Clinton 1730
Sanders 1053
 Needed   2383
Trump 736
Cruz 463
Rubio 171
Kasich 143
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Clinton Supporters More Enthusiastic than Sanders Supporters

The conventional wisdom in the media is that while Hillary Clinton may have more supporters than Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), his are more enthusiastic. Exhibit A as proof is the fact that his rallies draw massive crowds and hers don't. Exhibit B is that he wins the caucus states where voters have to hang around for hours. The inference is that unenthusiastic voters won't do that; only enthusiastic ones do that. However, a new Gallup poll that specifically asks about enthusiasm shows that her supporters are actually more enthusiastic than his. Here are Gallup's results:

Degree of enthusiasm Clinton supporters Sanders supporters
Extremely enthusiastic 25% 23%
Very enthusiastic 29% 21%
Somewhat enthusiastic 23% 27%
Not too enthusiastic 12% 19%
Not at all enthusiastic 10% 9%
No opinion 1% 0%
Extremely/Very enthusiastic 54% 44%

So adding up the extremely and very enthusiastic categories, Clinton is ahead 54% to 44%. In other words, more than half of her supporters are at least very enthusiastic, whereas slightly under half of his feel that way. So why are his rallies so big? Probably because her supporters tend to be much older, and older people don't go to rallies much.

Gallup also polled Republicans. Here Donald Trump's supporters are far more enthusiastic than anyone else's, as expected. Here are the results:

Degree of enthusiasm Trump supporters Cruz supporters Kasich supporters
Extremely enthusiastic 37% 22% 16%
Very enthusiastic 28% 17% 17%
Somewhat enthusiastic 23% 25% 15%
Not too enthusiastic 5% 19% 20%
Not at all enthusiastic 5% 16% 31%
No opinion 2% 0% 1%
Extremely/Very enthusiastic 65% 39% 33%

So, as with many media and Internet narratives, sometimes they are true but sometimes not. It depends on who is doing the narrating and which axe is being ground. (V)

Another Schism Threatens the Republican Party

The potential nomination of Donald Trump as the presidential nominee threatens to tear the Republican Party apart, but it is not the only fissure on the horizon. Another one is between the donor class and religious conservatives. Put fairly bluntly, wealthy donors and religious conservatives do not see eye to eye on many social issues. Governors, who need the money of the donors and the votes of the conservatives are caught in a vise. The most recent example of this is the bill the Georgia legislature passed "protecting" religious freedom. In real-world terms, what the bill does is make it legal for a store or other business to openly say: "No gay people will be employed or served here." Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA) was under tremendous pressure from the religious right to sign the bill, but numerous companies that operate in Georgia threatened to leave the state and take jobs out of the Georgia economy if he signed it. Finally, the governor made a decision: He vetoed the bill, angering conservatives but soothing big donors, who see all this talk about gay rights and abortion as a pain in the butt and wish the conservative base would just shut up and get with the program, which is all about tax cuts.

In North Carolina, a similar law was passed by the state legislature, but there Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) signed it. The difference between the two governors is easily explained. McCrory is up for reelection in November and he needs votes more than he needs money. Deal isn't up in 2016 and wouldn't like to have many large companies shut down their Georgia operations in the next two years, since the Democrats would then hammer on the job losses during his tenure. (V)

Rubio Not Releasing His Delegates

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gained five delegates on Tuesday at the expense of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. It was one of the best days of the campaign for him, despite the fact that he dropped out two weeks ago.

Actually, Rubio didn't "gain" the delegates as much as he "re-gained" them. He has contacted the various states in which he still has the right to control his awarded delegates, and has made clear that he intends to keep them, at least for now. Consequently, Alaska Republican Party Chairman Peter Goldberg decided to reallocate Rubio's delegates back to the Florida Senator.

Rubio's publicly-stated goal is to do everything he can to derail Donald Trump, for the good of the Republican Party. That may be true, at least partly, but it's also the case that Marco Rubio—like many politicians—tends to think first about what's best for Marco Rubio. Surely he has seen the same projections everyone else has, and knows there is a very good possibility that a few delegates—maybe even the five from Alaska—could be the key for a non-Trump nominee to triumph. If Rubio was to play kingmaker in that scenario, he would certainly be in line for a very juicy patronage reward. Vice President Rubio? Secretary of Defense Rubio? Associate Supreme Court Justice Rubio? Ambassador Rubio?

Or, if we want to speculate even more wildly, no GOP chairman has managed to survive three straight presidential losses. If Reince Priebus finds himself out of a job on November 9, Rubio's "teamwork" could leave him in an excellent position to assume leadership of a Party that's trying to appeal to Latinos. It certainly would not be the first time in recent memory a presidential candidate burst out of the gate, sank his chances with an embarrassing gaffe, and then accepted his party's chairmanship as a consolation prize. Plus, the credit cards that national GOP officials get must make the Florida Republican Party's credit cards pale by comparison. (Z)

The Truth About Trump's Lies

New York Magazine's Jesse Singal, who takes scientific scholarship and translates it for a popular audience, has written an interesting piece about Donald Trump's truth-challenged rhetoric. He makes three points, backed with citations and links to papers:

  • Trump's audience doesn't mind the lies. They see his core message, about being authentic and standing up for the "little guy" as being honest and truthful, and they accept that he may have to engage in a little dishonesty (or a lot) to advance his vision.

  • The cost/benefit analysis works out. Lying looks bad, but it also creates confidence, and confidence looks good. "He basically just acts like the alpha male," says psychologist Nina Strohminger. "I don't need to tell you the truth, or I don't need to apologize if I f..k up."

  • Trump doesn't know he's lying. When someone is lying, it is difficult to control certain cues that give the lie away (particularly their eyes). Therefore, the lie works better if the teller believes it, since then those cues won't be present. This is called self-deception, and scholars agree that Trump is a skilled practitioner.

Singal's piece is brief, and well worth reading. And if nothing else, he makes clear that the social scientists are going to be studying this one for decades to come. (Z)

Democrats Go After Trump's Campaign Manager

Donald Trump's campaign manger, Corey Lewandowski, has been formally charged with battery as a result of a video showing him grabbing reporter Michelle Fields at a rally on March 8. Democrats are demanding that Trump fire Lewandowski. Jeff Weaver, Bernie Sanders' campaign manager, said: "Every campaign has to be accountable for the culture they create." Republicans, too. In fact, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) used almost exactly the same verbiage as Sanders' spokesman: "The culture of the campaign has been a campaign built on attacks." Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz in complete agreement—that's not something you see every day.

Lewandowski will appear in Court May 4, and the campaign said he will plead not guilty. That could lead to a trial during the general election campaign. The last thing Trump needs then is having his campaign manager on trial for hitting a woman, with Trump defending him. Violence against women is not going to be a winning strategy, especially not against a woman opponent. The best thing Trump could do now is dump Lewandowski, but that is not Trump's style. It could be a costly mistake. (V)

Trump's Path To the White House Runs Through the Rust Belt

In The Atlantic, Ronald Brownstein makes the case that Donald Trump's only plausible way to win the electoral college is by sweeping the blue states in the Upper Midwest, namely Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. These states have more blue-collar white men than the national average, and these are Trump's strongest supporters. If he can't make it here, he can't make it anywhere. By campaigning hard in these states against trade agreements that ship jobs overseas, Trump could rev up his base.

However, there is substantial downside risk doing this. This line of reasoning does not work well with college-educated men, suburban women, and minorities, whose turnout might be increased if Trump spends a lot of time in these states. In particular, if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, her primary target is going to be suburban women who normally vote Republican. She is going to remind them over and over of all the sexist things he has said, and the more he campaigns in those states, the more likely they are to remember what he has said and vote against him.

From an Electoral College point of view, most analysts start with the idea that Trump has to hold the 206 electoral votes Romney got, although some think that North Carolina and Arizona might flip to the Democrats. Most strategists don't think the rust-belt strategy will work. Instead, they focus on winning back Florida—which won't be easy because there aren't many blue-collar workers who are worried about their manufacturing jobs going overseas in Florida. If Trump can hold all the Romney states and flip Florida, he could reach 269 electoral votes with Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa. If the Electoral College splits 269 to 269, the House would pick the President, with each state having one vote. Republicans currently control a majority of state delegations. If Trump could win one more swing state, he could pass 270.

The trouble with all of these scenarios is that Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin have voted Democratic in every election going back to 1992 and the demographics are getting worse for the Republicans every year. Flipping any of them will be tough. Wisconsin, in particular, presents additional problems due to the Senate race there, where former senator Russ Feingold is trying to defeat Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to get his seat back. Feingold will pull many Democrats to the polls and they are likely to vote Democratic in the presidential election as well. (V)

More Trouble in Paradise

Just a few weeks ago, up to and including the March 3 candidates' debate, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) were all vowing to support the eventual Republican nominee, whoever he might be. Not any more. All three have now found reasons to back away the promise; Trump's is that he has "been treated very unfairly," Cruz's is "I'm not in the habit of supporting someone who attacks my wife," and Kasich's is that the question should never have been asked in the first place.

Except for those who had just taken a fall off the turnip truck, nobody took these promises seriously when they were made. So, in that sense, not much has changed. What this makes clear, however, is that everyone is thinking seriously about a third-party bid, depending on what happens at the Republican convention. That's really the only reason to disavow these promises this rapidly and this publicly, so that a "change of heart" in July or August doesn't appear to be an opportunistic flip-flop. (Z)

Five Myths Trump Is Exploding

Politico has an interesting piece on political myths that Donald Trump is disproving. Here is a brief summary.

Voters are "Liberal" or "Conservative." There is an unspoken assumption in political reporting that everyone accepts the entire liberal package or the entire conservative package. If you are for saving the whales then you can't simultaneously be for saving unborn babies. You can save whales or unborn babies, not both. However, Trump has demonstrated that more people believe in mix-and-match than was previously thought. Some of them are against abortion, against same-sex marriage, but also against free-trade agreements, despite the fact that neither party has this position.

Gaffes are important. Trump makes gaffes all the time and his support doesn't change or even goes up. The reason is becoming clear now. The people who don't follow politics on a pitch-by-pitch basis, don't even know about the gaffes. The people who follow politics that closely, have long since made up their minds about who they support. Bernie Sanders could accidentally say that Thomas Jefferson was the first President and it would have zero effect on his support. If George Bush had ever said that he would have been made out as an idiot. Trump supporters don't care about details and gaffes. They like the "big picture" Trump is projecting, namely "stick it to the politicians."

Politics is no longer driven by race. Some people thought that after a (half-)black President was elected, race would be behind us. No way. Prejudice is probably stronger than ever in some segments of society. Trump's overt racism gets him many supporters and he knows that very well. He doesn't give a hoot what the editorial board of the New York Times thinks. He wasn't expecting its endorsement and would reject it if it were forthcoming.

Most political events have a single underlying explanation. The rise of Donald Trump has several causes. One is the Citizens United decision, which made the Republican Party focus too much on big donors instead of what the voters wanted. Another is the latent racism in American society that has gotten only worse during the Obama presidency. Still another is Trump's ability to make pungent statements in 140 characters and broadcast them widely, something no other candidate has ever mastered as well. There isn't a single cause.

Norms of political behavior are durable and resilient. Trump has violated many unwritten rules and not been punished. He yells at his opponents during debates. He insults them and their wives. He won't tell his supporters that violence at rallies is completely unacceptable. He is not sure if he wants support from the Ku Klux Klan. No other candidate has pushed the envelope so far and gotten away with it. Maybe the unwritten rules are not written in stone, but in sand.

Of course, if Trump goes down in flames in November, many people will say it is precisely because he violated so many rules. (V)

Union Non-Loss Helps the Democrats

The Supreme Court failed to decide a major case yesterday, deadlocking 4-4. The issue was whether the teachers union in California could force teachers who were not members but who benefit from the union's collective bargaining to pay union dues. If Antonin Scalia were alive it is 100% certain that he would have ruled with the four conservative members of the court, greatly crippling public sector unions and thus hurting the Democrats in elections. It is not exactly a victory for the unions, but more of a non-loss, at least for now. Because the Court deadlocked 4 to 4, no national precedent is set and the case will come back later when the ninth seat is filled. There are more very important cases currently being argued and it is likely that many of them will also split the Court down the middle. For almost any controversial case nowadays, it is possible to predict the outcome in advance (except on a few issues, such as gay rights, where Justice Anthony Kennedy can go either way). (V)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster
Mar29 Sanders Has Raised Millions Since Saturday
Mar29 Sanders Is Trying to Pilfer Clinton's Superdelegates
Mar29 Trump Threatens to Sue over Louisiana Delegation
Mar29 Supreme Court Vacancy Not Currently a Top Issue for Many Voters
Mar29 Former Trump Strategist Confirms What Everyone Suspected
Mar29 Trump Could Hurt Republicans for a Generation
Mar29 Why Not Al Franken?
Mar29 How Much Does a Poll Cost?
Mar29 No Guns at the Republican National Convention
Mar29 No Apple vs. the FBI in Court
Mar29 Rubio Removes Himself from the California Ballot
Mar28 Sanders Wins Three States, but Not So Many Delegates
Mar28 White People Love Sanders
Mar28 The Fight for South Carolina Is Starting All Over
Mar28 Obama's Approval Rating Is Now 53%
Mar28 When Was America Great?
Mar28 Grave Criticism for Trump
Mar28 How the Republicans Created Donald Trump
Mar28 Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, but Talking about It Is Fine
Mar28 Trump Wins Blue States and Sanders Wins Red States
Mar27 Pacific States Feel the Bern
Mar27 Could Trump's Sexism Trump His Racism?
Mar27 Come to Cleveland, Bring Your Guns
Mar27 Which Contested Convention Would 2016 Most resemble?
Mar27 Which Republican Party Will Survive?
Mar27 Jan 20, 2017 Under President Cruz
Mar26 Democrats Caucus in Three States Today
Mar26 National Enquirer Claims Cruz Has Had Multiple Extramarital Affairs
Mar26 Half of Republican Women Won't Vote for Trump
Mar26 American Muslims Are Energized to Vote
Mar26 Democrats Nervous About Cash Shortage in Senate Races
Mar26 Emily's List Is Trying To Defeat a Top Progressive Democrat
Mar26 GOP Already Working Hard to Save Downticket Races
Mar26 Republican Unity on Scalia Replacement is Showing Cracks
Mar25 Can Trump Hit 1,237 Delegates?
Mar25 Will The Convention Invoke the Nuclear Option?
Mar25 Lobbying of the Delegates Is Already Underway
Mar25 Cruz Calls Trump a Sniveling Coward
Mar25 Cruz and Kasich Begin the Air War in Wisconsin
Mar25 Sanders Gets Key Union Endorsement on West Coast
Mar25 Can Trump Legally Expel Protesters from His Rallies?
Mar25 Trump Open to Nuking ISIS
Mar25 Are There Really a Bunch of Trump Democrats?
Mar25 Trump vs. Clinton Would Be the Oldest Match-Up in History
Mar24 Voting Was a Disaster in Arizona
Mar24 Lose with Cruz
Mar24 Big GOP Donors Planning to Dump Trump to Save Congress
Mar24 For Trump, Nothing is Out of Bounds
Mar24 Trump's #1 Cheerleader: Newt Gingrich
Mar24 Is the Party Over?