Clinton 2329
Sanders 1548
 Needed   2383
Trump 1239
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237

Clinton Wins Democratic Caucus in the Virgin Islands

In one of the more modest events on the election schedule, about 1,500 Democrats showed up to register their preference in the Virgin Islands' caucuses on Saturday. Hillary Clinton scored a big win—her biggest of the campaign, in fact, by percentage—taking 1,308 votes (87%) to 190 for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The Democratic Party has not released official delegate totals, but that result should ultimately translate into 6 delegates for Clinton to 1 for Sanders. This ultimately matters very little, though it does raise the slight possibility that if she does very well in Puerto Rico today, she could finish the weekend close enough to 2,383 that a handful of undeclared superdelegates might decide to put her over the top before California and New Jersey vote—a way to get their names in the headlines. (Z)

Puerto Rico Holds Its Democratic Primary Today

By most counts, Hillary Clinton is roughly 60 delegates from winning the Democratic nomination. Puerto Rico votes today, with 60 elected delegates and 7 superdelegates at stake. While it is very unlikely that she will win all of them, she is expected to win a large majority of them, narrowing the gap. Most observers think she will finish the job after the polls close in New Jersey on Tuesday and certainly after they close in California on Tuesday.

As we get closer and closer to Clinton passing the 2,383-delegate threshold, Bernie Sanders' complaints about the process have gotten louder and more frequent. His campaign is engaged in a war of words with the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico (DPPR), complaining that Sanders' staffers were not given access to prisons in a timely fashion, so that they could distribute absentee ballots. Betsy Franceschin, head of the DPPR, fired back and said that the list of workers needing certification was submitted late, and also that the Sanders campaign stole two boxes of ballots. This dispute is likely to linger beyond Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sanders also says that the superdelegates should not be counted because they can change their minds up to the moment they actually vote at the convention. However, this is exceedingly unlikely. Those that are on the fence haven't committed and are not counted in Clinton's total. Those who have committed to Clinton aren't going to change absent massive landslide wins for Sanders in New Jersey and California. No one expects Sanders to win New Jersey. He has a shot at eking out a win in California, but 52% won't swing any super delegates. He would need something like 70% to really shake things up. (V)

Is Cleveland Ready for the Republican National Convention?

Donald Trump's rallies have been getting increasingly violent and some people are beginning to worry that the city of Cleveland is not up to the task of keeping order if thousands of unruly protesters show up at the Republican National Convention and make trouble. As an example, the city's 911 service went down for 20 minutes this week. Some out-of-state police departments that had promised to send officers have now backed out. Cleveland is a poor city and can't just throw lots of resources at the problem and with a number of corporate sponsors of the convention pulling out, the RNC probably can't take up the slack. We could be looking at Chicago 1968 all over again. Except with flammable rivers. (V)

Harry Reid Looking at Filling Warren's Seat If She Is Elected Veep

While some Democrats are clamoring for Hillary Clinton to pick Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as her running mate, there are several problems with that. First, vice presidents, like small children, are expected to speak only when spoken to and never to contradict the president. For Warren, a Senate power, this is a big step down. Second, the vice presidency is well known to be worth less than a bucket of warm piss. Third, the Republican governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, would pick a temporary successor to Warren should she be elected or appointed to another office. What Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is looking at is how to minimize the third problem. Massachusetts law decrees that if a U.S. Senator resigns his or her seat, the governor can appoint a temporary replacement to serve until a special election is held 160 days later. What Reid has discovered is that Warren can start the 160-day clock just by announcing her intention to resign, but the replacement is not actually seated until the resignation becomes official.

This loophole opens up two possibilities. The first is that Warren could announce her resignation 160 days before Inauguration Day (in other words, in mid-August), and by the time she actually vacates her seat on January 20, the time for Massachusetts voters to choose a replacement will have already arrived. The upside to this approach is that there would be no interim GOP Senator. The downside is that if Hillary Clinton lost, Warren either would be out of a job or would be in the politically awkward position of rescinding her resignation. This being the case, the likelier scenario is possibility #2: Warren announces her resignation the day after the election, and then holds on to her seat for the 73 days until Inauguration Day. In that case, there probably would be an interim GOP senator, but for only three months. Not ideal for Reid, but better than nearly six months.

What we have never seen discussed is why everyone who likes Warren wants to saddle her up with a pointless job where she would be muzzled. It would make far more sense for her fans to ask Hillary Clinton to make the following statement in public: "If elected, I will appoint Elizabeth Warren Secretary of the Treasury." That job has a huge amount of power and would make Warren officially the bank-regulator-in-chief, a job she would do with gusto. But no one is talking about it. (V)

2017: A Bad Time to Be Vice President

As noted above, the vice presidency is not exactly the most desirable job in politics. Even the very first guy to hold the position, John Adams, said so, calling it "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived." Recent presidents have done a great deal to make their veeps into actual partners in governance, but they are the exception. As Politico's Jeff Greenfield observes, Joe Biden's successor—whomever he or she might be—is likely to be "the most marginalized vice president in a generation."

The problem is slightly different depending on who wins the election. If it's Trump, the downside for the vice president is fairly obvious: Trump has a massive ego, listens to nobody, and treats subordinates very badly. Greenfield suggests LBJ—who was both dismissive and outright abusive toward Hubert H. Humphrey—as a useful analogue. For Clinton, the issue is that she already has an ideal right-hand man: her husband. Regardless of how experienced or intelligent the veep is, how can he or she possibly give better advice than someone who has actually been president? Vice-President Warren or Vice-President Kaine or Vice-President Castro would be a third wheel, relegated to attending state funerals and calling the White House every morning to check on Clinton's health.

Despite these obvious and foreseeable problems, there will be no shortage of people lobbying for the #2 slot on both tickets. If they are Elizabeth Warren, or someone else with actual power and prestige, they really should think twice about that. (Z)

Trump is Like...Zachary Taylor?

Donald Trump is so unlike any presidential candidate of recent vintage that historians have looked to past generations in hopes of finding some kind of precedent. Is Trump like Barry Goldwater—blustery and unfiltered, and doomed to a crushing defeat? Or is he like Wendell Willkie—a businessman with no political experience who nonetheless wangled his party's nomination? Or is he the new incarnation of William Jennings Bryan, the original populist? Historian Gil Troy has taken a crack at the question, and has come up with a rather novel answer: Zachary Taylor, the general-turned-Whig-politician who was elected president in 1848.

Troy notes several similarities between Trump and Taylor: Both lacked political experience or qualifications, were somewhat crude, were wealthy, and were outsiders who caused deep divisions within their own parties. He suggests there are two lessons here. For Democrats: Taylor won, so Trump could win, too. For Republicans: The Whig Party collapsed four years after Taylor's election, so Trump represents a real danger to the party.

This is a fun parlor game, and Gil Troy is a good historian, but it's nearly inconceivable that he actually believes what he wrote. Though their personalities may be somewhat similar (if we overlook the fact that Taylor hated pretension and assiduously avoided wearing fancy clothes), the general was a vastly more electable candidate than the billionaire. Taylor was a popular military hero who had just won a major war against Mexico. He came from the South, and could reasonably expect to claim many votes in his native region, particularly since he was running against Lewis Cass, who came from Michigan—a tiny, far-flung state that was the 1848 equivalent of Alaska. Meanwhile, anger over the territorial acquisitions of the Democratic Polk administration, which had the potential to extend slavery, strengthened the Whigs' chances in the North. As a result of these factors, Taylor ultimately took New York and Georgia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky, Massachusetts and Louisiana. Let's see Trump put together an electoral map like that.

Troy's second "lesson" is even more tenuous. It was not Taylor that wrecked the Whig Party. In fact, the Whigs elected a nearly identical candidate eight years earlier in William Henry Harrison (rich, Virginia-born, military hero, little political experience) and suffered no ill effects. The Party's real problem was that they were, throughout their existence, a tenuous coalition unified primarily by their disdain for the policies of Andrew Jackson. The issue that finally destroyed them, slavery and its expansion into the territories, would ultimately wreck the Democrats and the union just 10 years later. Today's GOP, having existed for more than a century and a half, is vastly stronger than the Whigs ever were. Meanwhile, there is no issue in modern politics that has the divisive potential of slavery. Not even who can use what bathroom in North Carolina.

It is, of course, useful to look to the past for lessons about the present whenever possible. But the judgment here is that an election that took place closer to the life of Sir Isaac Newton than to today is probably not a terribly useful source for insight on what may happen on (or after) November 7. (Z)

Trump's African American Speaks Out

Donald Trump apparently did not get the memo that one of the most pathetic defenses against being a racist is "But I have a black friend!" because on Friday he made a point of pointing out the one black attendee at his rally, saying "look at my African-American over here!"

Now, that gentleman has identified himself. He is Gregory Cheadle, a perennial Republican candidate for Congress from California's 1st district. And speaking of Zachary Taylor, Cheadle has a rather interesting angle, calling himself an "1856 Republican" and utilizing the GOP platform of that year as his personal mission statement. It hasn't worked so well for him, as he's never claimed more than 6% of the vote despite residing in a safe Republican district. Meanwhile, in view of this information, it seems fair to suggest that his support for Trump does not tell us much about the feelings of black voters as a whole. (Z)

Republicans Are Asking Lobbyists To Help Write Their Platform

While the Republican establishment has no control whatsoever over what its presidential nominee says, it does have control over its platform and intends to stick to Republican orthodoxy when writing it. To help get that right, the party is holding meetings with lobbyists and other people in the private sector to determine what to include in the platform. Although Donald Trump is almost certain to ignore any planks he doesn't personally like, allowing the lobbyists to put their pet proposals in the platform increases the chances they will donate money to the RNC. (V)

Sanders' Voters and White Entitlement

Barrett Holmes Pitner, writing for the Daily Beast, has an interesting take on the dynamics of the 2016 race. He observes that most Bernie Sanders voters come from privilege, both by virtue of being white, and also by virtue of their socioeconomic background. They are used to having things go their way, he argues, and when that does not happen, they get angry and suspect fraud, or cheating, or some other kind of chicanery. By contrast, voters of color—who are used to injustice—are less likely to think this way. Pitner recounts a conversation he, a black man but also a former Sanders intern, had with several of the Vermont Senator's supporters:

Essentially, we disagreed on what America supposedly promised or owed us. They felt success was promised to them. The entitlement to believe that you should always win allowed them to overlook how the system in many ways has always been unjustly rigged in their favor because they're white. I brought up race during our conversation and how I'm very aware of how a system can be rigged against you. These guys acknowledged my point, but it was obvious that this reality did not factor much into their thinking. They felt aggrieved and cheated, and that was all that mattered.

Pitner describes this phenomenon as "unintentional white tribalism" (as contrasted to Donald Trump's intentional white tribalism), and suggests that it may make Democratic unity a bit harder than we might expect. It's certainly an intriguing point. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Jun04 Clinton Ahead of Sanders in New California Poll
Jun04 Scholars Say Trump Could Threaten Rule of Law
Jun04 Not All Trump Supporters Are Blue-Collar Men
Jun04 There Is No Trump 2.0
Jun04 Foreign Policy Experience Doesn't Move the Voters
Jun04 Clinton and Trump Both Hate the Media, but in Different Ways
Jun03 Another California Poll Puts Clinton and Sanders in a Tie
Jun03 Ryan Now Supports Trump
Jun03 McConnell Worries About Trump's Possible Goldwater Effect
Jun03 Hillary Clinton Viciously Attacks Trump on Foreign Policy
Jun03 What's Behind the Trump Phenomenon?
Jun03 New York Attorney General Says Trump University was Straight Up Fraud
Jun03 Primaries May Not Have Prepared Trump for General Election
Jun03 Ohio Purges Voter Rolls
Jun02 Sanders Close to Clinton in California
Jun02 Trump University Documents Released
Jun02 Trump Has A Few Other Lawsuits as Well
Jun02 Obama Beginning to Wade into the Contest
Jun02 I Can Watch It on TV
Jun02 Clinton to Attack Trump in National Security Speech Today
Jun02 Dynamic Scoring about To Become a Political Football
Jun02 Class and Gender Are the Big Divides This Year
Jun02 How Should Clinton Deal With the E-Mail Scandal?
Jun01 Computer Model Predicts Near-Certain Clinton Win
Jun01 Charlie Cook: General Election Is Not as Close as It Looks
Jun01 California Poll: Clinton 13 Points Ahead of Sanders
Jun01 Jerry Brown Endorses Clinton
Jun01 Libertarians Off To a Good Start
Jun01 Sessions to GOP: Adapt To Trump or Die
Jun01 Trump's Donation to Veterans: $5.6 Million
Jun01 Things Still Quite Ugly on the GOP Side of the Contest
Jun01 Kristol May Have His Horse
May31 Weld Could Help the Libertarian Party Raise Money
May31 Can Trump Win?
May31 Ryan Still Not Endorsing Trump
May31 McConnell Has Advice For Trump
May31 Never Trump Folks Not Giving Up Yet
May31 What Do the PUMAs Think of the Bernie-or-Bust Crowd?
May31 Trump Should Be Careful about Bringing Up Old Sex Scandals
May31 Sanders is Now Openly Mocking Trump
May31 Clinton to Hit California Hard
May30 Libertarian Party Nominates Johnson and Weld
May30 Hillary Clinton Doesn't Know How to Handle Trump
May30 Daisy Ad's Creators Have Some Suggestions for an Updated Version
May30 Arnold Schwarzenegger Declines to Back Trump
May30 Rubio Speaks Up
May30 With Sanders Out, Clinton's Numbers Will Rise
May30 Cue the Clinton E-Mail Conspiracy Theories
May29 Judge Orders Release of Trump University Documents
May29 Trump's Veeps