Clinton 1130
Sanders 499
 Needed   2383
Trump 384
Cruz 300
Rubio 151
Kasich 37
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)
      •  Sparks Fly in Flint
      •  Sanders Wins Maine Big Time
      •  Rubio Wins Puerto Rico Primary
      •  Preview of This Week's Events
      •  Trump and Clinton Have Big Leads in Michigan
      •  Republican Leaders Are Really Stuck Now
      •  How Does It End for the Democrats?
      •  Republican Candidates Ranked

Sparks Fly in Flint

Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) visited Michigan Sunday for the seventh Democratic candidates' debate. They started out cordially enough, but then became quite combative, at least by Democratic standards.

The first series of questions were, predictably, about the water fiasco in Flint, where the debate was being held. There, the two candidates were in complete agreement, up to and including their calls for Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) to resign. They both promised that they would "fix" the situation as President, with Clinton actually over-promising to remove all lead pipes across the United States within five years. That would be extremely pricey, on the order of Donald Trump's wall.

Once the opening statements and the Flint water segment of the debate were over, the gloves came off. It is possible the race will be effectively over by the end of the month, and Sanders was clearly feeling the pressure, as he was considerably more snippy than in previous debates. This exchange, about 10 minutes into the contest, set the tone (and absolutely lit up Twitter):

SANDERS: Well, I—If you are talking about the Wall Street bailout, where some of your friends destroyed this economy...

CLINTON: You know...

SANDERS: ... through—excuse me, I'm talking.

CLINTON: If you're gonna talk, tell the whole story, Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Let me tell my story. You tell yours.

CLINTON: I will.

For most of the rest of the evening, Sanders worked very hard to draw a distinction between himself and Clinton, whether on trade agreements, Export-Import Bank, welfare reform, fracking. He also hit the Secretary hard on her areas of weakness, including (as usual) her paid speeches. What was new was a decidedly more sarcastic edge than we've seen in previous tilts. For example, when Clinton said that she would release the text of her speeches when other speakers did the same, the Vermont Senator replied:

All right, look, Secretary Clinton wants everybody else to release it, well, I'm your Democratic opponent, I release it, here it is. There ain't nothing. I don't give speeches to Wall Street for hundreds of thousands of dollars, you got it.

It is understandable that Sanders was trying to shake things up a bit, but he was probably hurt more by his combativeness than he was helped. That kind of aggression simply does not play well when directed at a woman.

Similarly, the Vermont Senator knows he has a problem with black voters, and he made a noticeable effort to correct for that. However, he is an old, white man from a lily white state. Racial oppression exists primarily as an abstract for him, and it's very hard for him to be authentic on the subject in the way that he is with class issues. He sometimes illustrated his points with examples that are a tad bit outdated or cliche, for example, recounting how a black colleague could not get a cab in D.C. 20 years ago. He also made repeated use of the word 'ghetto'—the Senator's advisors need to take him aside and explain that the term is kind of passe´, not far removed from describing black voters as 'coloreds.'

The upshot is that Sanders' strategy for the debate was on target, but the execution was a bit lacking. Meanwhile, Clinton had her usual solid night—a few very strong moments, a few stumbles (will she ever come up with good answers to questions about her Wall Street ties?), but nothing game-changing. And that makes the Secretary the de facto winner. When the dust settles, it will be—as historians sometimes say—status quo ante bellum: as it was before the conflict. And for Hillary Clinton, who currently sits comfortably in the catbird seat, status quo is just fine. (Z)

Sanders Wins Maine Big Time

Bernie Sanders won the Maine caucuses held yesterday by a vote of 64% to 36%. He will get at least 15 delegates to her 7. Turnout was enormous, with lines to get into some sites estimated at a mile long. One state legislator said that with such large turnouts, the state should return to a primary instead of a caucus. Sanders' victory was expected. It is a very white state that is not far from his own state of Vermont.

During the weekend, four Democratic contests were held and Sanders won three of them: Maine, Kansas, and Nebraska. Clinton won the other one: Louisiana. In all for the weekend, it appears that Sanders won 64 delegates to Clinton's 62, which barely helps him catch up. Looking at the nominating contests more globally, Sanders is strongest in small white states with closed caucuses. The states coming up next are mostly large states with racially mixed populations that hold open primaries. He will have to expand his reach to win these. (V)

Rubio Wins Puerto Rico Primary

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) finally won his second contest yesterday, in Puerto Rico, raising his batting average to .100. Not great, but almost double the .052 he was batting before Puerto Rico. He was widely expected to win, as he is a Latino whose roots are in Cuba, not far from Puerto Rico. His landslide victory—he took almost 75% of the vote—gives him all 23 of the territory's delegates, bringing his total now to 151. Puerto Ricans are American citizens but cannot vote in the general election if they live on the island. However, a Puerto Rican who moves to a U.S. state can register and vote legally there. There is a fairly large Puerto Rican population in Florida, and Rubio spent heavily in the territory in hopes that its results will influence the state results. (V)

Preview of This Week's Events

We have lots of political events scheduled for this week, and as always, there can be unexpected events as well. What we know will happen include these:

  • Tuesday: Republican Primaries in Idaho (32 delegates), Michigan (59 delegates), and Mississippi (40 delegates)
  • Tuesday: Republican caucus in Hawaii (19 delegates)
  • Tuesday: Democratic primaries in Mississippi (36 delegates) and Michigan (130 delegates)
  • Wednesday: Democratic debate in Miami, Florida
  • Thursday: Republican debate in Miami, Florida
  • Saturday: Republican convention in D.C. (19 delegates)
  • Saturday: Republican convention in Guam (9 delegates)
  • Saturday: Democratic caucus in the Northern Mariana Islands (9 delegates)

We have long since moved past the "momentum" and "publicity" stages of the races. It is now about getting half the delegates plus one. While most Americans would probably have trouble locating Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands on a map, they are U.S. territories and send delegates to both conventions.

Ultimately, these could prove quite important in another way, as well. In order to keep Ron Paul from being formally nominated in 2012, the Republican National Convention adopted a new rule saying that a candidate's name could be placed in nomination only if he won a majority of delegates in eight states or territories. So far, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has won only six states (three with a majority), so unless he wins more, he can't even be nominated. Cruz read the rules carefully and realized this, so he is hell bent on winning Guam, and also the Northern Marianas, whose caucus in March 15. He has dispatched surrogates to both and is campaigning remotely. He ordered a Texas-size birthday cake for governor Eddie Calvo of Guam on his birthday last August, with Cruz's name in icing on top. When the governor of the Northern Marianas, Eloy Inos, died on Dec. 28, 2015, Cruz sent a representative to his funeral. These steps don't mean he will win either Guam or the Northern Marianas, but it sure shows the people there that while most Americans don't even know they exist, he certainly does. (V)

Trump and Clinton Have Big Leads in Michigan

The biggest prize this week is Michigan, and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are way ahead there. A new NBC/Marist poll released yesterday shows Donald Trump almost doubling up Ted Cruz. Here are the results.

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 41%
2 Ted Cruz 22%
3 Marco Rubio 17%
4 John Kasich 13%

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 57%
2 Bernie Sanders 40%

Unfortunately for Cruz, Michigan is more typical of the big states coming up in March and April. If he can't win in Michigan, he probably can't win anywhere with a lot of delegates.

On the Democratic side, the same poll showed Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders 57% to 40%. She is ahead with blacks, whites, people older than 45, and both Democratic men and women. Sanders leads among voters younger than 45 and independents. Sanders' problem is that a lot of the big states coming up in March and April are much more like Michigan than they are like New Hampshire, Colorado, or Kansas. Sanders has won in states with few blacks and a fairly liberal Democratic base. We are now moving to states that are not like that. Furthermore, to capture the nomination, Sanders not only has to win many difficult states now, he has to win them convincingly since unlike the Republicans, who allow winner-take-all primaries starting next week, with the Democrats it is proportional all the way to the end. This means that a Sanders win of, say, 55%, gets him only a few more delegates than Clinton, when he needs a lot more.

In a head-to-head matchup with Trump in Michigan, Clinton wins by 16 points and Sanders wins by 22 points, which seems inconsistent with the fact that Michiganders prefer Clinton by a wide margin over Sanders. What that mostly goes to show is that general election polls this far out don't mean a lot. (V)

Republican Leaders Are Really Stuck Now

With Donald Trump leading in delegates and states won and way ahead in Michigan, Ted Cruz in second place, and no establishment candidate even plausible at this point, the GOP has a big, big problem: go with the bully or go with the zealot. Neither of these is acceptable, but barring a miracle, it will be one of them. In theory, a brokered convention is possible, but Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said he is not interested in being drafted, so who could the convention pick? Cruz, the least popular politician in Washington? Romney, the epitome of the establishment in a year when the voters have rejected the establishment in no uncertain terms? There doesn't seem anywhere to go as this disaster plays out in slow motion.

Trump and Cruz are now calling on all the other candidates to drop out immediately so the Republican contest becomes a head-to-head race between them. In essence, this would force the supporters of Rubio and Kasich to pick one of them. It seems unlikely to happen before March 15, though, when Florida and Ohio vote. After that it could happen, but it might be too late by then. (V)

How Does It End for the Democrats?

Politico has a story that starts with this:

A liberal insurgent from New England challenges a dominant centrist opponent with ties to the South, accumulates delegates in primaries around the country and presses his losing campaign all the way to the first day of the Democratic convention. Finally he drops out, but not before delivering a stirring prime-time speech in which he vows to keep his cause alive. Then he returns to the Senate, never to run for President again.

Anyone know what year this is about? Right! 1980, when Ted Kennedy challenged establishment favorite, the incumbent Jimmy Carter. The point of the story is not about the challenge, which is always legitimate. It is about the aftermath when the loser refuses to support the winner. Kennedy even refused to raise Carter's hand aloft at the convention as a sign of unity. The divide in the Democratic Party cost them the election to someone, Ronald Reagan, that no one took seriously at the start of the campaign.

What will happen this year? Sanders hasn't lost yet, but states coming up in the next 10 days are the kind of big states with large minority populations that support Clinton. Two weeks from now, she could have three-quarters of the delegates she needs for the nomination. Sanders has enough money to soldier on until the convention in July, but what then? He's wildly popular in Vermont so he can continue being a senator until he dies, no matter what the Democratic Party wants. It is very unlikely that he wants to be on the ticket or even have a cabinet slot.

One thing he could demand and probably get is a key role in writing the Democrats' platform. If he could get the Democrats to officially agree to reviving Glass-Steagall and things like that, he might well feel he had achieved something and could spend the Fall traveling around the country arguing for the platform, if not the candidate. (V)

Republican Candidates Ranked

Below is our monthly take on the Republican nomination. We freely admit that we were as wrong as everyone else in not seeing Donald Trump as a "serious" candidate (at least in the sense of being able to win primaries). Nevertheless, we will keep at it. (Z & V)

Candidate Advantages in Primaries Disadvantages in Primaries
Donald Trump
Donald Trump
  • The most famous Republican candidate
  • Loved by "poke-'em-in-the-eye" voters
  • Has been atop the polls for months
  • Actually created thousands of jobs
  • Can't be bribed, could self-fund
  • Says things no one else dares to say
  • Not a politician
  • Brilliant self-promoter
  • Has won the majority of primary contests, been competitive in the rest
  • Endorsed by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)
  • The most infamous Republican candidate
  • Would be crushed by Clinton, whose oppo research team is already hard at work
  • Establishment will do anything to stop him; some may defect if he's nominated
  • Used to be fairly liberal
  • Not exactly sure where the Middle East is
  • Thinks "nuclear triad" is a rock band
  • Demeaned John McCain's war record
  • Lots of sexist and racist remarks
  • His hair gets more attention than Hillary's
  • Hesitated before disavowing the KKK
  • Endorsed by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)
Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz
  • Republican establishment hates him
  • Called Mitch McConnell a liar
  • Tea party darling
  • Young, fiery, and very conservative
  • Surprisingly good at fund raising
  • Excellent speaker and debater
  • Won Iowa
  • Won the biggest state so far: Texas
  • Won Alaska, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Maine
  • Machiavellian "evil genius," like Nixon
  • Republican establishment hates him
  • First-term senator
  • For a first-term senator, has a lot of enemies
  • Has more enemies than most six-term senators
  • Not very likable
  • Masterminded the 2013 government shutdown
  • Having trouble securing the evangelical vote, much less any other constituency
  • Winning Iowa often means very little; ask Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee
  • Texas is his home state; win there not particularly instructive
  • Alaska, Oklahoma, and Kansas are very idiosyncratic
  • "Lyin' Ted" not as good as Nixon at hiding his dirty tricks
John Kasich
John Kasich
  • Twice elected in swing state of Ohio
  • Could become establishment fallback if he wins his home state
  • Would win some Democrats in general election
  • Not well known
  • Presently trailing Trump in Ohio polls
  • Running on competence, not ideology
  • Said St. Peter likes poor people
  • Supported Medicaid expansion & Common Core
  • Has performed poorly in debates
Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio
  • American-dream type biography
  • Young and telegenic, sort of like Jack Kennedy
  • Very charismatic
  • From the mother of all swing states
  • Sounds presidential when delivering talking points
  • Winning the "endorsement" primary, for what it's worth
  • Has misrepresented elements of his biography
  • First-term senator
  • Something of a lightweight on policy
  • Supported immigration bill before he opposed it
  • Fox News washed their hands of him
  • Doesn't do well when going off-script
  • Sometimes turns into MarcoBot even when staying on script
  • Personal finances raise a lot of questions
  • Help for felonious brother-in-law raises a lot of questions
  • Has won a grand total of one state (Minnesota) and one territory (Puerto Rico)
  • "Little Marco" kind of fits

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---The Votemaster
Mar06 Results of the Republican Caucuses and Primaries
Mar06 Results of the Democratic Caucuses and Primaries
Mar06 Democrats Debate in Flint, Michigan
Mar06 Puerto Rico's Republicans Vote Today
Mar06 Gov. Susana Martinez Endorses Rubio
Mar06 Trump Could Help Democrats in the House
Mar06 Will Trump's Opponents Follow Karl Rove's Advice?
Mar06 Sanders Raises More Money Than Clinton in February
Mar05 Republicans Hold Caucuses and Primaries in Four States Today
Mar05 Democrats Have Caucuses and Primaries in Three States Today
Mar05 Republican Debate Postmortem
Mar05 Trump Withdraws from CPAC Event
Mar05 Ben Carson Withdraws at CPAC Event
Mar05 Marco Rubio Slinks Back to Florida
Mar05 Could Romney's Speech Be A Gift to Trump?
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
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?