Trump Widens Lead In Georgia
Bloomberg May Drop Out Later Today
Sanders Loses Bet on Minnesota and Massachusetts
A Bush Loses In Texas
Trump Campaign Shifts Focus to Biden
Calendar Doesn’t Get Easier for Sanders
• Everybody Is Endorsing Biden
• What to Watch for on Super Tuesday
• Supreme Court Will Hear Obamacare Case
• Dow Rallies
• Will Trump Drop the Mike?
• Another Israeli Election, Another Hazy Result
If you are a fan of white men in their seventies, have we got the Democratic field for you. Following the departure of 62-year-old Tom Steyer on Saturday, and of 38-year-old Pete Buttigieg on Sunday, 59-year-old Sen. Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN) became the latest presidential aspirant to bow to reality. She withdrew from the race on Monday, and gave her support to Joe Biden. That means that the remaining viable Democratic contenders are a white guy in his 70s, another white guy in his 70s, a third white guy in his 70s, and, because variety is the spice of life, a white gal in her 70s.
There was little doubt that Klobuchar was a short-timer, and it was widely understood that she was just staying in the race until Wednesday, so as to keep Minnesota from falling into the hands of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). So, what changed? Nobody's saying, but if Klobuchar decided that her task now is to get Joe Biden nominated, it probably makes more sense to get out before Super Tuesday. As long as Biden and Klobuchar were both technically in the race, then Minnesota's moderate Democrats would be left guessing about how to use their votes, since Klobuchar was more likely to block Sanders in the Gopher State, but Biden needs the delegates. Now, that dilemma is resolved. There can't be a large number of Klobuchar-Sanders voters, so undoubtedly most Klobuchar voters (and, for that matter, most Buttigieg voters) will migrate to the former veep.
It is fair to ask what concessions Klobuchar might have gotten in exchange for dropping out and endorsing with such rapidity. It's possible she was given the inside track on the Veep slot; if Biden gets the nod and decides he's solid with black voters, he could certainly do worse, running-mate wise, than a nearly-20-years-younger Midwestern woman with a solid track record of success. Actually, she's not a bad match for Sanders, either, though he may not be eager to join forces with someone who just endorsed his main opponent. Alternatively, maybe Klobuchar aspires to a Cabinet post; the attorney generalship or the Dept. of Agriculture or the Dept. of the Interior would be pretty good fits. It's worth noting that if her Senate seat is vacated, Gov. Tim Walz (DFL-MN) would pick a replacement, and that replacement would serve for two years, so there's no real risk here in terms of control of the Senate. That said, it's also entirely possible that Klobuchar is happy to stay right where she is, in anticipation of another presidential run in 4 or 8 years. She's plenty young enough, and she may have extracted promises of establishment support before dropping out Monday.
If Klobuchar does run again, she'll need to figure out what went wrong this time. She has an excellent résumé, a strong "electability" argument, and she was consistently one of the best debate performers, and yet she never really got much traction. Maybe the "moderate" lane was just too crowded. Maybe her reputation for abusive behavior towards her staffers was a turn-off for voters. Maybe it was good, old-fashioned misogyny. Could be any or all of the above, or something else entirely that we're overlooking. In any case, with her and Buttigieg gone, and Biden and Bloomberg still in, the Democratic candidates' debates are definitely going to be even more of a slog than they already were. (Z)
We suspected that the Super Tuesday results would throw the fear of God into the Democratic establishment and the moderate wing of the party, and that they would rapidly coalesce around a non-Sanders candidate. We were somewhat on target, though we did not foresee that it would happen before Super Tuesday. In addition to Amy Klobuchar's departure and endorsement, Joe Biden got the following endorsements on Monday, as the Party establishment coalesced around him:
- Pete Buttigieg: One day after exiting the race, the former South Bend mayor
at a rally in Texas to declare his support for Biden. This gives further credence to the notion that a Cabinet post or support for a 2022 Senate run is
in his future.
- Beto O'Rourke: O'Rourke, the first "leading" Democrat to bow out this cycle, emerged from whatever cave
he's been hiding in to
that he backs Biden. Unfortunately, O'Rourke saw his shadow upon coming out into the open, which means we'll have another six weeks of primaries.
- Harry Reid: The former Senate Majority Leader
on the bandwagon, and opined that Biden will be able to "assemble the largest, most diverse coalition possible to defeat
Trump and lead our country following the trauma of Trump's presidency."
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL): There were a couple dozen sitting members of Congress who formally gave their support to Biden Monday; Duckworth was the most prominent.
In addition, Biden's fundraising appears to be basically back on track; he announced on Monday that he's raised $33 million in the last month. That still lags the $46.5 million Sanders raised in February by quite a bit, but it's certainly enough to wage a viable campaign.
Speaking of Sanders, he was asked on Monday about all the support coalescing behind Biden, and said:
Look, it is no secret. I mean, the Washington Post has 16 articles a day on this, that there is a massive effort trying to stop Bernie Sanders, that's not a secret to anybody in this room. The corporate establishment is coming together. The political establishment is coming together and they will do everything. They are really getting nervous that working people are standing up.
Sanders is right about some things. The anti-Sanders forces really are coming together to stop him, and they certainly are frightened by his candidacy. On the other hand, he's also wrong about some things. The implication that there is some sort of conspiracy is ill-founded; there is nothing secretive or nefarious about what's going on. This is how politics works, and if you run as an "outsider," you better believe the "insiders" are not going to be on your team until they absolutely have to be (see Trump, Donald, circa 2016). Sanders could have mitigated this somewhat by becoming an actual Democrat, but he chose not to. Did he really expect the leaders of the Democratic Party to support someone who isn't even a Democrat?
Indeed, Sanders' remarks are exceedingly self-serving. It is hard to see how he's going to win any voters over with his "the establishment/the corporate interests are against me" argument; anyone inclined to accept that viewpoint is already on board Team Sanders. On the other hand, saying such things will absolutely encourage the feeling among his base that the Democratic Party is the enemy, and will also encourage Sanders' supporters to vote third-party or to stay home if they don't get their candidate. And all of this is before we get into the rather off-putting habit the Senator has developed, in the last few months in particular, of referring to himself in the third person. None of this is going to help him expand his support beyond his base.
In any event, Super Tuesday just got a lot more interesting. (Z)
Speaking of Super Tuesday, 14 states will cast their primary votes today and American Samoans will caucus. Some of those places have been heavily polled, others not so much. Either way, at this point, the polls aren't worth a whole lot. The impact of Joe Biden's surprisingly large win in South Carolina, followed by the departure of three candidates who were all chasing parts of his base, means that a poll conducted last Thursday might just as well have been conducted last summer. So, the stage is set for some drama. Here are some of the key storylines to watch for today, presidential and otherwise:
- Mike Bloomberg: His story is that he wants Donald Trump to be defeated at all costs, and
he only entered the race because he didn't believe anyone else could do it. Today, of course, marks the former NYC
mayor's ballot debut, and should give us a sense of his overall strength, and his strength relative to Biden. Is there a
number of votes or delegates that will convince Bloomberg he's still got a shot at this thing? Or, on the other end, a
number that convinces him this is a fool's errand, and the time has come to board the S.S. Biden? Only Bloomberg
knows for sure.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): She is still in the race in order to be a "compromise"
candidate in the event of a brokered convention. To that end, an affiliated super PAC has been blanketing the airwaves
in Warren-friendly primary states. Obviously (see above), the moderate wing of the party is coalescing around Biden.
Today, we should see if there's a similar response on the progressive side of the party. Will they all flock to Bernie
Sanders' banner, in hopes of making sure that the nominee is a progressive? Or will they continue to split their votes?
If the latter, it may be difficult for Sanders to claim the nomination.
- The Minority Vote: Thus far, it certainly looks like black voters are backing Biden, and
Latino voters are backing Sanders. However, we've only got one state that supports the former supposition (SC) and one
that supports the latter (NV). Today, we should learn if this split is real.
- Alabama Senate: As Alabama Republicans try to figure out who gets to defeat Sen. Doug
Jones (D-AL), they're going to send two fellows to a runoff, and a third fellow packing. Jeff Sessions is the best-known
of the trio, and likely the slight favorite, but he cannot exactly hold Donald Trump close in a state that is very
Trump-friendly. Former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville saw this as an opportunity, and has been hugging the
President and his policies so close, the Coach's former players say they literally don't recognize the man they thought
they knew. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) has also been holding Trump very close, but he has less money and probably a little
less name recognition than his two rivals.
- Texas Senate: MJ Hegar is, far and away, the Democratic establishment's preferred choice
to face off against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). However, she's got a lot of challengers, and is at some small risk of
getting knocked off today. More likely, though, is that she's headed for a runoff, which means money and time not spent
running against Cornyn.
- North Carolina Senate: Republicans, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
taking a leading role, tried a little ratf**king here, and laid out some cash in the hopes of forcing Democratic
establishment candidate Cal Cunningham into a runoff with the more liberal Erica Smith. It probably won't work, but we
won't be sure until tonight.
- Will A Prominent Representative Get Primaried?: A number of well-known House members are
facing serious challenges: Kay Granger (R-TX) has a challenge from the right, Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Jim Costa (D-CA)
have challenges from the left.
- The Return of Old Faces?: There are also some folks who used to be Washington insiders,
and who have decided they would like to be again. California Republicans David Valadao and Darrell Issa and Texas
Republican Pete Sessions are all running either for their former seats, or for another seat that they think is
vulnerable. Former White House physician Ronny Jackson, meanwhile, has decided that he doesn't like lying to voters on
behalf of the President, and that he'd much prefer lying to voters on behalf of himself. He's trying to capture the seat
representing deep-red TX-13.
- Wonkiness in Texas: Texas has
hundreds of polling places in the last couple of years. Those polling places—gasp!—almost exclusively serve
minority communities. Will the obvious vote suppression scheme work?
- CA-25: This seat opened up when Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned due to a sex scandal. There are actually two elections going on. The first is for the right to serve from now until November (in other words, to finish Hill's term). If anyone captures 50% of the vote in that one, the seat is theirs until November. If not, then the top two finishers, regardless of party, will advance. The second is for the right to be the nominee in November, for the term that runs from 2021-23. In that one, the top two finishers will advance, regardless of how many votes they get. It is at least theoretically possible that different people could win the two elections.
In short, there's a lot to see on Tuesday night. We'll do as much as we can to break it down in Wednesday's post, but undoubtedly it will take several days to properly process all the results. (Z)
In case there wasn't enough riding on the results of this year's elections, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the latest challenge to Obamacare. This one was brought by the attorneys general of a gaggle of red states, and is an effort to bring down the law using something of a loophole. The original legislation imposes a tax on people who don't buy insurance. In the tax break for rich people and corporations, the Senate set the tax to zero. Ipso facto, argue the red-state AGs, the whole law is invalidated.
SCOTUS will not expedite the case, which means their ruling almost certainly will come after the election. Ostensibly, the GOP thinks it has a winner here, or they wouldn't be pursuing the case. However, neither polls nor the 2018 election results back that position up. Meanwhile, the Democrats are going to do everything they can to get mileage out of this. They will point out that, if the Republicans get their way, then tens of millions of people will lose their health insurance, and tens of millions more will lose ACA-conferred benefits like that insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on existing conditions. The blue team will also point out that the ACA was adopted nearly 10 years ago (that anniversary comes on the 23rd of this month), and that the red team hasn't come up with anything even faintly resembling a replacement (much less an improvement) in all that time. In short, it's hard to see how Monday's announcement does not work to the advantage of the Democrats this cycle. (Z)
To channel Sir Isaac Newton for the second day in a row (even if the quote is apocryphal), it would appear that what goes down must go up. Following a disastrous week last week, the Dow Jones had a nice little rebound on Monday, posting a 1,294-point gain, the largest in history by points. That doesn't erase all of the 3,583 points it lost in the seven previous days, but it does erase a big chunk of it.
So, what comes next for this roller coaster of a stock market? Well, the experts agree that there is definitely a possibility that the Dow Jones might just go up or down, or it may stay steady, but it is absolutely certain that either something good or something bad is about to happen unless, of course, nothing much happens at all. You can take that to the bank. (Z)
Paul Begala, who used to work for Bill Clinton, and who has been a CNN talking head for a long time, issued forth with this on Monday:
This is not a prediction. It's a certainty. On Thursday, July 16—that's the date the Democrat gives his or her acceptance address—on that day, to interrupt that narrative, Donald Trump will call a press conference at Mar-a-Lago. He's gonna dump Mike Pence and put Nikki Haley on the ticket to try to get those suburban moms. You watch. Guaranteed.
Begala is pretty well connected, and this is far too specific and too emphatic to be a guess. He clearly believes it's true, and he surely has good reason to think so. If Begala is proven incorrect, it either means he got bad information (less likely) or that the mercurial Trump changed his mind (more likely).
Does this make sense, from a strategic perspective? It certainly seems to. Pence is clearly just an errand boy for the administration, and not an important insider. On top of that, the President has the evangelical vote in his hip pocket, Pence or not. If Haley, as a woman of color with a reputation as a moderate, can win over just a few suburban women and/or a few voters of color here and there, that's a step up compared to Pence. On the other hand, the Democrats would likely counter-program that with Stacey Abrams, another Southern woman of color, which would cancel out most (or all) of the Haley effect. (Z)
The people of Israel went to the polls again yesterday. And, for the third time in as many elections, no party or coalition won enough seats in the Knesset to form a majority. Current caretaker PM and friend-of-Trump Benjamin Netanyahu did better than expected, possibly aided by a few assists from the Donald. However, with 90% of the vote counted, Bibi is a couple of seats short of a majority.
Assuming the results hold, Netanyahu will likely be given the first opportunity to form a majority government. He's already failed twice under the same circumstances; if he fails again, then rival Benny Gantz will give it a try. There will be enormous pressure on each of them to work something out, even if it means that they partner up and share power. But without a breakthrough, then Israel will be headed for its fourth election in a year. At this point, it's looking possible that the U.S. will inaugurate a Jewish leader before the Israelis do.
Israel is a good case study for people who carp about the two-party system in the U.S. In Israel, there are a dozen or so parties and it is easy to start new ones. The result is fragmented elections and it is nearly impossible to form a coalition that can get a majority. Imagine that the U.S. landscape looked like this, with the parties' main demands as follows:
- Democrats (40%): Slightly left of center, focusing on tweaking FDR's New deal
- Republicans (40%): Fairly conservative, focusing on cutting taxes for rich people, but otherwise not rocking the boat
- Greens (10%): Far left, focusing on Green New Deal, M4A, huge expansion of the federal government
- Libertarians (10%): Far right, focusing on the repeal of Social Security, Medicare, and minimum wage laws
Now imagine (not hard) that the Greens and Libertarians really dug in their heels and were unwilling to budge on their platform and it was impossible to form a majority in the House to even elect a speaker. With a two-party system, at least one of them wins and one of them loses and you don't have three elections a year like Israel, with a fourth one possible soon. (Z)
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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar02 Sanders Raises an Incredible $46.5 Million in February
Mar02 Why Do the Kids Love Bernie?
Mar02 Would a Large Turnout Help Sanders?
Mar02 Super Tuesday is Tomorrow
Mar02 Could COVID-19 Impact the Election?
Mar02 McGahn Skates
Mar02 House Judiciary Committee Wants to Interview the Stone Prosecutors
Mar02 Trump Nominates Ratcliffe as DNI
Mar02 Americans Are Worried about Election Integrity
Mar01 Biden's South Carolina Firewall Holds—and Then Some
Mar01 Sunday Mailbag
Feb29 Saturday Q&A
Feb28 Coronavirus Gives Trump Administration a Headache
Feb28 Prepare for Another Trump 2020 Photo-op
Feb28 A Candidate Like No Other, Part II: Bernie Sanders, Socialist
Feb28 Polls Have South Carolina Results All Over the Map
Feb28 Today's Ratfu**ing News
Feb28 Buttigieg Is Still Your Winner in Iowa
Feb28 Trump May Not Be Able to Pardon Stone
Feb27 Takeaways from the South Carolina Debate
Feb27 Clyburn Endorses Biden
Feb27 Poll: Biden Has a Huge Lead over Sanders in South Carolina
Feb27 Schumer and Pelosi Would Be Comfortable with Sanders as Nominee
Feb27 Five Thirty Eight's Super Tuesday Predictions
Feb27 He Hasn't Been Here
Feb27 Are Primaries Being Done Wrong?
Feb27 Schumer Meets with Bullock
Feb27 Trump Asks for the Wrong Recusals
Feb27 Court Rules that Trump Can Withhold Money from "Sanctuary Cities"
Feb27 Trump Campaign Sues the New York Times
Feb26 Democrats Do the Charleston
Feb26 A Candidate Like No Other, Part I: Bernie Sanders' Base
Feb25 Trump Administration Fears Coronavirus
Feb25 Nevada Results Are Final...
Feb25 ...And Now It's South Carolina's Turn
Feb25 But First, a Debate
Feb25 Sanders Gives Florida Democrats Conniptions
Feb25 The Hill Closes the Henhouse After the Fox Already Had His Way
Feb24 Takeaways from the Nevada Caucuses
Feb24 How Did Sanders Do It?
Feb24 Never-Trump Republicans Are in Full-Blown Panic Mode
Feb24 New National Poll Has Sanders on Top
Feb24 Downballot Democrats Move to Distance Themselves from Sanders
Feb24 How Democrats Can Manage a Brokered Convention
Feb24 Caucus States Aren't the Only Ones with Complicated Rules
Feb24 National Security Adviser: Russians Aren't Trying to Help Trump
Feb24 Steyer Will Be on Stage Tomorrow
Feb23 Nevada Has Spoken
Feb23 Sunday Mailbag