Clinton 2309
Sanders 1539
 Needed   2383
Trump 1239
Cruz 559
Rubio 165
Kasich 161
Needed 1237

Trump Clinches the Republican Nomination

After 29 unbound delegates to the Republican National Convention announced yesterday that they were supporting Donald Trump, he passed the magic number of 1,237 and is now certain of being the Republican nominee. He has 1,239 delegates, two more than he needs, but more of the unbound delegates are certain to come on board soon. In addition, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has released his delegates and asked them to vote for Trump. In the end, everyone will act like Trump was the party's unanimous choice from the get-go. (V)

Trump Wants White, Male Veep

Actually, it's not so much that Trump wants a white, male running mate. It's that he feels he has no choice, at least according to Paul Manafort, who says that picking a woman or a non-white candidate would be "pandering."

Manafort is probably right about that; given Trump's apparent disdain for women and for people of color, he likely would not have much confidence in or enthusiasm about a female/non-white VP. And this position certainly gives him the freedom to take potshots at Gov. Susana Martinez and other prominent female/minority Republicans who have de facto been crossed off his list. However, if The Donald sticks with this plan, he would effectively be throwing away his very best chance to address his "woman problem" and/or his "minority voter problem."

Part of the reason that the VP matters so much is that he will apparently be doing a lot of work in a Trump administration, since—according to Manafort—Trump is not terribly interested in doing some of the duties generally associated with the presidency. In fact, "some" might be understating it. It would seem that The Donald "sees himself more as the chairman of the board, than even the CEO, let alone the COO."

This style of management would not be unprecedented in the White House; it fairly well describes the Reagan presidency to a T. And given Trump's clear lack of understanding of both domestic and foreign policy, it might be for the best that he be a hands off chief executive. However, it's probably not too politic to actually announce that this is the plan, since Americans generally don't rush to the polls to vote for a golfer-in-chief. (Z)

Sanders and Clinton Almost Tied in California

A new PPIC poll of California shows the Democratic primary there is a statistical tie, as follows:

Rank Candidate Pct.
1 Hillary Clinton 46%
2 Bernie Sanders 44%

What is very strange here is that two days ago we had a poll from SurveyUSA showing Hillary Clinton crushing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) by 18 points. One of these polls is very wrong, but until some more come in, we can't tell who's right and who's wrong. (V)

Sanders Not Actually Winning True Independents

There are three kinds of independent voters. There are the ones who are really closeted Republicans (about 36% of the total). Then there are the ones who are really closeted Democrats (41%). And finally there are the ones who are actually independent (23%). FiveThirtyEight has parsed the numbers, and their analysis makes clear that Sanders is doing no better with the latter group than Hillary Clinton (they both trump Trump), and that most of his "independents" are really closeted Democrats.

If the analysis is correct, it has two obvious implications. The first is that Sanders' remaining, very slim case for the nomination takes a hit, since he is arguing (apparently incorrectly) that he will attract voters to the Democratic banner that Hillary cannot capture. The second is that it will be easier for Clinton to absorb Sanders' supporters than it seemed, since true independents don't like her, but most Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters will ultimately be willing to vote for either of the two candidates. (Z)

Trump to Top Aide: You're Fired

The ongoing internal war within the Trump campaign between chairman Paul Manafort and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has claimed its first victim: national political director Rick Wiley. Wiley was the first high-profile aide hired by Manafort. According to internal sources, Wiley—as a member of Team Manafort—didn't pay attention to Lewandowski. The infighting got nasty and eventually Trump felt he had to intervene and the result was that Wiley was out. Does this mean that Lewandowski is now top dog and Manafort had better take orders from him? Probably not. The internal struggle for dominance is likely to continue for a while. (V)

About that Trump-Sanders Debate...

The Sanders campaign wants it. The Internet badly wants it. But the proposed Donald Trump-Bernie Sanders debate has run into some obstacles that might derail the plan.

The first problem is that the Democratic establishment is irritated by the Vermont Senator's presumption in taking on the GOP nominee. Sanders does not care what the Democratic establishment thinks, necessarily, but he will have to be wary of the possibility of weakening his bargaining position when it comes to concessions from Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, Trump—who is not a big fan of debating—is signaling a pretty serious desire to avoid dueling with Sanders. The GOP's presumptive nominee is now saying that the plan was a "joke," and is demanding $10 million be donated to charity before he agrees to the debate. Even assuming that Fox News or some cable channel had that kind of money to spend, it would not be a good look to be "paying" for news. So, the $10M is a non-starter, as Trump knows, and will give him a convenient excuse to decline. That means there will likely be no need to stock up on popcorn, after all. (Z)

Maybe the Presidency Isn't the Toughest Job in the World

People often say being President is the toughest job in the world, but a close runner-up these days is being chairman of the Republican National Committee, as Reince Priebus is discovering. He is tasked with the thankless job of convincing Americans that Donald Trump would be good for the country, when only a few weeks ago he was saying the opposite and he probably doesn't believe it even now. After the 2012 loss, Priebus commissioned a report that was supposed to get the Republicans back on track. It came with a large number of clear recommendations, and Priebus now finds himself in a situation in which the Republican nominee basically rejects all of them, from trying to win more Latinos to building a better database of the voters. To make it worse, Trump rejects all advice from experienced professionals and flies by the seat of his pants all the time.

Some of the things Trump believes make Priebus cringe. Trump thinks he can do well in states like Oregon, California, and Connecticut, which no Republican has won in decades. Trump wants the Republican party to adopt policies that pollsters say will be toxic in a general election. Trump thinks that trying to match the $1 billion that Hillary Clinton is expected to raise is a waste of money. Priebus is probably past denial, anger, and bargaining already, and into depression. Acceptance is probably not going to happen until Nov. 9, and then only if Trump wins. (V)

Fundamentals Still Favor Clinton in the General Election

The pundits (us included) all got the Republican primaries wrong. No one saw the rise of Donald Trump, although in retrospect some things should have been obvious. Trump was saying what the voters wanted to hear and the other candidates were all saying what the donors wanted to hear. Furthermore, there were about 10 serious Republican heavyweights in the mix and they split the vote badly. If it had been just Trump vs. Jeb Bush and, say, Rick Santorum, Bush likely would have won easily. So could Trump's scorched earth policy work in the general election just as it did in the primaries? Amy Walter at the Cook Political Report takes a look.

To start with, the general election electorate is very different from the Republican primary electorate. The GOP primary electorate is overwhelmingly white (> 90%) and disproportionately male. Saying that white men should be restored to their former and rightful domination of everyone else gets big cheers at the bar and lots of primary votes, but doesn't fly quite as well with the single women, blacks, and Latinos who make up a decent chunk of the general election voters. Walter believes that Trump's current bump in the polls is due to the Republican Party unifying behind its nominee, something that has not happened on the other side, but might well if Bernie Sanders gets the things he asks for after the primaries are over and then begins campaigning against Trump full time.

A second point Walter makes is that trends are tough to upend. Trump does great among men without a college degree, but they form an ever-shrinking piece of the electorate. For Trump to win the Electoral College without winning the ethnically diverse states like Florida, Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada, he would have to win Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. All but Ohio have gone Democratic since 1992. Mitt Romney lost all four of them. To win them, Trump would have to improve on Romney's performance with white men by 6 or 7 points and then also run much better with women. In Michigan, the least white of these states, he'd have to do 10 points better with white women. That's not going to be easy.

Trump says he is going to turn out lots of new voters who never voted before. That remains to be seen. Studies of the exit polls so far have shown that the vast majority of "new" primary voters were reliable Republican voters in the general election in the past. What he did was get them to vote in the primaries for the first time. That's not good enough to win the Rust Belt. He needs new voters who never voted before and there is scant evidence they will magically appear.

Finally, Walter concludes by noting that her friends keep telling her that she must be having a wonderful time with such an exciting election. Her reply is: "This year, the electorate will be divided along race, education/class and gender like never before. I'm preparing myself for a campaign that is going to be nasty and ugly and will leave the country more polarized than it is today. There's nothing to be happy about there." (V)

How Clinton Could Lose

Even though the fundamentals favor Clinton, a piece in Politico points out how she could blow it despite good fundamentals. Here is a summary.

Take Latinos for granted. Clinton and the Democrats believe that Trump's denigration of Latinos generally and Mexican specifically will make them all vote for her. Back when she thought she might have to fight for them, Sec. Julian Castro of HUD was #1 on her Veep short list. He's disappeared into the weeds now and it's Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) who is riding high. If Latinos who don't like Clinton go for Trump, she could lose Florida, Colorado and Nevada.

Alienate the young. Younger voters virtually all support Bernie Sanders, just as they did Obama in 2008. Clinton is going to have to work hard to win them over. The danger for her is not that they will vote for Trump, but that they will sulk and not vote at all. That could hurt her in college-heavy states like Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

Let Establishment Republicans find another place to go. If the Libertarian Party nominates a ticket of former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts governor William Weld this weekend, moderate Republicans who can't stand Trump might vote for Johnson. This is better than nothing, since it means fewer votes for Trump but also fewer votes for Clinton from disaffected Republicans. It could hurt in New Hampshire, Maine, and maybe Pennsylvania.

Fumble on trade. The unions helped Obama enormously in 2008 but this year many union members support Trump due to his opposition to trade agreements that ship jobs overseas. Clinton has generally been in favor of trade agreements and will have to find an answer to this problem quickly. One possible response would be to support a massive program—along the lines of President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway Program—to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure and create millions of jobs in the process. If union members desert her, she could lose Ohio, Wisconsin, and maybe Michigan.

Still, all the planets have to align for Trump to do well in all these areas at the same time. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
May26 State Dept. Report Criticizes Clinton on Email Server
May26 Trump Won't Get To Write the Republican Platform
May26 Trump Lashes Out at Susana Martinez
May26 Internal Struggles Roil Trump's Campaign
May26 When Should You Start Paying Attention to the National Polls?
May26 Wasserman Schultz Has a Fight on Her Hands
May26 GOP Wants Rubio to Run for Senate Again
May26 Ryan Continues to Say He Is Not Ready to Endorse Trump
May25 Clinton Crushing Sanders in California
May25 Ohio Judge Stymies Republican Plans
May25 Libertarian Party Could Hurt Trump
May25 Unions Are Split on Which Candidate They Prefer
May25 Why Is Hillary Clinton So Disliked?
May25 Wasserman Schultz May Soon Be Out as DNC Chair
May25 Starr Apologizes
May25 Trump Scoring Some Big Donors
May25 There May Be Another Debate After All
May24 Sanders' Success Has Little To Do with His Policies
May24 Pro-Sanders Lawyers Sue California over Ballot Procedures
May24 Final Democratic Candidates' Debate is Dead
May24 Corker Meets Trump but Denies He Is Being Vetted for the Veep Slot
May24 Ryan Says Trump Has a Chance
May24 Univision Draws 100,000 Latinos to Voter Registration Events
May24 Asian-Americans Don't Like Trump
May24 Kim Jong-un Doesn't Like Trump, Either
May24 McAuliffe May Be in Hot Water
May23 Bernie Sanders Supports Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Primary Opponent
May23 Early National Polls of the General Election Are Likely Misleading
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May23 Clinton Is Willing To Talk To Sanders When He Is Ready
May23 Trump's Connections to Organized Crime Are Starting To Become an Issue
May23 Clinton Foundation May Become Campaign Issue
May23 Trump Quietly Working on Muslim Vote
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May23 Party House Committees Have Lots of Money
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
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May22 This Week in Ridiculous VP Speculation: Mark Cuban
May22 Ben Carson Exits Stage Left
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