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

"Thanks, Obama," Sarah Palin Edition

As the New York Times observes Sarah Palin's endorsement of Donald Trump comes with some fairly significant pros and cons for the GOP frontrunner. Like Trump, Palin is a former reality TV star who knows how to get and keep the media's attention. Her past presence on a major party ticket confers a veneer of legitimacy that Trump was previously lacking. And her popularity among evangelicals may win over some voters who might have otherwise gone for Ted Cruz.

The downside, of course, is that Palin has a habit of saying things that read as either bizarre or, well, just plain stupid. Indeed, her initial endorsement announcement was a seemingly stream-of-consciousness monologue that was, as often as not, barely comprehensible. Among the highlights:

Trump's candidacy has exposed, not just that tragic—that ramifications of the betrayal of a transformation of our country, but, two, he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it, OK?

How about the rest of us? Right-wingin', bitter-clingin', proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religions and our Constitution. Tell us that we're not red enough? Yeah, coming from the establishment.

We're paying for, some of their squirmishes, that have been going on for centuries, where they're fighting each other, and yelling, 'Allah akbar,' calling jihad on each other's heads forever and ever. Like I said before, let them duke it out and let Allah sort it out.

Watching the whole 21-minute speech, the crowd is fairly enthusiastic (though not raucous). However, the look on The Donald's face says something like, "Hmm, what I have I gotten myself into?"

Another problem with Palin is that, for someone that puts herself forward as both paragon and arbiter of morality, her own house is not entirely in order. Familial drama flared up again on Monday. Her eldest son, Track, who was married in May 2011, became a father in August 2011, and filed for divorce in Dec. 2012, was arrested and charged with punching his new girlfriend in the face. The news became public after the endorsement was announced on Tuesday, so it was on Wednesday that Palin first addressed what she called "the elephant in the room." And her explanation was a fairly simple one: It's Obama's fault. She argued that Track, a military veteran, is suffering from PTSD, and that his condition would not have gotten out of control if only the President had more respect for veterans.

However, she forgot to blame Obamacare for her never-married daughter's second out-of-wedlock baby. Bristol Palin's two children have different fathers. Bristol previously earned $300,000 for speaking to college students and urging them to avoid sex until they were married. Sarah Palin will try to help the twice-divorced Trump gain support with family-values voters.

Among the women of the Republican party, the only one who may rival Sarah Palin for being able to say things that raise eyebrows, roll eyeballs, and antagonize Democrats is Ann Coulter. Fortunately for the Donald, she also hopped on the bandwagon this week.

While not exactly an endorsement of Trump, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) commented on Palin's endorsement of Trump by saying yesterday: "I respect her view" but then added "I'm not considering anyone. I've got my own race to run." It's no secret that McCain despises Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and once called him a "wacko bird." McCain endorsed his friend and fellow veteran Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), but when Graham dropped out, he didn't name a second choice. As someone who served in the Navy for 23 years, McCain probably doesn't like loose cannons much, and the description sort of fits Trump. (Z & V)

Republican Donors Beginning to Accept Trump as Nominee

Six months ago, if anyone had suggested to a big Republican donor that he should prepare for Donald Trump as the Republican nominee and get ready to cut him a big check, the donor would have called 911 and asked for an ambulance with a mental-health specialist and a straightjacket. As the campaign has developed, some donors are beginning to accept the idea that just maybe Trump could be the nominee, and given a choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton, maybe a check is needed after all.

However, they can't just cut a check for $1 million and send it off to Trump's super PAC. He doesn't have one. Furthermore, he has said he doesn't want one. This means donors are limited to $2,700 in the primary and another $2,700 in the general election. Some of them are not happy that they can't buy the candidate, which Trump has advertised as a selling point. If he surprises everyone and does get the nomination, Trump will either have to flip-flop on "No super PACs" and be pilloried as just another corrupt politician, or spend a billion dollars of his own money to match what the Democrats are likely to have.

That said, many business leaders and others who contributed generously to Mitt Romney's campaign are appalled by some of the things Trump has said, both from a moral and business perspective. Many find the idea of deporting 11 million people and subjecting immigrants to racial and religious tests to be repugnant. But also, many business leaders welcome immigrants. At the low end of the pay scale (think: fruit pickers), they do unattractive work that Americans won't do unless they are paid better. At the high end (think: Indian engineers) they help to depress salaries. Also an issue is that Trump is unpredictable and if there is anything business leaders hate, it is unpredictability. (V)

Could John Kasich Foil the Republican Establishment's Plans?

The Republican establishment's current plan is to pray away Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in order to let #3, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), rise to the top. To make this work, all the other moderate Republicans need to do badly in Iowa and New Hampshire and then go home with their tails between their legs. Current polling shows that another scenario is possible. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) is currently second in New Hampshire. If he were indeed to come in second, ahead of Rubio, Kasich probably would get a burst of funding from moderate Republicans and stay in the race for a few more weeks. This would greatly complicate Rubio's plans.

Of course, if Kasich does really well in New Hampshire, he could supplant Rubio as the new establishment favorite, but this is unlikely given his stands on immigration (he doesn't want to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants), same-sex marriage (he grudgingly accepts it as the law of the land)), and Medicaid expansion (keep it). So basically, the GOP leaders hope that the polls are wrong and Kasich does badly in New Hampshire. (V)

Harvard Law Professor: Cruz Is Not A Natural-Born Citizen

Another law professor has whipped out the Constitution and concluded that Cruz does not meet the definition of "natural born" as it was at the time the Constitution was written. Harvard professor Einer Elhauge argues that the adjective "natural" is there to distinguish people who were citizens at birth but not eligible to be President from those who were eligible. This issue is not likely to go away any time soon. (V)

Bob Dole Warns of Cataclysmic Loses with Cruz

Former senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole yesterday warned that Republicans would suffer "cataclysmic and wholesale losses" if Ted Cruz is the party's nominee. He even said Donald Trump would do better. Dole also noted that if Cruz somehow won the White House, he would have a terrible time dealing with Congress since everyone in the Senate hates him. In contrast, he said Trump is less ideological and by nature a negotiator, so he would be willing to make compromises and deals with Congress.

Dole was especially miffed by Cruz calling Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the floor of the Senate. He said if you want to call someone a liar, you go to his office and do it in private. Dole comes from a kinder, gentler period in America's political history. (V)

Super PAC hits Cruz Where it Hurts

Republican operative Nick Everhart has founded a new super PAC with a name full of buzzwords: Americans United for Values. The PAC is airing commercials that cut right to the heart of Cruz's case for the presidency, arguing that he really isn't much of a Christian.

The case against Cruz has two prongs. The first is that he hides his true positions on issues, like gay marriage, and that his actual viewpoints do not square with those of the evangelical movement. The second is that he does not live in a way that comports with Christian principles; for example, failing to tithe anything more than pittance relative to his extensive wealth.

Cruz had better hope that the commercials are dismissed as empty politicking and that they do not find their mark. Because if his voters take note of the attacks, well, they will be hard to refute. There's no arguing, for example, that the Bible establishes an expectation of charity/tithing, and that the tax returns establish that Cruz is not doing so. If the evangelicals do decide that he's a fraud, well, there goes the only wing of the Party that Cruz is connecting with. All in all, the Texas Senator is not having a good week. (Z)

What Would Happen If Sanders Won the Democratic Nomination?

While Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is still a longshot to win the Democratic nomination, he's still got a better chance than three quarters of the Republican field has at getting the GOP nomination. But suppose he got it. Then what? This piece in Salon points out some issues that could arise.

Fundraising. The Republican candidate is likely to have $1 billion to spend. If it is Donald Trump, he could just write himself a check. If it is anyone else, big donors will write million-dollar checks. Sanders has done quite well in raising money so far, accumulating $41 million from a record 2 million donors. But it is very doubtful he could raise $1 billion in small donations. If each donor gave $20, he would need 50 million donors. A 25-fold increase from where he is now. He could set up a super PAC and think big. Democrats normally raise big money on Wall Street, in Hollywood, and from tech companies. He can't go to Wall Street since according to him, that is Public Enemy No. 1. Suppose he met with the top Democrats at Amazon, America's most LGBT-friendly company, and the folks there said: "We can raise $10 million easily, maybe $20 million. But you do want to forbid states from levying sales tax on Internet purchases, right?" If he says yes, his base, which worships him for not selling out to corporations, will be most unhappy.

Democratic socialism. Technically, Sanders is not a full-blown socialist, but to Republican ad makers, he will be the reincarnation of Joseph Stalin. In 2004, they painted decorated Vietnam War veteran John Kerry as an effete patrician and traitor to the United States. Just imagine what they will do to Sanders. Former senator Joe McCarthy will be sitting up in his grave and saying: "I couldn't have said it better myself." It will be red baiting at its worst. And with 43% of the Republican base still believing that President Obama is a secret Muslim, despite his being attacked in 2008 for being a member of Jeremiah Wright's church, many people will believe the lies. It will be far harder for Republicans to swiftboat Hillary Clinton, as almost everyone made up their mind about her years ago.

Unpredictable News Could Be the Key. Transformational candidates like Sanders tend to win only when there is a great crisis in the land. Think about Abraham Lincoln or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Will there be such a crisis in 10 months big enough to sweep him in? Suppose the stock market keeps going down and by November has lost 50% of its value and unemployment hits 24%, like in the Great Depression. Then Sanders could be elected on a slogan of "Capitalism doesn't work." The crisis has to be an economic one, not a national security one, of course, and even an economic one might not do the job as the Republicans would blame Obama and the Democrats for it. (V)

Republicans Are Helping Sanders

Republican operatives are actively working to help Bernie Sanders because they fear Hillary Clinton much more. During the last Democratic debate, the RNC sent out four emails defending Sanders on issues ranging from healthcare to Wall Street. You got that right: Republicans defending Sanders on Wall Street. What's wrong with this picture? The RNC chief strategist, Sean Spicer, has also been putting out pro-Sanders tweets. Republicans have been arguing that Sanders won the last debate. Most likely the Republicans don't really think Sanders can get the nomination, but want to keep him afloat as long as possible to force Hillary Clinton to burn through her money fighting him. In the vernacular, the practice of one party interfering with the other one's internal affairs is known as "ratfucking." (V)

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---The Votemaster
Jan20 Sarah Palin and Terry Branstad Endorse Donald Trump
Jan20 Glenn Beck is Backing Cruz
Jan20 RNC boots NBC
Jan20 Even if Sanders Wins IA and NH, He's Not Home Free
Jan20 Bush and Rubio Tied for Third Place in Florida
Jan20 A Growing Demographic: Latino Nonvoters
Jan20 Delegating the Delegates
Jan19 Democratic Debate Postmortem
Jan19 Sanders Releases His Healthcare Plan
Jan19 Democrats Preparing for a Long Battle
Jan19 Report: 62 People Own as Much as Bottom Half of World's Population
Jan19 A Record 12,900 Ads Have Run in Des Moines
Jan19 Trump Calls for Christians to Unify
Jan19 British Parliament Debates Banning Trump from Entering Britain
Jan18 Democrats Dance in Charleston
Jan18 Clinton Ahead of Sanders by 25 Points Nationally
Jan18 Is Rubio Using Giuliani's Strategy?
Jan18 Court Strikes Down Two-Tiered Voting System in Kansas
Jan18 Former RNC Chairman Michael Steele Says Trump Will Be the Nominee
Jan18 What Happens If Trump Loses Iowa?
Jan18 When Will Candidates Stop Saying They Can Bring Us All Together?
Jan17 Democrats Take Their Turn in Charleston
Jan17 Clinton Campaigns as Obama's Heir in South Carolina
Jan17 Clinton Is Seriously Worried about Sanders
Jan17 Chuck Schumer Defends Trump
Jan17 Let the Anti-Ted Cruzsade Begin
Jan17 Christie Donated to Planned Parenthood
Jan17 Why Is Nobody Attacking Trump on the Air?
Jan17 Trump Was Once a New York Liberal
Jan17 Might Scott Brown Be Trump's Veep?
Jan17 Are All Journalists Suffering from Pauline Kael Syndrome?
Jan16 Republican Debate Postmortem
Jan16 New York Daily News Is Not Happy with Ted Cruz
Jan16 Bettors Are Putting Their Money on Trump
Jan16 Sanders Catches Up to Clinton in Iowa
Jan16 Bush Donors Anxiously Waiting Permission to Jump Ship
Jan16 Republicans in Congress Very Nervous about Trump Candidacy
Jan16 Gap Between the Parties is Greater than Ever
Jan16 Alan Wilson Is Still Alive
Jan15 Republicans Get Down to Business in South Carolina
Jan15 Republicans Love Cruz, Carson, and Rubio the Most
Jan15 Trump Way Ahead Nationally in New Poll
Jan15 Cruz and Trump Backers in Iowa Differ on Some Issues
Jan14 Republicans Square Off in South Carolina Tonight
Jan14 Is Paul Ryan Really Headed for Big Things?
Jan14 New Iowa Poll: Cruz by a Nose
Jan14 Republican Donors Complaining about Lack of Return on Investment
Jan14 Republicans Tell Bush to Lay off Rubio
Jan14 Clinton Worried about Sanders
Jan14 The GOP Veepstakes Have Started