Clinton 1052
Sanders 427
 Needed   2383
Trump 319
Cruz 226
Rubio 110
Kasich 25
Needed 1237
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Editorial note: Several people have asked for a breakout of pledged and superdelegates. That would require 18 entries for pledged, super, and total for all the candidates (Republicans have them, too, just fewer). It would make the list more confusing and cluttered. However, if you click on "Explanation" in the legend, you will see links to pages that do break out the different kinds of delegates.

Carson Sort of Drops Out

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson said yesterday that he didn't see a way forward to the nomination. Carson never really made a case why he should be running at all. He doesn't have any political views not well covered by some other candidate. He might be best compared to Joan of Arc. God said to Joan: "Go save France," so she went and saved France. Substitute "Ben" for "Joan" and "America" for "France" and you have his story. Only he didn't save America. Also, he wasn't burned alive at the stake at 19. But she wasn't competing with 16 other people who also wanted to save France.

An interesting question now is what happens to his voters. He has been polling in the 5-10% range. If they all hop on Ted Cruz's bandwagon or Marco Rubio's bandwagon, it could make a real difference. He'll still be on the ballot for the states that vote this weekend, and between that and the fact that his withdrawal isn't quite "official," we may not get much of an answer in the next few days. When the next round of polls come in, perhaps we'll know better. (V)

The Republicans Have Two Weeks to Stop Trump

On March 15, five states vote. Florida and Ohio hold winner-take-all primaries. Illinois and Missouri give part of their delegates to whomever wins the statewide vote, and the rest to the winner of each Congressional district. North Carolina has a primary where the delegates are allocated in proportion to the vote. If Donald Trump sweeps the four sweepable states and 60% of North Carolina, he will have at least 630 delegates, plus what he picks up this Saturday (four states), next Tuesday (four more states) and Puerto Rico, Guam, and D.C. At that point he will be unstoppable. For the Republican leadership, which desperately wants to make Trump magically vanish, it is now or never. Ben Carson's sort of dropping out helps, but there are still three non-Trump candidates left: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH). The party needs two of them to fall on their swords, and right now (well, after tomorrow's debate would also be OK).

None of those three look at all strong. Rubio had a disappointing night on Tuesday, winning only the Minnesota caucuses. Cruz won three states, but he put so much time, effort, and resources into the South, that only three states is a huge disappointment. Kasich has yet to win a state. If Rubio and Kasich win their home states on March 15, that could breathe new life into the effort to stop Trump, but only barely. Radio host Glenn Beck has proposed a Cruz/Rubio ticket to end the bickering between the candidates.

At this point there are probably two outcomes to the Republican race: (1) Trump wins a majority of the delegates or (2) Trump wins a plurality but not a majority. From the numbers above, you can see that Trump doesn't quite have half the delegates. If that situation continues and Trump ends up with, say, 48%, Rubio and Cruz each end up with 25% and Kasich has the rest, there could be a brokered convention and the Republican Party could still stop Trump. But that is still a longshot.

In a very real sense, 2016 is the mirror image of 2012. Then, a whole squadron of conservative insurgent candidates went up against the unpopular Mitt Romney, but the conservative vote was so badly fragmented that the establishment candidate, Romney, won. This time we have multiple establishment candidates splitting the vote and letting the one insurgent win. The Republican leaders are no doubt thinking: "Clever, those Democrats. They have 717 superdelegates the party can control. We have only 168. Damn. Next time we'll have more." (V)

Mitt Romney Under the Impression That This Is Still 2012

After remaining in the shadows for the first six months of the 2016 campaign cycle, Mitt Romney has been speaking up a fair bit recently, most notably about Donald Trump's tax returns. And on Wednesday, his aides alerted news media that a "major address" is going to be delivered by the 2012 GOP nominee on Thursday.

One possibility, though those close to Romney deny that this is the plan, is he is going to throw his hat into the ring for a third go-round. It is very telling that a candidate who was accepted only very begrudgingly four years ago is now the white knight of the Republican Party. The problem is that he had enormous difficulty securing the nomination, even with months and months of planning and fundraising. How can he possibly do it now, with no money in the bank (except maybe his own), no organization to speak of, and Donald Trump with a huge head start?

Much more likely is that Romney plans to denounce Trump and to try and rally support for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, or all of the above. However, it's hard to believe that too many GOP voters care what Romney has to say at this point. And to the extent that Republicans do care about Mitt Romney's opinion, it's those who are already voting for a non-Trump candidate. Indeed, a Trump shellacking delivered by a Republican who is as "establishment" as it gets is more likely to rally the Donald's "poke 'em in the eye" supporters than his opponents. In other words, whatever it is that Mitt has up his sleeve, he might be better off just staying home on Thursday. (Z)

Trump Releases Healthcare Plan

Donald Trump has come under fire, multiple times, for promising to replace Obamacare but offering no specific plan for doing so. He finally put his "terrific" ideas down on paper on Wednesday, and proved that—as is so often the case—the devil is in the details. The "plan" is largely made up of Republican talking points stapled together: state block grants, healthcare savings accounts, tax credits for those who buy insurance, etc. So, Trump is bringing nothing new to the table, despite his implied promise otherwise. The proposals are also wholly lacking in specifics. For example, Trump calls for full transparency when it comes to the costs of health care, but says nothing about how that might be achieved.

Trump will be able to skate by with this for now, in part because his Republican opponents have been fairly poor at calling him out on his lack of substance, and in part because attacking his proposals for health care reform would be tantamount to attacking their own proposals. But if the Donald has to face off in a debate against Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)—both of whom are quite expert in this particular subject—get ready to watch him squirm. (Z)

Why Did Rubio Fail?

Marco Rubio is a young, enthusiastic, telegenic Latino from the biggest swing state of them all. He should have won. It doesn't look like he will. If he gets wiped out in his home state on March 15, which the polls say is likely, he will be history. What happened? The short answer is that he is in the wrong party. Donald Trump is scooping up votes yelling: "Latinos are bad; I'll kick them out and won't let them back." Poor Rubio has to sell himself to an electorate of old, white men who dislike Latinos a lot. If he had started out as a Democrat and flipped all his views 180 degrees (easy for him to do, since none of them are deeply held), he could have been the new Jack Kennedy.

A longer answer is that he was too much like his mentor, Jeb Bush. He was a compassionate conservative who strongly defended Israel and supported big tax cuts. But there wasn't room for even one such candidate in the modern Republican Party, let alone two, and Bush had a famous name and much more money. Rubio was also a fan of a sensible immigration policy, pretty much the one Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders support, and as a member of the "Gang of Eight" helped shepherd it through the Senate. But the Republican voters weren't buying, so he had to flip flop. In the past week he has gotten downright nasty, claiming Trump wet his pants in the last debate and that his fingers are too short. This is just desperation and for a young candidate who needs to project gravitas, getting down in the mud isn't the way to do it. (V)

Bad (Fox) News for Rubio

If Tuesday's disappointing result were not enough, Marco Rubio suffered another big reverse on Wednesday: Fox News will not be toting his water for him any more. "We're finished with Rubio," said Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, "We can't do the Rubio thing anymore."

Rubio has been the right-leaning channel's preferred candidate for many months. They have supported him by treating him with kid gloves and also by giving him prime interview slots on their various programs. Ailes' disenchantment is due, in part, to a loss of confidence in the Florida Senator. But it is apparently even more a product of anger over the fact that behind-the-scenes negotiations between Rubio and Fox bigwigs became public knowledge last week. And so, a campaign that is already gasping for air just lost a very powerful ally. (Z)

Why Did Sanders Win Oklahoma and Lose Massachusetts?

At first it seems odd that Bernie Sanders would lose Massachusetts, a liberal state near his own Vermont. It seems even stranger that he won Oklahoma, one of the most conservative states in the country. What gives? Jeff Stein at Vox has a possible answer: it's about class, not race. Oklahoma's Democratic electorate is 75% white (vs. 86% in Massachusetts), but it is much poorer. In Oklahoma, half the voters make less than $50,000 a year. In Massachusetts only 30% are below that level. Sanders spends most of his time and energy harping on inequality, and the poorer white voters respond to that pitch better than the better-off voters.

But some other factors may also have played a role. Oklahoma has a closed primary, meaning only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary. Most white Oklahomans have become registered Republicans, leaving a small, but very liberal rump left. Poor liberals are prime hunting ground for Sanders. Finally, Sanders strongly opposes fracking, which is a big issue in oil-rich Oklahoma. (V)

Republicans Crush Democrats on Turnout

Republican turnout for Super Tuesday greatly exceeded Democratic turnout on Super Tuesday. On that day, 8.3 million Republicans voted vs. only 5.6 million Democrats. Republican turnout was also greater than Democratic turnout in earlier contests this year. Both parties have candidates who say they will bring new voters to the polls: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. So far, only Trump has delivered.

Some people have pointed to an enthusiasm gap here. Trump's supporters are typically middle-aged white working men who feel neither party cares about them. The Republicans care only about millionaires and billionaires and Democrats care only about minorities and spotted owls. They are mad as hell and want to let everyone know it, so they vote. Sanders appeals to young people, who love going to rallies and sending out tweets galore, but have a dismal voting record. Clinton supporters like her, but are not as wildly enthusiastic as Sanders' supporters. Of course, primary turnout says little about general election turnout, when so much more is at stake. (V)

Neocons Declare War on Trump

Many of the top conservative advisors to George W. Bush, who encouraged him to go to war in Iraq and who are still influential in the Republican Party, are so disillusioned with Donald Trump that they are threatening to vote for Hillary Clinton if it comes down to Trump-Clinton in the general election. They are furious for Trump's calling their pet war a lie-fueled fiasco, despise his admiration for Vladimir Putin, and are outraged by his plans to be neutral in the Middle East. They say he would be a disaster for U.S. foreign policy. Eliot Cohen, a former top advisor to Bush 43 said: "Hillary is the lesser evil, by a large margin." Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, the dean of the neocons, said he would look for a third-party candidate before being forced to choose between Clinton and Trump. In any event, it is clear that if Trump is the Republican nominee, he will have problems uniting the Party. (V)

When Should You Start Planning Your Move to Canada?

Many people are alarmed about the thought of Donald Trump as President. Others are scared to death of Hillary Clinton anywhere near the Oval Office. They look at the polls as if they were the entrails of a goat and go to Google and type: "moving to Canada." Google reports that search hit a 10-year high this week. A key question is when should you start planning your move? As it turns out, early polls are not very predictive. Political scientists at Columbia University and the University of Texas at Austin have investigated this question based on past elections and come to some conclusions. The answer: Before the party conventions, they are not worth much. Once the nominees are official and have made widely watched acceptance speeches, people begin to make up their minds. By September, many people have made up their minds and won't change, no matter what happens. But of course, national polls don't mean anything. What matters is who is ahead in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, and maybe half a dozen other states. Nothing else matters. (V)

Obama May Be Vetting Jane Kelly for Scalia's Seat

Rumors are circulating that President Obama is vetting 51-year-old appellate judge Jane Kelly for the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Last week there were rumors that Obama was considering Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV), but that was clearly just a trial balloon. Obama wanted to see how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) would react to a Republican nominee. McConnell said: "Nope." Kelly is a much more serious choice. In 2013, Obama nominated Kelly to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit and was confirmed by the Senate in a vote of 97 to 0. She has a law degree from Harvard and was strongly backed then by Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). At the very least, Grassley is going to be embarrassed at not even holding hearings for someone he strongly supported only 3 years ago. That may not play well with women voters nationally and especially not with women voters in Iowa who have something to say about whether Grassley is elected to a seventh term in November. An Iowa group is planning to deliver 6,000 copies of the Constitution to his office, to remind him of the Senate's role in judicial nominations.

One potential problem for Kelly is that for years she was a public defender and if the Republicans want to go after her, they can surely dredge up some despicable criminals she defended and say she sides with criminals over victims. Lawyers and judges understand that even despicable criminals are entitled to a proper defense and are considered innocent until proven guilty in court, but many voters don't understand that. (V)

Post-Scalia Court Takes Up Abortion

In 2013, Texas adopted a stringent abortion law (HB2) requiring that providers have admitting privileges at a hospital that offers ob/gyn services and is located no more than 30 miles from where the abortion is performed. It also decreed that clinics must have hospital-like conditions before performing any procedures. These are known as TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws, and while their ostensible purpose is to make abortions safer, their real purpose is to make it harder for women's health clinics to continue operating. Indeed, it's estimated that only 10 clinics in the entire state would be able to keep their doors open if the law is implemented. One of them sued, and the case—Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt—was heard by the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Legal analysts agree broadly that this is the most important abortion case to be on the Court's docket in the last 20 years.

The justices' interrogation—which included Ruth Bader Ginsburg absolutely eviscerating the defense—left no doubt as to where seven of the eight justices stand. The question, as per usual, is what Anthony Kennedy is thinking. His preferred style—making inquiries of both sides, playing his cards close to the vest—was on full display Wednesday, so nobody has any clue which way his robes are blowing.

There are two ways that this case could very easily go unresolved during this term. The first would be if Kennedy sides with the three conservatives, giving a 4-4 result, and then the Court decides that they would like to hear the case again once they have a ninth justice. The other is if the Court determines that they don't have enough information to work with, and they kick the case back downstairs, instructing the appellate court to develop a fuller record of relevant case law. If either of these things happen, then both Democrats and Republicans will have an extreme hot-button issue to deploy during the election. The former will argue, quite correctly, that a Republican-appointed justice will uphold the law, and that states across the South, Midwest, and Mountain West will make it all-but-impossible for abortion providers to stay in business. The latter will argue, also correctly, that a Democratic-appointed judge will strike down the law, eliminating one of the few remaining avenues available for limiting abortions. Hillary Clinton has been having trouble getting younger women excited about her cause; Donald Trump has struggled to make inroads with some conservative constituencies. This case may very well solve both their problems. (Z)

Liberal Democrats Angry with Elizabeth Warren

Many supporters of Bernie Sanders are very angry with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for staying neutral in the Democratic primary. She is being pilloried daily in all the social media. Of course, they would be even more angry if she came out in support of Hillary Clinton, as every other female Democratic senator has.

Warren, of course, sees the handwriting on the wall and knows Clinton is very likely to be the Democratic nominee and possibly the next President. Endorsing Sanders now would reduce her influence with Clinton in important matters, such as choosing cabinet officers and other government officials in a Clinton administration. By keeping her powder dry and then waiting until it is (almost) over, she can remain in good standing in Clintonworld. Hillary certainly understands the dilemma Warren is facing and won't put any pressure on her for an endorsement. But when the time comes, she absolutely needs Warren on her side actively campaigning to turn out young people, who are not very enthusiastic about her. It is perhaps ironic but the two people who can help Clinton the most in the general election with the youth vote are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who will be 75 and 68, respectively, during it. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Mar02 New Layout Starting Today
Mar02 Here Are the Maps of Who Won in Which State
Mar02 Big Night for Trump
Mar02 Big Night for Clinton, Too
Mar02 Winners and Losers
Mar02 Paul Ryan Issues Pro Forma Denunciation of Trump
Mar02 New York Court Declines to Throw Out Trump University Fraud Case
Mar02 Kasich Rules Out Running for Vice President
Mar02 New Hampshire Union Leader Apologizes for Endorsing Christie
Mar02 Could Trump Run as an Independent?
Mar01 Super Tuesday Is Upon Us
Mar01 Trump Leads in Alabama and Oklahoma
Mar01 Trump Blames His KKK Remarks on a Bad Earpiece
Mar01 How Trump Would Damage the Republican Party
Mar01 Trump's Mortgage Business Failed Badly
Mar01 Clinton Is Working Hard on a Strategy to Defeat Trump in the General Election
Mar01 Democrats Plan to Poach GOP Moderates
Mar01 Clinton Email Saga is Winding Down
Mar01 Stuart Stevens Says a Vote for Trump Is a Vote for Bigotry
Mar01 Jon Favreau Thinks Clinton in 2016 Is More Important than Obama in 2012
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