Needed 1990
Buttigieg 14
Sanders 12
Warren 8
Biden 6
Klobuchar 1
Bloomberg 0
Gabbard 0
Steyer 0
Yang 0
Political Wire logo Bernie Sanders Wins New Hampshire Primary
Paging Michael Bloomberg
Deval Patrick Looks Like He’s Next to Drop Out
Barr Takes Control of Legal Matters of Interest to Trump
Michael Bennet Ends Presidential Bid
Andrew Yang Ends Presidential Campaign
TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Things Are Getting Interesting in New Hampshire
      •  Today's Ratfu**ing News
      •  Bloomberg Ascending?
      •  Iowa Results Are Finalized...Maybe
      •  Smear Campaign Against Romney Commences
      •  Update on All the President's Crooks
      •  RBG: No ERA

Things Are Getting Interesting in New Hampshire

Today, of course, New Hampshirites will register their preferences for presidential candidates. That makes the Granite State the second one to vote, and the first to hold a primary. The entire Democratic establishment, from chair Tom Perez on down, is praying to Jesus, Vishnu, the Moon Goddess, Osiris, and Ahura Mazda that Tuesday's election goes off without a hitch.

As the day of reckoning approaches, the polls are coming fast and furious. There were four new ones on Monday, from CNN/UNH, the Boston Globe/Suffolk, WHDH/Emerson, and UMass Lowell. Here's how they have it, including all the candidates who finished above 1% in at least one poll:

Candidate CNN BosG WHDH UMass Average
Bernie Sanders 29% 27% 30% 25% 27.8%
Pete Buttigieg 22% 19% 23% 17% 20.3%
Elizabeth Warren 10% 12% 11% 15% 12.0%
Joe Biden 11% 12% 10% 14% 11.8%
Amy Klobuchar 7% 14% 14% 8% 10.8%
Andrew Yang 4% 3% 4% 3% 3.5%
Tulsi Gabbard 5% 3% 2% 4% 3.5%
Tom Steyer 1% 2% 2% 5% 2.5%

A few things suggest themselves:

  • Barring a surprise, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is going to win, and win pretty big. Indeed, he's likely to win considerably more than 27.8% of the delegates, since so many of his rivals are likely to come up short of the 15% cutoff in many precincts. Of course, the difference between 27.8% of 24 delegates and, say, 40% of 24 delegates is a grand total of...3 delegates, so it's not like this will break the race wide open. It's also worth noting that, even in victory, the Vermont Senator will way underperform the 60.1% of the vote he got in 2016. More evidence that he's struggling to expand his support beyond his base. He appears to have a high floor (maybe 25%) and a low ceiling (maybe 30%).

  • Pete Buttigieg is set to have another good night, and to cement his status as a near-frontrunner. Well, at least until he faces voters in a state that is not 90% white.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is in trouble, particularly given that she could end up anywhere from third to fifth. Not good in a state that is dangerously close to her home turf.

  • Joe Biden is also in trouble, particularly if he somehow drops into fifth place, which is certainly within the realm of possibility. His rhetoric is now focused on South Carolina, and how that state is the first "real" test for a Democrat. Perhaps he should have come up with that way of putting things before the most recent debate, as opposed to telling a national audience that even he doesn't believe he's got a chance in New Hampshire.

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) is surging, but is it too late? If things break right, she might just finish in third place, which Politico characterizes as "roar[ing] into contention." We're not so sure, though. The modern New Hampshire primary system (including "first in line" status) dates back to 1952, and in that time, no candidate has ever finished outside the top two and gone on to win the Democratic nomination. Even if Klobuchar does pull off a third place finish, that is—of course—outside the top two. And this does not even consider the candidacy of Michael Bloomberg, who appears to be on the rise (see below).

  • Andrew Yang has been leaning hard into New Hampshire for a good result or, at very least, a clear reason to keep on keepin' on. He is not likely to get either.

  • Tom Steyer is relying on voters of color, of whom there are very few in New Hampshire. It's true that minority voters are an important part of the Democratic coalition but, as we pointed out, so are white voters. If Steyer can't win them, he's just chasing his tail.

  • Only Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) knows what Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is doing. The same could be said for Deval Patrick, who—unlike Bloomberg—is on the list of candidates that pollsters are asking about (since Patrick is on the New Hampshire ballot and Bloomberg is not). Despite being from a nearby state, Patrick couldn't crack 1% in any poll.

The vast majority of New Hampshire's polling places (around 90%) close at 7:00 p.m. ET. Polling places in cities are allowed to remain open until 8:00 ET. Given this arrangement, the networks have historically been willing to make projections as early as 7:00, since the great majority of the votes are in by then. However, today's results are likely to be close, so something more like 10:00 p.m. ET is more probable. Unless the good people of New Hampshire decide to channel their inner Iowans, in which Thursday, maybe?

On the Republican side, Donald Trump will, of course, win in a landslide. The ballot is actually pretty crowded, but it's mostly perennial candidates (like Rocky De La Fuente, Star Locke, Bob Ely and Zoltan Istvan) along with the two reasonably serious Republicans who dared challenge the throne—Bill Weld and Joe Walsh—and one of those has already ended his campaign (Walsh). New Hampshire does encourage write-ins, so there could be some entertaining results on that front, but it would be pretty surprising if the President dropped below 90% of the vote. That will be the end of the good news from New Hampshire for Trump, presumably, as his net approval in the state is 13 points underwater (42% approve, 55% disapprove). (Z)

Today's Ratfu**ing News

Let us remind you, once again, that the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin is a moderate Republican who loathes Donald Trump. That means that when she weighs in on the Democratic race, she is governed entirely by her assessment of which candidate has the best chance of knocking off the Donald, and not by her own personal predilections (since she doesn't have warm feelings about any of the Democrats, either). Yesterday, she wrote an op-ed warning the Democrats that Bernie Sanders is not the cure for what ails them. Her conclusion: "Democrats are right to be worried that Sanders might get the nomination and then hand up four more years of Trump. They should intensify their efforts do something about it before it is too late."

As it turns out, Rubin is not the only Republican who feels that way. Bill Kristol, founder and former publisher of the Weekly Standard is in complete agreement. He is exceedingly worried that Sanders will be the nominee, and that will pave the way for four more years of the Donald. And so, Kristol has spearheaded an effort to call as many independent voters in New Hampshire as is possible. By the terms of state law, those folks are allowed to vote in either party's primary (but only one of them). Kristol's pitch is that right-leaning independents should not waste their vote on the Republican side of the primary, where the result is foreordained, and instead should request a Democratic ballot so they can vote for "not Bernie Sanders."

And then there is South Carolina Republican operative Nate Leupp. He shares Rubin's and Kristol's views that Sanders is the most beatable candidate. Where Leupp differs, however, is that he very much wants to see Trump reelected. And to that end, he has launched a pressure campaign of his own. The Palmetto State allows any voter to cast a ballot in any primary that they wish. Given that the Republicans aren't even holding a primary, Leupp is encouraging GOP voters to show up and cast a vote for Sanders, "the most socialistic, liberal candidate running" and, by implication, the easiest opponent for the President to defeat. Part of this is also about getting South Carolina Democrats to agree to a closed primary in the future, but part of it is about boosting Sanders, so it's something of a two-for-the-price-of-one situation.

As Republicans, Rubin, Kristol, and Leupp are probably not the best people to judge which Democrat is likely to excite the Democratic electorate. However, what they presumably can judge is the mindset of the Republican electorate—well, at least the never-Trump Republican electorate. One of the arguments for Sanders is that he might be uniquely able to peel off some of Trump's base (specifically, working class, younger, white, noncollege men). It would seem that three Republicans think that's not the case. (Z)

Bloomberg Ascending?

We do not know if the moon is in the seventh house, or if Jupiter is aligned with Mars. However, we do know what it looks like when a candidate is ascending. And at the moment, former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg definitely matches that description.

To start, Quinnipiac published a new national preference poll on Monday. Here's how they have it, including every candidate to register above 1%:

Candidate Percentage
Bernie Sanders 25%
Joe Biden 17%
Michael Bloomberg 15%
Elizabeth Warren 14%
Pete Buttigieg 10%
Amy Klobuchar 4%
Andrew Yang 2%

Obviously, there are two big, related pieces of news here. First, that frontrunner-until-very-recently Joe Biden has now fallen well behind Bernie Sanders, and the margin of error means he could very plausibly be in third or fourth place nationally. Second, that Michael Bloomberg has moved into third place, and is within striking distance of second. Actually, given the margin of error, he might already be in second.

Also interesting is the result when Quinnipiac also asked respondents about their preference between each of the leading Democrats and Donald Trump. Here are the results:

Candidate Candidate Support Trump Support Margin
Michael Bloomberg 51% 42% Bloomberg +9
Bernie Sanders 51% 43% Sanders +8
Joe Biden 50% 43% Biden +7
Amy Klobuchar 49% 43% Klobuchar +6
Pete Buttigieg 47% 43% Buttigieg +4
Elizabeth Warren 48% 44% Warren +4

Obviously, Quinnipiac has every Democrat beating Trump, at least in the popular vote. And it's close enough that one cannot consider this a firm ranking. Nonetheless, in a year where "can beat Trump" is the thing Democrats care most about, Bloomberg clearly has a strong case.

Sometimes, we like to take a look at the betting market PredictIt, and see how they have things. There are certain externalities that can skew their numbers; on the other hand, it's also people backing their opinions with cold, hard cash (or not so cold, not so hard bitcoin). Anyhow, they also have Bloomberg on the rise. In fact, they give him the second best odds of any candidate. Here's everyone above 1%:

Candidate PredictIt %
Bernie Sanders 33%
Michael Bloomberg 20%
Pete Buttigieg 9%
Joe Biden 8%
Amy Klobuchar 5%
Elizabeth Warren 3%
Hillary Clinton 3%

Warren behind Klobuchar, and in an effective dead heat with Hillary Clinton, who's not even a candidate this year? Oof. In any case, clearly many bettors like Bloomberg's chances.

As long as we are looking at betting markets, let's also look at the British bookie William Hill, who is offering odds on the primaries that imply these probabilities:

Candidate Probability
Bernie Sanders 42%
Michael Bloomberg 31%
Pete Buttigieg 14%
Joe Biden 10%
Elizabeth Warren 5%
Hillary Clinton 5%
Amy Klobuchar 5%

Here, too, Bloomberg is second. William Hill is also offering these odds for the general election:

Candidate Probability
Donald Trump 67%
Bernie Sanders 18%
Michael Bloomberg 17%
Pete Buttigieg 6%
Joe Biden 5%
Elizabeth Warren 2%
Amy Klobuchar 2%

Note that the betting probabilities do not add up to 100% due to the vigorish (the bookie's cut of the money).

The former New York mayor's game is not a secret anymore. There was speculation, which we noted multiple times, that he was just running to take a chunk out of Trump, and to grease the skids for whatever Democrat landed that party's nomination. However, it is now clear that Bloomberg has his eye on the prize for himself. His plan is to do very well on Super Tuesday (Mar. 3), particularly in California, and so to be available as a viable alternative to rally around if Democrats lose faith in Biden, and get frightened at the thought of Sanders and/or Buttigieg (particularly Sanders) as the Party's nominee.

As we often point out, a week is a long time in politics, but at the moment at least, things are lining up rather nicely for the billionaire candidate. Oh, and despite the fact that he's not even contesting the first four states, he's likely to qualify for the next Democratic debate. He already has two qualifying polls, and he's got 8 heavy-on-new-polling days to get two more. A fellow who has no problem getting down and dirty, particularly when it comes to punching Donald Trump below the belt, could certainly shake things up if he makes it onto that stage. (Z)

Iowa Results Are Finalized...Maybe

The New York Times had a story on Monday about the Iowa caucus meltdown. It was even more a train wreck than previously known: Google spreadsheets that key personnel did not know how to use, dozens of folks at Iowa Democratic Party headquarters sharing a single iPad in order to get the passcodes needed to log in to the computer system, telling caucus workers to send their results to an e-mail address set up for the purpose and then...not checking the inbox. It reads like a Monty Python sketch.

In any case, the Iowa Democratic Party has now released final delegate counts. Here they are:

Candidate Delegates
Pete Buttigieg 14
Bernie Sanders 12
Elizabeth Warren 8
Joe Biden 6
Amy Klobuchar 1

In past years, a portion of the delegates were not official until the county- and state-level conventions were held. We incorrectly reported that the same held true this year. In fact, among the approximately 481 different changes the Iowans made to their caucus system this year was a new rule that all of the pledged delegates are awarded based on precinct results. So, most of Iowa's delegates have now been distributed. All that remain are the state's 8 superdelegates, which will not be awarded until the second ballot at the Democratic Convention, assuming that things even get to that point.

The reported results have two particularly notable implications. The first is that Buttigieg can claim "victory" by pointing out he got the most delegates. Of course, 2 delegates is nothing in the scheme of things, but a win is a win. The second is that Klobuchar, by virtue of her one delegate, automatically qualifies for the next Democratic debate and possibly future ones.

That may be the end of the story, for now. On the other hand, Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders have both formally requested recanvasses, as the former doesn't want his win to be tainted, and the latter is hoping that one Buttigieg delegate will be flipped, thus producing a tie. We shall see if they get it. Meanwhile, DNC chair Tom Perez announced that the Party will "review" Iowa's first-in-line status after what happened. Inasmuch as the disaster last week has some people wondering (with evidence) if maybe the Iowans have been miscalculating their results for decades, the review is not likely to produce a happy outcome for the folks in the Hawkeye State. (Z)

Smear Campaign Against Romney Commences

In 2016, Uranium One and Benghazi were the gifts that kept on giving for the Republicans, as they were able to bend both (with no real basis) into smears on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democrats in general. It's turning out that 2020's all-purpose smear is...Burisma. That company has already been used, possibly with success, to bring down the campaign of Joe Biden. And now, it is being used in an effort to exact revenge on Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), given that he had the temerity to vote for conviction on one of the two articles of impeachment.

The basic theory is fairly simple: One of the senior advisors to Romney's 2012 presidential campaign was once on the Burisma board of directors, and so by voting for conviction, the Senator was covering up for his buddy. Wait, did we say the theory is simple? Oops! We actually meant tinfoil-hat crazy. Yeah, it vaguely creates the appearance of...some sort of impropriety, but it otherwise makes zero sense. How on Earth would that vote cover up anything? In fact, if a coverup was the goal, Romney would have best been served by toeing the party line, and not by rocking the boat.

Of course, Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't love, regardless of how kooky it might be. So, he jumped in with both feet, retweeting this and several other anti-Romney tweets:

Who knows how long Trump will carry on his anti-Romney vendetta? Sometimes he grows bored quickly (Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-FL), and sometimes he totes a grudge forever (Barack Obama). It seems unlikely that the President will forget impeachment anytime soon, so Romney is probably in for a rough year. On the other hand, when it comes to Trump's enduring loathing, at least Romney's not black, or a woman. (Z)

Update on All the President's Crooks

In a reminder that we currently live in a very strange kind of world, at the same time that Donald Trump was tearing into Mitt Romney for his display of integrity, the President was also on Twitter defending poor, helpless, pure-as-the-driven-snow convicted felon Roger Stone, who will be relocating to the crowbar hotel for 7 to 9 years if prosecutors have their way. One of several presidential tweets on the subject:

As a reminder, Stone was found guilty on seven of seven counts by an impartial jury.

Given Trump's newfound post-impeachment invincibility, a pardon is undoubtedly coming. It's possible that Stone will have to wait until after the election, but even that seems unlikely. And one suspects that another Trump-connected convicted felon, namely former NSA Michael Flynn, has also been promised a pardon, or also has strong reason to believe one is coming. After promising to cooperate with authorities, he has backtracked entirely, has lied to them several times, and now wants to vacate his plea deal. The agreement to cooperate in the first place speaks to a man who wants to avoid prison at all costs; the various behaviors thereafter speak to a man who has found a better way to do that than singing like a canary. (Z)


Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked about the status of the ERA on Monday during an appearance at the Georgetown University Law Center. There are significant questions as to whether Virginia's ratification of the amendment made the ERA a part of the Constitution, since the deadline mandated by Congress has long passed, and four states have "rescinded" their ratification. Ginsburg's view was that the waters are too muddy to move forward with the ERA in its current form, and that she "would like to see a new beginning."

That means, de facto, that the ERA is dead in the water, at least for a good, long time. Ginsburg is the most feminist and pro-ERA justice on the Supreme Court. If she would be unable to get to "yes" should the matter come before the Court, then it's inconceivable that five of her eight colleagues, the majority of them conservative males, would be able to do so. Meanwhile, the modern GOP is staunchly opposed to the ERA (the four states that rescinded ratification are all deep red). There is absolutely no way that a "new" ERA could get the necessary 2/3 of vote in either house of Congress, much less the 3/4 of states needed for ratification. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Feb10 Sanders Leads in New Hampshire
Feb10 Democrats Are Worried that the Nevada Caucuses Will Also Be a Disaster
Feb10 Steyer Surges in South Carolina
Feb10 Klobuchar Raised $2 Million Since Friday
Feb10 Giuliani Is Still Digging for Dirt on the Bidens
Feb10 Trump Blew Up the Electoral Map
Feb10 Which Political Theory Is Right?
Feb10 Trump Abandons Promise on the Deficit
Feb09 Sunday Mailbag
Feb08 The Reaping Has Begun
Feb08 Friday Night Lights
Feb08 Life Hasn't Been Good for Walsh
Feb08 Saturday Q&A
Feb07 Final Iowa Results Are In...Kinda
Feb07 In Spiking Poll, Selzer Made a Wise Decision...and a Mistake
Feb07 If You're A Presidential Candidate, Don't Believe Your Hype
Feb07 Sanders, Buttigieg Polling Well in New Hampshire
Feb07 Warren Gets Unhappy News in Nevada
Feb07 Democrats Debate Tonight
Feb07 Trump Commences Victory Lap
Feb06 Senate Acquits Trump
Feb06 Nadler: House Likely to Subpoena Bolton
Feb06 Will Anyone Ever Honor a Congressional Subpoena Again?
Feb06 Iowa Results Are Still Dribbling In
Feb06 Pelosi Dumps on Trump in a Private Meeting after SOTU
Feb06 Sanders Leads in New Hampshire Poll
Feb06 New Hampshire Becomes Even More Crucial Now
Feb06 Biden Still Hasn't Addressed His Son's Job at Burisma
Feb06 Cummings' Widow Loses House Primary
Feb05 The Results Are In...Mostly
Feb05 So, What Happened in Iowa, Exactly?
Feb05 Did the Iowa Results Contain Secret Bad News for the Democrats?
Feb05 Trump Delivers State of the Union
Feb05 Impeachment Acquittal Right on Pace
Feb05 Trump Gets Highest Ever Approval from Gallup
Feb05 Most Farmers Are Sticking with Trump
Feb04 And the Winner of the Iowa Caucuses Is...???
Feb04 Don't Forget, There's Also an Impeachment Trial Going On...
Feb04 State of the Union Address Is Tonight
Feb04 This Probably Won't Make the SOTU...
Feb04 ...Or This, for That Matter
Feb04 Bloomberg Gets in the Gutter with Trump
Feb04 Rush Limbaugh Has Lung Cancer
Feb03 Finally the Voters Get Their Say
Feb03 Should Iowa and New Hampshire Go First?
Feb03 Can the Caucuses Be Hacked?
Feb03 Ann Selzer's Poll Will Not Be Released
Feb03 Poll: All the Leading Democrats Could Beat Trump
Feb03 Biden Wins Endorsement from Union That Backed Sanders in 2016
Feb03 DNC Changes the Admission Requirements for February Debate