Clinton 1058
Sanders 431
 Needed   2383
Trump 319
Cruz 226
Rubio 110
Kasich 25
Needed 1237
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Republicans Hold Caucuses and Primaries in Four States Today
      •  Democrats Have Caucuses and Primaries in Three States Today
      •  Republican Debate Postmortem
      •  Trump Withdraws from CPAC Event
      •  Ben Carson Withdraws at CPAC Event
      •  Marco Rubio Slinks Back to Florida
      •  Could Romney's Speech Be A Gift to Trump?

Republicans Hold Caucuses and Primaries in Four States Today

Republicans are holding caucuses in Kansas, Kentucky, and Maine today, as well as a primary in Louisiana. Polling has been pretty thin in all four places, so it is guesswork about what might happen. One thing to note about all four is that all of them are closed, meaning only registered Republicans are allowed to vote. So far, four contests have been closed: Iowa, Oklahoma, Alaska, and Nevada. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) won three of those; all but Nevada. So he does better when independents and Democrats can't vote. Cruz won Texas and Oklahoma on Tuesday, and Louisiana is adjacent to Texas, so he is probably the favorite there. In Maine, Cruz's style of hard-core conservatism doesn't work well, so it is likely to be Donald Trump or Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) there.

Kansas is an extremely conservative state and borders Oklahoma, which Cruz won, so he has a decent shot there, too. Kentucky is hard to predict. Actually, it was supposed to have a primary, but Kentucky law prohibits a candidate from being on the ballot twice. Last Fall, the Kentucky Republican Party thought this might be a problem for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who might have been running for President and his Senate seat at the same time, so they decided to hold a caucus instead to get around the law. Paul is out but the caucus is still there. Kentucky Republicans have never caucused before and they may not know what to do. Also, the state's most powerful politician, Sen. Mitch McConnell, hates Cruz with a vengeance, and will do whatever it takes to make sure Cruz loses. Kentucky is a blue-collar state, so probably Trump will win. (V)

Democrats Have Caucuses and Primaries in Three States Today

Primary elections are regulated by state law (and paid for by the state government). Caucuses are run by and paid for by the parties. So, the two parties don't always hold their nominating contests on the same day. Tomorrow is one such day. The Democrats have primaries in Kansas and Louisiana and also a caucus in Nebraska. Again, little polling here. Louisiana is in the South and Clinton has swept the South by huge margins, so she will probably win in a rout there. Kansas and Nebraska are not exactly prime hunting grounds for Democrats. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) won Oklahoma, and might well win Kansas and Nebraska for the same reason, namely, most gun-toting, Bible-thumping white people have become Republicans, leaving a small, but liberal rump of Democrats. These tend to be Sanders people, so he might be able to get a majority of the 58 delegates at stake in these two states. (V)

Republican Debate Postmortem

The four remaining GOP candidates crossed swords in Detroit on Thursday; here's what people are saying about the night that the quartet had:

Left-leaning commentators:
John Dickerson, CBS News Winner: Kasich. Loser: Trump. "The Republican Party is on its way to nominating someone whom none of its living Presidents or nominees think should be President. The mechanism for changing that outcome could have been Thursday's debate, but the candidates who want to stop him fought it out on the raw and ragged turf defined by Donald Trump."

Chris Cillizza, WaPo Winners: Cruz, Kasich, Fox News moderators. Losers: Trump. Rubio, the Republican Party. "The first hour of the debate was an absolute disaster for Republicans hoping to rebrand their party heading into the 2016 general election. It looked more like a high school cafeteria food fight than an even semi-serious conversation about issues."

Dylan Matthews, Vox Winners: Kasich, the moderators, Hillary Clinton. Losers: Rubio, Trump. "Marco Rubio is apparently all too willing to step into the old Jeb role of Trump punching bag, and Trump is all too willing to use him as such. This did not result in Rubio landing some real hits against Trump. It resulted in Rubio trying to attack Trump again, and again only for the debate to devolve into pointless cross talk."

Josh Voorhees, Slate Winner: Trump. Losers: Cruz, Rubio, Kasich. "The #NeverTrump strategy began to quickly crumble when moderator Bret Baier used the last question of the night to press each of Trump's rivals on whether they would honor the GOP loyalty pledge they signed last year and support Trump if he is the nominee. To a man, each one said yes."

Todd Graham, CNN Winner: Kasich. Loser: Trump. "[E]verything fell into place for Kasich. His theme for the night was the same as before (my accomplishments as a congressman and a governor), and he played it out over and over with examples of balancing the budget, cutting taxes and having the support of foreign policy experts."

Right-leaning commentators:
Rush Limbaugh, syndicated radio host Winner: Cruz. Loser: Trump. "Ted Cruz was in a different debate than what everybody else was doing, including Kasich. I think Ted Cruz was running rings around everybody in terms of awareness of the issues, knowledge of the issues, mastering whatever it was that was discussed."

Frank Luntz, Fox News Winner: Kasich. Losers: Trump, Rubio. "Sophomoric, shameful, and despicable."

Caleb Howe, RedState Winners: Cruz, Rubio. Loser: Trump. "Rubio was also a winner tonight. He has proved beyond the shadow of doubt how weak Donald Trump is before attacks on his tremendous, yuge vanity. He crumples. He falls apart. He talks about his ding dong. The extent to which Marco can easily send Trump into a panic by mentioning his hands or tan is just a shadow of how easily the Democrats will handle him. They won't have to mention policy. Just his hair. Or his stump fingers. He'll fall apart."

Jonathan Easley, The Hill Winners: Megyn Kelly, Trump, Clinton, Cruz. Losers: Rubio, the Republican establishment. "All of the optimism surrounding Rubio's campaign following a flood of establishment support, and the turn to attacking Trump seems to have vaporized since Super Tuesday. Rubio didn't do anything on Thursday night to reignite that spark."

Rick Davis, GOP Operative Winner: Trump. Losers: Cruz, Rubio, Kasich. "Donald Trump is winning and just dodged another bullet. The field did nothing to change the dynamic, and no 'game changer' is great for Trump."

Foreign commentators:
Abigail Abrams, International Business Times Winners: Kasich, Cruz, Rubio. Loser: Trump. "Kasich, continuing to present himself as positive and above the fray, escaped without a Trump-bestowed nickname."

Laura Bicker, BBC Winner: Trump. Loser: The Republican Party. "In one of the most bizarre moments, Mr. Trump defended the size of his hands and then quipped about another part of his anatomy."

Ben Jacobs and Sabrina Siddiqui, The Guardian (UK) Winner: Trump. Losers: Cruz. Rubio. "Donald Trump faced a barrage of attacks from rivals Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz on Thursday night during a Republican presidential debate that was at times nasty and crude but offered few moments that looked likely to reset a race that remains Trump's to lose."

Across the thirteen outlets, the tally ends up like this:

Kasich: 6 wins, 2 losses
Cruz: 5 wins, 3 losses
Trump: 5 wins, 8 losses
Rubio: 2 wins, 7 losses

It all comes down to the question of what a "winner" is. If we're talking about who had the best debate, then there is a broad consensus that Kasich triumphed, followed by Cruz. If we're talking about the debate's impact on the election, then Trump won, because nothing happened to substantively slow his momentum or change his status as frontrunner. As per usual, he won all the post-debate polls.

Of course, the biggest story is not who "won" or "lost" the debate, but instead how vulgar and unpresidential the whole night was. There's the generally nasty, personal nature of what was said, of course. But looming even larger than that (no pun intended) was Donald Trump's male member. If one did not know better, one might think that this was satire, and not reality. But Trump really went there (in fairness, because Marco Rubio went there first). And the blue-blooded GOP establishment discovered that, yes indeed, it was possible to be even more horrified than they were entering the debate.

The fact checkers, including CNN, the AP, WaPo, Politifact, and FactCheck were not impressed with what they saw. The short version is that anything Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio says about the shortcomings of Donald Trump, the Clintons, or Barack Obama is almost certainly exaggerated. Anything Trump says about his failures, like Trump University, is almost certainly being overly minimized. All four men grossly misrepresent their resumes without compunction, and any time any of them issue forth with a statistic (particularly anything having to do with money), it's likely misleading.

It's five days until the next GOP debate. So, Donald Trump has limited time to figure out exactly how he's going to top Thursday's performance. Of course, The Apprentice was a weekly show, too, so he's presumably used to coming up with drama and salaciousness on a deadline. (Z)

Trump Withdraws from CPAC Event

The premier event among movement Conservatives is the Conservative Political Action Conference, now being held in D.C. All the top conservatives always show up, make speeches, and try to get the faithful to sign up to volunteer for their campaigns. Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Ben Carson spoke yesterday. Marco Rubio will speak today. Trump was scheduled to speak today, but decided going to Kansas to campaign was a better use of his time. (V)

Ben Carson Withdraws at CPAC Event

On Friday, Ben Carson made official what everyone already knew: He's dropping out of the presidential race. "Even though I might be leaving the campaign trail," he said, "you know there's a lot of people who love me. They just won't vote for me." Carson has not been paying much attention if he thinks that the problem this year's Republican voters have is that there are just too many candidates that they love.

So, what went wrong for Carson? Well, he was a mediocre debater and speaker who did not project the gravitas that most voters want in a President. His command of the issues, particularly foreign policy issues, was very shaky. He was in the bad habit of passing off "close enough" stories about his life as being true, while also making extremely suspect assertions about science and history—from the pyramids to evolution to global warming to the Nazis. He lost "I want an evangelical" voters to Ted Cruz, and "I want an outsider" voters to Donald Trump. His campaign staff engaged in vicious infighting with one another, which the good doctor might have quelled, but he was often too busy selling books rather than campaigning. Beyond these issues, however, he was an excellent candidate.

Carson's new job will be serving as chairman of My Faith Votes, a group that works to make sure that Christians vote. Because if there's one group of Republicans whose voice just doesn't get heard, it's the Christians. In any case, bon voyage, Ben. (Z)

Marco Rubio Slinks Back to Florida

Marco Rubio's aides no longer talk about winning the nomination on the first ballot. They say that maybe he has a chance on the second or third ballot. They are smoking something and inhaling deeply. If it goes to a second ballot, the Republican pooh-bahs are not going to turn to someone the voters have already rejected (like Rubio). They will turn to someone not currently in the race, possibly Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Rubio has given up all plans to campaign in Ohio or spend money there. It is now the homework assignment for Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) to keep Trump from winning that state's 66 winner-take-all delegates. Instead, Rubio has retrenched back to Florida, where his last hope is taking all 99 delegates in Florida's winner-take-all primary. That wouldn't be enough to make him relevant again, but it might keep him alive a bit longer and would fit in with the Romney plan of splitting the delegates enough to force a brokered convention.

Current polling shows Trump way ahead in Florida. A Trump win in Rubio's home state, especially a big one, would be completely humiliating. He might even become so disillusioned after a big loss that he drops out. (V)

Could Romney's Speech Be A Gift to Trump?

Mitt Romney's nasty attacks on Donald Trump this week may well help Trump more than hurt him. Trump's whole campaign has been about repudiating establishment politicos who think they are so much smarter than the blue-collar workers who support Trump. Romney is the poster boy for the people Trump's supporters hate and his big campaign against Trump may galvanize support for Trump and bring fencesitters into the fold. To the extent that Romney does swing some voters, it may be a matter of too little too late. But the establishment is running out of ways to take Trump down. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Mar04 America Gets Schlonged By Trump
Mar04 Seven Takeaways from the Debate
Mar04 Seven More Takeaways from the Debate
Mar04 Romney Slams Trump
Mar04 Is Romney a Hypocrite?
Mar04 Republicans are in Desperate Times; What Desperate Measures Might They Employ?
Mar04 The Republican Party Meets Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Mar04 Koch Brothers Will Not Oppose Trump Nomination
Mar04 Do the Demographics Favor Trump
Mar04 Do the Demographics Favor Trump?
Mar04 Pelosi against Superdelegates
Mar04 Grassley May Get Senate Opponent
Mar03 Carson Sort of Drops Out
Mar03 The Republicans Have Two Weeks to Stop Trump
Mar03 Mitt Romney Under the Impression That This Is Still 2012
Mar03 Trump Releases Healthcare Plan
Mar03 Why Did Rubio Fail?
Mar03 Bad (Fox) News for Rubio
Mar03 Why Did Sanders Win Oklahoma and Lose Massachusetts?
Mar03 Republicans Crush Democrats on Turnout
Mar03 Neocons Declare War on Trump
Mar03 When Should You Start Planning Your Move to Canada?
Mar03 Obama May Be Vetting Jane Kelly for Scalia's Seat
Mar03 Post-Scalia Court Takes Up Abortion
Mar03 Liberal Democrats Angry with Elizabeth Warren
Mar02 New Layout Starting Today
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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