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

Trump Tops 40% for the First Time in a National Poll

Donald Trump keeps picking up steam. A new CNN/ORC poll puts the businessman and entertainer at 41% nationally, his highest rating ever. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is second at 19%. Nobody else hits the double digits. Here are the results.

Rank Candidate Pct
1 Donald Trump 41%
2 Ted Cruz 19%
3 Marco Rubio 8%
4 Ben Carson 6%
5 Jeb Bush 5%
6 Chris Christie 4%
7 Mike Huckabee 3%
7 Rand Paul 3%
9 Carly Fiorina 2%
10 John Kasich 1%
11 Rick Santorum 0%
11 Jim Gilmore 0%

Also noteworthy is that more than two-thirds of Republicans now believe he will capture the Republican nomination. But keep in mind, there is no national primary, so this result is just general background information. (V)

Trump Likely to Sit Out Thursday's Debate

On Monday, after The Donald blasted Fox News generally and Megyn Kelly specifically for not being nice to him, the network responded by declaring that Kelly would not be removed from the debate, and that the billionaire was just "afraid" of her. On Tuesday, Trump posted a video to Instagram reiterating his complaints, and also polled his followers as to whether or not he should participate in the debate (the votes were evenly split). With the ball now in its court, Fox issued a faux press release announcing that:

We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president—a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.

Trump, apparently angered by the ribbing, then declared on various platforms that he was either "probably" or "definitely" skipping the debate and that he would instead live-tweet during that time slot instead.

At this point, a Trump-less debate seems probable. Fox certainly can't remove Megyn Kelly now, as they would lose all credibility. Further, making Trump look childish and unable to handle criticism serves its goal of undermining him. The Donald, for his part, is not in the habit of backing down when so obviously being challenged, and would lose face with some of his followers if he was to show up to the debate with his tail between his legs. Further, if he takes to Twitter, he will command a stage that he knows and uses very well, and over which he will have complete control for the full two hours, allowing him to say whatever he wants whenever he wants without having to worry about pesky questions that might put him on the spot. Rand Paul (who will be included on Thursday, thanks to improved polling numbers) got excellent mileage out of live-tweeting the last GOP debate, despite the fact that he's kind of boring. One can only imagine what the more entertaining Trump will do.

On the other hand, there are downsides to skipping the debate as well. Ted Cruz may try to command the limelight, and in a tight race in Iowa, it could help him. Also, in the general election, if it is Clinton vs. Trump, the Democrats are going to paint Trump as an impulsive, petulant child who can't be trusted with his finger anywhere near the nuclear trigger, whereas she is steady as a rock and would never start WW III because someone made fun of her hair. (Z & V)

Democrats May Participate in Unsanctioned Debate

Speaking of debates, rumors are swirling that The New Hampshire Union-Leader and MSNBC will hold an unsanctioned debate in New Hampshire just before the New Hampshire primary. The DNC earlier said that any candidate who participated in an unsanctioned debate would be barred from future debates. However, if all three remaining Democratic candidates take part in the New Hampshire debate, there would be no more official debates. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz allegedly limited the number of debates to help her friend, Hillary Clinton. But Clinton has performed so well in the debates that Wasserman Schultz might just change her mind and not impose sanctions if this one goes forward.

Another factor that has to be considered here is viewership. The six Republican debates have had a total of 102 million viewers. The four Democratic debates have had only 43 million viewers. More debates means more publicity for the Democrats. From Wasserman Schultz's standpoint, that has to be a plus, even she looks weak backing down and giving in. (V)

Is the GOP Really Resigned to Trump as the Nominee?

In the past week, a number of GOP leaders have praised Donald Trump. Are they sincere or do they have something else in mind? Jim Newell at Slate thinks this is just a feint and last-ditch effort to push Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to the forefront. After all, Trump has said many things that are poisonous to the Republican brand and until recently he was a moderate Democrat. Newell's point is that if the Republicans have come to terms with Trump, then they have come to terms with losing the White House and probably the Senate. They can't accept that.

The first goal is to take out Ted Cruz, who would probably lose the election even more badly than Trump and who nearly all of the other 99 senators personally despise as well. The plan is that Cruz can be completely neutered by crashing spectacularly in Iowa, then he would have downward momentum going into New Hampshire and maybe, just maybe, Rubio could come in second there. At that point all the other establishment candidates would come under enormous pressure to drop out and support Rubio. Then after Trump sweeps the South on March 1, Rubio would start piling up delegates in the big blue states later on. Is this likely? No. It's more like a moonshot, but it is probably all the establishment can do to derail Trump other than prayer. And despite what they say in public, it is doubtful that many Republican leaders believe much in prayer. (V)

And Justice for Obama?

There's been a bit of whispering and hypothesizing that Barack Obama would be an excellent nominee for a President Hillary Clinton to send to the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the possibility was put out into the open, when the candidate was asked about it. "Wow, what a great idea," she responded. "Nobody has ever suggested that to me. Wow. I love that."

Assuming that Obama is interested, this could be a very nice little "plank" for Hillary to run on. It might give him a little extra motivation while campaigning for her, and it should strengthen her support among black voters, with whom the President remains very popular. As an actual nominee, he would also be a shrewd choice. He's relatively young, he's a lawyer (though that's not technically required), he'd be a strong voice for liberal jurisprudence, and there's zero chance of a nasty "closet Republican" surprise. Though a relative unknown might be filibustered by the GOP, it would be awfully hard to hold up the appointment of an ex-president. What plausible excuse could be offered—We need more information? He doesn't have enough experience? The only previous ex-president appointed to the Supreme Court, William Howard Taft, was confirmed by a 60-4 vote, but that back in the days when the main consideration was qualifications, not political leanings. Obama wouldn't sail through quite so easily, but he would surely be confirmed. Assuming that the President doesn't put the kaibosh on such talk, expect to hear more about this. (Z)

Turnout in Iowa May Break Records

The candidates are campaigning like crazy in Iowa. Eight candidates held a whopping 31 events in the state yesterday. According to one report, record numbers of people have been asking where their caucus location is. With so many candidates and competitive primaries in both parties, turnout could break records. It could also mess up polls since the key to polling the Iowa caucuses is to have a good way to figure out who is going and who is staying home. If a lot of people make the decision to caucus at the last minute, pollsters may get it all wrong. Even the weather may cooperate: Current forecasts don't indicate any major storms coming up on caucus night. Big storms often decrease turnout. (V)

Kasich Racking Up New Hampshire Newspaper Endorsements

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) is betting the farm on New Hampshire. He is not campaigning anywhere else. He hopes that a strong finish there will cause the other establishment candidates to drop out and their supporters to come to him. He has had quite a bit of success in getting New Hampshire newspapers to endorse him, for whatever that is worth. After the Boston Globe endorsed him, the Concord Monitor joined them yesterday. The Nashua Telegraph, Foster's Daily Democrat, and the Portsmouth Herald are all on his bandwagon, among others. He is currently polling third in the state, after Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (V)

Candidate Hacks into Elections Office in Florida

Computers and elections are not a great combination. Dan Sinclair, who is running for Supervisor of Elections in Lee County, FL, demonstrated that the Supervisor of Elections servers were vulnerable by hacking into one. He used an SQL injection attack, a basic tool hackers often try first. Sinclair wanted to demonstrate that his opponent, incumbent Sharon Harrington, wasn't doing her job of securing critical election data. She replied that the hack wasn't such a big deal because the server hacked contained only historical data. Sinclair responded that if she isn't capable of securing that server, how do we know she is capable of securing other servers?

Even hacking a computer before an election could have major consequences. For example, the hacker could remove carefully selected people from the rolls. Or the hacker could change addresses for certain people, so they wouldn't receive information about where to vote. (V)

Seda Officially Climbs on O'Malley Bandwagon

Martin O'Malley made headlines—not the good kind—when he held a rally in Iowa shortly after Christmas and only one person, 57-year-old Kennan Seda, attended. After a lengthy one-on-one with the candidate, Seda said he would carefully weigh his options. On Monday, he finally declared his intent to caucus for O'Malley. With one caucuser and one endorsement (Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-CA) firmly in his pocket, it's surely onward to victory for the former Maryland governor.

Actually, Seda has set himself up to be the most popular guy in the room for a few hours next Tuesday night, as partisans of Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) jockey for his support while trying to secure votes for the candidates who are actually going to win some delegates. O'Malley, for his part, is presumably running for President in 2020/2024, and just wants to get as much exposure as possible before bowing out. But stories where he's the butt of jokes, like "one person shows up to O'Malley rally," arguably do more to hurt his brand than to help it. Rather than allowing himself to be crushed in whatever states vote before he drops out, he would do well to withdraw immediately and issue a strong endorsement of Sanders, currying support with the Senator's followers while setting himself up as a more electable progressive in 2020/2024. Actually, speaking of the Senate, O'Malley's presidential aspirations might have been better served if he had spent 2016 campaigning for the seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). If he won, it would have given his resume an additional dimension (service in municipal, state, and federal elective office) and would have allowed him some flexibility—he could leave the Senate in four years to run against an incumbent Republican, or he could stay in the upper chamber until 2016 or 2018 if a Democrat wins this year. Oh, well, hindsight is 20/20. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Jan26 Trump Victories in Iowa and New Hampshire Could Seal the Deal
Jan26 Trump Says He May Skip Next Debate
Jan26 Bill Clinton To Campaign in Iowa This Week
Jan26 Why Sanders Can't Crack the Black Vote
Jan26 North Carolina Voter ID Law on Trial
Jan26 Senator, You're No Jack Kennedy
Jan26 Makers of Doctored Planned Parenthood Video Indicted
Jan26 Cruz's Insurance Tale Doesn't Stand up to Scrutiny
Jan26 Sanders Has His Own Ice Cream
Jan25 New polls: Trump is Leading in Iowa
Jan25 Ross Douthat Tells How To Beat Trump
Jan25 Why Do Evangelicals Like Trump?
Jan25 Sanders Attacks Clinton but Clinton Doesn't Attack Sanders
Jan25 Sanders May Have a Geography Problem in Iowa
Jan25 More Endorsements for Clinton
Jan25 As SCOTUS Clerk, Cruz Crusaded for Death Penalty
Jan25 Even Snow Is Political Now
Jan25 How Iowa Hijacked Our Democracy
Jan24 Des Moines Register Endorses Clinton and Rubio in Primaries
Jan24 Could a New York Billionaire Be Elected President?
Jan24 Obama Aides Favor Clinton
Jan24 Castro Jockeying for the #2 Slot
Jan24 Glenn Beck Endorses Ted Cruz
Jan24 Megyn Kelly Will Be the Moderator in Thursday's Debate
Jan24 Voting from the Grave is Popular This Year
Jan24 What If Trump Shot the Sheriff?
Jan24 Cruz Never Lost His Health Insurance
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