Clinton 1606
Sanders 851
 Needed   2383
Trump 673
Cruz 411
Rubio 169
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Missouri Results Are Finally In

On both sides of the contest, the results in Missouri were too close to call on Tuesday night. They've been called now; here are the numbers:

Republicans, Missouri
40.9% 25 40.7% 5 9.9% 0 6.1% 0
Democrats, Missouri
49.6% 32 49.4% 32

On the Republican side, Trump took the fourth of Tuesday's five states, meaning he only lost Gov. John Kasich's (R-OH) home state. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton completed the sweep, albeit by the barest of margins.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Missouri results was illustrating the difference between the Republican and Democratic approach to allocating delegates. Since March 15th has passed, the Republican Party allows winner-take-all allocations, of which there are several sorts. Donald Trump outpolled Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) by just 1,726 votes out of nearly 1 million cast. With the Missouri GOP's allocation scheme, though, Trump got five times as many delegates as Cruz. By contrast, the Democratic Party requires proportional allocation throughout the process. Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders by 1,531 votes out of more than 600,000 cast. Having received essentially the same number of votes, they got exactly the same number of delegates. There are pros and cons to each way of doing things, but at the moment, party leaders on each side of the aisle are probably wishing they had adopted the alternative approach. (Z)

Can Trump Win on the First Ballot?

If Donald Trump marches into Cleveland on July 18 with 1,237 delegates and the party denies him the nomination based on parliamentary trickery, Trump will probably be so enraged that he will actively go out and campaign for Hillary Clinton just to punish the GOP leadership. If he has less than 1,237, he is not entitled to anything and if he loses fair and square on the second or third ballot, we have a very different situation.

So the big question is, "Can he get to 1,237?" For the next 4 months, the number 1,237 is going to be the most famous number in America, even more than 3.14. There are many ways to estimate if he can get to 1,237. Here is ours. We made an Excel spreadsheet listing the primaries and caucuses that have already happened and the delegates allocated. For the upcoming ones, we have divided them into two categories: winner take all and proportional. We have assumed that Trump will come out first in all six winner-take-all states and thus get all the delegates. For the rest of the states, we assume he gets some fraction (in cell B1 in the spreadsheet). You can try out different values for yourself. If you choose 0.48, then Trump gets 1,238 delegates and the nomination on the first ballot. Try out other scenarios if you like (what if he loses South Dakota but gets 0.49 in the proportional states, etc.).

We should emphasize that this is a very crude model. Pennsylvania has 17 pledged delegates that the voters pick but the state also sends an additional 54 delegates who are not and cannot be bound. They are free agents from the get-go. Other states, like Colorado and Wyoming also have unbound delegates. No model can capture what they will do because they haven't been chosen yet and are free to do whatever they want. So our model is just a first approximation. (V)

Can Trump Be Stopped?

Is it too late to stop Donald Trump from gaining the Republican presidential nomination? If history is any guide, then "stop-X" movements are usually too little, too late. By the time the stoppers spring into action, the stoppee is usually too far along to be stopped. In USA Today, former NPR political editor Ken Rudin examines past attempts to stop a front runner. Short answer: they rarely work. In 1963, moderate Republicans tried very hard to get former President Eisenhower to speak out in order to stop Barry Goldwater from getting the 1964 Republican nomination. Ike dilly-dallied until after the last primary, and by then it was too late.

In 1972, Democrats who saw George McGovern's horrific defeat a little ways down the road tried to stop him by changing the rules retroactively, making the California winner-take-all primary into a proportional primary, thus giving a whole bundle of delegates to the second-place finisher, Hubert Humphrey. This resulted in a floor fight at the convention, a lot of ill will, and a McGovern nomination and subsequent defeat anyway.

In 1976, insurgent Ronald Reagan tried to stop the nomination of President Jerry Ford before the convention by picking a Pennsylvania senator as his running mate, in hopes of getting the Pennsylvania delegation to support him. The trick didn't work.

In 1980, then-senator Ted Kennedy tried to stop the renomination of President Jimmy Carter by getting the rules committee to declare that all delegates were free agents on the first ballot. There was a floor fight. Carter won and got the nomination. So, all of these recent examples suggest that last-ditch efforts don't work. If you want to stop someone, you have to start early. (V)

Trump Warns That There Will Be Riots If He Doesn't Get the Nomination

In an interview with CNN, Donald Trump said that if he came into the convention 20 delegates short or 100 delegates short while #2 was 500 delegates short and he didn't get the nomination, there would be riots in the streets. He wasn't threatening anyone, he said, just explaining what would happen. One can take this as a subtle warning to the GOP pooh-bahs that if he comes in just below 50% and the party tries to use parliamentary tricks to deny him the nomination, he will not be amused. There is a fair chance that what he said is true. If his supporters feel they have been robbed, especially if new anti-Trump rules are adopted by the convention Rules Committee in June and he is thwarted by these rules, it could get dicey.

The Rules Committee has broad authority to do anything it wants to, including adopting a religious freedom rule (something Republicans love) stating that if voting for the candidate a delegate is bound to violates the delegate's religion, then the delegate can vote for someone else. In this context, it is important to understand that Trump doesn't get to pick the actual delegates in all states. In some they are individually elected and in some the governor picks them. So there will certainly be delegates present who are bound to Trump on the first ballot (unless they voice a religious objection) but who actually hate him and will vote with RNC chairman Reince Priebus on rule changes. The race is beginning to look like a game of chicken.

If the convention wanted to pick someone instead of Trump, it has to agree on someone. That someone supposedly won't be Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). When asked yesterday if there was any scenario in which he might become the Republican nominee, an exasperated Ryan said: "No, there isn't. 'No' is the answer. Definitely." But, of course, when he accepts the nomination at the convention the story is: "I didn't want the job, but the American people made me do it." (V)

Some Life-long Republicans Will Never Vote for Trump

Last month, Libertarian writer Megan McArdle ran a little experiment. On her Twitter feed she asked lifelong Republicans what they would do in a Clinton-Trump election. She got hundreds of responses from people who never voted for a Democrat in their entire lives, most of whom despise Hillary Clinton. She was amazed by several things. First, the sheer number of people who sent her lengthy emails. Second, the passion they showed. Nearly all were appalled, repulsed, afraid, and dismayed the GOP could let this happen. Third, the wide spectrum of people who responded, from college students to Marine Corps officers, from urban professionals to tea partiers, and from all other parts of the Republican Party. Fourth, their arguments were primarily Trump's authoritarianism, his lack of principles, his racism and misogyny, and finally, his erratic behavior. Many were afraid to have him within 1,000 miles of the nuclear football. She edited them down to their essence in this list. The emails are too long and there are too many to summarize here, but virtually everyone said that they would either stay home, vote for a third party, and even vote for Hillary Clinton, who all of them hate, rather than see Trump in the White House. It is interesting reading. The big question here is, "How large is this group?" If even 10% of Republicans refuse to vote for Trump under any conditions, it is almost certainly: "Hello, Madam President." (V)

Are Trump's Supporters Racist?

FiveThirtyEight did an interesting analysis of the Illinois primary held Tuesday. In Illinois, 15 delegates are elected statewide, but each of the state's 18 congressional districts elects three delegates. For the latter group, each candidate files a slate of delegates, whose names are listed on the ballot along with their presidential preferences. The voters make their choices and the highest vote getters in each CD win.

The vast majority of the voters have never heard of any of the delegates, so they just pick three people who support their candidate. Unless they are Trump supporters and the names on the ballot sound foreign. So in IL-13, Trump delegate Doug Hartmann got 31,937 votes but Trump delegate Raja Sadiq got only 24,103. In IL-06, Paul Minch got 35,435 but Nabi Fakroddin got only 30,639, and so on. As a consequence of Trump's supporters' dislike for delegates with funny names, Trump lost three delegates in Illinois that he would have won with delegates with names like Bruce Johnson. If Trump ends up with 1,234 delegates in Cleveland, many people who previously had doubted it may be thinking that there is a God after all. (V)

Add "Plagiarist" to the List of Trump"s Transgressions

Donald Trump plays by his own set of rules—just ask him. And apparently that includes taking credit for the words of others, since he's been caught redhanded stealing from a column by Ben Carson on voters in American territories. Seems a bit like stealing a Bernie Sanders column on high fashion, but there it is.

So, what does Carson think about all of this? Who knows? The former neurosurgeon has endorsed Trump, of course, but now he says that he really didn't want to. So why did he do it, then? Carson is not terribly clear on that point, giving an answer that meanders between "it was the practical choice" and "Trump offered me a job in his hypothetical administration." What kind of job might that be? Carson doesn't really know that either, as the offer is "very liquid." Perhaps now that he's been plagiarized from, the offer will get more solid. Maybe a consulship in Guam, since Trump clearly values Carson's extensive expertise on Guamanian culture and politics. (Z)

Time for the Rubio Postmortems

For much of the primary season, the commentariat—us included—saw Marco Rubio as the favorite to take the GOP nomination once the voters got the whole Trump thing out of their system. Now he's out, after a remarkably pedestrian showing that had him winning one state, one territory, and one national capital. So, what went wrong?

Politico's Michael Grunwald, who helped launch Rubio into the stratosphere several years ago with a profile headlined "The Republican Savior" (not Grunwald's choice), has written an excellent response to that question. His main points:

  • Rubio tried to be too many things to too many people, anti- and pro-immigrant, Tea Party and mainstream, outsider and insider.

  • The MarcoBot blunder, which came at the worst possible time. Absent that, he might have won New Hampshire, consolidated the anti-Trump vote, and changed the course of events.

  • His polish as a speaker may hide an underlying lack of political skill.

  • Most importantly, he was the wrong candidate for 2016. "Republican voters didn't want a conservative version of Obama...they wanted an anti-Obama. They didn't want a new rock star with broad appeal. They wanted a rock thrower who reflected their anger."

It's a very fair assessment from a right-leaning commentator who is willing to look critically at his own mistakes as an analyst.

Meanwhile, there is the practical matter of what happens to Rubio's 169 delegates. The simple answer, according to this piece from Rollcall is ... that it's not so simple. According to their math (done before Rubio picked up one last delegate on Wednesday), 45 delegates will be bound to vote for Rubio on the first ballot at the GOP convention, another 20 or so will be bound to vote for the second-place finisher in their state/congressional district, and about 100 will be free agents. Needless to say, there will be a feeding frenzy behind the scenes for those delegates, whether or not the blood in the water is visible to the general public. (Z)

Clinton's super PAC Won't Spend any More Money in the Primary

In the clearest statement of what Hillary Clinton thinks of her chances of winning the Democratic primary, the chairman of her main super PAC, Priorities USA Action, announced yesterday that he is not going to spend any more money in the primaries. The ads currently running in Arizona, which votes next week, will continue, but then the lights go dark until the general election. The super PAC had $45 million in cash when it last filed with the FEC in late February. (V)

Does Clinton Have a Turnout Problem?

Observing that Donald Trump got more votes than Hillary Clinton in two miniTuesday states (Missouri and Ohio) and that he nearly outpaced her in a third (Florida), HuffPo's Zach Carter suggests that enthusiasm for Clinton is low, and that her inability to get voters to the polls could suggest a possible general election issue.

Carter's analysis is, to use the term preferred by academics, hogwash. To start with, as he himself notes, primary turnout is not particularly correlated with general election turnout. Even more important, however, is an old axiom of political science: Those who do not show up to vote are therefore voting for "any of the above." Rhetoric about super PACs and Wall Street notwithstanding, the Democratic debates have made clear that Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are not all that different, policy-wise. It should not surprise us that many Democrats would stay home, essentially satisfied with any outcome. On the other hand, there's quite a bit of difference between the Republican candidates. It is entirely predictable that GOP voters in general, Trump voters in particular, would line up to vote for their preferred choice.

In the general election, the situation will likely be reversed. Democratic voters, particularly minority voters, are going to have a big choice before them. And, if Trump is the nominee, many Republican voters are going to be faced with an "any of the above" choice (with 'any of the above' being equally bad). At that point, expect Hillary Clinton's "turnout problem" to magically disappear. (Z)

Republican Debate Is Canceled Because Trump Doesn't Want to Debate

Fox News had a Republican debate scheduled for Monday in Salt Lake City, the day before the Utah and Arizona primaries, but Donald Trump said he wouldn't come. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) said he wouldn't come without Trump there, and having Ted Cruz deliver a two-hour monologue didn't seem like much fun, so Fox canceled the whole thing.

Why did Trump cancel? Probably because he knew both Kasich and Cruz would be aiming daggers at him and Fox News would be egging them on. Debates also tend to get fact checked and The Donald's "facts" are often found wanting. Having rallies where anyone who challenges you is beaten up is just so much easier. He doesn't need the publicity and probably is happy to deny it to Kasich, the new Great White Hope. So no more debates before Utah and Arizona vote and maybe no more debates on the Republican side at all. (V)

Obama Nominates Merrick Garland to Supreme Court

Yesterday, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacant seat of the late Antonin Scalia. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been saying for weeks that no person Obama nominated would even get a hearing, let alone a vote. It used to be that a President would make a nomination, and if the nominee was reasonably competent, the Senate would approve and that would be that. Because a Democratic President had the chance to replace a Republican nominee with the Republicans in charge of the Senate now, things have gotten extremely complicated.

Since Obama knew that the Senate wasn't even going to consider his nominee, he had a choice. He could have named someone whose confirmation would really fire up the Democratic base and get them to vote in November. Or he could choose a bland elderly white moderate with the intention of making the Senate look extremely partisan in not even considering the nominee. He chose the second route. Jim Newell at Slate said that if Obama actually expected Garland to be approved, such an appointment would be political malpractice. But if Obama was just using Garland as a prop to embarrass the Senate Republicans, OK, then.

But maybe the Republicans have outfoxed Obama again. Some Republicans are now saying that if Hillary Clinton is elected in November, they will call a lame-duck session of the Senate to confirm Garland, knowing that Clinton would probably name someone much younger (Garland is 63) and more liberal, such as California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu (45), Circuit Court judge Paul Watford (48), or Circuit Court judge Jane Kelly (51). If Clinton wins and the Republicans start the confirmation process, Obama could hit them in the face with what they have been saying all year, namely the people should speak first and the new President should make the appointment. He could then withdraw Garland's name if he wanted to and let Clinton nominate someone younger and more liberal. He would then be giving up his legacy of naming three justices. The whole thing gets very complicated very fast. Of course, that would be very unkind to Garland. He is willing to put up with endless criticism for a year, then he actually gets a chance to get the job at the end and Obama pulls the rug out from under him. Perhaps Obama has already discussed all these options with him and he is willing to go along, but if so, he is a very loyal public servant, doing what the President says is in the best interest of the country.

As long as we are playing three-dimensional chess here, it is also possible that Obama intentionally avoided naming someone Clinton might later want to choose because whoever he chose is going to become so toxic this year that a renomination next year by the next President is practically unthinkable. In this model, Garland is a throwaway nominee whose only function is to avoid using up a potential real nominee.

Why not go for four-dimensional chess? Republicans now have to consider the very real possibility that the next President will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump—and they might be as unhappy with a Trump nomination as a Clinton one. Trump is a completely loose cannon. He could nominate his sister, his personal lawyer, his brother-in-law's best friend, his son-in-law's college roommate, or the corporate lawyer of some company he is trying to cut a deal with. There is no reason at all to think his choice will be the slightest bit acceptable to conservatives. That could really get McConnell thinking: take the oldest, most conservative choice he could expect from a Democratic President, or wait and see which young liberal Clinton sends to the Hill or which corporate crony Trump thinks is best for his business. And while he is thinking, he might also want to take into consideration all the hay the Democrats will make from his not doing his job as a senator and holding hearings and a vote on Garland. (V)

Attacks on Garland Have Already Commenced

There are people whose job is to find ways to undermine any judicial nominee sent to the Senate by President Obama. Naturally, they put in overtime when it's a Supreme Court appointment, as opposed to a district or circuit court judge.

These folks faced a big challenge on Tuesday, since President Obama (and everyone else who has not been living on a desert island for the past two months) knew this was coming. He and his team spent weeks vetting potential nominees and, under the circumstances, the #1 priority was not age or judicial philosophy, but instead ability to withstand scrutiny. Given that agenda, Obama came up with a winner in Merrick Garland. A law and order type who helped prosecute both Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber, he's earned rave reviews for his jurisprudence and has been confirmed to more than one judgeship by overwhelming majorities in the Senate. Despite this, the anti-Garland forces have already fired their first shot across the bow. Knowing full well that gun control is among the bugaboos of Republican politics, they have begun to sound the alarm that Garland is an anti-Second Amendment zealot whose record demonstrates that he will curtail gun rights at any opportunity.

There is only one problem with this argument: It's not remotely true. Or, more accurately, as Slate's Mark Joseph Stern points out, Garland may or may not be an anti-gun zealot, but we have no way of knowing at the moment because he was involved in only two gun-related cases as judge, neither of them instructive in terms of his interpretation of the Second Amendment. The first of these was NRA v. Reno, in which he ruled that Janet Reno's justice department was not required to immediately destroy information collected during background checks for gun purchases. This is a privacy issue; guns are incidental, and it could just as easily have been phone records or drivers license photos or tax returns. The other case, Parker v. D.C., did bring up a Second Amendment issue, namely the legality of Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban. However, Garland did not participate in deciding the case; his contribution was to vote in favor of bringing the suit before the full D.C. Circuit, as opposed to just the three-person panel that heard it. Inasmuch as conservative judge A. Raymond Randolph concurred with Garland on this point, it is clear that the concern was making sure that a very important case was given the fullest attention and scrutiny possible, not making a statement on gun ownership.

In short, if this is the best that the GOP's researchers can come up with, then Obama and his team certainly did their jobs in the vetting process. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
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