Clinton 1691
Sanders 949
 Needed   2383
Trump 739
Cruz 465
Rubio 166
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Democrats Caucus in Three States Today

Democrats in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington caucus today, with 142 delegates at stake. These are the kinds of events where Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has done well in the past. He has a good chance to win all three of them. However, due to the Democrats' proportionality rules, he won't cut into Hillary Clinton's lead much unless he wins Washington (101 delegates) by a very large margin. If he gets 70% of the vote in all three states, he might end up with 100 delegates to Hillary Clinton's 42, which would cut her lead in pledged delegates from 323 to 265. Unfortunately for Sanders, the big states of Wisconsin and New York are on tap next (with the tiny Wyoming caucus sandwiched in between). To catch up to Clinton, Sanders has to start winning big states by a much larger margin than he has so far, and Wisconsin and New York are not well-suited to that. (V)

National Enquirer Claims Cruz Has Had Multiple Extramarital Affairs

The National Enquirer is a sensationalist tabloid that often prints crazy stuff. It now claims that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has had extramarital affairs with at least five women and says it has proof. Normally, one should take stories in the Enquirer with a bucket of salt, but Cruz is vigorously denying the story and mainstream publications are starting to cover it, so it is becoming legitimate news. The Enquirer has had scoops that were true from time to time in the past, including breaking the stories of John Edwards', Jesse Jackson's, and Gary Hart's extramarital dalliances, so the report should not be entirely dismissed out of hand.

The article cited Roger Stone as a source. Stone is the reincarnation of the late Lee Atwater, a mean and dirty streetfighter. According to Politico, Cruz went on a minutes-long tirade about Trump and the story, saying:

And I would note that Mr. Stone is a man who has 50 years of dirty tricks behind him. He's a man whom a term was coined for copulating with a rodent. Well let me be clear, Donald Trump may be a rat but I have no desire to copulate with him.

For readers not intimately familiar with the relationship between rodents, reproduction, and politics, this Wikipedia article may be helpful.

There are two reasons to think there might be something to the story. First, the Enquirer's lawyers know very well Cruz could sue them for $100 million, so they wouldn't have let the paper go forward with this story unless they were convinced they could win in court. Second, the Enquirer published photos of the women in question, one of whom looks a lot like Katrina Pierson, Trump's spokeswoman. She is an odd person for Trump to have hired for such a high profile job. She doesn't have any obvious qualification for it. But if she had come to Trump earlier in the year and said: "I can personally destroy Ted Cruz" and then explained how she planned to go about it, that might have been enough reason to give her a top job. Similarly, one of the other photos looks a lot like Sarah Isgur Flores, who was working for Carly Fiorina before that campaign was suspended. More than a few observers have put two and two together and wondered if a promise by Fiorina to keep quiet about the matter was behind the mysterious $500,000 payment made from a Ted Cruz PAC to the Fiorina campaign back in October. Keep in mind, though, that this is all wild speculation at this point.

One thing to watch for is the lawsuit. If the article was totally made up, Cruz should and probably will sue the pants off the Enquirer. If he doesn't, one has to wonder if there is a good reason for not doing so. Of course, Cruz knows this, so he may decide to sue even if he knows he's been caught redhanded. After all, the lawsuit wouldn't be resolved until long after the election, so he could always just drop it if (really, when) he's not elected.

Needless to say, if the stories prove true, there is no precedent for a presidential candidate—Republican or Democrat—to recover from something like this. For a "family values" candidate, that is doubly true. And it is worth noting that voters are not courts of law—they don't need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If even a small portion of would-be Cruz voters decide they've got enough information to "convict" and switch their allegiance, it could easily be enough to make the difference between Trump having 1,237 delegates at convention time or not having them, keeping in mind that the "best guess" projection, compiled right before the story broke, has him collecting about 1,239.

This Website aspires to a higher level of class than the National Enquirer and we don't normally traffic in inflammatory gossip, but since Cruz and Trump are now openly talking about it and mainstream publications are now reporting it, it has become part of the campaign, for better or worse. (V & Z)

Half of Republican Women Won't Vote for Trump

An NBC/WSJ poll turned up an interesting item: 47% of Republican women agreed with the statement that they could not imagine themselves voting for Donald Trump. If a quarter of the Republican electorate stays home on election day, votes for a third party, or heaven forbid, votes for the Democrat, Donald Trump is not going to be president. Ever.

Among women in general, 75% have an unfavorable view of Trump. That is not as bad as the 47% of Republican women though, since Democratic women would presumably vote for the Democrat against any Republican. In a Fox News poll in a Trump-Clinton matchup in the general election, it is tied 43% to 43% among men but Clinton wins among women 53% to 34%. By way of contrast, Mitt Romney lost women by 12 points and lost the election. With Trump down 19 points, he is going to have to do a lot better among men to make that up. And to make it worse, Trump continues to attack women, with no end in sight. (V)

American Muslims Are Energized to Vote

With Donald Trump and Ted Cruz vying to be the most bigoted candidate in the race, Muslim groups across the country are trying to counter by driving up the Muslim vote. Groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations are trying to encourage mosques to run voter registration drives. Muslims make up about 1% of the population, but the groups have set up a goal of registering 1 million new voters. One community organizer in Chicago, Reema Ahmad, is putting it this way: "If you're not at the dinner table, you're on the menu." (V)

Democrats Nervous About Cash Shortage in Senate Races

Thus far in the 2016 cycle, SuperPAC money hasn't had much impact (see Bush, Jeb). That could change as the Senate races heat up, however. The DSCC is already very worried that they won't have enough cash to achieve their goal, namely retaking control of the Senate.

The big problem for the blue team is that there are more deep-pocketed Republican spenders (i.e. the Kochs, Sheldon Adelson) than there are deep-pocketed Democrats. And since the billionaires aren't spending much money on the presidential race right now, and may not do so in the general election, they have extra to invest in Senate races. Already, the cash has been flowing—in New Hampshire, for example, the GOP has already dropped $8 million, compared to just $1.3 million for the Democrats. In fact, the red team has spent more on every competitive race so far except Illinois, where Rep. Tammy Duckworth is slightly outpacing Sen. Mark Kirk, $620,000 to $550,000. There is no particular reason to believe that the Democrats will be able to make up the gap. As Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) observes, "We're always outspent. The question is, how much?"

The wild card here is Donald Trump; if he is the GOP candidate, his impact on the Senate races is hard to project. The Democrats, who are trying to mount serious challenges in 16 states, are hoping that he'll depress Republican enthusiasm/turnout enough that the red team will have to burn money protecting otherwise "safe" seats, and so will have less to invest in saving hotly-contested seats. The Republicans, in contrast, think that Trump might hurt them in Latino-heavy states (sorry, Sen. McCain), but that he might balance that out by shoring up candidates in Rust Belt states (most obviously Wisconsin and Pennsylvania). As Donald Rumsfeld might put it, there are just too many known unknowns at this point to know which hopeful guess is correct. (Z)

Emily's List Is Trying To Defeat a Top Progressive Democrat

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), one of the most progressive Democrats in the House, is running for the Senate seat of retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Many progressives would be overjoyed to see him as a senator. Yet Emily's List, a group that supports progressive pro-choice women, is spending big time to defeat him because his primary opponent is Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), also a progressive Democrat, but a female (and black) one. Some Democrats, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), expressed some concern about this choice, saying that perhaps Emily's List could better spend its money helping a pro-choice woman defeat a Republican rather than trying to defeat a progressive Democrat. (V)

GOP Already Working Hard to Save Downticket Races

Despite their publicly-expressed optimism that Donald Trump could help the Republican ticket, at least in some cases, GOP insiders are already preparing to stanch the flow of blood that a Trump nomination might spill, gearing up for get-out-the-vote operations designed to remind Republicans that the presidential race is not the only contest that matters.

For example, Rep. Mia Love (R-UT), the first black woman Republican to be elected to the House, is unusually vulnerable appearing on a ticket with Trump at its head. Mormons, as we learned in the Utah caucuses, are not fans of The Donald. Meanwhile, a lot of the voters who are fans of his are racists. And Love only won her last race by 4,000 votes. Therefore, the Utah Republican Party has already begun to implement "Plan T" (T is for "Trump") in order to try and save Love's seat. "If we have to drag our voters to the polls, we're good at that," said James Evans, the GOP state party chairman. It seems probable that there will be a lot of dragging on Election Day. (Z)

Republican Unity on Scalia Replacement is Showing Cracks

As if Donald Trump weren't enough of a headache, the death of Antonin Scalia nearly a year before Election Day presented Senate Republicans with a political Sophie's Choice. If they approve a replacement, conservatives may lose SCOTUS for a generation, which would infuriate the Republican base. And if they drag their feet they hand the Democrats a powerful political weapon to wield in 2016, given that two-thirds of Americans think that the process should move forward.

Thus far, of course, the GOP leadership's position has been "no hearings, nohow." Some of the rank and file, particularly those who are up for reelection, have pushed back on that. And now, the first of the apostates, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), has officially scheduled a meeting with President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. Kirk is breaking ranks in order to provide cover for himself; he needs to be able to tell voters in his very blue home state that he's got nothing to do with the GOP's stall tactics, and that he therefore should not be blamed.

Under the circumstances, the Senate's leaders may forgive Kirk. Far more worrisome for them is the pushback that has just come from Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, who is also up for reelection. While speaking at a Rotary Club meeting, Moran said "I think we have the responsibility to have a hearing, to have the conversation and to make a determination on the merit." The response from the conservative rank-and-file was rapid and very fierce, prompting Moran to issue a statement clarifying that he only wants to hold hearings so that Garland can be voted down. Still, if even an ultra-conservative Senator in one of the reddest states in the country is nervous about the damage that might be done by delaying the confirmation hearings, then all of the 21 Republicans up for reelection have to be feeling the heat. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA)—who is himself facing a strong challenge from Patty Judge as a consequence of this issue—may find themselves with no choice but to change course. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
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