Clinton 1614
Sanders 856
 Needed   2383
Trump 678
Cruz 423
Rubio 164
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Romney Will Caucus for Cruz on Tuesday

On Tuesday, Utah has a caucus and Arizona has a primary. 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who lives in Utah among other states (and is Mormon, of course), plans to caucus in Utah and vote for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Romney wants to stop Donald Trump at all costs. Even though he dislikes Cruz and everything he stands for, stopping Trump is priority #1 and a vote for Cruz in Utah is the best way to force a contested convention. There has been almost no polling of Utah, but based on how Mormon Republicans have voted in other states, Cruz is probably the favorite. Romney didn't advise people to vote for any particular candidate, just the one most likely to beat Trump in any state. So logically, he would advocate a vote for Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) in Wisconsin's primary on April 5.

As soon as Romney said he was going to vote for Cruz in Utah, Kasich bashed him for it. Kasich said the establishment has been wrong all year and Romney's remarks were yet another example of it. (V)

Trump "Wonders" About Romney's Faith

Now that Mitt Romney has come out against Donald Trump, the billionaire is firing back with both barrels. Campaigning in Utah on Friday, he referred to the 2012 candidate as a "choker" and asked the crowd "Are you sure he's a Mormon? Are we sure?" Because, of course, faking Mormonism is such a great vote-getting strategy in American politics.

With this line of attack, Trump is, of course, falling back on his usual playbook. He's "wondered" if Barack Obama is American and/or Muslim. He's "wondered" if Ted Cruz is American and/or Christian. One wonders what he will "wonder" about Hillary Clinton if he faces her in the general election. Is she really female? Was she really secretary of state? Is Chelsea really her daughter? Maybe Trump can use his Twitter account to run the old trick from the Election of 1800, when followers of John Adams spread the rumor that Thomas Jefferson had died, and that a vote for him was a waste. One can imagine the Tweet now: "Heard Hillary died. Could it be true? #VoteTrump." Whatever his plans are, we can be confident Trump will keep using this sleazy tactic as long as it's getting him the headlines he craves so desperately. (Z)

CNN Will Interview All Five Remaining Candidates on Monday

Now that the next (and probably all the remaining) Republican debates have been canceled, CNN is trying something else. On Monday, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper will interview all three remaining Republican candidates and both Democratic candidates in one three-hour-long election extravaganza. The candidates will be interviewed individually, so there will be no back and forth and they won't be able to attack one another in person. This will be first time both Republicans and Democrats have appeared in the same forum, albeit one at a time. (V)

How Trump Could Beat Clinton

Politico invited a liberal commentator, Bill Scher, to write a brief explaining to Donald Trump how he could beat Hillary Clinton. It is wonderful reading. Here is a very brief summary. First, forget all her past scandals. Only your diehard supporters care and you have already nailed those people down. Second, go on a listening tour of black, Latino, and Muslim communities. No cameras, no recordings, no photo ops. You need to learn what matters to them. You have no clue at all and you need to learn, and fast. Then pivot like nobody has ever pivoted before. You don't have to formally renounce everything you have said the past year. Just ignore it and start all over. Yes, the media will be all over you. Just ignore them. The American people have a very short memory.

Probably the hardest thing you have to learn is how to attack her. Attacking a woman is not like attacking a man. It really isn't. When you went after Carly Fiorina's looks, she came back and took you down a couple of pegs. When Rick Lazio attempted to intimidate Hillary Clinton in the 2000 Senate race, he lost the election right then and there. Remember what happened in 2008 when candidate Obama called her "likable enough?" It was nearly the end of him. No more snarky tweets. Take the high road. Finally, try prayer. Ask God for an indictment. While you are at it, also ask that you don't lose any of the three lawsuits currently in progress over Trump University. It will be an uphill battle, but if you follow this plan, you have a chance. (V)

How Clinton Could Beat Trump

Needless to say, Politico also asked a conservative pundit, Matt Latimer, to write a brief for Hillary Clinton explaining how to beat Trump. Here is a summary. Forget your strategy and your binders full of oppo research and all the video clips and tweets full of outrageous things. Trump has already been attacked by the entire Republican Party apparatus and none of it stuck. Don't try. He has been denounced by the Bush family, by the President, even by the pope. Nothing damages him. This is not an ordinary year and this will not be an ordinary campaign. So how do you do it?

Start by turning off your TV and shredding all the memos from your consultants. They would be fine against Bush or Rubio but you are not fighting Bush or Rubio. You need to surprise him. Keep him off balance. Challenge him to meet you at a community center in Flint, MI. Invite him to a mosque to discuss his ideas of immigration and visas. Make an ad with the little old lady whose house he tried to demolish so he could build a limo parking lot. Pledge to build a wall around Mar-a-Lago or ban orange-haired billionaires from entering the U.S. Make him uncomfortable. Get under his skin.

Trump will attack Bill for abusing women. But Bill has a real knack for getting under his skin. Tell him to go at it full blast. Let him be the bad cop. He is extraordinarily good at it. Trump has really alienated moderate Republicans. They are yours to scoop up. Pick a few issues they might like and run with them. One area where Trump is very weak is national security. A lot of people are scared to death of having him within 1,000 miles of the nuclear football. Nobody, not even your worst enemies, thinks you would start WW III on a whim. Pick a forum where you can ask each other questions. Ask him what's the difference between a Sunni and a Shia. Ask him what the chairman of the Joint Chiefs actually does. Force him to demonstrate that he is an ignoramus on national security. It will scare people, just as LBJ's daisy ad did. Avoid big rallies. You are no good at them. Instead, find forums you are good it. Walk through a supermarket and talk to voters as you go. Sit on a couch and do a discussion of issues with voters. Do things you are comfortable with and you'll win. (V)

Could Sanders Still Win It?

An analysis by Nate Cohn in the New York Times of the chances that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) could pull a rabbit out of his hat and win the nomination highlights a number of problems he has to overcome. To get a majority of the pledged delegates, Sanders needs to get 58% of the remaining delegates. In some states, such as Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, and Washington, he is probably the favorite. The problem here is that these are states with relatively few delegates.

His real problem starts when the big, blue states start voting, in April. These states have large black and Latino populations, which have stayed firmly in Hillary Clinton's column all year. Worse yet, these are relatively well-off states, and Sanders has done poorly with affluent urban voters, even in liberal strongholds like Boston and Northern Virginia. And not only does Sanders have to win the big blue states—nearly all of which Clinton won in 2008—but he has to win big in them, at least by 10 points and maybe more if he underperforms in the red-state caucuses.

The last state primaries are on June 7, with New Jersey and California being the big prizes. While Sanders is expected to do well in the Bay Area, the Latino-heavy southern part of the state is definitely Clinton country. If Sanders sustains major losses on the Eastern Seaboard, he might need to win California by 20 points to close the delegate gap. Unfortunately, the most recent California poll showed him 11 points behind Clinton. (V)

Will Sanders' Voters Support Hillary?

At least one analyst, The Nation's Joshua Holland, is confident the answer is "yes." He reminds us of 2008, when the Sanders shoe was on Clinton's foot. Then, Clinton supporters were angry to see her outmaneuvered by the junior senator from Illinois, and declared they would vote third party or would stay home. This movement—which had the slogan "Party Unity My Ass," or PUMA—ultimately came to naught, and the great majority of Democrats fell in line behind their party's nominee, propelling Barack Obama to the White House.

Of course, the alternative scenario, and one which Holland doesn't address, is 2000. In that case, a moderate Democrat heavily associated with Bill Clinton was so unacceptable to progressive Democrats that many of them did jump ship so that they could board the SS Ralph Nader. The defections were just enough, in that case, to hand Florida—and the presidency—to George W. Bush.

So, is Holland correct to see 2008 as the instructive precedent, and not 2000? Absolutely. In 2000, Al Gore was such an overwhelming favorite that he faced no serious challengers (sorry, Bill Bradley). Progressive Democrats had no outlet for expressing their views, and at the same time had many months to develop an affinity for and a commitment to Nader. It would be very difficult for a third-party candidate to attract the level of interest that Nader did in the current environment. There is not enough time, not enough money available from donors, and not enough free space on the front pages of newspapers and websites. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has something in 2016 that Al Gore did not have in 2000: The 2000 election as a cautionary tale. Should she fear serious defections, she can point out over and over that voting third party serves only to increase the chances that Donald Trump/Ted Cruz/John Kasich/the victor of a brokered convention takes the White House. If nothing else, progressive Democrats will recognize that a President Clinton is far more likely to pick their kind of Supreme Court justice than a president from the red team. (Z).

Bridge Closure Reopened

The George Washington Bridge strikes back. On Sept. 9, 2013, the first day of school, a mysterious person in New Jersey ordered two of the three access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, NJ, closed for unknown reasons. The resulting traffic jam resulted in total gridlock in Fort Lee, making it impossible for police cars, ambulances, fire engines, and every other vehicle to move. No one seems to know why it happened. Bridge closings just happen in New Jersey sometimes.

No one who knows anything about New Jersey politics doubts for a second that such an audacious attempt to punish the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee for not supporting the reelection bid of Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) could have happened without Christie's explicit approval, even if he didn't think of the idea himself. He controlled his office so tightly that no one dared to go to the bathroom without his permission. So why is this news again? Two of Christie's top aides are now scheduled to go on trial in September and face nine counts, ranging from interfering with interstate commerce to conspiracy to commit fraud. A third aide has turned state's witness and will testify at the trial. A question sure to come up is "What did Christie know and when did he know it?" Now, it is possible that the aides—one of whom, Bridget Anne Kelly, is divorced, unemployed, and has four young children—will fall on her sword, take the full blame, and risk going to prison for many years to protect the governor. But maybe she won't and will say she was just following direct orders from the governor. Also of note is that all nine counts in the indictment are federal crimes, meaning that United States Attorney Paul J. Fishman will act as prosecutor and the governor of New Jersey has no power to pardon Kelly if she is convicted.

Now add to this mix the fact that Christie was the first high-ranking politician to endorse Donald Trump, probably in hopes of being added to Trump's ticket. Are you beginning to see how a couple of traffic cones on a bridge might affect national politics? (V)

Thanks, Obama: Mitch McConnell Edition

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was at the White House for a meeting earlier this month, and reportedly he explained who was to blame for the Republicans' obstructionism on the Antonin Scalia replacement: Barack Obama. Or, more accurately, Obama and the rest of the Democratic Senators who were in office when Samuel Alito came up for confirmation in 2006. McConnell's argued that the Republicans now are doing nothing different from what Democrats did then, reportedly declaring "you reap what you sow."

Fortunately for the voting public, and perhaps not so fortunately for McConnell, this is an easy thesis to evaluate. Here's a brief timeline of how the Alito nomination unfolded:

October 31, 2005: Alito is nominated by President George W. Bush.

November 3, 2005: Three days later, Alito's hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee are scheduled.

January 9, 2006: Alito's hearings are the first item of business after the winter recess.

January 13, 2006: Alito's Judiciary Committee hearings reach their conclusion.

January 24, 2006: Judiciary Committee votes 10-6 to send the nomination to the full Senate.

January 26, 2006: 24 Senators, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, try to filibuster the nomination and fail.

January 31, 2006: Alito is confirmed.

Really, the two situations are not remotely similar. The Senate quickly took responsibility for its constitutionally mandated task, and Alito was voted upon exactly three months after being nominated (a time frame that would have been shortened if not for the winter recess). It is true there was a filibuster attempt, but it took place after the nominee had an opportunity to present his case. Further, it was not successful, since even a large number of the Democrats who voted against Alito felt a filibuster was not apropos (most notably Evan Bayh of Indiana, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, and Bill Nelson of Florida).

In short, McConnell's going to have to work much harder on his spin if he hopes to control the narrative on this issue. (Z)

If Sanders Wins, He Will Ask Obama to Withdraw Garland

While most Democrats are at least nominally supporting Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, cracks in the support are starting to show. Now Bernie Sanders has said that if he is elected President in November, he will ask Obama to withdraw Garland's name to prevent the Senate from confirming him in a lame-duck session of the Senate. Sanders said that he would appoint a much more liberal justice instead of Garland. Clinton hasn't commented on this matter yet, but surely she would also want to make her own pick if Garland has not been confirmed by election day and she wins.

If Clinton were to follow Sanders and also ask Obama to withdraw Garland, even if the request came the day after the election, it would get Obama off the hook. Withdrawing his name would please the Democratic base, but would be grossly unfair to Garland, who is a decent man and deserves to be treated well. But if the President-elect were to make a direct appeal to either Obama or Garland to withdraw the nomination, Obama or Garland would probably comply with not too much face lost. (V)

An Unasked Question

Senate Republicans say that President Obama is not entitled to appoint a new Supreme Court justice because he is in the final year of his term. One thing we have not seen discussed is what other presidential powers he may not exercise in the final year of his term. For example, if the United States is attacked by ISIS or another country and the President asks Congress for an authorization to use force against the attacker, would Congress say that this decision shouldn't be taken in his final year and we should wait for a new President to see what the people think of the idea? Is the President permitted to submit treaties to the Senate for ratification in his last year? What if the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or the Chairman of the Federal Reserve dies or resigns on Jan 21st of the President's final year? Are those key positions to remain vacant for a year? Taken to its logical extreme, the President shouldn't be allowed to sign or veto bills in his last year. And what about senators and representatives? Should they be allowed to vote in their final years? Can governors make appointments to their state courts in their final year? A term-limited governor is the closest analogy to a term-limited President. Does this rule also apply to Presidents and governors who are not term limited? It would make for an interesting discussion to investigate what other powers elected officials may not exercise in their final year in office.

Chris Weigant has proposed a novel plan to deal with the possibility of Senate Republicans waiting to vote on Merrick Garland's confirmation until after the election and then quickly confirming him if a Democrat is elected President. Obama should announce that if Garland is not confirmed by Election Day, he will withdraw the nomination the day after the election. That way the Republicans will either have to confirm Garland before the election, thus antagonizing their base, or else risk an even worse appointment by the new President. Hillary Clinton would certainly name a younger and more liberal judge. Donald Trump might name his sister to the Court. That is actually not such a far-fetched thought, since Maryanne Trump Barry is a senior judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She was appointed by Bill Clinton and is moderately liberal. (V)

Sharron Angle Is Running for Reid's Seat in Nevada

In 2010, tea party activist Sharron Angle won a nasty three-way Republican primary in Nevada for the right to challenge Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). She lost the general election by 5 points. Many observers feel that a more moderate candidate could have beaten Reid. Now Angle, whose fiery rhetoric is matched by her fiery hair, is back, challenging Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) the establishment favorite to replace the retiring Reid. This is definitely not what the doctor ordered.

Nevada is probably the only Democratic Senate seat the Republicans have a shot at flipping, and a bitter tea party vs. establishment primary is not going to help matters much. If Angle wins the primary, the establishment probably isn't going to waste much money supporting her in the general election. If Heck wins, it will go all out for him, but the primary is certainly going to cost Heck energy and money. On the Democratic side, Reid's anointed successor, Catherine Cortez Masto faces only token opposition in the primary. All in all, Angle's move increases the odds of the Democrats recapturing the Senate. (V)

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---The Votemaster
Mar18 What Happens to Rubio's Delegates?
Mar18 Delegates Are Real People and Will Not be Anonymous
Mar18 Is Disaster Looming?
Mar18 Obama Tells Donors to Get Ready to Write Checks to Clinton
Mar18 Cruz Gets Graham's Endorsement
Mar18 California Republicans May Actually Matter, For Once
Mar18 Rubio Rules Out Running for Veep or Governor
Mar18 Republican Leaders Slam Door on a Lame Duck Session to Approve Garland
Mar18 Businessman Trump Does Not Understand Global Trade
Mar18 Downticket Republicans Scared to Death of Running with Trump
Mar18 Rabbis To Boycott Trump's Speech to AIPAC
Mar17 Missouri Results Are Finally In
Mar17 Can Trump Win on the First Ballot?
Mar17 Can Trump Be Stopped?
Mar17 Trump Warns That There Will Be Riots If He Doesn't Get the Nomination
Mar17 Some Life-long Republicans Will Never Vote for Trump
Mar17 Are Trump's Supporters Racist?
Mar17 Add Plagiarist to the List of Trumps Transgressions
Mar17 Time for the Rubio Postmortems
Mar17 Clinton's super PAC Won't Spend any More Money in the Primary
Mar17 Does Clinton Have a Turnout Problem?
Mar17 Republican Debate Is Canceled Because Trump Doesn't Want to Debate
Mar17 Obama Nominates Merrick Garland to Supreme Court
Mar17 Attacks on Garland Have Already Commenced
Mar17 Missouri Results Are Finally In
Mar17 Can Trump Win on the First Ballot?
Mar17 Can Trump Be Stopped?
Mar17 Trump Warns That There Will Be Riots If He Doesn't Get the Nomination
Mar17 Some Life-long Republicans Will Never Vote for Trump
Mar17 Are Trump's Supporters Racist?
Mar17 Add 'Plagiarist' to the List of Trump's Transgressions
Mar17 Add "Plagiarist" to the List of Trump"s Transgressions
Mar17 Time for the Rubio Postmortems
Mar17 Clinton's super PAC Won't Spend any More Money in the Primary
Mar17 Does Clinton Have a Turnout Problem?
Mar17 Republican Debate Is Canceled Because Trump Doesn't Want to Debate
Mar17 Obama Nominates Merrick Garland to Supreme Court
Mar17 Attacks on Garland Have Already Commenced
Mar16 And Then There Were Three for the GOP
Mar16 Momentum Shifts Back to Clinton
Mar16 Clinton is Way Ahead of Where Obama Was on March 16, 2008
Mar16 Anti-Trump Ad Features Only Women Quoting Trump
Mar16 How Would Donald Trump Fund a General Election Campaign?
Mar16 Trump Is Like Manna from Heaven for the DSCC
Mar16 Conservatives To Meet Thursday to Plot Running Someone Against Trump
Mar16 Would Ivanka Trump Be the De Facto First Lady?
Mar16 Duckworth Wins Democratic Senatorial Primary in Illinois
Mar15 Rundown of the Democratic Primaries Today
Mar15 Rundown of the Republican Primaries Today
Mar15 Sanders Moving Up in Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri