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

Foreign Leaders Condemn Trump's Remarks on Muslims

It is very rare for leaders of other countries to comment on U.S. presidential politics and for a good reason: dissing someone who may later become President typically does not lead to good relations down the road. Nevertheless, the Prime Ministers of the U.K. and France have condemned Donald Trump's pledge to prevent Muslims from entering the U.S. Trump hasn't told them off yet (although he may well do that soon) because it probably won't hurt him in the primaries. However, if he gets the GOP nomination, when he has to face a Democrat—especially if it is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—and debate about foreign policy, he is going to have a tough time explaining how he will get other countries to cooperate in stamping out ISIS when their leaders have already labeled him a racist hatemonger.

So why is Trump doing something that could cause him great grief in the general election? It is because his supporters already hate and distrust Muslims, far more than the supporters of other Republican candidates. So if your base is full of xenophobes, you say incendiary things about unpopular foreigners and your supporters just lap it up, the consequences next Fall be damned. (V)

Republicans Also Condemn Trump's Remarks, But Cautiously

It is no secret that the GOP is hoping (and, presumably, praying) that Donald Trump will go away—the sooner, the better. His outlandish declarations about Muslims add a new dimension to the problem, however, as they have the potential to damage the Republican brand in a way that may not be reparable, even if The Donald leaves the race.

The political establishment knows this well, and the various players are responding accordingly. Hillary Clinton spent a fair bit of time on Tuesday arguing that Trump definitely speaks for the entire Republican Party. A White House spokesman said much the same, while asserting that Trump's proposal disqualifies him from being president. Meanwhile, prominent Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and RNC chairman Reince Priebus spent their Tuesday distancing the party from Trump's rhetoric. Jeb Bush did the same, and went so far as to suggest that Trump is secretly a Democratic mole trying to bring down the GOP from within. Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge declared that he absolutely would not vote for Trump if he lands the Republican nomination.

Ridge's response is, at least so far, an outlier among prominent Republicans. The party's leaders, and its presidential candidates, have been unwilling to call on Trump to drop out, or to declare that they will not support him if he is the nominee. Why are they treading so lightly? Undoubtedly because they already suspected what a new USA Today/Suffolk University Poll shows to be true—that 68% of Donald Trump's supporters would vote for him if he deserted the Republican Party and ran as an independent. Trump, of course, is making sure everyone is aware of this. The poll illustrates the nightmare scenario in which the Republicans find themselves. If they nominate him, he will doom the party and if they don't nominate him and he runs as an independent, he will also doom the party. Consequently, when he says something outrageous and Republicans are contemplating going after him for it, they have to think about this poll. Thus, they are left doing as much damage control as possible while hoping The Donald self-destructs and exits quietly into the night. (V & Z)

Media Changing Its Approach to Trump?

For all the headaches he gives GOP leadership, Donald Trump has also created a conundrum for the media. As he has grown more and more offensive, reporters know they shouldn't pretend this is just politics as usual, but they are still hesitant to criticize him. In part, this is a product of journalistic ethics—reporters strive to be fair and impartial. In part, it is because Trump sells newspapers and attracts eyeballs, and is more than willing to cut off the access of any publication or organization or individual that dares criticize him.

Now it seems that The Donald's spell may be broken, and that media outlets are going to begin pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. For example, NBC News' Richard Engel, one of the most respected foreign correspondents in the business, echoed those sentiments on Tuesday. So too did the New Yorker, encouraging television media, in particular, to challenge Trump more forcefully. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Daily News (known for pushing the envelope, ala the New York Post) went all-in and ran a picture of the billionaire raising his hand in a Nazi-like fashion, accompanied by the headline "The New Furor."

Still, we are a long way from the media asking questions like: "If the King of Saudia Arabia wanted to visit with you in the White House to discuss how Saudia Arabia could help defeat ISIS, would he be forbidden from entering the country?" And also "Does the new "No Muslims" rule also apply to ambassadors from Muslim countries?" The list goes on.

It is worth mentioning that Trump may be declared Time's Person of the Year on Wednesday morning, having already made the list of finalists. This may seem "positive" coverage, and undoubtedly The Donald will spin it that way if he is indeed designated as such. However, "Person of the Year" (formerly "Man of the Year") is not an "honor" and does not gauge positive impact on the world, merely impact. Among the former designees are, yes, Adolf Hitler, as well as Joseph Stalin, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Vladimir Putin. It is strangely apropos, perhaps, that Trump's primary competition this year appears to be his fellow finalist Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. (Z)

Clinton Prepares to Face Trump, Cruz, or Rubio

Early on this year, Hillary Clinton's team was expecting to face Jeb Bush. Now they have abandoned that assumption and are focusing on Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as the most likely opponents. For each possible opponent, they have a different plan. For Cruz, the idea is to point out that everyone who has ever known Cruz, hates him. His freshman-year roommate at Princeton would no doubt get to make a television ad repeating what he recently said of Cruz: "I would rather have anybody else be President of the United States. Anyone. I would rather pick somebody from the phone book."

Going up against Trump would be easy since he has said so many things that would be poison in the general election. All Clinton would have to do is air him saying incendiary things. Rubio would certainly be the toughest of the three, but the line of attack would probably be that he is too young and inexperienced to be Commander-in-chief in a dangerous world. 3 A.M. phone calls, anyone? (V)

Are the Candidates Polling at 0% Still Actually Running?

One might think that a candidate polling at 0% for months on end would have long since given up but that is not the case. The Christian Science Monitor has a report on a fundraiser in Lebanon, NH in which the likes of George Pataki and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) showed up and used their alloted 15 minutes of speaking time to make their case to the 50 or so elderly people who paid $35 to hear them. Pataki thundered on about the need to declare war on ISIS, even though as governor of New York he was definitely a moderate. Graham agreed with Pataki and upped the ante by saying the U.S. should put 5,000 soldiers on the ground in Iraq. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) talked about the meaning of life and the fact that for many young Muslims life doesn't have a lot of meaning, so they join ISIS. The candidates who are polling better didn't show up, but sent proxies to speak for them instead. So, yes, the candidates with zero chance are still at it, for some unfathomable reason. (V)

Does Iowa Still Matter?

As recently as 2008 or 2012, a completely unknown candidate, such as Mike Huckabee (2008) or Rick Santorum (2012) could trudge through the snow in Iowa for months and end up winning the Iowa caucuses. Neither of these candidates had anything like a national campaign. It was Iowa or bust. In 2016, a candidate's standing in national polls determines if he or she even gets on the debate stage. The consequence of this shift is that a candidate needs either a lot of money or tremendous name recognition to even get started. Political newbies need not apply any more.

For all the criticism Iowa has received for being small and unrepresentative, it did make it possible for anyone with enough willpower and determination to make a serious run for the White House by focusing on the state. The candidates who tried that this time, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), and former Texas governor Rick Perry all quickly discovered that campaigning mostly in Iowa was a losing proposition. The modern way to campaign is to manage to get on television a lot from the start, which usually you means you are rich or famous or both already.

Not everyone is unhappy with Iowa's loss of power. RNC chairman Reince Priebus is known to dislike having Iowa go first because it is full of evangelical zealots who tend to pick an unelectable candidate. Priebus and other senior Republicans want to draw more voters into the Republican Party, and downgrading the importance of Iowa, which is already happening, could be a useful first step. (V)

Chris Christie Ascendant?

Charles J. Reid, writing for the Huffington Post, offers an interesting thought: Perhaps the stage is set for a resurgence for Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ)?

Reid's case begins with the observation that the Republican field is made up of three factions, the outsider candidates (Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina), the Christian evangelical candidates (Ted Cruz and Ben Carson), and the establishment candidates (the rest of the field). He then observes that Jeb Bush had his chance as "establishment" frontrunner and wilted, and that Marco Rubio seems to be doing much the same now that he is wearing the "establishment favorite" mantle. Assuming that Rubio continues to languish in the polls, Reid argues, the pros may start looking for a new champion. And Chris Christie, unlike Rubio and Bush, is blustery and outspoken. He may be the ideal choice to bridge the gap between the political establishment and the disaffected Trump voters.

Reid is not making a prediction, as such, he is just offering up food for thought. His reasoning is intriguing, though Christie is certainly still a longshot. Whatever his assets may be, his recent rebirth as an ultraconservative rings hollow, and he has some pretty serious scandals—particularly Bridgegate—on his ledger. But in a year where none of the establishment candidates seems to be gaining much traction, well, who knows? (Z)

Supreme Court May Change How Representation is Calculated

The Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in Evenwel v. Abbott, better known as the "one person, one vote" case. The question before the Court is whether all people should be counted for purposes of representation (the current system), or if only eligible voters should be counted. If the Court finds for the plaintiff, it would have the effect of discounting children, prisoners, and undocumented immigrants from representation. As these groups tend to be clustered in urban areas, the ruling would thus transfer power from cities (and, consequently, Democrats) towards rural areas (and Republicans).

Technically, the case is about the Texas state senate, but if the Supreme Court rules that for dividing the state into senate districts only eligible voters count, it is hard to argue that this doesn't apply to the House as well. This makes it a constitutional issue.

The wording of Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution is as follows:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.

The 14th Amendment changed the rules. No more mention of indentured servants. And more important, the "three fifths of all other Persons" which was a compromise about whether to count slaves or not, was scratched. The relevant sentence in the Fourteenth Amendment reads:

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.

The key words to notice here are "Persons" (in the original) and "persons" (in the Amendment). It doesn't say "men" or "voters" or "eligible voters." Women and children were not allowed to vote at the time the Constitution was adopted nor at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, so the founders knew very well that "Persons" or "persons" included more nonvoters than voters. The fact that slaves were included in the count (albeit for 3/5) clearly means the Founders meant to count everyone. If they had meant "eligible voters" they could obviously have said it, but they didn't.

A second key word here is "Enumeration." Every 10 years the government is required to count people. Nothing there about estimating or statistical sampling to try to figure out who is eligible to vote. Given this unambiguous language, one might think the Supreme Court wouldn't even have taken a case so absurd on its face, but given the polarization of the Court, any chance to wade into electoral politics is gladly accepted.

To observers who were present on Tuesday, the justices' questions—particularly those of Anthony Kennedy, who tends to be the swing vote—seemed to indicate that they favored the plaintiff's case. That said, reading the Supreme Court tea leaves based on the questions the justices ask can be a fool's errand. Further, the discussions that take place in chambers after oral arguments do have an impact. In any event, the Court will announce its decision in early 2016. This case will undoubtedly make Justice Antonin Scalia squirm in his chair. He is a strict "originalist," meaning that he believes the actual words in the Constitution matter, not some later reinterpretation. Since the actual words make it clear that women, children (and originally 3/5 of all slaves) count for apportioning seats in the House, it will be awkward for him to vote for the plaintiffs, but in his heart he surely wants to.

This case is undoubtedly the most important one in decades, far outshadowing King v. Burwell (the ACA) or U.S. v. Windsor (same-sex marriage), because it will affect the balance of power in elections for decades in the future. For more background information, see Dahlia Lithwick's column and SCOTUSblog. (Z & V)

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster
Dec08 Trump Demands Total and Complete Ban on Muslim Entry into the U.S.
Dec08 Cruz Jumps into the Lead in Iowa, or Maybe Not
Dec08 Trump's Standing in Iowa May Be Largely Due to Nonvoters
Dec08 The Adelson Primary May Be Between Miriam and Sheldon
Dec08 An Oppo Researcher Explains How the Deed is Done
Dec08 Some Politicians Are Living in the Internet Age...
Dec08 ...And Some, Apparently, Are Not
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