Clinton 2159
Sanders 1370
 Needed   2383
Trump 955
Cruz 562
Rubio 171
Kasich 153
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Trump and Clinton Lead in Crucial Indiana Primary

Tomorrow's Indiana primary is crucial in both races, just as the Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Super Tuesday, Mini Super Tuesday, New York, and the Acela primaries were before it. Well, maybe not so crucial. Actually, not crucial at all, but that doesn't make such good copy. That said, if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton win tomorrow in Indiana, their opponents' chances will go from really slim to really, really slim. The problem is that there aren't enough states left and only two of them are big: California and New Jersey, both of which vote on June 7. For Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), in theory he could win all 475 California delegates and move into first place, but because all Democratic primaries allocate delegates proportionally, in practice even if he wins both California and New Jersey by 10 points, that won't yield enough delegates to make any difference. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) could take all 51 New Jersey delegates because the state is winner take all, but New Jersey is hostile territory for him.

A new NBC News/WSJ/Marist poll of Indiana released yesterday shows Trump with a commanding lead and Clinton with a small lead, as follows:

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Donald Trump 49%
2 Ted Cruz 34%
3 John Kasich 13%

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 50%
2 Bernie Sanders 46%

Part of Cruz's problem in Indiana is that he and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) agreed that he would win Indiana and Kasich would win Oregon and New Mexico. The only fly in the ointment is that 58% of the Indiana voters don't approve of this marriage of convenience. For what it is worth, Trump beats Clinton by 7 points in this fairly red state in the general-election matchup. (V)

Trump Not Interested in Healing the GOP

Normally after a nasty primary battle, the winner makes a great effort to bring all of the loser(s)' supporters on board. After all, winning without them in November is a lot harder than winning with them. In contrast to every other nominee either party has ever had, Donald Trump doesn't care, claiming he can win without all those losers. In his speech in California on Friday, he continued to attack Ted Cruz and ridicule John Kasich, saying that his 10-year-old son finds Kasich's eating habits disgusting. Historically, eating helps politicians, as they chow down all kinds of ethnic food in hopes of seeming like "one of us" to all manner of ethnic groups.

In contrast, Hillary Clinton is acting like the politician she is. Yesterday she praised Bernie Sanders and said: "I certainly look forward to working with Sen. Sanders in the lead-up to the convention, in the lead-up to the platform that will represent the Democratic Party. It will be a progressive platform." Clinton understands that getting your primary opponents on board is important; Trump doesn't seem to recognize this.

In fact, some of the Republicans who oppose Trump are so vehement about it, that they are advocating trying to defeat him in all 50 states so that his legacy is that of the worst loser in American history. Trump doesn't seem to care, though. (V)

Trump Accuses China of "Raping" the U.S.

At a rally in Indiana on Sunday, Donald Trump decided to riff on America's trade deficit with China. The issue is a winner in rust belt states, where voters are very sensitive to jobs being shipped overseas. To really hit the point home, The Donald decided to return to a metaphor he first used in a 2011 interview, declaring that, "We can't continue to allow China to rape our country."

That's a nice and meaty way to put it for Hoosier state voters, but not so good for the voters in, oh, 46 or so of the other states. First of all, there is the fact that Trump barely understands the issue he's talking about; whatever financial acumen he may or may not have, it does not extend to an understanding of international trade. More importantly, however, is that women voters—who, as you may have heard, are already not fond of Trump—are not likely to take kindly to cavalier use of the word 'rape.' One wonders if Trump is actively trying to lose, or if he really has convinced himself that he can win without the votes of women, Latinos, Muslims, young people, and much of the Republican Party. We could well be heading for a thrashing of 1984 proportions. (Z)

A Short List of Possible Running Mates for Donald Trump

Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza has made his first stab at predicting Donald Trump's running mate. The winner? Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ). Here are his top five:

  1. Chris Christie: An equally in-your-face, no-holds-barred politician
  2. Rick Scott: A wealthy businessman from the most-important swing state
  3. Joni Ernst: A woman who was elected to the Senate because she is good at castrating hogs
  4. John Kasich: A Kasich pick would be an olive branch to the establishment
  5. Marco Rubio: A Cuban-American from the key swing state could help Trump, even though he dislikes Rubio

But Trump is so unpredictable, he might come up with someone not on anyone's radar. (V)

Cruz's Advisers Are Nervous

While Ted Cruz tries to project an aura of confidence, not everyone on his staff got the memo. Aides who spoke to Politico concede that without a win tomorrow in Indiana—which the polls say is unlikely—it looks grim for Cruz. Some are wondering what is next. Many top Republicans think that if Cruz can't win Indiana, it's all over and they are stuck with Trump. In contrast, Cruz keeps saying that the nomination will be determined by what happens in California, where 172 delegates are at stake. (V)

Cruz Delegates May Defect

Since Ted Cruz is mathematically eliminated from winning the GOP nomination in the primary season, his focus is on stealing the nomination by gaming the process. To that end, he has bent over backwards to stack the various states' slates of delegates with his supporters. Even those who are bound to Donald Trump on the first ballot can vote pro-Cruz on procedural and other matters. And on the second, or the third, or the fourth ballot, they become free agents who can vote for any candidate they please.

Now, however, cracks are showing in the Cruz strategy. The National Review contacted several of the "Cruz delegates" and found that they are getting cold feet. Some were underwhelmed by Cruz's performance last Tuesday. Others think that Trump's nomination is inevitable, and they do not want to see the Party ripped apart by a nasty convention fight. So, all signs suggest that the end is near for Cruz 2016; the only question is how soon the candidate realizes it. (Z)

Issa Says that Clinton E-Mail Probe Could Linger Past November

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) played a critical role in the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe as the former chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. On Sunday, he told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo that the investigation is now focusing on possible violations involving Clinton, "coordinating her activities and President Clinton's activities and Chelsea's activities in the Clinton Foundation," and that this new avenue of inquiry may require until 2017 to reach resolution.

Put another way, the GOP Quixotes are tilting at more windmills. "We're opening up a new avenue of investigation" is the same thing as saying, "We don't think that the original investigation is going to find anything." Given the Benghazi hearings fiasco, not to mention Merrick Garland, it's not a good look for the Republican members of Congress, who are beginning to acquire something of a reputation for not doing their jobs. Meanwhile, once Clinton actually has the powers of the presidency at her disposal, she would have the ability to re-classify anything she wanted to re-classify, and (most scholars agree) would also be able to pardon herself, if it came to that. In fact, it's not impossible that Barack Obama will preemptively pardon her once the election is past and the fallout would be not so great. Whatever the case may be, it becomes clearer each day that GOP hopes of ending Hillary Clinton's political career with some sort of indictment are just pipe dreams. (Z)

Are Open Primaries a Good Idea?

Bernie Sanders is continuing to fight for the Democratic nomination, even though he surely knows it would take a miracle for him to win. Nevertheless, his quest is by no means pointless. He wants to collect enough delegates to force the Democratic Party to put some of his ideas in its platform. Another point he is keen on is making the Party change its rules next time to allow independents to vote in Democratic primaries. This is definitely one of those areas in which you should be very careful about what you wish for, because you might get it. The idea is certainly controversial.

There are two levels one can look at the issue: (1) How it played out this time, and (2) How it might play out next time. Sanders claims it is not democratic to deny independents the right to vote in Democratic primaries, although anyone who wants to can simply change his or her registration to "Democratic." Sanders argues that is too big a barrier for many people. Interestingly enough, Sanders has not argued for replacing caucuses with primaries even though going to a caucus and arguing with other partisans for a couple of hours is clearly a much bigger burden than just going in, voting, and going home. His silence on the caucus/primary issue may just be influenced, of course, by the fact that he has won 11 of the 14 caucuses so far. Let's take a look at how Sanders has done in closed states (only Democrats can vote), open states (anybody can vote) and semi states (Democrats and independents can vote). Here are the results:

States won
Candidate Closed Open Semi
Clinton 10 10 4
Sanders 7 6 5

In the closed states, Sanders is batting .412; in the open ones he is batting .375; in the semi ones he is batting .555. This is why he likes the idea of letting independents (but not Republicans) vote in the Democratic primaries. If we look at delegates instead of states, we get this picture:

Delegates won
Candidate Closed Open Semi
Clinton 657 724 260
Sanders 521 529 266

Again, Sanders does best in the semi states. Also noteworthy is that on the Republican side, Ted Cruz has beaten Donald Trump 14 to 11 in the closed states but lost 6 to 15 in the open ones. Republicans don't do semi-open or semi-closed.

Sanders' strength has come largely from young voters, many of whom are independents, so we have the historically unusual circumstance of the independents being to the left of the Democrats. This is probably an anomaly. Imagine that the next time there is an election without an incumbent, the establishment favorite is, say, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), a progressive, but he is challenged by conservative insurgent Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who claims that Merkley is far too left-wing to win and only a "centrist" like himself can save the Democrats. Very likely the people who now support open primaries will be howling that people who aren't Democrats have no business telling the Democrats who to nominate.

Republicans, who fear that Donald Trump will destroy their party, are already howling about how unfair open primaries are, since it gave them Trump (possibly due to Democrats voting for Trump as the weakest opponent). Cruz might well lose in November, but he won't destroy the Republican Party since he is clearly a Republican and is simply the standard bearer of one wing. Moral: semi-open or semi-closed primaries allow insurgents outside the party mainstream to get traction, but whether this is a good idea or a bad idea depends on whether you happen to like the insurgent in question. (V)

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---The Votemaster
May01 Trump Might Have Trouble Finding a Running Mate
May01 Gender Hurts Trump but Doesn't Help Clinton
May01 How Trump Will Attack Clinton
May01 Trump May Mention Monica Lewinsky
May01 Can Trump Win the White House?
May01 Another Saturday, Another Slate of Cruz Delegates
May01 Indiana Unlikely to Be a Repeat of Wisconsin
May01 Will Fiorina Help Cruz in California?
May01 Clinton Is Already Moving Staff to General Election Swing States
May01 Why Are the Highly Educated Getting More Liberal?
May01 Will 2016 Campaign Set Spending Records?
Apr30 GOP Has Split into Ryan and Trump Wings
Apr30 Republicans Have a Big Latino Problem
Apr30 The GOP Is Losing Millennials, Too
Apr30 Model Shows That Trump Will Win the Nomination
Apr30 Republican Women Want Trump To Pick a Woman as Running Mate
Apr30 Democratic Veeps Are Nearly Always Senators
Apr30 Politico's Panel of Insiders Think Clinton Will Crush Trump
Apr30 Closed Primaries Are Not Going to Cost Sanders the Nomination
Apr30 Sanders Drops DNC Lawsuit
Apr30 Trump + Garland = Trouble for Endangered GOP Senators
Apr29 The General Election Has Already Started
Apr29 Trump Has Defined Gender as a Major General Election Issue
Apr29 Get Your Official Hillary Clinton Woman Card
Apr29 Indianapolis Star Slams Trump
Apr29 Bobby Knight Campaigns for Trump
Apr29 Large Majority of Americans Have an Unfavorable View of the Republican Party
Apr29 Trump Has Insulted 210 People, Places, and Things
Apr29 Journalist Who Profiled Melania Trump is Subjected to Abuse
Apr29 Energy Could Determine Control of the Senate
Apr28 Trump Is Very Close To a Majority
Apr28 In Hail Mary Play, Cruz Picks Fiorina for Veep Slot
Apr28 Trump Likely To Get More Primary Votes Than Any Republican in History
Apr28 Trump's Speech Does Not Impress Experts
Apr28 Latinos Registering in Record Numbers
Apr28 It's California or Bust for Sanders
Apr28 Democrats Want to Win While Republicans Want to Send 'em A Message
Apr28 Putin Has Chosen His Horse
Apr28 Clinton May Get Some Help With Doobie-ous Sanders Supporters
Apr27 Trump Goes Five-for-Five on Super Tuesday Four
Apr27 Clinton Effectively Puts Sanders Away
Apr27 Democratic Senate Primaries Go the Establishment's Way
Apr27 Trump Rejects the Idea of Being Presidential
Apr27 The Issues Favor the Democrats
Apr27 Is Clinton Thinking about Her Running Mate the Right Way?
Apr27 Trump University Case Will Go to Trial
Apr27 Sanders Is Sending Supporters a Photo of Clinton at Trump's Wedding
Apr27 Clinton Wants a Cabinet that Looks Like America
Apr26 Five States Vote Today
Apr26 Tuesday Also Has Senate Drama