Clinton 1690
Sanders 946
 Needed   2383
Trump 739
Cruz 465
Rubio 166
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Can Trump Hit 1,237 Delegates?

The only real question remaining in the primaries is whether or not Donald Trump will have 1,237 bound delegates when the Republican National Convention opens on July 18 in Cleveland. If he has, it will be difficult (but not impossible) to stop him from getting the nomination. If he has 1,236 or fewer, the GOP leadership will move heaven and earth to nominate someone else on the second or subsequent ballot, most likely Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball has done a state-by-state calculation of how the delegates might be allocated in the remaining contests. Here is its breakdown, with our addition of North Dakota, which sends 28 unbound delegates to the convention.

Date State Delegates Trump Cruz Kasich Other
April 1 North Dakota 28 0 0 0 28
Jan-Mar Many 1,661 755 466 144 296
April 5 Wisconsin 42 30 6 6 0
April 19 New York 95 81 0 14 0
April 26 Connecticut 28 22 0 6 0
April 26 Delaware 16 16 0 0 0
April 26 Maryland 38 32 0 6 0
April 26 Pennsylvania 71 17 0 0 54
April 26 Rhode Island 19 8 4 7 0
May 3 Indiana 57 45 6 6 0
May 10 Nebraska 36 0 36 0 0
May 10 West Virginia 34 34 0 0 0
May 17 Oregon 28 11 9 8 0
May 24 Washington 44 18 16 10 0
June 7 California 172 109 54 9 0
June 7 Montana 27 0 27 0 0
June 7 New Jersey 51 51 0 0 0
June 7 New Mexico 24 10 10 4 0
June 7 South Dakota 29 0 29 0 0
  Total   1,239 663 220 378

The "other" contains the delegates of candidates no longer running, as well as unbound delegates.

In Wisconsin, the model assumes a split between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), but gives Cruz the conservative WI-05 and WI-06 districts. The Mid-Atlantic and New England states that vote in April are allocated based on the results of Masschusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. For the May states, the forecasters looked at it district by district.

The Pacific Northwest is a tougher call. It assumes Trump wins 39% statewide and Cruz and Kasich win specific districts. For the final votes, on June 7, Cruz should win in winner-take-all Montana and South Dakota. California is the big one and the hardest of all to predict, but could ultimately be the decider. For years the show was over by the time California voted, but this time it could be the kingmaker. The prediction looks at each district separately and tries to fathom what will happen there.

If the model is perfect, the chance of which is pretty close to zero, Trump will get 1,239 delegates and win on the first ballot. But maybe not even then. Here the rules come into play. The Rules Committee could say that how a delegate actually votes is what matters. Now remember, about 3/4 of the delegates are chosen by the state parties (see below). Many of the Trump delegates hate Trump but are supposed to vote for him on the first ballot. But suppose a couple of them decide not to, and vote for Cruz instead. If the convention rules say that how a delegate actually votes is what counts, then defecting delegates' votes could count as they actually voted, not as they were supposed to. Also not accounted for in this model is what the 378 "other" (i.e., unbound) delegates do.

We have seen this situation before. Presidential electors are supposed to vote for the candidate who won their state (or CD in Nebraska and Maine). But from time to time, a faithless elector will vote for someone else. It has happened 157 times in the history of the Republic. What counts is how they voted, not how they were supposed to vote. In some states there are laws that could theoretically punish a faithless delegate or faithless elector, but they are rarely enforced. If a rogue delegate votes for Cruz or Ryan or abstains and his state's attorney general is Republican, he won't be prosecuted. Can you imagine what would happen if Trump has 1,239 delegates, as assumed above, and it would take only three defections to derail Trump? How much would the Koch brothers have to offer the first three Trump delegates who defected? Let's start the bidding at, say, $10 million. Would eBay or Christie's be willing to run the auction? Speculation about Paul Ryan as the nominee has been heated already.

The Crystal Ball article has a lot of detail about each state, explaining how the allocation was made. (V)

Will The Convention Invoke the Nuclear Option?

One possibility now being openly discussed is the so-called nuclear option. It consists of the Republican National Convention's Rules Committee making a rule unbinding all delegates on the first ballot. The committee has the authority to do this and there is no appeals process. Opponents could force a floor vote, but it is likely that a substantial majority of the delegates are what John Yob has called SINOs—Supporters In Name Only. These are the 3/4 of the delegates who were chosen by the state parties or conventions and not by the primary voters. Many, if not most are party regulars, whose primary loyalty is the the Republican Party, not to any candidate. In any event, every delegate is free to vote as he or she chooses on the rules, no matter what the candidates say and no matter who the delegate is bound to.

Clearly the risk in going nuclear is that the other side retaliates in kind. A wounded Donald Trump could be quite unpredictable. He could sue in court, but the courts have repeatedly said that political parties are pretty much free to run their internal affairs as they wish, and if the convention formally adopted a rule to unbind all delegates, that is its business. Trump could run as a third-party candidate in the states where he could get on the ballot and as a write-in in the others. He could urge his supporters to stay home and not vote at all. He could donate $100 million to Hillary Clinton and campaign for her, just to punish the Republicans. So ultimately the decision is more political than legal and a lot depends on how the GOP leadership feels about Trump in June. Also worth keeping in mind is that the GOP's internal polling could tell them that 2016 is a lost cause regardless of who they nominate. It would be a double whammy to go scorched Earth and lose. (V)

Lobbying of the Delegates Is Already Underway

On the surface, all is relatively calm in the Republican contest since the next nominating event with pledged delegates is April 5 in Wisconsin. But under the surface, there is major activity going on: States are starting to select the actual delegates, that is, the people who get the badges and funny hats and admission tickets to the Republican National Convention. The process varies by state, including congressional district conventions, statewide conventions, and party leaders getting together in a smoke-free room.

The candidates are aware of this and are starting to get involved in the process because they want delegates who favor themselves, no matter how they are bound on the first ballot (unless unbound by the convention). For example, South Dakota has already picked its delegates. Most are current or former state legislators, Republican Party insiders, or well-known activists. They heavily support Ted Cruz. If Donald Trump wins the state's winner-take-all primary on June 7, they will (probably) all dutifully vote for Trump on the first ballot, but will certainly vote for any Cruz-approved rules should there be any floor fights. And two of the South Dakota delegates will be on the crucial Rules Committee. There they have no obligation whatsoever to pay attention to the candidate to whom they are bound. Normally the term "invisible primary" refers to the fight for money and endorsements in the Fall before the primaries start, but the real invisible primary this year is the fight for the hearts and minds of the delegates themselves. (V)

Cruz Calls Trump a Sniveling Coward

The war of words in the Republican primary is heating up. Donald Trump has been attacking Ted Cruz's wife, Heidi, and threatening to spill the beans on her. So far, he hasn't produced any Leguminosae. Heidi had a bout of depression in 2005 and if Trump really wants to hit below the belt he could tweet: "If I were married to Ted Cruz, I'd be depressed, too." Even without something like this, Cruz is pretty angry. Yesterday he called Trump a "sniveling coward." He then added: "Donald, real men don't attack women."

That last one could come back to haunt him if he becomes the Republican nominee, especially if his general election opponent just happens to be a woman. Will he run a completely positive campaign and refrain from all attacks on her? It is an uplifting thought, but don't count on it.

Trump also has to watch his step much better. He is constantly attacking women in general. He called Megyn Kelly a bimbo and says Hillary Clinton is "very shrill." Maybe that is why she got schlonged in 2008. His unfavorable numbers among women are running at 75% now. If the general election is Trump vs. Clinton, we're going to see blood coming out of that gender gap, or wherever. (V)

Cruz and Kasich Begin the Air War in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is a crucial state. This is the next chance for Cruz and Kasich to stop Trump. For Kasich, especially, it is important, because Wisconsin in a Midwestern state somewhat similar to Ohio. If he can't win, or at least do well there, where can he? It is not Cruz's kind of state, but if he tanks there, New York, Pennsylvania, and the other Eastern states are going to be even worse.

Accordingly, both Cruz and Kasich are already on the air there, both with initial spends of half a million dollars. Outside groups will also spend big time in Wisconsin. The Club for Growth is going to run $1 million worth of pro-Cruz ads, for example.

Interestingly enough, Donald Trump is not on the air yet in Wisconsin and hasn't announced any plans to do so. He seems to feel that he can campaign largely on Twitter and save money. If he becomes the nominee, it will be a casebook study of what happens when one side launches a billion dollars worth of TV ads and the other just tweets. (V)

Sanders Gets Key Union Endorsement on West Coast

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) yesterday. The union's president, Robert McEllrath, said: "Bernie Sanders is the best candidate for America's working families." The union's members are primarily on the West Coast and they could play a big role in the Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington caucuses on Saturday. Unlike primaries, caucus attendance is always low and having a dedicated group of supporters turn out is always helpful. Sanders stands a good chance of winning all three caucuses. If Sanders wins them, he will be following in Barack Obama's footsteps. Obama also did well in Western caucuses. (V)

Can Trump Legally Expel Protesters from His Rallies?

Protesters have been infiltrating Trump rallies in recent weeks and meeting with resistance and violence in the process. An important question here is what is the legal status of protesters at a political rally? Does the First Amendment guarantee their right to free speech? A McClatchy article investigates this issue. If a political event is on private property or on public property that has been lawfully reserved and paid for, protesters have no legal right to be there, any more than they have a right to crash a wedding. The candidate's security team can remove unwanted protesters, but they can't commit assault, battery, or any other crime in the process of doing so.

Outside the venue, on public property, the situation is reversed. There the First Amendment does apply and as long as the protesters aren't breaking any laws, they have a right to protest, picket, and demonstrate.

But inside and outside the venue, there are limits. There are laws against yelling "fire" in a crowded theater and laws against inciting riots. The hard part is determining when the line has been crossed. For example, Donald Trump said earlier this week that if he had (almost) enough delegates to win the Republican nomination and the convention denied it to him, "there would be riots." Is that inciting a riot in a legal sense or is it simply a prediction of what might happen? Not an easy call. (V)

Trump Open to Nuking ISIS

It's one of the biggest landmines in the modern political reporter's handbook, and Donald Trump just stepped on it. Asked if he would be willing to use nuclear weapons against ISIS, the billionaire said he would not rule it out. Which, for those keeping score at home, is the same thing as saying "yes."

This is a phenomenally unwise thing for Trump to say. First of all, as a military matter, it would not be possible to launch a nuclear strike on ISIS without taking tens of thousands of innocent lives at the same time, many of them women and children. Presumably even Donald Trump is not willing to do that, and if he is, it is entirely possible that the military would refuse to honor such a command as an immoral order and a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And yet, by saying it aloud, Trump hands ISIS a potent recruiting tool: "See? The West wants to annihilate us."

Meanwhile, as a matter of politics, it is also a foolish thing to say. Trump has drawn frequent comparisons to Barry Goldwater, and that is certainly instructive in this case. In 1964, the Arizona Senator was equally cavalier about the use of nukes in Vietnam, famously declaring, "Moderation in the protection of liberty is no virtue; extremism in the defense of freedom is no vice." Perhaps that is a bit more erudite way to put it, but the sentiment is the same. This attitude gave us the famous Daisy commercial and was one of the key factors in his defeat.

Note that the converse is also true. Few would argue that the three most popular presidents of the Cold War era were Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. And while those three men did not have a lot in common, one thing they did share was a desire to do anything possible to avoid the use of nukes. For Eisenhower, this was achieved through a buildup and the threat of "Mutually Assured Destruction." For JFK, it was skillful diplomacy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And for Reagan, it was through an iron fist (Star Wars) and velvet glove (encouraging glasnost) approach. Richard Nixon wasn't right about a whole lot, but he was definitely onto something when he said, "The greatest honor history can bestow is the title of peacemaker." (Z)

Are There Really a Bunch of "Trump Democrats"?

An argument that has percolated among the commentariat, and that has been directly advanced by candidate Trump himself, is that there are a large number of Democrats (mostly white, working class men) looking to jump ship and hop on the Trump bandwagon. Slate's Jamelle Bouie has looked at the numbers, and he argues that there's simply no evidence this is the case.

Bouie builds his case primarily around approve/disapprove numbers. Looking at 2012 Obama voters in general, 2012 white Obama voters in particular, and 2012 white male Obama voters with only a high-school degree (a fairly good proxy for "working class"), he illustrates that Trump is less popular than Mitt Romney, and about equal to Ted Cruz (roughly 25% favorable to 75% unfavorable). If these individuals did not vote for Romney, and would not vote for Cruz, then there is no particular reason to think they would vote for Trump.

Bouie does agree that Democrats are not doing well at keeping white, working-class types in the tent. But he argues that instead of voting Republican, these people are just staying home on Election Day. Further, their loss is being offset by growing support from the Latino and Asian communities. It's just another reason to suspect that Democratic hand-wringing over the possibility of a close election (or a loss) is not warranted. (Z)

Trump vs. Clinton Would Be the Oldest Match-Up in History

On Election Day, Donald Trump will be 70 and Hillary Clinton will be 69. If these two end up as their party's respective nominees, their average age would be 69.5. This would be the oldest match-up in American history. In recent years, Presidents have been quite young. Bill Clinton was 46 when elected, George W. Bush was 54 when elected, and Barack Obama was 47. Of course, people are living longer than they used to and 70 is the new 60. (V)

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---The Votemaster
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