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Sanders 551
Warren 64
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Bloomberg 60
Klobuchar 7
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      •  "Mick the Knife" Gets Cut
      •  Saturday Q&A

Note: We have updated the map to split out the March 10, 17, and 24 states.

"Mick the Knife" Gets Cut

We often write that being President of the United States is the toughest job in the world. Perhaps, at least temporarily, we should modify that. Clearly, the toughest job in the world right now is serving as Chief of Staff to Donald Trump. Yesterday—and surely it's just a big coincidence that news of this sort always seems to break on Fridays—the President canned Chief of Staff #3 Mick Mulvaney, and moved on to Chief of Staff #4, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).

It was not a secret that Mulvaney was Chief of Staff in name only, and had fallen out of Trump's favor. He did not accompany the President on several recent trips, and this week—amid the emergent COVID-19 crisis—he has been "traveling on personal business." Indeed, Trump never even did Mulvaney the courtesy of removing the "acting" in front of his title, despite Mick the Knife having been on the job for 14 months. Anyhow, Mulvaney is going to be "promoted" (translation: "demoted") to being Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. One is reminded of Andrew Jackson, who appointed James Buchanan as ambassador to Russia because it was farther away than any other posting. Old Hickory said that he would have sent Buchanan to the North Pole if the U.S. had an embassy there. Presumably, the goal is to keep Mulvaney too busy, at least until the election, to write the inevitable book that's coming. We shall see how well the strategy works; Mulvaney could surely land an advance large enough to retire for the rest of his life, but probably only while Trump is still in office.

Meadows, for his part, had already announced his retirement from Congress, so this will just speed this up. It is similarly not a coincidence that the Representative's home state just held their primary, as that is not only likely to leave the seat vacant until next year, it also triggers a state law that allows the parties to choose candidates, as opposed to holding a primary. Since NC-11 is R+14, this will allow the GOP to pick just the right tea partier to replace Meadows.

And now, Meadows—who is at least being given the courtesy of not having "acting" attached to his title—will become the latest person to tell themselves "I can totally do this job, and not get thrown under the bus by the President." Depending on how things work out, he may only need to hold on for 8 months, and that just might be possible. On the other hand, Trump Chief of Staff #1 Reince Priebus couldn't last 8 months, while the other two were dead men walking by the eight-month mark, even if they managed to linger on for a while longer. Oh, and Meadows comes to the position at a time when Trump is flailing around in response to COVID-19, is in the midst of a reelection campaign, and has at least a dozen court cases pending that could produce adverse results. People haven't forgotten about the tax returns, for example. In short, when Meadows takes the oath that all civil employees have to take upon assuming new jobs, he really might want to add "We who are about to die...salute you" at the end. (Z)

Saturday Q&A

We got lots of "behind the scenes" questions. And we are going to answer them. However, we did not think through the plan wherein we asked for them...right before the biggest week of primary season. So, we'll get to them next week. We also have a bunch of other things that have been on the back burner and that will presumably return to the front burner if the Democratic primary race reaches its denouement.

Q: Why do candidates who drop out always say they are "suspending" their campaign? P.M., Grahamstown, South Africa

Q: You have explained that one reason campaigns are suspended instead of ended is that the candidate retains control of the delegates won, which may be helpful in negotiating a podium at the convention, a cabinet slot, or maybe even a spot on the ticket. Elsewhere, I have read that this allows them to keep raising money and pay down campaign debt (though it takes a die hard to contribute to such a campaign). My question is: Has any campaign ever been "unsuspended", perhaps in response to other candidates dropping out, a sudden infusion of cash, or a sudden epiphany? M.L.M., San Jose, CA

A: As M.L.M. correctly notes, one reason to "suspend" is to retain control over delegates/influence. Another is to make it legal to keep accepting donations; individual donors are not too likely to give to a dead campaign, but lobbyists and corporate types might. We also suspect that there's an element of ego here, "suspended" sounds a little better than "ended," in the same way that "yielded to the inevitable" sounds a little better than "surrendered."

And, of course, it is at least possible that a "suspended" campaign might be resumed. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. The most recent example is former representative Chris Collins, who was charged with insider trading in 2018 and suspended his campaign. Then he decided, correctly as it turns out, that having an (R) after his name was more important to voters than the small matter of whether or not he might be a felon. So, he un-suspended and won re-election, then was compelled to take a plea bargain and resign.

Q: After Donald Trump's 2016 win, every third article was about Democrats' failure to appeal to the white working class. I am surprised to see little discussion in the media about Sanders vs. Biden when it comes to these voters (and none after Super Tuesday that I could find). I am even more surprised that the Super Tuesday exit pollsters don't appear to have asked questions about income, so I couldn't even do my own research.

Why didn't exit pollsters ask about income, and if they did, why isn't that information being closely analyzed in the press? Can you recommend a recent article on this topic?
A.N., Memphis, TN

A: The truth of the matter is that exit polls are actually a very crude instrument. The name "exit poll" is accurate; pollsters really do catch people as they are leaving their polling places and ask them questions about how they voted and why. They don't generally ask demographic questions. In part, that is because there isn't time; people aren't going to stand there for half an hour. In part, it is because anything that is self-reported tends to be pretty inaccurate (for example, people exaggerate their income and education levels and shave years off their real age). And in part, it is because some categories are themselves a little fuzzy. Consider, for example, a white guy who repairs computerized air conditioning systems and makes $40,000 a year as compared to a white guy who makes artisanal cookies and sells them on Amazon and makes $12,000 a year. Which of them is white, working-class? Both? Neither? The repairman but not the entrepreneur? The entrepreneur but not the repairman?

The dirty secret is that when you see demographic data in exit polls, it's usually based on things that the pollster can judge with the naked eye, and even then it's their best guess. That means that exit polls cannot address things like education level, income, job status, religion, and other things that are not apparent at a glance. If you'd like to read something about this, Pew Research recently did a study looking at the various ways we figure out voter demographics, and which techniques work better than others. Among their conclusions was that exit polls are particularly unreliable because they tend to grossly oversample highly educated people.

In view of this, you might ask how we know that Trump did well with white, working-class voters. In part, because (as the Pew study discusses), there are several ways of figuring out voter demographics, and some of them produce pretty good results. It's also easier to judge some things in the aggregate, than it is with a small sample of voters. For example, it would be pretty hard to figure out exactly how strong Donald Trump's support is among white, working-class voters is right now. However, if he wins 70% of the vote in places like Wayne County or Macomb County in Michigan, that's a sign of high white, working-class support because there's no way to get to 70% in those places without high white, working-class support.

Q: The dynamics of the Biden/Sanders race are creating a "Democrats can't win without specifically appealing to black voters" narrative, and it's gotten me wondering how true that really is, at least compared to other similar-sized demographic groups. Is the black vote really the most important thing for a Democrat seeking the White House to lock up, ahead of the Latino/Catholic/over-65/etc. vote, or is it "just" that black voters have the most impact on who gets nominated in the first place? Or is this whole narrative built on one or more false assumptions? C.F., Rochester, MN

A: Trying to decide which demographic is "most important" is something of a fool's errand, in part because of the challenge of measuring certain demographic groups (see above), and in part because you end up making apples to oranges comparisons. For example, there are certainly more over-65 voters than there are black voters, but their age may affect their vote and their worldview considerably less than race/culture might affect the vote of a person of color.

We would suggest that black voters might best be described as a "swing constituency." They are pretty easy to identify, they play a key role in certain very important states, and they vote loyally for candidates they like while sometimes staying home for candidates they don't like. These things being the case, it's not surprising they get a lot of attention from politicians and pundits, as opposed to demographics that may be larger, but are harder to identify and are more randomly distributed across the 50 states (like, say, white, working-class voters).

Q: Several times recently, people have written to my hometown newspaper to defend the president's effectiveness. Today, the president was touted as possibly the most effective president ever. I would like to reply to this letter, but I am very puzzled as to what to say. How can anyone consider Trump the most effective president ever? More effective than Lincoln, who got us through the Civil War? More effective than FDR, who got us through the Great Depression and WWII? More effective than LBJ, who got very important legislation passed, even if he was not effective in defeating the Vietcong? I cannot seem to compile a list of actions that even an obvious partisan would consider effective, unless he is talking about deregulating, actually meeting with Dear Leader Kim, and imposing tariffs on China. Even then, some of these actions have had or will have serious consequences for American citizens. What is this letter-writer talking about? What has Trump actually done effectively so far in his term of office? C.S., Cincinnati, OH

A: Let us start by noting a few things. First of all, we live in an age of hyperbole, and the President and his base are extremely enthusiastic practitioners. When they use phrases like "most effective," "greatest," and "record-breaking," it's not clear whether they mean it literally or if it's a form of poetic license.

Second, all human beings suffer from a tendency toward confirmation bias, and Trump and his base seem to have a particularly acute case. That is to say, having decided he is "great," anything he does is automatically interpreted as proper and correct and as evidence of that greatness.

Third, and finally, Trump and his base are exceedingly ill-informed about U.S. history. There is much they don't know, and what they do know is often inaccurate, incomplete, or distorted in service of political agendas and/or conspiracy theories. Some of the things that you see out there, achieving wide circulation among a subset of Americans, are enough to turn a historian's hair white: Lincoln was staunchly pro-slavery, FDR actively worked to make the Great Depression worse in order to seize dictatorial power, LBJ was a member of the KKK, Jimmy Carter is guilty of war crimes, the misslies fired at U.S. troops by Iran were funded by the Obama administration, and so forth.

Anyhow, when evaluating presidents, (Z) likes to consider them in terms of the six jobs that are aspects of the modern presidency. And that is the framework we will use in an effort to answer your question:

  • The president is the Chief Executive; he appoints and manages the staffers that make up the executive branch. For Trump's supporters, this is probably the area where he has pleased them most. From their perspective, he has taken on (and defeated?) a corrupt deep-state bureaucracy. Further, he has exercised the prerogatives of the presidency to their breaking point (and maybe beyond their breaking point), particularly when it comes to appointing right-wing anti-choice judges and issuing anti-immigrant/anti-regulation/anti-environment executive orders.

  • The president is the Chief Economist; he oversees the health and well-being of the economy. This is the other part of the job that is in the running for "area where Trump has pleased his base the most." They point, in particular to the low unemployment rate, and to the trade deals he's negotiated, despite those trade deals being small in number and short on substance. Trump's base also accepts his argument that things like tariffs and trade wars are cases of short-term pain in service of long-term gain. Not hurting, on that front, is that the administration has handed out some very generous subsidies to (some) farmers to tide them over. If he had given subsides to minorties in urban areas the farmers would be screaming bloody murder.

  • The president is the Chief Diplomat; he manages the United States' relationship with other nations and peoples. From the viewpoint of his supporters, he's stood up to moochers like the UK and France and Germany and insisted they pay their fair share of the costs for international organizations like the UN and NATO. And, in general, he's embraced an "America First" isolationist stance that seems right and just to his base.

  • The president is the Chief Legislator; he sets the legislative agenda for America. The President's supporters, in general, have trouble identifying specific pieces of legislation he's steered through Congress, but they accept his claim that it's a "record" number. Many give him credit for the tax cut, even though that was pure Mitch McConnell. Trump did get some of his wall built, though his base tends to be fuzzy on exactly how much has been built, how effective it will be, and exactly how the funding was arranged.

  • The president is the Commander in Chief; he commands and manages the United States' considerable armed forces. From the viewpoint of pro-Trump folks, he's brought us closer to peace with North Korea and to winding down wars in places like Syria and Afghanistan. He bombed Iran and killed an evil terrorist. And he's lavished money on the Pentagon, despite the tax cuts.

  • The president is the Head of State; he serves as a role model for Americans and a symbol of what is good and great about the American people. What Trump's supporters admire openly is the President's projection of strength and confidence; they think he's a 180-degree change from the allegedly weak, spineless, and groveling Barack Obama in that regard. What they might or might not openly admit, but what many of them definitely also admire, is that he's made it ok to be nasty to people you disagree with (see, for example, the "F**k Your Feelings" t-shirts) and he's also made it much more socially acceptable to embrace various forms of bigotry.

Please be clear, this is an executive summary (no pun intended) of what Trump's followers think, not what we think. A lot of this is either spin, or is patently false. And you presumably already know how Trump haters would assess him in each of these areas.

Q: Your piece "Where Do We Go From Here?, Part IV: Sanders Game Changers" raises an even scarier question than the one you posit: What if the dastardly COVID-19 does its thing AFTER the convention? It would be good to hear how it affects the Democrats if their septuagenarian candidate meets the dreaded fate, as well as the Republican (not-the-picture-of-health) candidate. Or even both. M.L., Havertown, PA

A: The answer is actually pretty simple: It's up to the parties to choose a replacement nominee (something that has never happened, to date, with a presidential candidate, but has happened a couple of times with a vice president). There would not be a new convention; both parties have rules that empower the national committee to make the call. That means that, for both the GOP and the Democrats, about 200 people would choose a new nominee.

And we would like to emphasize here, as we did in the original piece, how much sentiment would play a role. It is both human nature, and also politically expedient, to "honor" someone who died unexpectedly. The clearest analogue available, we would say, is the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Democrats got a lot of mileage, in terms of passing civil rights and other legislation, with the claim "it's what JFK wanted." If Joe Biden or Donald Trump were to die unexpectedly, the replacement would either be someone closely connected to the deceased politician or someone very similar to them in terms of style/viewpoint/demographics. It is inconceivable, we think, that the DNC would honor a dear departed Joe Biden by switching gears to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), or that the RNC would do the same with Donald Trump by switching gears to Mitt Romney.

We've also had various questions about deaths during other parts of the process, so we might as well answer them here. If a candidate dies after the election, but before the Electoral College meets, there really are no clear rules about what would happen. As a practical matter, however, the national party would make very clear who their preferred candidate is (very likely the vice presidential nominee), and the electors would almost certainly fall in line. If a candidate dies after the Electoral College meets, but before inauguration, then things aren't 100% clear, but most experts agree that the vice-president-elect (who is always sworn in before the president) would succeed to the presidency.

Q: Living in Norway with a good universal healthcare system, I fail to understand why so many Americans oppose UHC. Could you enlighten me? P.M., Viken, Norway

A: We wish we had a cleverer answer than this, but we would say it really comes down to three basic things:

  1. Humans are resistant to change, and Americans are unusually so. There are a great many things that would be widely viewed as commonsense today that took Americans decades to accept and/or embrace. It took roughly 80 years for women to get the vote. It took 10 years to adopt Social Security and another 10 or so before efforts to kill the program faded away. It took close to 100 years, and several severe recessions, to figure out that maybe having a central bank is better than not having one.

  2. Dating back to the Revolution, Americans are steeped in a culture that is suspicious of authority, particularly central government authority. This is especially true in the South.

  3. The U.S. political system, with power widely distributed as it is, and with the First Amendment issues raised by limits on political donations, is particularly susceptible to being gamed by persons and entities with an interest in maintaining the status quo. In this case, that would be insurance companies, which spend billions on lobbying each year. They ain't spending that money for their health. Or ours, for that matter.

Q: You wrote: "[Sen. Joni] Ernst does have pretty high approval ratings (mid-50s) in Iowa." But I read that she is now the third-most unpopular senator in the United States. Don't you think that the Democrats have a good shot to capture her seat in Iowa? J.J., Copenhagen, Denmark

A: As to your question about approval ratings, we'll note two things. First, a politician might be judged by their "approval," or by their "disapproval," or by their "net approval" (approval minus disapproval). That means there are three different measures by which the 100 Senators (in this case) might be ranked, and the three different lists don't always line up. A senator who inspires strong feelings in both directions (like, say, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC) might have a pretty high approval (48% right now) but also a high disapproval (40%), and thus a middling net approval (+8%). A senator who inspires few feelings one way or the other (like, say, Sen. Gary Peters, D-MI) might have a pretty low approval (37% right now), but also a very low disapproval (22%), and thus a pretty solid net approval (+15%). The question of which senator is more "popular" depends on which measure you choose.

The second thing we will note is that there's really only one place that does approval ratings for all 100 senators on a regular basis (Morning Consult), and their ratings seem to jump around a lot, for reasons that are not clear. In any event, Ernst has definitely been sliding, and is down in the mid-thirties, approval-wise right now (specifically, Morning Consult has her at 37% approve and 42% disapprove, for a net of -5%). What has caused that is not entirely clear, but the obvious guess is that she's being punished for the trade war with China (Morning Consult has Donald Trump at 46% approval and 51% disapproval in Iowa, for a net of -5%, for what it's worth).

We do think that Ernst is vulnerable, though (Z) probably believes that a bit more strongly than (V) does. That said, as we are fond of pointing out, you can't beat someone with no one. And thus far, the Democrats do not have a top-flight (or even second-flight) opponent to face off against Ernst.

Q: Is there any difference between "brokered," "contested," and "open" conventions? I've heard these mentioned a lot lately regarding what could happen to the Democrats this summer. R.H.D., Webster, NY

A: They are pretty similar. "Open" and "contested" are definite synonyms. "Brokered" is in the same ballpark, but implies significant effort on the part of party leadership to steer the result.

Allow us to note, as we already have once or twice, that people said that 2020 was the year that a contested convention was finally going to happen. And, as was the case in 2016, 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, and the five elections before that, these people were pretty quickly proven wrong. In short, until a year comes that a contested convention remains possible until (at least) late May, you should ignore such talk.

Q: Is there a path for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to be voted in as Senate Majority Leader? P.C., Boston, MA

A: There is, but it's a pretty narrow one. First, of course, the Democrats would have to retake the Senate. Then, current Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would have to decline the job, or do it for a while and get his fill of it and then resign/retire, or alienate his caucus, or be compelled to leave the Senate due to poor health. Then, there would be a lot of jockeying among the other members of the Democratic Senate leadership to replace Schumer. The good news for Warren is that she is part of the leadership team. The bad news is that, as Vice Chair of the Democratic Conference, she is outranked by Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Assistant Democratic Leader Patty Murray (D-WA). So, not only would Warren need Schumer to get out of the way, she would also have to overcome at least two folks whose claims to succeed Schumer are stronger than hers. All of this is possible, but it's a tall order, especially for someone who is 70 and may not have a decade or two left in office to play the long game.

Q: The Huffington Post, reporting on a story from The Guardian (UK), wrote this:

An analysis by The Guardian found that Texas officials have been methodical about closing the most sites in communities with the largest-growing Black and Latino populations. The publication found that the 50 Texas counties that gained the most Black and Latino residents from 2012 to 2018 eliminated 542 polling sites over that span, while the 50 counties that gained the fewest Black and Latino residents during that time eliminated only 34 sites.

If the report is accurate, and if the reports of hours-long waits to vote in these areas are also true, I'm wondering how on earth this kind of vote suppression goes unchallenged. Can't the Texas Democratic Party file a lawsuit? J.M., Knoxville, TN

A: There will be, and already are, lawsuits, filed not only by the Texas Democratic Party, but also by pro-voter-rights groups like the ACLU and Let America Vote. The problem is that folks whose real goal is to stop people of color (or women, or students) from voting are very good at finding some plausibly non-discriminatory way to make that happen. For example, the folks who run elections in Texas say that the polling places chosen for closure were costing too much money relative to the number of people who used them to vote, and that the extent to which they happened to be in minority communities was just a coincidence.

It used to be much harder to pull shenanigans like this, as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave the federal government and the courts a lot of leeway in making determinations of discriminatory behavior, and in taking steps to remedy the situation. But the Supreme Court struck down a significant chunk of that law in 2013's Shelby County v. Holder, which makes discrimination against minority voters much harder to combat. And even if such lawsuits succeed at the lower levels of the federal court system, they could well end up before the same SCOTUS that struck down much of the Voting Rights Act.

It's also worth pointing out that even if Texas eventually loses these lawsuits, it will almost certainly be after this year's election, and it won't invalidate the results. Even if you only get to discriminate for one election, when all is said and done, that is better than being able to discriminate for zero elections. Especially since there's no penalty for doing so, again thanks to the gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Q: I'm a 50-something white male Independent, and I cannot for the life of me ever remember seeing Texas turn blue. Moreover, with their robust and growing voter suppression efforts, I don't believe it ever will turn blue in my lifetime. Black and Latino Texans standing in 6 hour lines to vote can easily be extended to 10 or 24 hrs even if necessary, as John Roberts wrote that voter rights issues are ancient history, and no longer an issue. Colorado, by comparison has gone red to blue to red more times than I can remember. How is Colorado not a swing state? G.C., Toledo, OH

A: It is true that Texas hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976, and that they haven't elected a Democratic governor since Ann Richards in 1990. That said, there are three demographic trends that are working strongly against the GOP in Texas. The first is a growing number of Latino citizens. The second is the GOP's loss of huge numbers of suburban women. And the third is the arrival of a high number of well-off, educated people who are moving to the Lone Star State in search of good weather, affordable real estate, and/or jobs in the burgeoning tech sector. Beto O'Rourke's almost-successful Senate campaign is an indication of Texas' blueward trend, as are the results in the 2018 House elections. There is a very good chance that the GOP will take even more damage on that front in 2020. And if current demographic trends hold (never certain, of course), then Texas will turn purple eventually, probably sooner rather than later.

As to Colorado, the state's demographics are now way out of sync with the modern GOP, with the result that Democrats have dominated statewide elections in the last five years, up to and including the election of America's first openly gay governor. The state hasn't gone for a Republican president since the second George W. Bush election in 2004. It's certainly possible that Colorado could go red in 2020, just like it's possible that Ohio could go blue, but both outcomes are very unlikely given recent political and demographic trends. And "swing state" means something closer to "state that has a reasonable chance of going either way" and not "state that has a 95% chance of going for one party and a 5% chance of going for the other."

Q: To what extent do you think the impeachment shenanigans led to a poor showing by Joe Biden in the early primaries/caucuses? Will this come back if the GOP starts pushing the Burisma stuff again? Given how well Biden performed on Super Tuesday, is this another indication that Iowa and New Hampshire have no business going first? T.S., Eugene, OR

A: Your first two questions are necessarily subjective, and so a subjective answer is what we will give you. We don't think Burisma had much effect on Biden in Iowa or New Hampshire, the problem in those states is that they weren't a great match for him, demographically, or for the kind of campaign he's running (i.e., pretty low on "retail," in-person campaign appearances). And, in the absence of new and damning information, we don't think the issue will hurt him much going forward. It's already gotten a little stale and, unless there is something we don't know, Biden's personal involvement was peripheral at best. Further, if a voter's key issue is really corruption/influence peddling, can that person really say with a straight face that Donald Trump is cleaner on that subject than Biden? Our guess is that anyone who makes a big deal about Burisma is engaged in electioneering for Trump, and was never seriously considering Biden.

As to Iowa/New Hampshire, the "official" reason they go first is that the Party doesn't want to set things up so that only a candidate with big-time money and name-recognition has a chance of claiming the nomination. There may be some truth to that, but it is also true that those two states go first because they seized the privilege for themselves. And it is unclear to us what is being learned from making candidates jump through hoops in two states that demand a campaign very different from an actual presidential campaign, and that have a population that looks not very much like the Democratic base. Taken to extremes, why not let the 12 folks in Dixville Notch, NH, hold the first caucus or primary?

We've written before about states that seem to be a better balance of "small enough to let the little guy or gal have a chance" but "representative enough to serve as a real test for a presidential candidate." However, if we were put in charge of redesigning the process, what we would actually do is choose a group of four or five medium-sized states, with different demographics, to go first on the same day. Say, Wisconsin, Nevada, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and Oregon. That would force candidates to run something akin to a real campaign (and not a "visit the state fair and shake everyone's hand three times" campaign) and would also force them to commit themselves to a real strategy that could then be put to the test.

Q: What are the laws or regulations that govern Mike Bloomberg's campaign assets? Beside his TV spending, he also has offices in many states with staff and computers. Can he donate them to Biden or the party if they are valued in thousands or millions or dollars? We know that PACs can buy ads, but what about the ground game spending? That's got to be a big budget item for a national campaign. K.P., Marlette, MI

A: There is no loophole here that would allow Bloomberg to backdoor millions or billions of dollars to a specific campaign or to the DNC. He's still subject to the annual limits for his donations ($2,800 per election to Biden; $35,500 per year to the DNC). It doesn't matter if he's giving straight cash, or equipment, or leftover stuff from his own campaign.

What Bloomberg can do is two things. First, he can form JoePAC or DownWithTrumpPAC or whatever, and help Biden wherever and however it makes sense. Although it would be illegal for the Biden campaign and JoePAC to coordinate, Bloomberg is clever enough to figure out what needs to be done. The other thing Bloomberg can do is work with the DNC. He can't write them a $100 million check, but there is nothing that stops the DNC from asking Bloomberg to fund his own, private, massive voter-registration drive in, say, North Carolina and then him agreeing to do it.

Q: Four years ago, plenty of Republicans held their noses and voted for Donald Trump because he had an R next to his name. Plenty of Democrats did the same for Hillary Clinton, but many of the Bernie Sanders supporters stayed home or voted for a third-party candidate.

If there really was some behind-the-scenes manipulation by Democrat higher-ups, why would they believe that 2020 won't just be a repeat of 2016? Aren't moderate Democrats more likely to hold their noses and vote for Sanders then Bernie Bros are to vote for Biden? Sure, there are plenty of polls that show that Biden has a decent shot in a general election against Trump, but there's no way those polls can account for how many Sanders supporters will stay home on Election Day if their candidate isn't on the ballot.
A.K., Houston, TX

A: We talk to and hear from a lot of people from a lot of different political viewpoints. And while it is true that there are many "Bernie or Bust" voters, we cannot emphasize enough how many voters out there are viscerally opposed to Sanders and, even if they hate Trump, would pull the lever for the President because he is, at least, the "devil you know." There is no great way to know which number is larger: people would vote Biden but not Sanders, or people who would vote Sanders but not Biden. What we can tell you, however, is that both groups are pretty big, and that the question of which group is larger is no slam dunk.

As to a repeat of 2016, should the Democrats nominate another moderate, establishment-type candidate, there will undoubtedly be some Sanders supporters who don't vote or who vote third party. However, we believe the effect will not be as pronounced, for a number of reasons:

  • In 2016, the DNC really did pull a few strings to help Hillary Clinton. Not a lot, but a few. This year, there is no evidence that Tom Perez & Co. have their finger on the scale for any candidate.

  • In a related point, the existence of the superdelegates in 2016 allowed Sanders supporters (with some encouragement from their candidate) to argue for the existence of an anti-Bernie conspiracy that denied him the nomination. This year, there are no superdelegates (at least until the second ballot at the convention). If Joe Biden claims the 2,000 or so delegates needed for the nomination in the primaries/caucuses, it will be rather hard to craft a conspiracy theory about how unfair it is that the guy who won the majority of the delegates got the nomination. Especially since Sanders himself said, during the time he was leading in delegates, that the delegate leader should get the nod.

  • In 2016, Donald Trump was worrisome to many voters, but in an abstract way. Now, they know the cold, hard reality of what a Trump presidency looks like.

  • In 2016, Clinton was seen as a slam dunk, and that gave voters "permission" to cast protest votes. Because of that, it's hard to believe that anyone will think Biden is a slam dunk, no matter what the polls or pundits say.

  • As we've pointed out, the Democrats will have a pretty good argument this year along the lines of "even if you don't like the candidate, you're also voting for the Ruth Bader Ginsburg replacement, and the future of Social Security, and the like, so vote on that basis."

So, 2020 will not be the new 2016, is our prediction, even if Biden is the nominee.

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar06 A Million Selfies, All for Nothing
Mar06 Where Do Things Go From Here?, Part I: Biden vs. Clinton in Words
Mar06 Where Do Things Go From Here?, Part II: Biden vs. Clinton in Numbers
Mar06 Where Do Things Go From Here?, Part III: The Polls
Mar06 Where Do We Go From Here?, Part IV: Sanders Game Changers
Mar06 Trump Gives Democrats a Late Christmas Gift
Mar05 Biden Has More Delegates Now
Mar05 Bloomberg Calls It Quits
Mar05 What Happens Next?
Mar05 Takeaways from Super Tuesday
Mar05 Who Voted for Whom?
Mar05 What Happens to Delegates When Candidates Drop Out?
Mar05 Other Key Races
Mar05 Bullock May Run for the Senate after All
Mar05 New York State Cancels Republican Primary
Mar04 A Whole New Ballgame
Mar04 In New National Poll, Biden Leads
Mar04 Fed Slashes Interest Rates, Markets Tank
Mar04 Some Election Websites Are Running Unprotected, Obsolete Software
Mar04 Los Angeles County Used an Insecure Voting System
Mar03 Klobucharge Runs Out of Electricity
Mar03 Everybody Is Endorsing Biden
Mar03 What to Watch for on Super Tuesday
Mar03 Supreme Court Will Hear Obamacare Case
Mar03 Dow Rallies
Mar03 Will Trump Drop the Mike?
Mar03 Another Israeli Election, Another Hazy Result
Mar02 Buttigieg Bows Out
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