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

Cruz: I am Tougher Than Trump on Illegal Immigrants

After Mitt Romney's loss in 2012, RNC chairman Reince Priebus commissioned an autopsy report. It said that Republicans had to win at least 40% of the Latino vote (vs. the 27% Romney got). With Donald Trump planning to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants, the GOP establishment thought it couldn't get worse. It could. And did. Yesterday Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) got into an argument with Trump about who would be harsher to those 11 million individuals. Trump would deport them all, but allow them to go to the back of the line to apply for a visa to get in legally. Cruz said yesterday that he opposes that. If he becomes President, not only will he deport them all, but he will not offer them the possibility of coming back in later.

Priebus is probably wetting his pants now. It's one thing for a buffoon who is still unlikely to get the nomination to say things that are going to drive Latinos into the the outstretched arms of Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). It is something quite different for a sitting United States senator who has a decent shot at the nomination to run to Trump's right. Even if Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) or someone else gets the nomination, the Democrats are going to run ads galore on Spanish-language television saying that Republicans hate immigrants. These ads will feature video clips from both Trump and Cruz. (V)

The Trump Gap Is Getting Bigger

Ronald Brownstein at the National Journal makes a very interesting observation about Donald Trump. Just as Republicans are starting to get used to the possibility of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, Democrats and independents are coming to despise him more. While Hillary Clinton is not wildly popular with independents, Trump is even less popular with them. Clinton isn't quite ready to start printing bumper stickers like this, but if it is her vs. Trump, she might.

For example, in the NBC/WSJ poll in December, Trump's favorability rating was at 18% with independents. Alex Castellanos, a long-time Republican operative, puts it pretty clearly: "The reason he is doing better among Republicans is that his message resonates with a large share of the Republican electorate; they agree with what he is proposing. But outside of the Republican electorate, those things are quite unpopular." Among Obama's coalition (minorities, women, young people, and the college educated), these ideas are not "unpopular." They are "toxic." A race between Trump and Clinton would be extremely brutish but would end badly for Trump. (V)

Cruz with Small Lead over Trump in California

Probably the most underreported story of this election cycle is that blue-state Republicans also get something to say about the Republican nominee. By a historical accident and a bit of cagey planning by a few states, some of the states with the most conservative Republicans get to vote first. Iowa is an odd political duck, with half the state being fiercely conservative Republicans and the other half being liberal Democrats. They must make great neighbors. Most of the South votes on March 1.

Eventually the big blue states get to vote and they have lots of delegates. California is the last state to vote (on June 7) but it also has the biggest delegate haul (172). Ten are elected statewide winner-take-all, 159 are elected by congressional district, each of which is winner-take-all, and three are party leaders. In a close race that goes right down to the wire, we might be treated to that rarest of sights, national Republican candidates spending all their time crisscrossing California looking for votes in odd places, like CA-12 (San Francisco), CA-13 (Oakland and Berkeley), and CA-33 (Santa Monica and Hollywood). No Republican has a prayer in the general election in these districts, but they do send precious delegates to the Republican National Convention. In CA-12, for example, the Republican got only 32,197 votes against Nancy Pelosi in 2014. That means a Republican primary candidate who campaigns there and who can get an additional 5,000 votes can probably pick up 3 delegates.

All this said, the news story behind this item is a new Field poll of California Republicans likely to vote in the primary, conducted by live interviewers in English and Spanish. The Field Poll is to California what Ann Selzer's polls are to Iowa: the gold standard. Here are the results; the fourth column is the change since Field's October poll:

Rank Candidate Pct Change
1 Ted Cruz 25% +19%
2 Donald Trump 23% +8%
3 Marco Rubio 13% +3%
4 Ben Carson 9% -6%
5 Rand Paul 6% +1%
6 Jeb Bush 4% -4%
7 Chris Christie 3% +1%
7 Carly Fiorina 3% -10%
9 John Kasich 1% -1%
  Others/undecided 13% -3%

The big news here is that Cruz is leading in the state that provides 14% of the delegates to the convention. With such a big prize out there, it is unlikely Cruz will drop out before June, and probably not at all. So it looks like Trump and Cruz will be there until the end, and probably Rubio as well since neither of these is acceptable to the Republican establishment and Rubio is the acceptable candidate who is currently doing the best.

Among California Democrats, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 46% to 35%. (V)

Cruz Now Running an Ad With Bankers, Lawyers, and Journalists Crossing a River

Ted Cruz is nothing if not creative. A clever new ad he is running features women in high heels and men in suits carrying attache cases running across a river, presumably the Rio Grande, although it is not mentioned by name. The voiceover says that if the country were being invaded by bankers, lawyers, and journalists who were driving down wages in those jobs in the U.S., the press would be up in arms about the economic calamity. But when the workers coming over want to pick fruit or be nannies, the liberal press doesn't see any problem with it. The ad is brilliantly done. While many people dislike Cruz's ideas, one has to admit that he is top-notch when it comes to running a campaign. (V)

RNC Now Running an Ad With a Firefighter, Student, Haitian Immigrant, and Former Prostitute

The Republican National Committee may want to take a few lessons from Ted Cruz. They have a new ad, too, one that is designed to show the diversity of the party by incorporating people of many different races and from many different walks of life. But while the production is very slick, the spot is nearly three minutes long, kind of boring, and doesn't actually mention the Republican Party until the 1:47 mark (there is a GOP elephant in the lower right corner, but it's easy to miss). Most problematic is that the ad is exceedingly ham-fisted tokenism—showing off that there are not one but two working-class black Republicans will not magically persuade other working-class blacks that the GOP is the party for them. If even one person was persuaded to change their registration after watching this, it would be a surprise. (Z)

Other Republicans Join the Ted Cruz Birther Movement

Donald Trump says, "I don't like even bringing it up" when it comes to the question of Ted Cruz's citizenship and eligibility for the presidency. Still, somehow, some way The Donald found it within himself to do just that on Monday. Now, other prominent Republicans are joining the "cause." Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), when asked in an interview on Wednesday, said the issue was "worth looking into." Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was asked the same question (though on a different program) and explained that, as far as he was concerned, Cruz is definitely qualified to be Prime Minister of Canada. Ouch.

The fact that both these men are senators—and have worked closely with Cruz—reminds us of how much the Texan's colleagues dislike him. McCain himself dealt with some "birther" questions in 2012, having been born in the Panama Canal Zone. But he is well-liked and well-respected in the Senate and none of his colleagues—Democrat or Republican—came close to suggesting there was any merit to the suggestion that he was not eligible for the presidency. It is also quite evident that this issue is going to linger—either in the form of outright questioning, or as an undercurrent of whispers. Donald Trump's suggestion—that Cruz go to court to settle the question—may actually be good advice. Or Cruz could end the questions once and for all by producing his CRBA form proving that he is an American. (Z)

Right-Wing Media Fuel Hillary Health Conspiracies

Breitbart News and other right-leaning media outlets are working hard to build a narrative that Hillary Clinton's health is actually quite precarious, and that she is physically unfit to be president. Their evidence essentially boils down to two things: (a) Very reliable gossip that Clinton's long bathroom break at the Democratic debate was actually a serious flare-up of longstanding neurological problems, and (b) Armchair diagnoses from doctors like Daniel Kassicieh, who says, "For someone who has treated many post-concussion syndrome patients and that's what I really believe she's suffering from based on reading these reports and reading what's happened."

First of all, the list of presidential candidates who have been targeted by "poor health" rumors like this is very long, and includes John McCain, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale, Ronald Reagan, Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon B. Johnson, Adlai Stevenson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Alf Landon, Woodrow Wilson, William Jennings Bryan, and Alton Parker (and that's just since 1900). Sometimes the rumors are on target (FDR, Ike, and Reagan in their final terms), mostly they are not. Second, anyone who thinks that a serious neurological incident can be shaken off in under four minutes has neither experienced nor witnessed one. Third, any physician who would publicly offer a diagnosis of this sort without any examination of a patient or their records should be ashamed of themselves. This pseudo-story is an underhanded, unwarranted form of ageism, and—absent vastly more compelling information—no reputable news outlet should have anything to do with it. Which, of course, is why it is Breitbart's lead story.

Also of note is that when politicians make medical diagnoses of people they have never even seen, it sometimes gets them into hot water. Back in 2005, a Florida woman, Terri Schaivo, who was in a persistent vegetative state was the center of a huge controversy involving then-governor Jeb Bush and then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). Bush worked hard behind the scenes to get the Florida legislature to pass a special law preventing Schaivo's husband from removing her feeding tubes, largely based on the diagnosis of Frist, a former surgeon, who diagnosed her from a video tape. She had been in the persistent vegetative state for 15 years but her deeply religious parents were hoping for a miracle to save her. After her death, the autopsy report proved her actual doctors right: her brain was withered to half its original size and she had been dead for a decade. If the Schaivo story comes back in the news, it might hurt Bush, putting him on the defensive, since he was clearly wrong about her being alive. (Z & V)

Why Doesn't Rubio Resign from the Senate?

It is rare when a member of the Senate says there is little point in being a senator. Marco Rubio has now come out and said just that. This raises the question of why he doesn't just resign his Senate seat right now. Doing so would have several advantages for him and the GOP:

  • He wouldn't be frustrated by being a member of a useless and dysfunctional body
  • He would be free to spend 100% of his time campaigning for President
  • He wouldn't miss any more Senate votes, something his opponents are throwing in his face
  • Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) could then appoint a replacement would would be an incumbent in November
  • The people of Florida would have two full-time senators working for them

The obvious reason he doesn't resign, given his well-known financial problems, is that while he doesn't like the Senate, he does like the $174,000 the Senate pays him per year. (V)

Rubio Swaps Commercial Flights for Private Charters

For most of 2015, Marco Rubio bragged about how he flew cattle class on commercial flights. His campaign manager even said: "We just booked a Frontier Airlines flight for him today, which is a special kind of hell for anybody. But we do it because we gotta—we're going to put the resources where it matters." That sounds pretty good. Many Americans can identify with someone who is frugal. Trouble is, records show that Rubio now flies by chartered private jet.

By itself, this is not unusual. Many candidates use chartered jets. When you have a hectic schedule and need to maximize the number of events you can attend per day, often in far-flung states, chartering your own jet may well be worth it. It's the hypocrisy that could hurt him here, not the expenditure, per se.

Rubio has never disclosed whether he flies with anyone other than his staff, but Ted Cruz is famous for making good use of his travel time. He often invites potential big donors to travel with him and talk to him face to face. Thus, a wasted two-hour flight is suddenly converted to a two-hour meeting with a potential donor who is no doubt pleased to get to travel in Cruz's plane and have one-on-one time with him undisturbed. It's a brilliant idea. (V)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster
Jan06 Republicans Differ on their Approach to Oregon Protest at Bird Refuge
Jan06 What Will Trump's Loss Look Like?
Jan06 Could the Republican Nominee Be ... Paul Ryan?
Jan06 Do TV Ads Still Matter?
Jan06 As It Turns Out, Trump Does Have a Data Operation
Jan06 Trump Finally Gets around to Questioning Cruz's Citizenship
Jan06 Nikki Haley to Give GOP Response to SOTU
Jan06 Jeb: My Brother Is Most Popular President Among Republicans
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