Clinton 2246
Sanders 1503
 Needed   2383
Trump 1068
Cruz 564
Rubio 166
Kasich 153
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  West Virginia Votes Today
      •  Rubio Doesn't Want To Be Trump's Veep
      •  It's Trump Versus Warren
      •  Trump Fatigue Setting In
      •  Time's Running Out for a Third-Party Alternative to Trump
      •  Cruz Not Going Away Yet
      •  Facebook Raises Conservative Ire
      •  Get Ready For a Lot of Endorsements Like These

West Virginia Votes Today

Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) face off again today in the West Virginia primary. Clinton is on record wanting to move away from coal and switching to renewable energy sources as quickly as possible. That makes her very popular with much of the Democratic Party. It also makes her a pariah in West Virginia, a very poor state whose economy is based largely on coal. Take away coal mining, and there is nothing left. Sanders doesn't like coal either, but he has downplayed it in his campaign. His focus has been on breaking up the big banks and West Virginia doesn't have any big banks. The question is not who is going to win, but how big Sanders' landslide victory will be. The trouble for him is that West Virginia has only 29 delegates, so even with 2/3 of the vote, he picks up a net gain of only about 10 delegates, which barely makes a dent in her lead of over 290 pledged delegates, with time running out.

Coal aside, West Virginia is a very white state where Clinton crushed Obama in 2008. But this year, the white states have gone to Sanders. The primary is open and both Democrats and independents can vote in it, another factor that has tended to break in the Vermont Senator's favor. (V)

Rubio Doesn't Want To Be Trump's Veep

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) didn't quite quote Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, but he came close yesterday when he said: "I have never sought, will not seek and do not want to be considered for Vice President." That's pretty definitive, so Trump will have to look elsewhere for his Veep. Rubio would be able to build a bridge between Trump and the GOP establishment and his Latino background might also help Trump with an ethnic group that isn't too keen on him. But it is not to be. (V)

It's Trump Versus Warren

Although Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) decided not to run for President, much to the dismay of many progressive Democrats, she ended up fighting Donald Trump anyway—on Twitter. On the night that he won Indiana and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) dropped out, she denounced Trump in no uncertain terms. He came back by calling her goofy and claiming that she got her job as a Harvard professor by falsely claiming she is an Indian (i.e., Native American). Then the battle spread to Facebook, where she said of him: "Trump has built his campaign on racism, sexism and xenophobia." She has since called him a bully and weak and has made it abundantly clear that she is not the slightest bit afraid of him.

Warren is clearly playing the long game here. She understands that it doesn't look presidential for Hillary Clinton to go after Trump tweet for tweet on an hourly basis, but Warren doesn't have to look presidential since she is not running for President. She also fully understands that it is important for the Democrats that all the supporters of Bernie Sanders get through the grieving process by November and vote for Clinton. What better way than for their heroine, Warren, to make it clear that Trump is their enemy, not Clinton. She has nothing to lose by spending the next six months belittling Trump on social media and in speeches and to the extent that she injures him, it only raises her standing within the Democratic Party and makes her a power center within the Senate. It also greatly helps Hillary Clinton by allowing Clinton to take the high road and act presidential while at the same time having every attack from Trump be answered mercilessly in real time.

Is Warren angling for a job? Only she knows, but if Clinton were very grateful for her help, she could probably get used to "Secretary of the Treasury Warren" quickly. Were she to get that job, she could carry out much of Sanders' program on her own. (V)

Trump Fatigue Setting In

The punditry can't necessarily say so overtly, but it does get a bit tiresome covering Donald Trump's feud of the day (Monday: Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)), his scandal of the day (Monday: fraudulent foreclosures by his finance chairman), and the anti-Trump backlash of the day (Monday: Latino registrations are way, way up.)

Politicians don't have to be quite so circumspect, however, and already some of them are acknowledging how tiresome The Donald has become. Specifically, GOP members of the Senate, who are only one week into "Donald Trump, presumptive nominee," are sick of answering Trump-related questions, according to TPM's Lauren Fox. In fact, no less than six of them—Roy Blunt (R-MO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Bob Corker (R-TN), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Johnny Isakson (R-GA)—pointedly dodged such queries on Monday.

In other words, just about everyone is wishing that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders would start making some news again. Maybe they can go through another round of declaring each other unfit to be president, or they can exchange official Clinton woman cards in honor of Mother's Day, or something else to restore everyone's sanity. (Z)

Time's Running Out for a Third-Party Alternative to Trump

There has been a fair bit of rumbling from certain corners of the GOP establishment about running a third-party candidate whom "real Republicans" can vote for. The name that's been bandied about the most is Mitt Romney, who is apparently open to the idea. The problem is that the logistics of getting on the ballot in most or all of the 50 states are fairly daunting, and critical deadlines are—or soon will be—upon us. In fact, the deadline just passed in the key state of Texas; another will soon pass in North Carolina, and then in Illinois.

The idea is not dead yet—there's still the possibility of a write-in campaign, or making a deal with a party that is already on the Texas ballot (the Libertarians, presumably, since the Green Party isn't likely to take Romney's phone calls). Still, the notion is definitely on life support, and will almost certainly end up being nothing more than talk. If Romney wants to spend his time and money making it easier for Hillary Clinton to get elected, he should just take out his checkbook and volunteer for a few hours at one of her call centers. (Z)

Cruz Not Going Away Yet

On Monday, Ted Cruz sent letters to several state GOP offices advising them that he would not be releasing the delegates he won during primary season. While it's possible that he could still be planning some sort of backdoor nomination scheme, that seems unlikely. His official explanation, and probably the truthful one, is that he wants to have a major voice in shaping the Republican Party platform.

Now, whatever else Cruz may be, he's a smart man. So, he certainly knows that few people read the platform, and that it has no real bearing on what the candidate does or says. Particularly Donald Trump, who doesn't even feel bound by what he said five minutes ago, much less the GOP platform. Presumably, this is actually step number one in Cruz's 2020 campaign. He will argue that, even with Trump as nominee, he stood up for conservative principles and tried to keep the Party on course—making him the ideal standard-bearer. It's not a bad thought, tactically-speaking, and he might as well try to get some mileage out of all the work he did campaigning this year. (Z)

Facebook Raises Conservative Ire

Last month, we mentioned a thought piece by The Atlantic's Robinson Meyer, in which he described some of the hard-to-detect means that Facebook might deploy to affect the outcome of elections. Facebook denied that they would ever do such a thing, and insisted that their "trending news" section was governed entirely by sophisticated algorithms that picked up the things users were talking about. Not so much, it turns out.

The truth, as revealed in an exposé by Gizmodo, is that the news feed is managed by a staff of curators, most of them young, college-educated types. That's a group that skews pretty liberal, and so their choices as curators skew pretty liberal. There were also occasional instructions to the curators from on high—no stories about Facebook itself, make sure to incorporate "hard news" about foreign affairs, and avoid conservative outlets like RedState, Breitbart, the Washington Examiner, and Newsmax unless the same stories can be found on more mainstream sites like The New York Times or CNN.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. Most media sources have some sort of vetting process, and Facebook is entitled to have one too, if they so desire. Targeting Breitbart, et al., may seem a "political" choice, and it is to some extent, but it's also about credibility. Those sites run a lot of questionable material, and without confirmation, the items just aren't trustworthy (the left-wing equivalent is the Huffington Post, which seems to let just about anyone contribute to their politics blog, like the now-infamous H.A. Goodman.)

The problem, of course, is doing these things and then lying about it, which Zuckerberg & Co. seem to have been caught red-handed doing. Hard to believe it will hurt them much, though—people love their Farmville and their friends' cat videos too much to boycott. (Z)

Get Ready For a Lot of Endorsements Like These

As we and others have noted many times, the two likely nominees—Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—are rather unpopular with a large segment of the voting public. Consequently, a fair number of people feel that they're simply choosing the less bad choice. This is giving rise to a new genre of endorsement not often seen in American politics, which might well be described as "endorsement with faint praise."

Former presidential candidate and Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, for example, has grudgingly decided to bestow his blessing on The Donald. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, under the headline "I'm Voting Trump, Warts and All," Jindal says:

I was one of the earliest and loudest critics of Mr. Trump. I mocked his appearance, demeanor, ideology and ego in the strongest language I have ever used to publicly criticize anyone in politics. I worked harder than most, with little apparent effect, to stop his ascendancy. I have not experienced a sudden epiphany and am not here to detail an evolution in my perspective...I think electing Donald Trump would be the second-worst thing we could do this November, better only than electing Hillary Clinton to serve as the third term for the Obama administration's radical policies.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Another entry comes from conservative writer and satirist P.J. O'Rourke, who has reached the apparently painful conclusion that he must back Clinton. He says:

I am endorsing Hillary, and all her lies and all her empty promises. It's the second-worst thing that can happen to this country, but she's way behind in second place. She's wrong about absolutely everything, but she's wrong within normal parameters.

One imagines that this one won't be finding its way onto her website. Too bad, because she'll likely have enough for a whole page full of backhanded Republican endorsements very soon. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
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