Clinton 2257
Sanders 1518
 Needed   2383
Trump 1128
Cruz 564
Rubio 166
Kasich 153
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

West Virginia and Nebraska Vote; Nothing Has Changed

As predicted, Donald Trump—who is now unopposed, after all—swept West Virginia and Nebraska. Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took the Mountain State by a comfortable margin. Here are the numbers:

Republican Results
West Virginia (96%) 76.9% 24 9.0% 0 6.8% 0
Nebraska (100%) 61.4% 36 18.5% 0 11.4% 0

Democratic Results
West Virginia (96%) 51.4% 16 36.0% 11

There was some talk of some #NeverTrump protest votes; Republicans using Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) name or Gov. John Kasich's (R-OH) name to register their opposition to The Donald. That obviously did not happen in any meaningful way, which has led much of the commentariat to conclude that Trump had a good night, or that the rank-and-file are coalescing behind him, or some other such takeaway. Not so fast, though. These "conclusions" result from the tendency to search for narrative in voting returns, even when none exists. In part, this is human nature (it's called the Narrative Fallacy), and in part it's because something needs to be written in order to fill those column inches and to light up those pixels.

West Virginians have voted on an unopposed non-incumbent three times in the last 20 years (Mitt Romney was still dealing with Ron Paul in 2012; George W. Bush was an incumbent in 2004). On those occasions, the presumptive nominee has collected 76% of the vote (John McCain in 2008), 79.5% of the vote (George W. Bush in 2000), and 69% of the vote (Bob Dole in 1996). So, Trump scored par. Meanwhile, the same analysis in Nebraska actually has Trump lagging behind McCain (87% in 2008), Bush (78.1% in 2000), and Dole (76% in 1996). This is likely explained by the fact that the Cornhusker State's junior senator, Ben Sasse (R), has been campaigning against Trump all week. In short, all we really know at the end of the night on Tuesday is that someone with an (R) next to his or her name was on the ballot in West Virginia and Nebraska. There is simply nothing to be learned about what might happen in the general election.

Nothing really happened on the Democratic side, either. It hardly needs to be said any more that, due to the Democrats' proportional allocation, even a big win doesn't have much impact (especially in a smallish state). Once all the votes are in, Sanders will likely net about plus-five delegates—a mere drop in the bucket. Sometimes a win means literally nothing. Clinton won the Nebraska primary yesterday with 59% of the vote to Sanders 40% but she gets no delegates at all. They were awarded in the March caucus. The whole primary was completely pointless.

Meanwhile, in terms of the general election, the commentariat is interpreting the results as a rebuke of Clinton, and a sign that her apology to the coal miners was not accepted. Maybe, but probably not. Clinton invested virtually no time and no resources in the state. She knew, given how unhappy voters there are with President Obama, that the primary was a lost cause. She also knows that West Virginia hasn't gone Democratic since it voted for her husband in 1996, so it's not going to be a factor in the general election, either. Why, then, did she apologize so profusely to the coal miners? That was undoubtedly for the benefit of miners in Pennsylvania, where she is definitely competing, and Kentucky, where she might compete.

Next up on the calendar are Kentucky (Democrats only) and Oregon. Sanders will win the latter for sure, and probably the former as well. So, get ready for the "momentum" stories. That's the narrative, after all. (Z)

Clinton Moves Towards Sanders on Health Care

Bernie Sanders won a victory even bigger than West Virginia yesterday. Clinton has changed positions on the so-called "public option," and now favors allowing Americans 50 and older to buy into Medicare. Sanders supports a European-style universal health insurance system. Up until now, Clinton has been in favor of expanding the Affordable Care Act, but under pressure from Sanders, she is moving to the left and now supports a sort of "Medicare for more people." (V)

Cruz Declines to Support Trump

The political equivalent of the famous Sherlock Holmes story "Silver Blaze," whose outcome hinged on the dog that didn't bark, must be a speech by Ted Cruz yesterday about the election in which he didn't bother to mention Donald Trump. Must have forgotten. He also said that creating a third party was not very likely.

Cruz's focus now seems to be playing a big role at the convention, fighting for conservative planks in the platform. This could put him on a collision course with Trump, who is now focused on the general election and needs to try to win the hearts and minds of independents and Democrats. Putting in planks such "no abortions ever, under any conditions, even in cases of rape or to save the life of the mother" aren't going to be big winners. Cruz's strategy appears to be trying to prove that he is the only conservative around, so as soon as Trump loses, he can begin running for the 2020 nomination on a platform of "I told you so." (V)

Armageddon May Be Upon Us

At least, judging by one of the headlines in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, a bastion of conservatism for the last 125 years. The headline in question, for an op-ed by Bret Stephens, is: "Hillary: The Conservative Hope." The argument is pretty much what we would expect, namely that the GOP should play a long game by electing Hillary, obstructing her with a Republican-controlled Congress, and then looking forward to 2020 or 2024, when a proper Republican can be elected. By contrast, electing Trump (if it happened) would wreck the GOP for a generation.

There's no question that many Republicans are thinking this way (though it's unclear whether it's enough to matter). But one might wonder if Stephens is looking at things with his blinders on. Obstruct, obstruct, obstruct has been the mantra of Congressional Republicans for the last eight years, and it's clearly making the voting public unhappy. Can the GOP really afford four more years of doing so? Meanwhile, there's an argument to be made that Trump has already "wrecked" the Republican Party. He has blown open fissures in the party that were first exposed by Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and arguably even Newt Gingrich (who was something of an outsider by 2012). It is a curious and highly questionable assumption that those fissures will magically disappear when and if Donald Trump is sent packing in November. (Z)

Maybe the Republicans Need a Better Voting System

If Donald Trump loses the general election, Reince Priebus' successor—who will be chosen in January—will no doubt order another autopsy report, just as Priebus did in 2013. The first question it will have to answer is: "How did someone with no political experience manage to beat 16 other candidates, including a large number of senators and governors?" Actually, the answer is very simple: In a 17-candidate field, someone with 20-25% support can easily win. A harder question is how the Party can prevent this next time.

Kathleen Parker has offered a suggestion: approval voting. It works like this: instead of voting for a single winner, each voter casts an approve/disapprove vote for each candidate. The candidate with the most "approve" votes wins. So for example, suppose among 1000 voters, 300 approved of Trump and disapproved of everyone else. And then among the other 700, most approved of Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), then whichever of Kasich, Walker, and Christie got the most votes would win. This system prevents the situation in which one candidate who favors X but is pitted against many candidates who favor Y from winning because all the Y candidates split the anti-X vote. An alternative way to prevent a candidate from winning with a minority of the vote is instant runoff voting. In this system, voters mark their ballots with their first, second, third, etc. choices. All the votes are initially distributed into piles based on the first choice vote. If some gets 50% +1, it's over. Otherwise, the votes of the candidate with the fewest votes are redistributed based on their second choices. The process is repeated until somehow has a majority.

The other thing the autopsy report is likely to suggest is having a lot more superdelegates, like the Democrats, to prevent an outsider from hijacking the nomination. (V)

Democrats Are Using Trump to Hurt Republicans with Latino Voters

Donald Trump is extremely unpopular with Latinos and Democrats are going to be using him to hurt downballot Republicans this fall. In fact, they are already starting to do it. For example, when a reporter asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) if he would disavow Trump's statement that Mexicans are rapists, he began with: "Oh, I don't know." Bingo. Paydirt. Democrats began widely publicizing that all over Arizona, where close to 20% of the voters are Latino. If all of them vote for his opponent, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), he's finished.

What Democrats are trying to avoid is split-ticket voting, in which voters vote for Clinton for President and Republicans for all other offices. They will try to get all Republicans to either praise Trump or at least refuse to condemn him and then use it against them. (V)

Biden Says He Expects Clinton to Become President

Up until now, no one in the Obama administration has taken sides in the Democratic primary or made any predictions about who might get the nomination. Yesterday, Vice President Joe Biden broke the ice and predicted that Hillary Clinton would win the nomination and the election. Biden didn't endorse Clinton, however. He just said he thought she would win, without commenting on whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. (V)

App May Help Some Democrats Survive a Trump Victory

A new dating app called Maple Match may help Americans survive a Trump victory by meeting and falling in love with a Canadian and then moving to Canada. This is not the first political dating app of 2016. An earlier one aimed to connect Bernie Sanders fans with other Bernie Sanders fans. Alternatively, people can just download the newest update of Bumble, which now has a "No Republicans" setting and a "No Democrats" setting. (V)

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---The Votemaster
May10 West Virginia Votes Today
May10 Rubio Doesn't Want To Be Trump's Veep
May10 It's Trump Versus Warren
May10 Trump Fatigue Setting In
May10 Time's Running Out for a Third-Party Alternative to Trump
May10 Cruz Not Going Away Yet
May10 Facebook Raises Conservative Ire
May10 Get Ready For a Lot of Endorsements Like These
May09 Suppose Sanders Got What He Is Asking for
May09 Trump Is Now Starting to Win Delegates
May09 Trump Now Wants to Tax the Rich
May09 Palin Is Going to Try to Cantor Ryan
May09 Trump May Try to Stop Ryan from Serving as Convention Chair
May09 Hillary Clinton Is Actually a Progressive Democrat
May09 The Fight Is on for Married Women
May09 Obama Is Chomping at the Bit
May09 Nevada May Be Demoted in 2020
May08 Republican Party Rejects Trump's Unity Appeals
May08 Trump Is Previewing His General Election Strategy
May08 Trump Quite Unpopular with Foreign Leaders
May08 Media Hosts Never Challenge Trump When He Lies
May08 How Did the Media Miss So Badly on Trump?
May08 Clinton and Trump Tied in Georgia
May08 Clinton Wins Guam
May08 Warren May Remake the Senate in Her Image
May07 Trump Shakes the Etch-A-Sketch Very Gently
May07 Trump's Financial Operation Is Already in Disarray
May07 Where Trump Needs to Win
May07 Charlie Cook Shifts Ratings in 13 States
May07 Whom Are You Voting Against in 2016?
May07 Trump Dodges a Bullet on Fraud Trial
May07 Trump is McCain's Fault
May07 Trump May Have Some Explaining To Do--To His Wife
May07 Sanders Walks Both Sides of the Street
May07 Could Merrick Garland Be Confirmed After All?
May07 Trump Shakes the Etch-A-Sketch Very Gently
May07 Trump's Financial Operation Is Already in Disarray
May07 Where Trump Needs to Win
May07 Charlie Cook Shifts Ratings in 13 States
May07 Who Are You Voting Against in 2016?
May07 Trump Dodges a Bullet on Fraud Trial
May07 Trump is McCain's Fault
May07 Trump May Have Some Explaining To Do--To His Wife
May07 Sanders Walks Both Sides of the Street
May07 Could Merrick Garland Be Confirmed After All?
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