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

Republicans Differ on their Approach to Oregon Protest at Bird Refuge

The armed group that calls itself a "militia" and has forcibly taken over a federal bird refuge in Oregon is putting the Republican candidates in an awkward position. Taking over federal property and holding it by force is clearly illegal and the candidates don't want to take the side of criminals. On the other hand, their natural instinct is that in any dispute, the government is wrong. So their reactions are somewhat muted. This is what some of them have said.

Marco Rubio: You can't be lawless. ... There are ways to change the laws of this country
Ted Cruz: We don't have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others.
Rand Paul: I don't support any violence or suggestion of violence toward changing policy
Rick Santorum: I certainly don't like the tactics they are using
Chris Christie: In the end the job of law enforcement is to enforce the law
Ben Carson: I don't condone them taking over, you know, a federal building
John Kasich: I haven't heard about this. When did this come out?

In other words, they are guessing that the public is for the birds. (V)

What Will Trump's Loss Look Like?

Well, to start with, there is a big assumption behind this question, namely, that he will lose. A lot of people aren't so sure of that any more, but on the other hand, he has yet to get a single vote. Ezra Klein examines how Trump might lose. It goes like this. Step 1: Trump leads in the polls. Step 2: ??? Step 3: He loses. Actually, sudden losses are common. In 2004, Howard Dean was in Trump's position before Iowa: huge lead in the polls and no money worries. Then, he lost Iowa. Suddenly, it is all over. How about 2008? Hillary Clinton sends out tickets to the coronation. Then somebody else shows up and steals the crown from her. Klein summarizes his argument with a remark that is generally regarded as true: People get more pragmatic as election day nears. We'll see. (V)

Could the Republican Nominee Be ... Paul Ryan?

While most observers do not expect a brokered convention, they admit that the scenario is at least possible, especially since all the primaries and caucuses before March 15 split their delegates proportionally, and so do some after March 15. This could lead to a situation in which Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and others each have delegates but not enough to win. Then the horse trading would start, but by then each candidate will so thoroughly hate all the others as a result of being pounded for months by negative ads, that none of them would be willing to cede any delegates to any of the others. That could lead to a dark horse being chosen and the brightest of the dark horses is Speaker Paul Ryan. He is currently the highest-ranking Republican in the country and has been on the national ticket before, so he knows the ropes. Furthermore, he is probably acceptable to all wings of the party (though the movement Republicans have not been thrilled with his speakership so far). For a few weeks Ryan had a beard, but now it is gone. If the convention is deadlocked, he might indicate his interest by growing it back again to look more like the bearded James Garfield, the only President elected while a sitting member of the House of Representatives. Of course, Ryan has to be careful about comparing himself to Garfield, since the latter was assassinated 6 months into his term. (V)

Do TV Ads Still Matter?

When Jeb Bush pulled all of his TV ads in Iowa, pundits didn't take that as a sign of weakness, but as a clever move. Their feeling was that ads don't matter so much any more and Bush's money was better spent on improving his ground game in the Hawkeye State. The underlying idea here is that big campaigns have so much information about each individual voter that they are better off tailoring their pitch to each voter separately and a broadcast medium like television doesn't achieve that. Donald Trump is leading the Republican race despite having aired no ads at all and the Koch brothers are also spending their money on the ground war rather than the air war so far. (V)

As It Turns Out, Trump Does Have a Data Operation

Speaking of the ground war, it has appeared that as he rose in the polls, Donald Trump—maverick that he is—was neglecting certain realities of modern presidential campaigning, most obviously the need for a data-driven ground game. As it turns out, he's not necessarily such a maverick after all, having spent substantial money in the last few months building an extensive data operation.

The Donald and his staff have been playing their cards close to the vest, so it's not clear exactly how much data they have. It's likely not as expansive as the Bush/Cruz/Rubio operations, but it's not anything to sneeze at either, as Trump is working with some of the best in the business. This is definitely not good news for RNC chairman Reince Priebus and the GOP establishment—it makes clear that there's far more method to Trump's madness than they had hoped. Further, this is not the behavior of someone who's ready to throw in the towel and go back to his business career at the first sign of adversity. (Z)

Trump Finally Gets around to Questioning Cruz's Citizenship

Donald Trump has spent years claiming that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen and thus ineligible to be President, despite there being no question about it at all (Obama was born in Hawaii after it became a state). Rather belatedly, Trump is now wondering out loud about Ted Cruz's eligibility. In Cruz's case, there are serious issues about it. Cruz was born in Alberta, Canada and was automatically a Canadian citizen at birth although he claimed not to know this. He renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014. But renouncing his Canadian citizenship does not suddenly make him an American. Under U.S. law a child born abroad to an American parent and a foreign parent is an American citizen only if the American parent meets certain residency requirements. In particular, the American parent must have lived in the U.S. for 10 years prior to the birth and five of those must be after age 14, as described here. If Cruz's mother, Eleanor Darragh (who was born in Delaware), fulfilled those conditions, she should have gotten a State Department form FS-240 or CRBA (Consular Report of Birth Abroad) to prove Cruz was an American citizen at birth. Trump should be yelling: "Ted, show us your FS-240." (V)

Nikki Haley to Give GOP Response to SOTU

President Obama's final State of the Union is a week away and, in a savvy and none-too-surprising move, the GOP has tapped Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) to deliver the party's official response.

Haley's star has been on the rise this year thanks to her handling of the Charleston shooting in June. She also checks a lot of boxes that the Republican Party badly needs to check: She is a minority (Indian-American), she is a woman, and she is from the South. Consequently, the response is something of an audition for the #2 slot on the GOP ticket. If Haley nails it, she'll be a frontrunner for the VP nod, and (in the event of a defeat this year) for the presidential nomination in 2020. If she blows it, on the other hand, well...she can talk to her fellow Indian-American Southern governor Bobby Jindal about what happens then.

Up until a few weeks ago, many people were assuming that Gov. Susanna Martinez (R-NM) was leading the Veep race. But she suffered a huge setback when the police were called to deal with a raucous hotel Christmas party in which bottles were being thrown from a fourth-floor balcony. There the Santa Fe police discovered their governor—drunk. Martinez is a fiery speaker when sober, but it is unlikely the Republican Party wants to find out what she's like when speaking in public drunk. (Z & V)

Jeb: My Brother Is Most Popular President Among Republicans

In an interview with MSNBC, Jeb Bush was asked if his brother's presidency has been an anchor on his campaign. In a response that left even the right-leaning media scratching its collective head, Jeb insisted that was not the case, because George is "probably the most popular President amongst Republicans in this country."

George W. Bush is, of course, very far from the most popular president among Republicans. Reputations can change, certainly, but as yet his hasn't. Not only does he lag behind GOP superstars like Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, he also trails the Republican presidents who were merely competent (his father, Gerald R. Ford), and the ones who are just names in a textbook to most voters (William McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, Chester A. Arthur). He's way closer to Richard Nixon or Warren Harding than he is to "most popular."

We probably won't be diagnosing the problems with Jeb Bush's campaign for much longer, but this certainly highlights a stumbling block he never figured out how to deal with. He couldn't pretend W. never existed, obviously. Criticism of his own brother would look disloyal and nasty. And praise comes off as phony and leaves peoples' eyes rolling. Apparently, mom knew what she spoke of when she said, "We've had enough Bushes." (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Jan05 Why the GOP Is Not Going After Trump
Jan05 The Mud Is about to Start Flying in the Republican Race
Jan05 Trump Running an Ad Showing Illegal Immigrants Climbing a Wall
Jan05 The Big Dog Is Back
Jan05 Best to Avoid Sarcasm on the Campaign Trail
Jan05 Obama to Issue Executive Orders on Guns
Jan05 New Carson Book Out Today
Jan04 January Candidate List
Jan04 Rundown of Republican Primaries and Caucuses
Jan04 Everyone's Angry about Something
Jan04 Three-time Loser Endorses Carly Fiorina in New Hampshire
Jan03 Bernie Sanders Keeps Pace with Hillary Clinton in Fundraising
Jan03 Bush's Strategy: Destroy Everyone Else
Jan03 Previously Unknown Big Donors Getting Ready to Donate
Jan03 Trump Appears in Al Qaeda Recruitment Video
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