Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1237,   Dem: 2383
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Super Tuesday Is Upon Us

Today is the biggest day of primary season. That is both literally true, in terms of the number of delegates being awarded, and is also true in a narrative sense, in terms of separating contenders from pretenders.

Taking a look at the Republican side first, here is the current tally and the number of delegates that will be at stake (note that GOP voters in Colorado and Wyoming will also head to the polls Tuesday, but will not yet award pledged delegates):

Republican Delegate Count
Rank Candidate Delegates
1 Donald Trump 82
2 Ted Cruz 17
3 Marco Rubio 16
4 John Kasich 6
5 Ben Carson 4
Republican Delegates Available
State Delegates
Texas 155
Georgia 76
Tennessee 58
Alabama 50
Virginia 49
Oklahoma 43
Massachusetts 42
Arkansas 40
Minnesota 38
Alaska 28
Vermont 15
Total 594
Needed for Nomination 1,237

Everything is likely to come up roses for Trump. These states use varying, and sometimes very complicated, formulas for allocating delegates. Many of them discount any candidate who does not receive at least 20% of the vote. Sometimes that is true at the state level, sometimes at the district level, and sometimes at both. This being the case, candidates might take 17% or 18% or 19% of the vote in some states or districts, only to see those delegates go to Trump. Meanwhile, the state where Trump is in the weakest position—Sen. Ted Cruz's home state of Texas—is one of the few that does not do it in that way. The second-place finisher there gets his share of the votes regardless of whether or not he breaks the threshold. So if the shoe is on the other foot in the Lone Star State—say with Cruz taking 30% of the vote and Trump taking 19%, Trump will still get 50 or 60 delegates.

Cruz, for his part, enters Super Tuesday in desperate circumstances. His whole strategy, and his whole case for the nomination, are built around evangelicals and social conservatives. Tuesday's states are full of both. He needs, first of all, to win his home state handily. A loss would be devastating, and a close win wouldn't be much better. He also needs to do very well in the remaining Southern states, winning at least a few of them. Anything short of these two outcomes, and the judgment will be (quite correctly) that Cruz cannot win outside of his home state and the small handful of states where the caucus process can be gamed. Put another way, if he can't win Arkansas or Tennessee, then how can he possibly win New York or Washington or Maryland? Odds are that he can pull off the win in Texas, but the other states look to be a tall order.

As to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), it has been said that "Failure by Senator Rubio to exit the SEC primary without a big delegate lead will spell the effective end of Senator Rubio's campaign." This seems a fair assessment and, should we have any doubts, well, it's Rubio's campaign that said it (in an email to supporters). Rubio is betting everything on Tuesday, as well he should. The Senator knows that Trump may finish the evening with a near-insurmountable delegate lead, and he also knows that the "can't actually win any states" label is about to be permanently affixed to him. Rubio should brace himself, because the news is not likely to be good on Tuesday night.

Gov. John Kasich's (R-OH) campaign has been a lost cause for at least a week, and because the Super Tuesday states are not terribly friendly to his brand of Republicanism, he's going to take a beating. The Governor has nonetheless convinced himself that he's still got a path to the nomination: A knockout of Rubio followed by the establishment flocking to the Kasich banner. He will thus be rooting for two contradictory results: He needs Trump to crush the Florida Senator, but to still remain within reach. Hard to see how the numbers could possibly add up. Maybe we can find the same mathematicians who crunched the numbers for Trump's tax plan and they can explain.

Ben Carson, for his part, will be working very hard on Tuesday, trying to figure out which time slot on Fox News he wants to ask for.

Turning to the Democratic side, here are the current tally and delegates at stake (note that Democrats Abroad will not conclude its vote-by-mail until March 8):

Democratic Delegate Count
Rank Candidate Delegates
1 Hillary Clinton 544
2 Bernie Sanders 85
Democratic Delegates Available
State Delegates
Texas 251
Georgia 117
Massachusetts 116
Virginia 109
Minnesota 93
Colorado 79
Tennessee 76
Alabama 60
Oklahoma 42
Arkansas 37
Vermont 26
Democrats Abroad 17
American Samoa 10
Total 1,033
Needed for Nomination 2,383

Like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is set up to have a very good day on Tuesday. The Democratic rules—all of the states award their delegates proportionally, and Sanders will cross the 15% threshold in those states that have it—are not going to facilitate shutouts or near-shutouts of the sort that The Donald is likely to pitch. However, Clinton has 500+ superdelegates that Trump does not. The end result is thus the same: Both of them are likely to end the day on Tuesday nearly halfway to the nomination and with a head full of steam.

After Saturday's drubbing in South Carolina, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is going to be grasping at straws as he tries to persuade himself and his supporters that he will remain viable on Wednesday morning. Here are two for him to grasp at: (1) Hillary Clinton did extensive retail campaigning in South Carolina, also deploying her husband to great effect, while Sanders did almost none. (2) Pollsters know that calling on Saturday nights is a bad way to reach young people, because they are likely to be out socializing. Maybe the same is true of voting, and a Tuesday contest will attract far more of the youth vote that Sanders is counting upon than a Saturday contest did. So, it is possible, that Saturday was not the ill omen it seemed. Possible, but not likely.

In short, among the seven candidates still left in the two races, two are already dead men walking, and Super Tuesday is likely to deal a knockout blow to at least two of the others. Which two? We'll know in less than 24 hours. (Z)

Trump Leads in Alabama and Oklahoma

A new Monmouth University poll released yesterday showed Donald Trump with massive leads in Alabama and Oklahoma, two of the states that vote today. Here are the results.

Candidate Alabama Oklahoma
Donald Trump 42% 35%
Marco Rubio 19% 22%
Ted Cruz 16% 23%
Ben Carson 11% 7%
John Kasich 5% 8%

These polls agree well with the polls of Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia released Sunday as well as the national polls. All of them have Trump is the 35-50% range, with Rubio and Cruz basically tied for second place way behind. Now polls have been wrong before, but with so many polls and from different pollsters all saying the same thing, if Trump doesn't win most of the states voting today, it will be a huge upset.

On the Democratic side, in Alabama, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders 71% to 23%. In Oklahoma, however, Sanders leads 48% to 43%. If Sanders can win Oklahoma, Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Vermont, it will keep him afloat even though these states have fewer delegates than the Southern states Clinton is expected to win. (V)

Trump Blames His KKK Remarks on a Bad Earpiece

Donald Trump is having trouble with his earpiece, not to be confused with his hairpiece. It is becoming clear to him now that claiming to be a Know Nothing (which went out of fashion about 1860) was the wrong thing to say when asked about being endorsed by KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. He now claims that due to a defective earpiece he didn't hear the question correctly when CNN host Jake Tapper asked him about Duke during an interview this weekend. His rivals all immediately denounced Duke and Trump and said that hate groups have no place in America. The Democrats naturally also went after Trump, with Bernie Sanders issuing the strongest denunciation: "The first black President cannot and will not be succeeded by a hatemonger who refuses to condemn the KKK." (V)

How Trump Would Damage the Republican Party

Republican leaders are worried that a Trump nomination could hurt the Party. Now we are getting down to the nuts and bolts. In Arizona, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), who is challenging Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), is running this ad. It alternates clips of Trump saying incendiary things, like shooting people, approving torture, insulting Megyn Kelly, etc. with clips of John McCain repeatedly telling interviewers that he will support the Republican nominee, even if it is Donald Trump. It ends with a poster from McCain's 2008 presidential campaign reading "Country first." The narrator then intones that 30 years in Washington have changed John McCain.

If Kirkpatrick can tie McCain to Trump and the Republicans themselves manage to make Trump a pariah without actually defeating him, where does that leave McCain? Either defending a pariah or flip-flopping and deserting his party. Neither is a good place to be. There are probably clips floating around with every Republican senator saying he will support the presidential nominee. All other Democratic candidates have to do is ask Kirkpatrick for the source files to the ad and then edit in their opponent to replace McCain. Presto! A ready-made ad, and cheap, too. (V)

Trump's Mortgage Business Failed Badly

As people start to take Donald Trump more seriously, reporters are beginning to examine his business career in detail. An article in the Washington Post looks at his failed mortgage business. In 2006, when many economists were getting very worried about the overheated real estate market, Trump started the business, saying that real estate was going up, up, up. His company dealt in both residential and commercial mortgages. Trump made fun of people who talked about possible gloom and doom in real estate. Technically the company was a mortgage broker rather than a mortgage lender, so it did not have to comply with the stricter rules that apply to lenders and there is less of a paper trail to follow now.

The company lasted a year and a half, going belly up in 2007. Trump blamed everyone but himself for the fiasco. Then he made a deal with Meridian Mortgage in which it was renamed Trump Financial. It, too, went under.

It could well be that as information comes out about his business career, it could prove more devastating than attacking his positions. Calling him a racist doesn't work because to his supporters, many of whom are also racists, that is a feature, not a bug. But showing them that he is not the great businessman he claims to be is a whole different story. To supporters, that is a bug, not a feature. (V)

Clinton Is Working Hard on a Strategy to Defeat Trump in the General Election

Even though she hasn't won the Democratic nomination yet, Hillary Clinton's team is hard at work on a project they never expected to be working on: A strategy to defeat Donald Trump in the general election. According to a detailed report in the New York Times, the strategy has three prongs:

  • Portray Trump as a heartless businessman who has worked against working-class Americans
  • Broadcast the degrading comments he has made about women to get suburban women angry with him
  • Highlight how his explosive temper makes him unsuitable to be anywhere near the nuclear football

Staff members are scouring the world for footage of Trump saying hateful things that will appall many voters. Tax and business experts are poring over every legal document he has ever filed with any court or government agency. So step one is to collect damning material. That shouldn't be very hard. Step two is to hand all of it over to the strategists and advertising professionals.

Some members of her team feel that criticism of Trump hasn't stuck before because it has been mere pinpricks. Yesterday, for example Marco Rubio said:

  • He doesn't sweat because his pores are clogged with the spray tan he uses.
  • Donald is not going to make America great again; he's going to make America orange.
  • You know what they say about men with small hands—you can't trust them!

Not exactly stuff to make Trump quake in his boots. Even calling him out as a bigot (see item on Stuart Stevens below) doesn't work with the Republican primary electorate, which contains a fair number of bigots. But when translated into Spanish and run on Univision and Telemundo in the general election, attacks on his bigotry are going to have a very different effect. Emily's List has compiled a large database of misogynistic remarks Trump has made over the years. The group will either use the material itself or give it to Clinton.

Some people think that Trump will be a pushover in the general election. Bill Clinton is not one of them. He sees Trump as a sophisticated politician who is very good at reading what the electorate wants. Also working in Trump's favor is that he is very good at solving the nation's problems in 140 characters, whereas Clinton tends toward 10-page white papers explaining the problem carefully, her solution, how much it will cost, how it will be paid for, and the likely consequences of doing what she proposes. For an electorate with an attention span of 140 characters, Trump's approach may work better. In any event, Team Clinton is not taking this challenge lightly. (V)

Democrats Plan to Poach GOP Moderates

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg released polling data yesterday showing that about a third of Republican voters are moderates. They like Planned Parenthood, support same-sex marriage, and accept climate change as real. Yet no Republican candidate speaks to them. Even Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), the most moderate of the candidates, won't go anywhere near any of these positions. These voters present an opportunity for the Democrats to pick off Republicans.

However, most of these moderates also dislike the Democratic Party and especially dislike Hillary Clinton, so the Democrats can't just go out with a big vacuum cleaner and suck them up. Greenberg found that many are repelled by Donald Trump and in a Clinton-Trump race, Clinton could essentially make a lesser-of-two-evils pitch. Clearly this must be done with care since pointing out that your own candidate is evil, just not as evil as the other guy, is usually not a good approach. (V)

Clinton Email Saga is Winding Down

The State Department has released the final batch of emails from Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State that it is going to publish. That means that roughly 50,000 emails have been released unedited, another 1,000 have been produced with information redacted, and 22 have been deemed Top Secret and unreleasable in any form.

No smoking guns have been found in the emails that are now publicly available, so the only remaining issue for Clinton is whether or not she is found guilty of wrongdoing in the handling of the 22 Top Secret emails. It surely can't take that long to read 22 emails and reach a conclusion, so the fact that no sanctions have been imposed and no charges have been filed thus far seems to suggest that none are forthcoming. And given that this "scandal" didn't prove to have the legs that it once seemed to—cut off at the knees, perhaps, by the disastrous Benghazi hearings—it is likely that E-mailgate is going to fade away. (Z)

Stuart Stevens Says a Vote for Trump Is a Vote for Bigotry

Stuart Stevens, a Mississippi native and long-time Republican consultant who was Mitt Romney's top strategist in 2012, has now gone on record saying that Donald Trump is a bigot and anyone who votes for him is one, too. Stevens is not the first and won't be the last high-powered Republican who is going to pull out all stops to take Trump down. For him, the last straw was the KKK controversy of the past few days. He clearly doesn't buy the "defective earpiece story." He says that Trump is an unrepentant bigot and the Republican Party and the United States should have nothing to do with him. It is a very nasty hit piece from a very senior Republican. (V)

Jon Favreau Thinks Clinton in 2016 Is More Important than Obama in 2012

Jon Favreau was Obama's speechwriter in 2008 and definitely has a way with words. He knows Hillary Clinton extremely well and has written a piece supporting her. But unlike Stevens' piece above, it does not go negative about her opponent, who he greatly respects. Favreau makes a strong case that although she is a wooden candidate, she scores 100% as a decent human being, what Bernie Sanders might call a mensch if he weren't running against her. The article can't be summarized easily but gives numerous examples of when she did things that were of no political value to her but were important to other people and she did them because it was the right thing to do.

To get an idea of where things are going, it is suggested that you read the Stevens piece and the Favreau piece back to back. Favreau is trying to make Clinton likable whereas the Republicans themselves are trying to make Trump into a despicable person. People often vote for the candidate they like better rather than the one best prepared for the job (think: Gore vs. Bush) so as this plays out, the Republicans may actually be helping the Democrats if it ends up being Clinton vs. Trump. We'll know more tomorrow. Stay tuned. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Feb29 Trump Vacillates Over KKK Endorsement
Feb29 Trump Leads in Georgia, Tennessee, and Massachusetts
Feb29 Mission Impossible: Stop Trump
Feb29 Christie's Finance Chair Denounces Christie and Trump
Feb29 Nikki Haley Is Baffled by Christie's Endorsement of Trump
Feb29 Kasich Picks Up a Big Newspaper Endorsement
Feb29 Five Takeaways from the South Carolina Democratic Primary
Feb29 Five Takeaways from the South Carolina Democratic Primaryt
Feb29 Clinton Has More Votes than Trump So Far
Feb29 DNC Vice Chair Resigns to Work for Sanders
Feb29 The Case for Justice Warren
Feb29 Why Does Bernie Sandahs Tawk That Way?
Feb28 Clinton Trounces Sanders in South Carolina
Feb28 The Big Donors Finally Panic and Start Going after Trump
Feb28 Trump Leading Rubio by Double Digits in Florida
Feb28 What Should The Great Wall of Trump Be Made Of?
Feb28 Trump Could Be on Trial for Fraud in August
Feb28 Rubio Tried to Partner with Conservative Media on Immigration Reform
Feb28 Christie Beats Haley--for the Second Slot
Feb28 What Are the Chances of Another Supreme Court Justice Dying by 2021?
Feb27 South Carolina Democrats Go to the Polls
Feb27 Republican Debate Postmortem
Feb27 Christie Endorses Trump
Feb27 Maine Governor LePage Also Endorses Trump
Feb27 Could Trump Win the Presidency without the Latino Vote?
Feb27 How Low Can You Go?
Feb27 Rubio Predicts GOP Will Split If Trump is Nominated
Feb27 Why Blacks Are Firmly Committed to Clinton
Feb26 Rubio the Lone Star in Texas Debate
Feb26 Trump Still Won't Release Tax Returns
Feb26 Trump Has Huge Lead in the Bible Belt
Feb26 Speculation about Trump's Running Mate Is Already Here
Feb26 List of Upcoming Democratic Contests
Feb26 Sanders and Clinton Voted the Same Way 93% of the Time
Feb26 Latinos Like Clinton, Hate Trump
Feb26 Democrats Planning to Use Supreme Court Vacancy as a Weapon
Feb25 Republicans Will Debate in Houston Tonight
Feb25 Is the Conventional Wisdom about Trump Wrong?
Feb25 What Would Trump's Platform Look Like?
Feb25 Conservative Group May Drop Cruz for Rubio
Feb25 Trial Balloon: Brian Sandoval to Replace Scalia
Feb25 Senate Races Beginning to Heat Up
Feb24 Nevada GOP Votes: Trump Makes His Point, Kasich Craps Out
Feb24 Does Winning NH and SC Mean You Will Be the Republican Nominee?
Feb24 Trump Holds Huge Lead Nationally
Feb24 Has the Republican Party Fractured into Three Parts?
Feb24 Judiciary Committee Will Not Hold A Hearing on Scalia's Successor
Feb24 Rubio Picks Up Megadonor
Feb24 Judge Orders Discovery on Clinton's Email Server
Feb23 Republicans Caucus in Nevada Today