Clinton 2240
Sanders 1473
 Needed   2383
Trump 1134
Cruz 564
Rubio 166
Kasich 156
Needed 1237

News from the Votemaster

State Republican Leaders Try to Crush Anti-Trump Activists

Eleven states held conventions or party leadership meetings this past weekend and in all of them, the state party leaders crushed attempts by anti-Trump activists to dissent from the new party line: "Like it or not, it's Trump."

In Nebraska, a resolution was passed scolding Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) for leading the #NeverTrump movement. In Maryland, a long-time Republican committeeman, Louis Pope, was ousted for having been too critical of Trump. In Oklahoma and Montana, Trump posters decorated the walls. Even in Texas—once a Cruz stronghold— the governor pleaded for unity behind Trump. (V)

The Battle to Stop Trump Is Still Raging

While more and more of the Republican leadership is grudgingly starting to back Donald Trump, not all Republicans have gotten past denial, anger, bargaining, and depression and arrived at acceptance. Some are stuck in "anger." The main focus of these people is to find a candidate who will run as a real conservative and give Republicans who hate both Trump and Hillary Clinton someone to vote for. There are two main problems, however: ballot access and finding a candidate. The deadline for filing in Texas to run as an independent has already passed and other ones are looming. Getting on all 50 states' ballots is probably impossible at this point.

The second problem is finding a candidate with enough name recognition to pull votes away from Trump and Clinton. None of the other 16 Republicans who ran this year have expressed any interest in the project, nor have 2012 nominee Mitt Romney or Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Finding someone with a high enough profile to get votes is not going to be easy.

Nevertheless, the project, however quixotic, is not hopeless. The real goal is to prevent Hillary Clinton from getting to 270 electoral votes. The plotters already assume that Trump can't get there. If the third-party candidate can win in a handful of states and keep both Trump and Clinton below 270, then the House of Representatives picks the President from among the candidates who finished in the top three in the electoral college. Thus in a race in which Trump got 260, Clinton got 260, and the "real" Republican got 18 electoral votes, the House (with each state getting one vote), could choose the "real" Republican. In this scenario, the "real" Republican might campaign only in a half dozen states where Clinton and Trump were especially unpopular. This strategy would not require getting on the ballot in any other than the chosen states and would require far less money than a nation-wide campaign. (V)

Trump's Playboy Past May Come Back to Haunt Him

Between 1990 and 2005, Donald Trump carefully cultivated an image as a hotshot playboy who could have any woman he wanted. He appeared on shock jock Howard Stern's radio program discussing which women he would like to sleep with, including the likes of Cindy Crawford, Diane Sawyer, Mariah Carey, and even Princess Diana. It got pretty raunchy.

Are you wondering if the Democrats might use some of his words against him? Wonder no more. They already are. Former U.S. attorney Conner Eldridge is running this ad against Sen. John Boozman (R-AR). It features Trump saying things likely to antagonize women and then shows Boozman supporting Trump. If this is what an unknown Senate candidate can put together, imagine what Hillary Clinton, with access to the best ad agencies in the world and money galore can pull off. You may not have to wait long, since she's already been releasing Internet commercials at the rate of one every three days or so. (V)

Priebus: "People Just Don't Care" About Trump Controversies

RNC Chair Reince Priebus is earning his paycheck these days, trying to pump up enthusiasm for a candidate he doesn't like. While doing the rounds of the Sunday morning shows, he was on "Meet the Press," and he was asked about the skeletons in The Donald's closet (particularly those related to his treatment of women). Priebus' response was, "I've got to tell you, I think that all these stories that come out—and they come out every couple weeks—people just don't care."

Let's clarify that a bit. Donald Trump has, thus far, received just shy of 11 million votes in the primaries. That's about 3% of the American populace, or about 10% of the Republican Party. So the majority has not yet spoken. Nor, for that matter, has a substantial minority. Meanwhile, he has yet to be subjected to really withering attacks, since the other GOP candidates were unwilling to engage him until it was too late. Hillary Clinton won't be so kind. Certainly, it is possible that "people just don't care," but we don't exactly have overwhelming evidence that such is the case, while we do have fairly strong evidence that many constituencies—Latinos, women, young people—care very much, indeed. (Z)

Possible Backdoor into Trump's Finances

Barring an unexpected change of heart, Donald Trump will not be sharing his tax returns with the voting public before the election. However, financial publication Crain's New York Business has done a bit of detective work, and has come up with something interesting. Trump has been receiving a tax break on his residence that is available only to those making $500,000 or less.

Trump's sometime campaign manager Corey Lewandowski says that Trump never asked for the refund, and that it was given to him by mistake. It's not a terribly credible explanation, since Trump has gotten the refund for several years. And if he did legitimately claim the refund, it suggests that Trump is either (a) using financial wizardry to avoid paying taxes, (b) not nearly as wealthy as he says he is, or (c) both of the above. Meanwhile, it's only been a week or so that this issue has been getting serious scrutiny; one imagines that there are other indirect clues to Trump's financial picture just waiting to be discovered. (Z)

We Might Have Trump/Palin 2016

Ready for a sentence that will give Republican politicos apoplexy? Here it is: Ben Carson is overseeing Donald Trump's VP vetting process, and he says that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin is being given serious consideration.

It is not easy to guess what the always-inscrutable Trump is thinking, much less the always-incomprehensible Ben Carson, but let's imagine that this is for real, and consider the pros and cons of Palin as a VP candidate. On one hand, she's popular with a certain part of the Republican base, she's a woman, and she's already been very well vetted. On the other hand, she's popular with the same poke-'em-in-the-eye voters that Trump is, so she's not going to bring many new votes to the ticket. Since first achieving national prominence in 2008, she's had a number of memorable and embarrassing gaffes (perhaps most notably being unable to name a newspaper or magazine she reads). She would reinforce the perception that the GOP ticket is made up of reality television stars and not serious leaders. Her family life is something of a mess, and opens her up to charges of hypocrisy. She's already torpedoed one presidential ticket (admittedly, one that was already in trouble). And finally, she herself isn't all that certain she would be an asset, saying, "I wouldn't want to be a burden on the ticket, and I realize in many, many eyes, I would be that burden."

On the whole, Sarah Palin would seem to be a monumentally bad choice as Veep. Which means she probably is indeed right at the top of the list. (Z)

Would Trump Be "Good" for Israel?

Yesterday, we noted that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has jumped on board the Trump bandwagon, to the tune of $100 million. Adelson is well-known for ranking Israel as his #1 issue. And, although he's not being very vocal about it, he has apparently persuaded himself that the shoot-from-the-hip, hostile-to-Muslims Trump "will be good for Israel."

Israelis, by contrast, are not so sure. They prefer Hillary Clinton, by a 2-to-1 margin, for a number of reasons. First, they believe that Trump will prioritize America's needs so fully that he will essentially turn his back on Israel. Second, they already know and trust the Clintons. Third—and this is a sentiment you don't hear every day—they worry that Trump will be too much like Barack Obama. Obama was not well known in Israel when he became president, and ultimately produced some "unpleasant surprises." Trump is similarly unknown, and that makes Israelis leery. Trump says he will visit the nation before November, an obvious attempt to improve his image there (and to earn that $100 million from Adelson). It remains to be seen how much success he will have. (Z)

Another Georgia Poll Shows a Tight Race

Last week, some eyebrows were raised by a Landmark/RosettaStone poll that showed the Trump-Clinton matchup in Georgia as a dead heat. Now, a second poll—this one from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution—has seconded those results. The new poll has Trump with a 4-point lead, and has a 4.26-point margin of error. That's a toss up, and one that extends even to independent voters, with half the independent respondents leaning Trump and the other half leaning Clinton.

Georgia is a tad-bit more Democratic-leaning than many Southern states (it did give us Jimmy Carter and Sam Nunn, after all). However, if it truly is in play—and the evidence is mounting—that is very, very bad news for Donald Trump. First of all, it has 16 electoral votes that he cannot afford to lose (242 "safe Democrat" EVs plus Georgia = 258, which is just 12 short of election). Further, to lose Georgia (or to nearly lose it) would imply that other purplish Southern states would also be in play—Virginia, North Carolina, Missouri, and possibly Kentucky. No campaign, particularly one where funds are going to be tight, can mount a serious effort in all of those states plus Ohio, Arizona, Indiana, Colorado, etc. So, The Donald better hope that these early Georgia polls are an anomaly. (Z)

Is Clinton Trapped Between a Sanders Rock and a Trump Hard Place?

Hillary Clinton, as you may have heard, is currently facing a bit of a dilemma: She would like to focus on her general election opponent, but she can't do so without potentially offending her primary opponent and his supporters. Politico's Gabriel Debedenetti calls it an "end-of-the-primary trap," pointing in particular to a recent email sent out by the Clinton campaign that says, "Right now, Hillary is the only candidate waging two campaigns, which means we need twice as many resources as Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump."

Debedenetti's reading of the situation is the obvious one, but it may not be the correct one. Indeed, Clinton has already shown how us she is going to manage her two-front war. She remains focused, to a greater or lesser extent, on Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and his supporters. However, she's doing so in a way that does not tax her resources—one of us (Z) lives in California, and there is nary a Clinton ad to be seen on television. Meanwhile, her campaign staff is releasing regular anti-Trump web ads, and otherwise letting surrogates (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA; President Obama, Bill Clinton, etc.) tangle with The Donald. This allows Hillary to have her cake and eat it, too, with the added bonus that the candidate herself stays above the fray and continues to look presidential. And what of that fundraising email? Well, it is not necessarily wise to take a politician's pleadings at face value. If Clinton and her team feel that lamenting their "double campaign" will bring in more cash, then of course they are going to make use of that, whether or not it's actually a serious problem.

Whatever else may be said of Hillary Clinton, she is a shrewd operator. And by all evidences, she is managing her double-campaign like the battle-tested political veteran that she is. (Z)

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---The Votemaster
May15 How Does Donald Trump Treat Women?
May15 Appalachia is the Key for Trump
May15 Trump-Putin Mural Goes Viral
May15 Adelson Throws His Weight Behind Trump
May15 Cruz May Rewrite GOP Rulebook at Convention
May15 Surprise! Clinton Already Has a Trump Tax Ad
May15 Nevada Democratic Convention Gets Contentious
May14 Trump Says that His Tax Returns Are None of Your Business
May14 Nine House Committee Chairs Endorse Trump
May14 Democrats May Have a Messy Contested Convention
May14 The GOP Convention Could Still Be Messy, Too
May14 Democrats Hold a Registration Edge in Key Swing States
May14 Sanders Won in the North and Clinton Won in the South
May14 Sanders in Some Hot Water with the FEC
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May13 Trump Meets with Ryan, Other GOP Leaders in Washington
May13 Trump Would Consider Cutting Social Security
May13 Trump's Tariffs Would Be Catastrophic for the Poor
May13 Kochs Make Their First Big Move of 2016
May13 Final Democratic Debate Looking Unlikely
May13 Another Win for Bernie Sanders
May13 Biden Already Had His Running Mate Picked Out
May13 Obama Wants Election Day to Be a Holiday
May13 Beware of Professors Bearing Prediction Models
May12 Trump Won't Release Tax Returns Before the Election
May12 Trump Rejects the Use of Big Data
May12 Ryan Is Caught in a Trap
May12 Gingrich Reportedly Favorite in GOP Veep Sweepstakes
May12 Time Looks to Be Growing Short for Sanders
May12 Florida Senate Race Turns Ugly
May12 Cruz Will Run For Re-Election in 2018
May12 Liberal Democrats Becoming Less Friendly to Israel
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May11 West Virginia and Nebraska Vote; Nothing Has Changed
May11 Clinton Moves Towards Sanders on Health Care
May11 Cruz Declines to Support Trump
May11 Armageddon May Be Upon Us
May11 Maybe the Republicans Need a Better Voting System
May11 Democrats Are Using Trump to Hurt Republicans with Latino Voters
May11 Biden Says He Expects Clinton to Become President
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May10 Trump Fatigue Setting In
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