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)
      •  January Candidate List
      •  Rundown of Republican Primaries and Caucuses
      •  Everyone's Angry about Something
      •  Three-time Loser Endorses Carly Fiorina in New Hampshire

January Candidate List

Below is the January list of 2016 Republican presidential candidates in roughly the order of most likely to be nominated to least likely. The strengths and weaknesses of each one in the primaries are listed. Note that what is a strength in the primaries may be a weakness in the general election and vice versa. For example, Jeb Bush's wife is a Mexican-American, which may hurt him in the primaries but help him in the general election.

Candidate Advantages in Primaries Disadvantages in Primaries
Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz
  • Leading in Iowa
  • Republican establishment hates him
  • Called Mitch McConnell a liar
  • Tea party darling
  • Young, fiery, and very conservative
  • Surprisingly good at fund raising
  • Excellent speaker and debater
  • Well organized in Iowa & Super Tuesday states
  • Using his outspoken father Rafael to great effect
  • Republican establishment hates him
  • First-term senator
  • For a first-term senator, has a lot of enemies
  • Has more enemies than most six-term senators
  • Masterminded the 2013 government shutdown
  • Too much of a firebrand for some voters
  • Too establishment for some outsider voters
  • Too outsider for some establishment voters
  • Are evangelical voters enough to take the nomination?
Donald Trump
Donald Trump
  • Loved by "poke-'em-in-the-eye" voters
  • Has been atop the polls for months
  • Actually created thousands of jobs
  • Can't be bribed, could self-fund
  • Says things no one else dares to say
  • Not a politician
  • Brilliant self-promoter
  • The most famous Republican candidate
  • Would be crushed by Clinton
  • Establishment will do anything to stop him
  • Used to be fairly liberal
  • Not exactly sure where the Middle East is
  • Demeaned John McCain's war record
  • Lots of sexist and racist remarks
  • His hair gets more attention than Hillary's
  • The most infamous Republican candidate
Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio
  • American-dream type biography
  • Can get votes from all wings of the party
  • Young and telegenic, sort of like Jack Kennedy
  • Very charismatic and likable
  • From the mother of all swing states
  • Sounds presidential when delivering talking points
  • Not leading in any early state
  • Has misrepresented elements of his biography
  • First-term senator
  • Something of a lightweight on policy
  • Supported immigration bill before he opposed it
  • Doesn't do well when going off-script
  • Personal finances raise a lot of questions
  • Help for brother-in-law raises a lot of questions
  • Seems more suited to the second slot
Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush
  • Establishment loves him
  • Executive experience galore
  • Huge, battle-tested field operation
  • Also from the mother of all swing states
  • SuperPAC has more money than Uncle Scrooge
  • Grassroots hates him
  • Weak campaigner, keeps inserting foot in mouth
  • Has to defend his unpopular brother
  • Wrong positions on immigration & Common Core
  • Married to a Latina
  • Barbara Bush: "We've had enough Bushes"
  • Jeb can fix it? Not so far.
Chris Christie
Chris Christie
  • Aggressive character
  • Ran the RGA well; popular with governors
  • Won election twice in a blue state
  • #3 with establishment after Bush and Rubio
  • Endorsed by New Hampshire Union Leader
  • Polling badly in home state
  • Hugged Obama
  • Has only recently "discovered" he's ultraconservative
  • Last fat President was William Howard Taft; but White House bathtub is bigger now
  • Lambasted by Newark, NJ Star-Ledger
  • We'll cross that bridge when we come to it—if it is open
John Kasich
John Kasich
  • Could be establishment fallback if others stumble
  • Twice elected in swing state of Ohio
  • From the Midwest, which could help in Iowa
  • Serious candidate, which could help in New Hampshire
  • Would win some Democrats in general election
  • Not well known
  • Running on competence, not ideology
  • Said St. Peter likes poor people
  • Supported Medicaid expansion, Common Core in Ohio
  • Has performed poorly in debates
Carly Fiorina
Carly Fiorina
  • Ran a Fortune 500 company
  • Can attack Clinton without being called sexist
  • Took on liberal icon Barbara Boxer in 2010
  • Self-made multimillionaire
  • Could self fund in the primaries for a while
  • Good knowledge of the issues and good debater
  • Not a politician
  • Was fired from a Fortune 500 Company
  • Got $20 million severance when fired
  • Was crushed by Barbara Boxer in 2010
  • No political experience
  • Barebones political operation
  • Not raising enough money
Ben Carson
Ben Carson
  • Devoted following
  • Was polling very well for a while
  • A more polite version of Donald Trump
  • Not a politician
  • Married to the same woman for 40 years
  • Allows racist voters to say they are not racist
  • Prone to gaffes
  • His numbers are trending downward
  • He's black in a nearly all white party
  • Never held public office
  • Not a dynamic speaker or debater
  • Not politically savvy
  • Campaign staff is in disarray
  • Very weak on foreign policy
  • Does he want to be president or just sell books?
Rand Paul
Rand Paul
  • Could bring in new Republican voters
  • Inherits his father's zealots
  • Dislikes Big Government spying on people
  • Does not tailor his views to pander to voters
  • Doesn't like wars
  • Doesn't support "Israel good, Arabs bad" policy
  • More of a libertarian than a conservative
  • Was cheered at UC Berkeley
  • Establishment is lukewarm on him
  • First-term senator
Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee
  • Good sense of humor and very likable
  • Ordained Baptist minister
  • Southerner in a party whose base is the South
  • Well known due to 2008 run and Fox show
  • Economic populist
  • As Arkansas governor raised taxes repeatedly
  • Very poor fundraiser
  • Unpopular outside the South
  • Did badly in 2008 against a much weaker field
  • Appeals only to evangelicals, who largely favor Cruz and Carson over him
Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum
  • Been around the track before
  • Won Iowa caucuses in 2012
  • Very strong social conservative
  • Comes from a big blue state
  • Didn't win in a much weaker 2012 field
  • One-trick pony: only social conservatism
  • Tends to lecture people and not likable
  • Voters in that big blue state tossed him overboard
  • Running out of money
Jim Gilmore
Jim Gilmore
  • Nobody hates him
  • Nobody ever heard of him
  • Lost 2008 Senate race to Mark Warner by 31 points
  • British bookies give the ineligible Arnold Schwarzenegger better odds
  • Not allowed into the Republican debates without a ticket

Rundown of Republican Primaries and Caucuses

The Republican National Committee gives each state a fair amount of freedom in choosing its delegates to the Republican National Convention. The number of delegates allocated to each state is determined by a complicated formula. The formula starts with population, but then adds bonus delegates to states that Romney carried in 2012. States also get bonus delegates for electing Republicans as governor, senator, or member of the House. Finally, the three RNC members from each state get to go to the convention. Here is a simplified table.

How the delegates are allocated to candidates is a complex process and different for each state. Many states have a certain number of delegates chosen by the statewide vote. Before March 15, these are awarded proportionally to the statewide vote—but with a catch: States may set a threshold. Some states have set it to 20%, meaning that when divvying up the statewide delegates, only candidates above the threshold get any delegates. These rules were adopted three years ago when no one was expecting that nearly all the candidates would be below 20%. For example, if Donald Trump gets 25% of the vote, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gets 20%, and everyone else gets less than 20%, then Trump gets 25/45 of the delegates and Cruz gets 20/45. The others get nothing.

Many states allocate some delegates statewide and some by congressional district (CD). Often the rules are different for statewide delegates and CD delegates. In the statewide contests, people vote for a candidate, such as Trump, Cruz, Rubio, etc. However, in some of the CD contests, people vote for the actual delegates, who may or may not be bound to vote for the candidate they claim to support. Thus a voter might see a ballot with the well-known candidates on the top part (statewide) and Jim Wilson, Mary Smith, Tom Edwards, and Nancy Jones as the delegate candidates on the bottom part, possibly indicating who they favor (but not necessarily).

Finally, just to make it more interesting, states with caucuses generally have a multilevel system. In Iowa, for example, what actually will happen on Feb. 1 is that people will gather in Iowa's 1,681 precincts and elect people to attend the 99 county caucuses a month later. They are bound to vote there for the candidate they supported in the precinct caucus. The county caucuses elect delegates to the four CD caucuses, where delegates to the state caucus are elected. The state caucus chooses the delegates to the Republican National Convention. Thus the voting on Feb. 1 at the precinct caucuses doesn't really indicate how many convention delegates each candidate has, but it gives a general indication.

Here is a table giving a rough summary of the process. The data are from Time Magazine. All elections are primaries unless stated otherwise.

Date State Delegates Thresh. Notes
Feb. 1 Iowa 30   Caucus; proportional
Feb. 9 New Hampshire 23 10% Proportional
Feb. 20 South Carolina 50   Winner take all statewide and also per CD
Feb. 23 Nevada 30   Caucus; proportional
Mar. 1 Alabama 50 20% Proportional
Mar. 1 Alaska 28 13% Caucus; proportional
Mar. 1 Arkansas 40 15% Proportional
Mar. 1 Georgia 76 20% Proportional
Mar. 1 Massachusetts 42 5% Proportional
Mar. 1 Minnesota 38 10% Caucus; proportional
Mar. 1 North Dakota 28   Caucus but none of the delegates are bound
Mar. 1 Oklahoma 43 15% Proportional
Mar. 1 Tennessee 58 20% Proportional
Mar. 1 Texas 155 20% Proportional
Mar. 1 Vermont 16 20% Proportional
Mar. 1 Virginia 49   Proportional
Mar. 1 Wyoming 29   Caucus but none of the delegates are bound
Mar. 5 Kansas 40 10% Caucus; proportional
Mar. 5 Kentucky 45 5% Caucus; proportional
Mar. 5 Louisiana 46 20% Proportional with 20% threshold statewide; none for CDs
Mar. 5 Maine 23 10% Proportional
Mar. 6 Puerto Rico 23 20% Proportional
Mar. 8 Hawaii 19   Caucus; proportional
Mar. 8 Idaho 32 20% Proportional
Mar. 8 Michigan 59 15% Proportional
Mar. 8 Mississippi 39 15% Proportional
Mar. 12 D.C. 19 15% Convention
Mar. 12 Guam 9   Convention but none of the delegates are bound
Mar. 15 Florida 99   Winner take all
Mar. 15 Illinois 69   Statewide winner take all; CD delegates elected personally
Mar. 15 Missouri 52   Above 50%, then winner take all; else WTA by CD
Mar. 15 North Carolina 72   Proportional
Mar. 15 Northern Marianas 9   Winner take all
Mar. 15 Ohio 66   Winner take all
Mar. 19 Virgin Islands 9   Winner take all
Mar. 22 American Samoa 9   Convention; delegates elected personally
Mar. 22 Arizona 58   Winner take all
Mar. 22 Utah 40 15% Caucus; proportional
Apr. 5 Wisconsin 42   Winner take all statewide and by CD
Apr. 9 Colorado 37   Convention; delegates elected personally and bound
Apr. 19 New York 95 20% Proportional
Apr. 26 Connecticut 28 20% Above 50%, then winner take all; WTA by CD
Apr. 26 Delaware 16   Winner take all
Apr. 26 Maryland 38   Winner take all
Apr. 26 Pennsylvania 71   Winner take all statewide; rest elected personally and unbound
Apr. 26 Rhode Island 19 10% Proportional
May 3 Indiana 57   Winner take all statewide and by CD
May 10 Nebraska 36   Winner take all
May 10 West Virginia 34   Delegates elected personally and bound
May 17 Oregon 28   Proportional
May 27 Washington 41 20% Proportional
Jun. 7 California 172   Winner take all statewide and by CD
Jun. 7 Montana 27   Winner take all
Jun. 7 New Jersey 51   Winner take all
Jun. 7 New Mexico 24 15% Proportional
Jun. 7 South Dakota 29   Winner take all

If the nomination is close or if no candidate clearly has a majority, the details may matter a lot. If you are a real delegate-counting nerd, this detailed piece may be of interest. Also of interest to number crunchers is this table showing the cumulative percentage of delegates chosen by any given date. For example, on Feb. 29, 5.4% of the delegates will have been chosen, but on March 2, that number jumps to 29.8%. On March 16, it becomes 57.7%, so we will certainly have some clarity by then, with winner-take-all Florida and Ohio having voted the day before. (V)

Everyone's Angry about Something

A new Esquire/NBC News/Survey Monkey online poll shows that Americans are pretty angry, although different groups are angry about different things. Many questions were asked so you have to read the whole story to get a feel for who is angry about what. Here are just a few Q & A's.

Q: What's your sense of America's place in the world?

  • The U.S. is the most powerful country in the world (41%)
  • The U.S. was once the most powerful country but isn't any more (54%)
  • The U.S. was never the most powerful country (4%)

Hello, Donald Trump. He's got this one down pat. It's on his hat. More than half the people perceive that U.S. is no longer #1 and they are angry about it. There was no follow-up follow-up question though, namely, who is #1 now? Russia? It's a poor third-world kleptocracy. China? A communist dictatorship. Japan? Maybe 25 years ago, but not now. The U.K.? Maybe 150 years ago. Denmark? Bernie Sanders thinks so and its people are very happy, but it is hardly a world power. By any conceivable measure, the U.S. was and is the most powerful country but people have been told it's not by various right-wing media outlets and they believe it.

Q: How does your financial situation compare to what you expected when you were younger?

  • I'm better off than I thought I'd be (22%)
  • I'm about where I thought I'd be (23%)
  • I'm worse off than I thought I would be (54%)

These two questions lie at the core of the populist appeal: America is going down the tubes and the American Dream is dead. Interestingly enough, whites are more likely to complain here than blacks and blame it more on external circumstances than bad personal choices. Whites are also more likely than blacks to get angry multiple times a day.

Republicans are angriest about

  • Congress being dysfunctional (80%)
  • Massive consumer fraud (80%)
  • Cops shooting an unarmed black man (65%)

Democrats are angriest about

  • Cops shooting an unarmed black man (84%)
  • Massive consumer fraud (83%)
  • Billionaire vowing to spend $500 million on 2016 elections (80%)

The survey goes on and on about many other topics. (V)

Three-time Loser Endorses Carly Fiorina in New Hampshire

NBC has a story with the headline: "Carly Fiorina Wins Key Endorsement in New Hampshire." That sounds great for Fiorina until we get into the details a bit more. The endorser is Ovide Lamontagne and he is signing on as her state chairman. He said: "In my opinion, Carly is the most conservative candidate who can win." But who is Lamontagne, exactly? He ran for governor in 1996. Now-senator Jean Shaheen (D) crushed him by 17 points. Then he ran for the Senate in 2010. He didn't even win the Republican primary. In 2012 he ran for governor again. He was crushed by Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) by 12 points.

The point of this news item is not to show that Fiorina is going nowhere in New Hampshire (though that's true) and has signed up third-rate talent to run the show for her. It is to point out how the media often distort the news. To say that a guy who has run for statewide office three times and was decisively defeated each time is somehow a key endorser is very misleading. There are plenty of important Republicans in New Hampshire, including former governors John Sununu, Judd Gregg, Steve Merrill, and Craig Benson, whose endorsement might be worth something, but why does NBC think the endorsement of a three-time loser is a "key endorsement"? Caveat lector. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Jan03 Bernie Sanders Keeps Pace with Hillary Clinton in Fundraising
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Jan03 Trump Says That Clinton, Obama Created ISIS
Jan03 New Year, Same Old Maneuvering
Jan03 Senators' Fates Might Be Beyond Their Control
Jan02 Clinton Raised $37 Million in Q4
Jan02 Carson Appoints a New Campaign Chairman
Jan02 Trump and Cruz on the Fence
Jan02 Politico's Insiders Talk about 2016
Jan02 Who is the Messenger?
Jan02 Carly Fiorina, Running for Panderer-in-Chief, Roots against Her Own School
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