Clinton 2223
Sanders 1449
 Needed   2383
Trump 1053
Cruz 565
Rubio 171
Kasich 153
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

Trump Shakes the Etch-A-Sketch Very Gently

Likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is starting to turn his attention to the general election. On some issues, especially immigration and The Great Wall of America, he has reiterated what he has long said: no to Muslim immigrants, yes to building a wall on the border. But on other issues, he is already starting to back down from what he previously said.

During the primaries, he said he didn't want any super PACs because he didn't want to be part of a corrupt system and indebted to special interests. Now he has discovered that he is going to need a billion dollars to match Hillary Clinton, so super PACs are OK with him. To raise all that money, he tapped hedge fund manager Steven Mnuchin to run his financial operation. Cue the Democratic ads with Trump denouncing hedge funds and their managers followed by this announcement.

In the past, Trump was against raising the minimum wage. On CNN this week he said: "I mean, you have to have something that you can live on." That's what Hillary and Bernie have been saying all year; they just differ on the number by a little bit. When he rolled out his tax plan last year, Trump gave huge tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. Now it is middle-class taxpayers who should get the cuts. He is even touting his flip-flops as a feature rather than a bug: He is flexible and responds to what the voters have told him. (V)

Trump's Financial Operation Is Already in Disarray

While Mnuchin's appointment will certainly help on the money front, Trump also has woes there. His existing super PAC, Great America PAC, just lost its leader, tea party activist Amy Kremer. She quit due to disagreements with other people in the organization. Another leader, Jesse Benton, left after being convicted on Thursday on federal charges of public corruption for bribing an Iowa state senator to endorse Ron Paul in 2012. The group has brought in veteran Republican operative Ed Rollins to be top strategist. For all Trump's managerial expertise, he is going to have trouble managing the various "independent" groups out there that support him. (V)

Where Trump Needs to Win

The Electoral College map doesn't look good for Donald Trump. Nevertheless, there are possible paths that could lead to victory. His top targets will probably be Ohio (18 electoral votes) and Virginia (13 EVs). Ohio has few Latinos and relatively few people with bachelor's degrees. It also has an older population, which is good for Trump since he does miserably among young people. Most important, the state has been hit very hard by jobs being shipped overseas and his pitch to repeal trade agreements could resonate in the Buckeye State.

Virginia will be tougher. It is not as industrial as Ohio but only 5% of the 2012 voters were Latino. Also, it ranks seventh in the country in the fraction of the population with college degrees. Finally, about 20% of the population is black.

He is also going to fight hard in the Rust Belt, especially in Michigan (16 EVs) and Pennsylvania (20 EVs). However, the last time any Republican carried either of these states was 1988. Neither will be an easy win. Obama carried Michigan by 10 points in 2015 and a Marist poll released last week showed Clinton ahead of Trump by 15 points in Pennsylvania.

Next, we come to Florida (29 EVs). There is no way Trump can win without Florida. The state has many Latino voters and Obama carried them by 21 points in 2012. Older Latinos are Republicans but younger ones are Democrats. Nevertheless, Florida is not a lost cause for Trump as Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) was twice elected in the Sunshine state.

Near the bottom of the list for Trump are Colorado (9 EVs) and Nevada (6 EVs). Colorado is a highly educated state, third in the nation in college degrees per capita. Even worse is that 14% of the electorate is Latino and Obama won 75% of these in 2012. Nevada is also a problem, with 19% of the voters being Latino. (V)

Charlie Cook Shifts Ratings in 13 States

Nonpartisan political guru Charlie Cook has changed his ratings in 13 states, making the above efforts Trump needs to win look more and more like pie in the sky. Cook, a long-time political prognosticator, bases his ratings on public polls, data on demographics, and many private discussions with internal pollsters from both parties. With the new ratings, 190 electoral votes are solid for Hillary Clinton, 27 are likely Clinton, and 87 are leaning for Clinton, for a total of 304, enough to win easily.

The most important changes are moving five toss-up states to lean Democratic: Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. New Mexico went from likely Democratic to solid Democratic, but Maine went the other way. North Carolina went from lean Republican to being a toss-up and will surely be a major (and expensive) battleground. Also noteworthy is the downgrading of Arizona and Georgia from likely Republican to lean Republican, indicating that they may be competitive. Indiana and Missouri were downgraded from solid Republican to likely Republican. All in all, Cook is clearly not going to be placing any large bets on Trump. (V)

Whom Are You Voting Against in 2016?

As you may have heard, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are disliked by a lot of voters. Assuming their current unfavorable ratings hold, it will be the most unpopular presidential ballot ever put before American voters (at least, since these numbers first began to be tracked in the 1940s). This being the case, the result of a new Reuters/Ipsos poll comes as no great surprise. Trump supporters were asked to name their #1 motivation for voting for him, and 47% of them said, "I don't want Hillary Clinton to win." Clinton supporters were asked the same question, and 46% of them said, "I don't want Donald Trump to win." By contrast, 43% of Trump supporters were primarily motivated by his positions on the issues and 6% because they like him personally; for Clinton it was 40% and 11%.

Now, it should be recalled that while these numbers are on the dismal end of the spectrum, they are not quite as bad as they seem. About 40% of the public is going to dislike anyone with an (R) after his or her name, and about 40% is going to feel the same about anyone with a (D). Trump and Clinton get a "bonus" because they've both lived high-profile, controversial lives for the past two decades or so. Still, it does mean there will be a lot of unhappy people on Election Day. (Z)

Trump Dodges a Bullet on Fraud Trial

Donald Trump used to run a real-estate school called Trump University. It advertised that courses were taught by experts hand-picked by Trump himself. It turns out almost none of them had even met Trump and the content of the courses wasn't anything you couldn't learn on the Internet. Now some of the students who paid $35,000 for these courses have sued Trump for fraud. The trial in California was scheduled for August, but the judge has decided to postpone the trial until after the election to avoid its becoming a media circus. Of course, if Trump is president-elect when the trial happens (in November), it will be even worse. (V)

Trump is McCain's Fault

Earlier this week, Meghan McCain tweeted:

I hope history remembers those who gave up their conservative principles for the cult of personality and celebrity. And those who didn't.

The tweet was aimed at supporters of Donald Trump but as Sean Illing points out, she should have sent it as a text message to her dad, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The idea of someone on a major party ticket who knows nothing about the issues and cares less, but prefers running a tweet-based celebrity-type campaign is nothing new. McCain prototyped the model by picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. Trump just perfected it.

If McCain had gone with his gut instincts and picked a heavyweight politician as his running mate (he was leaning towards Joe Lieberman), politics would have remained a serious business. Instead he picked someone who was a rock star with the Republican base, even though he knew (or should have known) that she was totally unqualified to be president. By elevating someone who ran a celebrity-oriented campaign, instead of a normal political one, he paved the way for Trump, who is just following in Palin's footsteps. (V)

Trump May Have Some Explaining To Do--To His Wife

Donald Trump tweeted "Happy Cinco de Mayo" in the hope of picking up some Latino votes. He thoughtfully included a photo of himself eating a taco salad in his office. Unfortunately, the photo showed a bit more of his desk than he meant to show. In particular there on his desk was a photo of one of his ex-wives, Marla Maples, in a bikini. If Melania reads his tweets, he may have some explaining to do at home—and possibly to voters who don't approve of your having photos of your ex-wife in a bikini on your desk. (V)

Sanders Walks Both Sides of the Street

While he was president, Lyndon B. Johnson was once asked why he appointed one of his fiercest critics within the Democratic Party to a post in his administration. The ever-earthy Johnson said, "Well, I'd rather have him on the inside of the tent pissing out, then on the outside pissing in."

The Democrats might consider that lesson when it comes to Bernie Sanders. On Friday, he spent a fair bit of time and energy pissing into the tent, publishing a letter accusing the Democratic Party of stacking the deck against him, by choosing prominent Clinton supporters (Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Rep. Barney Frank) for key positions at the national convention. He wants considerably more influence over the Party's platform committee—instead of choosing four of the fifteen members, he wants to choose seven.

At nearly the same time that Sanders' letter was made public, however, he was also signaling his willingness to come inside the tent, up to and including joining the ticket as the vice-presidential candidate. That's not likely to happen, given his age and his rocky relationship with Clinton. However, the Democrats would be very wise to try and strike a deal with him that grants him some of the other concessions he wants. In particular, if having a major voice in writing the platform will make him happy, then that should be granted instantly. Heck, let him write the whole thing. Very few people read or care about the platform, most candidates ignore it (except for the parts they already agree with), and once the election is over, the platform is forgotten. Pop quiz: What were the first three items on the Democratic platform in 2012? If you said "Middle class tax cuts, health care reform, and stabilizing the housing market," you're right, and you also probably cheated.

Indeed, there is so much sense in reaching some sort of agreement—on both sides—that it is hard to believe that it won't eventually happen. The smart money is that he keeps the campaign going until June 7, when California, New Jersey, and four other states vote, and then announces some sort of agreement later that week, once everyone has had the chance to vote. Every day beyond that just reduces his leverage. (Z)

Could Merrick Garland Be Confirmed After All?

With Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee, the Republican commentariat is taking another look at Merrick Garland, and is thinking he may not be so bad, after all. In a piece for RedState, Leon H. Wolf makes two arguments: Garland is fairly moderate, and he is fairly old (for a Supreme Court nominee). Thus, the "damage" will be less severe, and will not last as long, than if the GOP gets stuck with the 40-something progressive that Hillary Clinton will choose.

The Republicans' best-case scenario—that Trump wins and chooses a conservative nominee—is a long shot. And while the SCOTUS hasn't achieved a lot of traction, nationally, it is definitely playing a role in several key Senate elections, including New Hampshire, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) insists that he is not changing his plans, but he could very well have a come to Jesus moment if he concludes that a vote on Garland is the only way to stay the Majority Leader. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
May06 Journalists All Missed the Boat
May06 With Nomination Decided, GOP Dominoes Now Falling
May06 Democrats Launch Brutal New Ad Attacking Trump
May06 Trump Already Creating Headaches for Republican Candidates
May06 How Loose Are Trump's Lips? We May Soon Find Out
May06 Possible Veep Choices for Trump
May06 Trump as Opponent Changes Clinton's Veep Calculus
May06 Leak: Clinton Didn't Intend to Violate the Law with Her Email Server
May05 Kasich Throws in the Towel
May05 Elizabeth Warren Takes a Hatchet to Trump
May05 Clinton Campaign Fires First Salvo
May05 Neither President Bush Will Endorse Trump
May05 Anti-Trump Republicans Face A Huge Dilemma
May05 Republican Donors Taking a Second Look at Trump
May05 Nikki Haley Doesn't Want to Be the Veep
May05 Electoral Map Looks Tough for Trump
May05 No Electronic Voting at the Republican Convention
May05 Cruz Set to Be a Thorn in the GOP's Side for Years
May04 Hoosier Republican Nominee? Donald Trump
May04 Sanders Pulls Another Midwestern Surprise
May04 It's Not about Trump--It's about the Map
May04 Stop Trump Was a Big Waste of Money
May04 Is Housing the Next Big Political Issue?
May04 Cruz Makes TV Ad for Hillary Clinton
May04 Clinton Tries to Make Nice to Laid-Off Coal Miner
May04 Hoosier Republican Nominee? Donald Trump
May04 Sanders Pulls Another Midwestern Surprise
May04 It's Not About Trump--It's about the Map
May04 Stop Trump Was a Big Waste of Money
May04 Is Housing the Next Big Political Issue?
May04 Cruz Makes TV Ad for Hillary Clinton
May04 Clinton Tries to Make Nice to Laid-Off Coal Miner
May03 Indiana Votes Today
May03 Ted Cruz is Cratering
May03 Why Hasn't Rubio Endorsed Cruz?
May03 Trump and Clinton Have Massive Leads in California
May03 What Kind of General Election Candidate Will Trump Be?
May03 What Kind of General Election Candidate Candidate Will Trump Be?
May03 What Would Have Happened If Each Party Used the Other's Rules?
May03 SCOTUS Obstruction Is Bringing Down Chuck Grassley
May02 Trump and Clinton Lead in Crucial Indiana Primary
May02 Trump Not Interested in Healing the GOP
May02 Trump Accuses China of Raping the U.S.
May02 A Short List of Possible Running Mates for Donald Trump
May02 Cruz's Advisers Are Nervous
May02 Cruz Delegates May Defect
May02 Issa Says that Clinton E-Mail Probe Could Linger Past November
May02 Are Open Primaries a Good Idea?
May01 Trump Might Have Trouble Finding a Running Mate
May01 Gender Hurts Trump but Doesn't Help Clinton