous questioning yesterday, Trump grudgingly disavowed Duke's support late in the day.

The Donald, of course, is lying about knowing nothing. Duke is both famous and infamous; it's nearly inconceivable that Trump is unaware of him, and it's impossible that he doesn't know what the KKK is, or what white supremacists are. And in case there are any doubts, Trump specifically lambasted the "Klansman, Mr. Duke" as "not company I wish to keep" in 2000. He also said the same on the Today Show around the same time.

Failing to denounce the KKK immediately was a huge blunder by Trump, certainly his biggest of the campaign. Bigotry (and, as a bonus, Duke is a vicious anti-Semite as well) is socially unacceptable in modern American society, and very few Americans are comfortable thinking of themselves as racist. Trump's declarations about Mexicans and Muslims are both clearly just that, but he's been able to encode both as being about "national security." The Klan's endorsement, and Trump's wavering, both blow a huge hole in that fiction. Adding a bit more fuel to that fire is the fact that France's version of David Duke—Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen, who was thrown out of the French far-right National Front party by his own daughter for being too racist—also proffered his endorsement this weekend.

Now, it is entirely possible—likely, in fact—that this will not hurt the billionaire with the people who are already supporting him. They seem to care little about how offensive The Donald might be, nor about how unelectable he might be. But it will absolutely hurt him with the Republicans who are currently supporting other candidates, and a large percentage of the independents and Democrats who might have given him a look. For decades after the Civil War, Republicans "waved the bloody flag"—pointing out that the Democrats were the party of those who rebelled. "Not every Democrat was a Confederate," they declared, "but every Confederate was a Democrat." The point, of course, was that a voter should not want to be on the same side as those who committed treason. It was a powerful line of attack, and one that we are surely going to see from the Democrats in the general election if Trump is the candidate. One can already imagine the T-shirts and bumper stickers: "Not every Trump supporter is a racist, but every racist is a Trump supporter." If even one voter in 20 withholds their vote from Trump because they don't want to stand with the Ku Klux Klan, it would be absolutely devastating for a candidate who will need every vote.

It is true, of course, that for a lot of Republicans, voting for Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would be just as distasteful as standing with a racist candidate. But this is not a situation where Trump/the Democrat are the only two options. There is the possibility of a third-party candidate, an idea that National Review editor Rich Lowry and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) both floated on Sunday. There's also a write-in protest vote, an option endorsed by veteran GOP operative Kevin Madden, among others. Finally, there's just staying home on Election Day. All three of these, if widespread enough, are almost as damaging to a Trump candidacy as Republican crossover votes for Clinton. And these cases will certainly be much more numerous than the Democratic crossover votes that Steve Forbes and other Trump supporters are counting on.

Donald Trump is set to have a very good day on Tuesday. But when all is said and done, the very, very bad day he had on Sunday may be what matters more. (Z)

Trump Leads in Georgia, Tennessee, and Massachusetts

A new NBC/Marist poll shows Donald Trump with large leads in two of the states that vote tomorrow, Georgia and Tennessee. A Suffolk University poll shows Trump with a massive lead in Massachusetts. Both of these were conducted before the KKK incident discussed above. Here are the numbers.

Candidate Georgia Tennessee Texas Massachusetts
Donald Trump 30% 40% 26% 43%
Ted Cruz 23% 22% 39% 9%
Marco Rubio 23% 19% 16% 20%
Ben Carson 9% 9% 8% 4%
John Kasich 9% 6% 6% 17%

Cruz has put a massive effort into the Super Tuesday states and if the only state he wins is Texas, it will be huge blow to him. Leading in Texas is important because it sends 155 delegates to the Republican national Convention, more than any state except California. Still, that is not enough. The polls were taken before last Thursday slugfest, but when Marist recontacted the respondents on Friday, the only candidate to show much change was Kasich, who lost 40% of his supporters. The lesson here is when you are invited to a mud wrestling event, you are expected to throw mud. You are judged by the amount of mud you throw and who it hits.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads by 34 points in Georgia, by 26 points in Tennessee, and by 21 points in Texas. (V)

Mission Impossible: Stop Trump

While the other Super Tuesday states weren't polled by Marist or Suffolk, most likely Trump is leading in many of them. Older polls show Trump was leading in Alabama, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Virginia and he could well still be. The Republican establishment understands that they have a problem and on Feb. 19 at a luncheon in D.C. for governors and donors, Karl Rove said that a Trump nomination would be catastrophic for the Party. He urged the governors to write an open letter basically reading him out of the Republican Party. They didn't. Worse yet, all efforts to unify behind a single candidate have failed so far. The endorsement of Trump Friday by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) was seen by the establishment as near treason. Yesterday's endorsement by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) surely will not be better received. But no one knows what to do. Big donors, such as the Koch brothers, see Trump's record as utterly unacceptable, but they have done nothing to stop him.

Everyone present was still hoping for Kasich and Carson to drop out. Kasich won't do it because he thinks if Rubio loses Florida on March 15 and he wins Ohio the same day, the Party will unify behind him. Carson won't drop out because he has little interest in politics, doesn't understand what is at stake here, and is just trying to sell books and get a nice gig on Fox News.

Already there is talk among the GOP top about a brokered convention being the only way to wrest the nomination from Trump. No delegates are bound beyond the first ballot, so if the other candidates collectively can get 50.1% of the delegates, there will be a second ballot and then every delegate becomes a free agent. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is already discussing plans for Republican senators to run negative ads against their own nominee, to create daylight between them. The idea of Republicans running ads attacking their own nominee is unprecedented. Meanwhile, if the Trump voters are supporting him because they hate the establishment, what will they do if the establishment uses what is essentially parliamentary trickery to deny the obvious favorite the nomination? The GOP could be permanently fractured. And a third-party run by Trump is always looming there in the background. (V)

Christie's Finance Chair Denounces Christie and Trump

Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, who spent $150 million of her own money in a futile attempt to be elected governor of California in 2010, definitely likes money, so she signed on as the campaign finance manager for the now-aborted presidential run of Chris Christie. When he endorsed Donald Trump Friday, she went ballistic and called on Christie's donors to reject Trump. Of Trump, she said he is unfit to be President, adding: "He is a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears. Trump would take America on a dangerous journey." She also said that Christie knew that and has indicated it many times.

When Trump accepted Christie's endorsement, he may not have realized what he was getting. In 2012, Christie endorsed Mitt Romney, and to Romney's chagrin discovered that he was a real problem. When Romney and his wife would travel on commercial flights or on the campaign bus, Christie insisted on going by chartered plane, and not alone. He always took 8-10 aides with him. His taste for good living is well known. When he was U.S. Attorney, he would stay at 5-star hotels. When he visited Israel on a trade mission, he got Sheldon Adelson to lend him his private jet. At the end of the trip, he stayed at a luxury hotel and got King Abdullah of Jordan to foot the $30,000 bill. Between 2010 and 2012, Christie racked up an $82,000 bill entertaining guests at football games. The list is endless.

With Trump, money probably won't be a problem, nor will ferrying Christie around on one of his planes. The problem will be that Christie is a prima donna and wants everything the way he wants it. He is bound to clash often with Trump, who doesn't take orders from anyone.

It's just possible that Trump already knows Christie is going to be pain in the rear. After the endorsement, a hot mic inadvertently picked up Trump saying to Christie: "Get in the plane and go home." (V)

Nikki Haley Is Baffled by Christie's Endorsement of Trump

Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) blasted Chris Christie yesterday for endorsing Donald Trump. She said: "Chris is a dear friend, but none of us understand why he did this." Governor, we can perhaps illuminate the situation for you: He wants to be on the ticket or Attorney General in a Trump administration. Her remarks may not totally take her out of the running for Trump's Veep, but they certainly don't help. (V)

Kasich Picks Up a Big Newspaper Endorsement

While newspaper endorsements aren't what they used to be, when you don't have a lot going for you, you take what you can get. So Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) was pleased to receive the endorsement of the Detroit Free Press yesterday. It could help him in the Midwest in March. Michigan votes on March 8 and Illinois and Ohio vote on March 15. Although he usually comes in fourth or fifth in most national and state polls now, if Kasich can keep going for two more weeks and win these states, all of a sudden he will be a viable candidate and possibly the first choice among the anti-Trump crowd. Most of them are now tentatively supporting Marco Rubio, but they know very well that he is a lightweight without the gravitas people expect in a President. With 18 years in Congress and 5 years as governor of a large state, Kasich has more gravitas than all the other Republican candidates combined. If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, she is expected to showcase her long political resume, but Kasich has been in public office much longer than she has. Still, endorsement or no endorsement, he remains a longshot. (V)

Five Takeaways from the South Carolina Democratic Primary

Glenn Thrush at Politico has five takeaways from Hillary Clinton's massive victory over Bernie Sanders in South Carolina on Saturday:

  • Sanders is behind, but if he can win Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, & Massachusetts tomorrow he is still viable
  • A record percentage of black voters showed up Saturday; they probably will in November as well
  • Clinton should be thankful for Sanders; he is bringing out younger voters and making her a better candidate
  • Sanders doesn't understand that even mild criticism of Obama plays very, very badly with black voters
  • Bill Clinton is a hero again and a valuable resource on the campaign trail

The quirky calendar cuts both ways for the Democrats. With Iowa and New Hampshire going first, left-wing insurgents like Sanders, Howard Dean, Bill Bradley, Paul Tsongas, etc., can get an early boost. For months in the Fall preceeding the first primary, all the headlines are about the enthusiasm the insurgent has generated. But with South Carolina one of the first four states, a candidate who does well with black voters has a big advantage. For Republicans, the calendar works against them. They have to be very conservative to win Iowa, South Carolina, and most of the Super Tuesday states. If the early contests were in, say, the Midwest, the Republican field would look completely different, with more candidates like Kasich and none like Carson. (V)

Clinton Has More Votes than Trump So Far

While it is very premature to say it will be Clinton vs. Trump in November, that is probably a more likely combination than any other, albeit with the caveat that in politics a week is a long time. In fact, this week, two days may be a long time. That said, how have these two done in the four states that have actually voted so far? The Iowa and Nevada Democratic Parties don't release vote totals, but from the caucus attendance figures and percentage of delegates won, we can make a reasonable approximation. Here is what we get.

State Clinton Trump
Iowa 40,000 45,427
New Hampshire 95,252 100,406
Nevada 42,000 34,531
South Carolina 271,514 239,851
Total 448,766 420,315

Of course, the actual votes for Clinton and Trump aren't the whole story. It's probably a safe bet that most of the people who voted for them in the primaries and caucuses will do so in the general election. But will Republicans who voted for someone else switch to Trump if he is the nominee? Will Sanders supporters vote for Clinton in the general election? Who knows, but this is another data point. (V)

DNC Vice Chair Resigns to Work for Sanders

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, resigned from the DNC yesterday to work for Bernie Sanders. She said that she sees him as a better Commander-in-Chief than Hillary Clinton. Gabbard is the first American Samoan and first Hindu in Congress and one of the first female combat veterans. Gabbard has been feuding with DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) for months. It is an open secret that Wasserman Schultz supports Hillary Clinton, although she can't say so in public. With Gabbard supporting Sanders, conflict was inevitable. No successor has been named yet. (V)

The Case for Justice Warren

No, not Earl. Elizabeth. President Obama's biggest problem picking a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia won't be in finding a qualified, liberal nominee. The federal appeals courts and state supreme courts are full of them. The problem will be convincing one of them to go through the wringer, to have every detail of his or her life attacked in public, and still not get the seat. If a potential nominee knows the confirmation process will be dreadful but the reward at the end is a seat on the Supreme Court, many judges would be willing to go through hell for half a year, but not if the chance of getting the prize is zero because the Republicans won't even vote on the nomination.

There are two ways out for Obama. One is to get together with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and find a nominee all three support. Then tell the nominee that if either Clinton or Sanders wins the White House, he or she will resubmit the nomination to the Senate. That gives the person a reasonable shot at getting the job and may make the whole process acceptable.

The other way Obama can approach this is to make a blatantly political pick, one intended solely to drive Democrats to the polls in November. It has to be someone who is used to the limelight, is well known, and loves a good fight. Dahlia Lithwick at Slate says by far the best candidate for this approach is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). She knows she won't be confirmed and doesn't care, but it would give her a huge stage to present her ideas on many topics. Would she be attacked by the Republicans more than she is now? Right-wing media outlets probably can't go after her any more than they already are and sitting senators would probably be circumspect about openly attacking one of their own. Is she qualified? She was a professor at the Harvard Law School. It would be a surprise, but since Obama's trial balloon of Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NM) was shot down, he knows no nominee will be approved, so why not give it a try? (V)

Why Does Bernie Sandahs Tawk That Way?

Although Bernie Sanders represents Vermont in the Senate, he is no Vermonter. As soon as he opens his mouth that is instantly clear. At Vox, Joss Fong has produced a video of Sanders speaking and shows in detail how his words and accent are clearly derived from his Jewish roots in Brooklyn. He rails all the time against million-aihs and billion-aihs but never has a bad word for millionaires and billionaires. The video also goes into how the Brooklyn accent has evolved over time, so by listening to Sanders, you not only know where he is from, but when he learned to speak. Social class and religion also play a role in his accent. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Feb28 Clinton Trounces Sanders in South Carolina
Feb28 The Big Donors Finally Panic and Start Going after Trump
Feb28 Trump Leading Rubio by Double Digits in Florida
Feb28 What Should The Great Wall of Trump Be Made Of?
Feb28 Trump Could Be on Trial for Fraud in August
Feb28 Rubio Tried to Partner with Conservative Media on Immigration Reform
Feb28 Christie Beats Haley--for the Second Slot
Feb28 What Are the Chances of Another Supreme Court Justice Dying by 2021?
Feb27 South Carolina Democrats Go to the Polls
Feb27 Republican Debate Postmortem
Feb27 Christie Endorses Trump
Feb27 Maine Governor LePage Also Endorses Trump
Feb27 Could Trump Win the Presidency without the Latino Vote?
Feb27 How Low Can You Go?
Feb27 Rubio Predicts GOP Will Split If Trump is Nominated
Feb27 Why Blacks Are Firmly Committed to Clinton
Feb26 Rubio the Lone Star in Texas Debate
Feb26 Trump Still Won't Release Tax Returns
Feb26 Trump Has Huge Lead in the Bible Belt
Feb26 Speculation about Trump's Running Mate Is Already Here
Feb26 List of Upcoming Democratic Contests
Feb26 Sanders and Clinton Voted the Same Way 93% of the Time
Feb26 Latinos Like Clinton, Hate Trump
Feb26 Democrats Planning to Use Supreme Court Vacancy as a Weapon
Feb25 Republicans Will Debate in Houston Tonight
Feb25 Is the Conventional Wisdom about Trump Wrong?
Feb25 What Would Trump's Platform Look Like?
Feb25 Conservative Group May Drop Cruz for Rubio
Feb25 Trial Balloon: Brian Sandoval to Replace Scalia
Feb25 Senate Races Beginning to Heat Up
Feb24 Nevada GOP Votes: Trump Makes His Point, Kasich Craps Out
Feb24 Does Winning NH and SC Mean You Will Be the Republican Nominee?
Feb24 Trump Holds Huge Lead Nationally
Feb24 Has the Republican Party Fractured into Three Parts?
Feb24 Judiciary Committee Will Not Hold A Hearing on Scalia's Successor
Feb24 Rubio Picks Up Megadonor
Feb24 Judge Orders Discovery on Clinton's Email Server
Feb23 Republicans Caucus in Nevada Today
Feb23 Rubio Is Now the Establishment Candidate
Feb23 Univision Will Try to Register 3 Million New Latino Voters
Feb23 Clinton Already Has a Large Lead in Delegates
Feb23 Another Day, Another Dirty Trick for Cruz
Feb23 Democratic Turnout Was Down in Nevada As Well as Iowa and New Hampshire
Feb23 Conservatives to McConnell: Supreme Court is More Important Than Your Majority
Feb23 Scalia Replacement Drama Continues to Occupy Center Stage
Feb23 When Is a Trump Not a Trump?
Feb22 Eight Takeaways about South Carolina and Nevada from CNN
Feb22 Five Takeaways from Politico
Feb22 Five Takeaways from USA Today
Feb22 Five Takeaways from the Washington Examiner