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

Des Moines Register Endorses Clinton and Rubio in Primaries

One week before Iowans caucus, the most important newspaper in the state has weighed in with its endorsements, giving the nod to Hillary Clinton and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Of Clinton, the paper writes:

Democrats have one outstanding candidate deserving of their support: Hillary Clinton. No other candidate can match the depth or breadth of her knowledge and experience.

As to Rubio, the Register says:

Sen. Marco Rubio has the potential to chart a new direction for the party, and perhaps the nation, with his message of restoring the American dream. We endorse him because he represents his party's best hope.

Back in the 19th Century, when the unwashed masses, fresh off the boat, didn't quite understand this voting thing, local newspapers would spring to their rescue by telling them how to vote. Nowadays, you can get voting instructions from 100 online newspapers and 10,000 blogs. Newspaper endorsements used to mean a lot, but they are much less critical now. FiveThirtyEight has the historical data as to the impact of the paper's endorsement on non-incumbents, dating back to 1988. The effect is actually somewhat inconsistent, but a bump of anything more than four or five points would be unusual, especially for a candidate who is already well known. As such, having the Register's support may help Clinton, who appears to be in a close race with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), but it's not likely to do much for Rubio. (Z)

Could a New York Billionaire Be Elected President?

No, not that one. The other one: Michael Bloomberg. The three-time mayor of New York is once again making noises about running for President. Maybe this is just the famous story of "The Mayor Who Cried Wolf," but Donald Trump toyed with the idea for years until he finally made the plunge. Maybe this is Bloomberg's year too.

Only a handful of intimates know what Bloomberg is really thinking, but supposedly he is worried about a Trump-Sanders or a Cruz-Sanders race. He doesn't think a socialist could get elected and he thinks the alternative is too awful to contemplate. Also, if Hillary Clinton is the nominee but is very badly damaged—for example, by being under indictment—he might jump in. If it is Trump-Clinton or Cruz-Clinton he probably wouldn't pull the trigger because that would be a suicide mission and he doesn't want to spend a billion dollars of his own money on a suicide mission (and maybe elect Trump or Cruz while he is at it).

Bloomberg would attract votes from both parties. On social issues, he is as liberal as Clinton and Sanders and he is absolutely ferocious about gun control. Many Democrats would see this as reason to vote for him. On the other hand, he is very close to Wall Street and as mayor enacted aggressive policing practices that will repel Democrats and attract Republicans. Above all, he has a lot of gravitas and many people would immediately trust him not to throw the nuclear football on a lark.

A Morning Consult poll shows that in a three-way race with Trump, Clinton, and Bloomberg, the former mayor wouldn't win but would hurt Clinton more than he would hurt Trump. In a two-way race, Clinton beats Trump, but in a three-way race, Trump wins. If Bloomberg's internal polls show the same thing, it is unlikely he will jump in since his goal is to defeat Trump, not help him. Here are the numbers.

Party Trump Clinton Bloomberg Don't Know
Democrats 11% 72% 8% 9%
Independents 37% 24% 18% 20%
Republicans 67% 9% 8% 12%
Overall 37% 36% 13% 14%

The possibilities at this point are endless. If either Trump or Cruz gets the nomination, the other one could run as a third-party candidate. Throw in Bloomberg and you have a four-way race. Unlike Trump, Bloomberg is a serious and very experienced politician who has many first-class advisors and who would commission endless polls to see what his chances were. According to the NYT report, his aides are already studying the ballot access rules in all 50 states as well as the recent third-party candidacies of John Anderson (1980) and H. Ross Perot (1992) in detail.

In a three- or four-way race, it could happen that no candidate gets 270 electoral votes. In that event, the election goes to the newly elected House of Representatives, in which each state gets one vote. Each state must choose from the top-three electoral-vote getters. If no candidate gets 26 votes in the House, they just keep on voting, forever and forever. Meanwhile, the Senate gets to pick the Vice President from the top two electoral-vote getters, and if need be, the Vice President acts as President until the House elects a President. (V)

Obama Aides Favor Clinton

While President Obama is officially neutral in the Democratic primary, his aides clearly favor Hillary Clinton and think that not only is she more electable, but she would also protect their boss' legacy. Their staffs coordinate in many ways, from the use of his image, to her positions on his policies. It is almost as if she were his Vice President. Obama and Clinton also meet regularly and their campaign directors also meet.

Obama can't cozy up to Clinton too publicly, however, to avoid alienating Sanders' supporters, who Clinton will need badly if she is the nominee. Still, he sometimes says things that are daggers aimed at Sanders. For example, he said he could not support a Democratic nominee who did not support "common-sense gun reform." There is only one possible candidate who might fit that description, and everyone in Washington knows exactly who that is, even if the message is a bit subtle for many voters. (V)

Castro Jockeying for the #2 Slot

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro is working hard to make his case as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton. He's working on his Spanish-language skills, consulting regularly with friend and mentor Bill Clinton, and hitting the campaign trail in the Southwest on behalf of the Clinton campaign.

In addition to an update on Castro's activities, Politico also handicaps his chances at the Veep nod. The pros are that he's Latino, young, charismatic, a good speaker who thinks well on his feet, and he appears to have no skeletons in the closet. The cons are that he's a relative neophyte to politics, having served only as mayor of San Antonio (a part-time job) and as a lower-level cabinet secretary, and that he's unlikely to deliver his home state of Texas. The ultimate conclusion is that Castro is nonetheless the current frontrunner, since Clinton appears to prefer a male running-mate, and Castro offers more upside than the other leading alternatives, like Rep. Cory Booker (D-NJ) or Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), although Kaine might help bring in Virginia, a key swing state.

Also a factor is Bernie Sanders. If he loses, it is very, very unlikely that he would demand the #2 slot in exchange for his support. A ticket with a 68-year-old and a 74-year-old would be hard to sell as forward looking. But Sanders might insist on a strong progressive as #2. Neverthless, it's also worth keeping in mind that at this point in 2008, nobody in the lower 48 had ever heard of Sarah Palin. (Z)

Glenn Beck Endorses Ted Cruz

On Friday, Glenn Beck was one of the people who wrote an article in National Review slamming Donald Trump. Saturday, he hit the campaign trail to formally announce his endorsement of, and support for, Ted Cruz. Cruz's endorsements are few and far between, and while Beck doesn't have the star power of Sarah Palin, he is still very widely known. Beck said: "I have prayed for the next George Washington. I believe I have found him." So far Cruz has not declared war on England or led an army against it, but there is always time. Or perhaps Beck just meant that Cruz has wooden teeth and is able to throw a silver dollar across the Potomac.

As the Iowa caucuses draw closer, all the candidates are going to bring in all the firepower they have. What is already clear in the Republican battle, the talk radio and talk television personalities are divided. Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin are for Trump, whereas Glenn Beck and Steve Deace are for Cruz, to name just a few. In a week, probably everyone will have taken sides. (V)

Megyn Kelly Will Be the Moderator in Thursday's Debate

The Republicans meet again Thursday in Des Moines for their final pre-caucus debate. Donald Trump asked Fox News, the host, to remove Megyn Kelly as moderator because she has a conflict of interest and is biased. Fox said no way. In an earlier debate, Trump and Kelly got into an argument and he clearly doesn't like her and she doesn't like him. But since Fox News doesn't want Trump as the Republican nominee, it makes sense to have a moderator who Trump doesn't get along with and instruct her to be ruthless in her questioning of him. (V)

Voting from the Grave is Popular This Year

Well, maybe not actual voting although if you cast an absentee ballot and then die before election day, it might work. What is happening though, is that people are asking their relatives to put political messages in their obituaries. Pennsylvania chiropractor Jeffrey Cohen's read: "Jeffrey would ask that in lieu of flowers, please do not vote for Donald Trump." However, when Ernest Overbey died 3 weeks ago, his obituary ended with the words: "please vote for Donald Trump."

Dead Democrats are also getting into the act. Nancy Dearr, who met her husband while working on George McGovern's 1972 campaign and who died in August, had her obituary end with: "in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign." On the other hand, Kentucky resident Betty Jo Lewis' obituary had a different take, saying: "please vote for Hillary Clinton. Betty would really appreciate it, as she is surely disappointed she won't get the chance to do so." (V)

What If Trump Shot the Sheriff?

Supremely confident that his support is unshakable, on Saturday Donald Trump declared that he could "shoot somebody" on Fifth Avenue and it wouldn't cost him any votes. The remark brings to mind Edwin Edwards' famous line shortly before winning another term as governor of Louisiana in 1983: "The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with either a dead girl or a live boy."

By all evidences, Trump is correct about this—maybe not literally so, but the basic sentiment, namely that nothing seems to stick to him. The Donald's greatest political skill is his ability to market himself and to dominate the headlines. However, his apparent talent for avoiding fallout from scandals may not be far behind. This was a capability that both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton had, to their great advantage. If the Donald really is another teflon-coated politician, his rivals should be very, very nervous.

While it is true that nothing will shake the fervor of his supporters, one shouldn't forget that he has about 35% of the Republican Party on his side and Republicans are about 30% of the country. Few Democrats like him, so his support nationally is probably about 15%. Shooting the sheriff might not go over so well with the other 85%. (Z & V)

Cruz Never Lost His Health Insurance

Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), claimed to have lost his healthcare insurance due to the Affordable Care Act. He said that his insurance provider no longer offered the policy he had, so he had nothing and blamed it on "Obamacare." Now it appears that he was making this up. It is true the specific policy he previously had is no longer being offered, but his insurance provider automatically enrolled him in a different plan, so at no time was he uninsured. Since Cruz is a government employee, he is also eligible to get group insurance via the government, which would get him a whopping 75% subsidy as well. So the story about losing his insurance was made up just to blame Obamacare. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Jan23 National Review Eviscerates Donald Trump
Jan23 Cruz's Father, Not His Mother, Determines His Citizenship
Jan23 O'Malley Supporters Could Determine Which Democrat Wins the Iowa Caucuses
Jan23 The Only Jewish Candidate in the Race Probably Won't Get Much Jewish Support
Jan22 Sanders and Trump Lead in Iowa, but with a Footnote
Jan22 Republican Leaders Are Arguing About Whether Trump or Cruz is the Biggest Threat
Jan22 National Review Tries to Take Down Trump
Jan22 Is Palin Not All She's Trumped Up to Be?
Jan22 Thanks, Obama!: Ted Cruz Edition
Jan22 GOP Establishment Not Yet Sold on Rubio
Jan22 Clinton Tweaks Approach to Sanders
Jan22 Democrats Want A Debate Between Iowa and New Hampshire
Jan21 Thanks, Obama, Sarah Palin Edition
Jan21 Republican Donors Beginning to Accept Trump as Nominee
Jan21 Could John Kasich Foil the Republican Establishment's Plans?
Jan21 Harvard Law Professor: Cruz Is Not A Natural-Born Citizen
Jan21 Bob Dole Warns of Cataclysmic Loses with Cruz
Jan21 Super PAC hits Cruz Where it Hurts
Jan21 What Would Happen If Sanders Won the Democratic Nomination?
Jan21 Republicans Are Helping Sanders
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?