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

News from the Votemaster

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  This Week's Events
      •  Could Trump Run on an Existing Third-Party Ticket?
      •  Mormons Really Dislike Donald Trump
      •  Kasich Could Decide Next President
      •  Latest in the Supreme Court Soap Opera
      •  Trump To Speak To a Wary Crowd at AIPAC Today
      •  Where Did Trump's Money Come From?
      •  Ted Cruz 2020
      •  Top Ten Senate Seats Most Likely to Flip
      •  Obama Arrives In Cuba

This Week's Events

We have several nominating events this week, with the Democrats having more than the Republicans. Here is the schedule. The numbers in parentheses are the number of delegates up for grabs.

      Democrats: Arizona primary (75), Utah caucus (33), Idaho caucus (23)
      Republicans: Arizona primary (58), Utah (40), American Samoa convention (9)

      Democrats: Alaska caucus (16), Hawaii caucus (25), Washington caucus (101)

This could be a good week for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). He does well in small-state caucuses, where enthusiasm counts for a lot. It could also be good for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), because Donald Trump is not popular with Mormons (see below). (V)

Could Trump Run on an Existing Third-Party Ticket?

Donald Trump was on "This Week" on Sunday, and he took the opportunity to blast GOP rules that require him to capture a majority of delegates—that is, 1,237 of them—to secure the Republican nomination. "There are so many candidates, so it's very hard to get over that number," Trump complained. "It's very unfair."

Needless to say, if the shoe was on the other foot—say, Ted Cruz with 678 delegates and Trump with 423—The Donald would be singing a different tune. In any case, it is a pretty clear indication that he has done the math, seen that 1,237 is far from guaranteed, and is already laying the groundwork for a convention fight and/or a third-party defection.

So, is this possible? Most observers see only two possible outcomes to the Republican race: Donald Trump has at least 1,237 delegates and wins on the first ballot, or there is a contested convention. No one believes Ted Cruz can amass that number of delegates and mathematically, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) can't under any conditions, even if he wins every remaining delegate. A Trump candidacy might spur some Republican to run on a third-party ticket. But if the Republicans snatch the nomination from him at the convention, Trump might very well run on a third-party ticket.

As we have pointed out before, a real problem with either of these scenarios is getting on the ballot in all 50 states, since the filing deadlines are getting closer, the first one being on May 9. But there might be another route: hijack the nomination of some other party. All Americans know about the Democrats and Republicans. Some know about the Green Party. A few know about the Libertarian Party. But actually as of a year ago, 39 parties were on the ballot on at least one state. Here is the list from Ballotpedia.

Party States
Democratic Party 51
Republican Party 51
Libertarian Party 34
Green Party 18
Constitution Party 12
Independence Party 5
Independent Party 5
Working Families Party 4
Americans Elect Party 3
Independent American Party 3
Reform Party 3
Justice Party 2
Natural Law Party 2
Peace and Freedom Party 2
Progressive Party 2
America First Party 1
America's Party 1
American Constitutional Party 1
American Independent Party 1
American Party 1
Party (continued) States
Conservative Party 1
D.C. Statehood Green Party 1
Ecology Party 1
Grassroots Party 1
Green Independent Party 1
Labor Party 1
Legal Marijuana Now Party 1
Liberty Union Party 1
Moderate Party 1
Mountain Party 1
Pacific Green Party 1
Party for Socialism and Liberation 1
Socialist Party 1
Socialist Workers Party 1
Tea Party 1
U.S. Taxpayers Party 1
United Citizens Party 1
United Independent Party 1
Veterans Party 1

Might it not be easier for either the Republicans or Trump to hijack an existing party rather than starting a new one? Obviously, taking over a party that is already on the ballot in many states is much easier than starting from scratch. The best candidate is the Libertarian Party, which is already on the ballot in 34 states. In terms of ideology, both Trump and a generic Republican would be acceptable to the Libertarians. A problem, however, is that the Libertarian Party Convention is inconveniently early: May 27-30, in Orlando, and 14 people are running for the nomination. The favorite is Gary Johnson, who was governor of New Mexico (as a Republican) from 1994 to 2003. It is at least conceivable that Johnson could be convinced to drop out in July if a very high-profile candidate showed up. It would give the party a huge amount of publicity and it might be able to achieve ballot access in almost all states.

The party on the ballot in the next largest number of states is the Green Party. We wish Trump good luck getting likely nominee Jill Stein to give up her quest to be President for someone she despises. She might do it for Bernie Sanders, though, but it is exceedingly unlikely he will run as a third-party candidate.

The next choice is the Constitution Party, a right-wing outfit whose convention is even earlier than the Libertarians: April 13-16, in Salt Lake City. If the party could get a big name like Trump, it might decide having his money to get the party on the ballot in all the states was worth some inconvenience. Its current three presidential candidates, Scott Copeland, Patrick Ockander, and J.R. Myers, are not exactly household names. None of the other parties are big enough to be worth hijacking. (V & Z)

Mormons Really Dislike Donald Trump

Utah holds its caucuses tomorrow, and one thing that looks certain is that Donald Trump will be a big loser there. How do we know? Because there are a lot of Mormons in Utah and Mormons do not like Trump one bit. The state with the second largest number of Mormons, after Utah, is Idaho, where Trump lost the primary by 18 points. In the state with the third largest number of Mormons, Wyoming, Trump lost the caucuses by 59 points. In fact, Trump was able to garner a mere 70 votes in the entire state. In Madison County, ID, which is estimated to be 95% Mormon, Trump got 8% of the vote.

If Trump is wiped out in Utah tomorrow, many pundits will (completely mistakenly) say it was Mitt Romney's speech that did it. On a number of key issues, especially immigration, the official position of the LDS church and that of most Mormons is radically different from Trump's.

How much do Mormons hate Trump? A lot. A Deseret News poll of Utah has a self-declared socialist, Bernie Sanders, defeating Trump in the general election in Utah 48% to 37%. Even the much-reviled Hillary Clinton would beat Trump, 38% to 36% in this very conservative state. How can this be? The top issues for Utahns are integrity and honesty; Sanders has them in spades. Clinton is much weaker in that area. Trump has none whatsoever. Now polls of the general election this early aren't worth a lot, but Utah as a battleground state should be a warning to the GOP. As Utah goes, so go Idaho and Wyoming. (V)

Kasich Could Decide Next President

No, not as a candidate—in his capacity as Governor of Ohio. In an election cycle like this one, political junkies begin to think about all the farfetched-but-possible scenarios that might come to pass, and this is one of them.

To start, recall that the framers of the Constitution hoped, rather naively, that America would be a land without political parties. The system they set up is predicated on the notion that the "winner" of elections would be Americans' preferred choice, and the second place finisher would be their second-favorite choice. They did not anticipate a scenario in which those top two finishers might each be preferred by different, competing political factions. And so, the Constitution is not particularly well-suited to resolving such conflicts. Four times in American history this has been an issue:

  • In 1800, Democratic-Republicans Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr inadvertently finished in a tie in the Electoral College. Burr was supposed to be the vice-presidential candidate, but under the rules of the time, each of the two votes cast by each presidential elector was a "presidential" vote. With the tie, Burr decided that "President Burr" had a nice ring to it, and refused to defer to Jefferson. Meanwhile, the opposition Federalists rallied around him as a means of denying Jefferson the presidency. The crisis was not resolved until the day before the inauguration. Ultimately, the 12th Amendment was adopted; it made clear that electors would vote on president and vice-president separately.

  • In 1824, a four-way race denied popular-vote champion Andrew Jackson a majority in the Electoral College. The House chose second-place finisher John Quincy Adams as president; he promptly thanked House Speaker Henry Clay by naming him Secretary of State. Jackson's supporters howled about a "corrupt bargain" and Jackson himself got to work organizing the modern Democratic Party, which he used to unseat Adams four years later.

  • In 1876, the election results in three states (Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina) were disputed. A non-partisan commission was set up to assess the three states' ballots; that commission became quite partisan when the independent "swing" member (David Davis) dropped out and was replaced by a Republican. Each state was awarded, by a vote of 8-7, to the Republican candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, who thus eked out a victory. A decade later, in hopes of forestalling a similar situation, Congress passed the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which (possibly) gave state governors a "tiebreaker" vote in the event that a state is deadocked.

  • In 2000, after a photo finish in Florida, a Republican-majority Supreme Court gave the state's electoral votes, and the presidency, to Republican George W. Bush.

The "Kasich picks the president scenario" presumes a close election in which Ohio is decisive, and is close enough to be disputed. It also presumes that the Supreme Court would decline involvement, either because the memory of 2000 is so recent, or because they would be unable to render a decisive vote with only eight members. In that case, the fallback could (and probably would) be the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which is so abstruse that even constitutional experts are not clear on exactly what it says. The notion that a state governor would have tiebreaker authority is just the most probable reading of the statute.

Given the number of things that would have to break in just the right way, John Kasich singlehandedly choosing the president is not a very likely scenario. But it is a reminder that, even with four cases of razor-thin presidential victories in the past 216 years, we still haven't really developed a good way to resolve disputes. And maybe we should, before we're in the midst of another Constitutional crisis. (Z)

Latest in the Supreme Court Soap Opera

America's favorite chess game, the one where the winner's trophy is a seat on the Supreme Court, is in full swing. And so, nearly every day, there are new moves and countermoves.

On Sunday, it was the GOP's turn. Congress is in recess for a few weeks, at least unofficially. Officially, a few Republican senators have stayed behind to gavel the chamber into session for a few minutes, conduct no business, and then gavel out. This will stop the President from being able to ram Merrick Garland through as a recess appointment.

Also on Sunday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was on "State of the Union," and he declared that there would be no "lame duck" approval of Garland, regardless of who wins the election. This promise is not worth the paper it's written on—McConnell could easily find half a dozen plausible explanations for "changing his mind" in November. For example, "We waited for the American people to speak, and they have chosen a Democratic president, so we presume that they also want a center-left nominee. We shall proceed." McConnell's "promise" is, at the moment, entirely about stopping President Obama from threatening to withdraw the nomination pre-election if Garland is not voted upon promptly. Your move, Barack.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has come up with a list of four plausible scenarios in which Garland does get his hearing and vote. They are:

  • It becomes clear that independents are unhappy with the GOP's obstructionism, and that they plan to punish the party at the polls.

  • Republicans meet with Garland and decide he's not so bad.

  • Hillary Clinton is elected, and the GOP decides Garland is better than the sandal-wearing, granola-eating, Prius-driving, Sanders-loving leftist that she will probably nominate. As noted above, Mitch McConnell says this scenario is off the table, but don't believe him.

  • Another vacancy opens up on the Court—for example, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies or is forced to resign due to ill health—and Garland thus becomes a moderate replacing a liberal instead of a moderate replacing a conservative.

In any case, tune in next time for another exciting episode of "As the Court Turns." (Z)

Trump To Speak To a Wary Crowd at AIPAC Today

Donald Trump is going to address AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) today. One might think he would be well received there, given that he is from the city with the largest Jewish population in the country and he has worked with many of the Jewish movers and shakers in the city's real-estate industry. Also, his Palm Beach club, Mar-a-Lago, was openly marketed to Jews who were excluded from many of the town's other private clubs. In addition, his daughter, Ivanka, married an Orthodox Jew in the real-estate business and converted to Judaism in 2009. Finally, he is a big public supporter of Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Such is not the case. To start with, most Jews are Democrats, so any Republican would have trouble there, but one whose campaign is practically based on racial and religious intolerance is going to have an especially tough time. Failing to instantly denounce the support of David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, didn't help much either. Trump has also declined to state that Jerusalem should be Israel's undivided capital. A group of rabbis is planning to walk out during his speech in protest. All in all, it will probably be a newsworthy, although not entirely positive, event for Trump. (V)

Where Did Trump's Money Come From?

The Week has an interesting piece on Donald Trump's family's business history. Trump's grandfather, Friedrich, immigrated from Germany to New York City in 1885 at age 16. He worked briefly as a barber then moved on to a lucrative career in Seattle running a bordello. It was a big success. When the Klondike gold rush started, he saw a great business opportunity and went north to follow the gold, and especially the miners. After earning lots of money, he returned to New York, where his son Fred continued his entrepreneurial tradition.

Fred became a builder and constructed many rental apartment complexes in Brooklyn and Queens. He had the custom of marking rental applications from black families with a "C" (for "colored") and denying them housing. This habit got the Justice Department to sue him and his son Donald. Eventually the case was settled out of court. By the time he died, Fred was probably worth about $300 million.

Donald expanded the family business into Manhattan, with the aid of loans his father got him. He built hotels, luxury apartment buildings, and much more. He also built casinos in Atlantic City, NJ, four of which went bankrupt. He started a university that the New York attorney general called a classic "bait and switch" scheme. Other ventures, few of which have been profitable, are Trump steaks, Trump magazine, Trump fragrance, and about 500 others. Expect to hear a lot about his business ventures if he becomes the Republican nominee. (V)

Ted Cruz 2020

An increasing number of Republicans are starting to think about the future. OK, so Donald Trump will be the nominee and be crushed by Hillary Clinton, but the party will rebound in 2020 when Clinton won't have much to show for her 4 years (because the House will block her on everything). Then the Republicans will nominate the abrasive and much-hated Ted Cruz—and win? How does that work?

In five of the past six open elections (no sitting Republican President running for reelection), the Republicans have nominated whoever came in second last time. The Party is very orderly. You just wait your turn and then you can be the nominee.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan came in second to Gerald Ford, but got the 1980 nomination. In 1980, George H.W. Bush came in second to Reagan, and in 1988 he was the nominee. In 1988, Bob Dole lost to Bush and won the nomination in 1996, In 2000, John McCain lost the nomination to George W. Bush, but won in 2008. In 2008, Mitt Romney finished second to McCain and won the nomination in 2012. The only exception was in 1996, when Pat Buchanan came in second, but then switched to the Reform Party and didn't compete in 2000. This year, the 2012 runner-up, Rick Santorum, tried to be the nominee, but failed.

Given all this history, it is quite likely that if Trump gets the nomination and goes down in flames, Cruz will try hard in 2020 and may very well get it. He is a sitting senator and a member in good standing of the Republican Party. He also has a well-developed organization that he will surely keep going during the next four years. He is also very good at raising money. So we could have two consecutive elections in which the Republicans field a candidate that the Party leadership absolutely hates. (V)

Top Ten Senate Seats Most Likely to Flip

The Hill has compiled a list of the 10 Senate seats most likely to change parties. Here is the list, from most likely (Illinois) to least likely (Missouri). The (D) or (R) indicates which party currently holds the seat.

Rank State Democrat Republican
1 Illinois (R) Rep. Tammy Duckworth Sen. Mark Kirk
2 Wisconsin (R) Russ Feingold Sen. Ron Johnson
3 New Hampshire (R) Gov. Maggie Hassan Sen. Kelly Ayotte
4 Florida (R) ? ?
5 Nevada (D) Catherine Cortez Masto Rep. Joe Heck or Sharron Angle
6 Ohio (R) Ted Strickland Sen. Rob Portman
7 Pennsylvania (R) Katie McGinty or Joe Sestak Sen. Pat Toomey
8 Colorado (D) Sen. Michael Bennet ?
9 North Carolina (R) Deborah Ross Sen. Richard Burr
10 Missouri (R) Jason Kander Sen. Roy Blunt

We have run-downs of all 34 Senate races here or click on the word "Senate" in the blue bar above the map. (V)

Obama Arrives In Cuba

President Obama announced his plans to visit Cuba several months ago, and now the day has arrived. He touched down in Cuba around noon local time on Sunday, making him the first chief executive since Calvin Coolidge to set foot in the island nation.

For Cubans, the President's visit is being used as an opportunity to make a statement, either pro- or anti-Castro. For American voters, the visit could prove to be quite significant. Democrats, of course, will present Obama's actions as evidence of a President, and a Party, that is willing to put aside old grievances and forge ahead into the 21st century, a la the Iran nuclear deal. Republicans, by contrast, will present Obama's actions as evidence of a President, and a Party, that is willing to overlook tyrannous leadership and threats to American security, a la the Iran nuclear deal. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who couldn't bear to stay out of the headlines for long, has already denounced the President, calling the visit, "one of the most disgraceful trips ever taken by a U.S. president anywhere in the world."

It is hard to know exactly how Obama's visit might affect the 2016 election, but it is worth noting that Florida is the mother of all swing states, and that Cuban-Americans make up 6.5% of the population there. Nearly all of them hate Castro, but the vast majority of them are also Republican, and would be lost to the Democrats anyhow. Still, in a very close contest (a la 2000), cozying up to Cuba could come back to haunt the blue team. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
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