Clinton 2293
Sanders 1533
 Needed   2383
Trump 1161
Cruz 567
Rubio 166
Kasich 160
Needed 1237

Bernie Sanders Supports Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Primary Opponent

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has long accused DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of rigging the primary to favor her friend Hillary Clinton. Schultz has replied that the rules were adopted by the state parties two years ago, long before he even announced his candidacy and they have nothing to do with him. Now he has gone a step further and endorsed her primary opponent, Tim Canova, a law professor, in the FL-23 district in South Florida that she represents in the House. Sanders' endorsement is not likely to strike much fear in Schultz's heart. She won her last election with 63% of the vote. Her district covers parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties and has many older voters. In the primary this year, Clinton beat Sanders by three-to-one in Broward County, so it is doubtful that Sanders' endorsement is going to have much effect. Still, it's a reminder that the Democratic convention could very well end up being the ugly, contentious one. (V)

Early National Polls of the General Election Are Likely Misleading

Philip Bump of the Washington Post has a piece about why early general election polling this year doesn't mean too much. It starts out by asking readers what they would do if they went to a restaurant hungry and the choices were (1) something they really disliked, (2) something they disliked slightly less, (3) an unidentified special, or (4) go hungry. Most chose (2) or (3). That also applies to the general election, where both likely candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have extremely high negatives. The unidentified special in the election is the Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico. Historically, the Libertarian Party hasn't polled above 1% and there is little reason to think many Democrats will vote for it, although a few disgruntled Republicans might. Third parties always poll much better well before the election than on election day as angry respondents tell pollsters that they will vote for a third-party candidate but in reality don't do it. In the end, people are likely to vote for the lesser of two evils.

What makes the polling now especially suspect is that the Democratic primary is still going on. Many—probably most— Sanders supporters are currently telling the pollsters that they will never vote for Clinton. But once the general election gets underway and their heroine, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), is campaigning and tweeting like crazy that Trump must be stopped at all costs, most likely a large fraction of them will come around and vote for Clinton, with nose in clothespin if necessary. We saw exactly the same thing in June 2008, when diehard Clinton supporters, the PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) voters, vowed they would never support Obama. In the end, John McCain got few Democratic votes. It is likely to take a few months before the Sanders' supporters come to realize either Clinton or Trump will become President and "None of the above" is not going to be elected. (V)

Trump and Cruz Win More Delegates

Although Donald Trump is now formally unopposed for the Republican presidential nomination, the battle for delegates is still in full swing. In the Washington state convention over the weekend, Sen. Ted. Cruz (R-TX) won 40 of the 41 delegates. Even Trump's state chairman, Don Benton, was unable to be elected as a delegate.

On the other hand, Trump did better in Missouri, where he won 19 delegates to Cruz's 6 delegates. One of Trump's delegates is long-time conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.

The delegates matter because Cruz is going to fight for a very conservative platform that Trump may not want. There could be fights in the platform committee and even on the convention floor over planks where Trump and Cruz disagree. If that happens, all delegates are free to vote any way they want to, no matter to whom they are pledged. As a result, it matters who the delegates are loyal to, even if they are pledged to a different candidate. (V)

Clinton Is Willing To Talk To Sanders When He is Ready

Yesterday, Hillary Clinton began negotiating with Bernie Sanders in public. She said that she would talk to him when he was ready and that such talk is part of the process. She also said that he has every right to continue his campaign until the last voters have had their say. However, she noted that her lead over Sanders is much more than Barack Obama's lead was over her in 2008.

In effect, Clinton is saying that Sanders should continue to fight until California votes on June 7 and maybe until D.C. votes on June 14, but then take a look at the numbers and realize that it is over. Then the two can talk about a peace treaty in which Sanders gets some of the things he wants, but he has to realize that he is not going to be the nominee. (V)

Trump's Connections to Organized Crime Are Starting To Become an Issue

An article in Politico looks at Donald Trump's connections to organized crime. A federal investigation in the 1980s showed that Trump bought overpriced concrete for Trump Tower and Trump Plaza from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno and Paul "Big Paulie" Castellano. The report also noted that the New York construction industry was saturated with mob influence.

The story has an important civil engineering aspect. In the 1980s, most skyscrapers used steel girders. An alternative, one that Trump favored because it sped up construction, was ready-mix concrete. But a problem with ready-mix is that it must be poured quickly or it hardens and can ruin a building. So Trump knew he couldn't tolerate any work stoppages by the mob-controlled unions. By effectively buying off the mob, he guaranteed labor peace and rapid construction. The indictment on which Salerno was sent to prison in 1988 listed the $8 million contract with Trump as part of a racketeering enterprise. The story went on for a while after that, though, as described by Politico. As the presidential race heats up, more reporters are going to be digging into this story, which seems to indicate that Trump has had multiple dealings with organized crime as well as corrupt union leaders over the years. (V)

Clinton Foundation May Become Campaign Issue

Hillary Clinton, along with her husband and daughter, has been running the non-profit Clinton Foundation for nearly 20 years. The foundation engages in all manner of charitable works globally, but particularly focuses on issues related to health and climate change. Most of its funding comes in big chunks, often from corporations, including a number of prominent Wall Street firms. Needless to say, this creates a significant conflict of interest, since one of Clinton's responsibilities as president would be to regulate many of these same firms. It's not an easy problem for her to solve. However, she can also turn it around. She can say: "This is what we have done to help people all over the world. What have you done to help the less fortunate?"

Thus far, the foundation has not been much of an issue for Hillary, in part because Bernie Sanders hasn't brought it up, and in part because Democratic voters are not terribly likely to get worked up about a charity that fights AIDS and starvation. However, Donald Trump has no such compunctions, and Republican and independent voters might not be so enamored of the foundation's work. It is hard to say if the issue will stick, especially since Bill is more identified with the foundation than Hillary is. Sooner or later, however, The Donald is going to find out if the story has legs. (Z)

Trump Quietly Working on Muslim Vote

Donald Trump has, of course, gotten a lot of headlines with his anti-Muslim proclamations. The latest came just last week, when he quickly proclaimed that EgyptAir Flight 804 had been downed by Islamic terrorists, despite a total lack of evidence. Now comes word that The Donald's team is working behind the scenes to try and build bridges to conservative Muslim communities in hopes of winning back their votes.

This may be a decent thing to do from a human perspective, but from a political standpoint it is shockingly unwise. It is inconceivable that large numbers of Muslims are going to forget what Trump has said thus far, particularly large enough numbers to affect the election, since the great majority of American Muslims live in solidly blue states (New York, California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan are the five states with the largest Muslim populations). Meanwhile, if word gets around that Trump is doing this, it will suggest to his supporters that he does not mean what he says, particularly if there's no anti-Muslim plank in the GOP platform. So, this is a lose-lose for him. (Z)

Soon It Will Suck to Be Donald Trump

That's the provocative headline from a New York magazine story by Ed Kilgore. The central point of the piece is that the rules and dynamics of the primary season are almost completely different from those of the general election, and that many of those differences will hurt Trump a lot. More specifically:

  • He isn't going to catch anyone by surprise any more
  • He's going to be under a lot of pressure from down-ballot politicians
  • He's not going to be able to dominate coverage against one opponent the way he did against 16
  • He's not going to be facing an opponent who is unknown or only has the support of one political faction
  • He will no longer be speaking primarily to an audience that embraces his xenophobia and bigotry
  • Republicans were constrained in their attacks because they wanted Trump's supporters; Clinton has no such constraint

Kilgore concludes by suggesting that the tide could turn against the Donald very hard and very fast. If so, it could be 1964 all over again. (Z)

Party House Committees Have Lots of Money

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which helps elects Republicans to the House, has the fattest bank account in its history, with $53 million cash on hand right now. Its Democratic counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has a mere $48 million on hand, but is catching up. In April, it raised $8.6 million to the NRCC's $5.4 million. No matter who is slightly ahead, the parties are roughly even and a lot of mud is going to be flung in the fall. The Republicans do have one advantage, however: Many Republican donors strongly dislike Donald Trump and may write their checks to the NRCC and its Senate counterpart, the NRSC, instead of to the RNC. On the Democratic side, that is less likely to happen. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May22 The Platforms May Matter This Year
May22 Clinton's Campaign Machine Dwarfs Trump's
May22 Many Major Republican Donors Won't Give to Trump
May22 Sanders' Cash is Running Out
May22 Clinton and Trump Have Very Different Messages to Latinos
May22 Obama Is Popular Again
May22 Maybe Voters Aren't So Angry, After All
May22 This Week in Ridiculous VP Speculation: Mark Cuban
May22 Ben Carson Exits Stage Left
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
May21 Trump Did Not Raise $6M for Vets After All
May21 Democratic Insiders Worried about a Nasty Convention
May21 Democrats Considering a Change to State Convention Rules
May20 Sanders Is Determined To Continue Fighting
May20 Trump's Influence Will Last for Years
May20 Is Libertarian Ticket a Viable #NeverTrump Option?
May20 Clinton Says Trump Is Not Qualified To Be President
May20 Democrats Will Make Peace Eventually
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
May20 GOP Building a Bridge to the Past
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
May19 Big Banks Favor Clinton over Republicans
May19 Sanders Still Wants to Debate
May18 Trump and Sanders win Oregon; Clinton Takes Kentucky
May18 Donald Trump Is Not Bringing in New Voters
May18 Reminder: It's a Bad Time to Be a Pollster
May18 Bush Slams Trump for Taco Tweet
May18 Clinton's Dilemma
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
May17 Will Sanders Become Nader?
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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