Clinton 1221
Sanders 571
 Needed   2383
Trump 458
Cruz 359
Rubio 151
Kasich 54
Needed 1237
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Sanders Pulls Off a Big Upset in Michigan

Democratic Michiganders and Mississippians went to the polls Tuesday. The former gave a narrow victory to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). The latter gave Clinton a huge win. Here are the numbers (note that Democrats Abroad finished voting as well, but won't announce until March 21):

Democratic Results
Michigan 48.2% 58 49.9% 65
Mississippi 82.6% 29 16.5% 4

Once again, the black voters love Hillary. It's a pretty clear vindication of her choice to hug Barack Obama closely.

The result in Michigan is the surprise of the evening. Undoubtedly, Sanders and his team are delighted that they went toe-to-toe with Clinton in a big state with fundamentals that are favorable to her and came out on top. With that said, most of the Southern delegates + the superdelegates + splitting the rest adds up to "Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton" right around April 1. Sanders supporters are certainly hoping that the declared superdelegates are not going to be loyal, but these people didn't get to be professional politicians by not knowing how to hitch their wagon to a frontrunner. Besides, they see that Clinton has a lead of 205 pledged delegates; to catch up, Sanders has to not only win big states, but win them by a much bigger margin than Michigan. His win there got him only seven delegates more than Clinton. For the day as a whole, she won 18 more delegates than Sanders did. Nonetheless, Sanders is doing well enough, and has enough cash, that he's likely going to hang around for a long time, if for no other reason than to keep his issues in the spotlight.

The Democrats have just one contest remaining this week, the Northern Marianas, with nearly a dozen delegates at stake. After, that it's on to miniTuesday. (Z)

Another Day, Another Trump Triumph

Four more states' worth of Republicans cast their votes Tuesday, and three of them bestowed a victory on Donald Trump. Here are the numbers:

Republican Results
Michigan 36.5% 25 24.9% 17 9.3% 0 24.3% 17
Mississippi 47.3% 24 36.3% 13 5.1% 0 8.8% 0
Idaho 28.1% 10 45.4% 14 15.9% 0 7.4% 0
Hawaii 42.4% 10 32.9% 6 13.1% 0 10.5% 0

This is pretty bad news for anyone whose name does not rhyme with 'dump.' For Ted Cruz (and, presumably, RNC chair Reince Priebus) it's additional, unhappy evidence that he can't really challenge The Donald in most states. Once we move to winner-take-all land on March 15, he's going to have trouble keeping it "close," assuming we can even use that term to describe what's happened so far (take away Texas and Trump has almost doubled up Cruz).

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) had one of his better nights, nearly doubling his delegate total. However, a third-place finish in neighboring Michigan is not exactly a good sign for what's going to happen in Ohio next week. Further, when a third place finish in one medium-sized state nearly doubles your delegate total, that's probably not a sign of a viable campaign.

As for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), nobody expected his win in Puerto Rico to give him momentum, and that was 100% correct. It was a ghastly evening. Even if he does take his home state next week (which is not looking likely), where else can he win? Not New England, the South, the big states of the Midwest, or the West, apparently. Maybe he should have sent a birthday cake to Guam, as well.

The Republicans have a few small contests in the next several days—the Virgin Islands (Thursday), and then Guam and DC (Saturday), before miniTuesday. Nothing that happened Tuesday night challenges the notion that we'll be left with a Cruz v. Trump showdown one week from today. (Z)

Romney Speech Backfired

Republicans still don't get it. Donald Trump supporters are trying to send a message to Republican politicians. The message is: "You lie to us all the time and we simply don't trust you any more." So naturally, the Republican response to Mitt Romney's speech was increased support for Trump. A Morning Consult poll shows that 31% of Republican voters were more likely to vote for Trump as a result of the speech and 20% were less likely. For 43%, it had no impact at all.

All the speech did was attack Trump. It didn't support any other candidate. That may have been a mistake. In politics, you can't beat something with nothing, and Romney was offering nothing. What he meant was "vote for the candidate most likely to beat Trump in your state" but that is not a very compelling message. It is all about tactics at a time when Trump voters are sick and tired of tactics and want a candidate who will stand up to the donor class and support the workers over the donors. (V)

Democrats to Debate in Miami

Because three whole days is really longer than voters should have to go without a debate, the Democratic Party will hold meeting number eight between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tonight, with the Sunshine State as the venue du jour.

For Sanders, the writing is on the wall. It's in pencil, as opposed to the Rubio/Kasich writing that is in dark, black Sharpie, but it's there. So, does he go aggressive again? The immediate feedback was negative, but Tuesday's result in Michigan may be a vindication of that approach. Given the delegate situation, he should probably gamble and go loud. Of course, his other problem is that debate fatigue is setting in. Exactly how many "still deciding" voters are going to be watching? For Clinton, meanwhile, the game plan remains the same: Don't screw up. And maybe, while you're at it, work on your answers to the questions about Wall Street money/speeches.

Univision is hosting, with the channel's Maria Elena Salinas and Jorge Ramos taking on moderator duties, along with Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post. CNN will simulcast, with things getting underway at 9:00 EST. (Z)

Cruz Catching Up to Trump Nationally

A new NBC/WSJ poll suggests the Republican race might be tightening nationally. Here are the results.

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 30%
2 Ted Cruz 27%
3 John Kasich 22%
4 Marco Rubio 20%

The pollsters called landlines and cell phones, but the sample size was only 397, leading to a margin of error of 4.9%. This poll is definitely an outlier, and could be way off for a variety of reasons. (V)

Republicans May Be Coming Around to Cruz in a Last-Ditch Effort to Stop Trump

Ted Cruz is probably the least popular senator in Washington, but now that Marco Rubio appears to be dead in the water, not far from his $80,000 fishing boat, Republicans are starting to come around to the idea of Cruz in a final (nearly hopeless) effort to stop Trump. Many Republicans are scared to death that Trump's remarks about women, Latinos, Muslims, the disabled, and other groups will be replayed endlessly by Hillary Clinton in the general election and that he will be slaughtered. They are also afraid that he will say other things going forward that could also be fatal. The bad taste left in the mouth of voters could linger for a long time, maybe a decade or more. Cruz, on the other hand, while an ideological zealot, went to Princeton and Harvard and has argued cases before the Supreme Court. He is a much smarter and more careful politician, and is far less inclined to make racist remarks or insult any important demographic group.

One small sign that the establishment is grudgingly willing to come to grips with Cruz is that the brother of former candidate Jeb Bush, Neil, is joining Cruz's finance team. Neil Bush is a Houston businessman who has never run for elected office, but can probably convince his dad and brothers to lend him their Rolodexes.

The anti-Trump forces have already dumped at least $12 million into Florida and at least $5 million into Illinois. The big donors are planning a meeting after next Tuesday's results are in to see what their next step should be. They could decide to put tens of millions more into anti-Trump advertising in the big states yet to vote, or they could throw in the towel. Or maybe they could try to get Cruz to agree to a Cruz/Rubio or Cruz/Kasich ticket. There is not much time left.

Republicans also view Cruz as a weak general election candidate, but for the opposite reason: He is totally predictable. He takes extremely conservative positions and sticks to them consistently. In a Republican primary that's fine, but in a general election, he is going to repel independents and Democrats. Some Republicans have likened the choice between Trump and Cruz as the difference taking arsenic or standing before a firing squad. (V)

Would Dropping Out Before Florida Be Best For Rubio?

It is not a secret that the GOP establishment, at this point, would prefer that Marco Rubio end his presidential bid so that the anti-Trump vote can coalesce around Ted Cruz. CNN had a big scoop on Monday reporting that some of the Florida Senator's close advisors agree, not because it's best for the Party, but because it's best for Rubio's political future for him to avoid a humiliating repudiation by the voters in his home state.

Color us skeptical. Yes, it is true that Rubio stands a good chance of losing Florida. However, is tucking his tail between his legs and surrendering really going to minimize the damage? Not much, and it might make it worse. Surely it would come off as a bit cowardly.

Further, let's not overstate how lethal a repudiation would be. It's not good, of course, but politicians have overcome worse in the past. Rick Santorum got tossed out of the Senate on his ear by Pennsylvania voters in 2006, and came back to be the GOP presidential frontrunner, at least briefly, in 2012. Dick Nixon famously got trounced in the 1962 California gubernatorial election, right after having lost a presidential election. That's a double serving of repudiation, both far worse than losing a mere primary. And he bounced back, as you may have heard. So, Rubio might as well keep his hat in the ring until March 15. (Z)

Trump and Clinton Way Ahead in North Carolina

A new SurveyUSA poll of 1,555 likely voters in North Carolina has Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with large leads. North Carolina votes next Tuesday. Here are the numbers.

North Carolina
Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 41%
2 Ted Cruz 27%
3 Marco Rubio 14%
4 John Kasich 11%

North Carolina
Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 57%
2 Bernie Sanders 34%

If Cruz is going to make a stand, it has to be in states like North Carolina. After next week, the primaries move north, a region that is not especially hospitable to Cruz (Maine notwithstanding). If he can't make it in North Carolina, it is hard to see how he could make it in Pennsylvania or California.

For Clinton, this result is to be expected. North Carolina is a Southern state with a substantial black population, although not as much as Mississippi. She has won all the states in the South and this will complete her sweep. (V)

Is Trade Trump's Big Issue?

Most media coverage of Donald Trump has focused on the various groups he has insulted and said or implied he has no policy positions at all. Thomas Frank, author of What's the Matter with Kansas, may have a better view of what makes blue-collar workers tick than most pundits. He watched hours of Trump's speeches, racism and all, and concluded that while he may act like a gold-plated buffoon (or maybe a gold-plated baboon), there is one genuine policy issue he returns to over and over and is completely consistent about: trade. He is against free trade. Very strongly against it.

For upper-middle class journalists and pundits, it is obvious that free trade is a good idea. Many of them are aware that the Smoot-Hawley tariff was one of the causes of the Great Depression. Free trade is one of the core pillars of the Republican platform and has been for decades. No Republican would oppose free trade any more than he would support free abortions. Big business and the donor class love free trade. Many Democrats like it, too. Bill Clinton signed the law creating NAFTA.

So Americans are unanimously for free trade? No. Blue-collar workers hate it with a vengeance. They see it as the primary mechanism by which their jobs are shipped to China, Mexico, and other low-wage countries. If there were high tariffs on imports of manufactured goods from low-wage countries, American companies would have to do some serious calculations before closing factories in America and setting them up in China. These are the people who are supporting Trump. Frank says that the racism is an extra added attraction, but trade and job loss are at the core of Trump's appeal. Frank makes the following comment about a Carrier executive talking to his workers about the plan to move its factory to Mexico:

The Carrier executive talks in that familiar and highly professional HR language is about the need to "stay competitive" and "the extremely price-sensitive marketplace." A worker shouts "Fuck you!" at the executive. The executive asks people to please be quiet so he can "share" his "information." His information is about all of them losing their jobs.

No doubt many of Trump's supporters are bigots, but of the 23 candidates who started out last Fall, he is the only one who looks like he means it when he says he is absolutely against free trade. The pundit class has completely missed this because to them, "free trade" can be translated as "cheaper iPhones."

Sanders' surprising upset victory in Michigan may well be due to his opposition to the TPP agreement that Obama is trying to push through. Hillary Clinton is also against TPP, but she is a recent convert; she was for it until she was against it. It could be that Democratic voters are more sensitive to trade issues than the candidates think. Just opposing new trade agreements may not go far enough for a lot of workers, since even absent trade agreements, companies can move jobs to Mexico, China, and elsewhere. What no candidate has proposed is something to help workers who lose their jobs due to the company closing factories in the U.S. and building new ones elsewhere. For example, a candidate could say: "I will ask Congress to pass a law requiring a company that moves jobs to another country to pay all workers who were fired a severance pay equal to the the sum of what they earned in their previous three years with the company." That would not only make the company's profit/loss calculation different, but it would give workers three years to find a new job or money to relocate to a different state with more job prospects or get training for a new occupation.

The issue of free trade has been around for a long time. In the second 1992 presidential debate, populist Ross Perot, an opponent of NAFTA, said that the giant sucking sound was being made by jobs going to Mexico. Trump is capitalizing on it big time and now maybe Sanders is, too. (V)

How Would a Brokered Convention Be Received by Trump Supporters?

At this point, no serious observer of politics thinks any candidate other than Donald Trump could amass the 1,237 delegates needed to be nominated on the first ballot at the Republican convention. The hope of those moving to Cruz or those still backing Rubio is simply to deny Trump a victory on the first ballot. Then all the delegates would become free agents. They could go for a Cruz/Rubio ticket, for Mitt Romney, for Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), or someone not being discussed at all now (Sarah, are you doing anything this Fall?).

If that were to happen, the establishment would just announce that those are the rules and everyone knew them in advance so they are completely fair. Most likely, a majority of Trump's supporters would be enraged. It is not so much that they would walk barefoot over broken glass for Trump as it is the Republican establishment using lies and tricks to get its way. If Trump came into the convention with somewhat under 1,237 delegates and the convention picked a candidate with half his total, or someone who didn't even run in the primaries, all hell would break loose. The angry voters might not be able to change the outcome, but they certainly could stay home on Election Day, hurting Republicans downticket. And if Trump decided to run as a third-party candidate, many would support him. A brokered convention would be a lot of fun for political junkies, but it could end very badly for the Republicans, with Hillary Clinton as President, a Democratic Senate, and huge losses in the House. But the Party is running out of options.

The planning for a brokered convention is getting serious. Veteran Republican strategist John Yob has even written a book about it entitled Chaos: The Outsider's Guide to a Contested Republican National Convention. If Trump wins all five states next Tuesday, the book will probably nosedive, but if he loses a couple of them, it will zoom up the charts. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Mar08 Democratic Debate Postmortem
Mar08 Two Democratic Primaries Today
Mar08 Republicans Vote in Four States Today
Mar08 The Stop-Trump Movement Is Gaining Steam
Mar08 Scared by Trump, Latinos Are Becoming Citizens
Mar08 Bloomberg Is Out
Mar08 Sanders Donors Want Him To Keep Going
Mar08 Supreme Court Makes a Decision on Gay Adoption
Mar08 Are the Intramural Fights Over?
Mar07 Sparks Fly in Flint
Mar07 Sanders Wins Maine Big Time
Mar07 Rubio Wins Puerto Rico Primary
Mar07 Preview of This Week's Events
Mar07 Trump and Clinton Have Big Leads in Michigan
Mar07 Republican Leaders Are Really Stuck Now
Mar07 How Does It End for the Democrats?
Mar07 Republican Candidates Ranked
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