Clinton 2293
Sanders 1533
 Needed   2383
Trump 1161
Cruz 567
Rubio 166
Kasich 160
Needed 1237
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  The Platforms May Matter This Year
      •  Clinton's Campaign Machine Dwarfs Trump's
      •  Many Major Republican Donors Won't Give to Trump
      •  Sanders' Cash is Running Out
      •  Clinton and Trump Have Very Different Messages to Latinos
      •  Obama Is Popular Again
      •  Maybe Voters Aren't So Angry, After All
      •  This Week in Ridiculous VP Speculation: Mark Cuban
      •  Ben Carson Exits Stage Left

The Platforms May Matter This Year

Normally, the party platforms don't mean a lot. The committee that writes each party's platform has a lot of internal fights, but in the end the candidate, the media, and the public just ignore them and focus on which candidate they would prefer having a beer with.

This year might be different. On the Democratic side, after New Jersey and California vote on June 7, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will do the math and see that his goose is cooked. Hillary Clinton will be so close to the magic number of 2,383 that he will realize that he is not going to be the nominee, especially since she has over 500 superdelegates in her corner and he has 39. That doesn't mean he will fold his tent and go home quietly, though. That is very unlikely.

Instead, he will come to her and offer his support provided that he gets some things he really wants. It is doubtful that he wants to be vice president, it not being worth a bucket of a well-known liquid. What he certainly wants are some planks in the Democratic platform to put the Democratic Party officially on record as supporting some things he cares a lot about. He has to be careful what he asks for. If he asks for things she doesn't really mind, like a $15 minimum wage, breaking up the biggest banks, and allowing people over, say, 50 to buy into Medicare, she'll probably agree and he will be happy. If he overreaches and goes for things she really opposes, like eliminating all the superdelegates next time (thus creating a situation like the Republicans have now with the party being saddled with an outsider they hate), she might draw the line. She might also balk at having all the primaries be open since allowing Republicans to help choose the Democratic nominee is not in the long-term interest of the Democratic Party.

The Republicans have a different platform problem. If Trump insists on putting into the platform his ideas about building a wall on the border with Mexico, deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants, and barring all Muslims from entering the country, Reince Priebus and the RNC are going to have a fit. They don't want this stuff enshrined in the platform as the official policy of the Republican Party. But if Trump leaves it all out and just rewarms Romney's 2012 platform, his supporters may start to wonder if he really means it or maybe they are being taken for a ride (again). Of course, he could try to finesse it with a four-word platform: Make America Great Again. But that would anger a lot of interest groups, like social conservatives, who would surely notice that the Republican Party is no longer on the record opposing abortion and same-sex marriage. Furthermore, although Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is no longer running for President, he has a clear interest in getting as many very conservative planks as possible into the platform to establish himself as Mr. Conservative for his 2020 run. (V)

Clinton's Campaign Machine Dwarfs Trump's

A Politico analysis of FEC reports filed Friday shows that Hillary Clinton has a well-oiled campaign machine and Donald Trump has almost nothing. Clinton has spent $182 million so far, to Trump's $57 million, and she has a paid staff 10x the size of his, with 732 employees to his 70. Clinton also has a super PAC, Priorities USA, with $47 million in the bank; Trump has thus far rejected the idea of having super PACs, but he is starting to like the idea. Clinton spent $896,000 on polling in April alone while Trump has just hired his first pollster. Clinton also has a huge lead in analytics and data, something Trump has up until now rejected as unnecessary. The one area in which Trump has a huge lead is in selling branded merchandise, especially his "Make America Great Again" hats. His campaign bought $856,000 worth of hats and T-shirts last month whereas Clinton bought only $88,000 worth of merchandise. (V)

Many Major Republican Donors Won't Give to Trump

Hillary Clinton is going to try to raise a billion dollars for her campaign and might well succeed. If Donald Trump is going to try to counter her massive blitz of TV ads with a bunch of tweets it will be an unusual campaign, to say the least. The odds are he is going to have to try to raise a lot of money quickly. Unfortunately for him, when he comes hat in hand, many big Republican donors are going to say "No!" The New York Times has compiled quite a list of those who have already emphatically announced they are not giving Trump anything, along with reasons. Here is a brief summary:

  • Stanley Druckenmiller: Not sure why anyone would give money to someone who says he is worth $10 billion
  • Mike Fernandez: He took out ads comparing Trump to Mussolini, and says he will give when hell freezes over
  • Sherry Herschend: Our company is built on families, making people happy; we just go lower and lower every day
  • David Humphreys: The whole idea of building a wall and shutting down the border is absurd
  • Virginia James: I don't think he is very conservative
  • Seth Klarman: I won't even vote for him
  • Bruce Kovner: His boorish behavior suggested that he does not have the character to be President
  • Joe and Marlene Ricketts: Trump threatened them on Twitter saying: "They better be careful"
  • Paul Singer: Trump does not represent my conservative values
  • Jackson Stephens, Jr.: Unless the Club for Growth endorses him, I will not be giving to him
  • Michael Vlock: He is too selfish, flawed, and unpredictable to hold the power of the presidency
  • Jeffrey Yass: On the choice between Trump and Clinton, he said: "Any way you look at it you lose"

And these are leading Republican donors, not Democrats. This is not to say that no big donors will pony up. Foster Friess is on board the Trump bandwagon, as is casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. It's just that quite a few of the big players aren't going to help Trump. (V)

Sanders' Cash Is Running Out

Donald Trump isn't the only candidate with money problems. Bernie Sanders has raised as much money as any candidate, but he has also spent more prodigiously than any candidate. That, coupled with his lack of super PAC funds, means that the well is almost dry. He's down to $5.8 million, while the flow of donations has slowed noticeably.

To the extent that the lack of money matters, it is because it will make longshot scenarios—Sanders wins California, flips a bunch of superdelegates, wins the nomination—even more unlikely. Beyond that, Sanders needs only enough money to keep holding rallies and making speeches until June 7, which certainly doesn't require multiple millions of dollars. (Z)

Clinton and Trump Have Very Different Messages to Latinos

At the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump presented starkly contrasting videos of how they are going to go after the Latino vote. Trump stressed stopping drug dealers from shipping drugs to the U.S. from Mexico whereas Clinton called out Trump on his previous incendiary remarks. The styles of the two videos were also very different. Trump's video was in portrait mode, shot with a smartphone in his private jet. It shows him reading bullet points from a single sheet of paper that nearly falls off his table. Clinton's was shot in a professional studio in normal landscape mode and has her reading from a TelePrompTer.

Latino evangelicals tend to vote Republican, but this year some of them might not. The leader of the organization has said that Trump has to change the narrative if he expects to do well with his members. He added: "I'm a pastor. I do believe in miracles, but boy, this would be a miracle."

As usual, Clinton cares about all the details while Trump doesn't. He made no mention of God or religion in a video made for an evangelical group. Clinton talked about her faith, quoted a Bible passage, called for people to live up to their God-given potential, and signed off with "Godspeed." (V)

Obama Is Popular Again

Since January 1 of this year, President Obama's popularity has gone from way under water to way above water. It is now at 51% approve to 45% disapprove, the opposite of what it was on January 1. This is a net gain of 12 points. Here is a chart from the Washington Post showing how it has changed over the year. Blue is approve and yellow is disapprove.

Obama's popularity

The significance of Obama's popularity is that it could have a huge effect on the presidential and congressional races. When the party in the White House is deeply unpopular, the other one yells: "Throws the bums out!" But when the incumbent party is popular, that doesn't work. So rather than being a millstone around the Democrats' neck, Obama is going to be an active cheerleader for the party's candidates up and down the line. (V)

Maybe Voters Aren't So Angry, After All

The narrative of this campaign season has been that the voters are very, very angry at the establishment and are demanding change. This narrative is fed, largely, by the success of outsider candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Not only are these two men doing very well in the polls, but we've also been exposed to a great deal of coverage of their large, boisterous, and sometimes violent campaign events.

How correct is this narrative, however? As noted above, President Obama's popularity is high, and the leading vote-getter in primary season, Hillary Clinton, is as establishment as it gets. Meanwhile, the great majority of voters have not cast ballots in 2016, which implies a certain satisfaction with the status quo. A grand total of one sitting member of Congress has been ousted so far, and that was Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who has been indicted for racketeering, bribery and mail fraud. Add it all up, and one is left to wonder if the loudness of Trump/Sanders supporters has caused us to overestimate the extent of "Throw the bums out!" sentiments in 2016. (Z)

This Week in Ridiculous VP Speculation: Mark Cuban

It's a popular sport this time of year: speculating about who might be chosen as VP for each of the respective tickets. The latest name to be bandied about as a possibility for the Democratic ticket is Mark Cuban, Internet billionaire and owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks. He says he's open to the idea, as long as Hillary Clinton moves in a more centrist direction.

There is only one problem with this speculation: It is utterly absurd. Hillary Clinton's core message in the general election is going to be that an outspoken, shoot-from-the-hip, politically-inexperienced billionaire is not suited for the presidency. That assertion would be rather problematic for her if she chose an outspoken, shoot-from-the-hip, politically-inexperienced billionaire as her VP. Cuban would be all but worthless as a partner in governance, would be nearly impossible to keep on message, and he comes from Texas, a state that is a lost cause for the Democrats. It is a sign of how deeply we are in the doldrums of the 2016 campaign right now that the media are treating this as a serious story. (Z)

Ben Carson Exits Stage Left

Speaking of silly VP ideas, Ben Carson was apparently full of them, including the suggestion of Sarah Palin as a viable option. Therefore, he has been sent packing by Donald Trump, with management of the VP selection process being turned over to Corey Lewandowski.

The whole situation speaks of a campaign in disarray. Carson has hardly proven himself to be the most shrewd political operator, but apparently his suggestions—Palin, Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)—were at least partly rooted by what he was hearing from campaign insiders. If he's being fired for merely repeating what he is being told, then it suggests a staff that is not on the same page (maybe not even in the same book). Meanwhile, one could argue that the two most important political "hires" Donald Trump has made so far—campaign manager and VP wrangler—have both gone awry, with manager Lewandowski having been promoted and demoted several times already, and Carson being given his walking papers. If Trump fumbled both of these, what is he going to do if he has to choose a whole cabinet? (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May21 Big Republican Donors Will Focus on the Senate
May21 Latinos Don't Like Trump
May21 Oklahoma Governor Vetoes Bill that Would Ban All Abortions
May21 NRA Endorses Trump
May21 Trump Paid No Taxes in the Late 1970s
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May21 Democratic Insiders Worried about a Nasty Convention
May21 Democrats Considering a Change to State Convention Rules
May20 Sanders Is Determined To Continue Fighting
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May20 Is Libertarian Ticket a Viable #NeverTrump Option?
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May20 The EgyptAir Crash Shows Trump and Clinton's Different Approaches to Foreign Policy
May20 Takeaways from Trump's List of Potential Supreme Court Nominees
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May19 Trump Releases List of Possible Supreme Court Nominees
May19 Trump Working on VP List
May19 Trump Releases Financial Disclosure Report
May19 About That Wall and Those Deportations...
May19 Third Party Bid, Already on Life Support, Has Plug Pulled
May19 Overtime Regulation Exposes Divide Between Republican Donors and Voters
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May19 Sanders Still Wants to Debate
May18 Trump and Sanders win Oregon; Clinton Takes Kentucky
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May18 Democrats Squabbling over Nevada
May18 Koch Brothers Are Rethinking Their Role in Politics
May17 Oregon and Kentucky Democrats Vote Today
May17 How Trump Will Attack Clinton
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May17 Federal Judge Hears Challenge to Wisconsin Voter ID Law
May17 Six People Who Won't Be Trump's Veep
May17 Rubio Not Happy with WaPo Article
May17 Cruz 2020 Is Now Underway
May16 State Republican Leaders Try to Crush Anti-Trump Activists
May16 The Battle to Stop Trump Is Still Raging
May16 Trump's Playboy Past May Come Back to Haunt Him
May16 Priebus: People Just Don't Care About Trump Controversies
May16 Possible Backdoor into Trump's Finances
May16 We Might Have Trump/Palin 2016
May16 Would Trump Be Good for Israel?
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May15 How Does Donald Trump Treat Women?
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