Clinton 1223
Sanders 574
 Needed   2383
Trump 459
Cruz 360
Rubio 152
Kasich 54
Needed 1237
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

More Delegates Up for Grabs Today

Guam and D.C. Republicans have conventions today, where 9 and 19 delegates, respectively, are on the line. Both are closed events, meaning only Republicans are welcome. The Guam delegates are unbound, so they can vote for anyone they want to. The D.C. delegates are bound and allocated proportionally.

Democrats can also vote tomorrow—provided they live in the Northern Mariana Islands. Six delegates will be elected there. (V)

Three New Polls Put Trump Ahead in MiniTuesday States

Pollsters have surveyed three of the states that vote on MiniTuesday, Illinois, North Carolina and Missouri. Here are the results.

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 33%
2 Ted Cruz 20%
3 John Kasich 18%
4 Marco Rubio 11%

North Carolina
Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 48%
2 Ted Cruz 28%
3 John Kasich 12%
4 Marco Rubio 8%

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 35%
2 Ted Cruz 29%
3 Marco Rubio 9%
4 John Kasich 8%

If these hold, along with previous polls of Ohio and Florida, Trump could come close to locking up the nomination next week. Missouri looks like the only state Trump might lose, in part because 36% of the Republican electorate there consists of evangelicals. (V)

Three New polls Put Clinton Ahead in MiniTuesday States

We also have polls of the Democratic race in Illinois, North Carolina, and Missouri. Clinton's lead is biggest in the two states with large black populations. Also noteworthy is that Illinois is the state where she was born and grew up. Again, as with the Republicans, Missouri is the closest and Sanders' best shot.

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 62%
2 Bernie Sanders 25%

North Carolina
Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 58%
2 Bernie Sanders 34%

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 46%
2 Bernie Sanders 40%

If Clinton wins all five states on Tuesday, or even all but Missouri, she will have a commanding lead in delegates and will be unstoppable. (V)

Republican Debate Postmortem

Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) were in Miami Thursday for some pleasant conversation about how much they dislike one another. And Muslims. Here's what the punditry thinks:

Left-leaning commentators
Chris Cillizza, WaPo Winners: Rubio, Trump, Cruz, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Jake Tapper's pocket square. Losers: Trump, Kasich, Reince Priebus, CNN. "Watching Rubio on Thursday night, I found myself wondering where he might have been in this race if he hadn't (a) had brain-lock in the debate just before the New Hampshire primary and (b) hadn't spent 72 hours earlier this month getting in the gutter with Trump. Of course, that's besides the point now."

Timothy B. Lee, Vox Winners: Trump, Cruz, Civility. Losers: Civility, #NeverTrump, Trade deals. "While the tone of the debate was civil, the substance of the debate was anything but. Trump was asked about the many incidents in which his supporters have responded violently to protestors, including an incident this week in which a Trump supporter threw an unprovoked punch at a protestor as he walked by. Instead of unambiguously condemning this kind of violence, Trump fell back on one of his uglier talking points. 'They love this country,' he said. 'They don't like seeing bad trade deals, higher taxes, they don't like seeing a loss of their jobs where our jobs have just been devastated. There is some anger. There's also great love for the country. It's a beautiful thing in many respects.'"

Jason Easley, PoliticusUSA Winners: Trump, Rubio. Losers: Cruz, Kasich. "Rubio was the reverse of Cruz. He had a bad first hour, but the second hour where he looked like a real challenger to Trump, who could win in Florida. The problem is that Rubio and Cruz individually are not good enough to stop Trump. Rubio is a winner while Cruz is a loser because he closed better than the senator from Texas."

Steven Shepard, Politico Winner: Rubio. Losers: Cruz, Kasich. "Marco Rubio delivered a strong debate performance on Thursday night—but it probably won't save him in Florida next week against Donald Trump."

Todd Graham, CNN Winner: Cruz. Loser: Trump. "I know a lot of people will give Trump credit for not mudslinging. They'll heap praise on him for not interrupting and not name-calling. How pitiful is it that it's come to this? You know what? I don't give points for debate performances that meet the minimum for civility. Trump may have played nice this time, but that's not the same as debate excellence, especially with the mean, rude behavior of previous face-offs so close in memory."

Right-leaning commentators
Tory Newmyer, Fortune Winner: Rubio. Loser: Kasich. "The substance-heavy debate felt like a palette cleanser after a Jerry Springer-inflected clash last week that embarrassed the entire party. The most telling sign of the lowered temperature in Miami: frontrunner Donald Trump, who has remained a cartoonish provocateur even as he's pulled away from the field, turned in perhaps his tamest debate performance to date."

Niall Stanage, The Hill Winners: Trump, the Republican Party, Rubio. Losers: Democrats and fans of recent GOP debates. "One of the ironclad rules of political campaigns is that a front-runner gains from a debate that produces no game-changing moments. By that standard, Trump had by far the best night on Thursday. His rivals highlighted their differences with him, but there was little personal enmity. Trump maintained a calmer demeanor throughout and was never knocked off his stride."

Ed Morrissey, HotAir Winners: The Republican Party, CNN, Rubio, Cruz. Losers: None. "For the first time in a while, serious policy debate became the focus of a prime-time GOP event. Gone were the references to genitalia and stature. Instead, this debate gave candidates a forum that made all four of them look, well...presidential."

Washington Times Staff Winners: Rubio, Trump. Losers: Cruz, Kasich. "[Cruz] failed to consistently make a clear case why he's a better alternative to Mr. Trump. At times he disappeared from the discussions. For the candidate who has generally been in second place, he didn't appear to be making a strong pitch to gain the front-runner status."

Leon H. Wolf, RedState Winners: Cruz, Rubio, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. Loser: Trump. "Donald Trump did not just lose this debate, he is a loser. He knows nothing about anything, including the things he professes to know about. His answer about Cuba was worse than the answer Billy Madison gave at the quiz bowl. He wouldn't even condemn the guy at his rally who punched a protester in the face. Trump tried to appear Presidential but instead mostly just looked stoned. He also defended the Chinese for how they handled Tiananmen Square, so that will really help quell those fears that he's a not-very-closeted totalitarian."

Foreign commentators
Anthony Zurcher, BBC News Winners: Trump. Losers: Cruz, Rubio, Kasich. "Technically there still could be one debate on the schedule, in 11 days, but by then Donald Trump may have a near insurmountable lead in the race for the Republican nomination. This was the chance for the three remaining competitors to make a last, desperate run against the front-runner, and they opted for restraint."

Cristina Silva, International Business Times Winners: Trump. Losers: Rubio, Cruz, Kasich. "Donald Trump urged Republican Party leaders to accept his divisive campaign for the White House on Thursday night as the business mogul calmly knocked down his struggling rivals during a GOP debate in Miami that once again played to the former reality TV star's masterful command of an audience."

Tom McCarthy, The Guardian (UK) Winner: Rubio. Loser: Trump. "Neither Rubio nor Ohio governor John Kasich would admit the extreme narrowness of his path to the nomination."

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

Rubio: 9 wins, 2 losses
Trump: 5 wins, 4 losses
Cruz: 5 wins, 5 losses
Kasich: 0 wins, 7 losses

As with the last GOP debate, the won-loss calculation is entirely a function of what it means to "win." There is a near-universal consensus that Marco Rubio had the best night on Thursday, and for those who are considering only this debate, he is the winner, followed by Cruz. There is equally broad agreement that the debate will do nothing to change the status quo. For those who are considering the broader context, Trump is the winner.

Meanwhile, there are three themes running through coverage of the evening. The first is commentary on the tone of the debate, which was so different from the previous contests. At least 80% of the stories specifically make use of the word 'civil.' The second is that the debate was boring. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) may keep it grown-up, and may focus largely on policy, but they're different enough to be of at least some interest as they do so. The Republican candidates have a carbon copy quality, with the same black suits and red ties, and many of the same talking points. If they're not slinging mud, they're not that interesting, apparently. And finally, the third major theme of the coverage is the Donald Trump "emperor has no clothes" meme—that when the reality TV star is not performing, there's not much there, substance wise.

The fact checkers, including The New York Times, USA Today, PBS, CBS, WaPo, Politifact, and FactCheck had a busy night. One might have expected that a more "adult" debate would have meant less inaccuracy, obfuscation and outright dishonesty, but one would have been wrong. As usual, viewers should put no stock in any statistics offered by the GOP candidates, which are almost invariably misleading, out-of-date, or outright wrong. Trump most assuredly is not self-funding, and he apparently does not understand Common Core very well, nor the delegate math for the GOP nomination. Cruz's story about Barack Obama returning a Winston Churchill bust to England is almost entirely incorrect, and his characterization of the Iran nuclear deal isn't much better. Rubio denied that climate change is man-made; this does not, of course, comport with the vast majority of scientific evidence. And Kasich needs to stop acting as if one Congressman leading one committee is somehow personally responsible for the entire state of the U.S. economy.

It's ten days until the next GOP candidates' debate. Before then, will be MiniTuesday, so it could well be that Thursday night was one or more candidates' last stands. The tea leaves suggest that the next candidate to go will be Rubio. If we are left with the trio of Trump, Cruz, and Kasich, the as-yet unknown debate host will have an interesting decision to make. Do they continue to invite Kasich, he of the 0 wins and 7 losses on Thursday (his typical performance)? Or do they acknowledge that it's a two-man race, and tell the Ohio Governor "thanks, but no thanks"? The latter is the correct decision, but the networks have shown relatively little fortitude in this regard. Of course, Ohio voters may spare them the headache. (Z)

Is A Cruz/Rubio Ticket In the Cards?

If Marco Rubio loses the Florida primary next Tuesday, what's his next move? Conservative pundit Erick Erickson claims to have heard a rumor and has seen some evidence that Rubio and Cruz will team up on Wednesday with a Cruz/Rubio ticket in a last ditch effort to take down Donald Trump. Now that Cruz has been endorsed by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), only 98 senators hate Cruz. If he and Rubio team up, that will bring the number of haters down to 97. More importantly, it may make Cruz slightly more palatable to the establishment with Rubio on the ticket. But only barely. As we all know, the vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm piss (unless the Senate is divided 50-50). Still, for those Republicans who hate Trump even more than they hate Cruz, this maneuver could be a face saver and they might get on board.

The evidence Erickson presented is Cruz's schedule for the next few days. He is going to leave Florida and Ohio and campaign in the other states until Tuesday. North Carolina is a Southern state that he might win, so it makes sense to spend time there, as well as in Missouri and Illinois. From Cruz's standpoint, a Kasich victory in Ohio is desirable since (1) Kasich isn't really a threat and (2) it denies Trump 66 delegates from the winner-take-all contest there on Tuesday. (V)

Trump University Pressured Students into Giving Good Reviews

Although Trump University was only one of Donald Trump's many business ventures, it is beginning to become a major campaign issue. Robert Guillo, one of many students who spent $36,000 as a student there, said: It's absolutely a con. Many other students are now saying that they were pressured into writing good reviews of the university. If they refused, they were threatened with not getting a diploma. Lawsuits from disgruntled students and the New York Attorney General are pending in two states. In a general election campaign, the Democrat is certainly going to use this issue to show that Trump is a fast-talking con man. That could be far more deadly than going after his tax or health policies. (V)

What Would a Contested GOP Convention Look Like?

Josh Voorhees at Slate takes a detailed look at what a contested (brokered) Republican National Convention might look like. It is a very long and detailed piece and this is only a bare summary.

The first thing to realize is that many of the delegates are party activists and may not personally support the candidate they are bound to vote for on the first few ballots. In fact, some Trump delegates may loathe Trump and would be willing to do anything legally possible to stop him from being the nominee. The second thing to realize is that the convention makes its own rules. Last time, the rules committee made up a new rule stating that only candidates who won a majority in eight states could be formally nominated. It did this simply to keep Ron Paul from being nominated. If the rules committee wanted to make up a rule saying no person could be nominated if his name rhymed with "dump," it could do it. Combined with the fact that many Trump delegates don't support Trump, all hell could break loose in the rules committee meeting before the convention even starts. Of course, there would be political consequences to such a move, but the rules committee has the power to do it. The rules committee even has the power to unbind all delegates before the first ballot, although that would be playing with fire and some delegates are bound by state law. The rules committee also has the power to change the eight-state rule to a zero-state rule or a rule saying that if a majority of the delegates from a single state favors one candidate, he can be nominated. This would be the most likely way to allow Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney to be nominated. Needless to say, the battle in the rules committee will be crucial if no candidate has 1,237 delegates lined up in advance.

About 95% of the delegates are required by party rules or state law to vote for the candidate they were sent to vote for on the first ballot. If it comes to a second ballot, the number of free agents jumps from 5% to 57% and then to 81% on the third ballot. There could be lots of deal making between ballots. It is up to the convention chairman, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), to schedule ballots. If a candidate has won delegates, he can release them at any time, at which point he loses control over them and they become free agents. The days when a state chairman could tell delegates how to vote are over. Candidates have to negotiate and promise favors to each delegate individually. Senator Cruz, I'd like a new road between my house and the nearest airport. How do you stand on this important (to me) issue?

A whole other story is how The Donald would react to an attempt by the party pooh-bahs to steal the nomination from him, especially if he has more than 1,237 delegates and the rules committee decides to unbind them before the first ballot. He could tell his delegates to walk out of the convention. He could pass out New Years Eve noisemakers and tell them to use them until he was nominated. He could announce a third-party run right at the convention. The publicity associated with any of these would bring back memories of the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and how they sunk the party. In short, anything is possible. (V)

How Clinton Should Debate Trump

While anything could still happen in this zany year, the most likely general election matchup currently appears to be Clinton vs. Trump. William Saletan at Slate has some advice for Clinton about how to debate Trump, based on what has worked and not worked in the primary debates. Here is a summary of it.

Find and expose his flaw. No one is perfect. Marco Rubio is a coward. Ted Cruz is a liar. Donald Trump is a petulant, narcissistic, insecure child. Clinton has to insult him in such a way to make him lash out. It doesn't look presidential.

Bring out his insecurity. Make him defensive. Point out that getting Mexico to pay for Donald's Wall is garbage since the President of Mexico and all the living former Presidents of Mexico have said no way. Make him defend it. Point out his many business failures, such as Trump University, Trump Airlines, and Trump steaks. Get under his skin.

Go after his belligerence. He wants to torture people, sue reporters, and close up parts of the Internet. Make him defend those things. Ask how he is going to track down ISIS terrorists if all Muslim countries hate us.

Go after his bigotry. Remind everyone of his slurs against women, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, and disabled people. Together these begin to add up to quite a few people. Remind people that he isn't sure if the Ku Klux Klan is a group you want on your team.

Don't talk about policy. His tax numbers don't add up. He is an ignoramus on military and foreign affairs. Don't give into the temptation to point out that he has no policies. His flaw is his temperament, not his policies. You want to scare people about the idea of his being within 50 yards of the nuclear football. Watch Lyndon Johnson's 1964 daisy ad until you have memorized it.

Be the adult in the room. Doing all of the above and still being the adult won't be easy. You have to provoke Trump into saying something outrageous without sinking into the mud. If he attacks you personally, be calm, poised, and mature. At all times, act like a President. The only primary candidate to pull this off was Carly Fiorina. Study how she did it.

These pointers sound about right, but require Clinton to throw mud, which is not her normal style. She is more comfortable discussing policy issues. That worked fine with Sanders but is not likely to work as well with Trump. (V)

Ugliness at Trump Rallies

It was noted at Thursday's debate, and has been all over the news: Donald Trump's rallies often get a bit violent. There's Michelle Fields, the reporter for Breitbart, who was manhandled by Trump's campaign manager at a Florida rally and is now pressing charges. There's John McGraw, who was caught on video sucker punching a black protester while the protester was being escorted from a Trump rally; McGraw has been charged with assault. And these are just this week's examples.

Given the seeming lack of security and safety at the rallies, Trump decided to cancel a massive event in Chicago. It didn't do any good—when news of the cancellation was announced, a melee involving Trump supporters, protesters, and policemen broke out. Several people were injured, and five were arrested.

In the past few months, as Trump has remained at the top of the polls, he's been unscathed by all the myriad controversies that have swarmed around him. This could be different, though. Although The Donald would have us believe otherwise, this kind of violence is a natural and logical outgrowth of his demagogic appeals to voters' anger. And their behavior is a sobering illustration of what a Trump-led society might look like. Put another way, it's becoming obvious that a portion of the electorate is playing with fire this year. And maybe some of them will decide they would rather not risk getting burned. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
Mar11 GOP Candidates Play Nice in Miami
Mar11 Democratic Debate Postmortem
Mar11 Two New Polls Show Florida Republican Race Tightening
Mar11 Trump Begins His General Election Campaign
Mar11 Cruz Finally Gets a Senate Endorsement
Mar11 Most of the Candidates Are Not Very Popular
Mar11 Obama's Approval Ratings Hit Three-Year High
Mar11 Ryan: What Part of No Do You Not Understand?
Mar11 Carson to Endorse Trump
Mar11 Politics is Messing Up Trump and Clinton's Friendship
Mar11 GOP Candidates Play Nice in Miami
Mar11 Democratic Debate Postmortem
Mar11 Two New Polls Show Florida Republican Race Tightening
Mar11 Trump Begins His General Election Campaign
Mar11 Cruz Finally Gets a Senate Endorsement
Mar11 Most of the Candidates Are Not Very Popular
Mar11 Obama's Approval Ratings Hit Three-Year High
Mar11 Ryan: What Part of No Do You Not Understand?
Mar11 Carson to Endorse Trump
Mar11 Politics is Messing Up Trump and Clinton's Friendship
Mar10 Takeaways from Tuesday's Primaries
Mar10 Another Day, Another Democratic Debate
Mar10 Republicans Take Their Turn in the Sunshine State
Mar10 Trump Leads the Republican Race in Florida
Mar10 Ohio Republican Party Going to Bat for Kasich
Mar10 Ohio Is Much Closer Than Florida
Mar10 Liberal Donors Set Up Big Push to Mobilize Latinos
Mar10 It's Howard Dean's Fault the Michigan Democratic Polls Were So Bad
Mar10 Duckworth Got over 1,000 Donations after NRSC Tweet
Mar09 Sanders Pulls Off a Big Upset in Michigan
Mar09 Another Day, Another Trump Triumph
Mar09 Romney Speech Backfired
Mar09 Democrats to Debate in Miami
Mar09 Cruz Catching Up to Trump Nationally
Mar09 Republicans May Be Coming Around to Cruz in a Last-Ditch Effort to Stop Trump
Mar09 Would Dropping Out Before Florida Be Best For Rubio
Mar09 Would Dropping Out Before Florida Be Best For Rubio?
Mar09 Trump and Clinton Way Ahead in North Carolina
Mar09 Is Trade Trump's Big Issue?
Mar09 How Would a Brokered Convention Be Received by Trump Supporters?
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