Tentative Primary and Caucus Schedule
  March 1 (Super Tues)
  March 2-14
L blue   March 15-31
Delegates needed for nomination:
GOP: 1237,   Dem: 2242
Map explained
New polls:  
Dem pickups:  
GOP pickups:  

News from the Votemaster

Trump Demands "Total and Complete" Ban on Muslim Entry into the U.S.

Taking his Islamophobia to its logical conclusion, on Monday Donald Trump declared that no Muslims should be allowed into the United States until we "figure out what is going on." Of course, as is usually the case, The Donald cannot be bothered to trouble himself with details. Details like the fact that such a ban would likely be unconstitutional, would be nearly impossible to enforce, and would probably not ensnare potential terrorists anyhow (as they would certainly lie about their religious affiliation).

This isn't the first time Trump has brought up religion. Earlier he said that Mexicans—nearly all of whom are Catholic—are rapists. He openly mocked Ben Carson's Seventh Day Adventist religion, and he insulted the attendees of the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting last week. Maybe he is gradually narrowing his focus to the 1.7 million Presbyterians in the U.S.

The backlash to Trump's proposal was fierce, probably more so than he expected. Naturally, the White House blasted him, as did Hillary Clinton. But so too did the rest of the Republican presidential candidates. Even Dick Cheney got in on the act (though Newt Gingrich found Trump's proposal to be worthy of discussion.) Meanwhile, the media also picked Trump apart, with the Washington Post and others pointing out that The Donald's arguments are built on very shoddy research, while The Daily Beast wondered why Trump is willing to trust a small handful of Muslims in the Middle East (Hint: They give him money.) The Huffington Post, which had been putting its Donald Trump coverage in the Entertainment section, said it will no longer do so, but that it would also no longer hesitate to label Trump a racist or a bigot for fear of being called biased.

So, has Trump finally gone too far? Thus far, the media—and, more importantly, the Republican field—has largely handled him with kid gloves, for fear of being The Donald's next target. In the past week or so, however, the billionaire has been challenged more openly—first by Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), and then by a few others. Now, everyone is piling on. If this proves to be the incident that finally opens the floodgates, then we will indeed be able to look back and say that December 7 will be a date which will again live in infamy. (Z & V)

Cruz Jumps into the Lead in Iowa, or Maybe Not

The slow-but-steady strategy of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may be starting to pay off. He has now leapfrogged Donald Trump and according to a new Monmouth University poll released yesterday, and is first in Iowa. The big loser, as Donald Trump would put it, is Ben Carson, who is down 19 points to fourth place due to a huge move by evangelical voters from Carson to Cruz. The results are below in the third column.

Rank Candidate Monmouth ORC
1 Ted Cruz 24% 20%
2 Donald Trump 19% 33%
3 Marco Rubio 17% 11%
4 Ben Carson 13% 16%
5 Jeb Bush 6% 4%
6 Rand Paul 4% 3%
7 Carly Fiorina 3% 3%
7 John Kasich 3% 1%
9 Chris Christie 2% 2%
9 Mike Huckabee 2% 2%
11 Rick Santorum 1% 1%
12 Lindsey Graham <1% <1%
  Jim Gilmore 0% <1%
  George Pataki 0% <1%

For months, pundits of all stripes have predicted that Trump would eventually collapse. This could be the first sign of it, but it will have to be confirmed by other polls.

Later in the day, a CNN/ORC poll came out with a completely different result. On top were Trump (33%), Cruz (20%), Carson (16%) and Rubio (11%). CNN was clearly aware of the discrepancy and said the difference could be due to different methodologies. Monmouth got its sample from a list of registered Republicans who had voted in recent elections (or were very recently registered). ORC used random-digit dialing and just asked voters about their voting history but didn't verify it. Nevertheless, the difference is huge. (V)

Trump's Standing in Iowa May Be Largely Due to Nonvoters

Two professors at Iowa State University have conducted an interesting study of the Iowa polls. Most polls just call up people at random and if they are registered voters, or in some cases, appear to be likely voters, ask them who they are for. The professors did it differently. They began with a list of voters registered in Iowa and selected out voters who have voted in Senate and House primaries in the past 10 years, on the assumption that voters who can't be troubled to vote in primaries are even less likely to vote in the time-consuming caucuses.

What they found was that Trump's support among people who have never voted in primaries is 8% higher than among those who have voted in a primary. Put in other words, a sizable chunk of Trump's support comes from people who may say they intend to go to the caucuses but whose voting record in past primaries is nonexistent. If these people indeed skip the caucuses, Trump might come out a lot lower than the polls predict. For better or worse, one of the consequences of Iowa's caucus system is that it gives activists who are willing to spend an evening talking about politics a much bigger role than casual voters. In 2012, 122,000 people voted in the Iowa Republican caucuses, compared to the 731,000 votes Mitt Romney got in the general election. This suggests that only 17% of active Iowa Republicans go to the caucuses. As a consequence, a huge issue for the pollsters is figuring out who is actually going to caucus and they may be overestimating the Trump vote considerably as a result. (V)

The Adelson Primary May Be Between Miriam and Sheldon

The grand prize in Republican politics was thought to be the endorsement of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, the third richest person in America. It is informally known as the "Adelson primary" and all the candidates have auditioned for it. But maybe it is going to be a bit different this year. Adelson is leaning toward backing Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), but his wife, Israeli-born physician Miriam Adelson, is a strong supporter of Ted Cruz. The two of them donate independently. In 2012, half of the $98 million worth of checks they wrote were signed by Miriam, not Sheldon. It is possible that rather than having each of them write a $50 million check to rivals, and having that cancel out, they may agree to sit out the primaries altogether. (V)

An Oppo Researcher Explains How the Deed is Done

A former oppo researcher has explained how people in his profession work, and it is not quite as dastardly as one might think. Private detectives, paparazzi, and furtive meetings in empty parking garages may be the stuff of movies, but in real life, oppo researchers spend a lot of time at their computers and at county clerks' offices. Much of the material they find is already public, but long forgotten. Divorces, lawsuits, liens, voting records, and a lot more information can be found by just looking in the right places.

Once the information is collected, it has to be analyzed. Are there patterns? Did the candidate vote for or against some issue over and over? Has he paid his property taxes on time? Has he been sued? A thorough analysis can reveal points that can be scored against him.

The third step in the process is leaking the damaging information. The oppo researcher needs to find a publication that likes the kind of information he found. He gives an example of a former Republican congressman who had an affair with a lobbyist and divorced his wife over the phone. The newspaper he gave the story to wasn't interested in the lobbyist angle, only the sex angle, so he had to look further for a way to spread the news. (V)

Some Politicians Are Living in the Internet Age...

Wired Magazine has released its list of the Top 10 political tweets of 2015. Barack Obama made the list five times, and each of the Clintons had an entry. Hillary's was the formal announcement of her candidacy, while Bill, who famously does not use e-mail, was included for a tweet asking if ownership of the Twitter handle @POTUS goes with the office. His inquiry was accompanied by the hashtag #askingforafriend. The three non-Obama/Clinton entries were from Edward Snowden and two government organizations, so Democrats dominated the list. (Z)

...And Some, Apparently, Are Not

While President Obama and the Clintons know their way around the Internet, Jeb Bush and his team seem to live at the opposite end of the technological spectrum. When "Jeb Can Fix It" was unveiled a few weeks ago, his team forgot to claim the domain jebcanfixit.com, with the result that a small-town politician and domain squatter took control and now uses it for a site suggesting that Bush stole the slogan from him.

Today, a rather more serious error of this sort came to light. Apparently, neither Jeb Bush nor anyone on his highly-paid staff thought to register jebbush.com. Again, a squatter swooped in, though this time it wasn't an unknown local politician—it was Donald Trump.

One of Jeb Bush's biggest weaknesses is that he and his staff seem to be living 15 years in the past in terms of their tactics, their sense of the issues, and their evaluation of Jeb's name recognition and popular support. Gaffes like these, while seemingly harmless, certainly do not help dispel the sense that Bush is a 20th-century candidate who is not suited to the 21st-century political landscape.(Z)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster
Dec07 Obama Addresses the Nation
Dec07 LGBT Rights Still a Wedge Issue?
Dec07 Could Republicans Bolt the Republican Party?
Dec07 Iowa Republican Party Will Try Hard to Prevent the 2012 Disaster from Repeating
Dec07 Kasich Comes Out for (Very Minor) Gun Control
Dec07 Cruz' Hawkish, Careless Rhetoric
Dec07 Rubio Trying to Out-Hawk Cruz
Dec07 Sanders Stays the Course
Dec07 Time to Put Horse Race Polling Out to Pasture?
Dec06 NYT Analyzed Trump's Speeches
Dec06 WaPo Analyzed Mass Shootings
Dec06 Gun Control Is Becoming a Hot Partisan Campaign Issue
Dec06 Are Trump and Cruz Like Goldwater?
Dec06 Is Rubio Scandal Brewing...Or Just Half-Baked?
Dec06 Bush Backers Are Sticking with Their Man
Dec05 Trump Has Massive Lead in New Poll
Dec05 Is Trump's Lead Deceiving?
Dec05 A Jeb Bush Premortem
Dec05 Clinton's Favorability Is Up Compared to Sanders
Dec05 Economy Added 211,000 Jobs in November
Dec05 Miami Healthcare Magnate Will Run Anti-Trump Campaign
Dec05 Anti-Trump Protestors Are Getting Louder
Dec04 Could Trump Run as an Independent?
Dec04 Trump Addresses Jewish Republicans and Gets Mixed Reaction
Dec04 New Information Turns Up on Rubio's Personal Finances
Dec04 Thursday Saw Lots of Posturing on the Hill
Dec04 Trump Will Debate After All
Dec04 Karl Rove is Worried about the Senate
Dec04 Where We Stand on Gerrymandering
Dec03 Poll: Trump, Rubio, and Cruz Rising, Carson Falling
Dec03 Another Day, Another Mass Shooting
Dec03 Secret Memo Advises Republicans How to Behave if Trump is the Nominee
Dec03 TV Ad Spending Is Not Delivering Results
Dec03 Everybody Hates Ted Cruz
Dec03 Cruz' Assertion about Violent Criminals Doesn't Hold Up
Dec03 Alan Grayson's Key Staff Members Quit
Dec03 Our December Ranking of the Republican Candidates
Dec02 Cruz Says Rubio is Like Hillary Clinton
Dec02 Marco Rubio Starts Retail Campaigning
Dec02 New Jersey Newspaper Dissents from the Union Leader's Opinion
Dec02 All the Female Democratic Senators Have Endorsed Clinton, Except One
Dec02 Clinton Campaign Misfires with Rosa Parks Logo
Dec02 Bush on His VP: She Will Be a Great Partner
Dec02 The Politics of Climate Science
Dec02 Zuckerberg Organization To Take Aim at Trump
Dec01 The Idea of Cruz as Their Nominee Scares Republican Senators
Dec01 Cruz Says Most Violent Criminals are Democrats
Dec01 GOP Candidates Continue to Chip Away at Trump
Dec01 Trump wants $5M to Debate
Dec01 How Many Trump Supporters Are There, Actually?