Clinton 1681
Sanders 927
 Needed   2383
Trump 739
Cruz 465
Rubio 166
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

A Night of Blowouts on "Western Tuesday"

Republicans in two Western states and Democrats in three went to the polls on Tuesday and gave us a reminder that the various candidates appeal to distinctly different types of voters. Although the votes won't be completely tallied until late Wednesday, the five contests were so imbalanced that all winners were declared Tuesday night. Here are the numbers (percent of votes reported are in parentheses next to the state's name):

Republican Results
Arizona (99%) 47.1% 58 24.9% 0 10.0% 0
Utah (88%) 14.0% 0 69.2% 40 16.8% 0
Total   58   40   0

Democratic Results
Arizona (99%) 57.6% 44 39.9% 30
Utah (99%) 20.3% 6 79.3% 26
Idaho (100%) 21.2% 5 78.0% 17
Total   55   73

We learned very little on Tuesday night that we did not already know. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wins ultra-conservative states like Utah, and not many others. Donald Trump wins the rest, except for the other candidates' home states, and states whose name rhymes with "Tinnesota" or "Waine." Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) wins nothing. In fact, with money running out, no viable path to the nomination, no possibility of emerging triumphant at a brokered convention (see below), and enormous pressure from the anti-Trump forces to drop out, another night like Tuesday could persuade the Ohio governor to throw in the towel.

Similarly, on the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) can win states where a small number of enthusiastic voters can carry the day (in other words, caucus states) or those that are at least 90% white. Failing that, Hillary Clinton wins. Though Sanders won two states, Clinton took almost 100,000 more votes across the three contests, because she dominated the largest state to vote on Tuesday. Consequently, she took considerably more delegates than the Vermont Senator.

And that is the biggest way in which Western Tuesday affirmed the status quo. By effectively maintaining the leads enjoyed by the two frontrunners, Clinton and Trump, it just became that much more likely that they will face one another in the general election. (Z)

Cruz Calls for Patrols of Muslim Neighborhoods

In light of the brutal attacks in Brussels yesterday, Ted Cruz called for an immediate freeze on refugees from Al Qaeda-infested areas and new powers for police to patrol "Muslim neighborhoods." He also said the U.S. must secure its southern border because "our country is at stake." DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) lost no time in responding to Cruz, saying: "Ted Cruz is a disgrace. This is not leadership; it is fearmongering for political gain."

Both Cruz and John Kasich also called on President Obama to end his visit to Cuba immediately and either return home or go to Brussels to talk to government officials and law enforcement to assess the situation there.

Donald Trump couldn't let this golden opportunity pass, so he one-upped Cruz and said we should close our borders to everyone. He also endorsed torture as a method for extracting information from suspects. The only Republican who didn't go after Muslims was John Kasich, who said: We are not at war with Islam—we are at war with radical Islam. However, he did criticize Obama for attending a baseball game in Cuba instead of coming home immediately.

The Democrats took a completely different tack. Hillary Clinton said that we need smart, experienced people in the White House (such as herself) to defeat terrorism. She came out against torture, observing that military leaders have pointed out time and time again that it doesn't work. Under torture, suspects just tell the interrogators what they think the interrogators want to hear, not the truth. Bernie Sanders called the Brussels attacks barbaric and said he would work closely with other nations to destroy ISIS. (V)

Rudy Giuliani Picks a Candidate by a Process of Elimination

Rudy Giuliani, former two-term mayor of New York City, has said he will definitely endorse a candidate before the April 19th New York primary. He further explained that only three people have a chance to be President: Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump, adding: This is the hand you're dealt and you've gotta work with it. He gave the people attending an event hosted by Columbia University College Republicans yesterday a hint: It won't be Hillary Clinton. Then he went further and said: I seriously doubt it will be Ted Cruz. Intrepid reporters think it might be Trump. How does "Attorney General Giuliani" sound? (V)

Jeb Bush Backs Cruz

Early this morning former candidate Jeb Bush made an unambiguous decision, rather than letting reporters guess what he might do next month. He endorsed Ted Cruz, painful as that must have been for him. Senior Republicans are really in a bind now. They all feel that Trump will lead the Republican Party to an ignominious defeat in November, yet they hate Cruz and think he will also lead them to defeat. The main advantage of having Cruz be the nominee is that he won't destroy the Republican Party. Furthermore, a Cruz nomination and subsequent loss will allow mainstream Republicans to say to movement conservatives next time: "You got your candidate in 2016. He lost. Now shut up and do what you're told." (V)

Trump Resorts to Ill-Conceived Threats

Donald Trump's skin is known for two things: Being orange, and being very thin. When attacked, he responds with bullying when possible, and with grandiose threats when not. He twice pulled the latter trick out of the Trump bag this week; in both cases, he probably should have kept his mouth shut.

The first target was the Ricketts family, owners of baseball's Chicago Cubs, and funders of $3 million in anti-Trump ads. Trump, in an interview with the Washington Post decreed that the family had done a "rotten job" in running the team, and warned that, "I'll start doing ads about their baseball team."

The problem with this line of attack is that many voters may not follow the nuances of trade policy or foreign relations, but they do follow sports. And when it comes to his assessment of the Cubs, even casual baseball fans know that Trump is wildly incorrect. Since taking over the team six years ago, the Ricketts family has renovated Wrigley Field and installed forward-looking management that has stocked the team with more talent than any other in the majors. They went to the playoffs last year and are favored to win their division this year; Las Vegas also has them as the favorite to win the World Series (which would end 108 years of futility). It's not a good look for a politician, even one known for shooting from the hip, to say things that so obviously do not square with the facts.

Trump's second target was Heidi Cruz, wife of Ted. Angry about pro-Cruz ads that feature semi-nude shots of Melania Trump, the Donald took to Twitter on Tuesday to fire back (either not knowing or not caring that Cruz was not personally behind the ads). He tweeted: "Lyin' Ted Cruz just used a picture of Melania from a G.Q. shoot in his ad. Be careful, Lyin' Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!"

It's unclear exactly what "beans" there might be to spill on Mrs. Cruz, and the odds are pretty good that the Donald has none. Whatever the case may be, attacking women does not tend to go over well with voters, nor does attacking non-candidate "civilians." Apparently even Trump realized this, because he deleted the tweet quickly after posting it.

At this point, it seems evident that Trump is not going to experience a Carson-style collapse. But a bunch of small missteps can have the same effect; if you suffer death by a thousand cuts, you're just as dead. And the more toes Trump steps on, the harder it is for him to get to 1,237 delegates, much less 270 electors. (Z)

Why the GOP Establishment Doesn't Like Kasich

The Republican leadership is scared to death of Donald Trump and despises Ted Cruz. So they love John Kasich, right? Well, no. Many party leaders flatly reject any kind of "Draft Kasich" movement at a contested convention. There are several reasons for this. First, the only state he has won so far is the one he governs. Clearly, picking him means rejecting the will of the voters. Second, he is not a true movement conservative and many in Washington fear the wrath of skipping over Cruz to pick a less conservative nominee. Third, many leaders don't like him. He has balanced budgets and when you do that, you make enemies. They just quietly wait in the shadows and when the right moment arrives, the enemies whack away at you. Finally, he not only expanded Medicaid in Ohio, but he said it is a moral imperative. If there is one thing that virtually all Republicans agree on, it is that giving money or food or medical care to lazy, undeserving poor people is the opposite of "moral." So if the convention deadlocks and needs to find the rarely-sighted dark horse, it is not going to be Kasich. (V)

Trump's Foreign Policy Team Leaves Experts Scratching Their Heads

In his rare moments of humility, Donald Trump admits he doesn't know much about certain areas of governance—like, say, foreign affairs. He has promised to hire the best and brightest minds to help him make up for those shortcomings. Well, he revealed the names of five of his national security advisors, and the phrase that the list brought to mind was not "best and brightest" but instead "Who?"

The best-known of the group is Walid Phares, a rabid Islamophobe who is always good for a quote declaring that nearly all Muslims are would-be jihadists who would like to impose sharia law. Joseph E. Schmitz worked for the Defense Department during the Iraq War while Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg helped run the Iraqi government in 2003 and 2004—curious choices for a candidate who has been so critical of that war. Carter Page, a managing partner at Global Energy Capital, is preparing policy memos on energy policy and Russia, and says he has not yet spoken to Trump nor does he really know what his role in the campaign is. And George Papadopoulos is such an unknown, and has been so unreachable, that the media has been reduced to relying on his LinkedIn resume for information. There he proudly lists, among other things, participation in the 2012 Geneva International Model United Nations—a U.N. simulation that allows students to get experience as "diplomats."

The odds are pretty good that the list isn't going to improve much. Experts spend their career developing their reputation, and while 2016 is likely to prove a one-year lark for Trump before he returns to his business career, association with the campaign could permanently taint an analyst. As one expert observed, "It's always surprising when a member of our relatively tightly knit community is willing to sacrifice their reputation to stand with someone like Donald Trump." (Z)

The Virgins Are Shaking

A big shake-up in the U.S. Virgin Islands is going to change the delegate count slightly. Yesterday, the chairman of the Islands' Republican Party fired all six delegates who were elected on March 10 because they have not pledged their support for a primary candidate. Party rules don't prohibit this; in fact, 54 of Pennsylvania's delegates are uncommitted. Nevertheless, the chairman replaced all six elected delegates with alternates, one of whom supports Trump, one of whom supports Cruz, two of whom support Rubio, and two of whom are uncommitted.

Among the ejected delegates is John Yob, who recently wrote a book entitled Chaos: The Outsider's Guide to a Contested Republican National Convention. Yob's wife, Erica, was also removed as a delegate. Yob is fighting the decision. The obvious question here is whether the whole incident is a cover for a not-very-subtle attempt to punish Yob for writing the book. (V)

What Makes Trump Great?

Two explanations have been proposed about why Donald Trump is so great, oops, so popular. First, it's the economy, stupid. Many blue-collar workers have lost their jobs or are afraid of losing their jobs so they blame immigrants and trade agreements that make it profitable for companies to ship jobs to Mexico and Asia. Second, it's simple racism. Salon looked at a study that sheds light on this issue and has concluded it's more racism than economics.

The study was based on a survey in which some of the questions were designed to root out latent racism. The questions included some statements related to race and respondents were asked to rate on a 5-point scale how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements such as:

  • Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants overcame prejudice on their own, so blacks should do that on their own
  • If black people would try harder, they would do as well as whites
  • Over the past few years, blacks have gotten less than they deserve
  • Slavery and discrimination have made it hard for blacks to work their way out of the lower class

The researchers then combined the questions on race to get a single number approximating how "racist" a respondent was. Then they looked at the political preference of all the respondents. What they discovered was that of the people who scored 0 on the racist scale (not at all racist) 20% supported Trump, but for the people who were very racist (1.0 on their scale), the probability of supporting Trump went up to 50%. So the conclusion for Trump supporters was: The more racist you were, the stronger a Trump supporter you were.

As a control, they analyzed Rubio supporters the same way. There was no such correlation. The same held for the other Republican candidates. Only for Trump was there a strong correlation between the racism score and the support for the candidate. This argues for the view that Trump's support is more due to his racist remarks than due to his opposition to shipping jobs abroad.

Of course, racism and having precarious economic prospects are not independent. People who have lost their jobs or might lose them often try to find a scapegoat for their situation, and blacks, Muslims, minorities, and immigrants are often high on the list. So be careful not to confuse correlation with causation. People who are racist support Trump, but working-class whites also support Trump. Being working class does not necessarily make you a racist and being a racist is certainly not limited to working-class people.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, Trump is not the kind of guy who consults a focus group before opening his mouth on anything. Nevertheless, if he is the Republican nominee, he has to make a choice in the general election. Does he keep beating the racism drum, or drop the issue completely? If this study is correct, then dropping the racism bit and just talking about economic issues, bombing ISIS, etc., may cost him support from racists who may begin to wonder if he meant it. But if he keeps up the racist thing, he is going to scare away moderate Republicans and independents. Most politicians in this bind would run focus group after focus group to find out which strategy yielded the most votes, but The Donald goes with his gut instinct, so we don't know what he will do yet. (V)

AIPAC Apologizes for Trump's Speech

On Monday, Donald Trump spoke to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), reading his speech from a TelePrompter, something he has criticized President Obama for doing. During the speech, he attacked Obama several times and said that Obama is the worst thing to happen to Israel. Yesterday the president of AIPAC, Lillian Pinkus, lit into Trump and apologized to the world for Trump's speech, saying that he had violated a nonpartisan standard. She also condemned those people in her audience who applauded Trump, adding: "I am ashamed that they would succumb to the pandering lies." (V)

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---The Votemaster
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