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)
      •  Clinton Raised $37 Million in Q4
      •  Carson Appoints a New Campaign Chairman
      •  Trump and Cruz on the Fence
      •  Politico's Insiders Talk about 2016
      •  Who is the Messenger?
      •  Carly Fiorina, Running for Panderer-in-Chief, Roots against Her Own School

Clinton Raised $37 Million in Q4

Hillary Clinton announced yesterday that her haul for Q4 was $37 million, bringing her total for 2015 to $112 million and beating her goal of $100 million. She has already spent $74 million of that, in part by renting office space and hiring staff in the early states and many beyond them. In addition, she raised another $3 million that she can't use until the general election. If she is not the nominee, she has to give it back. An unprecendented 60% of her donors were women. She also raised $18 million for the DNC. Her main Democratic opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), has not yet released his Q4 totals. (V)

Carson Appoints a New Campaign Chairman

Ben Carson's campaign manager resigned after some internal turmoil but Carson has now replaced him with Maj. Gen. Robert Dees (ret.), a career military officer who has never worked on a campaign before. Recently, however, he was vice president of Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the world, which is what drew Carson to him. Carson is tired of consultants who tell him what to do and wanted someone who shared his beliefs. Carson's knowledge of foreign and military affairs is minimal and has gotten him into hot water repeatedly. Dees' appointment could potentially help him in these areas—but only if the candidate listens to his new campaign chairman. (V)

Trump and Cruz on the Fence

The two leading Republican candidates have spent a fair bit of time this year talking about the fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Donald Trump, of course, has asserted that a properly-built fence—which he will get Mexico to pay for—will solve the "immigration problem." Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), meanwhile, has ripped into President Obama, asserting that the administration has acted "illegally" by failing to build the fence demanded by the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

The Secure Fence Act is a real thing, but (of course) it was adopted before Obama was elected. Not only that, it was amended in 2008—again, before Obama was elected—because the Bush administration could not comply with its terms. Ergo, the Obama administration is in compliance, always has been, and Cruz is either mistaken or is outright lying.

More important, however, is that there is a reason (actually, there are many reasons) why the fence could not be completed by the Bush administration. The "easy" parts (about 650 miles' worth) were built. But the other 1,300 miles or so, as The Guardian reports, would involve a number of significant challenges. Among them: The necessary land is privately owned, the Rio Grande River is in the way, treaties with Mexico forbid construction in the Rio Grande's flood plains, and the landscape is uneven and very expensive to build upon. As such, finishing construction could cost north of $10 billion.

These facts are not terribly hard to discover, nor to point out. In addition, any discussion of the border fence serves to alienate Latino voters at a time when both parties (but particularly the GOP) badly need them. As such, this issue seems like a loser, no matter how much it fires up a segment of the angry, white populace. Trump has been noticeably silent on this matter since the first month or two of his campaign, perhaps Cruz will soon reach the same conclusion. (Z)

Politico's Insiders Talk about 2016

Politico has assembled a group of top political activists, strategists, and operatives in the four early states and asked them to discuss their thoughts on the state of the races. They are all over the map. Here are a few of their comments.

  • He [Trump] will drop in the polls. ... I want to trust the voters but this is scary.
  • Collectively, the media should be embarrassed [for covering Trump so much]
  • Cruz will fail to win Iowa, opening the door to Trump sweeping all four early states
  • When Trump begins losing contests—starting with Iowa—he will begin to unravel quickly
  • What in the world are we going to do with Trump?
  • I can't believe how poorly Jeb Bush is polling after spending millions
  • Barbara Bush appears to have been correct: There have been too many Bushes
  • Rubio emerges as a damaged nominee after a long slog and loses to Clinton in a close race
  • Cruz-Haley beats Clinton-Kaine

In other words, the experts don't have a clue what is going to happen. (V)

Who is the Messenger?

An emerging theme of the 2016 election season is messaging whose true source is being deliberately obfuscated or obscured. For example, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently aired a commercial that made it look like he was doing an "I'm a good sport" cameo on Saturday Night Live. The spot was, in truth, self-produced and had nothing to do with the show. Similarly the "Club for Growth" is running large numbers of anti-Trump television ads in Iowa right now. It turns out that the club is actually the "Club for Marco Rubio."

Secret Rubio supporters struck again on Friday. While the venerable Rose Parade was underway in Pasadena, six skyplanes flew overhead producing anti-Donald Trump messages, including "Trump is disgusting," "Anybody but Trump," and "Iowans dump Trump." It was easy enough to identify the person behind the stunt: Stan Pate, an Alabama real estate developer. Presenting himself merely as a civic-minded American when interviewed by CNN, he said, "The idea that you can hate your way to the presidency is disgusting to me. I'm tired of hearing it, he's in the way of us selecting the right person for the job." Pate also said he was strongly considering all of the alternative candidates, including Hillary Clinton. But the truth is that he is actually a Rubio partisan who has donated generously to the Florida Senator's campaign. In fact, Pate donated so generously that some of the money had to be returned because it put him over the legal limit.

To take another example, an organization called the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT—clever, eh?) has released its list of "Worst Ethics Violators for 2015." The right-wing media is all over the list, because Hillary Clinton is in the #1 spot. "Even the appearance of impropriety can quickly erode public trust," says the press release, "and Mrs. Clinton is in a league of her own."

To start with, Hillary Clinton was not a public official in 2015, and so has no place on a list where every other "honoree" is being included for their actions during that calendar year. More significantly, however, is that FACT presents itself as "non-partisan" (something that every right-wing website who is running the story makes certain to point out.) The list also implies that they are a well-established institution, and that they produce a document of this sort every year. In fact, FACT is nine months old and is managed by Matthew Whitaker, a longtime GOP activist who ran for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. A review of their releases shows that approximately two-thirds of their product is attacks on Clinton (with the other third being attacks on other Democrats). Where does FACT get its money? Unfortunately, they don't have to tell us.

The point here is that, in a world where direct messaging doesn't seem to be working so well any more (ask Jeb Bush, with his millions in commercials), candidates and their supporters are turning more and more to messaging that is dishonestly represented as coming from a neutral/third party. FACT's machinations are pretty ham-fisted and obvious, but be on the lookout for more subtle chicanery. (Z)

Carly Fiorina, Running for Panderer-in-Chief, Roots against Her Own School

Yesterday Carly Fiorina, who graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in philosophy and medieval history, tweeted that she was rooting for the Iowa Hawkeyes, who were playing against her own alma mater in the Rose Bowl. In addition to being a Stanford graduate, she underwent surgery for breast cancer at the Stanford hospital in 2009. But what's loyalty when there are caucus votes at stake? She has been roundly criticized for her obvious pandering. It is not even clear why she sent out the tweet since few, if any, Iowans will believe her, and it just makes her look like someone with no principles at all. This is completely self-inflicted. She wasn't answering some reporter's question, and could have exercised her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent about football games. To top it off, Stanford won in a rout, 45-16, making her a loser as well. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Jan01 History of the Early States
Jan01 Bettors Think It's Rubio by a Nose
Jan01 Trump's Supporters May Be Prevented from Voting for Him
Jan01 Polls May Be Underestimating Trump Support
Jan01 Trump's Attacks on Bill May Help Hillary
Jan01 O'Malley Fails to Qualify for Ohio Ballot
Jan01 More Clinton E-mails Released
Jan01 No Matter Who Retires From the Supreme Court, Liberals Might Win
Dec31 Rubio Used His Position in Florida House of Representatives to Help Brother-in-Law
Dec31 Bush Cancels Ads in Iowa and South Carolina
Dec31 Can Trump Maintain His Lead in January?
Dec31 Trump Continues Attacking Bill Clinton
Dec31 Who is Raising the Most Money?
Dec31 The Worst Political Predictions of 2015
Dec31 The Big Stories of 2016
Dec31 British Professional Gambler Explains His Bets
Dec30 Trump Leads in Nevada
Dec30 The Attacks Are Increasing
Dec30 Trump Sets Sights on Bill Clinton; Plays With Fire
Dec30 Key Republican Lawyer Worrying about Logistics of a Brokered Convention
Dec30 Sanders Gets a New Superdelegate
Dec30 I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Bernie
Dec30 Hillary Clinton Is the Most Admired Woman in the World, for the 20th Time
Dec30 Pataki is Dropping Out
Dec30 Listen for the Dog Whistle
Dec30 One Person Attends an O'Malley Event in Iowa
Dec29 Trump about to Start Advertising Blitz
Dec29 Trump Attacking Hillary about Bill's Infidelities
Dec29 Too Many Polls?
Dec29 Election Math Strongly Favors the Democrats
Dec29 Breyer Won't Say If He Will Retire Under a Republican President
Dec29 Conservatives Are Lukewarm on Burr Challenger
Dec29 Republicans Are Afraid That Cruz Would Hurt Their Senate Chances
Dec29 Judgment Day For Each Campaign
Dec29 Data on 191 Million Voters Exposed on the Internet
Dec28 Millennials Prefer a Democrat in the White House
Dec28 Why Young People Don't Vote
Dec28 Could Clinton Get Nominated Today?
Dec28 Could Reagan Get Nominated Today?
Dec28 Data Analytics Will Be King in 2016
Dec28 Trump Angry About Virginia Loyalty Oaths
Dec28 Sanders Says He's After Trump Voters
Dec28 Logos Psychoanalyzed
Dec27 Clinton Missing Some Key Endorsements
Dec27 Will Trump Fans Show Up to Vote?
Dec27 Trump Denies Connection to Mafioso
Dec27 Trump Isn't the Only Candidate with Dubious Claims
Dec27 Cruz Throws Red Meat To the Base
Dec27 New Hampshire Can't Make Up Its Mind
Dec27 The Top Ten Moments in Politics in 2015