Needed 1991
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Sanders 817
Warren 60
Buttigieg 26
Bloomberg 42
Klobuchar 7
Gabbard 2
Remaining 1893
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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Federal Government Gets Ready to Dump Money into the Economy
      •  It's a Biden Sweep
      •  Maryland Moves Its Primary
      •  What's Next for Sanders?
      •  Fox Shifts Gears
      •  Down Goes Lipinski
      •  From the House to the Big House

Federal Government Gets Ready to Dump Money into the Economy

It was just a week ago that the folks in Washington were arguing whether $2.5 billion was enough to fight COVID-19 (the White House's position), or if $8 billion was more apropos (House Democrats' position). In a reminder that in politics a week is a lifetime, the figure now being tossed around is a cool $1 trillion. Our staff mathematicians tell us that is 1,000 billions, which is shade more than either 8 or 2.5 billions.

Some portion of the money (perhaps $250 billion) will go to helping small businesses. The White House would also like to grant airlines' requests for $50 billion, though Congressional Democrats may not go for that, particularly given that the airlines have been raking it in over the past few years, and then using that money to pay fat dividends and executive bonuses.

The majority of the money is going to be used for direct relief sent to citizens. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin and most Congressional Republicans have turned into a bunch of Andrew Yang clones (not that Yang is happy about it) and are talking about cutting a check for $1,000 to every American. Now that the idea has been discussed this openly, it will be virtually impossible for the folks in Washington to fail to deliver. So, if you're a U.S. citizen, you can start to plan how you're going to spend your thousand bucks in a few weeks. By then, that should be enough to buy four, maybe five rolls of toilet paper.

Meanwhile, the measures taken by government officials, and by private businesses, are getting more aggressive every day. A sampling from Tuesday:

  • Americans have been given 90 extra days to pay their income taxes
  • Canada is about to shut down most foreign travel (essential travel by Americans excepted)
  • Hawaii has asked tourists to stay away for at least a month
  • Nevada has shuttered all non-essential businesses for 30 days, including all casinos
  • Marriott, the world's largest hotel chain, has begun the process of temporarily shutting down
  • California schools are likely to be closed for the rest of the year
  • Most residents of Northern California are being told to shelter in place, and NYC is about to issue a similar order
  • Macy's is temporarily closing all stores
  • AMC is temporarily closing all theaters, and Universal will stream movies they planned to release this month
  • Most malls have closed
  • Most fast food chains have closed their dining rooms and shifted to drive-thru only, with Wendy's and Dunkin Donuts joining the list Tuesday

For what it's worth, the Dow Jones jumped about 1,000 points on Tuesday, to close at 21,237.38. CNN put together a nice graph of how the market has performed in the last several months:

January and February had tiny ups and
downs, but in March it's basically been a series of WAY up and then WAY down. Rinse and repeat.

Who knows why the market does what it does, but since Dow Futures were down Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, we're presumably in for another valley on the roller coaster ride. The problem is that every little tidbit of news sparks a massive reaction, one way or the other. The reality is that no one knows what is going to happen to the economy and that completely spooks investors. (Z)

It's a Biden Sweep

(Some) Democrats in three states headed to the polls on Tuesday night, and in all cases, they gave a solid victory to Joe Biden. Here are the numbers as of 3 A.M. EST (although they are subject to change later today)

State Delegates Reporting Biden Pct. Biden Del. Sanders Pct. Sanders Del.
Florida 219 93% 61.9% 128 22.8% 30
Illinois 155 97% 59.4% 76 35.7% 30
Arizona 67 88% 43.6% 26 31.6% 20
Total 441     230   80

The major story, of course, is that even without a primary in Ohio, Biden has put the Democratic nomination effectively out of reach. If we just go with the current totals, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would need 1,164 of the remaining 1,884 delegates to outpace Joe Biden. That's 61.7%, a total that the Senator has reached in only one primary this season (he got 63.6% in the Northern Mariana Islands, on the strength of 84 votes). If we split the remaining, un-awarded delegates from Tuesday night evenly, with each candidate getting 65, then that would leave Sanders with 892 delegates and 1,750 remaining. In that scenario, he would need 1,099 of the 1,750, or 62.8%. Absent a massive game-changer, that's not doable.

Let's also look at the numbers two other ways. First, here is Biden 2020 vs. Clinton 2016 in these three states

State Clinton 2016 Pct. Biden 2020 Pct. Difference
Florida 64.4% 61.9% Clinton +2.5%
Illinois 50.6% 59.4% Biden +8.8%
Arizona 56.5% 43.6% Clinton +12.9%

Obviously, the 2020 percentages from the three states are incomplete. In the 21 states and territories that voted before Tuesday night, Biden outpaced Clinton in all of them. In Illinois, he added a 22nd, easily outpacing her 2016 performance there.

The evening may have given us our first states where Clinton 2016 beat Biden 2020, namely Florida and Arizona. However, those two come with a sizable asterisk. Both allow early voting and so, at the moment, Mike Bloomberg has 8.5% of the vote in Florida and 10.2% in Arizona, entirely on the strength of ballots cast and counted weeks ago. Those percentages will go down, since he's going to get roughly 0% of the votes still outstanding in those states. That means it's likely that Biden's final total will end up higher than Clinton's was, at least in Florida, and maybe even in Arizona. Further, nearly all of those Bloomberg votes would have gone to Biden, had Bloomberg dropped out earlier. Clinton, by contrast, did not have an opponent who was siphoning votes from her. So, even if her "victory" over Biden holds in either state, it isn't really a victory at all.

Finally, let's look at the total turnout in 2016 vs. 2020 in these three states (the 2020 turnouts are estimated, since nobody knows exactly how many late mail-in ballots will be received):

State 2016 turnout 2020 turnout Difference
Florida 1,670,253 1,776,510 106,257 more in 2020
Illinois 2,039,049 1,556,276 482,773 more in 2016
Arizona 455,421 582,732 127,311 more in 2020

It is difficult to separate the impact of COVID-19 from other factors that might have influenced turnout. For example, population growth should mean somewhat higher turnout this year than four years ago. In Florida, the arrival of many Puerto Ricans and the re-enfranchisement of many felons are factors that should have pushed totals up this year. In the other direction, Illinois had some very intense Senate primaries in 2016 that drove turnout way up that year.

With that said, while it's not clear what impact COVID-19 did or did not have in Arizona and Florida, the conclusion is unavoidable that it drove turnout in Illinois down. Reports from that state confirm it; there was much confusion about whether or not the primary was still on, and then there was enormous difficulty in finding enough polling place workers who were healthy and able to do the job. Indeed, the state government had to put out an emergency call for volunteers, with only partial success. This is a pretty good argument for postponement (more below). It's also worth noting that while Illinois allows early voting and voting by mail, these things are much easier to do in Florida and Arizona. So, this would also be an argument for more liberal vote-by-mail rules, up to and including the November elections (expect Democrats to make a big, big push for this in the next few weeks).

This will be the end of the really big primary news, at least for a while. Thanks to all the rescheduling, there are only five primaries or caucuses in the next five weeks, and most of them are fairly small. So, even if Wisconsin, Alaska, Wyoming, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico do not reschedule, there are fewer delegates at stake (188) in the next month-plus than there were in Florida all by itself. We have updated the map above to give more detail about primaries in April and May. (Z)

Maryland Moves Its Primary

Speaking of postponing primaries, and of voting by mail, Maryland has become the most recent state to embrace both notions. Originally, Marylanders were to vote on April 28; now they will do so on June 2. However, state law requires that the special election to replace the deceased Rep. Elijah Cummings be held before that, so that will go forward as scheduled, with voting conducted entirely by mail, and ballots due by April 28. This suggests that an entire primary by mail on June 2 is a real possibility.

Thus far, five governors have made the call:

State Original Date New Date
Louisiana April 4 June 20
Georgia April 24 May 19
Kentucky May 19 June 23
Ohio March 17 June 2
Maryland April 28 June 2

Yesterday, we suggested that Gov. Mike DeWine's last-minute audible could be suspicious, primarily because it took him so long to make the call, and because there is at least theoretically a benefit to the Republican Party in keeping Bernie Sanders viable for as long as possible. That said, we were only noting this as a possibility, and did not think it a likelihood, since DeWine is not especially Trumpy, has generally earned a reputation for integrity, and has been praised for his handling of the COVID-19 situation. Quite a few readers, including several Democrats, took us to task for that insinuation via e-mail, insisting that DeWine's decision was on the up and up. We'll run some of those letters on Sunday, but thought we should mention them now. Obviously, folks actually living in Ohio have better information than we do, and the turnout in Illinois last night (see above) strongly suggests DeWine made the right call.

And, of course, one has to assume that DeWine won't be the last governor to pull the trigger. The current CDC recommendation is that people avoid large gatherings for eight weeks. Here are the primaries and caucuses scheduled in that timespan:

Date State/Territory
March 29 Puerto Rico
April 4 Alaska
April 7 Wisconsin
April 28 Connecticut
  New York
  Rhode Island
May 2 Guam
May 5 Indiana
May 12 Nebraska
  West Virginia

The states that vote in late April or early May have at least a little time left to wait and see, though given how strong the measures already imposed in New York are, it's hard to see that one going forward as scheduled (unless it's 100% vote-by-mail). Meanwhile, there's a lot of pressure on Alaska, Hawaii, Wyoming, and particularly Wisconsin to delay. Odds are that one or more of them reschedule within the next week. (Z)

What's Next for Sanders?

As we note above, and as everyone predicted, the campaign of Bernie Sanders suffered something close to a mortal blow on Tuesday. In his speech last night, he did not reference the election results at all, and instead talked about COVID-19 and Medicare for All. However, various members of his campaign signaled on Tuesday that he's inclined to stick with it for the long haul. Even if he can't win, the Senator's reported reasoning is that the more delegates he has, the more influence he will have at the convention.

If this really is Sanders' mindset, it's dubious, and unworthy of his nearly five decades in politics. Sanders is attracting about 35% of the Democratic vote in primaries. A portion of that 35% will vote for Joe Biden, even if some of them have to hold their noses and think about the Supreme Court while they do it. Some additional portion won't vote for Biden under any circumstances. And the third portion, and the one that gives Sanders whatever leverage he has, are open to voting for Biden, but will need a push from Sanders. It's hard to say how big each of these three groups is, but the group of folks who are persuadable, but only by Sanders himself, has to be fairly small. Shall we say 10% of his base? Or, about 3.5% of Democratic voters, or 1% of the electorate.

The point is, Sanders has some leverage, but it's not enormous. And since everyone already agrees that the Senator can command some hard-to-measure percentage of the vote, the number of delegates he gets isn't going to matter much. That will just prove what is already in evidence. So, he's not actually gaining by staying in the race. On the other hand, he could certainly lose leverage if he sticks around. First of all, every time Joe Biden wins a state by a big margin, it becomes easier and easier for him to believe he doesn't need Sanders' voters, and to pivot to the center. In particular, if Biden wins big in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania (whenever they hold their primaries), then he will have reason to believe he can flip those two states (and Michigan, where the former veep already won big) without the Vermont Senator's assistance. And if Biden flips those three states, he becomes the 46th President of the United States. So why risk alienating centrist voters and never-Trump Republicans to placate a very small group that doesn't have a great record of actually showing up on Election Day?

Beyond that, there is value in Sanders dropping out now. That would allow Biden to focus on the general election and attacking Trump, and to stop investing time and energy and money on the primaries. As we've noted before, a good example of this is 1952, when Dwight D. Eisenhower knew he would get the GOP nomination, but didn't want to waste resources on fighting off his main rival, Earl Warren. So, Ike traded a future Supreme Court seat in exchange for a Warren withdrawal. Sanders is too old for that particular deal, but he could be given the right to choose RBG's replacement or a few Cabinet seats to fill, or a few platform planks. But if Sanders stays in the race, he will waste this particular capital.

Again, we're skeptical that Sanders and his team don't know this. And so, if he stays in, it's probable that the stated reason ("maximize my delegates/influence at the convention") isn't the real reason. The real reason he would stay in, from where we sit, is that he knows the postponement of most primaries and caucuses (see above) gives him at least another six weeks where his delegate situation won't get markedly worse. That's another six weeks where Joe Biden could fall seriously ill, or commit a gross verbal gaffe, or be caught in some sort of scandal. The fact that several Sanders campaign members on Tuesday spoke about how "there's still a path forward" or "this isn't over" certainly suggests that the Senator is thinking this way.

Presumably, we'll learn today or tomorrow what Sanders' plans are, but the odds are high he announces that the revolution will continue onward and upward. (Z)

Fox Shifts Gears

As we have noted, COVID-19 may prove to be the situation where Donald Trump's reality distortion field finally fails him. And we're now getting more evidence that is exactly what is happening, as his chief media propagandists, namely the folks at Fox News, are largely not toting his water on this one.

For example, Tucker Carlson, he of the bow tie, has spent much time on his show talking about the dangers of COVID-19. So too has Jesse Watters, who is less prominent than Carlson, presumably because he does not wear a bow tie. The folks on "Fox & Friends" have joined virtually every other panel show on TV, and are now practicing "social distancing" on air. In short, it's hard to watch Fox these days without getting a concrete reminder that this thing is real.

The one possible exception to that is Sean Hannity's show, where COVID-19 deniers and downplayers, like Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), are apparently still welcome. Obviously, as the face of Fox, Hannity has a lot more leeway than any of his colleagues. On the other hand, being the face of Fox does not make one completely invulnerable, as Bill O'Reilly can attest. And on Tuesday, Fox said that one of the earliest COVID-19 deniers on their family of channels, Trish Regan, probably will not return from her suspension. So, even Hannity may start to watch his Ps & Qs. (Z)

Down Goes Lipinski

Although the big story on Tuesday night, election-wise, was the Democratic primary contest, there was also one notable story downballot. Polls suggested that Illinois Blue Dog Democrat Dan Lipinski was in trouble, and the polls were right, as he was defeated in his primary by Marie Newman. He's the first sitting member of Congress to be primaried this cycle.

Newman, who attacked Lipinski from the left, nearly knocked him off in 2018. Her success in 2020 was due, at least in part, to COVID-19, as the Congressman's base of moderate Democrats skews pretty old. Still, his defeat is a reminder that there's not a lot of room in Congress for moderates these days, and there's even less room in the Democratic Party for a politician who opposes abortion.

The district, IL-03, is D+6, so the odds are that the Blue Team holds onto it. While the Republicans have to be happier to face a non-incumbent lefty rather than an incumbent centrist, their candidate is an unknown named Mike Fricilone, who only got into the race to stop white supremacist Arthur Jones from claiming the nomination again, and embarrassing the Party. For what it's worth, Democrats cast a little over 100,000 votes in IL-03 last night, while Republicans cast just over 16,000. (Z)

From the House to the Big House

Dan Lipinski isn't the only member of the 116th Congress who had a bad day on Tuesday. Former representative Duncan Hunter, who resigned back in January after pleading guilty to gross misuse of campaign funds, was sentenced to 11 months in prison. That is considerably more than his attorneys had asked for, though it's far less than if he had been caught with, say, a vial of crack cocaine. Priorities!

Because of the timing of Hunter's resignation, the seat will remain vacant until January of 2021. The candidates who will face off in November for the right to replace him are Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) and former representative Darrell Issa (R). The fundamentals of the district—it's R+11—suggest that Issa will win. However, California's suburbs have been trending blue, and CA-50 is as suburban as it gets. Further, when Campa-Najjar ran in 2018, he lost by only a couple of points. Will Issa be hurt by the vague association with Hunter? Or will he be helped by the fact that he's not Hunter? Will he be hurt by the fact that he's a carpetbagger? Or will he be helped by his vast fortune ($450 million)? In short, who knows what's going to happen in November? (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Mar17 Trump Says Virus Outbreak Could Last for Months
Mar17 What Should Be Done?
Mar17 Ohio Governor Has Postponed Today's Primary
Mar17 Today Is MiniTuesday
Mar17 Wall Street Did Not Have a Good Day
Mar17 Takeaways from the Debate
Mar17 Clyburn's List
Mar17 Absentee Voting Requires Advance Planning
Mar17 Kentucky Delays Its Primary until June
Mar16 Sunday's COVID-19 News
Mar16 Sanders Goes on the Attack
Mar16 Looking at Potential Biden VP Candidates
Mar16 Polls Predict a Good Tuesday for Biden
Mar16 Honest Graft
Mar16 What Trump's COVID-19 Bubble Looks Like
Mar16 Gillum's Career Appears to Be Over
Mar15 Saturday's COVID-19 News
Mar15 WWBD?
Mar15 Sunday Mailbag
Mar14 Friday's COVID-19 Developments
Mar14 Saturday Q&A
Mar13 COVID-19 Havoc Continues
Mar13 Candidate Biden Gives an Audition for Role of President Biden
Mar13 Wyden Wants National Vote-by-Mail
Mar13 U.S. Strikes Iranian-backed Militias
Mar13 Doing the Sanders Math
Mar13 Trump Tries to Cut Sessions Off at the Knees
Mar12 Trump Speech Falls Flat
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Mar12 Takeaways from This Week's Primaries
Mar12 Sanders Is Staying in the Race
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Mar11 Yang Endorses Biden
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Mar11 Judge Says Democrats Should Get Mueller Evidence
Mar10 COVID-19 Is Wreaking All Sorts of Economic Havoc
Mar10 Sanders Needs to Hope State Pollsters Are Wrong...
Mar10 ...And National Pollsters, Too
Mar10 Biden Picks Up Another Former Rival's Endorsement
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Mar10 Democrats Get Serious about Florida
Mar10 Six Former Wrestlers Point the Finger at Jim Jordan
Mar09 A Critical Week for Sanders Is at Hand